Life aboard Morpheus in Coomera

Wednesday afternoon having had a reasonably long day having moved Morphie to the works yard, we sat in the cockpit up on the hard chilling out while we waited for the beer to cool down in the ice box. The Australian neighbours next door shouted up and said that they always had sundowners in the yard at 5pm so why didn’t we join them? So we took a beer downstairs and, keeping a decent distance, we got questioned over our return to Australia. They particularly wanted to know why we had not been quarantined on arrival for 14 days. We explained that our arrival predated this policy and, when we travelled, although the virus existed there were very few known cases in the UK. The actual WHO pandemic announcement occurred as we arrived in Australia. That seemed to placate them and we had a nice evening with a number of other cruisers.

Thursday morning we prioritised provisioning over boat jobs as the news continued to deteriorate and we knew that there had already been fights in supermarkets over basic supplies. The Boatworks is an amazing place as they offer complimentary trucks and cars to liveaboards for three hourly bookable slots, all for the cost of a few dollars in the kitty towards petrol.

We quickly headed out to the first shop – a newly-opened large Aldi – but the pickings were very disappointing and there were lots of empty shelves. We were only looking for dried and canned food (in the absence of any refrigeration whilst on the hard) but even that was hard to find. We did manage to buy a single bag of pasta and rice but that was about it. So we headed off to another one – this time a Woolworths in the new smart Westfield mall . This was much better stocked and we managed to get some basic provisioning done albeit with a few exceptions. Not very exciting stuff but would keep us alive in an emergency. We were, however, delighted to find canned Fray Bentos pies which were definitely a blast from our childhoods LOL. We also got one of our gas bottles filled with LPG whilst we were on our travels.

In the late afternoon we headed down to the yard and, this time, no one joined us. The night before we had heard some mutterings about the self-isolation issue and clearly that had taken hold so we decided that we wouldn’t bother again. We had deliberately avoided the BBQ area – despite being invited – as it was not a big enough space to keep a decent distance so felt that we had been acting responsibly. Oh well, never mind.

Friday morning and the detailing guys turned up as they had got ahead of their schedule. We worked down below cleaning the fibreglass, polishing the wood and generally tidying up. The boat is still a mess but looking better each day LOL. The end result was that Morphie’s hull looked really shiny – very pleased with the job that they did. In the late afternoon we did sundowners in the cockpit after a busy day and had an early night after watching some TV series we had recorded. Oh yes, and the sail locker returned our sails, all checked and re-stitched where necessary. Great service from Evolution Sails.

Saturday morning and we were off out again. This time it meant that Richard could visit his favourite hardware store Bunnings where we successfully purchased some power tools – another small hand-held vacuum cleaner (the other one had died) and a buffer/polisher. The price for the hull was OK but the subsequent quote for the topsides was for more than we wanted to spend. After some debate we decided to invest in materials and machines instead so that we can do it ourselves. Whilst out we filled up some of our diesel cans and visited another supermarket Coles. This was surprisingly well stocked and we managed to get most things left on our list.

Whilst I tried to find a place to stash all these stores, Richard started anti-fouling the hull. I continued cleaning down below and also checked our instruments were working etc. After a hard day’s work we enjoyed sundowners in the cockpit and were surprised by how many cruisers were now congregating in the yard for a chat – we, however, decided not to join in and stayed in splendid isolation.

Sunday morning and Richard was doing a second coat on the waterline, the leading edge and had taken the bow thruster propeller out for cleaning, which he reinstalled later once the tunnel had been painted and dried. He also worked all the thru holes. What a great job he did! In the afternoon we chilled out and enjoyed a quiet evening down below as it was raining.

Monday morning and we were doing final jobs before splashing. I was doing the laundry plus checking out all the cleaning materials we had on board. Armed with a list I headed to the on-site chandlery and managed to get everything I needed. By this time Morphie’s topsides were a mess with our coming and goings on top of all the dust and dirt of the works yard. Never mind, she’ll get a good clean up soon! Here she is all ready for splashing.

Tuesday morning and I headed to the office to pay our bill – as per usual, ‘no cash, no splash’. By this time the Covid-19 advice had taken another serious turn with the FCO advising UK nationals to return home if they could – which was actually about a week too late with most of the transit hub airports closing their doors and prices for those flights left available being seriously uplifted. This news didn’t concern us as we had already got agreement to stay but we did double check once again with our travel insurance and, yes, they remained happy. This was then followed by both New Zealand and the UK locking down. The advice in Australia toughened up with cafes and restaurants only allowed to offer take-out services and bans on group activities / weddings / gyms etc. Boatworks, at this time of significant business uncertainty amazed us with their generosity to their staff as we saw boxes of free sandwiches / cakes / pasties delivered to both staff and trades from the on-site restaurant. This generosity was also surprisingly extended to us! They announced that all time on the hard from the 19 March onwards plus time on the dock would be 50% off. So when they could have doubled their fees as they had us by the “short and curlies” they heavily discounted their services. We can certainly see why this place has so many loyal and regular customers.

As the virus situation was becoming more and more unpredictable we decided that, once splashed, we would remain here in the marina tied to the dock. The individual states in Australia had, by now, introduced border controls and as well as social distancing they have requested that nobody travels unnecessarily. If you do have to cross a border – for example we would have to cross from Queensland to New South Wales if we wanted to get to Sydney – then there is a 14 day compulsory quarantine period in place. Sailing around, even within the state, is non-essential travel in our eyes so we paid up to stay here until the end of April.

Having paid the bill, by 11 am Morphie was on her way to be splashed.

She was eased into the water – we quickly checked our thru hulls then started the engine, motored around to our slip and got tied up. We got the fridge and freezer up and running – with the fridge needing a little bit of gas to help it – and by 2pm we were back on the road. This time we were looking for meat and fish. We headed to Coles again as the last visit there had been so successful and were surprised that we were able to get pretty much everything we wanted. We also stopped by the adjacent liquor store and got supplies from them as well. Our habits have definitely changed though as we now clean car interiors before we set off and clean handles of shopping trolleys. When we have to touch anything – like the keypad at the checkout – we immediately sanitise. We are taking this virus seriously and ensure that we keep distant from everyone.

We finally got back and stowed everything away. This means that we are now fully provisioned and self-sufficient for a while. So if we go into lockdown we are ready. We had another quiet night on board reading and enjoying the movement of the water beneath us before turning in. Well, it was supposed to be a quiet one but Morphie makes a terrible noise with the self-furling foil banging around inside the mast every time we get ‘wobbled’ by a passing boat.

Wednesday morning we were up very early and got the mainsail re-installed. Phew, thankfully it went very well and there was only light winds. We have decided not to reinstall the genoa or the staysail yet – we are not going sailing for the foreseeable future and it seems pointless to expose them to UV damage unnecessarily.

Feeling pleased with ourselves we cleaned up and headed out. We are thankful that we no longer have to use the shared shower facilities now that we are back in the water as we have emptied the water tank and refilled with fresh. It feels nice to have nice hot showers back on Morphie once again. The marina includes water and electricity in the slip price, so there are no worries about wracking up additional bills.

The final external job was to register at a local doctors to get a prescription. We had pre-filled in the forms and got an appointment so we headed over to Oxenford. We popped into the Woolworths there as we were a little early just in case we found something we couldn’t get earlier – would you believe tinned potatoes and cling film were the only things that we hadn’t yet found?!? Well, yes, we managed it. Woo hoo!

We got to the doctors and finally came out with the prescription. Went into the pharmacy – expecting to get the five month supply as prescribed – only to be told you can only get one month at a time. Apparently that is Government regulation here. Well, we are OK as we bought three month’s supply into the country from the UK (the maximum importation allowed by Australian customs) so we now have just under four month’s supply on board. Arriving back we cleaned up yet again and were relieved that our final trip out was completed. We are now keeping ourselves to ourselves.

This morning, Thursday, and it was finally time to prioritise boat jobs. Today’s was to get dink off the deck after breakfast which means that we will be able to open the hatch in both our cabin and the heads. Although the fans have kept us cool enough at night, some fresh air will be much appreciated! Here’s Morphie enjoying being back in the water.

We pulled dink up with a spare halyard and then pumped air in before hoisting him over the rail to the dock. Richard is currently working hard replacing the wheels while I’m blogging (multi-tasking as I’m also doing laundry). We purchased the original solid plastic ones in New Zealand but they turned out to be absolutely useless in sand….we just got bogged down and were not man enough for the weight of the outboard engine. So we are replacing them with proper pneumatic wheels which we have seen and envied on loads of dinghies for a couple of years now LOL.

Then we’ll clean dink up and hoist him onto the arch. And I think that will be it for the day. Lots of boat jobs to do to keep us busy while we self-isolate here on the dock.

So I’ll sign off with a thought for all our family and friends who are in lockdown wherever you are. Please stay safe and keep well. We are thinking of you all constantly and miss you lots.

Bye for now


Returning to Morpheus in Coomera, QLD, Australia

Thursday (12 March) we were picked up at 3am for the ride to Heathrow. We arrived in good time and checked in for our flight, navigated through minimal security queues and were soon ready to go. We boarded our Qatar Airways flight to find that economy passengers were in the minority with only 70 in total – so after takeoff everyone took multiple seats, we all stretched out and enjoyed the first flight into Doha (Qatar). A few people were wearing masks and gloves but they were very much in the minority. It was a great flight with tasty food and wonderful service.

At Doha we had a couple of hours to kill so just wandered around and took the opportunity of freshening up before boarding our next flight to Sydney. This was busier and we were lucky enough to get seated upstairs in the double-decker Dreamliner. Again great flight, more food, more wine and even some sleeping on this 15 hour leg.

Finally, after a mammoth day, we arrived into Sydney. For some reason we found ourselves fast tracked through immigration, customs and security and, with little effort, we found ourselves legally in the country. Woo hoo! We then simply crossed the road to our hotel for the night and checked in.

The room was lovely and comfortable so we just dumped our bags, headed to the bar for a few recuperative cold ones, and caught up on the news. Well, it was a different world we had landed into than the one we had left behind. The WHO had officially declared the Coronavirus a global pandemic and restrictions were starting to be implemented across the globe. Australia, however, had very little infection and the locals were carrying on their business as usual. Although we did overhear some loud idiot complaining that she had to self-isolate (having just returned from Bali) and we saw her wandering out and about with no concern for anybody else – we quickly got out of her way.

We had a good nights sleep and at 6am on Saturday morning we headed back across the terminal to the Qantas check-in desk for our domestic flight to Brisbane. We were able to check the bags in before getting the shuttle bus over to the other terminal. We then headed to the Qantas Business Lounge and enjoyed breakfast while we waited to board the plane. This will probably be our last business class flight for a very long time as we have now sadly exhausted our collection of air miles.

Again we took off on time and, by 9.00 am local time (as Brisbane is an hour’s time difference from Sydney) we were off the plane and met by our driver. He was an interesting fellow and gave us quite a commentary of the history of Brisbane as we drove to our apartment hotel. We arrived by 10 am and our apartment was ready for us so we were able to dump our bags straight away! That was a result….

The hotel was pretty empty and people had clearly cancelled at the last minute as the hotel had introduced a Coronavirus waiver on arrival. By this time we found out that the St Patrick’s Day parade had been cancelled….which was a shame as we had been looking forward to that. Anyway, we unpacked, then headed into town for a wander before returning for a breather. Brisbane is a mixture of old and new buildings plus some pretty up market shopping although, unusually, there was no Chinese tourists queuing at the Gucci or Chanel stores LOL. It was pretty busy and everyone was carrying on as usual – the only sign of anything untoward going on were the signs in all the pharmacies stating they had run out of both hand sanitiser and face masks.

In the early evening, after a rest, we headed across the road to the pub for a quick bite to eat before returning to our room for a quiet night in front of the TV catching up with the news. The world was changing so fast….unbelievable….although Australia still seemed to be immune to the crisis.

Sunday morning and we headed over to the South Side to catch the river cruise up to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which was formed in 1927 in the Brisbane suburb of Fig Tree Pocket.

We loved the sleepy animals – having never seen a koala, a wombat, a Tasmanian devil, a platypus, a dingo or even a kookaburra before. Australia certainly has its share of weird and wonderful looking animals! We had a great time in the sanctuary and particularly enjoyed petting and feeding kangaroos and emus.

Richard even took a selfie with a particularly friendly kangaroo – Richard is the one on the right of the picture LOL.

The 70 minute river cruise each way was also informative checking out the amazing old properties nestled alongside very expensive new real estate. We learnt about the devastating floods in 2011 and even heard the story of the historic (1886) Regatta Hotel which became submerged to its top balcony but continues to thrive to this day.

Returning to the City I was even allowed to drive the boat – check out my captain’s hat LOL.

Back to the city we wandered to the riverside pub and had another average meal before returning to our apartment for another quiet night in. The coronavirus news was getting more serious now with a State of Emergency being declared and advice not to use public transport, avoid crowded places, and constantly wash hands etc. Damn…. We talked it through and decided that the situation could only deteriorate from here. So we decided that we would leave on Tuesday rather than Thursday and return to Morpheus.

Monday we headed back into the city and the atmosphere was much more strained.

We couldn’t really explore much with all the museums, art galleries and theatres beginning to shut down. So we felt that we had made the right decision and we contacted the boatyard to let them know our change of plans. In the late afternoon we headed to a recommended Chinese restaurant but found the food to be average at best – oh well, never mind. We then headed back to our apartment and had a nice chilled bottle of wine in front of the TV watching the increasingly surreal coverage of the pandemic.

Tuesday morning we packed up and checked out. There was no refund for the unused portion of our stay but hey ho, our decision. By 11 am, we were on our way back to Morphie. We arrived around noon and checked into the boatyard where she was waiting patiently for us.

Back on board (in the long-term storage yard) we just unpacked our gear and made the bed in preparation for the night. Then we headed out in a complimentary courtesy car to try and get some supplies as the food cupboards were bare. Interestingly enough I had stocked up on toilet paper before we left so the empty shelves were not a problem to me LOL. We visited a few stores and managed to get enough dried and canned foods to see us through although the pickings were limited to say the least. Back on board we had an early night feeling quite weary.

This morning, Wednesday, and Morphie was moved from the storage yard to the ‘works’ area of the hard stand. While they were getting ready we had a quick look at the SuperYacht area of the Boatworks which was under construction when we left in December. Check out some of these big boys!

The crew were pretty efficient and we were securely in our new position by 10 am.

Looking at Morphie’s hull we decided she needed to be cleaned, cut, waxed and polished professionally as she was looking pretty dull having been stored in the strong UV here in Australia despite our hard work prior to departure. So we called on a few businesses in the boatyard and found someone who was willing to do the work for us called the Boat Butler. He expressed concerns about a future shutdown and wanted to bank as much work as he could in advance so we agreed a price and he is coming to us at 6am on Sunday. Great, thank you so much. We have also spoken to the sail loft and they are returning our sails on Friday (although we won’t be able to install them until we are back in the water).

We reinstalled our canvas to give us some shade; replaced the dead ensign; and Richard has just installed two lovely new LED stainless steel lights in our cabin. Here are the before and after pictures – I think they look much nicer than the originals. And yes the original would look much better if it had been polished post storage and pre-removal but what was the point?!? Will clean them both up before we stow them away as spares, promise LOL.

There are lots of boat jobs to be done so we won’t be idle or bored while we practice some social isolation.

Today the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised against all unnecessary travel for a month with immediate effect. Obviously we are concerned over where that leaves us – usually if you go against FCO advice, your travel insurance becomes null and void. But, unlike other countries like Canada, the FCO are not specifically advising UK citizens to return home. So I have sent an email to our travel insurance company to say that as our November 2019 annual policy pre-dated both the pandemic and the FCO advice it would make sense for us to stay here and sit it out to avoid unnecessary travel and potential exposure to the virus. Getting home with all the global restrictions currently in place on top of the ever diminishing airline capacity would be problematic and can only get worse. There would also be the threat of being quarantined as we can’t fly back without touching another country. The insurance company should be liable to fund this under the ‘curtailment / disruption’ clause of our existing policy. We think it is safer (and obviously cheaper for them) for us to stay onboard Morphie. After all, we can easily self-isolate if a “lock down” is instigated. We are waiting for a response – so have organised to stay put in the marina until we have further clarity on the situation.

In the meantime our thoughts are with all our family and friends across the globe who are living through this situation – some of whom have got locked down and cannot return to their boats, others have visa pressures. And then, of course, there are those who are in the ‘risky’ age group and may have to bunker down for many months at home in the UK. Lots of love everyone – just please stay safe and well!

Bye for now


Ready to return to Morpheus

We arrived home in early December 2019 having completed a 4,500 mile season taking us from New Zealand to Australia via Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The season wasn’t without its difficulties and challenges ranging from mechanical failures through to being chased around or thwarted by weather. Despite that we still had some really great experiences and look forward to revisiting some of these Pacific Islands again another year. Here are some of our favourite memories….

Christmas started with a theatre trip followed by a family affair and then a cruise to Hamburg and Bruges for New Year. Phew! Then it was time for family and friend reunions and days out for my 60th birthday celebrations. In fact, I haven’t stopped celebrating the whole time I’ve been home – definitely one to remember. Thanks to all my family and friends for being so generous and making it such a special time. In the meantime Richard was back at work topping up the sailing kitty, so thanks to him for that. Eventually Richard retired again and we headed off to Lanzarote for a week in the sun – after a miserable windy, wet and stormy time at home – but nature even tried to ruin that with a massive sand storm grounding flights and now, of course, there is the coronavirus doing its rounds. Back from Lanzarote and we had more reunions, only this time it meant, sad farewells…..

Now we are in full preparation mode for the next season. We are flying back to Sydney later this week immediately followed by a few days exploring Brisbane and then back to Morpheus in the boatyard. We know there will be quite a bit of work waiting for us on return to get her ready to go. Once all that has been done we plan to sail slowly north towards the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands exploring the east coast along the way. Then our plan is to meander back south towards Sydney in readiness for Christmas and New Year celebrations. During the year we have plans for family school holidays; some land exploring; more reunions and just having fun. So we will stay in Australia for the whole year – the visas have been granted – so we are on our way.

Unusually we are not carrying back huge amounts of spares which certainly makes a nice change. Most things are available in Australia so it is just some key bits and pieces we needed like new reading lights for our cabin; winch springs; more maintenance manuals; new Morpheus rash shirts etc. And, of course, don’t forget the tea bags LOL.

Anyway, that’s it for now folks, welcome back and hope you enjoy the next season. Looking forward to seeing our girl again….

Bye for now