Having fun in Coomera

Tuesday (19 January) it was very hot and steamy but thankfully it was dry first thing. We had a car for the afternoon so popped out to our local Repco motor store (a bit like Halfords) and picked up some transmission oil and coolant. I then dropped Richard back at Morphie where he got busy changing out the main engine transmission oil whilst I headed back out to Westfield Coomera for more girlie pampering – this time, it was a manicure and a pedicure. Such a treat. Back to the Boatworks I returned the car to find a very happy Richard as the job had gone very well with no hiccups. By now it was raining so we just relaxed down below the rest of the day.

Wednesday it was hot and steamy again and a bit drizzly. Richard stayed on board to swap out the main engine coolant while I took myself off to the cruisers’ lounge armed with a bag of laundry. Surprisingly all the machines were busy so I had to wait for a little while, but once the machine was loaded up and started, I set myself up with the computer and started to download more Netflix content for watching offline.

Back on board and Richard had finished his engine job with no problems. So I found him busily unwrapping some parcels that had just arrived for us – one was the spares from the US which was pretty speedy considering the significant reduction in flights into Australia at the moment. So we are now the proud owner of a retrofit fresh water conversion kit for our Raritan head. This job will be done when we are out of the water but nice to have it all ready for when that day comes. The other parcel was much more exciting – it was our new shade tent for the beach.

Thursday was another cloudy grey day. We had a lazy one and just popped out to the Galley for coffee and a cake. We unpacked the tent, checked the instructions, so that we wouldn’t look complete numpties when we used it for the first time. And that was about it for the day. The weather cleared up a bit in the evening so we had sundowners in the cockpit.

Friday morning and there was no rain forecast – woo hoo! So we gave Morphie a bit of loving – I spent the day cleaning all the stainless steel and Richard did a spring clean down below. By the time we had finished we were both pretty tired but felt satisfied having done a good day’s work. We picked up the courtesy car we had booked for the weekend and headed out for some supper at the nearby Boathouse Tavern. We have driven past this place on numerous occasions but have never stopped in and were pleasantly surprised by the ambiance in the little cabanas in the Bistro area. Was basic fare but very tasty and we had a good time.

On the way back to Morphie we spotted some kangaroos having fun near the local sports fields. Not something you see everyday on the rugby pitch LOL.

Saturday we headed down the M1 to Surfers Paradise as we wanted to visit the Skypoint Observation Deck located atop the iconic Q1 building with panoramic views of the entire Gold Coast coastline, hinterland area and the central business district. This is the only beach-side observation deck in Australia. The traffic was heavy and it had taken us at least an hour to get there so we were delighted to find a free parking spot just outside the building, that was totally unexpected! We queued up to get in, whizzed up very fast in the lift to the 77th floor, and then wandered around and enjoyed the spectacular views. We also had some great coffee and cake from the on-site cafe. They were restricting numbers to the tower so there were lots of opportunities to check out the views whilst still managing social distancing. Was definitely worth the trip.

Afterwards we drove back to Coomera and stopped off in Westfield for some fresh fruit and salad and then back to Morphie for the evening.

Sunday morning, the sun was out and it was glorious! So we quickly packed up a salad picnic lunch and headed down the M1 to Southport as we wanted to go to the beach on the ocean-side near to the Gold Coast Seaway entrance. The traffic was crawling along most of the way and then we all had to get out of the way for an ambulance to get through – to find ourselves stuck in traffic alongside a prone teenager who was being tended to on the side of the road. Not sure what hit her but she was out for the count – just hope she was OK. We continued our journey (feeling a bit subdued after seeing that) and arrived at the car park and actually managed to find a parking space which is definitely a bonus anywhere near a Gold Coast beach at a weekend! We unloaded the car and headed to the beach which was a bit hard going for me walking on soft sand. But I made it and we got out the new tent shade and erected it – it was very simple and quick. We were both delighted by our new purchase and made ourselves comfortable.

This beach is one of the few that allow dogs to play off their lead so we enjoyed watching them having as much fun in the surf as their human parents. Some of them were a bit naughty though and one little Rasta dog with dreadlocks (probably some sort of poodle cross-breed) definitely liked the look of our tent and came visiting for cuddles a few times and stole some rubber bands of all things. A bit concerned we told his mum but she said he just liked chewing them, he wouldn’t swallow them so no worries. Phew that’s a relief. Oh yes and if you are wondering about the pier structure it is a sand bypassing system which delivers all the sand that arrives at the Gold Coast Seaway across the entrance and moves it up the coast into the Moreton Bay Marine Park. Up to 500 cubic metres of sand can be moved per hour. Oh yes, and how could I forget watching the yacht race that was going on just off the coast. Was a fabulous day!

Coming back to the Boatworks and, again, another ambulance this time rushing to the children’s waterpark on the Broadwater being directed by a lifeguard on the ground. Sends shivers down my spine when this happens just hope that incident turned out OK for everyone concerned also. Driving via the back roads to avoid the mayhem that is the M1 on a busy weekend we returned to Morphie and unpacked. We then headed over to the showers having checked up on the new marina duck family and, suitably cleaned up, we took up residence at the new pirate ship landscaped area for sundowners listening to some tunes. We had this space all to ourselves and very pleasant it was too! Lovely way to finish the day.

This morning, Monday, we have returned the car and Richard is doing the last bit of laundry while I’m blogging. Later on we will head out to pick up our hire car and get packing as we plan to leave early tomorrow morning heading north towards Bundaberg. So the next blog of our adventures will be published after we come back.

The grim news from home continues and now you have heavy snow just to cheer you all up! Please stay safe and well everybody. So just to make you smile here is an Australian quokka showing you his cheeky grin. Love from us both to you all.


Our return to Coomera

Monday (11 January) we were up very early as we wanted to make the most of the rising tide to push us towards the Boatworks on the Coomera river. At 6am I picked up the anchor and started washing off the glutinous black mud as the heavens opened, so I got pretty wet! By 6.30 am we were underway and heading across the Broadwater to the river checking out some more casualties of the last wind event along the way. The forecast was for the wind to drop by now but this didn’t happen so we were getting buffeted around a bit as we motored along. Luckily the wind was pushing us onto the dock when we arrived at the Boatworks so we made it into our berth, tied up, and all with no dramas.

We quickly rinsed Morphie off with fresh water and then got ourselves cleaned up before heading to the laundry. Once the washing machines had started we headed over to the Galley for breakfast and very nice it was too. Having completed the laundry we were back onboard by lunchtime. At 4pm we picked up the courtesy car and headed out to Westfield for our medical appointments. Doctor was happy with both of us (which is always a relief!) and we then headed into Coles for some fresh provisions before heading to the great Thai restaurant for dinner. As always, the food definitely didn’t disappoint. So Happy Birthday to me!

Afterwards we headed back for a quiet night on board escaping from the showery weather down below. Back on line we found out that the Brisbane three-day lockdown had been eased as there had been no community transmission of Covid. We did feel for those people stuck in quarantine though who had been moved swiftly to another quarantine hotel and were having to restart the whole 14 day process – one guy was only an hour away from being released. That must have been tough!

Tuesday it was raining so we had a lazy start. The rain continued and I needed some girlie pampering so I managed to get another car and, leaving Richard on board, I headed out to get my hair cut and a facial. Such a treat! Returning to Morphie we had another quiet night on board bingewatching a couple of Netflix programmes.

Wednesday morning the weather improved slightly although it rained on and off all day. Richard took the opportunity, when the sun did occasionally break through, to clean out our anchor locker; cleaned the anchor chain properly; and swapped out the bow roller as the old one had cracked. Jobs done we, again, sheltered down below. I was having a bad pain day so spent most of it reading and relaxing. This week we were supposed to have been going to New South Wales to see my nephew and his family and was very disappointed this couldn’t happen again because of border restrictions. We had been looking forward to some time away from the boat too so had already booked into the Boatworks until the end of January expecting to leave Morphie safe and sound in her berth.

So we made the decision to book another short road trip within Queensland. First stop is to Mon Repos which is the only ranger-guided turtle encounter available on the east coast. They are instrumental in turtle conservation research, especially the endangered Loggerhead turtles that frequent this area. It is turtle season right now so we are very excited about the prospect of seeing hatchlings emerge, but, of course, nothing is guaranteed!

On the way back south we are stopping off at Caloundra which is a 30 minutes drive from Australia Zoo so we are going to visit there plus spend some time relaxing on the beach. We were easily able to get a self-contained apartment booked as holidaymakers from NSW had cancelled.

Really looking forward to this six night trip (starting next Tuesday). So that was it for the day apart from organising a hire car plus online shopping for some spare boat parts from the USA (as they are not available here in Australia).

Thursday morning I defrosted the fridge and that was about it for the day. We stayed down below to try and keep cool as the weather had turned very hot and humid. We did, however, manage to pop to the Galley for coffee and a cake during the afternoon followed by another quiet night on board.

Friday morning we had a lazy start as again it was very hot and humid which certainly zaps our energy levels. Late morning we headed out for lunch before getting ourselves cleaned up and picked up our courtesy car for the weekend. We then headed out to see the Australian Outback Spectacular’s Heartland show which was my birthday present. We arrived, picked up our tags (for free drinks and photo) and were given cowboy hats and then headed into the bar. Don’t we look smart!

We then entered the arena which is set up on three sides around a sandy floor and a backdrop. All seats have tables in front of them as our tickets came with a served three course dinner and complimentary premium drinks. So we settled in and enjoyed our vegetable and feta tart starter and the live music.

Then the lights dimmed and the spectacular began. Basically the story is about the current five year drought where crops are dying, cattle are being sold for next to nothing and this show depicts the generosity and warmth of a community as it rallies around its central characters (Marge and Reg) as they face the tough conditions head on as the drought threatens their future. As all hope is fading the rain finally falls and the whole town can rejoice. The stage effects were amazing with rain, thunder, helicopters, flowing rivers, canyons and some aboriginal sights. The animals were live and there were lots of cattle and even some ‘wild’ horses.

During the show they managed to serve us a steak meal and a chocolate desert along with copious amounts of sparkling wine. Was a great show and we were amazed by some of the horse riding skills and acrobatics. It finished with the guy getting the girl, getting married, and a celebratory line dance from the cast. Absolutely fantastic and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole production.

Saturday morning we had breakfast in the Galley then went shopping including picking up some prescription medication. Arriving back, we stowed our goodies, and then did some more laundry combined with Netflix downloads in the cruisers lounge. Thunderstorms had been forecast and the clouds certainly were building. Then the warnings started of severe thunderstorms coming to our area and to take cover. We are in the marked red zone.

We managed to get the laundry back on board just before the heavens opened….and the wind blew…and the hail started and the thunder and lightning was very close….with a whiteout looking down the river and the storm drain overflowed into the river behind us from the road. The noise was incredible! We did try to sit in the cockpit for a little while but the horizontal driving rain drove us down below in the end. Phew thankfully we came through unscathed with no damage from the hail.

Sunday morning and Richard wanted to check the head hoses as we had a blockage so he started early taking everything apart, thinking it was the usual joker valve that had failed. But, of course, it wasn’t. By now there were tools everywhere and a pretty fed up Richard as he struggled to access things. Why would you put a serviceable item near the ceiling of a bilge locker and then install a tiny access locker more than an arm’s length away in the floor?!? Here it is partly reassembled only after a lot of swearing, and cursing. You really need to have very long arms, small shoulders and flexible joints to work on certain parts of an Island Packet!

We did have a list of things planned whilst we had the car for the weekend so I decided to leave Richard to it and get on with the jobs as I was more useful than being in his way onboard. So I headed down to Southport to visit the Volunteer Marine Rescue to pick up our membership card; then on to Charis seafoods in Labrador for some fresh fish; then back to Oxenford for cash and some provisions from Woolworths that I couldn’t get in Coles the other day; before finally returning to the boat. Richard was still huffing and puffing so we took a break over a cold drink and then I headed back out to Bunnings to get some bits and pieces that Richard had now found he needed. Back on board and it was obviously not going to be resolved that night, so we cleaned the place up, and had sundowners in the cockpit. Richard had a couple of beers and he certainly deserved them! We then had dinner down below followed by a movie night.

This morning, Monday, and I’ve taken up residence in the cruisers lounge to blog leaving Richard on board using acid to clean the remaining hoses through having swapped out the more accessible ones yesterday. The weather is closing in again, the clouds are building and the threat of thunderstorms continue.

However, at least we are not in NE Queensland as Tropical Cyclone Kimi is threatening to come ashore as a Cat 2 storm soon. Hope everyone comes through that OK.

Anyway, that’s about it from me. The news from home remains grim but at least the vaccination process is gaining ground and we just hope that everyone is able to stay safe and keep well. Take care everybody, sending more Australian hugs.

Bye for now


Our week back on the hook

Monday (4 January) we did some fruit and veg shopping and then headed into the marina office to say our farewells. We had really enjoyed our time in Sanctuary Cove Marina but our month was up. By 11am we had left our slip and was headed out into the Broadwater.

We had planned to go to Tipplers for our first night on anchor (which is only a few miles away) but when we had got there it was absolutely rammed. We had hoped that as this was ‘back to work’ day after the Christmas break it wouldn’t be too busy. We didn’t want to squeeze in and worry about swinging room overnight so we continued on north to the top of South Stradbroke Island, navigated the shifting sand banks at Jumpinpin and entered the southern end of the Canaipa Passage.

We decided to try Perry’s Hole which is an isolated anchorage between Crusoe Island and Short Island which meant navigating a narrow entrance and bar to enter. Luckily the tide was right for this and we were successful, having covered about 15 miles. We were treated to a wide open space with nobody else around apart from one trawler. We weighed our new anchor for its inaugural use and, OMG, it set so quickly I virtually had to hold onto the bow when it set and pulled Morphie around into the wind. We let out more chain and enjoyed a nice evening in the cockpit with our insect coil burning brightly to keep the biting midges away. Was very peaceful and we certainly slept well with no concerns.

Tuesday morning we decided to return back to Millionaire’s anchorage at the top of South Stradbroke Island. We found a great position in shallow sand and settled in for the day.

Of course then the wind decided to pick up to 25 knots. This is a pretty exposed spot but we held on whilst we waited to see what would happen – the predicted bad weather wasn’t supposed to arrive until Thursday. We sat on board and watched the tide change as there are very strong currents here to ensure we were set properly. Did you know that in Europe we tend to set our anchor on 5:1 ratio (eg chain to depth) but here in Queensland the norm is 3:1 so we always have to watch out for their different swinging radius. Anyway all was well and the wind died away as quickly as it had picked up.

So we dropped dink and went exploring the spit at Jumpinpin. We enjoyed watching pelicans, tiny crabs, bird life and even the surf as it came crashing over the bar from the ocean on the east side. This narrow sand bar between South Stradbroke and North Stradbroke islands is not really navigable and certainly should not be crossed except without local knowledge. It was certainly a nice place to explore….. We left dink on the beach and, as the tide continued to recede whilst we were ashore exploring, we had to walk him back into the water. This was like a creek with another sandbar. Once re -floated we went to the sand bar itself and had a quick bob in the chilly water which was certainly refreshing.

We returned to Morphie, got cleaned up and had a quiet night on board.

Wednesday morning we picked up anchor on a rising tide to return to Tipplers. We were delighted to find our favourite anchoring spot available on arrival and got a good set. Boats were coming and going all day around us but we were pretty happy with our positioning. Early afternoon we took ourselves ashore for a coffee and a cake and were treated to a visit by a huge monitor lizard who was sunning itself on a tree.

Back onboard we had sundowners on the coach roof watching all the late arrivals trying to find a spot in this busy anchorage. We had a trawler ahead of us and a houseboat behind so there really wasn’t room for anybody else to squeeze in. Sitting in the cockpit we suddenly heard a bit of a commotion and watched this orange fibreglass dinghy heading off down the river – clearly someone couldn’t tie a knot on one of the houseboats ahead of us. Most of the houseboats that ply these waters are charter vessels and the skill of some of the “captains” is a bit suspect at times! Anyway, the trawler in front of us very kindly shot off and rescued it for them. Later on we heard some shouting and screaming. Suddenly the trawler in front of us picked up anchor as the houseboat (which they had helped earlier) had swung too closely to them – we are not sure if they touched or not. Anyway, the houseboat then decided to move too….not sure why as he had loads of room now….and, of course, he dropped anchor alongside us. We were not happy!!! We kept watch for a while and, eventually convinced that it didn’t present us with any danger unless the wind switched direction (which was very unlikely) we retired down below. By now the wind was howling and it started raining heavily which gave us a stormy sunset.

Thursday morning it remained very windy with intermittent rain and the forecast was just horrible.

Early on a supply vessel came through the anchorage to offload some trucks – as there are only sand roads on this part of the island we were surprised to see the size of this ship and even more surprised that he found room to back up to the beach!

We stayed on board watching all the anchoring shenanigans again as people came and went throughout the day. Thankfully our houseboat neighbour left and another one came in to take his place but he couldn’t get his anchor to set (despite numerous attempts) so he moved off to try his luck elsewhere. Then a small sail boat turned up and anchored in front of us. We watched as he got himself settled and considered him a bit too close but, thankfully, he came to the same conclusion and picked up and moved forward to give us both a bit more room. And by now another houseboat had arrived behind us – but this time it was a liveaboard houseboat with two old ZZ-top type bearded men and one woman on board. This was a good result for us as, once again, we were well spaced with no room for anybody to join us. Although the wind howled throughout the night and the rain was persistent we had a pretty good night’s sleep.

Friday morning it was raining heavily and the wind was still howling. Our wind generator beat it’s own personal best record and produced 204 amp hours in a 24 hour period. So we didn’t have any problems with keeping our batteries topped up despite the lack of sunshine! Anyway we spent the day down below reading again….not much else to do…. By now the news had come in that Queensland had extended the closure of the interstate border to New South Wales in relation to specific Covid hotspots which included Greater Sydney and the Central Coast until the end of January. Well, sadly, that put paid to our plans to visit my nephew Jamie and his family again! Then the news hit that a cleaner in one of the Brisbane quarantine hotels had tested positive for the new UK variant so the Greater Brisbane area was placed under lockdown for three days while they undertook extensive testing and tracing which included banning recreational boating in Moreton Bay so we won’t be heading that way on Morphie anytime soon either. We had another quiet night on board with a Netflix binge.

Saturday morning it was still raining and it had poured heavily overnight. But come lunchtime it had cleared and the wind had dropped. So exciting!!! So we went ashore for coffee and a walk along the beach checking out the mangroves and a derelict wedding venue along the way (along with dead statues). Real shame that this stuff is just left to rot on the beach. Oh yes and even wallabies leave footprints in the sand LOL. Was nice, though, to stretch our legs for a while.

We got back on board just before the heavens opened again – phew! More anchor shenanigans were going on but we escaped the drama. During the late afternoon a police boat came through the anchorage and stopped at the Tipplers Cafe pontoon – we wandered who they were looking for but I think they were just after a coffee LOL. Later on we were treated to a lovely sunset once the rain had cleared. The wind died down considerably during the evening so we were hoping that this latest wind event was over.

Today, Sunday, and the wind is still blowing a bit stronger than expected. There are more comings and goings in the anchorage and, because the sun is trying to break through the clouds, the jet skis are back and buzzing around as this is a popular watering hole for jet ski tours from Southport. Richard is upstairs reading while I’m down below blogging. And that’s probably it for the day. Tomorrow we return to the Boatworks primarily for doctors appointments although there are some other things in the pipeline but I’ll share them next time. It is definitely time for us to give Morphie some loving care and attention again.

So, finally, just to let all our family and friends know that we are thinking of them constantly, especially as the news from the UK is so grim right now. So sending lots of love and hugs that you all stay safe and well.

Bye for now


Our last week in Sanctuary Cove

Tuesday (29 December) we woke up to a cloudy day but the sun was trying to break through. So we had a leisurely start and then headed to the lagoon pool for the day. We were quiet surprised as most of the lounge beds were ‘reserved’ with towels placed on them. We made camp best we could in the adults’ area before going bobbing in the pool which was lovely. Four hours later we decided to evict two towels and commandeered two lounge beds as we needed some shade from an umbrella. By now two people had returned and it turns out they were British expats – although they moaned loudly enough for us to hear nobody else turned up to take possession throughout the day. It was all very strange but we just ignored them. Later on we returned to Morphie for a quiet dinner on board and a movie night.

During the night the heavens opened and by Wednesday it was raining heavily. So we just got on with boat jobs like laundry, freezer defrosting, and a bit of cleaning before having a relaxing afternoon and evening down below. Our sole entertainment for the day was feeding the fish that lurk underneath our neighbour’s boat with some out-of-date seedy bread LOL.

Overnight it rained heavily again and we thought that New Year’s Eve might be a bit of a washout. But Thursday morning it cleared up a bit so we headed out for breakfast at the Anchor Buoy which was very nice.

Whilst there we downloaded some Netflix programmes to watch later, then did a bit of shopping, before going to the lagoon for a little while. On the way back we showered off using the marina facilities and then headed to the Pizza Wine Bar and had a delicious thin and crispy pizza. And yes no cooking for me for the whole day woo hoo!

Back on board we rested up for a little while before heading back to the lagoon suitably adorned with our wristbands which we had picked up earlier in the day giving us access to the pool bar for the beach party. The trees that were lit up around the lagoon looked really pretty.

The mix of people was quite interesting: from yummy mummies in their expensive skin tight dresses and killer heels (not forgetting the fake body parts) pushing infants in prams; to people dressed to the nines having clearly come down from the masquerade ball; and other guests like us just casual there to have a drink and enjoy the fireworks. Surprisingly a large contingent of the younger guests were British ex-pats who were definitely having a good time LOL. The DJ played very cheesy songs – a bit like a bad wedding entertainer – but the kids enjoyed dancing around even when the heavens opened while we all ran for cover for a little while. There was a full moon to check out too which was pretty spectacular as it appeared in the clouds above us.

At midnight we did the count down and watched the fireworks which were great. It felt strange to be alone again (and socially distanced) as we usually spend NYE with friends but that just sums up the rest of 2020 really. Anyway, Happy 2021 everybody.

Friday we had a lazy start and again it was drizzly and cloudy. But by noon it had cleared up and we headed into the Marine Village to meet Sandra and Nigel. The last time we had seen them was many years ago when they returned to the UK for a while and came to Clive and Sharon’s for Christmas and our two families spent the holiday together. Afterwards Sandra (Sharon’s sister) and Nigel returned to Australia where they had been living for many years. Coincidentally Clive mentioned to them that we were currently in Sanctuary Cove and they had literally just got a place around the corner on Hope Island. What a small world eh?!? So we had quickly organised a reunion.

Well, as you can imagine, we had many years of news and memories to cover so we chatted, had lunch, chatted some more, had another drink or two or three….and before you know it the whole afternoon had passed. Was lovely to catch up with them!

We said our farewells, promising to see them again soon, and headed back to Morphie for another quiet night on board.

Saturday it was partly cloudy but the sun managed to burn it off and we headed to the lagoon where we spent the whole day. Once again the place was pretty quiet now that the NY celebrations were over and we had a choice of beds and was able to get a floating bean bag for bobbing purposes whenever we wanted through the day. Around 4pm, having had more than enough sun, we were packing up and some kangaroos decided to join us – I love watching these creatures.

On the way back to our dock we used the marina showers. I got myself ready, put my toiletries in the shower cubicle, took my glasses off and climbed into the cubicle. I was just rinsing my swimming costume out when something moved in the corner and, of course, I’m pretty blind without my specs. Quickly I grabbed them and realised that there was this HUGE spider (about the size of my fist) sitting there looking at me and then it reared a couple of legs up. OMG I thought my heart was going to stop, I’m petrified of spiders, and of course in Australia many of them are dangerous. So I rushed out of the cubicle grabbing all my belongings and ran naked into the main area before taking another cubicle having checked first carefully that it was clear of nasties. Will definitely be more careful in future not sure I could stand the shock again LOL. I have since found out it was a Huntsman spider which is probably one of the most common (and scariest!) spiders in Australia. Their size, fast movement and ability to “jump”, coupled with their habit of finding their way into houses and cars makes them pretty frightening although they are non venomous. 

Back on board we had a sundowner in the cockpit before retiring down below for dinner and another Netflix binge night.

This morning, Sunday, and it is cloudy and very humid. This is our last full day booked here into Sanctuary Cove Marina so we need to get ourselves ready to leave having been here a month. Richard is cleaning Morphie’s topsides while I’m down below blogging. Afterwards there will be engine checks, water top ups and then we’ll probably head out to get a final internet download fix before we go back on the hook tomorrow. It is time to try out our new Christmas anchor. Typically the weather forecast for the next week is currently very mixed, nice for a few days then some strong winds with possible thunderstorms. So not sure we’ll actually go too far as we need to return to the Boatworks on Monday 11 January for doctors appointments.

Bye for now, take care of each other.