Global Voyage

A Story About Sailing Around the World

Ray & Jenny aboard the ketch Suka

3 years, 35,000 miles, Nov 1982 - Jan 1986

Ray & Jenny Jardine

Chapter 9: Bundaberg

page 64 of 109


A Slice of Life Down Under

Six months in Bundaberg, waiting out the cyclone season.


Artwork on one of Suka's ports, drawn by Deidrie.

The Queensland sun bore down intensely onto our already sunburned hides, so as soon as the anchor had settled we pitched the tropic awning between the masts. In its shade we then opened a bottle of champagne, stowed while still in San Diego more than eleven months ago for just this occasion. We toasted to a successful season of cruising and to our reaching this landfall. The passages across the expansive Pacific had been first rate learning experiences. We had worked hard, and had passed the tests. Now in Bundaberg we planned to await the end of hurricane season, and I was really looking forward to the well deserved respite.

With the satisfaction of having won a hard-earned goal, at last we were free to indulge in a luxury we had been many days without: uninterrupted sleep.

Plying the River

Next morning we awoke well rested. When I hailed the port authorities by radio, a voice assured us that the river was indeed navigable, and requested us to call in at the office of the port authorities once we arrived in town.

We weighed and set off upriver with a rising tide, glad that an inflowing current would be assisting Suka from astern. Finding the way without benefit of a chart proved somewhat non-systematic, yet Jenny's soundings soon showed the necessity of keeping to the outside of the river bends, where the faster flowing current had sluiced the channel the deepest.

The day was warm and peaceful, and we reveled in the river's extraordinary tranquility. Our little brig lay strangely still, almost as if she were hauled-out on the ways. But Perkins rumbled quietly, sending its reverberations reassuringly throughout the craft. As Suka forged ever ahead, her bow knifing through the silt-green water, Jenny stood at the foredeck heaving her lead line. Occasionally we would encounter shallow water, after turning the wrong way, and this would send us into anxiety for a few moments until we had found a better course. Generally, though, we maintained at least a few feet of clearance beneath the keel. And because we avoided running aground, we concluded that this new-to-us experience of river plying was one that we thoroughly enjoyed.

The waterway was perhaps 30 yards wide, and its mud banks steep-to. At eye level, the earth stretched away flat as the proverbial pancake. Moreover, it was laden in fields of vibrant green sugar cane, which amusingly we mistook for corn. Where the river widened, its banks lay smothered in tangles of mangroves.

Aside from the occasional beam trawler rumbling past, traveling two to three times our speed in one direction or the other, the only activity we encountered, if it could be called that, was the random outboard skiff drifting upriver with the tide, and bearing its unanimated occupants. Fishing was the apparent pretext, but nursing cans of beer seemed the more apparent enterprise. Invariably these fellows waved to us heartily.

Reaching the town of Bundaberg

Two and a half hours into the morning we closed the town jetty. I wheeled Suka around, powered gently, bow into the current, and maneuvered the boat alongside a concrete wharf. A friendly Australian couple accepted Jenny's bow and spring lines and made them fast. Don and Toni introduced themselves, and said they lived aboard their ferrocement sloop, Scylla III, moored among perhaps 25 yachts lying to "tire moorings" mid-river.

“After confiscating the lion's share of our provisions, the officer wrote "Voluntarily Surrendered" on his Seizure Form and presented it to me for a signature.”

We were reluctant to step ashore before receiving our clearance, and yet Jenny's Q-flag aloft had no effect at summoning the authorities. So eventually Don volunteered to go summon them. By and by, the functionaries of Health, Customs, and Immigration arrived, cordially executed their formalities, then departed. Then the agricultural officer boarded, only to produce a long list of prohibited comestibles. Undaunted by our paucity of fresh food, he all but emptied Suka's dry-goods lockers. After confiscating the lion's share of our provisions, he wrote the words "Voluntarily Surrendered" on his Seizure Form and presented it to me for a signature. This embargo was of course aimed at deterring any intruding pests that might threaten the country's agrarian interests. And as the zealous emissary struggled to his car, bags of loot slung over a shoulder like a Santa Claus gone amok, Jenny and I looked at each other, stupefied. Presumably, we were free to go ashore.


Suka moored on the Burnett River, in the town of Bundaberg

We then reported to the office of harbor control, where for twelve Aussie dollars a week a deputy assigned Suka a niche among the local and foreign cruising yachts.

“Our Aussie friends stood us a few local beers and an apple strudel each. Their warm hospitality left us with the feeling that we would become fond of the Australians.”

That evening, Don and Toni rowed alongside, and offered to show us some of the town. Also, they generously extended us a few Aussie dollars, for it seems that the banks, where foreign visitors such as ourselves would exchange currency, had closed for the weekend. Then at one of the ubiquitous Aussie pubs our new friends stood us a few local beers and an apple strudel each. Their warm hospitality left us with the feeling that we would become fond of the Australians, as indeed that proved the case.

The story has 109 pages. This is page 64.
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Page Links
GV 001: Title Page
GV 002: TOC
GV 003: Dedication
GV 004: Preface
GV 005: Prologue
GV 006: Beginnings
GV 007: Work Done
GV 008: Making Ready
GV 009: Departure
GV 010: Sailing Credentials
GV 011: First Lesson
GV 012: Sextant Navigation
GV 013: Safety Harness
GV 014: Murphy's law
GV 015: Spirit of Adventure
GV 016: Holding On
GV 017: First Big Storm
GV 018: Storm Intensified
GV 019: Rolling Violently
GV 020: Mizzen Sleeping Bag'sl
GV 021: Freeing the Propeller
GV 022: Visits by Birds
GV 023: Crossing the Doldrums
GV 024: Nearing First Landfall
GV 025: Land Ho
GV 026: Fatu Hiva
GV 027: Trek Inland
GV 028: Anchor Watch
GV 029: Passage
GV 030: Hiva Oa
GV 031: Skin Diving Circus
GV 032: Almost Like a Jungle
GV 033: Polaris Missile
GV 034: Taiohaie Bay
GV 035: Cascade Hakaui
GV 036: Taipi Bay
GV 037: Cyclone Lisa
GV 038: Cyclone Nano
GV 039: Passage of Patience
GV 040: Tuamotu Archipelago
GV 041: Tahiti
GV 042: Cyclone Reva
GV 043: Secret Sharer
GV 044: Moorea
GV 045: Cyclone Veena
GV 046: Aftermath
GV 047: Good Weather in Papeete
GV 048: Huahine
GV 049: Raiatea
GV 050: BoraBora
GV 051: Rarotonga
GV 052: Tonga
GV 053: Fresh Air
GV 054: Tongan Feast
GV 055: Excursion to Maninita
GV 056: Mariner's Cave
GV 057: Fiji
GV 058: Ndravuni Island
GV 059: Mara Island
GV 060: Aneityum
GV 061: Noumea
GV 062: St Elmo's fire
GV 063: Breakwater Reef
> GV 064: Bundaberg
GV 065: Life on the Burnett River
GV 066: Engine Sabotage
GV 067: Flying
GV 068: Aground in Round Hill Creek
GV 069: Gladstone Confinement
GV 070: Tropical Queensland
GV 071: Trip into Townsville
GV 072: Cairns Sojourn
GV 073: Cramped Cooktown
GV 074: Lizard Island
GV 075: The San Michelle
GV 076: Lost Mummy Cave
GV 077: Land's End
GV 078: Darwin
GV 079: Christmas Is
GV 080: Passage
GV 081: Cocos Keeling
GV 082: Crossing the Indian Ocean
GV 083: Rodriguez
GV 084: Mauritius
GV 085: Reunion Cirque de Mafate
GV 086: Reunion Cirque de Salazie
GV 087: Passage to Africa
GV 088: Kruger National Park
GV 089: Richards Bay
GV 090: Durban
GV 091: Port Elizabeth
GV 092: Cape Town
GV 093: Storm Passage
GV 094: St Helena
GV 095: Passage to Brazil
GV 096: Fortaleza
GV 097: Passage to Caribbean
GV 098: Bonaire
GV 099: Passage to Panama
GV 100: Panama
GV 101: Panama Canal
GV 102: Medidor
GV 103: Costa Rica
GV 104: Passage to Acapulco
GV 105: Acapulco to Cabo
GV 106: Baja
GV 107: Home Port
GV 108: In Retrospect
GV 109: Next Time
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