Exploring Townsville and Rugby!

Wednesday afternoon (22 September) we went down the dock to have sundowners with Suzy (SV Sofia) who we had met in the Boatworks earlier in the year. Her friend Phil (SV Vivamus, our neighbour) also came along. We had a fun evening with them.

Thursday morning we had booked the marina’s courtesy UTE so headed out to the Cheapa car place to pick up some engine oil then headed to the bottle shop and supermarket for a top up of supplies (for those items we had forgotten last time).

We then had a relaxing afternoon on board before joining Sharon and Chris (SV Watusi) for dinner at the Cowboys Leagues Club where we had the special of the day which was roast beef (sadly with no yorkshire puddings)….and very nice it was too. Afterwards Chris and I had a bit of a flutter on the Pokies (slot machines) while Richard kept Sharon company.

On the way back to the marina we stopped off to see the Lady of the Strand by night – she changes colour with the water temperature apparently. Was another lovely evening with these two friends.

Friday morning it was a bit cloudy and overcast. We first headed down the Strand to the C Bar for breakfast – taking Sharon with us as Chris was working. This had been recommended as having the best breakfast in town, especially the potato rosti, so Sharon and I were on a mission to try them out. Well, they weren’t really potato rosti, they were more like monster potato croquettes made with feta – very tasty indeed – but this meant for a huge breakfast. Oh well, never mind, we were heading out for a long walk anyway.

After breakfast we parted company and we continued walking to the end of the strand towards the Rock Lagoon (another free-to-use public facility) admiring the Strand Art installations along the way. We checked out lifeguarded beach but was a bit surprised to see a few people swimming when we saw the crocodile warning notices!

Moving on we came to the bottom of the hike to the Kissing Point Fort. Well, it was marked up as a ‘Cat 3’ trail which involves steep ascents etc. So that wasn’t going to work for me but I noticed a sign for an easier-access entrance – so we walked the long way round and managed to find a way up without having to scramble over rocks etc. We enjoyed our visit to the Fort – especially the views back towards the port – and learnt lots about the large American Air Force contingent based here during the 2nd World War to stop the Japanese invading Australia.

Leaving the Fort by a slightly different road we came across a walkway following the coastline around and admired a beautiful property set into the hill.

Returning to sea level we found an Army museum so popped in there for a quick look. Well we stayed there much longer than expected as we wandered around the really interesting well-preserved exhibits and read the stories behind them – through all the conflicts that Australia have been involved in. We felt particularly moved by the Japanese prisoner-of-war exhibits because, as well as well-documented stories, such cruelty and obscene treatment of these brave soldiers becomes so much more vivid when they include names and photographs of those who suffered in this way.

Leaving the museum behind us we headed slowly back down the Strand. I had done a lot of walking and my legs were struggling a bit so I took a seat and watched a large car carrier being piloted into the main port of Townsville.

We spotted some TV crews and three large vans suddenly turned up depositing a single rugby player from each wearing team colours – Richard thought that they were probably actors and were here to do a promotion for the games on Saturday – but then we realised that they were the Australian, New Zealand and South African captains! They were posing by the two cups that were up for grabs in the competition so we jelly-fished into the media crowd and took some photos of our own and then, before the cups were removed, we quickly got a photo of us with one of them too! We then watched the TV crews doing their ‘live to camera’ bit before everyone moved on. Talk about an exciting amazing coincidence!

We then returned to Morphie and decided to investigate a particularly nasty smell coming from the heads. Eventually we found it – the holding tank vent filter was to blame as the fitment had corroded and separated so we were getting the smells through the pipe. Absolutely disgusting! Richard managed to get it off and sealed the end of the pipe up for the time being whilst I investigated purchasing a new one. Of course, these are made in the USA, and timelines for deliveries from the States are pretty slow right now so we checked out whether we could get an alternative made in Australia. Couldn’t find one online that was an exact replacement in terms of sizing so we needed to get our hands on one to see if we could make it fit in the limited space available for the install. Now that the smell had been removed, we chilled out for the rest of the afternoon.

Later on we headed to Molly Molones to listen to the live music set – the same guy that we saw at the Longboard Bar last Sunday – and enjoyed ourselves. There was more live music to come after his set and Richard was keen to see what type of music the goth-looking young woman who was setting up would deliver – but after another hour of waiting, we decided to call it a night and walked back to the boat.

Saturday morning and Chris and Sharon very kindly took us out to the Boating and RV store so we could check out a new filter – we managed to get one that would fit with a bit of modification to the hoses so we came away with a solution to be fitted another day. We then headed to a few other stores with them but, even though one of them was Bunnings, we came back empty handed apart from a new electric toothbrush for me LOL. This has to be a first for Richard not to buy anything in Bunnings!

Once back on board we rested up and headed out around 2pm towards the Townsville CBD admiring the Anzac memorial along the way.

We then headed towards “Eats Street” which was a pop-up festival with food trucks and live music. We had decided we would eat there before going to the stadium for the rugby. Well, there was a bouncy castle, a kiddie ride, a drum band and a few food trucks but not anything we fancied and there really wasn’t anywhere to sit to eat if you bought something anyway.

At this point the streets were getting crowded with both families and rugby supporters – lots of Wallabies and All Blacks – with the occasional Springbok and Los Pumas fan mixed in. It was fun to walk amongst them all with flags flying….

So we decided to continue straight to the Queensland Country Bank Stadium which opened at 3.30 pm for the first match at 5.05 pm. So we walked across the river and along the river front towards the stadium.

By getting there early we thought we could miss the crowds and get something to eat and drink before taking our seats. We arrived and there were lots of people milling around and even some dancing to the DJ playing some loud tunes…. By more luck than judgment we had got tickets which required us to enter the stadium at Gate A which was the first one we came across so we started queuing behind the locked gates – suddenly everyone thought this was a good idea – and we had started a trend LOL. By this time it was getting really busy so we masked up and waited patiently.

On the dot of 3.30 pm the gates opened and, after a bag inspection, we were through. We picked up a snack and a beer each and then found our particular stand and headed towards our seats – OMG it was like a mountain climb up 92 steps to virtually the top! We got into our seats and looked around. Pretty impressive stadium and our seats were great at one end of the pitch. So we settled in for the afternoon. We were in a mixed area so were surrounded by largely Australian and New Zealanders and lots of families too.

The stadium started to fill up and, about half an hour before the start, Richard headed back down to get us some more drinks whilst I stayed put. I wasn’t going to do those steps again until I needed to LOL. Then the players started to come out to warm up and the crowds were pretty quiet – then they all disappeared back inside until they were walked out in teams – first match was part of the championships but this 100th match between New Zealand and South Africa was also for the Freedom Cup. There were fireworks and blasts of flames while they were introduced – then they lined up – and the whole stadium rose for the National Anthems whilst their national flags were unfurled. Sadly the line ups were facing away from us but we could see the players on the screen as they sang their anthems with gusto and emotions – it was clear that this match meant a lot to each and every one of them.

Then it was time for the New Zealand Haka. The All Blacks looked menacing whilst the South Africans stared them down. OMG this was a bucket list moment – it actually bought tears to my eyes. Absolutely fantastic and the crowd response was just amazing!!

So finally the match kicked off and it was end to end stuff – both teams were brilliant and New Zealand got the win by the smallest of margins with a last minute penalty, although I think that South Africa probably deserved the win overall. Each point that was scored was marked by more flames along the ends of the stadium – such an exciting thing to be part of.

Then it was cup time and the crowds just roared. After the cup had been presented and the teams left the pitch the New Zealand captain was being interviewed by the TV crews when, suddenly, he stopped talking as the New Zealand fans were doing a Haka to their team in the stadium. How amazing was that! Just wow!

We then settled in for a long wait – noticing how many Kiwis decided to leave the stadium at this point and how many Australians had now turned up to watch the second match. We made the most of the interval by having some fish and chips and another couple of drinks and, yes, I did climb those damn steps again!

The second match followed the same process with the Australian and Argentinian teams being led out. The Argentinians had small numbers of supporters in the stadium but they made up for it with their very loud and excited shouting, singing and dancing! We certainly knew they were there LOL. Before the two national anthems were sung and flags were unfurled we also had a spoken welcome from a First Nation player accompanied by some spiritual music played on a didgeridoo.

The anthems were treated with respect and again we had more fireworks and flames to mark the occasion. The interesting thing was the prominence of a Cadbury flag amongst all this – obviously a major sponsor of the Australian team!!!

The match was gritty and a bit bad tempered with some serious clashes between players. The crowd were completely partisan and booed the Argentinians with passion. I think this riled the Argentinians up and tempers flared. Not helped by there being no flames or any type of acknowledgment when Argentina scored a point other than the big screen – unlike the first match where every point was celebrated. Not very sportsmanlike! Anyway, not surprisingly, Australia got a good win and the crowd went mad.

We left the stadium amongst the masses (still masked up), crossed the river, and returned to Flinders Street. We had been hoping for a pontoonie but all the pubs were absolutely thronged with people with long queues back down the street so we called it a night and returned back to Morphie.

Sunday was our final day in the marina so Richard stayed on board and washed the boat down; flushed the watermaker; cleaned down below; and did engine checks. In the meantime I was doing all the laundry and more Netflix downloads for when we got back on the hook. We then rested up for a while before we invited Sharon and Chris on board for sundowners. Was another nice evening in their company. We had included Suzy and Phil but they had a prior arrangement so sadly were unable to make it.

Monday morning we were up early and got everything ready to depart – our personal line handlers Sharon and Chris came by – and we slipped away from the dock with their assistance. Thanks again and see you soon! Unusually we had an upwind sail to Magnetic Island and really enjoyed having two full sails out for a while as we admired the rocky outcrops along the way.

By 12 noon we had the anchor down and spent the rest of the day onboard relaxing. We were surprised to see a boat that had either dragged its anchor or broken from a mooring up on the beach on the opposite side of the bay too.

Overnight it was very rolly so we had to get up a few times to stop things rattling around and both of us had a pretty disturbed night’s sleep. On Tuesday morning it was still rocking and rolling. We looked at other boats around the anchorage to see if there was a more sheltered spot but everyone was moving around quite a lot so no point in moving. The swell is obvious as it comes around the headland into the bay. Not very comfortable to be honest and neither of us had any appetite to get the dinghy down and go ashore in these conditions so we just stayed on board for the day. Although Richard kept busy and installed the new holding tank vent filter in the heads – great job upside down with his head in a cupboard whilst the boat is moving around so much!

There really isn’t another anchorage we fancy nearby so we’ll just sit it out here for the minute as we plan to head south again towards the end of the week when the wind is forecast to turn. During the afternoon there were dinghies on the beach near the boat aground but there didn’t seem to be any attempt at getting the boat re-floated just yet. Shame as the pounding surf is probably going to do more damage all the time it is left there high and dry. After a quiet day we ended up having an early night as we were both shattered.

It is now Wednesday and it is still rocking and rolling. The forecast is for the wind to die down later today so hoping that will make the anchorage more comfortable – we can only hope. In the meantime Richard is relaxing in the cockpit whilst I’m down below blogging. We plan another quiet day on board and hope to get ashore tomorrow, fingers crossed.

The news from home is shocking – from covid to economic woes with lorry driver shortages impacting on supply chains and causing food shortages on top of petrol supply problems – and that’s without the power companies going bust and inflation levels rising. Add to that the idiots who like to shut the M25 on a regular basis and those that like to panic buy at the slightest thing…. Missing you all so very much and sending prayers to our friends who are struggling with some serious issues but, have to say, we are in no hurry to come back to the chaos right now! Anyway, to make you all smile, here is a bush stone curlew and chick cutie.

Bye for now, Jan

Enjoying the City of Townsville

Thursday (16th September) by 9.35 am, we had all our fenders and lines ready as we had confirmed our berth configuration over the phone, so weighed anchor, and headed out away from Magnetic Island towards the Breakwater marina in Townsville. There were a few ships and ferries around but we were able to stay out of the proper shipping lanes as we entered into the dredged channel to the marina but found the channel markers a little confusing as the green pole was actually red with just a little green triangle on the top to denote its status – we worked it out in the end – but had a few moments virtually at a standstill whilst we debated what to do!

We arrived into our slip at 12 noon having covered just over 12 miles and were met by a marina guy plus Chris and Sharon from SV Watusi who we hadn’t seen for a long while so that was a lovely welcome. We had a little chat with them and arranged to meet them for dinner later. We then got busy – Richard cleaned Morphie down to get rid of all the salt whilst I stripped everything and headed to the laundry. Finally, jobs done, we met Chris and Sharon and walked down The Strand (which is the sea-facing promenade here) and had dinner together at the Sea View Hotel. Was a lovely fun evening.

Friday morning we headed out in the opposite direction into the central business district to find the doctors clinic where we had appointments. Once we had located it we had a quick breakfast out before returning to the medical centre.

We duly completed our ‘new patient’ forms and sat down to wait (our appointments were back-to-back at 10 and 10.10). When Richard returned to hand his form into reception (having to queue yet again – this was a very busy place) he was informed that the doctor we had booked in for wasn’t actually in the clinic that day but they had scheduled us in with another one. Well, they did, but we had about another hour’s wait until we finally got seen and came out with new prescriptions in hand. That will sort out our problems in getting medication each month while we continue travelling. So very happy in the end despite the frustrations. We then headed to the nearby chemist warehouse to get the medications dispensed whilst we went shopping.

We then went shopping for fresh meat and fish as I always prefer to get these items frozen down whilst on shore power to save the drain on the house batteries. Jobs done we walked back to Morphie and had a couple of hours rest before heading to the marina BBQ area for the weekly cruiser get together. We were surprised by how many other cruising couples we had already met on our travels and had a nice evening, although I completely forgot to take any photos!

Saturday morning and I headed back into Townsville to have my hair cut and coloured – first time in a salon for quite a long while – and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. This brand new salon was tucked away on top of a few bars and restaurants in Flinders Street, so was quite a find!

Whilst I was out Richard had cleaned the boat down below so we were all spick and span again. We had a leisurely afternoon before getting ourselves cleaned up and headed out to meet up with Chris, Sharon, Steve, Jodie, Alan and Danielle at the end of the dock. We then walked into town, crossed the river, and headed to an Indian restaurant called Aalishan which had been recommended to us. The food was very good (and very reasonably priced) and we had a great time despite the somewhat at times chaotic service.

Walking back we decided to go to the pub to round off the evening and headed across the road in Flinders Street with Sharon and Chris (the others having decided to return to their boats) and, as we were checking in (which is mandatory at all venues in Queensland) we were then asked for a $10 per head cover charge. So we declined and walked away and went to Flynn’s Irish bar instead. This was a very loud venue with a poor sound system (which didn’t do the live band any favours) and there was, surprisingly, about 50 women (of all ages and sizes) queuing up to get in when we left after a single drink. Lock up your sons LOL!

Sunday morning we had a lazy start and headed out down The Strand around lunchtime. We enjoyed watching the kids playing in the free-to-use waterpark for a little while – with lots of families out and about having picnics etc in the beautiful surroundings.

We were actually looking for some lunch but, after the excesses of the night before, we didn’t want anything too heavy so ended up settling for a toasted sandwich at the local coffee shop. After our late lunch we headed across the road to the Longboard Bar which sits over the beach – chosen because they had advertised a live music session for the afternoon. So we took a seat and waited for the set to start. It was a single guy on a guitar who looked uninspiring so we didn’t really have any high expectations but he had both a good repertoire and a great voice which we thoroughly enjoyed listening to.

Suddenly, late afternoon, a lot of large muscular young men had taken seats at the bench next to us. Richard quickly worked out from some small visible logos and their distinctive accents that that they were the South African Springbok rugby team (the current World Champions) who had arrived into Townsville to play against the New Zealand All Blacks on Saturday night in a double header at the Queensland Country Bank Stadium as part of the Rugby Championship. On the same day the Australian Wallabies also play the Argentinian Pumas. We chatted to them for a little while and, as we have always wanted to see the All Blacks in action (having tried a couple of times and failed in New Zealand) we decided we’d look into whether it would be possible for us to get tickets to this event – although we tried not to get too excited as it was probably much too late in the day. Here are just a few of the Springboks who very kindly posed for me as evidence LOL.

Early on Monday morning we asked the marina if we could extend our stay (as we would need to be in the marina to get to the rugby). They are very busy but were able to accommodate us until the following Monday morning. Yay! Very excited we then booked our stadium tickets online and we are now going to the rugby on Saturday. Not the best seats in the house but OMG what a treat to look forward to – definitely something on our bucket list of things to do.

After we had all that sorted, we picked up the marina courtesy ute to go pick up our ‘click and collect’ order from Coles.

But on the way we headed up to the Castle Hill Lookout which gave us great views over the city (including the stadium), down to the two marinas (we are in the bigger of the two) and across to Magnetic Island. Then we headed off to Coles, collected the shopping, and returned to the marina where we unpacked and stowed everything. Then we took advantage of the marina wifi to download some Netflix content. After a mad social few days we had a quiet night in.

Tuesday morning I was up early as I was going shopping with Sharon (as Chris is working) so left Richard snuggled up in bed while we were dropped off at the Stockland shopping centre which was huge. So first stop was for some breakfast then we walked our legs off (and managed to get pretty much everything on our lists) until we arrived back at the coffee shop for some more refreshments whilst we waited for Chris to pick us up again. Had a really nice time.

When we got back to the marina Richard was getting ready to move Morphie to our new slip as another boat was waiting to get into our current slip. So I quickly jumped on board and helped whilst Chris and Sharon walked down to our new dock to help us in. They are quickly becoming our professional line handlers LOL. We then had a quiet afternoon and evening on board. During the evening and overnight the wind picked up and we had reports of up to 50 knots nearby but all was well here in the marina despite some creaking and moaning.

This morning, Wednesday, and I’m blogging whilst Richard has just come back after filling up our petrol cans on the fuel dock. And that will probably be about it for the day.

Things remain stressful at home for many of our friends and family so we just want to send more love, hugs, prayers and kisses to you all. Miss you all and here is another cutie to hopefully make you smile. FYI seals are native to South and West Australia.

Bye for now, Jan

Exploring Magnetic Island

Thursday (9 September) we stayed on board and did boat jobs. So we made some water; did some hand washing; made routine engine checks; and sorted out the navigation in readiness for our departure in the morning. During the afternoon we saw some whales frolicking in the distance but, unfortunately, they didn’t come in closer. After our final Cape Upstart sunset we had an early night.

Friday morning, at 3.30 am, we picked up our anchor and heading into the darkness. We had to dodge a few prawn boats as we worked our way out of the bay, having to motor sail initially as there was little wind, so we took the opportunity to make some water too. Around 9 am the wind had filled in and the swells started to push us around a bit – but we had a fantastic feisty downwind sail to the Horseshoe Bay anchorage on Magnetic Island having covered the 70 miles quickly and had our anchor down by 2.30 pm.

Although there were over 90 boats in the bay there was lots of room and we just anchored at the back of the fleet. We were pretty tired so had a quiet afternoon and evening on board enjoying the sunset and watching the prawn boats heading out to sea for the night before we headed down below for an early night.

Saturday morning we headed ashore and explored the beach area a little bit before having a coffee out at one of the seafront cafes. The anchorage is designated by yellow buoys which have a 6 knot restriction within – outside of that watersports are allowed, so anchor further out there and you would expect to get buzzed by jet skis etc.

We then caught the bus and got off at Geoffrey Bay and enjoyed the views there before walking around to Nelly Bay.

We had seen (on Facebook) that Norm was currently in the marina here so we wandered around, checked out the marina (pretty nice actually) and found SV Peggy Anne on the dock so popped down for a catch up with him. Was lovely to see him again.

We then headed to the supermarket at the ferry terminal – realising just how far from home we are from the signpost – and picked up some fresh produce before realising that there was a big gap in the timetable to the next bus, so decided to grab a taxi back. Was an interesting ride as the driver explained that, normally, about 70% of their customers at this time of year are from Victoria and, with the latest lockdowns, they were missing so most businesses were feeling the pinch.

On arriving back we continued checking out the small shops at Horseshoe Bay before heading to the Marlin Bar Tavern for a couple of cold ones before we returned to Morphie, where we sat in the cockpit for a while before having a quiet night in.

Sunday morning we went ashore early. Magnetic Island has a market on the foreshore on the 2nd Sunday of each month so we thought we’d check it out. Was some interesting art and crafts but nothing we would need to have onboard. Great to see the motorbikes though….

After the market we had breakfast in a café before deciding to go searching for wild koalas. Allegedly some had been spotted at Wallaby Street a couple of kms away tucked down a back street. It was a long and hot walk but at least it was largely paved and, yay, we found one sleeping in an eucalyptus tree along the side of a path. He was pretty sleepy but did manage to open his eyes to say hi before snoozing again. Was very exciting!

We then walked back towards Horseshoe Bay and had a kangaroo encounter along the way.

In need of some refreshment we then stopped off at the Bungalow Bay Koala Village (a Youth Hostel property) for a cold drink before continuing our return trip. They do have captive koalas there but we didn’t feel the need to pay to see them now that we had managed to find a wild one.

We then returned to Morphie for a quiet night on board.

Monday morning and we were up early again for a bus tour of the island. We got off first at The Forts which is a trek up into the hills and, apparently, good for koala spotting. Well, we walked and walked and walked and looked and looked and looked…but to no avail. Now other friends had done this only a week ago and had seen a family of koalas but they weren’t around for us. Never mind, we enjoyed the scenery along the way although the walk was a bit of a stretch for me.

We walked back – still searching in vain for koalas – before getting back on the bus to Picnic Bay. We got off here and walked the foreshore before checking the bus timetables. Again there was a wait so we decided to have some lunch in the Picnic Bay Pub which was surprisingly good.

After lunch we rejoined the bus and got off at Arcadia and went for walk along Armand Way.

This is where the rock wallabies hang out so I had already prepped a little bag of carrots for them, feeling optimistic. We found the first couple by the bus stop although they were a bit nervous, but certainly enjoyed the carrots. We carried on walking through the rocks and boulders and suddenly we had quite a few friends come to join us. We both really enjoyed getting up close and personal with these lovely little critters.

Returning to Arcadia we had a recuperative ice cream whilst waiting for the bus back to Horseshoe Bay. We had hoped to feed the rainbow parakeets on the foreshore but they were only interested in begging for chips and cakes from other tourists…which is really bad for them. So we decided to return to the Bungalow Bay Koala Village on the bus (having had enough walking for one day) where they feed the birds at 4pm for free. So we had a couple of happy hour cold ones and then we were given some fruit and were told to walk across the bridge. Well, it was quite intense, with parakeets everywhere including landing on our heads and shoulders….

After that we returned again to Horseshoe Bay on the bus and had a couple of beers in the Marlin Bar Tavern before returning to Morphie for the night. It had been such a great day.

Tuesday morning we had a lazy start and then went to the beach for the day. We had hoped to do a bit of bobbing and, although there was a shark netted enclosure, both of us were a bit uncertain about the cloudy water so didn’t do much more than paddle. But we had a lovely day anyway. Here is the view from our shade tent on the beach.

This morning, Wednesday, and we are just chilling out onboard. Tomorrow we are heading into Breakwater Marina in Townsville for a week. We need to re-provision / visit doctors / get medications / do laundry / wash Morphie down etc. So looking forward to exploring somewhere new.

We continue to send love and hugs to you all and didn’t think you needed any Australian cuties this week as there are lots of special moments whilst here on Magnetic Island. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time here and may well revisit when we turn south again to return to the Gold Coast.

Bye for now


Cape Gloucester to Cape Upstart

Tuesday (31 August) it was a wet and wild sort of afternoon so we just stayed on board. The wind generator made an impressive 170kWh over a 24 hour period, which was a record! We also collected 12.5 gallons of rainwater in buckets without trying too hard. So it was just another movie night tucked down safe and dry below.

Wednesday morning we used some of the rain water to do some hand washing; followed by flushing through the toilet hoses; and then topped up the fresh water tanks. We then went ashore for a late lunch and were joined by Yvonne and Eddie. We had a nice afternoon ashore together before we all returned to Morphie as they had not visited an Island Packet yacht before. Just before dark they returned to SV SteeLee behind us and we had another quiet night on board.

Thursday and it was our 25th Wedding Anniversary! We had a lazy morning and headed in dink to Monte’s resort around the corner from Cape Gloucester. We got a bit wet in the dinghy ride and the bar was open but the kitchen was shut….never mind….they were doing sharing platters so we had a prawn and a cheese platter with a bottle of wine and we just enjoyed looking out over the water. The prawns were huge and absolutely delicious. A really nice way to spend the afternoon.

Back on board we sat in the cockpit having some more wine listening to some tunes….hopefully we didn’t disturb anyone else in the anchorage as Richard sort of ramped it up after a while with some Larry Miller which, of course, has to be played pretty loud LOL.

Friday morning we got on with some boat jobs as we had decided to leave on Saturday. We said our farewells to the gang and, after the early rain had cleared, we headed ashore and used the resort washing machine to do our sheets and towels which I hung up on their lines to dry. Whilst this was going on, Richard was on the beach cleaning dink as he had got a bit grubby over the last few weeks.

Later on, jobs completed, we headed back to Morphie and Richard did final engine checks whilst I checked out the routing. We ran the weather models just to make sure, and yes was still looking good. So we had a relaxing evening followed by an early night.

Saturday morning we picked up anchor at 6.30 am and left Cape Gloucester as the sun came up.

Our destination was Cape Upstart. Initially the wind was much lighter than expected so we motor sailed and, as the engine was on, we used the opportunity to make some more water. After a few hours the wind filled in, we turned the engine off, and had a great sail – joined by a rainbow at one stage.

By 3.15 pm we had our anchor down having covered 49 miles. The anchorage at Cape Upstart is large with good holding and there were only a few other boats around so we were very happy and had a quiet night on board enjoying the new surroundings.

Sunday morning and the forecast had deteriorated even further with very strong winds expected over the forthcoming week. Damn! Our next destination had been Magnetic Island but, as it was race week, it was pretty crowded with someone posting on Facebook that there were almost 90 boats in the anchorage. Not wanting to sit out a serious blow in crowded conditions we decided we would sit it out here. So, decision made, we had a lazy day on board.

Monday and the forecast wasn’t looking any better, so this reinforced our decision to stay put. We are the white ‘spot’ on the chart below showing the winds expected for Thursday.

Sitting in the cockpit we realised that we had new neighbours. I said to Richard – that looks like SV Enavigo – so he got the binoculars out and to our surprise and delight it was!

We hadn’t seen them for almost 12 months! Totally unexpected – so we raised them on the radio – and arranged to meet them later for sundowners. Sundowners are not a good idea on the beach here, though, as this is croc country so we organised to go to them. Later in the day French Curve arrived into the anchorage too and, again, we hadn’t seen them since they left the Gold Coast last May.

During the day we made some more water and topped up our batteries before we sorted out our sundowner contributions and got dink down. Because saltwater crocs are notorious for being pretty clever (in terms of tracking movement) we did this at the last minute and then jumped in and headed over quickly to Enavigo. Was lovely to catch up with Steve, Jody, Mark and Cheryl and we had a really good time.

Tuesday morning we all decided to go ashore at 10 am. So we headed over to the beach near some houses (which are largely holiday homes we believe) and we started walking the beach. But pretty soon it became rocky and full of boulders which, of course, I can’t do. So we returned to dink and motored around the headland to the next beach and sat there waiting for the gang to make it round. The intrepid explorers were like mountain goats as they came around the headland LOL.

Anyway, they joined us for a little while, before they continued with their adventure although were pretty soon back with us as the next part along the coast required crossing a muddy murky creek which is definitely crocodile friendly – there was even a sign to warn them of the danger – so they returned. We left them to retrace their steps whilst we then returned in dink to Morphie. Spectacular scenery here in this remote national park which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Later on the gang came to Morphie for sundowners. Was another nice evening and we enjoyed a lovely sunset just before they left for the night.

Today, the gang are going trekking ashore again and we have decided not to join them as there isn’t much point really. We are going to French Curve for sundowners tonight.

Tomorrow (Thursday) will probably be spent on board. The forecast remains rough with 30+ knots of wind forecast but it starts to ease slightly on Friday so we hope to move on as it is a downwind sail. The next passage to Magnetic Island is about 70 miles so we plan to leave very early in the morning on Friday to ensure our arrival in daylight. Hopefully some boats will have left the anchorage so there will be room for us on arrival.

News from home continued to pull at our heart strings this week with more bad news. It feels so wrong that we are out here living virtually a normal life whilst our friends and their family are in such pain and we just want you all to know how much we care, love and miss you. Please stay safe. Our thoughts and prayers are constantly with you.

So thought it was about time for more koala hugs especially as we hope to see wild ones on Magnetic Island.

Bye for now