LETTER from Eivind & Heidi____AUSTRALIA, YAMBA January - May 2009
Real cowboys!!!
It was not only Christmas that was getting closer...
Christmas in Australia.
Some things to keep
a track on!
Every Thursday - racing, beer and sauna.
4th og March 2009 - 3215gr, 51cm.
One small and one big...
Eirik at the Norwegian Consulate in Brisbane to apply for his Norwegian passport
Clarence River, 13th of April 2009.
Proud Grandparents!
Goodmother Janne is an experienced mother and had some advise to give the "fresh" mate-mother.

The new crewmember signs onboard
When the decision was made, that Yamba was the place for us to stay and the car was bought, it was time to see more of “the country with many possibilities”. Madeleine and Bror invited us to their farm in Cawongla many times – after a while we almost invited ourselves.
Madeleine and Bror are very welcoming people and when we visited they also got some extra help on the farm. With our newly bought “Porsche Turbo Cabriolet” it was 1½ hours drive from Yamba inland to Cawongla.
With her steadily growing belly Heidi stayed on the farm most of the time, when the Captain was out “playing” cowboy. After some training Eivind got good control of the animal, which you don’t mention by name onboard a boat. As know, if you say the word “horse” onboard, it may bring bad luck – for both ship and crew.
Together with Madeleine and Bror Eivind was often seen on the horseback in gallop, with “full control” over 160 moving cows and 100 moving calves. When Eivind returned to the farm, the smile in his face was not to be misunderstood. This was really fun - and definitely a lifestyle Eivind would like later on…

Camping-life along the coast
The original plan was to sail to Sydney before we settled in Yamba. Instead of sailing we brought the tent and headed for the Pacific Highway in the beginning of September. Sydney Opera, the coast and the Blue Mountains were on our itinerary.
Camping life is not too bad. After a detour north via Southport where we met friends from New Zealand, we drove south to Australia’s biggest city – Sydney. We arrived the same day as Jørn Utzon, the architect of the Opera House, died. The flags on the famous Opera and on the Harbour Bridge were flying on half pole. We wrote some words in the condolences book. From Sydney via the Blue Mountains we camped north back to Yamba. The car did a good job all the way and the tent passed the test.

Cawongla Yacht Club
Every Thursday Bror and his neighbours gather on the sauna steps on the edge of Bror’s dam. Eivind also found his way to some of this Thursdays. Thursday is regatta day – everybody came with their remote control sailboats.
The very serious competition took place in the dam between the main house and the sauna. After the obligatory cans of Australian beer, the finish sauna were entered by all the contesters.
To give all the members of Cawongla Yacht Club a real feeling what sailing on the ocean involves, we invited them to a coastal passage with Empire. When the day got closer we were a little worried about the weather forecast – the predictions were just a little wind - or no wind at all. When the sailing day came, it blew more than enough… 15m/s from the south gave several of the yacht club members an experience they will not forget. The crab fishing outside Yamba will be exceptionally good in the time to come…

Boat neighbour with a baby
One day in December we got new neighbours in Yamba Marina. Even though it still was a few months until we expected our new crewmember, Heidi was happy when she discovered that the new neighbours were a family with a baby. Australian Tanya and Steve with their 6 months old daughter Gingerlily lived onboard their yacht Wayfinder. They had cruised several years in the Pacific, with Japan as one of their favourite places. They were not only in the same age group as us, they alsogot Gingerlily while living onboard. Tanya and Heidi had plenty to talk about in the following months…

Christmas and New Years Eve
Also Christmas 2008 was celebrated in the “spirit of Scandinavia”. Christmas in the Caribbean with Mariann at Bequia in 2005, in Ushuaia with other Scandinavian sailors in 2006 and in Whangarei (New Zealand) with Swedish Sharon and Pelle and Norwegian sailors in 2007, the Christmas traditions were kept. This was also the case together with Madeleine and Bror in Cawongla, where we celebrated both Christmas and New Years Eve.
Ham, turkey and “Jansons Fristelse” among other goodies were on the table. Even though we have sailed far from home to experience new places and meet new people, it feels good to celebrate the festive days also with Scandinavian traditions.

Early delivery
Later we expected visit from Lennart. Lennart is also one of the “Cape Horners” we met when we sailed near the tip of South America. Lennart came to visit both Bror and us – and he was hoping also to meet the new crewmember – but it looked as if Lennart was coming a little bit too early to meet the last mentioned.
Again we were visiting in Cawongla, so that Bror and Eivind the next day could drive to Brisbane airport to pick up Lennart – but it did not turn out that way. The night before Lennart’s plane was supposed to land at Brisbane airport (and 10 days before Heidi was due) Heidi tells Eivind as he returns from a nightly visit to the toilet: “I think I have had contractions for two hour now, the last 40 minutes with 9 minutes between” – “but it is probably false alarm”, she added. Eivind was not that convinced that this was something that would just pass by it selves.
On the telephone Eivind calmly asked the midwife on duty at Grafton Base Hospital (which was where we hoped Heidi was to give birth) “if she thought it would be a good idea that we headed their way?” The midwife confirmed Eivind suspicions and said “that if you have plans to give birth at Grafton Base Hospital, NOW is the time to hit the road”. The hospital is situated a little more than 2 hours drive from Cawongla…
We were not completely unprepared - the “give-birth-bag” was long time ago packed and placed in the car – just in case…

The drive towards the hospital became a little more exciting than wanted since the contractions came closer and closer. When we were about one hour’s drive away from the hospital – in “no man’s land” with no houses nor any cell phone coverage – the contractions came three minutes apart. Luckily the contractions slowed down again and we arrived at the hospital at 4 o’clock in the morning, with plenty of time “to spare” before the little one’s arrival. That we didn’t know as we were driving from Cawongla to Grafton...
Eirik arrived the 4th of March at 1420 (local east coast time). His measures were 3215gr and 51cm. At that time we did not know that it was Eirik that had arrived, since we did not know weather it was a girl or a boy we were expecting.– and no name-suggestions were final. After seeing the boy for some time, we “saw” that it was “an Eirik” that had arrived (see what the local newspaper is writing>>>).
As Heidi was resting at the hospital for a few days, Eivind put the hood in the direction towards Cawongla and Madeleine’s and Bror’s farm again. It was really good to see our sailor-friend Lennart again. Together with Madeleine and Bror Lennart and Eivind visited the yearly Kyogle Rodeoshow. Eivind even challenged Bror to do a ride on a bull’s back, but they both ended up only watching…
When Heidi “was let out of” the hospital, the new Sailor, the Mate and the Captain headed for Cawongla – again. Eirik did not get the chance to sign onboard until Monday the 16th of March. 12 days after arrival he was finally able to check out his yacht for the first time.

Australians are helpful people
Some weeks after Eirik was born, family from Norway came visiting. We were really looking forward to their visit. Vigdis and Tore (Heidi’s parents), Irene (Eivind’s mother) and Janne (friend and godmother) came all the way to Yamba to inspect the little one.
Since we were expecting a lot of people on visit, Bror lent us his Ford Explorer with 8 seats, so that we all could fit in one car. In change we lent Bror our “sportscar”. After pick up at Brisbane airport Eivind and the visitors headed for Yamba, where Heidi and Eirik were waiting.
When it was about one hour’s drive left before Yamba, we stopped at a rest area for necessary “work”. When the car was to be started again, the battery was completely dead. Absolutely all other people stopping at the rest area came over to us to try to help.
There was a short-cut in the starting battery. Jumping cables was no use. Since no one had a new starting battery with them, it was not much the helpers could do. Anyway - our newly arrived guests got to feel the Australian hospitality and friendliness we had told them about. That our marina neighbour’s brother by a coincidence was passing through the village just before the rest area, became our luck. He bought a new battery and drove by the rest area where he delivered the new battery to us – and suddenly we were “back on the road” again.

Eirik’s Christening on the river
Torgeir Vea, the priest at The Norwegian Seamen’s Church in Sydney, was pleased to say “yes” to our request about performing a Christening ceremony onboard Empire. Since Vigdis and Tore, Irene and Peder (Eivind’s son) was planning to visit around Easter, that seemed to be a good time for the Christening – with family present.
Rome, the motorboat belonging to one of our neighbours in Yamba Marina and Empire threw off from Yamba Easter Monday. After anchoring in Clarence River, the Christening ceremony took place on Empire’s deck - accompanied by the music from the river-waves. Eirik got his name with family from Norway and godmother Janne and Australian friends on deck – with saltwater from the Pacific Ocean in the Baptism bowl. The day was rounded off with festivity and fish soup in the apartment in Yamba where the Norwegian guests resided during their Australia-stay. It was a memorable day for the new Sailor and the proud parents.

Rough weather
Before we were ready to throw off from Yamba to continue our sailing, we really got to experience some of the extreme Australia-weather. Earlier in the season the news headlines were about big fires in southern parts of Australia and heavy flooding in northern parts. In the end of May it was the northern part of New South Wales (which includes the area around Yamba) that was drabbed. Heavy rain inland combined with full moon, high water and wind blowing on shore made Clarence and surrounding rivers flood. In Grafton, the city where Eirik some months earlier was born, the water-level in the river rose more than 15 meters above normal.
Huge areas came under water and many people were evacuated. In Yamba where Clarence River empties into the Pacific Ocean, the flooding didn’t cause that much trouble. When the water level was at its highest in Yamba Marina, it was still 60 centimetres left on the concrete poles that keep the floating pontoons in place. The main road in to the city came under water one of the days. Except for that the damages in Yamba was limited.
Instead the city was cut off from the rest of Australia for more than one week, when the road system outside Yamba was put under water. The shelves in the shops in Yamba were quckly emptied. Food was flown in to Yamba with helicopter. Luckily – onboard Empire there was no troubles – Empire was before the flooding well stocked and prepared for the oncoming voyage up the Australian east coast.
When it again was possible to sail on Clarence River, and the waves from the big storm far east had calmed down, we threw off from Yamba. We waved “see you later” to our friends in New South Wales with tears in our eyes. When Tanya and Steve showed up on the breakwater where Clarence River meets the Pacific Ocean – and blew their foghorn – we got even more tears in our eyes. We were glad to know that already some miles north on the coast we would at least meet some of our Australian friends again.