Christmas week at Sanctuary Cove

Saturday (19 December) after I had published the latest blog we headed into the Marina Village for coffee and a cake at the Anchor Buoy.

We also had a look around the shops and I tried on a couple of swimsuits but didn’t like the fit or the price so decided against in the end. Whilst we were out, we had hoped to be able to download some more Netflix content to watch offline but, for some reason, my computer couldn’t find the marina wifi so we had to give that up as a bad job. Back on board we had another quiet night in.

Sunday morning we got ourselves ready to go to the pool and headed there via the IGA to pick up some lunch (they do very tasty wraps). We had a lovely day by the lagoon watching lots of people having fun especially when a family turned up with loads of floating flamingos which meant that the big bean bags were abandoned by the kids so we could do some more bobbing ourselves LOL.

Later on we came back to Morphie via the showers and had a quick drink in the Tavern before having a light supper on board and a movie night. We then found out that Queensland had slammed shut the interstate border again to anyone in Greater Sydney, the Northern Beaches and the Central Coast (New South Wales) in response to the latest Covid outbreak and people were panicking and rushing to try and get back across the border into Queensland by Tuesday 1am so they would not end up having to do 14-day compulsory hotel quarantine on return home (at their own expense). So, once again, our plans to visit Jamie and the family in January are up in the air. Fingers crossed it gets sorted out quickly. And, of course, the new Tier 4 lockdown restrictions were announced at home too so on both sides of the world family Christmas plans were sadly overtaken by events.

Monday morning we headed to the pool around 11ish. It was cloudy most of the day and was very hot and steamy so we stayed in the shade apart from when we spent some time chilling out in the lagoon pool. We came back to Morphie via the showers and had a salad supper onboard before talking a walk down the dock to see the ‘little star of Bethlehem’ when Jupiter and Saturn were closely aligned. We had a good view but our camera sadly wasn’t able to capture the moment so here’s our traditional view of the Christmas star instead.

Tuesday we headed out again to the lagoon pool and it just got hotter and hotter. Then suddenly, from nowhere (and not forecast either) the sky darkened, the clouds rolled in, and the heavens opened. We rushed to the hotel pool bar to sit it out before heading back to Morphie.

Wednesday it was another hot and sunny day but the clouds were building around us.

So we decided we would spent the day catching up with chores instead of more pool time. So we headed out for coffee and cake (at a different cafe this time just for a change); picked up some fresh vegetables from IGA for Christmas; got medical prescriptions filled at the chemist; withdrew some cash from the ATM; picked up a lottery ticket (fingers crossed); and did the laundry. Back on board we then flushed both the water tank and the bilges through and, once it was all pumped out, we refilled the water tank.

Afterwards we just rested up down below before getting ready to go out for dinner. During the afternoon the winds picked up and gusted up to 30 knots momentarily. So we double checked all our lines again and then got dressed up and returned to George’s Paragon restaurant. This is a walk in restaurant – no reservations allowed- and we weren’t surprised to find the queue out the door and into the street. So we headed to the wine bar next door and had a quick drink before re-joining the slightly shorter queue. We actually didn’t wait that long before we were seated and had another wonderful meal.

Really good food here…in fact so good…we even succumbed to a desert which isn’t something we do very often LOL. Great evening and, as we tend to eat dinner later in the evening than the locals we were pretty much the last people to leave the restaurant.

Completely full up we enjoyed the Christmas lights in the marina village as we strolled back to our dock.

Thursday morning, it was Christmas Eve, and we had an early start to go to the pool. It was cloudy for some of the day and when the wind picked up it even felt a bit chilly but we didn’t mind and enjoyed bobbing around. We were expecting everyone to be full of the joys of Christmas but, has become the norm, we were completely on our own and didn’t really engage with anyone apart from a couple of neighbours who said goodbye as they vacated their sun beds (as they recognised our accents). People here are mostly in groups of family or friends so they tend to focus on each other and we end up just watching them. It certainly didn’t feel like Christmas to us….

On our way back we came across some kangaroos enjoying a munch on the grass, including one who was having a bit of a lay down. Check out the length of those legs LOL. Some of the hotel guests then came along to check them out and, the stupidiest thing we have ever seen, is a man taking his very small baby (about 9 months old) out of its pram and sitting it up on the grass just in front of a kangaroo for a photograph. Does he not realise that these (wild) kangaroos can do a bit of damage? Seriously, what an idiot!!!

We stopped off in the Tavern for a couple of drinks before heading back to Morphie for a quiet night on board. Before we turned in I did at least remember to get the meat out of the freezer for defrosting overnight LOL.

Friday morning and Happy Christmas to you all! Not the Christmas we had expected but that was true for most of our family and friends with lockdowns and travel restrictions across the world.

We went to the pool early and had a lovely time bobbing around before returning to Morphie via the showers around 3pm.

On our return, Richard relaxed in the cockpit while I got on with preparing and cooking the Christmas dinner. We decided not to go Australian with a BBQ so instead I prepared a full traditional dinner with only a few missing items (sprouts and pigs in blankets LOL). So the menu was a rolled and boned turkey, roast potatoes, roasted parsnips / carrots / onions, yorkshire puddings, peas plus cranberry sauce and gravy. Oh yes and don’t forget the stuffing. Considering the restrictions of two shelves only in my marine Force 10 oven I was pretty happy with how it turned out and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal.

After dinner we had a Netflix binge before an early night as we were both pretty weary.

Saturday morning (Boxing Day) we had a leisurely start and awoke to a overcast day and some rain. So we decided to give the pool a miss and headed out for coffee mid morning. This time the computer was able to pick up the wifi signal so I was able to download a few things to watch offline while we were there. Yay!

We then walked to the hotel and went inside for the first time. It really is quite nice. We chatted to the concierge about options for New Year’s Eve as we knew that they were having a couple of events – but we certainly don’t have appropriate clothing on board to attend a ‘masked masquerade ball’ that’s for sure LOL. Anyway we found out that the lagoon pool bar is going to be open in the evening so we can catch the fireworks from there as they are set off over the canal behind. So that was a good result. On the way back we popped into the Voyager Bar for a quick drink (or at least I had one as Richard remains on the wagon) and then walked back to Morphie via the road rather than the marina village. We think it might actually be quicker this way….

Back on board we spent the rest of the day relaxing down below and having a traditional Boxing Day dinner of mashed potato, pickles and cold meats before another movie night.

Sunday, we headed back to the pool again but, this time, the hotel was really busy. In fact the busiest we have seen it so far and the lagoon pool was crowded with lots of kids around. We eventually set up camp by the other hotel pool instead having been lucky enough to nab the last two sun loungers with an umbrella for shade.

We enjoyed our day there although found the constant reggae music blaring from the pool bar a little irritating rather than the peace and quiet of the adult’s area of the lagoon that we usually frequent. Oh yes did we tell you about Queensland’s track and trace system? We have to scan a bar code into our phone wherever we are and, in this hotel, they use it to monitor the numbers for social distancing purposes and, to buy a drink at the bar, you have to show them this completed registration before they will serve you. Up until now most places have been happy to take a written record when you arrived at their venue – but, in the latest news from NSW it appears that there are a lot of Donald Ducks and Mickey Mouses living in Australia! So compulsory bar code scanning for venues is Queensland’s response – luckily there’s an app for that.

Having had a nice time we later returned to Morphie via the showers for another quiet night on board.

This morning, Monday, and I’m blogging while Richard is relaxing and apart from a bit of shopping later that will probably be it for the day. So I just want to take this opportunity to wish you all a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year. Please take care of each other. Bye for now.


A wet and wild week in Sanctuary Cove

Saturday (12 December) after I blogged, in a break from the relentless rain, we popped out for showers and a coffee. Richard also serviced the Whale bilge pump (only accessible from the lazarette) so he spent quite some time down the hole with me passing tools as required. Eventually, after a bit of huffing and puffing, he managed to get this done and it all worked beautifully. Fantastic job!

In the evening the downpours continued and the wind picked up so, before we retired for the night, we checked all our lines yet again. The forecast is really rather bad…. Here’s the wind forecast for Sunday.

Sunday morning and it rained hard all day. The gusts of wind were significant and we were glad that we had taken time to put some extra wraps on our genoa and staysail just in case. But while Morphie was fine (as we had prepared) the boat next door wasn’t! The guy had been on board the day before but had not done anything other than put out some more (unsecured) canvas so, of course, this promptly blew off but we were able to save it. Then the support pipes that are sewn into his cockpit canvas started to come out and were threatening to launch themselves at our hull so, once again in the pouring rain, Richard climbed on board and tied these in situ so they would stay put. Later on the neighbour’s top life lines broke under the pressure of the boat being pushed onto the dock by the wind. But Richard managed to re-secure all the fenders to the lower line to save the boat bashing against the dock. Very annoying when people don’t bother to prepare adequately for this type of weather event and it was not fun to end up having to deal with it by default in the terrible conditions. It’s not as if it wasn’t forecast!

Thankfully the Coomera River didn’t flood as we were worried about the forecast King Tide and, although the docks came closer to the top of the pilings than we had seen previously there was no risk that they were going to come uncoupled.

By now it was clear that this was an exceptional weather event and we just ended up having a Netflix binge session with occasional checking outside to make sure everything was OK. The noise down below from the torrential rain was really quite loud….just thankful we didn’t get the threatened thunderstorms too!

Monday morning and it was still raining and the winds were howling. Check out the rain forecast below.

By now reports were coming in of power outages; damaged boats; flooding; landslides; exceptional surf and sea foam conditions; dams inundated; and we were just thankful that we were OK. We didn’t record the actual wind speed that came through here – 50+ knots were forecast – but some others nearby recorded 72 knots, so definitely not an insignificant event. Check out these images from various local sources of conditions here in Queensland.

Tuesday morning and the rain started to clear in the late morning. Again there was another King Tide forecast so there was some concern over the river flooding on top from heavy and significant rainfalls further inland – to the extent that some of the dams were at full capacity. We took the opportunity to dry ourselves out, get some laundry done, and do a clean up. And that was about it for the day.

Wednesday it rained for most of the day so it was another lazy one down below. In the evening we headed out to the local Chinese restaurant for dinner but sadly it wasn’t that good! Never mind it was nice to be off the boat.

Thursday and it was still raining….. I braved the elements to head to the on-site supermarket to pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables. And that was about it again for another rainy day on board. Phew getting a bit fed up of this! But we shouldn’t complain. This is cyclone season here in the South Pacific and the first major storm of the season was barrelling towards Fiji as a massive Category 5 storm so we were concerned about the impact that would have on these lovely islands and their people. So all our thoughts were with them at this difficult time.

Friday morning and it was cloudy but dry. Woo hoo! So we got ourselves cleaned up and headed over to the Intercontinental Hotel lagoon pool for the day. Was lovely, especially bobbing around in the water, although we were concerned about a helicopter that kept circling and circling around low over the river….so wondered if this was some sort of search and rescue operation. And then the relative peace was broken by a man shouting that his baby had stopped breathing and he needed a doctor. The fear and anxiety was obvious from his voice. OMG. We stayed away from the main area as people were now running around and then we saw three police cars as well as an ambulance turn up to the back of the hotel. We just prayed that the outcome was a positive one.

On the way back to Morphie we stopped off at the Tavern for a snack supper and a couple of drinks. At this point we found out that there had been a large Covid outbreak in NSW which involved community transmission. So we are now waiting to find out what the Queensland Premier’s response will be to this – already Tasmania have closed their borders completely to NSW – and the Northern Beaches area have been declared a Covid hotspot. And on top of all that our local area back home in the UK is in a Tier 3 lockdown situation and it looks like a No Deal Brexit is probably on the cards….. What a year 2020 has been for everybody – don’t think anybody will be that unhappy to bid it farewell in a couple of weeks time!

So we just want to take this opportunity to wish everybody a very Happy Christmas! We’ll be thinking of all our family and friends so many miles away and will raise a glass to you all on the day. Take care and stay safe.


Our first week in Sanctuary Cove

Saturday morning (5 December) we had a leisurely start and then headed over to the hotel complex. We got set up by the lagoon pool and enjoyed a few hours bobbing around in the pool on these massive floating bean bag cushion things. Great fun!

We enjoyed watching the world go by and the wedding party as they walked around the lagoon perimeter towards the docks for their photo shoot with the yachts. The staff, meanwhile, were busy clearing one part of the beach for a private reception and there were some guys setting up fireworks for later. Was all very interesting. Around 5pm we headed back to Morphie stopping off at the brand-new marina residents’ shower blocks. These have just opened and are beautifully done – just a shame about the design as you need to be a bit of a contortionist to move around within the cubicles whilst getting dry LOL. We had dinner on board followed by a Netflix session.

Sunday morning we awoke to a cloudy day. I popped out to the local IGA supermarket for a fresh loaf of bread so returned with coffees from the nearest cafe.

Later on we headed over to the lagoon for the afternoon and found a couple of good beds and it was pretty cool as the wind picked up although the clouds had dispersed leaving us a beautiful blue sky. Was lovely and we had a couple of drinks in the Tavern on the way back to Morphie. We then had a dinner and movie night onboard.

Monday morning it was cloudy and drizzly on and off with thunderstorms predicted. So not a lagoon-type of day.

We decided to pickle the watermaker as we will be in a marina for the whole of December and most of January (as we are going on a road trip to see family in New South Wales) so we are unlikely to need to make water for a while. Job done we then washed Morphie down as the large numbers of swifts that fly around here had left little deposits all over the coachroof. We then installed canvas on the bow so that we could leave our cabin hatch open during the night.

Jobs done we sat in the cockpit reading and the rains got heavier and thunderstorms started to pop up all around us. We had dinner in the cockpit as it was so hot and humid and just watched and listened to the storms all around us. It was quite exciting this time as these storms circled us but didn’t get too close LOL. We saw lots of fruit bats flying home to roost for the evening too.

Tuesday morning it was cloudy and humid again with another increased CAPE forecast so we decided to stay put. The damp environment caused problems with my legs so we just stayed onboard and rested up all day. Thankfully there were no more storms.

Wednesday morning we had another lazy start. We then headed to the lagoon and had a nice time bobbing and enjoying the sun.

On the way back to the shower block we came across a cheeky parrot and a mob of kangaroos (including joeys) just munching on the hotel grass completely at home LOL. So we watched them for a while and then found another mum (with her baby inside the pouch this time) on the roundabout near the car park. Everyone just ignores them as part of the scenery but we can’t help ourselves stopping and watching for a while.

Cleaned up we wandered around the different restaurants to see what was on offer and decided that we quite fancied George’s Paragon Seafood Restaurant for the following night. We had a couple of drinks on the outside wine bar terrace before heading back to Morphie for a quiet night on board.

Thursday morning and we had another lovely pool day although, this time, we were by another swimming pool nearer the main part of the hotel as it was a bit chilly in the wind out by the lagoon. We had a lovely time.

We headed back reasonably early to get showered and then, later on, suitably dressed we headed out to the restaurant. It felt very festive being out and about at night for the first time and we enjoyed the Christmas lights in the Marina Village.

We were surprised when we got inside the restaurant – it was much bigger than it looked from the outside – and the ambience of all the Christmas lights was delightful. It felt very festive and, on top of that, the food was really good too. Was a great evening.

And, of course, on the way back to our dock I had to try out Santa’s sleigh as he had left it here for some reason LOL.

Friday morning and we were on a mission to return to the Boatworks but via dinghy. We had ordered a service kit for the Whale bilge pump from the on-side chandlery and had been informed that it had arrived so we got dink down off the davits and took ourselves the 2.7 miles up the river.

We pulled into the Boatworks and Richard went off to pick up the spares. On the way back down the river we pulled into Hope Island Marina to do a quick shop at Coles supermarket (which has a greater selection than the one on-site here) and enjoyed checking out the houses that line the river canals. On the way back to Sanctuary Cove we were being chased down by a rain cloud so quickly made it back (checking out the superyachts at the other end of the marina on the way), got unpacked, and then raised dink back onto the davits before the heavens opened.

And that was it for the day….it rained….it poured….and it rained some more….

The rain never let up all night and it is still raining now (Saturday morning). We have checked our dock lines and have put out a couple of additional ones. The forecast for the next few days is absolutely horrendous as a low front pushes onshore bringing with it up to 50 knots of wind. So looks like we’ll be staying down below for the next few days and keeping abreast with the Brexit news as it develops to its final conclusion this weekend (hopefully!).

Stay safe everyone and look after each other. Bye for now


Moving on to Sanctuary Cove Marina

Saturday (28 November) and Sunday we were out and about utilising the Boatworks courtesy car. So, in no particular order, we both had GP appointments; then the chemist so that we would have a month’s supply of our medication on board; we visited a couple of malls, supermarkets, butchers and a bottle shop to get our Christmas supplies; we got some cash; and even got a gas bottle refilled. All this was achieved in 35oC heat and high humidity which was completely draining. Everywhere we went was absolutely rammed with people; we had to drive constantly around car parks looking for people leaving so that we could find a space; and even Santa was out and about with his helpers. Phew glad to say that our tasks were completed successfully and we were happy that, apart from fresh fruit and vegetables, we were now ready for Christmas onboard.

Monday we stripped the beds and headed off to the laundry. Unfortunately other people had the same idea so we had to wait for some machines to become available. So we sat it out in the air-conditioned environment of the cruisers’ lounge and downloaded lots of things from Netflix to watch for when we are offline. While the downloads chugged along we caught up online with various boring administrative type things. And that was it for most of the day – eventually we were back on board with all our clean laundry folded and stowed. By now the wind had clocked to a south easterly direction and was blowing 25 knots. So very breezy in the cockpit and, thankfully, this meant that it was a bit cooler all round. And then the skies cleared and gave us a spectacular view of the full moon.

Tuesday we had a car again for a couple of hours just to pick up fruit and vegetables. Once back on board we swapped out our docklines for others as these were salt-encrusted so put them in buckets of diluted fabric conditioner to soak and soften them up. We topped up the water tank and found a (temporary) home for the old anchor onboard. Annoyingly the manual bilge pump (in the cockpit) decided to fail at this point so Richard rushed off to order a repair kit (thinking it is probably the diaphragm) which should be arriving in the next week or so (and we can always do a dinghy trip back up the river to the Boatworks to collect it from the chandlery when it arrives). At least they sell Whale pumps here in Australia so no problems in sourcing the kit we need. And apart from that we had a quiet day on board.

Wednesday morning we had breakfast in the Galley and then returned to Morphie for a leisurely day of cleaning and tidying down below. Then we just chilled out until later when David (the main barista from the Galley) came to visit for a short while with his young family – it was really nice to be social for an hour or so over nibbles and drinks (although I of course forgot to take a photo!)…..

After they left I spent a lot of time thinking about Caroline’s family as the time of the funeral approached in the UK. Thankfully the local florist had done a really great job so, although I could not be there, at least they knew that we were supporting them from a distance. Best message received was during the night to let me know that they were now down the pub celebrating her life with a glass or two of prosecco! Caroline would definitely have approved.

Thursday morning we awoke to grey clouds and a bit of drizzle. We got ourselves ready and, at 10.30 (high tide) we said our farewells before casting off to meander down the river towards Sanctuary Cove Marina. It was a huge distance of almost three miles LOL.

On arrival the dockmaster came out to assist us into our berth and we got ourselves tied up and then headed into the office to complete the formalities. And we were given a bag of swag – how nice is that!?! Whilst there they were talking about a carol concert on the lawn of the on-site Intercontinental Hotel that evening and they immediately added us to the guest list. What great service!

We then went for a walk around the huge marina village complex enjoying the splendid views of our very large neighbours and the lagoon-style pool at the Intercontinental Hotel which we have access to as part of our berth fee. We are at the far end of A dock….could be a bit closer to the amenities but who cares?!? Was very hot and steamy out with high humidity making the temperature feel a lot worse.

Anyway, back on board, we had an early dinner, showered, then headed out to the hotel lawn for the carols (which was being filmed and streamed elsewhere in the complex). Not sure what we were expecting but everyone had taken their picnics and chairs/tables with them and we just turned up empty handed. Doh!! Deciding not to sit on the grass for the whole event Richard bravely walked back to Morphie to collect our new beach chairs and we then settled down in comfort to watch the show. It was very family orientated. It was lots of fun to watch the kids get so excited, especially when Santa and Rudolph joined the show, although the best cheering was definitely for the free candy canes LOL. Not all the carols were ones we’d heard before but obviously were crowd favourites if the singing and dancing going on amongst the audience was anything to go by.

Because it was so dark the decorated buggy parade (with most of them lit up like Christmas trees) was fun to watch but difficult to capture on film. Never mind, was a great evening.

At the end of the evening, we enjoyed checking out all the boats lit up on our way back to our berth. This was definitely a good start to our time here in Sanctuary Cove and it might even feel a bit like Christmas!

This morning, Friday, and I’m blogging while Richard is chilling. We are not allowed to work on our boat here (and actually had to get special permission to be allowed to liveaboard) so this is going to be the theme for the month LOL. This afternoon we will probably catch some rays by the beautiful lagoon pool. Definitely a nice place to settle down and read a book or two….so looking forward to that.

Take care everybody at home and look after each other. Bye for now