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 wasnt 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 its shortcomings as an anchorage, the
lagoon is a slice of paradise. So inviting in fact Enrico went for a dip.
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 havent heard of Vegemite,
imagine a dark brown peanut butter like paste that tastes like mashed up
vitamins and something scraped out of a horses 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
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 Michaels 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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,