Wet and wild weather in Sanctuary Cove

Sunday (21st March) we awoke to a hot and steamy day, more rain was expected, and the chance of severe thunderstorms too. Well it wasn’t long before the heavens opened yet again and it absolutely chucked it down all day, although thankfully the storms didn’t materialise.

The news from the east coast of Australia was awful with south Queensland and New South Wales absolutely deluged with record amounts of rain – this had not happened for at least 60 years so a pretty noteworthy weather event. The rivers around us burst their banks but, thankfully, we were tied to a dock with has large pilings so no concerns for us. The local flooding (which sadly cost some lives) was absolutely awful so here are a few local shots to give you an idea of the scale of this persistent rainy spell.

Again we just hunkered down below for the day. Although we did keep ourselves busy for a little while pulling an additional wire through from the bilge pump light to the cockpit. This was a job on our list for a while after losing all our fresh water in Fiji when we were navigating through the reefs and didn’t hear the main bilge pump start or notice the red warning light go on. So we are installing a red warning light in the engine panel so that it is easily visible in future. This job was largely done but the final bit would have to wait for when it had stopped raining as we had to take the cover off the engine panel.

Monday morning we headed into Southport in the car with Steve who was having an epidural to hopefully ease his back pain and we were going to drive him back. On the way we headed to the Boatworks to pick up some mail (Richard’s replacement credit card had arrived) and were quite surprised by the width of the Coomera river and the height of the water relative to the road bridges.

We dropped Steve off but, because of Covid restrictions, we were not allowed to wait in the clinic for him so went for a wander down the road in the pouring rain to find a coffee. We ended up in KFC which was the nearest place open we could find and, by the time we headed back up the hill to the clinic, Steve was waiting for us. So worked out really well….

We arrived back in Sanctuary cove and had another wet day down below on Morphie. Later on we braved the elements to pop next door to see Steve and Jo as they were packing up for a small road trip and we were going to be keeping an eye on Tamanu for them in their absence. So instructions received, a couple of cold ones later, and we were back on board for a quiet night.

Tuesday morning it was still raining hard! So we were hermits down below again. Steve and Jo had left as planned and we were relieved to hear from them later that day that they had arrived at their destination safely. Couldn’t have been a fun five hour drive in those conditions….

Wednesday morning it had finally stopped raining after over a week of bad weather. Woo hoo!!

So we finished the installation of the auto bilge light in the cockpit and then washed the boat down of all the dirt from the rain. The water in the marina was a horrible deep brown colour from run off further up the river. Luckily we are not directly in the main channel of the river so we didn’t have to worry about floating debris either.

Thursday morning and it was sunny and hot. So we quickly got ourselves ready to go to the pool for the day. So excited LOL. We managed to get our favourite bed (with shade) in the adults section of the pool and it was really quiet – so we had ample access to the pool floaties to just bob around in the sun. Was a lovely day.

Friday we had breakfast out at Pier B (and caught up with David again) before heading to the pool for another day. We really enjoyed it and can’t quite believe how quickly the days pass when we are doing nothing but reading, relaxing and bobbing. By the afternoon the pool was getting a bit busier so we thought the weekend guests had probably arrived. Before we headed back to Morphie for the night we had a couple of Happy Hour drinks in the hotel’s pool bar. Had been a great day.

Saturday morning and, again, it was a lovely day although there were a few clouds around. We spent the day by the pool admiring the cheek of the ibis birds who are called “bin chickens” here in Australia because of their tendency to eat anything that is left lying around – they certainly enjoyed demolishing the bowl of chips left by some hotel guests.

We watched a helicopter come in to land and we think this was the start of a wedding as the party was seen going through the back of the hotel to their reception later in the day. Oh yes and we also spotted some strange seagulls who looked like they had stuck their beaks and legs into a tin of red paint.

On the way to the pool bar for Happy Hour we had a quick visit with some of the hotel’s kangaroos who were pretty chilled out keeping the grass trimmed. After sundowners we headed back to Morphie for another quiet night in.

This morning (Sunday) and we are having a quiet time on board before heading to the village pizzeria to meet Nigel and Sandra for the afternoon, so looking forward to catching up with them again. The weather forecast has changed a bit for the forthcoming week but here’s hoping for a nice Easter weekend so we can make the most of the activities going on within the marina village – there is even live music on the village green scheduled so that should be fun. Happy Easter to all.

So take care everyone and enjoy the further lifting of restrictions at home. Must be quite exciting to be able to see more people again after such a long year of lockdowns and support bubbles (not to mention haircuts and pub gardens). Please be careful and we send love and hugs whilst hoping that the immunisation programme continues to be rolled out so that life can get back to normal quickly. But you still might need a smile to cheer you up so here is an another Australian cutie – this time a baby Quoll.


Our week in Sanctuary Cove

Saturday (13 March) we headed out early to the pool. Our usual spot by the lagoon (in the adult area) was not busy but the umbrellas had been removed, so there was no shade available. So we headed to the sun beds near the other pool instead.

During the day Steve and Jo’s friends arrived (James, Leslie and their son Harrison) so they also took themselves to the lagoon pool for some fun.

Early evening we got together with the gang and headed into one of the village restaurants called Jonaz on Food. The waiter was attentive, the food was pretty good and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Until the bill came and the waiter turned on us as he wasn’t happy about us checking it. Hmmm, he was quite rude to us, so we didn’t leave him a tip! Tipping here in Australia is not mandatory or expected so no problems there, but it was all very strange and sort of ended the evening on a less than cheery note.

Sunday morning we headed back to the pool again – this time the ‘oyster’ shaped lounger was available which has a shade cover so we nabbed that for the day, and enjoyed ourselves just bobbing around in the lagoon in between lazing around and reading books. Throughout the day I was struggling a bit with my hip so definitely no more water aerobics for me!!

During the evening it started raining so we had a quiet night in. The rain didn’t let up all night and was pretty heavy. And, of course, on Monday it continued to rain all day. So apart from popping out for a coffee and some shopping at the village IGA we just chilled out down below.

We then headed over to Tamanu for dinner with Steve and Jo – we are very happy to be Steve’s curry recipe guinea pigs. This time it was a beef vindaloo and was absolutely fantastic! Loved it….

Tuesday morning and it was still raining. Apart from heading out for a coffee we had another day of not doing much other than sheltering down below from the weather feeling like hermits. Richard did, however, fix the lights in the heads. To finish off the day we had a Netflix binge. Currently we are watching Season 2 of Designated Survivor and thoroughly enjoying it….

Wednesday morning it was a bit brighter but was still not pool weather. So we took up residency on our dock and took apart our cockpit cushions. Richard scrubbed the inner closed cell pads while I worked on the covers. And that was about it for the day.

Thursday we had plans to meet David and his young family in the afternoon but, unfortunately, they were poorly so cancelled. Never mind we are here for another couple of weeks yet so there is time to catch up with them when they have recovered from the lurgy. I was having another bad leg day so Richard was pottering around looking for jobs to tackle and this time it was the stern shower nozzle which needed cleaning out as it was blocked; then he worked on the stainless on the cooker; followed by the galley taps. Great job and everything is now sparkling again!

Later on we headed to the Cove Tavern for a couple of drinks and some supper before returning to Morphie for another quiet night on board.

Friday morning I headed to the Village IGA for some provisions and then Richard and I had a clean up down below. He worked on the walls in our cabin while I cleaned all the floors, wiped the wood down, and vacuumed the rug. I then prepared dinner for Steve and Jo as we were entertaining them with a boat-made lasagne with salad and garlic bread for dinner. And a lovely evening we had too, despite the late appearance of a few mosquitos because we had forgotten to close the hatches before dark!

This morning, Saturday, and we met Steve and Jo at 8.30am. The only washing machine here in the marina has been playing up so they were doing a laundromat run to Coomera and we had decided to join them.

While the washing was going around in the tubs we all had breakfast out in a local cafe and then went for a drive around the local marinas in the luxury of the car’s air-conditioned environment whilst we waited for the dryers to finish…. Back on board having unpacked all our laundry, the weather is changing again and we have just had a rain shower with the threat of a thunderstorm later. Oh joy!

So not much to report this week although we have really enjoyed being sociable for a change. So fingers crossed for improved weather so that we can have more pool time. Hard to believe that we have been here almost two weeks and have only managed two days so far!

We see that the vaccination roll-out continues at home although there are renewed concerns over the supply chain. The story is the same here in Australia with Europe blocking exports. Papua New Guinea (which is just across the Torres Straits from the top of Queensland) are struggling to cope with the pandemic and many of the vaccines were earmarked to be sent there to help this third-world country get on top of the problem. The Australian Prime Minister is clearly furious about Europe stopping deliveries of ordered and paid-for drugs to keep for themselves despite signed contracts with the manufacturers. Will be interesting to see how this all pans out. Here in Australia they are onto the next stage of the vaccination process and our doctor has told us the surgery will be in touch when it is our turn. So fingers crossed that won’t be too long into the future.

So take care everyone, we are thinking of you all and sending love and hugs. Today’s smile comes courtesy of more Australian cuties – this time some baby dingoes.


Leaving Boatworks for Sanctuary Cove

Saturday (6 March) we headed out early to go shopping for provisions and to get some prescriptions filled. We came back to Morphie, unpacked and stowed all our goodies, then I headed back out in the car to Westfield whilst Richard stayed on board fixing the shower sump pump (yes again!). I enjoyed my girlie time getting a manicure and pedicure and when I returned found everything was back in its place. We then had a couple of sundowners in the cockpit followed by a quiet night down below enjoying a Netflix binge.

Sunday morning we were heading out shopping again, this time for fresh fruits and vegetables. On the way we popped in to see Tim. We had met him on the dock at the Boatworks a few weeks ago and were inspired by his story. He is a veteran Australian Navy Diver with PTSD who has struggled with his mental health and has taken on a project to rebuild an old sunken steel boat which, eventually, can be used to take his fellow veterans out for some time on the water. As we had failed to sell our old anchor and it was just taking up space in our stern cabin (aka the ‘garage’) we decided to donate it to this great cause. Tim was delighted to receive it and both him and his wife made us really welcome with food and great coffee while we got to look around their beautiful home. Here is the official handover…

And here is what the anchor looked like after some loving care and attention from Tim.

Whilst there, as the highlight of the day, we were able to feed a friendly kookaburra by hand which was sitting on the screen to his pool. A really lovely way to spend the morning.

Afterwards we rushed off to do our final bits of shopping then back to the Boatworks for laundry duties and Netflix downloads whilst we had good internet. So that was about it for the day although I did come across another (smallish) suspicious critter in the showers that evening – this one I have since identified (I think) as a scorpion spider which is not considered poisonous to humans. Still didn’t enjoy sharing my bathroom with him!

Monday morning we did final boat / engine checks and then headed down to the river to Sanctuary Cove marina. Steve (of SV Tamanu) was waiting on the dock to help us with our lines and we were delighted to be next door to them in the marina. What are the chances of two British-registered Island Packets alongside each other in an Australian marina?!?

After we were secured, washed down, and hooked up to power etc we then checked into the marina office and picked up our security gate keys. We then went to a cafĂ© for coffee and caught up with our favourite barista David. And, of course, by now it had been raining….

Later on in the afternoon we welcomed Steve and Jo onboard Morphie for sundowners. Had been a very long time since we had seen them so it was great to catch up.

Overnight we had heavy rain but thankfully come Tuesday morning it started to ease. We were up early and on the bus towards Southport. We arrived at the terminus about 50 minutes later and found the medical facility that we were going to have our visa medicals at, had a coffee, then waited in line. People were there for all sorts of medicals and visas, so it was quite interesting people watching. Eventually we were dealt with in terms of initial meeting / basic tests then it was an X-ray, followed by a meeting with a doctor. After a couple of hours, and $700 lighter, we left and made our way back to the bus terminus for our return trip to Sanctuary Cove.

Later on we headed over to Tamanu for sundowners on board which was fun especially as we watched the lightning flashing around us from the cockpit.

Wednesday morning we borrowed Steve and Jo’s car (which was very kind of them) and took off for the Boatworks as we had mail to collect. We also took the opportunity to pop into Bunnings as Richard wanted to buy a new tap for our heads. Back on board and the weather was really miserable and cloudy so we stayed put. We had received our National Police Certificates in the post so I scanned those in and uploaded them to the immigration website which also confirmed that our medicals had required no further attention. So everything done we are just waiting for the visas to be issued now but, at least, we remain legal on our bridging visas so we are not worried about this delay.

Later on we headed back over to Tamanu for a curry as Steve had been trying a new Indian restaurant recipe that he had found so we were (happily) the guinea pigs. I supplied the poppadums and naan bread which we had found in Woolworths that morning. The Madras was great – really enjoyed it – thanks Steve. We were chased out of the cockpit by torrential rain so took cover down in the saloon for a while – but, eventually, it was time for us to leave and the rain just would not stop so we had to make a dash for it and got soaked in the process!!! Never mind…..

Thursday it was another cloudy and rainy day so we just stayed on board. Richard swapped out the tap in the heads while I was his “gofer” getting tools as required…. Other than that we just relaxed on board and had a quiet night in.

Friday morning I was up early and headed to the lagoon pool at the Intercontinental Hotel for water aerobics. Steve and Jo have been going to these three times a week so thought I’d give it a go…. Richard could not be tempted as he wanted to swap out the faulty Balmar battery monitor and bluetooth gateway while I was off the boat and out of the way so he stayed behind to do that and Jo had an early on-line meeting (as she works from the boat) so it was just Steve and me. The instructor wasn’t great so I really didn’t know what I was supposed to do half of the time but I got through it. Afterwards Steve and I headed to the hotel spa pool to warm up as the lagoon pool was pretty chilly before returning to our respective boats.

Back on board and I’m blogging while Richard continues to fix his new instruments – of course it is not as simple as it would seem – so I’m keeping quiet in the corner while he rants away LOL. He has just finished and everything appears to be working as it should be so fingers crossed that they have ironed out all the bugs… Think that will be it for the day then, it is still cloudy and grey out there, so no pool time today. Fingers crossed for a real break in the weather tomorrow.

So that’s it for now folks. Things appear to be improving at home although some concern over whether there will be another spike now that the kids are back at school. So fingers crossed that the easing of restrictions continues as proposed. But we do recognise that you are all still living in lockdown whilst we live an almost normal life so here are more Australian cuties to make you smile. These two are a Tasmanian pademelon mother and baby – they are small herbivore marsupials, that breed abundantly and are preyed upon by Tasmanian devils and quolls.


Another week on the hook in Moreton Bay

Friday (26th February) we moved up the coast of Moreton Island from the Sandhills anchorage to Tangalooma Wrecks which is just north of the Tangalooma Island Resort. This resort is private and doesn’t allow visitors (other than registered guests) to their facilities so off limits to us and definitely seemed pretty busy with the amount of times we saw the little helicopter take off for a short scenic trip around the bay.

The wrecks are 15 ships deliberately scuttled by the Queensland Government between 1964 and 1984 to provide a safe anchoring spot for boats on the eastern side of Moreton Bay. Coral is now starting to form around the wrecks and it provides a haven for a variety of species so is a popular spot for snorkellers from the nearby private resort. This anchorage is only tenable with an easterly element to the wind so we were delighted to have the right conditions to finally make it there.

We found a good spot near enough to the wrecks to go exploring but far enough away not to be in the way of the huge amount of boats that come through here bringing day trippers. There are also people camping on the sandy spit across from the wrecks who come over on the ferry in their 4WD campers. It was pretty busy and we hadn’t seen so many tourists having fun in a very long time with lots of people bobbing in the crystal clear shallow water, it was the closest we had come to being back at Jost van Dyke, just without the bars! Oh yes and check out the tourist playing with a motorised surf board…

We quickly got dink down and enjoyed dinghying around looking at the wrecks (although a bit concerned by the absestos signage on one) and, despite lots of warnings about the dangers, of course lots of people decided to climb on them too.

We then headed ashore and went bobbing ourselves. After a few hours we were back on board being rocked and rolled around by the huge ships as they pass by in the nearby shipping channel – which is the main deep-water channel into Brisbane. But wasn’t bad enough to make us want to move on.

We just enjoyed being there and particularly watching the ships go through against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset. And, of course, in any popular tourist spot we had the usual anchoring shenanigans and it was clear that one particular charter catamaran didn’t have a clue about how to go about it. Thankfully they gave up and moved away from us – phew! During the evening in the cockpit we also watched one of the 4WD vehicles (that trippers drive along the beach to the campsite) get stuck in the sand…..so lots of people watching going on.

Saturday morning it was raining….seriously….here we are in the most beautiful anchorage and it’s raining again. Not happy! Thankfully it cleared up quite quickly and we just floated around over our anchor as there was also no wind. We were then furiously tipped from side to side from the wake of a bunch of jet skis going through the anchorage at top speed. They definitely do this deliberately….oh well….never mind. Again there were more anchor shenanigans as the day trippers arrived. We went ashore and bobbed in the crystal clear water and talked to a brother and sister who were out for the weekend. While we were chatting we noticed a catamaran getting too close to Morphie which made the people on board panic a bit but, before we could even get in our dinghy to get back out there, they had picked up anchor and left. They were clearly embarrassed by anchoring too close to us which proved to be their undoing when the wind picked up and we all swung in different ways. Thankfully they didn’t touch.

We had another evening in the cockpit watching the sunset. Later on we checked out our emails and we had received one from AmEx about a possible fraud. So I quickly phoned them (as it was now eight in the morning in the UK) and, yes, someone had tried to use this card at Argos. Luckily Amex spotted this transaction and it was declined, the card was immediately cancelled, and another one ordered to be delivered to Australia in due course. Really great service. Does make you wonder though where the card was cloned.

Sunday morning it was raining first thing and we were rocking and rolling even more with large numbers of ships moving through the channel. Then the trippers started arriving and we decided enough was enough, so picked up anchor and headed back to the Sandhills anchorage where we were completely on our own. Was really lovely so we enjoyed the peace and quiet just sitting in the cockpit watching the birdlife after the hectic madness of the last few days.

We then received the terrible news that my Mum’s friend, Anne McCafferty, had passed away (from Covid). Was really upset by this, especially as Anne and her husband Charlie had been so supportive to me when we lost Mum and they had both been part of my life for almost 50 years. So was quite a tearful evening. RIP Anne, you were taken far too soon, but hope that you are enjoying your reunion (not to mention a cup of tea and game of scrabble) up there with Mum. We will miss you greatly and send lots of love and our deepest condolences to Charlie and the rest of the family for their loss.

Monday morning first thing it was rather cloudy and grey so we spent the time below and submitted our completed visa applications. We also received the news that our Federal Police Checks had been completed and our certificates were being posted to us. We then received our bridging visas, almost by return, with news that the process of issuing visas was currently taking 5-7 months but at least we are now legal when our current 12 month visas expire on 13 March. It’s unbelievable that we been here in Australia for almost a year.

Later on we moved anchorage from Sandhills to Horseshoe Bay, Peel Island. Still grey, cloudy and no wind and it was officially the first day of Autumn. Let’s hoping Autumn weather is more settled than Summer LOL. As there was no solar gain nor wind we had to run the generator – for the first time for a long time – to top up the batteries. We had a quiet night on board.

Tuesday morning and it was lovely – we picked up anchor and headed back towards Canaipa to time our arrival with high tide to get through the winding shallow passage. We arrived at Tipplers and got a really good spot. There was an Australian catamaran behind us – SV Bonafide – so, when we dropped dink, headed over to say hello and to let them know that we had deliberately anchored in preparation for the expected wind to swing us away from them. They were comfortable with our position and then invited us for sundowners that evening. Smashing, thank you very much! We headed ashore for a quick snack and, of course, an essential wallaby visit. Headed back to Morphie we got ourselves cleaned up, packed some goodies, and headed over to see Andy and Bec – who are both British but have lived in Australia for decades. We had a very enjoyable few hours with them while a thunderstorm raged around us but thankfully didn’t come too close.

Wednesday morning it was raining, it was cold, it was grey and again no solar input so we ran the generator and chilled out down below. We got word from the Australian immigration that we needed to have visa medicals so I organised those for next week. We also needed to go to a Centrelink office to get our Medicare card validity extended so started getting the documents together in preparation for that. Later on we heard from Tom and Diane (SV Avalon) that they were camping at Tipplers and had just spotted Morpheus out in the anchorage. Fantastic news! So we invited them for sundowners later and were also joined by Andy and Bec. We had a fun social evening on board and it was great to see Tom and Diane again.

Thursday morning we weighed anchor early and, by eight, we were heading out of Tipplers on our way back to the Boatworks. Despite the horrendous conditions of 30+ knot winds and torrential rain enroute we made good time and arrived to find a small motorboat in our allocated berth. So the marina guys quickly jumped onboard and moved it to another place while we did 360s in the river. After about 10 minutes the slip was ready for us and we went in gingerly as the wind was pushing us away from the dock and towards another boat but we made it in successfully with no drama. Phew!

We quickly washed Morphie down, got the electricity plugged in, put the canvas back on and headed to the showers. After getting ourselves cleaned up we went to pick up our courtesy car to drive to Southport to visit the Centrelink / Medicare office. Well, my last experience of this place was horrendous with queues out the office and up the street to then meet the most unhelpful woman I have ever had the pleasure to meet! I had pre-warned Richard but, of course, the reality this time was very different. No queues anywhere and a very helpful woman who told us we had to reapply for another card. Wow, what a difference. Anyway, we took a seat and completed the new forms and then returned to the desk – the woman checked the form was completed properly; took photocopies of our passports, current live visas, bridging visas; and that was that. She would now send them off to be processed and the new cards should be in the post within a couple of weeks. What a difference to last time. So very grateful this happened so easily and quickly so we headed back up the M1 to the Boatworks and treated ourselves to a celebratory coffee and a cake in the Galley after we had returned the car. We also picked up a couple of parcels that had been delivered and one was Richard’s new replacement (free of charge) Balmar products. This made Richard very happy indeed! So guess that is one job for the weekend while we are here.

We then had a quiet afternoon and evening on board – feeling a bit weary – and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the marina as we are surrounded by boats for sale with nobody on board so it is just us on the dock.

This morning, Friday, I’m blogging and Richard has just been to collect his new Yanmar fresh water coolant pump for the engine. He’s very happy with his shiny new acquisition.

This afternoon I have a doctor’s appointment – just to pick up prescriptions – so will get a few things whilst out and about and that will be it for the day. We have a car for the weekend so we can get ourselves provisioned up in preparation for returning to Sanctuary Cove Marina on Monday. Really looking forward to it.

News from home seems to be about the same with some nervousness over new Covid strains and the efficacy of the vaccines against them. Plus, of course, tax hikes in the latest budget to pay for it all. We just hope that the lockdown programme will continue on track and you will all be able to have more freedom at home soon. So sending more love, hugs, and another Australian cutie to make you smile. This one is a sugar glider which is a tiny lemur-like tree-dwelling flying marsupial that feeds on wattle gum and eucalyptus sap.