Journal 1: Aussie Adventures 1
Journal 2: Aussie Adventures 2
Journal 3: Indonesian Escapades
Journal 4: Singapore & Malaysia
Journal 5: Langkawi, Malaysia
Journal 6: Thailand Trekking 1
Journal 7: Thailand Trekking 2
Journal 8: Indian Ocean, Maldives, & Oman
Journal 9: Oman & Yemen
Journal 10: Pirates, Eritrea, & Sudan
Journal 11: Egyptian Adventures 1

Journal 12: Egyptian Adventures 2
Journal 13: Egypt to Israel
Journal 14: Cyprus Crossings
Journal 15: Turkish Tales 1
Journal 16: Turkish Tales 2
Journal 17: Greek Odyssey

Journal 18: Italy & Spain
Journal 19: Why Go Cruising?
Journal 20: Airplanes are Faster
Journal 21: Barbados


August 31, 2004 -- Today was a busy day at Lizard Island. We arrived here yesterday after a smooth overnight sail from Cairns. Lizard Island sits at the northernmost end of the Great Barrier Reef. The island is surrounded by layers of reef that forms beautiful lagoons and inlets. Asides from the many lizards that inhabit the island, there is a small and exclusive resort here. From what we hear, doubles cost over $800 per night! What a joy to be on your own floating hotel with the most beautiful view!

Lizard Island has quite a colorful history.  The first white man to set foot here was Captain Cook in 1770. His boat the Endeavor was trapped inside the Great Barrier Reef and he climbed a large hill on Lizard Island to determine where he might have safe passage. Today we made the hike up to Cook’s Look. It took us about one and a half hours to make the 2.25 km trip up. About ¾ of the way to the top, I was beginning to wonder if this hike was worth it. My legs were killing me!! Thank goodness I was not disappointed!

From the top of the hill, there is a magnificent view of the surrounding waters and the Great Barrier Reef stretching out for miles and miles. From here, Captain Cook was able to find his way out of these coastal waters and back into the big blue.

After our hike to Cook’s Look, we were so hot, grimy and sweaty that it would have taken a herd of wild lizards to keep us out of the water. We totally took advantage of our time here on the reef by snorkeling extensively today. The reef here is amazing! Truly a living thing! We saw giant clams which were at least 3-4 feet in diameter. Loads of colorful fish darting in and out of the reef. Sea anemone that would tuck themselves away if your hand should come to close. Sting rays lurking near the bottom of the ocean floor. We even had the chance to see a small sand shark -- completely harmless.

Finally, David and hiked across the island to a secluded lagoon. We passed by a historical site with the ruins of an old home. Apparently, one of the first settlers to island came here to harvest beche de mer (aka sea cucumber) which is an Asian delicacy. Unfortunately, the local aboriginals did not take a liking to their new neighbors. They killed their new neighbors and although the wife was able to escape in a cast iron tub she died shortly thereafter of dehydration.

Tomorrow, we will be leaving Lizard Island to sail north towards Cape York and Thursday Island. Cape York is the very northern tip of Australia. Hopefully, it will be an uneventful 3-4 day sail. But we will have to be on our toes since we will be dodging both the Great Barrier Reef and large shipping vessels that travel in this area. Thankfully, we are well prepared with loads of recently baked chocolate chip cookies!! YUM!

September 4, 2004 --  We have arrived at the Torres Straits which is part of the northernmost tip of Australia. It was a rather adventurous sail as we made our way down the shipping channel. Over the course of our 3 day sail, many large cargo ships would roar by us. The sail was punctuated by my first episode of seasickness. I have finally joined the club!! And now I have learned my lesson -- do not eat when one feels queasy! The other thing that made the sail exciting was when Exit Only’s autopilot suddenly gave out. Of course, this happened when there was a lot of traffic around (3 freighters). ACK! Thankfully, the Abbotts come well prepared and had a spare autopilot on board which Dave labored to put into the wee hours of the morning. After that, we were back on track towards Cape York.

Since leaving Lizard Island, we have been sailing alongside a South African family. Their boat is called Sea Tjalm. They have already sailed three-quarters of the way around the world and they are on their way back home to South Africa via much the same route that we are taking. They have had some amazing adventures in their boat, including sailing up into the Great Lakes and Chicago, and down the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. It’s amazing to think, but they have been to Kentucky in their 37 foot sailboat. 

Here in the Torres Straits, we have stopped at Thursday Island. It is a friendly little island with a small town. It almost gives you the feeling of being in the third world. There were mango trees lining the main street, kids running about without shoes, locals rooming about in their dinghies … We are only stopping here for a short while to refuel and re-water the boat. Then we will have the longest sail yet -- 5-6 days to Darwin (749 miles).

September 20, 2004 --  Well, tomorrow we will be heading off for Bali. We had a great stay here in Darwin and have become connoisseurs of the free shuttle system around town. The definite high point of Darwin was the Mindil Beach Night Market. The beach was packed with people, street entertainers, bands, booths selling just about anything and everything you could imagine, and loads of food!! There must have been over 50 booths for food with an amazing variety -- Indonesian satay, Chinese stir-fry, Thai noodles, Indian curry, Dutch pancakes, Aussie kangaroo burgers … I must have had a little bit of everything! One of the sad things to see were the number of aboriginals hanging around drunk, high, begging … etc. They really seemed to target Donna asking for cigarettes, booze, money, and where we were from (Scotland, she replied). Apparently, the majority of aborigines have not joined with the rest of Australian society. They continue to live rather primitively and off of government handouts.

We finished up our stay here with a trip to Crocodyllus, a local wildlife park.  They had an amazing number of crocodiles, as well as other exotic animals. Unlike the Australia Zoo which is run by Steve Irwin (The Croc Hunter), this park was built for research purposes. We got a chance to see the crocs in action as they battled it out for a food during their daily feeding. In one pen, they had over 400 young crocodiles!! So you definitely would not want to fall in! I had the chance to hold a young crocodile -- about 2 feet long and still a little scary even with its mouth tied shut. You still hear the occasional story here of someone being eaten by a croc. Just a few weeks ago, an Austrian tourist died after a croc attack in a national park. She had been told that there were no crocs in the billabong (aka waterhole) by the tour guide!! Just outside the wildlife park, we discovered some termite mounds. They are hard as rock and can measure up to 10 feet in height! David and I scrambled up some for a photo op, which was a bit trickier than it looked (see photo).

So we’re off to Bali. Hopefully, we will be able to give you all an update once we get there!!

Watson Bay at Lizard Island

Sweaty hikers at Cook's Look

Compass showing Captain Cook's Pass
out of the Great Barrier Reef

Thursday Island?  I thought we
were going to Sydney!

How YOU doin?

Intense sunset over Gulf of Carpenteria

Friendly dolphins visit us
on the way to Darwin

Land ho!  Welcome to Darwin.

Ritzy Cullen Bay marina

I am the crocodile hunter!
This is how I caught David.

Here croc, croc, croc...

Pile on!

Mesmerizing tiger at Crocodylus

Balancing on the termite hill

Busy Mindil Beach night market

The happy elf

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