Saturday March 4, 2000 - Lord Howe, Australia.

Good news sailors,

Land ahoy. On day 5 of our passage Enrico spotted land at first light. We slowly passed Balls Pyramid, a jagged island just southeast of Lord Howe in the grey light. The mountains of Lord Howe looked dark and mysterious as we approached. As morning broke I could make out the vast kentia palm tree forest running up the side of the steep mountain.

Once we rounded the western side, Michael called us on the VHF from a police car. Not to worry he wasn’t in any kind of trouble. It seems on the island some people wear different hats so to speak. He had the harbormaster and customs ready to receive us. With a couple of tips we navigated through the reef and were moored in the sandy lagoon. There are reefs scattered throughout the lagoon so we will have vigilant mooring watches and very cautious tender driving. Despite it’s shortcomings as an anchorage, the lagoon is a slice of paradise. So inviting in fact Enrico went for a dip.

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STARSHIP moored in the idyllic lagoon of Lord Howe Island.

Trevor gave us a quick lesson in the Australian language over breakfast ... "abbreviate everything and add 'ie' to the end". So “Breakie” was toast with Vegemite. (For those of you who haven’t heard of Vegemite, imagine a dark brown peanut butter like paste that tastes like mashed up vitamins and something scraped out of a horse’s hoof.) I for one love the stuff, which is basically a salty yeast extract. It has such a peculiar flavor, there is nothing like it and nowhere else to get it other than in a jar of Vegemite.

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John Gerits - cleared STARSHIP through the myriad of 
Customs forms with a smile.

John Gerits, Senior Constable from the New South Wales Police, came aboard to clear us into Australia. He gave us a handsome welcome, stamped our passports, collected our rubbish and we were in. Ahhh what a great feeling to be in Australia. So much to see and do. Thankfully during Michael’s short time scouting out Lord Howe Island, he stumbled across an expert, Ian Hutton. Although not an islander himself, Ian has written four books on Lord Howe, largely focused on the unique wildlife of these gorgeous islands. (Email Ian on alfa@tpgi.com.au or visit his website www.lordhoweisle.com.au)

Two guests from Deutsche Telekom, Hans-Juergen Hadenfeldt and Hermann Schneider, have also joined us for our stay at Lord Howe. They got a taste of the STARSHIP adventure when we made a quick run out to see Balls Pyramid before sunset. Guided by Ian we motored 23km out to the towering rock, which is registered in the Guinness Book of Records as the tallest “stack”. (Stack is defined as the eroded remnant of a coastline or island.) It stands 551 meters, alone on the horizon like a dark haunted tower. Call it a pyramid, a golden spire, a cathedral ... it is all those and more awe-inspiring. No lens is wide enough to catch it all - rising out of the startlingly clear blue water, up the sheer cliff face to a razor thin peak teeming with birds.

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Ian .... our guide for the evening in front of the sheer cliffs 
of Balls Pyramid. Can you spot STARSHIP?

Balls Pyramid is the breeding ground for many species of seabirds. One of which, the Kermadec petrel, claims this island as its only breeding ground in Australia. Birds flew out to meet us in the tender. The graceful brown noddies, were so friendly one nearly landed on James while he made his patented bird call. The most dramatic thing about this island is that it will only last another 10,000 to 20,000 years before the effects of erosion gently wear it into the sea.

STARSHIP signing off,

Anne-Lise