Well friends and followers, the Dazzler crew has found themselves safely in Australia. Our eight day passage was one of the easiest we’ve had to date. In fact, with only three of those days having enough wind to sail by we had a very calm motor trip. Not exactly what we hope for and also very expensive fuel wise but the bonus is that we didn’t break anything in rough seas. Heck, we had seas so flat most of the time it was more like being on a lake than the ocean. Now it’s time to buckle down and get used to the rough and tumble lifestyle of the Aussies while trying to avoid all the animals, reptiles and insects that are trying to kill us.
Our arrival at Bundaberg Port Marina coincided with that of six other incoming yachts. That meant we had to wait in line for check in. Fortunately they put us in our slip to wait rather than making us anchor out and then come to the quarantine dock when they were ready.
Sadly this meant we could be in port but not leave the boat until the ABF (Australian Border Force) and Biosecurity had been by to clear us in. When you’ve been on a boat for eight straight days the first thing you want to do it get off of it and take a little walk. But, we took it all in stride and sipped on a few anchor down beers while we waited.
If you’ve never checked into our out of a country on a boat you’d probably be shocked to know all of the regulations and paperwork that go along with it. All countries ask mostly the same information but their bureaucratic red tape can be vastly different. For example, checking into Vanuatu, a third world country, is a hassle but they don’t seem to care much about what you are or are not bringing into the country. They don’t even board your boat. For all they know we could have smuggled in monkeys or small children. No, Grape Ape doesn’t count as he’s family.
Checking into first world countries like New Zealand and Australia is night and day from places like Vanuatu. Here they want to know everything and I do mean everything. Australia is known for having very strict border controls….something the USA would do well to adopt. The paperwork even requires that you list all of your electronics with their serial numbers etc. It literally took hours to prepare our entry paperwork for Australia. And, this week we experienced a bit of that tough Aussie border control.
Here Comes ABF
ABF was here within an hour of our arrival and Rob, the agent, was a pleasure to have aboard. We were his last check in of the day so he spent a little extra time chatting us up a bit and giving us info about the country. But while he was certainly enjoyable to work with there was no doubt he knows his job and does it to the letter.
While he appeared relaxed and casual it was very evident that he uses that manner to get the cruisers checking in to be relaxed. That in itself could entice the bad guys to slip up and give away information regarding something they may be doing that isn’t quite on the up and up.
You’d be surprised at what people try to bring into country. We learned it’s not just drugs and human trafficking either. Apparently one woman tried to smuggle in a small monkey on her boat. She tranquilized it and hid it in a locker!
Knowing us and most specifically, Dan, you have to know that this is not an issue on Dazzler. We do everything to the letter because she’s our home and we do not want to to have her seized. It’s just not worth it. We declare everything and let them tell us if there is something they want. Our motto is this… “If they take it, then they take it. Better that than to lose our home.”
After Rob left the boat we waited anxiously for Biosecurity. This is the one thing we were very concerned about. You see, here in Australia Biosecurity doesn’t just come on board and seize fruits, vegetables and fresh/frozen meats, they do a full timber inspection to be sure you aren’t brining in any termites or wood boring insects.
Honestly we find this a little ironic considering the fact that Australia is known for massive termite mounds that can be as big as a small camper. And, we learned they have fourteen days from our arrival to do said, very expensive, timber inspection. Doesn’t that seem a bit counterintuitive? I mean really, if we’re tied to a dock and we do have these insects on board and they don’t check us for two weeks then isn’t it likely that these creatures have already started migrating toward the land???? Asking for a friend here.
Oh well, as we always say…. “Their country, their rules. We just do what is asked and move on.”
Where Is Biosecurity? I’m Starving!
We arrived at 1000 hours and at 1600 hours we still had not seen hide nor hair of Biosecurity. At this point we began to get a bit concerned. We couldn’t leave the boat and we hadn’t eaten. And, we had purged any of the real food we had on board that we knew they would confiscate.
After all, better to feed the sea life than to let it go to the incinerator right? Well, maybe not as right as we thought as I’d have given my right arm for a piece of the spicy Italian salami that we fed to the sharks about that time. And we only had four beers on board when we docked so we were definitely ready for food and some adult beverages.
We finally contacted the marina staff who assured us that Biosecurity would not leave for the day until they visited all of us. At minimum they would clear us so that we could leave the boat and would come back later to complete their timber inspection.
Finally around 1700 a lovely young lady name Rebecca showed up. She was bright and shining and an absolute doll with a perky smile and great attitude. She told us she’d only be here long enough to clear us in and look into our food stores. Since we’d already done all of our purging it made her job easy. Within ten minutes we had our Practique that gave us permission to depart the vessel. Of course that invasive timber inspection would be on the books for another day.
They Are Already Trying To Kill Us!
Within minutes of her leaving we were off the boat and taking a walk to the nearby hamlet at Burnett Heads where we’d been assured there was a liquor store, grocery store and the Beacon’s Bistro Pub. Well, what else do you need in life?
First of all, we’d been told the walk was just fifteen minutes and it turned out to be twenty-five. I never understand why people always lie about distances and times but we hadn’t walked much in the last eight days so it was not a huge deal. Of course it was getting close to sunset and I wasn’t so excited about being out here in the wilderness knowing that everything in Australia wants to kill me either.
We’re walking down this road that is a blacktop road in what looks like a brand new subdivision. You know, just before any construction begins? Well, we’re walking along chatting when all of the sudden out of nowhere comes this big bird screeching as loud as it can while dive bombing us.
I’m not kidding this thing was coming right at us and you could see it was not a happy camper. At first I thought it was just a fluke but by the third time it came at us I knew it was clearly out to get us. Obviously we were near some nest but there were no trees so we had no idea where it was or what we should be moving away from. This crazy thing came at us six or eight times before it finally landed on the ground and left us alone.
We later learned this is called a Plover. Of course when the Aussies say it, it sounds more like “pluva”. They tells us they nest on the ground and are very territorial. Really? I hadn’t noticed.
More important than that….they have a spur on the front edge of their wings that can cut the crap out of you. Rebecca, our Biosecurity agent, told us that as kids if you wanted to get into the “cool kid click” you had to run into a field, steal a Plover egg, bring it to the others to see and then run back into the field and put it back into its nest.
No Coolness Here
It’s then that I realized if I’d grown up here in the land of Oz I would not have been one of the cool kids. No, I’d have been the geek riding around in the bicycle helmet with zip ties sticking up in the air to protect me from the evil flying beasts. Apparently Magpies also enjoy swooping down and attacking you as well.
And yes, that’s what they do here. They tie zip ties into their bike helmets so that the birds swoop down and hit the zip ties instead of their heads. I think the only cool thing I’d have had going for me is that I’d have used colored zip ties instead of the black ones as we’ve seen on most helmets.
The bird attack happened just ten minutes into our walk so now I’m looking around for the snakes, spiders and crocodiles that I already knew would be gunning for us. I certainly wasn’t prepared to put psychotic birds on my list of things that would try to kill me but here I was less that eight hours in country and I was already modifying my list of critters to avoid in order to live through this adventure.
We Made It Alive!
Fortunately we made it to the pub with no further incidents. But, I was concerned that we’d be walking back in the dark. We learned the pub has a shuttle that will take us back to the marina so my fears were put to rest. We had a few brews, some dinner and picked up the needed adult supplies at the liquor store next door before they drove us back to the marina.
Now I should go back just a little bit before we departed because, well, I found my new hero and her name is Stantana. We’d finished our dinner and were waiting around until 2000 for the shuttle to take us to the marina. Behind us was this guy who had obviously had a little more alcohol than his mouth could handle. He was getting a bit surly with the staff and, well, they cut him off.
Apparently this didn’t sit well with his intoxicated brain so he became even more unruly. Not liking the fact that Brad, the bartender, had cut him off he went back to the bar to try to plead his case with the gal in charge. When she refused to budge on the issue he got even more aggressive and started calling Brad a “softcock” and threatening Stantana with calling her bosses. Seems he thought his connection to the owners made him invincible. Funny how alcohol does that isn’t it?
Don’t Start None, There Won’t Be None!
This woman wasn’t taking any grief from this old due. As his aggression level rose so did hers. Finally we see her get right in his face and with a most authoritative voice and yell, “Get the F*** out of my bar!”
I literally sat back on my stool looking at them in complete shock. I mean, it’s not every day you see something like this happening right in front of you. Usually you have to go to Youtube for this sort of entertainment.
Drunk dude staggers back to his table behind us cursing and mumbling the entire way. He gets to the table, picks up a glass that was half full of whisky and starts to raise it to his mouth.
Stantana yells across the bar, “Don’t you dare drink that. You get out of here.” He keeps on as if he’s going to drink it and in a split second she has gone from behind the bar, across the room a good twenty feet and is standing at his side. She slaps the glass out of his hand and it falls to the table splashing whisky everywhere. Not sure but I think that’s alcohol abuse.
Anyway, drunk dude continues with his cursing and inebriated crap and she yells at him again, “I told you to get the F*** out of my bar!” He starts to get up in her face and she pushes him backwards toward the wall. About this time I’m looking at Dan who is in all out cop readiness mode. He’s not going to let anything happen to this gal.
Fortunately the old drunk decides Stantana might be a bit much for him to tangle with in his current state and decides to stagger out the back door mumbling about how she’s going to be fired when he talks to her boss. Dan relaxes and Stantana calmly goes about cleaning up the mess on and around the table.
I’m sitting there in shock and yet I’m so dang proud of this woman I don’t even know. I mean, honestly, she is badass and it’s evident that in a pub in the remote places in Australia that’s exactly how you have to be. I’m pretty sure her motto is similar to mine…. “Don’t start none there won’t be none.”
As she walks by I tell her she’s my new hero. She laughs and says it’s not the first time she’s had to deal with him and it certainly won’t be the last. Before we leave the pub I just had to get a picture with her. She will always be a reminder of our first night in the land down under where you have to be tough to survive. Who knows, maybe she will inspire me to toughen up a bit about all these deadly critters.
Is that Jackie Legs Over There?
In the last few days we’ve had time to get adjusted to the Australian way of doing things and even passed our timber inspection with flying colors. We’ve been to town, re-provisioned with a few things. I finally got a much needed haircut after six months and we even got to see our first wild kangaroos. They were in a field literally steps away from the pub at Burnett Heads. I was so excited I was like a kid at Christmas.
Of course the Aussies think I’m crazy because they think of them as rodents. I guess I like them because they are one of the few things here that aren’t trying to kill us and, they are kind of cute too. Is that Jackie Legs over there???
Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m going to love this country as soon as I get used to the critters. By the way, now my list not only includes, snakes, spiders, crocodiles (salties), box jellyfish and sharks but also the Plover bird and apparently the Magpie.
A Much Needed Trip Home
As for us…we’re putting Dazzler in dry storage this Friday. It’s finally time for us to go back home and visit family and friends after almost three years. We’re both very excited to see everyone. We’ll be spending time in California, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and Florida. And, for the first time in seven years we will be with family, blood family that is, for the holidays. It’s Thanksgiving in California and Christmas in Florida.
So, we can’t promise that we will be updating the site much, if at all, while we are gone. We’re looking at this time as a time to really reconnect with our loved ones and that means putting all work aside for a bit. And, with all the travel required to see everyone we probably won’t have time anyway.
We’ll be back at the end of January though so we hope you’ll come back to see how things are going. By then Dan will have a riveting article about a huge “boo boo” he made on Dazzler this week that could have resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in damage to her. All I can say is, “I’m glad it was his mistake and not mine.”
As embarrassing as it is he plans to share this misadventure because, well, it can happen to anyone of us. And, if it does, knowing how to handle it is key. Hopefully his story will help someone else along the way so be sure to watch for it.
We hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s or whatever other holidays you celebrate. Remember to spread joy wherever you go and find peace and love in everyone and everything.
Until next time,
1 thought on “They Are Already Trying To Kill Us!”
Glad you two are settling in and getting to know the locals, first wildlife attack, first Aussie pub experience, some people have to pay good money for this kind of stuff and you’ve gotten a good taste on your first trip ashore. Have a great trip home, look forward to catching up when you return.