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September 25, 2006

Getting to Asia Plan B: Cargo Ship

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA - Everyday that I stay here, I'm just waiting for something to happen, there's nothing more for me to do. I've talked to as many people as I can, I've posted notices on every bulletin board in the city, I'm all over the online crew banks and I've tried in vain to talk to as many yachties as I can to no avail. To simply wait for something to happen is making me crazy.

It's time to be proactive. It's time to look at other options. It's a little too far to swim, I can't afford my own boat and I wouldn't dare fly - flying forward, of course, would break my only rule.

A lot of you have suggested working on a cargo ship. A little research quickly put to rest any notions I had of swabbing the deck in an orange jump suit on a giant freighter.

Despite the romantic image of sailors working their way around the world as a merchant seaman, it won't be possible for me as carrier of a 1st world passport. Never mind that Filipino and Panamanian deckhands are more reliable and better at their job than I'd be. It's nearly impossible for me to get a work visa since these ships usually fly under third world flags.

All is not lost though. I do see an out, albeit a comparatively expensive one. Freighter travel. A very few of these giant ships actually take a handful of paying passengers. As I wait for a yacht to materialize, I'll focus my energies on the freighter travel angle.

September 23, 2006

So Close, Yet So Far Away

oceaniaDARWIN, AUSTRALIA - From where I sit, here in Darwin, I'm actually closer to the capitals of three other countries than to the capital of Australia. The closest being Dili (East Timor); a mere 400 miles from here. Can you guess the other two?

Despite it's proximity, Indonesia, Timor and the rest of Southeast Asia might not be as easy to get to as I had imagined. There hasn't been a ferry service linking the two regions for more than 20 years; Cargo ships stopped taking on passengers a couple years ago and most of this seasons international yachts have already sailed away in one big armada on July 22nd (115 boats in all).

It seems all my eggs are left in one basket. I'm banking on finding success with the Bluewater Rally; a late season sailing rally that expects to sail out of here in the first half of October. I've heard rumors that up to 40 boats will participate.

If I miss this rally, I'll be stuck in Australia until next year. A prospect I simply don't have the time or money to consider. I'm doing everything I can to find a boat. It's all I do everyday.

September 20, 2006

For Now, I Walk Alone - Video

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA - Gia left last night; back to the Gold Coast. This is the first time, since leaving Toronto that I'm travelling on my own. I'm not really sure what to do. I guess I'll just concern myself with getting across the Timor Sea and up into Asia.

While I do this, you can watch this video I took at the Daly Waters rodeo a few days ago. If there was a TV program for cow bloopers this clip would make it. The chase doesn't end well for the cow.

September 17, 2006

Outback Australia

Nothing To See HereDARWIN, AUSTRALIA - There was a general feeling of dread, in the car, as we realized we may have been out of our league and in the middle of nowhere. With not enough fuel to turn back and an inky, black, croc-infested river flowing in front of us, the only way for us was forward, through the river and back onto the road on the other side.

This scene repeated itself 9 or 10 times as rivers flowed across our path despite it still being the dry season up here. If it wasn't a river causing stress it was the fine, loose quicksand threatening our vehicle, that passed for a road.

From Cairns, armed with a brand new campervan, we decided to take a more Northerly route across the country than most travellers choose. The 'dotted-line' on the map as opposed to the major highways to the South. The road less travelled. The road least travelled. Ever.

In navigating this route, officially called 'The Savannah Way', I'm happy to say that we managed to get an authentic outback experience. We saw everything one would expect to see in the Australian outback and more. The van made it through every river with no more than one flat tire and an inch of red dust covering everything inside and out.

When we finally did emerge from the bush and back onto a sealed highway, we found ourselves enjoying a rodeo (pictured above), seemingly miles from everywhere. Every year at the historic outback roadhouse, Daly Waters, cowboys come out the woodwork for a few dust filled days of bull riding and cow chasing. A good time was had by all.

Now I'm in Darwin; it's time to start looking forward to what's next for me.

September 12, 2006

Tropical Queensland - Cairns

CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - So we ended up renting a car for the portion of the trip that they'd allow: The civilized stretch. It took a full three days; including party stops to drive up the coast and back into the tropics.

I'd have posted photos if I hadn't spent most of the drive suffering the agony that goes along with the realization that I'd lost my camera for the second time on the same trip. Fortunately it was a false alarm I found it in my shoe, of all places, upon arrival.

Tomorrows plan is to head out on a day-trip to the town of Port Douglas. Some of you may have heard it in the news recently as Steve Irwin was killed last week while diving nearby.

We'll be needing a little bit of luck to get us kick-started on the next leg of the leg of this trip. Darwin is still very far away on the other side of a vast and barren chunk of land. If everything goes well, we'll be delivering a camper-van to Darwin (free of charge) in the next few days. If this scam doesn't work, I'm not sure what we'll do. We'll tackle that hurdle when we get there.

September 08, 2006

T-Shirts Revisited

Alexis and TroyGOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - I wanted to quickly thank everybody who's purchased one of our T-Shirts. When we first started selling them, we had no idea that they'd be such a hit. Jon has been working round-the-clock, he tells me, to get them out to those of you that have ordered one.

I've also started to see photos of some of these shirts being worn. If you've got a picture of yourself wearing one, I'd love to see it. If you've got a picture of yourself wearing one on the road, that is travelling, I definitely want to see it. Once we get a few more submissions, I'll create a spot on this site to display them.

The first person to get a shot of one of the t-shirts on the summit of Everest will get, uhh, a complimentary tee.

If you don't have a shirt, and can't steal one from a friend, details about how to get one can be found here.

September 01, 2006

They Won't Rent Me A Car After All

SURFERS PARADISE, AUSTRALIA - It would have been too easy anyway. I should have done more research before booking the rental car; I should have trusted my instinct when I said it seemed 'unbelievable'. Never mind that the online booking service allowed the reservation, or that the small print said that it included unlimited kilometres. Silly me, what was I thinking? I should have skipped the small print entirely and gone straight to the invisible print; the part that said - and I'm paraphrasing here - 'You can rent this car as long as you don't go too far. Despite the rules, we're not sure how to get it back if you drive it all the way out there. Perhaps you'd consider Cairns or somewhere else conveniently close to here instead.'

This road trip will have to play out differently than I imagined. Last time I was in Australia, I was able to travel free of charge by re-locating camper vans for rental companies. Occasionally they actually paid ME to help cover fuel costs.

Of course these re-location jobs come up sporadically at best; one can't book ahead for them. So my hope is that we get lucky. With a little bit of patience and some flexibility on my part, I'm confident that I'll be able to make my way to Darwin before the wet season sets in and all the yacths have left. It seems the world is forcing me to travel by the seat of my pants - It's alright, I prefer it this way.