Sailing has a little of everything. At once it is relaxing and exhilarating; peaceful and challenging. It can be anything from tediously boring, to terrifying. It is excellent for building and developing skill-sets, stretching whole new muscle groups both mental and physical. But the one thing sailing works the most is a sailor’s patience.
Above all, sailing is a waiting game. Waiting for the right wind, the best tides, boat repairs… the list goes on and on.
The first week in Cairns was wonderful. By the end second week we had our visas, the provisioning was finished, all we needed now was for the winds to cooperate. Unfortunately the GRIB files (Gridded Information In Binary) files we used to forecast the weather and when to sail, kept changing. Nemo didn’t see a good enough weather window until the Saturday at the earliest.
There is always something to do on a boat. I threw myself into varnishing, polishing, scrubbing, and making Mareva sparkle while Nemo fiddled with the engine. It sounded fine to me but to his well-trained ear something was just a little off. There was a little hiccup before it started. Ordinarily he wouldn’t have worried about it, but with this much time he wanted to make sure everything was, ship-shape so to speak.
In the mean time I had started contacting couchsurfers to meet up with to ease the tedium. Couchsurfing is an excellent resource for travelers, and more than just a place to stay it’s a way to meet up with cook like-minded people anywhere in the world.
By the time I got in touch with people it was almost time to leave. I had dinner at one girl’s house, coffee with another nice guy, and met a third CSer at Rusty’s Market, a fantastic weekend farmers market in Cairns where he had me try a black sapote, or chocolate sapote.
It one of the more interesting fruits I have tried. It has an (inedible) shiny green skin and looks similar to a green persimmon. When you cut it open it has a soft sweet black flesh and an avocado-like texture. The fruit is delicious and filling, a meal in itself.
Since I was going to be around for a few more days, the CSer invited me to go for a day-hike in Kuranda, a hippie town nestled in the mountains about an hour away from Cairns by bus. I jumped at the opportunity to get away from the tourist trap of Cairns and see a little more of Australia. After all, we were leaving in a few days and I had hardly seen anything of the country.
Kuranda was exactly what I was told it would be: a laid-back hippie community that had become a tourist trap. Still, the surrounding forest, crisp mountain air, and stunning views were great and getting to hike a bit through the forest and see some wildlife was exactly what I needed.
The lush vegetation edged in on the trails, threatening to swallow them. A bandicoot, its tapered snout shoved deep in the earth, was so engrossed in whatever it was burrowing for that it let me get within a foot snapping photo after photo. A kookaburra with its raucous laugh posed on a low-hanging branch. The trail led to Barron Falls, apparently an impressive waterfall in the rainy season. Still, the trickle of water running down the the stunning cliff face was breathtaking. A little further down the path we caught a ride back to town with two travelers from New Zealand we had befriended.
By the time I got back to the boat the mechanic Nemo had hired had the engine apart. He’d been working all day and still couldn’t figure out what was wrong. He was taking it to his boss to look at and it should be ready by the morning. This was perfect timing. It looked like everything was finally falling into place. There was a good window coming up – we were planning on leaving the day after that. The waiting was almost over!