Friends Claude and Normande from Quebec on their sailboat Azzar are just crossing Bass Strait between New South Wales, Australia and Tasmania. This often violent stretch of water is being unusually kind to them - mostly due to a prudent selection of departure date. Patience pays great rewards. Like the weather at Cape Horn, Bass Strait is not always awful ... just MUCH of the time. But there are often a few moments when Neptune is in a good mood.
By now they must be in Wineglass Bay or some other equally idyllic anchorage. We remember the hiking above Wineglass as being quite lovely when we anchored Traversay III in the bay in early 2006.
The delightful east coast of Tassie also features Maria Island the Port Arthur Penal Colony, both worth the time to stop, anchor and tour ashore.
Meanwhile, far to the north and on the other side of the world, we vicariously savor the warmth of our friends' emails as we freeze at 50+N with the sun barely over the horizon. I even saw some snowflakes this morning!
Our carol sing a few days ago was great with choristers that not only knew all the songs but also made them sound more than just acceptable. Somehow, each Christmas, we wish we could have crowded on the dock and deck all the fine singers who have graced our Christmas sing-songs in years past.
While Mary Anne took in one of the many concerts on offer every day, Larry toured the hardware and tool stores. The boat is now equipped with new coveralls, face shield, ventilating fan and cutting wheels. The clock is ticking down on the "Great Tank Removal of 2012" when our leaky grey water tank will be replaced with a new welded plastic one.
Oh ... here's something bizarre. We don't know what we will do yet ... still gathering information.
All marina-pumped diesel fuel in England is dyed red [as it is in the USA]. This has nothing to do with tax status in the UK ... only that two tanks are not available to stow clear and red diesel separately. The commercial boats don't pay tax and the pleasure boats DO - but the color stays the same. The British just don't want the fishermen to use diesel from their boats in their cars. In the US the red color has to do with no "road" tax as opposed to "sales" tax which IS paid.
Anyway, it seems the Belgian and German police check tanks and if they find ANY dye in the fuel they issue enormous [800 Euro] on-the-spot fines. The authorities don't care that you come from far away and have receipts to prove you paid applicable taxes where the fuel came from ... to them red diesel means you are defrauding the state. In Canada, of course we don't convict people on the basis of color!!
All this may affect our ability to visit Germany but will not affect Norway. We are currently working our way through the regulatory hurdles to visit Spitsbergen. Wow ... that would give us every longitude and latitudes from 65 1/2 S to 80 N.