November 21, 2008
We’re still here! The weather has been quite un-summerly, with strong, cool winds and yesterday, heavy rain.News on the radio the last few mornings has been of heavy storms on the mainland, with particularly the Brisbane area getting severely hit by damaging winds, rain and hail. Out here in the ocean we have luckily missed the worst, but no way are we heading back to the mainland yet. Pundits are now carefully hinting that the long-lasting drought may be over in some areas. Reservoir levels have stopped falling.The rain had one benefit, we were able to fill up the water tank with delicious, clean water. Showers again!Lord Howe Island relies exclusively on collecting rainwater for its supply, as there are no reliable streams, and the salt level in borewater is too high. Every house has huge 6000 liter green plastic tanks, fed from substantial roof guttering and pipes. With no rain for nearly six months one recent summer, everyone was very water-worried.We did the Island Tour yesterday. Postmaster Peter drove his minibus slowly around and kept up a continual stream of information as to who, where, what and when. Discovered in 1788 by a Royal Naval vessel, and first settled in 1870’s by a member of a whaling ship who saw an opportunity to supply whaling ships coming in to find water, fresh produce and a bit of rest. First developed as a tourist oasis after WW2, and served by two Short Sandringham flying boats, the last in service in 1974 after twenty one years. Postmaster Peter very knowledgable about all the aircraft, (photos in the Museum), including Francis Chichester’s epic flight in 1935(?) in a Gypsy Moth on his way round the world. A sudden storm capsized the aircraft at its mooring, and it took months to fix before flying on. Ten minibus passengers with info-full heads after four hours. Highlight, for some, was witnessing the daily weather balloon release, in a gale force wind and low cloud. Even a two meter diameter balloon was out of sight in a short minute. The met man was pessimistic. We’ll visit him soon and get some long-range wind predictions.Cold and windy weather has meant no swimming or snorkelling. Even the glass-bottomed boats have mostly remained tugging at their moorings. Water temperature is a measly 22 degrees. Getting anywhere, to the snorkelling places, or ashore, is a very wet experience. Short, stubby rubber dingy in short, choppy waves and strong, gusty wind makes for much spray. Changes of clothing needed, tightly packed in layers of plastic bags. This PC gets the submersible-to-five-meters treatment on its way to and from the Museum and the internet connection.The wind has backed to the north west after the rain-front passed and the two high mountains, Gower and Lidgbird at the south end of the island have got their lenticular cloud hat again.Saturday 22 nov: Clear, calm starlit night last night and back to blowing this morning. Visited the Met man yesterday afternoon to get a wind and weather prognosis. Looks like we have a window to get back to the mainland starting early tuesday morning. So we’ll read more books.