The Merry Maiden  

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May 6, 1980


It's a rainy day today and therefore it's an ideal opportunity to put pen to paper and let you know what's up with our present plans. Actually nothing has changed since my last letter so we still plan for a July 1980 to July 1981 cruise across the pacific to Washington with hopefully 4 paying crew signed on for the entire year, paid up in advance of course. This is the plan but I am open to change it if we find people are more interested in going westward.

As I have mentioned before, I intend to stay well clear of most "major ports" with a few exceptions. We often seem to get caught up in place like Vila and Suva and taken many days to get out. I'd rather have spent those same days exploring beaches or climbing hills than to be wandering about thru towns and "cities", generally speaking we also spend more money, obviously! The crew often has a way of wanting to stay on longer in the town because of all the things they can do there and that build tension because of different desires. While on the remote islands we seldom have tension problems because everyone is generally eager to explore or relax. They are also easier to leave because of no need for last minute shopping, customs, immigration and friends. So it is hoped by me that we will have much more time to see many more islands and we will always be on the move if we avoid the towns and don't need to look for crew! Sounds too good to be true, eh?

First we will be cruising the Great Barrier Reef and its many different islands. This will be an excellent way to introduce our new crew to cruising. We might see a new island everyday with easy sailing between each stop. Some islands are resorts while others are deserted islands. National Parks. Others will be mainland with beautiful beaches. Absolutely beautiful coastal cruising. It will be great.

After a month of Australia, we will sail for the many islands just east of New Guinea. Some are uninhabited while others have islanders still living the way they have for untold years, with skirts made of leaves and sails made of palm fronds on canoes with out riggers. A very splendid area and very much "untouched".

Then to the Solomons and you have a fair idea of what it's like there. I hope to visit the few islands there that are Polynesian. Should be quite interesting I'd think.

Back to the Santa Cruz where we hope to do some great fishing. Chasing after a marlin maybe or how about a huge sword fish!? Living ashore for a while in the immaculate houses there, made entirely with local materials. Very rich jungle in the Santa Cruz should be some good hiking.

Then to the northern New Hebrides, and more good fishing let's hope. I plan to climb to the top of Santa Maria to see the large Crater Lake. That will take a day's hike each way.

Maybe Rotuma will be next. I always have had a fancy to go ashore there.

To the North next and to new places. I don't know all too much about these places so I'll leave it to the imagination.

And Dad, you hope to join us in Hawaii! That sure would be good to sail with you again. Maybe we ought to sign on one person for just short of a year so he will be off in Hawaii and more room for you.

We now have just two months to go and we have one great big pile of work to do, always the same story. We started on doing the varnish on deck and it's looking really great. Then we will be painting everything. That includes inside the cabins. I still have a fair bit of construction where the fridge and icebox were.

We will be hauling her out soon and I'm seriously thinking of taking the garboards off so as to give me an excellent opportunity to inspect all the frames and floor timbers also to tighten up the keel bolts. I know that in some ways it's like asking for trouble, but in other ways it's got to be the best insurance policy. I'd like to be sure she is as sound as I hope. If you strongly object to this plan say so, otherwise I'll carry on as mentioned. I will feel lots better if I find nothing wrong and horrible if I find bad news. Though I would much rather find out in port!

Brisbane is a fun place to be, at least it has proven to be so far. We sailed into the river and carried full sail (even the Mizzen stay-sail) for 10 or 12 miles up the river. We had the #1 Genoa up with a large light stay sail and with a broad-reach made slow quiet and peaceful cruise up into the city as the sun set, we passed by the many miles of warf space, both sides, with huge ships. The river is really not very wide and the whole length has many range markers for mid-river and very few buoys.

Unfortunately the wind became so light after 10 or 12 miles that we had to motor the last few miles to the big-smoke. We are now tied up at the piles by the Botanical Gardens where the kookaburra makes their strange noises. The gardens are fairly large and take up the tip of a peninsula formed by the Brisbane river on which the main center of Brisbane is located. So all the skyscrapers are within easy reach by foot, most being less than a mile. It's fascinating to be in a big city and so many people! A very clean tidy and well-organized city. Too many shops to browse through and lots of good music stores. Not many boat-orientated places though.

Today the weather is slowly clearing so we sometimes see the sun. It's much cooler down here compared with Cairns and sort of feels like winter is coming on. It's been good times in Australia so far and it is much better than I had expected.

Really was good talking with you the other day, I'd like to call more often but it sure seems extravagant to me. Nice to hear about Dave! Can you tell me how to get in touch with him?

And we have someone interested in the cruise, maybe more by now. Can you inform me of what they are all about?

I'm glad that some of the stuff has arrived I must check about the rest of it. I sent a box of letters of mine to Lincoln. I'd like you to put them in good dry storage please. Thanks. I sure hope Dorothy is getting better quickly. Sorry to hear about that pinched nerve.

Life goes on here and I keep hoping for another fine letter from home. So please do write soon. I'd love to hear what's up back there. Happy Birthday Adrian, whereever you are. If I could I'd send you a koala bear and a small kangaroo but I haven't seen one walk about on deck yet, I'm still waiting.

Take Care and Lots of Love,


Next Letter: New Caledonia, November 7, 1980