Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Only Cruisers

Current Location: Bundaberg, Australia
Current Position: 24º45.62' S 152º23.28' E
Next Destination: Bundaberg for at least two weeks

More than once on our journey I have thought, “Only cruisers” …. and at least twice over the last week that thought has crossed my mind.

During the last week, the Port to Port Rally has been keeping us busy with every-night eating and drinking events. Besides putting on a few extra pounds, it has been a great chance to meet new people and some of the locals. It is amazing how fast news & stories travel through a fleet of cruisers. It didn’t take long before people were hitting Chris up for both computer and fishing advice. Most people were especially impressed with the use of ‘junk’ aboard Billabong. They found it interesting that he uses old [wine] corks to make fishing lures (and soon they too were rummaging for corks), but were especially curious about the pasta strainer hanging in our rigging. Yes, you read that correctly, we have a pasta strainer hanging from our rigging … and to be honest it is catching on, a number of cruisers are now following suit, and apparently they are doing it in Noumea too (where we first started this trend). What it is in reality is the cruiser’s version of a parabolic wi-fi antennae.

It is really a clever design (perhaps we should patent it, ha ha). Chris taped our external USB wireless network adapter in the center of a medium-sized wire-mesh, hand-held type of pasta strainer (4 bucks at the local supermarket). He strapped that to our rigging, facing the provider’s wi-fi antennae, and ran an extra long USB extension cable down through our hatch. Voila … internet on the boat! We even covered the whole contraption with a Ziploc, making it an all-weather antennae! We started this in Noumea, where we couldn’t even get a signal on the boat, and Chris was getting tired of carrying his computer up to the parking lot to use the internet. Oh sure, we got some strange looks by people walking by, but once word got around that it actually worked, the grocery store found themselves in high demand of wire-mesh pasta strainers. I wonder what people think when the meander by a marina full of boats with pasta strainers and other similar kitchen utensils hanging from their riggings!!! The word followed us all the way to Bundaberg, where cruiser after cruiser quizzed Chris about how to duplicate the setup …. to the point where we finally just brought the thing to one of the Port to Port Rally dinners and had a bit of show-and-tell! Sure, you are laughing, and shaking your head (and perhaps saying, “only cruisers”), but you’d be surprised how well it works, and all it took was a 4-buck pasta strainer and a Ziploc! Still aren’t quite picturing it? – We promise to post a picture on our website soon.

The finale to the week long events was a mini-tour of some of Bundaberg’s sites. It included a stop at Bundaberg’s ginger beer factory and a tour of the Bundaberg rum factory. The rum factory was quite interesting, from the gigantic molasses lake to the huge barrels, each worth about 5 millions dollars (in rum)! The bus ‘tour’ also included a stop at Bunning’s. As the huge charter bus, carrying about 40 people (all now a bit tipsy from rum tasting), pulled into the parking lot a few people walking back to their cars stopped to stare. I’m sure they were wondering what the hell a charter bus would be coming to Bunning’s for … you see Bunning’s is a really big hardware store. Yes, HARDWARE store. And the really funny thing is that everyone on that bus was quite excited to be stopping, and when we were told we only had 30 minutes, I thought there might be a riot!!! Our final stop was at the supermarket plaza, which had a supermarket, liquor store, bakery, and pharmacy. Yes, a tour only a cruiser would love!!!

What’s next for Billabong? With the Port to Port Rally events over, we can finally get on to some relaxing (hmm, like we haven’t been doing that already), and perhaps get a few boat projects done. The previous owner of Billabong lives nearby and has invited us for Thanksgiving, so we’ll probably stay in the Bundaberg area through Thanksgiving, and then begin our trek down towards Sydney.

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