Monday, May 1, 2017

Happy Birthday Benjamin...And Other Notes!

When we left Abell Point Marina, on the day before “The Big Day”, the wind and tide dictated to a certain extent where we could go and anchor for the night. We decided on Nara Inlet on Hook Island, and after a brisk 2 hour sail, we entered this beautiful fjord-like inlet, and nudged our way right to the end, where we dropped our anchor. With cliffs on either side of us, it proved to be a magically calm haven out of the strong wind and current in the Whitsunday passage.

A blustery sail in the Whitsunday passage

Cool Runnings anchored in Nara Inlet

We took the dinghy to shore and discovered a track leading up to a cave with some ancient Aboriginal paintings on the cave walls. It was very cool to see these primitive works of art, and to think of the people who inhabited this area thousands of years ago. 

The track was well marked with interesting plaques talking about the Ngaro people who inhabited this area long before we ever came along

Rosemary asks for permission to continue on the special path

More info about the Ngaro living at Nara Inlet

The cave with the paintings

A close up view of the primitive paintings

After our walk, I was back on the boat, and Dave was out on the dinghy with Ben and Gaby, looking at the coral not too far away. All of a sudden, I heard this “click clacking” noise on our solar panels. I looked outside, and there was a cockatoo playing peek-a-boo with me! He would stick his head over the side to check me out, and then quickly pull it away, talking to me in a parrot-like way! It was very cute to start, but then I panicked about the solar panels, and if his sharp claws would scratch or damage them. I went onto the roof, and tried to shoo him away. He wasn’t interested in leaving, instead jumping down into the cockpit area, first on the BBQ, and then on the rescue sling we have attached to the side! By this time, I signaled Dave and the kids to come back to say hi to our new guest. The kids named him “Nigel” (after the cockatoo in the movie “Rio”). Nigel moved up onto the spreader, and hung around for a while before realizing that these humans were quite boring, and flew off, squawking loudly, no doubt letting the other cockatoos know that there was not much to see on Cool Runnings!

Nigel struts his stuff on our solar panels

And then has a closer look...

Saturday morning, April 29th dawned…”The Big Day”… Benjamin’s 13th birthday!! After being spoilt with pressies sent by his extremely generous aunt Kim, and transported by his very kind Granny, we prepared to get ready to head out again. But not before Nigel came back to wish Benjamin a happy birthday, and he brought his girlfriend Nellie with him! 

Happy Birthday to our teenager!!

Nigel introduces Nellie 

And they both play peek-a-boo!
We headed over to the Hamilton Island Marina, to rendezvous with “Nogal”, who had been there for a couple of days already. Being marina guests allowed us access to the whole resort, so it was a huge treat for us to pretend like we were holidaying in a fancy resort! We headed over to the beach side and staked our claim next to the pool. Benjamin's greatest wish was to sail a Hobie, so David went to check out the Hobie situation and managed to book one for an hour. Benjamin was so excited! He and Dave sailed for a bit, and then soon the Nogal crew headed over too and once Frank got hooked up with a Hobie, the race was on! America’s Cup: Team Nogal (Frank and Julia) vs. Team Cool Runnings (Dave, Ben and Gaby)! I can’t say if there was a winner, but needless to say, a lot of fun was had by all!!

Enjoying ourselves pool-side.  You can see some of the palm trees are a little worse for wear from cyclone damage
Ben, Gaby and Dave go out on the Hobie

The next great sailor in our family?  Benjamin loved sailing the Hobie!  Best. Birthday. Present. Ever.!!

A look back at the pool and beach.  Hard to imagine that this was devastated by a cyclone just a month ago

Thank goodness it was Ben’s birthday, because this allowed us to indulge in one more thing we don’t do a lot of: eat out! Frank made reservations for us all at a place called “Tako”, and we had the most interesting and fanciest tacos and quesadillas we’ve ever had! Delicious! After dinner, everyone met back on Cool Runnings, and the celebrations continued with a cake that Julia managed to whip up somewhere between Hobie sailing and dinner! I was most impressed!! Thank you, Julia for managing what I couldn’t!! And thanks to Sophie for the decorations on the cake!

Gaby, the Birthday Boy with Julia and Sophie and the birthday cake Julia whipped up for Ben.  The banner across the cake reads "Happy Birthday"...hand made by Sophie!  Thank you both for the tremendous effort!  (and the cake was delicious too!!)
Unfortunately for Ben, all good things must come to an end, and soon the day was over, but now we have a teenager in the house (or more correctly, on the boat), and he had one of the best birthdays ever! Thanks to all who made it so special!

On a side note, we’ve witnessed some incredible destruction here in the Whitsundays from cyclone Debbie.  It is a constant reminder of what Mother Nature can do, and how careful we have to be whilst on this trip.  As I write this, another low is forming in the Coral Sea, with the potential to become a very nasty system, if not a cyclone.  We are tracking it, and while it is a little too soon to say, it looks like it might hit Cairns around May 9th, just when we plan to be there!  And therefore, our plans are always fluid, as we watch the weather and plan accordingly!

Many businesses in Airlie Beach were closed either temporarily or permanently due to the damage from the cyclone

This beautiful boat was just smashed onto the rocks

This was in Hamilton Island Marina.  Not only were some of the actual docks/pontoons totally destroyed, there were many boats with extensive damage...this one was probably the worst
No longer a "Day Dream"... more like a nightmare


  1. Happy 13th birthday Ben. Glad you had a great day. Say HI to all ... and to Granny too :)

    1. Thanks, Bruce!! And Granny says Hi! :)

  2. Happy belated Birthday Ben. Sorry that we weren't more organised about getting a message to you on the day! I hope it was even better than your mom described and welcome to teenagehood. I'm back in Nottingham and the rest of the family back in Pietermaritzburg but I'm hoping that I will be in SA later this year to coincide with your time in South Africa and I get to see you all in the flesh.
    Lots of love


  3. I love the cockatoos. I went to an exhibition in London that focused on the intelligence of parrots. Extraordinary.