Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Family Time on the Gold Coast

We were very blessed to be able to spend some time with Dave's family in the time leading up to, and including, Christmas.  Shortly after arriving at the Gold Coast, Dave's aunt and uncle, Gaylor and Brian Smith, drove down to where we had anchored, and welcomed us on the dock.  It was so nice to see them, after we had corresponded along the way, and Gaylor had written us such wonderful encouraging emails while we sailed across the Pacific.  She has a knack of providing such good advice, and encouragement when we most need it....THANK YOU, Gaylor!!!

They took us back to their house and we were treated like royalty....the kids could not believe their luck!  Later they took us back to the boat and then lent us their car, which made running errands, (such as sorting our phones and internet hotspot!), and doing grocery shopping a breeze!  What a treat to have wheels again!  Thanks also for having Ben and Gaby for 2 days, while Dave and I stayed on the boat! The kids often talk about their stay in pure luxury and were treated to movies, great food, and just generally fussed over!

Thank you for everything, Gaylor and Brian! 

A few days later we sadly said goodbye to Bruce and Lyn Savage as they headed off to Sydney to be with their own families for Christmas.  It was strange to be on our own...Cool Runnings was missing her friend JoliFou!  But we knew we would see them again as we were planning to be in Sydney for New Year.

Before heading off to be with our family, one of the major tasks we accomplished was beaching Cool Runnings for the first time!  We had seen another Lagoon beached on the sandbank in the Broadwater, near were we anchored, and we went over and chatted to the owner about the processes. Seeing Erik (the boat's owner) do this, gave Dave the courage to beach our boat, which allowed us to clean the hulls more easily, and would also allow Dave to change the sail drive oil.  It was a mathematical calculation of tide times and variances, to make sure that once you were on the sandbank, you could get off again at the next high tide!  But we did it, and it was fun to see our home on sand instead of in the water!

Cool Runnings high and dry!

With boat tasks out the way, first up was a trip to Casuarina, a lovely seaside town, where Dave's cousin, Ingrid Taylor, has a beautiful beach house.  We spent a blissful weekend here with Ingrid, her husband Dave, and their 4 kids, Raine, Travis, Dustin and Paige.  It was so nice to be in a house again, relaxing and reconnecting with family, and for the kids to meet second cousins that they had never met before!  We cycled to Kingscliff for pizza, had coffee at SALT, and went for long walks on the beach, which was right on our doorstep.

Cousins!  Gaby, Benjamin, and twins, Paige and Dustin
The beach at the Taylor's beach house

On Sunday, Dec 18th (the date references are more for us, as a diary of our voyage), we went to Byron Bay, a really cool, artsy town, whose headland, Cape Byron, is the easternmost point in Australia. We had a great time wondering up and down the streets, window shopping and then going to the local market, where you could find anything from fresh fruit and vegetables, clothing, plants and food.  Our only drama on this day was a call from our friend Erik (the beached Lagoon owner) regarding Cool Runnings, whom we had left anchored in Bum's Bay.  The wind came up really strong, and a boat that was anchored in front of us started dragging, and was about to crash into Cool Runnings!  Our deepest thanks to Erik and Gayle on "Nautilus", who watched Cool Runnings for us while we were gone, and who kept us updated on the situation.  Erik got in his dinghy and together with the local VMR (Volunteer Marine Rescue) boat, re-anchored the dragging boat, and kept Cool Runnings out of harm's way.

Perusing the streets of Byron Bay

Can you tell this is a surf town?!  Christmas tree made of surf boards!

Coffee and Beer in Byron Bay!  Dave, Ben and Gaby with Dave, Ingrid and Paige

After that incident, I was not leaving our home at anchor again while we were gone for any period of time!!  So, we managed to get a berth in a marina for a week while we went to stay with Warren (Dave's other cousin, Ingrid's brother), and his lovely wife Camilla.  Once again, we have to thank friends for helping us out.  Thank you, William Voerman, for organizing the marina berth (literally impossible to get just days before Christmas).  In true William style, he did this all just days before heading out on his own overseas holiday to the USA!  Thanks also to you and Pascal for your hospitality and the lovely braai we had at your house!

So we packed our bags and left Cool Runnings (safe and sound in the marina) and moved in with Warren, Camilla, and their beautiful children, Tanner and Sage for a week!  Ben and Gaby got to meet more 2nd cousins and enjoyed playing with them and their dog, Trigger! Thanks for making us feel so welcome and at home!

Ben and Trigger!

Warren and Camilla have a beautiful home on a large property, with a trampoline, and just to prove they live in Australia, kangaroos that regularly hopped into the neighbour's garden!!  Once again we were spoilt by having a car of our own (thank you, Warren and Camilla!), and it was a whirlwind week of Christmas shopping and sight seeing. Warren really spoilt us by taking us to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, where Gaby's dream of holding a koala was fulfilled, and up to the top of the Q1 skyscraper, which provided us amazing views of the Gold Coast. THANK YOU!!!

And Gaby gets a turn!  Her dream comes true!

Ben holds the koala

Kangaroo up close!
Gaby feeding a kangaroo
This kangaroo has a joey in her pouch!  Do you see its little head sticking out?

How cute are these guys?  We just couldn't get enough of them!  See the baby koala holding onto it's Mum's back?

A view of the Gold Coast from the top of the Q1 building

On Christmas Eve we took a drive to Tamborine Mountain, a lovely little town in the "Hinterland", which was only about 45 minutes drive from Warren's house.  We walked up and down the street enjoying the quaint shops and restaurants, and then enjoyed exploring beautiful wooded areas and waterfalls.  It was a lovely way to spend Christmas Eve!

In Tamborine Mountain - there was a wonderful cuckoo clock shop that captivated our attention!

Amazing trees in the forest

On our drive back, we stopped and took in this view.
Beautiful green pastures with the Gold Coast skyline in the background

 Christmas Day was, of course, a family affair, with the Hibberds, the Taylors, the Smiths and Camilla's family bringing the total to 23!  What a privilege to spend this Christmas with so many family members, so far from home!  Again, our deepest thanks to all of you, for welcoming us into your homes, and making us feel so welcome!

The table set for 23!

Bring on the masses...we were ready!

Australian Family Portrait:
From left (back row):  Ingrid, Gudrun, Dave, Raine, Gaylor, Brian, Camilla, Warren, Faye (Camilla's sister-in-law with baby Billie-Grace), Cilla and Mike, Camilla's parents, Dave Taylor
From left (front):  Tanner (with guitar), Brad (Raine's boyfriend - behind Ben), Ben & Gaby (petting Cody, the Taylor family dog), Paige, Sage, Dusty, Rowan (Camilla's brother), Sam, Travis, Trigger

We often find ourselves saying how lucky and blessed we are for all we are experiencing, and for the kindness and generosity family and friends have shown us.  We will always remember with such fondness this wonderful Christmas of 2016!!!

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