Portland (AUS) - 38° 20' 46" S 141° 36' 39" E

Having accomplished the task we came to Australia for (Graham's memorial service), we wanted to get back to some 'normal' routines.  As autumn is surely on its way, preparations like cutting and stacking firewood for the winter are things that need to be done.  As all the Findlay girls and their husbands were available, we jumped into this task with both feet.

Susan and Graeme turning logs into bite-sized pieces

Log-splitting fun!

The two properties have no shortage of firewood, having at least 50 acres each that rolls down to Main Creek.  Graeme and Wendy headed down to cut up the bigger deadfall at the creek and put it on the trailer.  It was then brought up to the shed, where we had a hydraulic log splitter waiting.  If you've never had the opportunity to play with one of these marvellous toys, I enthusiastically endorse the satisfying and effective work that can be done with it.  We all finished the work with our fingers and toes attached and working (except for Graeme, who started with half of one missing).

We also had the opportunity to help out on one of the neighbouring farms - Nazaaray Estates.  The farm (vineyard, actually) is owned by Param and Nermal Ghumnan, a lovely couple that sometimes put out the call for assistance when it is time for grape picking.

Gabby, Marcia, Sean and Tom picking 

Immigrant workers (shhh!  Don't tell the Immigration authorities!)

Many hands are needed for a short time and farmers are used to jumping in to help on these occasions.  Kate and I get to be part of the fray for a day and were involved in the 2021 Pinot Grigio harvest.  We had a lesson on how to cut the grapes from the vines without including a finger or even quantities of blood in the harvest.  Nermal made scones for an afternoon lunch and we got to have a look at the combined fruits (literally) of our labour after lunch.

Labelled Tupperware - Kate was here!

Not just work, though - we were invited to join the early morning swimmers at the Flinders Jetty - fun!

Swimming amongst anchored yachts - extra fun!

Other little tasks are getting accomplished, too: handrails firmed up; flyscreen replaced on screen doors; pantries re-ordered and stocked for winter.  Having these things to do helps to ease us back into the rhythm that brings a longer-term perspective to life after a big loss.  And then, suddenly ... the call came.

Gabby has some friends that she and Graham met while sailing.  In December, Vicki and Allan purchased a beautiful, big catamaran that they plan to use along the stunningly-beautiful cruising grounds along the east coast of Australia.  They are in the process of sailing from Perth, where they purchased it, to their home on the Sunshine Coast.  They made it as far as Portland when Allan became quite ill and needed to be hospitalized.  They had put out a call for crew to help the hired captain to bring it across the bottom of Australia and partway up the coast.  A sailing adventure ... on a catamaran!  We were very excited to do it!

Kate and I had never sailed on such a big catamaran and wanted to understand the pros and cons of this type of vessel.  This experience would help us to determine if a catamaran would be a consideration when the time came for us to purchase a vessel.  The need to get there and get moving was urgent - a weather window would be open between Wednesday and Saturday ... and it was Tuesday.  We hastily confirmed with Vicki and Allan, booked train and bus tickets, packed that night and get a ride to Frankston with Gabby first thing the next morning.

Masks on, we boarded the trains, then the bus and ten hours later, stepped onto Percy Street in the town of Portland.  It looks like a very quaint spot, but we won't have much time to explore before we cast off the lines tomorrow.  Captain Mark, whom we have not met, is arriving by bus tomorrow.  We'll make sure the boat is provisioned and ready to go when he arrives.

Wish us luck.


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