I feel like I’ve been moving at light speed for the last five days. We arrived in Cairns on Sunday. Unlike a lot of marinas in Australia, the arrival was really smooth. The marina left keys for us so we could access the showers and be free to come and go at night, and they were very relaxed about check in protocols. After 12 days of passage making (with one trip to shore on Maggie) we were more than eager to grab a familiar burger at Grill’d. It was nice to finally relax and get a full night’s sleep.
Monday morning we started the furious process of tearing the boat apart to try to address all of the big outstanding work-list items in 4 days (Friday being a local holiday). With significant help from Evan on Ceilydh, I identified the best way to address the serious exhaust leak we had been suffering. I tore out the dry exhaust portion over the next two days.
When I got stumped (seized bolts, timezone differences waiting for advice, etc.) I took the sails to John at Cairns Yacht Sails, for restitch and third reef. I love that guy. He was curmudgeonly, like Bob Perry, and had the same “I have strong opinions, you should have none” attitude. I learned a lot from talking with him and he gave us a very fair price on all the work. When it came time to make the sail bag he said “Your missus has a Sailrite, right?” And proceeded to give me all the parts to make it ourselves.
Time after time we were in a shop, offering to buy something and the clerk would direct us to a cheaper or DIY option. I found this earnest honesty in every interaction and was just blown away by it. I find this part of Queensland to be exceedingly fair-minded.
The exhaust was the touchiest part of our whole week’s work. In order to get the job done I had to find a shop that would turn the project around in 24 hours (before the holiday). The first shop I went to came well recommended but the guy looked at the project and said “I might be able to, but I can’t promise, why don’t you go across the way and talk to Vinnie. If he can’t do it, come back.” Vinnie came through. I had the part in my hands then next morning, and when it didn’t quite fit, they altered it on the spot for me.
We now have the main back on (with it’s gorgeous third reef), the engine is purring, and the genoa will go back on when the wind dies a bit. My overall impression of Cairns is that it is the best place we could have done this work. Brisbane has more services perhaps, but it’s all so spread out that we would have likely burned an extra day in travel. Cairns has a more compact footprint, all the services, and a can-do attitude. That combined with the noteworthy honesty, makes this a clear contender for best city to do boat work! It ranks with Alameda, CA as our all time favorites.
Somewhere in all this excitement and work we also found time for fun. We met a really cool cruising couple that were at the end of their sailing adventure, and had a nice night of chatting before they headed off on an epic Australian road trip.
Then, for Vick’s birthday, we caught up with another cruising family that we had met last year in Airlie Beach. This was one of those experiences that reminds you that the world is round and every goodbye is just an opportunity for a future reunion. We hunkered down over wine and pizza (and later the most insane cake) and rediscovered why we love cruising families so much.