Monday, 21 July 2014


Flying over northern Russia.

Taipan has been tied up at the River City Brewing company on the St Johns River in central Jacksonville. We left her and flew to Australia on the 11th of April. Before our departure we had to completely strip the exterior. All the clears, covers, sails, and loose items had to be cleaned and packed below. The interior is stuffed to capacity. We sent the Main Sail off to North Sails to get the slugs replaced as the kept breaking on the trip here. We have also ordered a new track system and new cars for the battens on the Main. Some of the Clears also needed re stitching as the Thailand thread is failing in many places. so these were also sent out to a canvas repair shop to be returned to us when we arrived back in Jacksonville. Our flight out was via Chicago  a long wait, then over the Arctic, down through Kamchatka  northern Russia and China into Hong Kong. A short wait then Perth. Total about 32 hours. Just manageable!

Proud Great Grand Father Colin

Home is in the country 20 km from Albany on the south west coast, 400km south of Perth. The homestead  is rented so we spent most of our visit staying with Colin, Kris's Dad, in Albany. It was great to spend time together. Since March, Edna, Kris's Mum, has been a permanent resident at Clarence Estate, a nice Aged Care facility in Albany.  She has become too frail for Colin to manage at home. We were able to visit her every day. When we arrived it was fair weather with mostly fine days but gradually the winter kicked in and we made the move to winter cloths. A much milder cold than Cape Town, South Africa, last year.  

Farmer David and his trusty tractor.

The major work on the farm involved removing some overgrown trees from around the homestead. The Swamp Mahogany's had become enormous with their far reaching root systems threatening the house. What a job. Chester a very good friend, and David, with the assistance of Sony, our tenant and as it happens, an accomplished tree lopper, dealt with the biggest trees over two days. We took out 18 large trees. The mess was huge and the clean up took over a week.

There was other work involving drains, yukky… and moving a water tank. The guttering on both the sheds and the house was in deplorable condition as a result of the debris from the trees and the long term accumulation which the agents failed to deal with. 


The mess after harvest of Blue Gums
The harvest of the dreaded Blue Gums has been completed on half the property. Still a couple of years till the next half. The mess is terrible. Acres of stumps and stones and mounds to clean up. The returns from blue gums are at rock bottom but I guess some plantations are just being abandoned unharvested so some return was better than none. It will all be needed, and more, to restore the fencing, water and repair the damage to what was previously beautiful grazing country.

We were scheduled to return to Taipan in Jacksonville on the 8th of June but an incident involving a chainsaw and a small wayward pine tree saw David admitted to hospital emergency with a suspected broken jaw. Not wanting to return to USA with a pre-existing medical condition we elected to delay our flights by a month. It took 3 X-rays and scans to determine that it was not in fact broken, he only has deep nerve grooves! I did have my doubts as there seemed to be no deterrent affect to his ability to eat and drink

Beautiful baby Connor.

It was an easy decision to make, to stay the extra month, with a new grandchild due any time. 

On the 16th of June Jason and Ferne presented us with  a grandson!. Connor Beau, weighing in at a healthy 8 1/2 pounds. He has a great mop of hair and is bonnie in every way.

Lily 15  and Savannah 7 have been fighting for turns! Connor wasn't too impressed when his first bath turned into 2 first baths and both his sisters need to have a go!

Now a month on, he is well and truly settled in and is a very happy and healthy baby. He already has the full compliment of Tonka's for the sand pit!

Our return flight took 48 hours from the time we arrived at Perth International Airport until we arrived in Jacksonville. What a shocker!  

The first leg was 7 hours to Hong Kong. A two hour wait then 16 hours to JFK New York. We were scheduled to have an 8 hour wait here but it turned into 12. Finally we boarded for Jacksonville. About half an hour out of Jacksonville we were advised that the flight couldn't land because of weather so we were diverted to Orlando, further south. It was now 3am. We waited another 2 hours for buses then were transported by bus to Jacksonville. Another 2 and a half hours! Its taken about 4 days to fully recover!

Now what?