| Trim's Log - Leg 5 - Cairns to Weipa
22 May '02
Everyone on the Windeward Bound has been telling me how slack I have been not keeping my log up to date. Don't they understan d that I am a mainly black cat and we are in the tropics? The hot weather has made it very hard to find the energy to do anything during the day except sleep. At night, when it's cooler, I'd rather go a little crazy and tear around the deck for a while. It gets rid of a bit of energy and helps me keep fit. Much better sitting down and writing a log!
But the price of being the namesake of the most illustrious of cats is that work eventually catches up with you. And so my log must be written...
We are now towards the end of our fourth leg of the voyage, Cairns to Weipa, and it has been a busy and interesting time. For the first time since we left Sydney in March we sailed from port (in this case Cairns) with 10 passengers on board as well as our new voyage crew. They came along for a day sail to Port Douglas and it was a fabulous day for sailing! Oh, just to reassure you, I am not having any problems with seasickness anymore... we have had glorious sailing weather for weeks now and wonderfully calm waters. It makes sleeping so much more pleasant than before.
On our arrival in Port Douglas late on May 12th, another passenger tried to come on board as we docked. A large python crawled onto our channel just where Nikki, one of our crew, was trying to secure a mooring line! Luckily there was a grate between them but the snake decided to slither up the side of the ship instead!! We kept a close eye on the snake to make sure it didn't come any further and eventually we managed to persuade the snake back into the water with the help of our boathook. All the crew made sure I was well out of the way, but I could have told them I wasn't frightened at all.
We stayed in Port Douglas for 2 nights, moored in a grand marina on the inlet. Just across the inlet were mangrove swamps, which meant lots of other animals about. Because of the snake incident when we arrived I kept mainly to the ship, but still managed to spot a sea eagle perching on our upper stays. Needless to say, I did not feel the urge to hurry him from the ship!
A couple of our crew thought they heard a crocodile the first night so we sent out a croc spotting party on our second night. They had to take the dingy a long way up the river just to get a fleeting glimpse of one, so I suppose it was only a partial success.
From Port Douglas we sailed overnight to Cooktown and had a lovely welcome when we arrived with a small flotilla of boats and lots of people on the wharf to greet us. Flinders never made it to this part of the coast, but this is where Captain Cook stopped to repair the Endeavour and since Flinders was such a great admirer of Cook, we decided to drop in for a visit. It was well worth it, not only for the fantastic museum about Cook's visit to the area, but also for friendly hospitality we received and the best fish and chips I have ever tasted! Even the schools of little fish swimming around the ship (on which I kept a close eye) could not compare with these fish and chips - delicious!!
We left Cooktown (reluctantly) on late on Thursday May 16th and made one brief stop at Hope Isle to do a turtle survey and collect rubbish from the beaches. We somehow found room for nearly 10 bags of rubbish, an old tyre and even part of an aeroplane on our crowded deck - a good effort for a morning's work. Then it was 4 days sailing to travel the rest of the Cape York Peninsula and reach Thursday Island in Torres Strait by Tuesday morning (yesterday). We've even managed to sail most of the way and give our iron topsail (engine) a long rest. Under sail is the best way to get around. All was not smooth seas and sunning ourselves (though a good deal of my time was devoted to that). Sunday was delcared a work day and the mainsail was brought to the deck for a major overhaul of the rigging. Seizing, splicing, rigging the new gaff topsail and repairing the parallel beads were the crew's major achievements, with many of our voyager crew pitching in to help. I oversaw proceedings and when things looked like they were under control I wandered away for a quick nap or two. Supervising can be such weary work.
Early Monday morning we anchored off Goods Island in the Torres Strait Island group, at exactly the place where Flinders anchored 200 years ago - spooky! We didn't stay as long as Flinders did though and within a couple of hours we up anchored and set off for Thursday Island, where we were wonderfully welcomed by a group of Torres Strait Island dancers and musicians. Very stirring and the start of one of the best visits we've had at any port. What an amazing place.
I shall leave my impressions of Thursday Island for my next log, as I am keen to go for another look around before we leave. I'm keeping a close eye on the schools of small fish around the boat and there are a few locals fishing off the wharf who I might be able to butter up.
Until next time,
this is Trim, the maritime moggy signing off...
28 May '02
Boy, have I had an adventure that I never want to repeat! I am so lucky to be here writing this, because I nearly wasn't here at all!!!
Last Friday night we were sailing towards Weipa in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Captain Sarah decided to stop at the Pennefather River and go for an explore on shore because this is where Matthew Flinders stopped 200 years ago. I think that is really groovy, purrr.
Well, it was late and a nice cool evening and I was doing my usual crazy running around on decků you know, up the shrouds, jump onto the deckhouse roof, scamper under the dingy, jump back onto the deck, leap up onto the capping rail, up the shrouds again, and so on. Excellent fun! I even checked out a few of the blue flying fish that were swimming around the ship - from the safety of the gangway platform, of course.
Now this next bit I don't remember too well. You'll understand why in just a sec. Somehow in all my excitement I must have zigged when the ship zagged and I found myself in the water!!!
How embarrassing! It was a very good thing that the ship was at anchor because no one, not one single crew member, saw me go over the side. I would have been lost forever. What a horrible thought.
I did my best to get back on board by myself. I swam right down the length of the ship looking for a way up. I must admit I was starting to panic because this area is swarming with crocodiles and I didn't exactly want to end up as croc bait! Thank goodness that Barry, our First Mate (and my hero), decided to have a cup of coffee on deck and leaned on the railing just as I swam past. I don't think he could believe his eyes!
Barry alerted the crew and went to get the net to fish me out. It took the crew a little while to find me as I had turned around and started to back the way I'd come. Boy, was I glad when that net came down over the side. I grabbed on with all my claws and there was no way I was going to let go!
Let me tell you, it was good to get 4 paws back on dry deck! I looked like a drowned rat, so 2 of the crew rubbed me down with a towel. Talk about a bad hair day! Sea water does nothing for fur and it tastes disgusting to lick myself clean. I've only just managed to get myself looking good again and it took 4 days!
Needless to say I was very pleased when we arrived in Weipa on Saturday morning. I have been having a wonderful time exploring on dry land, though I'm careful not to go far from the ship or too close to the edge of the wharf. That was the fourth time I've ended up in the water (the other 3 times were in Sydney) and I only have 5 lives left. I'd like to get to the end of this voyage with a few lives left, if not all 5!
This is Trim, the bedraggled cat, signing off...
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