Posted by: adventuressetravels | January 11, 2013

Scooting to Australia

I gazed out of the van window despondently: dry, flat farmland stretched as far as the eye could see.  Kansas’ topography was more interesting than this.  And I had taken 3 planes for this anticlimax.  What had possessed me to come to the one country I had had no interest in visiting?

When Captain Nemo contacted me through find a crew in Vietnam it had been perfect timing: I had seen enough of SE Asia for the moment and on top of that, monsoon season was starting.  I needed a new destination.  Australia wasn’t high on my list.  But sailing in remote regions of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands sounded incredible.

Captain Nemo had been sailing in the area for the past 12 years, taking one crew member each year.   The round-faced man told me energetically that some crew members came back for second and third years, but he had never had a crew member part on bad terms.  That was why he preferred to sail with just one other person, it wasn’t that he was looking for romance, it was that he was certain that it was easier to get along with just one other person.  That was why he only sailed with women.

He was leaving a little late in the season because girl he’d been planning on taking this year hadn’t worked out.  She was a nice person but they just weren’t on the same wavelength, he explained.  She had been in the US Army and he was used to a much more relaxed lifestyle and when you were sailing alone with someone for months it was really important to be on the same wavelength.

Though it’s my general rule not to sail alone with anyone, Captain Nemo, and the military girl (who was still on his boat) allayed my fears.  Exploring remote islands in the Pacific really did sound like an incredible adventure.  But the cost of getting to Australia…

Even using all my discount airfare tricks the lowest I could get the ticket price to was $350.  Sure it wasn’t a enormous sum for three plane tickets –  Vietnam to Singapore, Singapore to Australia, and Brisbane to the Whitsundays, but I tried to save money where I could and spending that much in a lump sum made me balk.

Captain Nemo made a good point: $350 for 4 or 5 months of sailing wasn’t  a high price to pay.  But still… it wasn’t certain that I would be making the long trip with Captain Nemo: the army girl had flown all the way from the United States and their trial run sail hadn’t worked.  I had a good feeling about the Captain, and he had a good feeling about me, but this was over the internet.  The real test was how we got along in person.  That was why the Captain insisted on at least 2-weeks of trial-sail before setting out for the exotic, isolated waters of Papua New Guinea.

I teetered on the cusp of buying the tickets, caught in a tug-of-war between thrift and the desire for adventure.  I agonized.  But the ocean’s call is strong.  Once you are under its spell you can never stray too far before the seaweed strands wrapped around your heart draw you back.  The lure of the water finally won me over, and two-weeks after I had bought the tickets I was in a van, rolling across Arid Australia towards Captain Nemo’s boat in Bowen, Queensland.

For cheap tickets from Asia to Australia, I highly recommend the new airline Scoot.  They offer tickets for as low as $100 from Singapore to several cities in Australia, with luggage it’s around $150 but still, it is far and away the least expensive airline flying Asia to Australia.  Not only is it inexpensive, the planes are clean and comfortable.  With prices like that it is definitely a no-frills airline, but it’s one of the best I’ve flown on.


  1. Looking forward to chapter two….. The adventure on the open sea. Including a chapter on Papua New Guinea. Thank you, Sally

  2. Is Australia really a down-under Kansas? Curious why you never wanted to go there, when you’ve gone to so many places I never even heard of, much less wanted to visit.

  3. “Are we going to watch captain nemo?” – Granny asking if we’re going to watch Finding Nemo tonight.

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