Welcome to Australia

Far off on the horizon we could just make out some hills that we knew to be part of Australia. Land Ho!

The first boat we met was “Texas T” and they were kind enough to photograph us with fully reefed sails as we headed for Brisbane harbour. The coastguard were warning of an approaching storm every hour and we were caught by it just before we reached the safety of Moreton Bay. Another sailing boat, maybe two hours behind us, was not so lucky and was blown south – hopefully to take refuge at Southport, further down the coast.

Artemis after entering Australian waters

We passed the fairway buoy that marks the beginning of the ships lane just before dusk and spent the night sailing south with the strong winds and swell following us. We had to ensure that we remained in the marked channel but at the same time avoid the monster ships leaving the commercial port of Brisbane. Each meeting was preceded with a quick radio conversation

“Monster ship, Monster ship, this is Artemis! Over.”
“Artemis this is Monster Ship on Channel 12! Over”
“Monster Ship, we are the tiny sailing boat heading your way with a dim light in the mast. We should meet in about 10 minutes and will keep well to starboard. Over”
“Roger that Artemis! We have you on visual and radar and will pass you red to red. Thank you for the info. Out!”

At least the port pilots spoke English English. A tug pulling a barge passed us to starboard and his Australian accent was so broad on the radio, I was not sure of everything he said. But he avoided us as agreed.

Once we reached the river mouth we turned upwind and drifted backwards and forwards for four hours to wait for daylight, wait for the incoming tide and, most importantly, finally sleep a bit. Until now we had both been catnapping while the other one held course.

At dawn we sailed up the Brisbane River. We passed the container terminal, the cement works and huge factory complexes. Just one tiny sailing boat being pushed by the wind between this landscape of industrial giants.

Container terminal

After about eight miles we reached the marina, turned in to shore and Heidi passed our bowline to a waiting dock-master. After 45 days at sea, we finally made it. We had done it. We had crossed the Pacific, the worlds largest ocean. We held each other tight, kissed and laughed.

The Australian Border Force had three officers waiting on the pontoon. They told us they had been following our progress via satellite and were a little confused and worried about out four hour “drifting around” in the night. They checked our papers and then said “welcome to Australia!”

Next was a gentleman from the Ministry of Agriculture. He should have checked our boat for animals and plants but couldn’t as we may have Covid so told us to ring him when we get out of quarantine.

The Border Force passed us on to the the Queensland Police who scanned a few documents and then discussed cricket with us while we waited for a taxi. The taxi ferried us to a quarantine hotel while being followed by the police (to ensure we didn’t make a break for it during the journey). At the hotel there were more police and medical personnel to process us safely in to our hotel room for 14 days quarantine. Twelve government employees for two sailors. Not many countries are that welcoming.

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