I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

P.S. All material on this blog, words and photos alike, are copyrighted by me. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. If you decide that this material is worth re-publishing, please give me credit and lots and lots of money.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


I'm bored.  Okay, maybe not "bored" but I am going a bit stir crazy.  I have spent many a day idly watching the sun slowly crawl across the sky, but being trapped on the boat in the middle of Sydney harbor gives me a bit of a frantic feeling.  Maybe it is all the sea planes and jet skis buzzing around, or maybe the it's thought of the potential surf at Manly beach just over the hill, but whatever it is, it gives me ants in my pants.

To be fair, I could get off the boat.  It's just that there is thirty knots of wind which makes for extremely choppy seas and generally nasty conditions for a dinghy ride.  I could go into town via kayak or dinghy but I would arrive as sopping wet as if I had just swam in - another option.  In spite of being antsy I have opted to hang out on the boat and forgo a day exploring Sydney... these are the joys (and obstacles) of living on a boat (again).

I left Mooloolaba Beach Backpackers a bit sad and very excited.  On the one hand Mooloolaba had become my home - I know the waves and have made good friends, on the other hand it is sweltering hot and I don't have work during the holidays, so I hopped on a plane and within three hours was reunited with Mom and Dad on Rutea in Sydney harbor.

For the record, Mooloolaba to Sydney is the only leg of the trip that I flew whereas Mom and Dad sailed.  And whereas I do feel like I cheated a bit and cannot actually say that I sailed into Sydney harbor, it was super easy, comfortable and I would consider doing it again.

The three of us had a very nice Christmas together.  While I might have done a repeat of Thanksgiving and eaten instant noodles for Christmas dinner, Mom and Dad pulled out all the stops.  Roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, bread pudding... oh parents how I missed you so.  Amazing food aside it was very nice to spend Christmas with family.  The weather even resembled a North American Christmas complete with rain and cool weather all day.  I even had to put slippers on!

Yes, both the air and the water are much cooler here in Sydney than they are on the Sunshine coast.  The water is a chilly 70 degrees and the air is a pleasant 75.  You can walk around the city without becoming drenched in sweat.  I am not so crazy about putting on a wetsuit again, but it is worth it to surf the famous Bondi and Manly beaches.

We are now anchored in Manly cove.  I must admit it is pretty flash: we take the dinghy into shore, walk two blocks down streets filled with designer food and clothing shops, and end up at Manly beach.  I couldn't ask for much more, except maybe for this wind to die down so I can get out there and enjoy it.  I am not too worried though, I might be here for a while.  I left my job with Dusty open ended so I might or might not return, which he was cool with.  There are so many people and things to do around here that I might give the city life a go.

However, living on the boat (at anchor) and living in in the city might prove to be a bit difficult.  I mean, you gotta shower every day around here (or at least most), and there are very few dinghy docks so getting to and from the boat is a little tricky, but the rent is free and the food is amazing.  Also, New Year's Eve is coming up and Sydney harbor is the place to be - tickets for a booze cruises the night of are going for $2,000.  I considered charging random backpackers a few hundred for a night on the water, but decided to go with the more elite crowd - Mom and Dad and perhaps a friend or two.  It should be one hell of a party.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mooloolaba Beach Backpackers

Mooloolaba Beach Packers

I am living on land.  I know, weird, right?  But it's cool.  In fact, it is really fun.  However, finding the balance between working 10-12 hour days, socializing/partying with all the cool people here and still managing to get a bit of sleep is proving to be a bit tricky.  Fortunately the weekend (and the end of days, according to some) has arrived and I survived.

Mark sailed for Brisbane early Monday morning, and after working all day I moved into Mooloolaba Beach Backpackers hostel.  I have partied here quite a bit but up until this point had not had the pleasure of sleeping in a hot and stuffy cinderblock room with three other people on a terrible mattress on a rickety bunk bed.  

Aside from the crappy rooms and funky amenities, this place is really cool.  People are super friendly, there is a pool, pool table, free surfboards to use, bikes, paddle boards and of course, a party every night.  I must admit it is fun to get off work after a long, hot day and and relax in the pool with a beer or run down to the beach for a quick surf, but it doesn't leave much time for, say, making a nice dinner or taking a nap before the night's festivities start.  

You would think it would be pretty easy to sleep after cleaning boats for ten hours, surfing in the evening and drinking a few beers, but last night between the stifling, still heat, the mosquitoes in the room, the electrical storm outside and the people next door having ridiculously loud sex, it was nearly impossible.  I was finally able to get to sleep around 3am, only to work at 5:30am.  Such are the joys of living here.

Don't get me wrong - I am not complaining about working or living at the hostel.  It's all good.  This last week we worked on a boat down at Bribie island, close to Brisbane.  I worked with my boss and my co-worker Pete, who are both good guys.  At one point Pete asked me, "What is your least favorite thing about living in Australia?"  I had to think about it for a while because generally things are pretty sweet as here.  

"I would have to say, my least favorite things about Australia is how quick people are to become violent here.  (That, and the fact that all the waves are so crowded),"  I told Pete.  It seems like people have more brawls, fights, road rage, and domestic abuse here than other first world nations.  That being said, there is very little gun violence.  Gun control laws here are very strict as I believe they should be in the States.  People here also seem to be pretty conservative.  I told Pete that whereas I find Aussies very extroverted and open, I am careful about what I say to them.  Not that I would ever not stand up for gay rights or immigrants rights, but I don't start preaching my liberal views when I first meet somebody.

Random wave picture?  Why not.

Later that day as we were finishing up the boat we were working on, the owner came down.  He knew I am a Yank traveling by boat and wanted to give me a few Australia t-shirts.  I thanked him and he told me that they were made in Australia and all that good stuff, and wished me well carrying on sailing into Indonesia.  As we were packing up to leave, the owner and his wife came out to have a chat with us.  He told me to be careful sailing into Asia: "There's a heap of pirates up there and you have to be careful.  You should get a gun.  An AK-47 would be best." 

"Ummmm...thanks.  I think we will be alright though... I am not too worried about it."  I told them.  Then the man went off on a rant about asians immigrating to Australia and how terrible it is, while his wife said under her breath, "If you want to buy a gun without a license I am sure we can arrange that for you."  Thanks, but no thanks.

As we pulled away I asked Dusty, "Did that 70 year old lady just try to sell me guns illegally?" "Yep!  Welcome to Australia mate!"  Dusty said.  "She's a nice lady, isn't she?  Bat shit crazy, but a nice one, hey?"  Welcome to Australia.

As might be able to tell, I am having a great time.  Working, surfing, partying, meeting new people, having new experiences - it's all good.  And while I am having a blast living at the backpackers and working for Dusty, he is taking a vacation and we have knocked off for the holidays.  I fly down to Sydney on Sunday to meet up with Mom and Dad, who have been sailing down there.  I plan to spend Christmas and New Years in Sydney with them and then... who knows?!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Working 9 to 5

Noosa may be a perfect wave but Mooloolaba gets her fair share of barrels too.

I have not been ignoring you, I promise.  It's just that I usually try to wait for something interesting to happen before I write and, well, live has been a bit too normal around here these days.

I don't actually work 9 to 5 - it's usually more like 6 to 6 (including travel time). - because I spent most of last week working on boats in the Brisbane area, which is an hours drive away.  It is kind of nice to have that hour of buffer time between dragging myself out of bed and starting polishing, but it makes for some very long days.

Last week was a bit brutal by my standards, due in part to the fact that I made the foolish decision to go out on Thursday night before working at 6 am on Friday morning.  I can safely say that those 10 hours of scrubbing boats in a parking lot under the searing sun were some of the worst of my life.  Granted, Dusty could have fired me for showing up so ruined, but instead he said things like, "Corie, how are you feeling?"  "HOW ABOUT NOW?!?!"  And laughed his ass off.

Yes, work is good.  But so is not working.  We didn't have much lined up in the way of work this week so Dusty gave me a few days off, which majestically coincided with the first pumping swell that has appeared since I arrived on the Sunshine coast.

Mooloolaba has decent surf but everybody kept telling me how good Noosa gets, so yesterday Mark and I grabbed our boards, hopped on a bus and headed for the famed point break.  In my travels I have taken many a bus to search for many a wave, but none quite like this.  The bus was right on time, it was clean and air conditioned, the bus driver was friendly and very helpful.  Of course it cost us $30 one way to get there, but that is public transportation in Australia for you.

The bus took us right into the heart of Noosa Heads, a cute and touristy surf town complete with surf club,  surf shops on every corner, swanky cafes and designer boutiques.  Mark and I decided to cruise around and get a chic ($10) coffee before going out to surf, and wandered off down a street.  I guess my inner compass was working because within a few hundred meters we ended up on the beach with a perfect right sand point reeling right in front of us.

Dude.  Forget the coffee, let's go surf.  Noosa Heads is a series of point right breaks that, when a north east to south east swell hit, light up and send perfect waves barreling down the beach.  The only problem with this wave is the crowds.  It is actually true that everybody in Australia surfs, and they all descend on the point breaks when it gets big.  At First point alone there were easily 100 people out, with surfers stretching all along the coastline for the next mile of waves.  Groms, girls, old locals, kooks, tourists, shredders, style masters... everybody was out.

Not to be excluded, I grabbed my board and jumped in.  I wished very much that I had a longboard so I could paddle battle for the set waves, but I managed to sit inside and get a few drainers without getting run over by one of the afore mentioned surfers.  I did see quite a few people get run over, lose their boards into the rocks and get dropped in on, but I guess that is how it goes around here - or anywhere with a good wave and lots of tourism.

After a sweet surf and lunch at a swanky cafe, Mark and I took a walk out through Noosa Heads national park because we heard that you can see koala bears in the trees.  Not only did we see a koala bear - which for the record looks exactly like the stuffed animal - but we also saw more and more perfect waves around every point.  What an amazing place.  This is what I envisioned Oz to be: koalas and sandy barrels.

After being taunted by enough waves we headed back into town to surf again.  I bit the bullet and rented a longboard.  I really wanted one of those nice set waves at First point and being on a bigger board allowed me to get one.  And then another.  And another.  By the end of the day it was all I could do not to fall asleep on the bus ride home - sore, sunburned and stoked.

Today was back to work, and I spent 10 hours polishing stainless steel.  Fun!  The swell is still pumping and I am considering heading back up to Noosa this weekend, but who knows, there is lots of fun to be had around here as well.

But the waves will be around for a while.  This current swell is generated from south easterly trade winds, but there is a cyclone off American Samoa which will send more waves our way.  I feel incredibly guilty about this as I have been wishing for a cyclone to form and kick some swell my way, although I have friends on a boat in Am. Sam. who are currently sitting out 100 m.p.h winds in Pago Pago.  I'm sending out positive thoughts to all those in the path of nature's destruction - yachties and locals alike.