Australia: Final days with Morpheus in Coomera

Thursday morning we were up really early as we wanted to get our sails off before the wind kicked in. First was the staysail which we dropped to the deck and then pulled it over the rail onto the dock where it was flaked and put into the sail bag. Next in line was the genoa, a much bigger sail, but all went well. Finally it was the turn of the main. This is never that easy with just the two of us as we have to remove vertical battens as the sail is lowered. But all went to plan and we both breathed a sigh of relief that they were all flaked, bagged and ready to go. During this exercise we identified a few areas of wear and tear that need addressing. In discussion with Evolution Sails (who are Rally partners who confirmed a discounted rate) they agreed to collect them on Friday. This is their “busy” season but this didn’t cause us a problem as we are returning home for Christmas. They confirmed they were happy to do any identified and agreed repairs and then store them for us until we return next year. Such great people to deal with!

Next job on the list was to get the diesel jugs off the rail so that we could wash and wax the topsides. We were just getting ourselves sorted when this guy walks up and asks if my name is Jan?!? Replying in the affirmative he then rushed off…..leaving me slightly bemused….then returned with an Eski filled with a selection of local cold beers. These beers were a gift from our friend Dave (back in the UK) and it was his uncle, Peter Thompson, who delivered them (he lives in Brisbane). We had a nice time chatting to him (although slightly embarrassed by the state of ourselves and the boat at this stage LOL) and thanked him so much for the visit. Thanks Thomo, great surprise and much appreciated.

After Peter’s brief visit we masked up the capping rail and eyebrows ready for varnishing. Weather had stopped us doing this earlier in the season so we decided to change our plans and organised to be lifted first into the Works Yard (on Friday) before being moved again to Long-Term Storage (where working on the boat is not allowed). The BoatWorks were incredibly responsive to all requests and it was very simple to get the arrangements changed. We were very impressed with their ability to be flexible to accommodate us.

Masking completed we then dropped dink into the water and stripped him bare and stowed everything away. Then we cleaned dink’s topsides before turning him over to give his hull a clean too. Finally all done we hoisted him onto the bow ready for storage. We didn’t strap him down or cover him with tarp at this stage as we need to keep the rail area clear for varnishing. Final job for the day was to install the mast cover which we use when Morphie is being left on the hard. That was it for the day – it had been a long and tiring one so we just had dinner, a couple of sundowners, and retired for an early night as both of us were physically shattered.

Friday morning and Evolution Sails came along just after 7am as promised. We were getting ourselves organised to get lifted later on when EnaVigo came in and were lifted up. Jody and Steve had won a good prize in the Rally welcome week so it made sense that they would lift here to get a few problems resolved. Was great to see them again.

At 9.30 am we were heading towards the lift only to be told to come in backwards… Richard went back out into the river, turned around, and reversed in. All went well and we were soon properly fitted into the strops using our labelled lifting points (something we had done in New Zealand). We also tied the two strops together to ensure that the forward one didn’t slip on our keel. Job done we were slowly lifted out of the water and dangled above the dock where they pulled up some steps to let us off. We got off (having remembered to switch off the fridge and freezer first) and watched Morphie be moved slowly into the wash down area.

She was pretty clean so we were very happy with that. We had a coffee while Morphie was being jet washed and then followed her progress to her position in the Works Yard where she was placed into her cradle. Lots of boat movements going on all the time here in the yard.

It went all very smooth and, despite these being anxious moments, it was very professionally done and we were unusually relaxed. Thanks guys!

We were then given some steps so, around noon, we climbed back on board. No climbing ladders here, what a luxury! This place is amazing with over 40 businesses on site and you could certainly spend a fortune if you didn’t want to do the work yourselves – boats are constantly being lifted or splashed. But I think you would need very very deep pockets LOL.

Then the hard work started. We rubbed down the wood in preparation for the first coat of varnish. Richard started varnishing while I headed to the (free to use) Liveaboard Ensuite facilities to get cleaned up. There are a number of these all around the boatyard, are impeccably clean, and there is lashings of hot water. Lovely!

When I came back Richard had almost finished varnishing the rail (but decided to leave the eyebrows until the morning) so I packed up a cooler with food and drinks and headed to the Cruisers BBQ area on the waterfront.

I met Steve and Jody there and Richard joined us shortly afterwards. It is quite a meeting place this area and is very social despite it being a bit buggy.

Saturday morning, Richard got up early to varnish the eyebrows. After that we did some laundry in one of the laundry areas (which are also complimentary) and then headed to the on-site restaurant, The Galley, for breakfast. Was absolutely delicious.

We then returned to Morphie and started rubbing down the rail. I kept an eye on the time and ran back to the laundry room a few times to swap stuff in and out. Eventually we finished rubbing down the rail and then started on the eyebrows which had dried quickly in the heat. Richard started varnishing again whilst I rested up as my back was starting to complain a bit.

After he had finished applying the second coat we got cleaned up and then headed to the BBQ area and bumped into Mark on Makluska. He had had a difficult passage as his yacht had started taking on water 150 miles off the coast of Australia which resulted in equipment being airlifted to him which enabled him to come into Coomera under his own steam. Coomera is not an official port of entry but, as he was officially a ‘vessel in distress’ it was allowed and he was cleared in situ in the boat yard. Quite a story and very pleased that all ended well for him. It was pretty late when we returned to Morphie, had dinner, and went straight to bed.

Sunday morning we were up very very early. The heat during the day here is pretty difficult to work in and the deck is so hot you can’t actually walk on it! So we wanted to start rubbing down as early as possible. By 9 am we were pretty much done with the sanding and I went and got cleaned up. I left Richard finishing off while I went off with Mark in his courtesy car to the bottle shop as our supplies were depleted.

By 11 am I was back with tinnies and some ice to keep them cool. We then had a small brunch and I started on this blog whilst Richard continued varnishing. In the evening we again went to the BBQ area and chatted to a few people before retiring for an early night completely shattered once again.

Monday morning and we rubbed down again then varnished for the final time. Then we removed all the canvas.

Afterwards we headed to Garage 25 for a complimentary pastry and coffee and admired the fantastic display of cars and motorbikes. The owner of the BoatWorks used to be a racing driver and this is his personal collection. He was actually in the cafe that morning – cleaning tables would you believe – and we were very lucky that he let us in to see the vehicles up close. What a guy!

In the afternoon we borrowed a courtesy truck (which are also complimentary to liveaboards in the boatyard) so that we could fill some diesel jugs and fill up our tank. We always try to leave the fuel tank full to avoid any condensation problems. I also cleaned some of the stainless….. Again another long, hot, physical day. In the evening we headed to the BBQ area and met up with Steve and Jo (fellow Island Packet owners on SV Tamanu) who had arrived into the marina earlier that day. Was lovely to catch up with them again.

Tuesday and we were up early. Again I was using the laundry while Richard went to collect our rented scissor lift as it was time to work on the hull. He wasn’t that comfortable using it to start with but soon got the hang of it.

So we both climbed in and went around (and up and down) peeling all the tape off and cleaned the stainless under the rail plus the rub rail. Then we went around again and washed and polished the hull. So she was now stripped bare and ready for storage. She looked pretty sparkly at the end. Thankfully that was it for the day!

Again we headed to the BBQ area and toughed it out with Steve and Jo despite the huge fat black mosquitoes that seem to like to bite us! Another early night followed.

Wednesday morning and it was time, at last, to work down below. We got our clothes out and packed our suitcases for going home plus the hand baggage sorted. We then prepared everything else for storage. We pickled the watermaker and made sure the water tank was full up as this was our last chance to do this. At 3pm Sid the travel lift turned up to move us from the Works Yard to the Long-Term Storage Yard. So we watched Morphie being transported across the road and into her final position.

The guys were very professional and made sure we were level to minimise any water sitting on the decks in our absence, including lifting Richard up on the fork lift to do the ‘water’ test.

We had showers and ate dinner before heading to the BBQ area for the final time. We were joined by Steve & Jody and Steve & Jo so had a fun evening, also being joined later on by Mark. We did take a selfie but Richard managed to cut both himself and me out of the picture LOL! Eventually it was time to say final fond farewells and return to Morphie for our last night on board.

This morning, Thursday, and we got out stuff off the boat and did a final clean around and check before heading to the showers. Then it was that sad moment of each season when we had to say farewell to our girl. Always makes me feel quite emotional! Take care Morpheus, thanks for looking after us this season, and enjoy your well-earned rest.

At around 8.45 we were eating a healthy fruit breakfast in The Galley. At 9.20 am the Uber turned up to take us to Brisbane airport. We had a good drive and arrived in good time. We checked in (although the computer said no a few times first annoyingly) and then enjoyed Qantas hospitality in their Business Class lounge whilst we awaited the flight. We are both pretty tired and are looking forward to relaxing in our Sydney airport hotel later.

We are really excited about going to Sydney not just to view the sights but also to have long-awaited reunions with both family and friends whilst there.

Bye for now


Australia: Bundaberg to Coomera (Sunshine Coast to Gold Coast)

Thursday morning we had a lazy start and just got ourselves ready to go to sea. In the afternoon we caught up with Norm to find out that his little dog Pip was poorly but he still entertained us royally in the Cruisers Cove over sundowners. Great singalong and even Pip seemed to rally at the end. This was all very impromptu and we were joined by Jody, Steve, Katie, Jeff and a few other people popped their heads in to see what was going on. Later on we headed back to Morphie for an early night.

Friday morning, at 4.55 am, we slipped away from Bundaberg marina and enjoyed a great sunrise as we made our way towards our chosen anchorage for the evening, the bottom of Great Woody Island in the Sandy Straights as we could get some shelter there from the forecasted freshening northerly winds.

We sailed along under genoa alone taking advantage of the rising tide to give us a lift from the strong currents. It was a rolly and hazy day. The reason for the haze became apparent when we saw the smoke plumes from the bush fires in Woodgate. Very sad for the people and the wildlife that is being devastated by the widespread fires here in Australia.

We arrived around 2.45 pm, set the anchor, having covered just over 52 miles. The sand was very good holding, thankfully, as the wind blew hard during the night.

On Saturday morning at 8.25 am we left to make the most of the rising tide so that we could navigate across the Sheridan Flats. The rest of the fleet (Bla Ellinor, EnaVigo, Mezzaluna, French Curve and Jonas) followed on behind as we made short work of the passage doing 7.3 knots in 7.5 knots of breeze!

We could leave earlier than the rest of the fleet due to the depth of our keel so could get across the shallows at an earlier stage of the tide than they could. Amazingly strong currents here as we navigated the twists and bends of the route. It would be much easier to navigate around here at low tide as you could see the sand banks and mud flats but, of course, then you couldn’t move anywhere!

Our destination was Garry’s Anchorage which is located on Fraser Island. This is a World heritage site although much of the interior is closed to hikers at the moment as it is tinder dry from the ongoing drought. We got a relatively sheltered anchoring spot near the shallows, having covered 25 miles, but the rest of the fleet ended up anchoring in a much more exposed position.

We all met on the beach for sundowners and, although Jeff (who had scoped out the beach and picnic area) told us there was nothing to worry about, the signs said otherwise LOL! Sadly we heard that little Pip had died so we all raised a glass in her memory. Was a nice social evening.

On Sunday morning we were off again at 8.15 am headed to Tin Can Bay. Again we were running downwind with the tide so were sailing in very light airs under genoa alone. It was a very bright day. Lovely. We dropped anchor in very shallow water and got a great set with fantastic holding. Which was a blessing later…….as the weather came in fast and furious.

There was thunder, lightning, howling winds over 30 knots, wind over tide, and torrential rain. Our anchor held (although we had to reset the snubber a couple of times) even though we did a couple of complete 360s in the horrendous conditions. Others were not so lucky and had to re-anchor a number of times in the deteriorating weather. Finally, by the evening, the situation moderated and the wind fell back to only 20 knots so we celebrated with a single can of beer each just in case it got bad again during the night and we needed to act.

Monday morning we decided to head down to Pelican Bay to stage for crossing the notoriously challenging Wide Bay Bar. Well, we travelled 7 miles there, admired a few sailing boats and fishing boats, dropped the hook, and looked around.

The conditions in the anchorage were dreadful and there was no way we were going to stay there the night. So we sailed the 7 miles back again enjoying watching the birdlife on the sandbanks on the return leg. This area has charter house boats and speed boats so the rules of the road certainly didn’t apply with many of them cutting us up and wanting to go starboard to starboard in the channel. Oh well….

Back in Tin Can Bay and it was more sheltered. We headed ashore to find the IGA for a few items that we were running low of and found some more interesting-looking birds. We then found a sleepy motel / bar and we all met there for sundowners (although Bla Ellinor were missing). This was to be our last social time together so it was a nice before we all go our separate ways.

Tuesday morning and we were up at the crack of dawn and headed ashore just before 7am. This is because this area has a pod of Australian humpback river dolphins. They are truly wild in the river and look quite different from the normal bottlenose breed. The story goes that, back in the 1950s, one of these river dolphins was badly injured and swam into Tin Can Bay. The locals felt sorry for it and fed it fish while it recovered its strength. This turned into a regular occasion and the pod now have learned behaviour and turn up every day at 7am to show off, be photographed (not touched!) and fed by their adoring public / volunteers. These are truly wild animals and are quite rare so it was lovely to see them up close and personal. Richard even fed Aussie one of the females who had a calf with her.

Oh yes and don’t forget the rescue cormorant who turns up every day hoping to steal some fish LOL.

After the dolphin experience we had a full breakfast (and were joined by another cheeky bird who fancied some bacon) and then headed into the Tin Can Bay Coastguard station, to find out what the conditions were on the Wide Bay Bar. The wind had just dropped dramatically and the conditions were incredibly benign.

So we rushed back to Morphie in dink. And we were accompanied by some dolphins! Amazing…..

Back onboard we got the outboard on the rail, dink on the arch, and ourselves ready. We headed out at the back of the mass exodus of boats taking the opportunity to cross in almost perfect conditions. We were at the back of the fleet as we were the slowest boat and had to punch a bit of tide during the initial stages.

We crossed the bar, and despite it being a bit rolly for the last mile, it was easy peasy. Yay! We had decided to continue down towards Brisbane and take the outside sea route for speed. This was a passage of about 140 miles to the Gold Coast Seaway and then another 20 odd miles through the canals to the marina. The conditions were pretty good although we could have done with more wind at times so had to motor sail at times to keep our speed up. The timing of this passage was crucial as we had to enter the Seaway on a rising tide and, again, this bar is also a notoriously dodgy place in the wrong conditions. So it was important that we kept on top of the speed.

As the sun set it was against a smoky backdrop and had a red hue. Storms were hitting the mainland and I saw two lightning strikes hit. Plus there was the sinister night glow of the bush fires. But that wasn’t the challenge of the night. Fishing boats here travel fast and have right of way and, guess what, they don’t have AIS. Damn….all you can see are huge white lights and it is really difficult to work out what they are doing. I was able to pick a few up as a radar target to track them but then one turned at me, hard. So I had to run the engine hard too. Oh yes, and don’t forget the cruise ship Pacific Asia who decided that to cross my stern at only 200m would be an appropriate thing to do!!!! So I radioed him and they confirmed they had seen me (really?!?) and, thankfully, as a result of the call they changed course. There were ships everywhere and it took some getting used to.

In the morning the beautiful red sun glowed just like Mars.

We had a nice following sea and were committed to going through the Seaway at this stage. And then, of course, there was a strong wind warning for further down the coast. We carried on with a reefed genoa to increase our speed and to give us a back-up in case of engine failure and, thankfully, made it through the Seaway on a rising tide with no difficulties.

As we then moved through the canal system towards The Boatworks we were suddenly sheltered by the mangroves and the 25 knot breeze dropped to very little. The canal systems with their expensive housing and private berthing reminded us a little of Fort Lauderdale in Florida apart from the kangaroos grazing on the grass LOL. An interesting thing that we spotted though was that boats over a certain length are restricted to 6 knots but small speed boats can do 30 knots! So we got buzzed a few times as we meandered the 10 or so miles to the marina up the Camoora River.

At 14.44 we were safely tied into our marina slip (surrounded by huge stink pots) and were definitely pleased to have arrived. We have covered 4,452 miles this season since leaving New Zealand and feel ready for some R&R both here and at home with family and friends. And Morpheus certainly has earned her rest.

But, first, there is loads of work to be done preparing her for our departure. So I’m blogging this afternoon while Richard is filling up with water, washing her down, and connecting the power. We have checked into the facility and were surprised by how empty it appears – but we haven’t had a good walk around yet. So the work starts tomorrow! But, this evening, we are going to enjoy a few cold ones in the cockpit to celebrate our final destination of the season.

Bye for now


Australia: Rally fun in Bundaberg

Wednesday morning we headed to the Rally office and picked up our goody bags.

Later on we headed to the Welcome Down Under Cocktail Party suited dressed in our official t-shirt and Australia tie…… We mingled with other cruisers and were even interviewed by the local press.

At 6pm we settled down to watch the official welcoming ceremony which was given by a local aboriginal family. Very interesting to hear a little bit about their ancient culture.

The owners of The Baltimore restaurant are actually from New Zealand so they invited a Maori family along to give us a traditional welcome also. Very nice to see both indigenous peoples coming together.

Oh yes and SV Begonia didn’t get the dress code memo and came dressed to impress. Can you believe that Kyle (who is actually American with Scottish heritage) carries his full Scottish gear on a boat? They both scrubbed up very well and looked great.

We then had welcome cocktails, loads and loads of canapes (which were really more like full meals with quiches, fish and chips, sausage rolls, prawns etc etc). There was live music and dancing. Overall a fun evening. Here are Jacob and Hanny enjoying their cocktails….

Thursday morning and we headed to the Lighthouse Hotel in Burnett Heads on their courtesy bus for the first of our information seminars. This was about how to stay safe amongst the many hazards we could face here Down Under – all very low key and amusing – but very pertinent information for those of us who had never visited this country before. This was followed by information about VHF usage here (as the marine volunteer service will keep track of us throughout our journey) and then useful weather resources.

After a short break there was an introduction to cruising the East Coast of Australia. When we signed up for all these seminars we weren’t sure how much value we would get out of them. But, I have to say, they are absolutely worth attending. You certainly can’t beat local knowledge of where to go and what to look out for plus ‘do not miss’ anchorages. These sessions make rally participance particularly worthwhile.

Later on we stayed at the Lighthouse for drinks and ended up being on the last courtesy bus back. That seemed to set the scene for the week LOL.

Friday we were back at the Lighthouse and this time the seminar was focused on cruising from Tweed Heads to Sydney. The information about anchoring / mooring / marina dwelling in Sydney was particularly helpful, especially finding out more details on the restrictions on liveaboards and the madness in the harbour that is New Year’s Eve for the firework display. We definitely plan to be in the Sydney area for Christmas and New Year 2020 so we’ll bank all this information for then.

Oh yes, and throughout the scheduled rally days there are prize giveaways. Here are just a few and some lucky winners.

After another short break we attended the next seminar which covered Sydney to Tasmania. This was very interesting although, realistically, I don’t think we’ll sail down that far. The flight sounds like a much more attractive proposition LOL.

Back on the courtesy bus to the marina we headed to Morphie to rest up for a little while then to the Cruiser’s Cove for a pot luck / hootenanny (jam session). The marina very kindly supplied all the meat again (sausages, lamb chops, steak and chicken) and Aso (SV Bla Ellinor) and I prepared the BBQ meat. We started cooking and everyone just left us to it – at one point I had people queuing with plates to get their meat. I refused to play that game and Katie (SV Mezzaluna) kept them at bay as we filled plates of meat which were then put out on the pot luck (sharing) table. Eventually the whole lot was cooked and I was able to sit down too (I had kept some back on the BBQ for us as I knew there was a good chance there would be none left by this time). John (the Rally organiser) appreciated the not-insignificant effort involved and thanked me for cooking for everyone – and then bravely cleaned up behind me! Thanks John.

Saturday and it was Mud Crab Racing Day! We headed over to the Ocean Pacific Seafoods parking lot and got ourselves prepared for the Bundy Muddy Derby. We had a look at the lovely fish in the factory before we started to bid on the crabs.

These crabs would cost about AUS $40 to buy in the market so we set that as our upper limit for the auction.

We were lucky enough to secure a nice big boy (you only eat the male of the species here) and obviously was named Morpheus.

The auction was over, the crabs were placed on the Down Under flag and the first one that left Australia (as chalked on the ground) was the winner. And Morpheus came joint first with SV Jonas. Woo hoo! That meant a $50 credit in the marina against our berth. Very happy. Jacob and Hanny were very nice and released their crab but we kept ours and he was put in the pot for us to collect the following day.

After the crab racing we headed to the Cruisers Cove and had free beer, wine and prawns. They were huge and absolutely delicious, and the cold beer and wine went down well too. All very kindly donated by sponsors – amazing support here in Australia for this rally – and they should know that we thoroughly appreciate their kindness and deep pockets. Too many to mention by name but particular thanks to Ocean Pacific Seafoods, the Down Under Rally, the Northern Breweries and the Bundaberg Port Marina.

After the feast we sat down to watch the iconic Australian movie The Castle. Really enjoyed this – it was very funny. Afterwards we headed over to Jodie and Steve’s boat for pontoonies. What another great day!

Sunday there was a Charity Swap Meet in the marina and lots of cruisers turned up with their treasures from the bilge. Before that started we headed to the laundry as we knew many cruisers would have gone to the local market or be searching their boats for treasure. This worked out just perfectly as the machines were free and people had to wait for us. We even got to have another great breakfast in The Baltimore while the washing was going around in the tub. A good start to the day for sure. We did wander the event and were not sure how much was sold or swapped but it did raise a bit of money for the Volunteer Marine Rescue Service here in Bundaberg so it must be considered a success.

Oh yes and Richard went and picked up Morpheus who had now been cooked which had turned him a lovely red colour.

In the evening there was another Hootenanny session but this time we were a little late arriving and a little early departing. Think the hectic schedule might have just caught up with us at this stage LOL.

Monday morning and it was the 11 November. In Burnett Heads there is a memorial park and we walked there for the 11 am service. It was very moving and I got quite upset thinking about Mum and all those who had left us and it felt particularly poignant to buy a poppy this year. Was very glad that we had attended.

Afterwards we headed into the Lighthouse Hotel for lunch (which wasn’t that great) and then settled down for the next seminars. First session took us cruising the east coast from Bundaberg north to Cairns and beyond. We definitely plan to head north next season to explore for a while so, again, another very interesting and relevant session.

Another short break and there was a Land Cruising seminar – great help and resources in terms of flights, rental cars, which season to drive around (particularly in the Outback), what to watch out for (apart from the obvious dangerous critters LOL) etc. As we plan to stay in Australia next year this was another helpful slot.

Afterwards we stayed behind (again) and had a really fun evening….coming back on the last bus cuddling the blow-up boxing Kangaroo!

You know I mentioned the numerous sponsors….well, the prizes pulled out of the hat throughout the week were amazing and valuable up to the tune of $1,100. On the last day alone there was $1750 of prizes given away. We weren’t lucky enough to win any of the serious prizes but were very pleased to come away with some dinghy boat wash. Our luck was clearly limited to the horse and crab racing sessions LOL.

Tuesday and it was the last formal day of the rally. We had an impromptu lunch break in the Cruisers Cove where Leanne very kindly cracked open Morpheus and showed us how to clean a mud crab. Richard was very happy munching his way through all of this…..

In the evening it was back to the Lighthouse for the Done and Dusted Rally Party. We were treated to canapes and a couple of free drinks plus a live band.

So there was chatting, laughing, music and even a bit of dancing. And, yes, true to form we were back on the very last bus again getting back to Morpheus around 11.30 pm.

So the questions those of you will probably be asking are: Why do the Down Under Rally at all? What are the benefits? Is it worth the money? And the answer to all of them is, definitely do it, it’s a no-brainer!

The rally is actually not that expensive; you get advice on how to prepare for your arrival into Australia to ensure you meet the custom / bio-security needs; all your arrival costs (including the wood pratique) are covered; you are virtually guaranteed a discounted marina slip on arrival; and Bundaberg is wide open so no difficult navigational hazards to boot. Bundaberg Port Marina are very welcoming and the staff are incredibly helpful.

There are also prizes, events and discounts from lots of sponsoring organisations which we are definitely going to make use of (for example our haul out and storage costs in The BoatWorks later this month is at discounted Rally rates). And do not under-estimate the huge value of the local knowledge being imparted. I just know that we are going to have a much better stay here than we would have otherwise with the information that we have gleaned throughout the welcome week.

The other main thing to mention is that this is a “Destination Rally” not a hand-holding one. So you need to be self-sufficient and make your own passage decisions, particularly about departure dates as you are free to leave when the conditions are right for your boat and arrive in your own time. And you can select what you wish to attend and what you don’t – there are no compulsory elements. You can also be as social as you like or not if you are not that way inclined.

Overall we’ve had an amazing time and would definitely recommend joining the Down Under Rally if you plan to head to Australia in the future. John and Leanne make it look easy but they have both worked their socks off to make it so seamless for us – so a huge thank you to them both for their efforts and friendship.

This morning, Wednesday, we have just come back from shopping in Burnett Heads (with a ride back from the supermarket courtesy busy, what a fantastic service!). I’m blogging while Richard is chilling. The wind is howling and we are trying to plan our departure – it is looking tricky and, of course, we have the added pressure of haul out dates organised and flights booked. We can obviously delay our arrival by a few days and just work longer and harder to get ready to haul but that’s about it. So any plans of exploring as we head south is definitely not going to happen. We just need to focus on getting there. There is a window to start moving south in the next day or so for at least the first half of the journey. We’ll then plan to get to a protected anchorage and wait until the conditions are good for the final push and run as fast as we can. To be fair, it is actually not that far to go but the strong winds, forecasted storm activity and potential hazy conditions because of the smoke from the bush fires all need to be factored into the planning.

Bye for now


Australia: In and around Bundaberg

Friday we went out with John and Stella (SV Exocet Strike) in their hire car. They were planning a shopping day in and around Bundaberg and very kindly invited us to join them. So at 9am we headed into The Baltimore (the marina’s restaurant) and had the most fantastic cooked breakfast which was a lovely treat.

Afterwards we met John and Stella and headed out. We popped into Bunnings (hardware store) followed by BCF (Boating, Camping and Fishing) where we picked up a V sheet. We had never seen one of these before but is a safety equipment requirement here in Queensland.

Then it was time to visit Dan Murphy’s which is a huge liquor store (they don’t sell alcohol in the supermarkets here in Australia) and we picked up some real bargains. with lots of wine priced at only AUS $5 to $7 (that makes the cheapest bottle only £2.67). Then it was back to the Hinkler Mall to revisit Woolworths for some fresh salad for the evening. We went out with a very small shopping list but we somehow managed to fill a marina cart on our return LOL. Overall was a very good expedition.

In the evening there was the Cruisers Pot Luck in the Cruisers Cove area of the marina. The meat for the BBQ was supplied by the marina (steak, sausages and chicken). Some long-term Australian cruisers were doing all the cooking (for over 40 people) so I pitched in for a while (as did Aso from SV Bla Ellinor) as most people were just gorging themselves and not even thinking about cooking for themselves. Not sure what planet some people live on. Anyway, eventually, we sat down with the crews of SV Bla Ellinor, SV Begonia and SV Jonas. People started moving away once the food was finished but we decided to stay out and watched the remainder of the New Zealand -v- Wales match. Well done to the All Blacks.

Saturday we had a lazy start and debated what to do on a grey and cloudy day. We decided to walk to Burnett Heads – the nearest village – and took the river-side path watching some boats racing in the river in very light airs.

We came to the Bundaberg Marina Rescue Association building so went inside and thanked them for their assistance on our journey into Australia. They liaised on our behalf with the marina and the officials to ensure that everything went smoothly and efficiently on our arrival. This volunteer service will also keep radio tabs on us as we move south towards Brisbane in the coming weeks. Very nice people.

Whilst there we checked out the sea eagles who were nesting nearby. They had babies in the nest and we were lucky enough to see the adults fly off, return, and then feed them (with sea snakes).

Moving on we reached Burnett Heads and had a look around. We were amused by the drive through Liquor Store. That’s a first!

We stopped at the Lighthouse for lunch and made arrangements to reserve a table for the evening to watch the Rugby World Cup Final in Japan. We then had a quick look in the supermarket and the bakers. At the bakers, the lady was just shutting up shop, and decided to load us up with free bread rolls and a huge cream cake. Seriously, the cake was even on a china plate. She told us just to return that another day. What a country! Can’t imagine that happening at home…..

Walking back towards the marina we stopped to feed a black and white bird who looked a bit like a crow. Very vocal and noisy he was too. Then we watched the black and white pelicans in the lagoon. We had never seen them this colour before and they were certainly much more attractive than their grey/brown Caribbean cousins.

So on we continued admiring the pretty flowers as we strolled.

Then we had our first kangaroo encounter – a mob of wild ones. There were three of them and two of them had joeys in their pouches. So we thoroughly enjoyed watching them as they eyeballed us back.

At the marina, pretty tired having walked quite a few miles, we visited some “friend” boats and dished out the cake and bread. Everyone was very happy.

In the early evening we got the courtesy bus back to The Lighthouse. The large screen TV was in action and we all took a seat to watch the rugby. It was quite stressful and, sadly, England was not able to produce the dream finish. South Africa were too strong for them on the day and deserved the win. What an amazing run our lads had, despite their disappointment, they should be very proud of what they achieved. We actually found it quite amusing that the locals in The Lighthouse stayed elsewhere and completely ignored the match – bet that wouldn’t have happened if they had been in the final LOL.

Sunday we had another lazy start and then headed to the laundry. Job done we returned to Morphie via the small fresh seafood store here in the marina and purchased some huge king prawns (which were very reasonably priced too). Back on board we quickly peeled them for lunch. Absolutely delicious!

We didn’t do much for the rest of the day and just stayed on board. But I did manage to organise our 2019/20 boat insurance. Topsail were obviously impressed by my polite ‘very disappointed’ email because I got a direct reply from the Managing Director who was trying to see if they could be more flexible for us. I thanked him for his intervention but let him down gently. There was no point getting angry as you don’t know who will be in the market at the next renewal date and I certainly don’t want to burn any bridges. By this time, however, I had secured a great deal with Admiral who came up trumps and gave us exactly what we were looking for (including cyclone coverage whilst on the hard in The Boat Works). Very relieved – just the paperwork and payment to be done, then we are all sorted! Phew…

In the afternoon it was chilly and had rained a little, despite this area of Australia having a long-term drought so obviously we are the rainmakers this season! We ended up staying put and had a movie night on board.

Monday morning we headed into the main town of Bundaberg again and did some more shopping – nothing special, just some toiletries and a few other items. We just wanted to get off the boat really. We did have a look around this time but mainly we were people watching.

Late afternoon we headed to the Cruisers Cove and met up with Jeff and Katie (SV Mezzaluna) who had just arrived into the marina – they had been anchored out since their arrival in Australia. We were chatting to them and some other locals when this couple walked through….hang on….we know them. After some collective wracking of brains we realised it was Jodie and Steve who we used to race with / against in a variety of regattas in the UK many many years ago. How bizarre that we should meet again half way around the world on the same Rally!!! Absolutely amazing coincidence.

Tuesday morning and we had a relaxing start before heading to the courtesy bus at 12 noon to take us to the Lighthouse again. This was Melbourne Cup day so we joined other Rally participants and enjoyed the event. People were dressed up in hats and all sorts – just like Ascot. We didn’t really have anything suitable on board….

Anyway, we did the Rally sweepstake and won 1st and 2nd. And our fellow winners were Jodie and Steve.

And we had placed some other bets and won 2nd. And we entered the charity raffle and won again! We ended up covering all our costs and then some.

After the racing was over most of the cruisers headed back to the marina but we stayed out and caught up properly with Jodie and Steve over a few glasses. Was lovely. We finally returned and then headed to The Baltimore for an excellent dinner. Had been a great day.

This morning and this is officially the start of Rally week. We have to go and pick up our t-shirts and goody bags this morning and, then this evening, we have drinks, canapes and welcome entertainment. Really looking forward to the whole social event – and there are prizes so you never know, on current form, we could be in with a chance of winning something LOL.

Oh yes, and hope you all enjoy Firework Night at home. Stay safe.

Bye for now