Nutter’s who live on Boats!

Life’s rarely dull when you live on a boat, there always seems to be something going on.  Yesterday, just as we were getting ready to go ashore, the rally leader, Nigel, came tearing across in his dinghy to ask for help, as one of the rally boats had managed to go so close to the shore it was up on the rocks.  Needless to say everyone jumped in their dinghy’s to go across and see what could be done to get the stranded catamaran back in the water and off the rocks.  The tide was going out so time was critical.  None of the dinghy’s even with their combined efforts had enough power to pull the boat off and back into the water, after about 40 minutes of unsuccessful attempts, a local fishing boat arrived, thankfully with it’s 150hp engine it was able to pull the stranded cat back into the water.

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How on earth the boat actually managed to get itself stuck there in the first place is something we can only guess at; they were apparently passing through the narrow channel into the bay at 5 knots, (I would have thought that much too fast), aside from that, there was little other information forthcoming regarding their predicament. I can only think that whoever was at the helm, wasn’t at the helm, or was simply not paying attention, it’s anyone’s guess!

In these situations where one of the boats is in any kind of trouble, it’s wonderful how everyone always pulls together to help, it really is a good group of people that we’re with in this rally. Cruisers are great people (in general).

 

Daisy’s Passage of Misery!

I debated whether or not to write about our passage from New Zealand to Tonga as it was ‘my’ worst in 12 years of living on Daisy.  But then I thought of all the people who constantly say how jealous they are of my incredible lifestyle, and it seemed appropriate to enlighten them with the actual realities of life on a yacht!

It’s not always about lazing around sunning yourself on deck with a cocktail, or lounging in a hammock strung between a couple of palm trees on an isolated island. Sometimes, yes that can be the case, but mostly it’s about maintenance, and dealing with the logistics and difficulties of  a “sea gypsy” lifestyle.  Not having a permanent land base, proper address, or anything resembling normality can present incredible challenges and difficulties when trying to deal with ordinary things landlubbers take for granted.

Anyway, back to my story:

Bob and I had to depart New Zealand before May 30th. That wasn’t initially going to be a problem as the rally was due to leave for Tonga on the 20th May. However, due to the bad weather the rally departure was delayed, and our days were quickly running out, so not to overstay our allowed days in New Zealand, Bob and I jumped on a plane to Australia, leaving Glenn aboard to take care of Daisy.  The plan being, as soon as there was a good weather window for us to set sail we would immediately fly back and sail out on the same day.  ‘Ha’ good plan you would think, with the exception of relying on the airlines!  We booked a flight that would get us back into New Zealand just after midnight on the Tuesday, with the plan to sail out Tuesday midday.  This would have worked well except the plane we were on,  sat on the runway for 4 hours while the broken engines were worked on! We were all eventually turned off the plane and shuttled into a hotel for the night, with an alternative flight out that afternoon, this wouldn’t get us back into New Zealand until 9pm Tuesday, too late to sail out with the fleet, so we would miss our weather window.  Now we only had one day before we had to leave.  The decision was made and agreed by all 3 of us to check out anyway in front of the next bad weather system and head South, (the opposite direction to where we needed to go, but avoiding the storm).  We sailed slowly South for 2 days in rough seas to avoid the bad weather, before turning North and getting in front of the next system that was due through… If you’re not confused by now I must be explaining it too well.  The 4 days at sea were spent rocking gunnel to gunnel non-stop. It was like being stuck on a really bad fairground ride that you couldn’t get off. I was in bed throwing up for the full 4 days, and when I say ‘in bed’, I was being constantly tossed around, rolling from one side of the bed to the other, so I couldn’t sleep as I spent the whole time just hanging on; I couldn’t put the lee cloths up because that made it too difficult for me to get out of bed quickly, and getting to the bathroom was already a challenge which several times proved too much, so I was throwing up in bed, this involved much changing of the bed, yet another major challenge while rolling around.  The mountain of bedding was mounting up…  Once we managed to actually turn around and head in the right direction, the next bad weather system was on our tail the whole way, the seas were big, around 4-5 meters, so even under sail and motoring we were still rocking and rolling,  everything was stowed, but it was still all crashing and banging around in the cupboards, and that coupled with the noise of the engine, there was no quiet, I had a pounding headache, I was sick and cold, the weather was really cold, and my hatch started leaking so I had cold water dripping on me in bed, the bed was really damp, I was about as miserable as I’ve ever been.  We may have been heading for Paradise, but we were going through Hell to get there.  Out of the 9 days at sea, there were only 2 where I was able to get up and move about the boat, fix meals and perform with some semblance of normality. It wasn’t much fun for Bob or Glenn either, they had to man all the watches between the two of them, and take care of “her indoors” moaning bitching and throwing up everywhere.

Do I ever want to do another passage? “Absolutely not” this will be my last major passage, from now on, even with all the unreliability and nonsense the airlines throw at you, I’m flying and meeting the boat there.

 

Unplanned!

As the owners of Crazy Daisy, we never cease to live up to our name.

Today is Thursday May 23rd 2019, and we were (along with about 35 + other boats) supposed to have already left Opua Marina, in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand and been well on our way to Tonga, with the Pacific Circuit Rally.

Instead, Bob and I are on an unplanned vacation in Brisbane Australia, while Glenn is left taking care of Daisy and making sure she’s ready to leave, at a moments notice, whenever that may be!

You may be asking yourself what we’re doing?  I have to admit I ask myself this same question many times a day!

So, while Bob and I wait for our New Zealand residency, we’re only permitted to stay in New Zealand  for 183 days at a time, those days are up on Friday, so to keep within our allowed number of days, we had to leave the country while we all wait for a safe weather window, with a plan to return and sail out on the same day, therefor staying within our allotted time limit.

As seems to be our luck, there’s a weather system (apparently unusual for this time of year), predicted over Tonga and Fiji which would have coincided with the arrival of the rally there, hence the unexpected delay in the departure while we all wait patiently for a weather window to safely make the 7-10 day trip to Tonga…

In the meantime, Bob and I plan to do some exploring here in Australia, and try to get some relaxation; we’ve both been working full out on maintenance, updates and repairs on Daisy for the last 6 months and we’re both a little stressed and throughly exhausted; so, maybe this unplanned vacation will help us to recharge the batteries and come back to Daisy fresh, relaxed and ready for the sail to Tonga, as soon as the weather permits…

At least our lives are never dull!!!

Another Adventure

The clock’s ticking, counting down the days to our departure which is set for Monday 20th May, weather permitting.

Crazy Daisy is taking part in the Pacific Circuit Rally.  An organized rally of around 40 boats sailing from New Zealand to Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, over a period of five months.

We’re so happy to have our good friend Glenn, join us as crew, as well as Edi and Paige, who hope to join us in Tonga.

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I’m really looking forward to visiting these fabulous islands again, although New Caledonia will be a first, I’ll need to brush up on my French.

The last five months have all been about preparing Daisy,  a very long list of jobs, which is almost complete, I say almost, the job list on any boat is never fully completed.  Also Bob hurt his back, about a month ago which set the work back,  he’s better now but has had to work day and night for the last couple weeks to catch up, so we’re ship shape and ready to go.

In between all the boat work we bought a house here in beautiful New Zealand, so leaving is bittersweet, I’m really excited about sailing the Islands again, but at the same time I would love to be here setting up my new home. That will just have to wait till we’re back in November.

I’m a little better equipped  for all the hiking ahead this trip. I have a set of hiking poles (a present from Matt, Glenn’s very generous brother) and proper walking shoes, they’re not very glamorous, but very practical and will hopefully help me drag my old pins up the volcanos and other mountainous peaks that Bob intends to drag me to.

Obviously Internet will be sketchy for the next five months, but I’m going to try and post our adventures as often as I can.

So, watch this space as our adventure unfolds…

Photo’s From The Outback, Northern Territory

 

 

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Kakadu National Park

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The Hole In The Wall, Really!

 

Having enjoyed some of the most comfortable sailing I can remember, the Queensland coast will remain in my memory as a glorious place to sail. We had enjoyed the most gorgeous weather, fabulous wind conditions and truly breathtaking scenery.  

On the 11th July we rounded the furthest most Northerly point of Australia, ‘Cape York’, leaving the Coral Sea behind us and entering the Arafura Sea, to cross the Gulf of Carpentaria, .  

This is where things got a little uncomfortable, it was as if the Coral sea and the Arafura sea were in a battle for supremacy, the seas were confused and we were rolling from gunnel to gunnel.  Even with all the sails out, sailing wing on wing, the rolling wouldn’t be stilled.  It meant that any attempt to do anything below was almost impossible, and anything not secured or tied down was sliding around the boat with reckless abandon. ‘Our diet was to be toast and cup-a-soup until the seas behaved themselves again!

For three long days and three Godforsaken nights, we sailed across the Gulf of Carpentaria, rocking and rolling the whole way. There was no land in sight, nothing but water, and the continual rolling…

At 6:30 this morning, Saturday 14th July we approached Wessel Islands, two long narrow Islands off the Northern Territory coast, the Islands are called Guluwuru Island and Raragala Island.  There is a good size pass between the two islands, but there’s also a narrow cut in one of the  Islands just one mile long and approximately 100 meter’s wide, through the island of Raragala, it’s called “the Hole in the Wall”.  

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This was reputed to be “something not to be missed”  (by some air-head) as long as you hit it at exactly the right time, so as to have favorable current.  

Two other Oysters in the fleet had taken the pass in the past couple of days, RedCat and Sea Avenue, they both recommended it. (I may need to have a few words with them when we catch up!)

Bob’s night watch was officially finished at 7am as we approached the Hole in the Wall, but thankfully he stayed on the helm, to take us through.  Don was frantically manning  the GPS and watching our way through on the screens, and passing the info to Bob.

I had just poked my head up through the companionway in time to see us approaching the entrance, (thanks for waking me guys! ) I asked to be woken this morning, so I wouldn’t miss going through.  Unfortunately no one bothered to come and get me, they were all too busy on the fore deck with their phones photographing our approach. Fortunately (or maybe not, as it turned out) I woke just in time to come up on deck and see our approach.  I couldn’t believe we were actually going to attempt to squeeze through this little gap in the Island, had everyone on board lost their marbles? It really didn’t look like a sensible choice to me, but then, what do I know?

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As we approached the entrance, it looked really narrow and the water appeared very disturbed with lots of Eddys and strong tide, it was moving towards us, at 3 to 4 knots.  But  then only 10% of the way through the pass, the current started to increase until it reached 9 knots with 18-20 knots of wind behind. The pass was only a mile through, and even though the engine was at 1800 revs the boat came to a complete halt time after time, with still 3/4 of a mile in front of us. Our average speed was 0.01 knots.  Bob had to fight with the helm to keep the boat steady and pointing in the right direction.  Turning around was not an option, the current was so strong and the pass too narrow, our progress (if any) was unbearably slow, coming to a complete halt every few minutes. I kept staring at the sides of the pass for confirmation that we were moving at all. Mostly the speed stayed at 0.01 knots to 0.00 knots.  Glenn and Stuart put the jib out, hoping that this would give us some extra power, it didn’t! The water just seemed to be rushing past us at incredible speed. It felt as though we were attempting to sail up a waterfall. We were basically dead in the water with the engine at almost full revs! My imagination was on it’s spinning wheel going for Gold.

I was praying that the engine didn’t cut out, we would’ve been in such serious trouble had that happened. Was there a back up plan? What was the back up plan?  Which bright spark had this bloody daft idea anyway?  If the engine stalled or overheated we were toast, the boat would spin and crash into the rocky sides and we would all become crocodile buffet

Eventually Bob increased the revs by another 400, we were at maximum revs now with the jib full out and still our progress was barely more than 0.03 frequently dropping down to 0.00 knots. 

It was a fight at the helm the entire passage through; the one mile pass took us one hour and fifteen nerve racking minutes. The depth dropped to just 2.2 meters below the keel at one point, as Bob & Don tried to navigate through avoiding the strongest currents with Don passing on the GPS information.  

This was not fun. We had timed it so wrong for the current and tide, this error could easily have proved disastrous, However, my brilliant husband “Crazy Daisy’s Captain Bob” navigated True Blue safely through.

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OK, so I can now say “I went through the hole in the wall”, whoo hoo, big deal! Most people wouldn’t even know what I was talking about, and even if they did, do I care? No.   If I was to ever do this trip again, would I take Crazy Daisy through this pass? Absolutely Not, Not on your life… But then I wouldn’t attempt to trek across the North pole, sail the Pacific on a breadboard, or jump out of an airplane without a parachute either, but that’s just me…

 

Beautiful Queensland, Shame About the Nasties!

 

Sailing up the coast of Queensland has been an absolute joy, it’s possibly one of the most beautiful coastlines I’ve ever seen, with the exception of New Zealand, of course. 

I haven’t seen that much of Australia so far, but from what I have seen I’ve been surprised at just how much I like it.  I’m not sure what I expected, but I certainly didn’t expect it to be this beautiful, or this tropical. Having said that, I would never want to live here, there are way too many dangerous things with sharp pointy teeth and long hairy legs, and I’m not just talking about the locals.

Australia has possibly the largest collection of “nasties” deadly critters anywhere in the world, the spiders alone are enough to scare the feathers off an Ostrich. I saw my first (and I pray last) Huntsman spider when we were in the rainforest, “Holy crap” it was bigger than my hand, I could never live anywhere that this critter calls home. And that’s without all the crocodiles, sharks, box jelly fish, scorpions and deadly poisonous snakes to name just a few, way too many nasties here calling Australia home, I will not be settling down in their territory, but I’m enjoying visiting it, all be it with caution. 

I’ve deliberately not been in the water much, I’ve only been swimming once or twice,  with my silly suit on; this is referred to as a stinger suit by others.  Bob insisted on buying me this delightful outfit so I wouldn’t miss out on the snorkeling here.  

My silly suit consists of tight fitting, black stirrup pants, with a high neck, long sleeved bright turquoise, zip up top, a navy balaclava, divers socks and gloves, can you even begin to imagine what I look like in this ridiculous get up, especially with the added accessories, snorkel mask and flippers! And all to protect me from the box jellyfish! Really, the outfit alone is enough to scare them away! And no, there will be no photographs posted of me wearing this.  The snorkeling here is just not good enough to tempt me into an outfit where I would look like a bad impersonation of the Penguin, ‘Danny DeVito’ in Batman. Although it would give everyone else a good laugh.  

I did buy myself some seriously thick soled wet shoes, to protect myself from stepping on a ‘Stonefish’ another delightful Australian critter whose sting will cause excruciating pain followed by possible death! My shoes mean that I can at  least safely hunt for seashells in the shallow water without putting my family at risk of Mum’s hospitalization or funeral expenses!

 

Stranded on Stanley  Nautilus Search, Dinghy Drenching & Much Sighing!

 

Monday 9th July 2018

Yesterday Bob, Stuart, Glenn and I undertook a somewhat bumpy dinghy ride across the bay to Stanley island, opposite our anchorage here off Flinders Island.  The beach looked so tempting( the old phrase “the grass is always greener” springs to mind here), and the rocky hillside promised to be an interesting hike for the guys. I was all about shell hunting as usual, looking for that one special ‘Cephalopod’ the beautiful and elusive Nautilus shell. 

This area of the Queensland coast is frequented by crocodiles, so swimming is not advised, and one needs to keep a sharp eye out at all times when on the shore as they could be hidden in the water or the long grass growing at the  back of the beach. 

The beach was fun, the shells were plentiful and there were no croc’s (that I could see) no Nautilus either. However, the guys enjoyed their hike, and I had fun shell searching.  Bob drove the dinghy back taking the return journey at speed, to get the dinghy up on a plane, and avoid us getting a soaking.

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The Dinghy on True Blue is no fun to drive, in fact it’s miserable, it has a tiller that’s horribly stiff (in need of a little tlc me thinks). Demanding is an understatement when it comes to the steering, which requires quite some strength to operate. I know Bob really misses “Whops-a-Daisy”(our dinghy on Crazy daisy) with her comfortable seat and easy steering. 

Tuesday 10th July

So, getting back to my story;  Lesley really wanted to visit the little beach on Stanley Island, but had been unable to join us yesterday as she was suffering from the possible start of a cold. Anyway, as we were both up early this morning, Glenn offered to drive us over, drop us off and collect us when we radioed to come back, we were ready to go by 8am, the water was calm and the wind had dropped to a gentle breeze, following a gusty very windy night; we hoped that the storm may have blown more shells up onto the shore, maybe even a Nautilus!  

However, best laid plans and all that, between making everyone tea, coffee and toast as they all slowly emerged from their cabins, it was 9:15 by the time we were actually ready, then Don decided he wanted to come with us, so Glenn said he would stay to help Bob and Stuart work on the traveler.  

I couldn’t help wondering how only Don, Lesley and me (pretty useless in the strength department) were going to drag the heavy dinghy up the beach and out of the water by ourselves! 

Lesley was trying her best to hurry Don along but it was 10 O’clock by the time we were  ready to leave, the wind was starting to build and the waves were increasing in height.  Anyway, not to be put off, we (me, Lesley & Don) headed out. One would normally say “better late than never”,  unfortunately, not in this case!  We really should have escaped earlier while the going was good, Oh well, (sigh). 

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As soon as ‘yours truly’ had been safely installed in the dinghy we set off. And when I say “installed” Don makes such a fuss about me getting in and out of the dinghy,  he grabs my arm in a vice like grip, “to steady me!” I realize it’s all out of concern for my safety, but mostly it just puts me off balance, I’m actually so much safer without help (sigh) if I was to fall on my own I would simply get wet, if I fell with Don holding my arm as firmly as he does I’d probably break it.   But I know that it’s all out of concern and kindness, so I shouldn’t complain!

We approached the beach to see the waves rolling and crashing onto the shore, the wind had picked up and was blowing much harder than we would have liked, it promised to be a bit of a wet landing.  With the current and waves pushing us forward towards the beach, and crashing over the back into the dinghy, we were committed (or should I say “should have been committed”).  we really had no choice other than to land on the beach.  Lesley jumped over when we were in about two feet of water and took the painter to pull us forward, as Don raised and turned off the outboard, then the three of us, thigh deep in waves, pulled the dinghy up the beach as fast as we could before the waves flipped it over; it was a bit of a struggle for me, I don’t have much upper body strength, so I don’t know how much help I actually was, but with Lesley and Don pulling hard, between us we eventually managed to safely beach the dinghy.  

Turning around we could see the waves rolling in to shore from about 70 feet out, the prospect of a return journey was not a pleasing one, but honestly, as far as I could see it was nothing to get into a state about.  Don was already panicking about the return, mainly he said because of me being such a huge liability (sigh)!  

He  still worries about me as though I just had my surgery, fussing and panicking incase I dislocate again. It’s been eight months since my surgery, and seven since my last dislocation, I feel about as normal as I could be, and while I appreciate people worrying about me, it’s really tiresome to be continually treated as though I’m made of glass, well meant or not. 

Don radioed ‘Raya’ (our friends in the bay), with a request for them to ferry over our crew to help us, what Don didn’t realize was that Raya was having problems with her dinghy outboard, and it was actually dangerous for them to head over, if their outboard had stopped they could easily be swept out to sea, but this didn’t stop them from trying.  Within a few minutes Rick (from Raya) had collected Stuart and was heading out towards us.  Watching their approach, Lesley became concerned for their safety with the building waves, and told Don to radio them to turn back.  

We decided to wait it out and hope for the wind to drop and the tide to turn. That could be a few hours, but it was a far better prospect than putting our friends in danger. Rick turned around and headed back to the boat, while we contemplated a long stay on the island. Don’s worrying and panicking was starting to rub off on me.  My crazy imagination (the hamster on a wheel thing) started mentally going over my  survivor kit,  I had, water, tick, suntan lotion, tick, hat, tick, but no food (sigh) I started to wish I’d made time for breakfast, I may not get sunburnt or thirsty, but I might starve. I really need the hamster to just go to sleep during times of stress, instead of zapping into warp speed on the wheel causing my crazy imagination to do back flips! 

To cut to the chase; Lesley and I spent four and a half hours collecting shells, and watching for crocodiles (well at least I was watching for crocodiles).  Sadly there weren’t many shells worth adding to our collection, but happily no croc’s either.  The storm had done the opposite to what we had thought, and had sucked all the shells out to sea rather than onto the beach.  The few shells we did find were definitely not worth the eventual drenching we got on the return journey to True Blue!

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Having decided that we had waited long enough, with the tide right out, and the wind a little calmer, Don was ready to return. I was given my usual lecture on safety, along with explicit instructions, “to get into the dinghy first, and sit down” (sigh).

We dropped the wheels on the dinghy and dragged her back down the beach into the water, once we had her afloat I was instructed again (being the liability!) to get in and sit down, while Lesley and Don moved us into deeper water, then Don got in and started rowing, Lesley jumped in after him.  I was at the bow watching for bommies (raised coral heads).  The beach dropped away quite quickly and we were soon into deeper water with no bommies visible. But Don insisted on rowing with the outboard raised until we were quite a way out into deep water!  

Eventually, many sweaty, rowing minutes later  the outboard was lowered, (I would have smashed a bottle of champagne on the bow to celebrate if I’d had one) and off we went, well when I say ‘off’ it was at a snail’s pace, with the engine barely on tick-over, bobbing like a cork over the waves and getting absolutely drenched!  Don is extremely cautious driving the dinghy, especially for someone who flies around like a teenager at warp speed on his windsurfer, but let’s not forget he did have  “the liability” aboard, to take care of, one really can’t be too careful (sigh)!  Oh but would he stop worrying about me hurting myself…

Lesley and I were giggling like schoolgirls as we both sat like a couple of drowned rats with the waves continually pounding the dinghy and soaking us through to the skin as we bounced up and down, fortunately the water was warm, although the wind was cold.  OH how I was missing  Whoops-a-Daisy, she would have flown at speed over these waves on a plane, and I’m sure we would have arrived back at the boat with a minimum of splashes.  Ah well, it is what it is,  no harm done, sadly, despite all our discomfort there were no good shells found and still no Nautilus  (sigh)…

 

Kuranda

Monday 2nd July 2018

Really, how can you not love train travel, this has to be my favorite form of transport.  If it was possible I would travel everywhere by train. It was Bob’s and my 40th (Ruby) wedding anniversary yesterday, and Bob had booked us into a lovely rainforest lodge for the night, in the beautiful vibrant, picturesque little village of Kuranda, high up the mountains. We were to travel there by train, and return by Sky-rail, a cable car ride that takes you high over the rainforest canopy.  

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In Kuranda there are multiple  tourist attractions, among them the largest Butterfly sanctuary in Australia, an exotic bird aviary and a wildlife (cuddle the Koala’s) park. This had to be the trip of my dreams, trains, cable cars, birds, butterflies and wildlife, it couldn’t get much better.

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Unfortunately Mother nature had other plans and having throughly drenched Cairns every day since we arrived here (supposed to be dry season!) Bob and I were hoping for a dry, clear day.  And Sunday was one of the wettest days, so we changed our booking in the hotel to Monday which promised to be better, thankfully It was. 

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We left Monday morning in the pouring rain,  but by the time we reached the train station the rain had stopped, and the clouds had started to clear. The train ride up to Kuranda took two hours,  The historic railway carriages meandered their way from Cairns through the World Heritage-listed Rainforest of the Barron George National Park. We climbed higher and higher up the mountain as the views grew more spectacular by the minute. We passed towering waterfalls, deep ravines, went through 15 tunnels, and over 37 bridges,   I loved every minute of it.

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“a little history”

This historic railway line originally opened in 1891 and is a real feat of engineering that’s stood the test of time.  Up to 1500 men at a time armed only with picks, shovels and dynamite carved their way through mountains, rainforest and unforgiving landscape to construct the 37 kilometers of track. Many of the men died during the build.

The train journey up took just two hours. We arrived in brilliant sunshine in the picturesque little station at Kuranda surrounded by vibrant flora and fauna, it was like stepping back in time.

It only took a minute to walk up into the little market town.  I was surprised at just how much there was there. So many stalls, shops and attractions lined the streets.  We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon exploring the shops, before grabbing lunch in “Frogs” (which was fabulous).  Next was the bird aviary, where Bob was immediately targeted by an enormous Macaw. It landed on his shoulder and started to investigate his backpack, it opened the zip and stuck his head inside.  I tried to get it to remove its head from the bag so I could zip it back up, but the Macaw wasn’t having any of it and screeched loudly at me, I wasn’t about to argue with that beak.  Having realized there was nothing of any interest in the backpack it moved to the strap on the front, and in just a few seconds snapped the catch breaking the strap. This time I used a little more gentle force to remove the destroyer from Bob’s shoulders, while there was still something of the backpack left.

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It was amusing seeing Bob with a real Macaw on his shoulder, when just a couple of days ago he had a fake parrot strapped to his shoulder at a pirate party…

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Vegetarian or What?

 

In a Nutshell: (well, at least my attempt to make this nutshell size )

I tell everyone that I’m a vegetarian, because I get ridiculously excited about fresh, organic vegetables.  This may stem from my having lived on a boat in the Islands for 11 years, where so many of my favorite vegetables and fruits have been unavailable or limited, so I go a little crazy when I find a colorful, well stocked farmers market.  Local farmers markets are just about my favorite hang out.  You can keep your dress, shoe shops and Jewelry stores, just give me a Farmers market and I’m in Heaven.

I also love to grow my own When I have a garden! I also love to grow my own When I have a garden or pots!

The bulk of my diet is vegetarian, although I still eat meat and fish, but only occasionally, and only from humanly reared animals.  Animals that have been allowed to roam freely in fields untreated with pesticides and chemicals,  living in a natural environment, rather than mass produced livestock raised in cramped inhumane cages.  On balance, a stressed, improperly reared animal is not likely to be good for us, or taste good.  The type of feed, use of medications and the space an animal has been allowed to roam on all have an impact on their health and must surely negatively impact ours.  Convincing evidence from years and years of research prove that you can lower your risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer by increasing your fruit and vegetable intake.

A rare find, Organic Vanilla, I bought a bunch of it :) A rare find, Organic Vanilla, I bought a bunch of it :)

While anecdotal evidence is easy to find, the argument for less meat is now heavily backed up by medical research.  Everybody generally knows that vegetables, especially greens, which are abundant in vitamins and minerals, are good for us, but the story goes a lot deeper.

Phytochemical’s found in plants, are another explanation for the incredible health benefits of fruits and vegetables.  These chemical’s are what give plants their pigment, smell and more importantly flavor.

Home grown, Organic, Heirloom tomatoes & peppers Home grown, Organic, Heirloom tomatoes & peppers

A number of research papers look at the effects of Phytochemical’s on bone health, inflammation and even cancer.  We’ve only just scratched the surface when it comes to investigating just how influential these thousands of bioactive compounds are to human health.  Looking at the associations between food and disease, the positive impact of diets largely based on plants and whole foods is indisputable.  This is why they make up the bulk of my diet, and why they should feature heavily on yours, too.  A Simple carrot or apple is  brimming with phytochemical’s such as quercetin and carotene.  These simple, affordable and accessible foods are key to good health.  Eating a plate of colorful plants is the easiest way to guarantee a complete range of essential phytochemical’s.

Animal products are an easy and delicious source of complete protein, key micronutrients such as zinc and vitamin B12 are nutritional qualities that are very hard to obtain in a purely plant-based diet.    You don’t have to give up meat to adopt a healthier lifestyle, simply eat it less, be choosey with what you buy, and you will probably appreciate it more.  I treat meat and animal products as a luxury item, and enjoy them much more as an occassional treat rather than something eaten on a daily basis.

Avoid processed foods as much as possible, and read the ingredients label. My son’s girlfriend Paige, takes ages to shop as she reads the label on everything.  You want to look for more protein (10g or more per serving) and fibre, less sugar and calories. The ingredients list usually lists in order of highest amounts first.  If a food lists sugar or glucose as the first ingredient, it’s best avoided. Paige say’s if she doesn’t recognize the ingredient or can’t pronounce it, the product goes back on the shelf,  not a bad rule to live by.

Additives to avoid:

Epidemiological studies have found that higher intakes of nitrates – which are converted to nitrosamines in the body will increase your risk of cancer.  Think ham, salami, bacon, mince and sausages, where the numbers of the nitrate group  249-252 are used as a preservative to improve shelf life and enhance color.

MSG (no surprise’s here) this switches off the brain’s ability to say “I’m full” causing you to eat more than you need.  It’s associated health concerns are obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are always best avoided, diet drinks and foods are full of them.

Food Coloring

Those to avoid include blue (E133)  red (E124)  yellow (E110) and yellow tartrazine (E102)

Tip’s: 

Always try to buy organic, it’s a little more expensive but the price’s are lowering as their popularity grows.

Phytonutrients are most concentrated in the skins of vegetables, so leave the skins on wherever possible.

Most of our salt consumption comes not from added salt at the dinner table, but from hidden salt within products we buy.  So check the sodium levels, no more than 2.5g of salt or 1000mg of sodium per day.

High fibre foods make you feel full for longer, so for snacks aim for 3g or more per serving, and for main meals 6g or more.