Christmas in Sanctuary Cove

Thursday evening (23rd December) we headed out to George’s Paragon restaurant.

This treat was our Christmas present from friends Carolyn and Ron and we spoilt ourselves with a couple of delicious courses each and some fine wine – obviously we raised a toast to them – so thank you both! We thoroughly enjoyed our evening.

Walking back to Morphie it was very quiet with everything locked up and closed despite it only being 10.45 pm. The weather was quite still and settled so we were able to enjoy the mirrored image of the illuminated palm trees on the water near our dock….

Friday morning we did the final sorting out of reinstating our lines before then heading to the pool. The forecast was for rain later but we thought we’d chance it anyway. Around 2pm it just got hotter and steamier and the clouds started building so we started to pack up and then headed across the lagoon beach towards the pool bar. By the time we arrived the heavens had opened with a huge deluge so we sat it out there – making the most of the hotel wifi – whilst we waited for it to pass through. We were lucky to get seats but couldn’t be bothered to join the queue for drinks so just sat patiently. At which point the screening above us gave way at the guttering so we got wet anyway LOL.

After a while, when the rained had eased a little, we headed back to the boat. There are a lot of swifts here in the marina and guess this little gang were just trying to dry out in a break in the weather? Luckily for us they weren’t on Morphie LOL. We then had another very hot and humid afternoon and evening down below.

Saturday morning – Happy Christmas to all our family and friends from Australia!

We exchanged our cards, Richard cleaned and tidied the boat whilst I prepped the food. We had invited Ernest to join us as he was going to be on his own for Christmas day so no pressure on getting the food right LOL as we had promised him traditional English fare. I started cooking at 2pm and Ernest arrived at 2.30 pm dressed as Santa bringing gifts. That made us laugh…..

Anyway, the cooking went well and we all tucked into a Christmas dinner which comprised of: stuffed turkey breast; baked ham; roast potatoes, parsnips and onions; Yorkshire puddings; pigs in blankets; caramelised sprouts with garlic and bacon; carrots; peas and gravy. Phew, not bad for a small oven on a sailboat although a couple of the pigs in blankets might have been a little well done LOL. And here we are enjoying our spread…..

A few drinks and a lot of laughs later (not to mention the cheesecake desert) and Ernest left us for the night. Had been a fun Christmas day despite having to stay below trying to keep cool as well as sheltering from the heavy rain.

Sunday morning we were up early and filled up our water tanks. We then headed up to the top of our Pier to meet Lester and Helen (SV Joule) who had very kindly invited us over to theirs on Boxing Day. We had a lovely time – watched the start of the Sydney to Hobart sailing race on the TV (which was quite a treat for us as we do not have TV on board) and chatting over a delicious array of foods – in their most beautiful brand new Hope Harbour penthouse apartment overlooking their Island Packet tied up to the dock on the river below them. Wow just wow! After lunch we headed down to meet SV Joule and then returned to the apartment for a delicious pavlova dessert before heading back to Morphie. Had been a really great day and it was very generous of Lester and Helen to invite us over to visit with them. Of course, throughout the day, despite best intentions I completely forgot to take any photographs so had to get them to pose in front of Morphie on our return LOL.

Monday morning we had a leisurely start and then got the bus from Sanctuary Cove over to Hope Island. The occasion was Ernest’s birthday so we were visiting with him again at Hope Island Marina on SV Crossbones.

This time it was our turn to come bearing gifts LOL

We enjoyed more good company; wine; food; and even birthday cake! And, of course, it rained again but never mind…. Another really fun time and Ernest very kindly gave us a lift back to Morphie so that we didn’t have to bother with the bus again.

Tuesday it was a very wet start so we had a lazy one – around lunchtime in between rain showers we headed out to the laundry and got some washing done whilst we had coffee in a nearby café. The wind was howling and very strong so we were pretty pleased to get back to Morphie, put everything away, and just relax down below for the rest of the day.

Wednesday it was much brighter so we decided to head to the pool after breakfast. Walking towards the hotel we came across lots of vans filled with props / lighting etc and lots of heavy security – along with a mobile covid testing system outside one of the Intercontinental Hotel’s private function rooms. Hmmm…could this be the George Clooney and Julia Roberts movie gang again? Sadly nothing exciting to see here LOL.

The pools, beach and garden areas were very busy and still very windy so we didn’t actually go in the pool this time as unless you were in direct sunlight it felt a bit chilly. But we had a lovely relaxing time and returned to Morphie for a quiet night in.

This morning, Thursday, and Richard had just come back from the Post Office (we are selling a few bits and bobs that we don’t need right now) and I’m blogging down below whilst he is on deck reinstating the fuel cans. We were hoping to go to the pool later but the rain has just started again….sigh….. Oh well, never mind!

Tomorrow, it is New Year’s Eve, so we are hoping to go to the evening beach party and watch the fireworks – if the forecast rainy weather doesn’t stop the event going ahead – fingers crossed! Anyway, we would like to wish all our family and friends a very Happy New Year and hope that 2022 brings with it peace, prosperity and good health to all of you. Take care and stay safe.

Looking forward to next week we have a couple of social events planned but the weather forecast is absolutely awful with a very strong low heading this way with some commentators speculating on it becoming a cyclone. We just hope it stays away from the coast otherwise we might need to stay on board to keep Morphie safe here in the marina. Oh well that’s the concern for another day as we all know that the weather forecasts here can be unreliable – however, this one has been brewing for a while now, so think we’ll be very lucky not to get any impact from it. This is today’s forecast for Monday morning – we are the white spot on the map…. Hmmm….

We continue to hope to be able to visit my nephew in January – the PCR testing regime was causing all sorts of problems at the interstate border but, thankfully, they now just require us to get a ‘negative’ Rapid Antigen Test to cross the border back into Queensland from New South Wales. Only problem right now, is that we are not able to secure any of these tests in preparation for the trip as there are none available anywhere in Queensland! You really couldn’t make this up…..sigh…..

Anyway, bye for now, take care of each and hope to see you all again soon. Lots of love Jan

Our week in Sanctuary Cove

Friday (17 December) we were planning to do another coat of varnish but the forecast was for intermittent rain most of the day and it certainly started off pretty cloudy and miserable.

So we headed out for breakfast to the Anchor Buoy – which was OK – but we had decided to go there mainly because they have free high-speed internet so we could do some downloading whilst we dined. Of course, the internet just happened to be down that day… Sigh.

Anyway the sun started to break through so we decided to head to the lagoon pool for the rest of the day (as it was too late to varnish now anyway).

We enjoyed a good few hours until the clouds started building so we decided to take ourselves to the pool bar for a drink in the middle of the afternoon. We were enjoying a glass of wine when the heavens opened and the pool bar suddenly started shutting up shop – what?!? Richard rushed to get re-supplied and asked why they were closing so early. Well, the answer was the weather!! But the rain had stopped by now…. People had to phone through orders using the room service menu using a single telephone located near the pool bar and then wait for their order to be delivered to their sunbeds. We would definitely not have been happy if we had been hotel guests. Anyway, this curtailed our afternoon so we wandered back to Morphie via the boardwalk and had a kangaroo encounter to round off the day.

On arrival back to the boat we found that Morpheus of London had now been officially imported into Australia so G’Day Morphie LOL.

This had been a very difficult decision for us – especially parting with a lot of cash to the Australian Government for no return. But with the ever-changing face of this pandemic combined with the constant rewriting of the worldwide travel restrictions, we don’t feel comfortable about heading back out to sea to explore remote islands any time soon. Countries are behaving in very different ways with some being welcoming but most Pacific islands remain firmly closed. So Fiji is open – fantastic would love to return – but then what? Where do you go for cyclone season as both Australia and New Zealand maritime borders remain closed to visiting international yachts (with the occasional exemption being granted). By importing Morphie we have an option either to sell up – as that would now be legally possible – alternatively we can go home and leave her here in Australia as our floating holiday home as she is now free to stay here indefinitely. She obviously remains UK registered despite her imported status. So this decision gives us more options going forward and we both felt a bit relieved now that it had been done.

Saturday morning we were up by 5.15 am and wiped down the rail and had a cup of tea whilst it all dried off. We then went round and did a double coat of varnish and had the rails done by 8am! We then had some breakfast and double-coated the eyebrows. Woo hoo – we were very pleased with the result. The rest of the day we just relaxed onboard although I did pop out to the farmers market for some fresh veggies.

Sunday morning we cleaned and tidied ourselves and Morphie up before heading to George’s pizzeria for a late lunch with Sandra and Nigel – we had a lovely afternoon and ended up back on Morphie for a few pontoonies before calling it a day. Was a fun day and nice to catch up with them – hard to believe that it was six months since we saw them last!

Monday morning we sanded down again before spending the rest of the day at the pool before returning for a quiet night on board. Oh yes and there were rumours that George Clooney and Julia Roberts were here on a boat in the marina but we didn’t spot anything out of the ordinary – although we did see a set of twins at the main hotel pool with a nanny each and it did make you wonder how rich their parents were LOL.

Tuesday morning we were up very early again – to get the work done before the sun gets really high in the sky and hot – and did our final coat of varnish. Very pleased with ourselves we spent the rest of the day at the pool again!

Wednesday morning we went out for breakfast again – this time to Pier B – and then lazed around on our return.

Early afternoon we got dink down and headed up the river to Hope Island to do some provisioning checking out the huge clouds gathering along the way.

We then spent the afternoon catching up with Ernest on SV Crossbones. We hadn’t seen him for about seven months since we were both working on our boats at The Boatworks so we had a good catch up. This was the first time we had been on Crossbones so was great to see what he had done with her – she is absolutely huge! On the way back down the river we were being chased by large clouds and the sky was darkening – oh no – but made it back OK and enjoyed checking out the houses and boats along the way. We then had a quiet night in.

This morning, Thursday, and it was time to start putting the boat back together again. So we removed all the blue tape; did a bit of stainless cleaning; reinstalled the rub rails and moved the dock lines back onto the cleats again; reinstalled the helm seat and on it goes. Again it was supposed to rain today and the clouds have been building…. I’ve done my bit and Richard is now re-running all the lines etc while I’m down below blogging.

Richard has now come down as there are storms circling around us and the rain has started….so this is the start of some dodgy weather to come. Unfortunately the weather forecast for Christmas and beyond is looking pretty dire with strong winds, thunderstorms and the like….. Check out what the Oz Cyclone Chasers are saying below:

Oh well, never mind, we are pretty used to this by now.

Tonight we are planning on going out to dinner – woo hoo – looking forward to that. Luckily we weren’t planning on going to The Artichoke as they have just been fined and shut down until January because they refused to check that people are double-vaccinated before allowing them entry into the restaurant – which is a legal requirement here in Queensland. Can’t imagine they thought for a minute they would lose their Christmas trade as a result of their non-compliance!

We have a few social events planned for the festive period so looking forward to getting off the boat for a little while seeing old and new friends alike. Will be nice to be in company again although still planning on cooking a full English Christmas dinner on board – wish me luck! So, that just leaves me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas from Australia. We hope you have a safe and healthy time – please take care of each other. Sending lots of virtual love and hugs your way.

Bye for now, Jan

Coomera to Sanctuary Cove

Wednesday (8 December) we were up early and started work. It was very hot and humid with thunderstorms threatened so we wanted to get ahead before the weather broke. I cleaned the stainless steel rail and rubbing rail while Richard headed off to the chandlery as he needed some thinners in readiness for the upcoming varnish fest LOL. He also chased up the trades – the canvas man and the rigging guys – for quotes. Lunchtime the heavens opened and we had thunderstorms with very heavy rain and high winds with gusts recorded up to 48 knots. Lovely!

We headed out in the rain to pick up the courtesy car at 4pm and first stop was Bunnings – oh what a surprise LOL – to pick up some varnish brushes; then the craft store to get some fasteners for our peek-a-boo blinds; followed by the supermarket for more Christmas stuff; and finally the chemist for our medications. Jobs done we were back on board for dinner and a quiet night in.

Thursday morning we did the laundry at the same time as making the most of the Boatworks fast wifi to do some Netflix downloads. It was another hot and steamy day and we were surprised to see the Boatworks guys – these are the ones that expertly manage the boatlifts day in and day out – cooling off in the boatlift berth. Not sure I’d fancy swimming there as we have been warned about bull sharks in the river LOL.

We then relaxed for a few hours before heading to the communal BBQ area where we met with Caitlin and Nick (SV Mahana) plus Shayne and Jennifer (SV Cathoyoz). Oh yes and we did cook and eat our dinner, just we had cleared our plates away by the time I remembered to take a photo LOL.

Was a lovely evening which got extended a bit by another huge thunderstorm coming through – it was so fierce we even had a toad join us to get out of the rain!

We sat it out before finally returning to Morphie for the night.

Friday we were up early and returned our access cards and said our farewells. We then had coffee at the Galley before returning to Morphie to do engine checks, flush the watermaker, take the canvas off etc. By 9am we were off the dock and heading down the river to Sanctuary Cove. We arrived and had assistance getting into our berth by the marina’s dockmaster. So we had arrived – yay!

We were just getting our lines / springs organised and a guy started shouting at us from a private house dock across the canal. I didn’t think he could be after us so I ignored him….. Then this guy turns up at our boat with his chest pumped out and starts having a go at us for moving his dock lines – he owns the large motorboat at the end of the T dock so is actually our neighbour. He was shouting and screaming in workmanlike language right in Richard’s face. Richard explained that we had not moved his lines and, yes they had been moved to free up cleats on our dock for us to tie up to, but that this had been done by the marina’s dockmaster. At this point the guy got even redder in the face and shouted that he had seen Richard do it from his house across the way and by the way, he knows the marina manager who had very “kindly” given him our name / length of stay / liveaboard status etc etc….so clearly he has friends in high places… But they were both liars! Richard kind of lost it when he called us “F…..g Yachties” and told him to go away in language that this idiot would definitely understand!

Luckily there was a guy working on the boat next door and we told the irate guy to speak to him as he had been here throughout the morning. He backed us up and said that we didn’t move the ropes, the marina guy did! Well, Mr Nasty then had no choice but to apologise to us or rather to Richard as I didn’t exist having already tried to explain the situation and been told that he was ‘talking to my husband only’. Oh happy days – not the welcome to Sanctuary Cove we were quite expecting. You do have to wonder what would have happened if the guy had not been working on the neighbouring boat to support our side of the story?!? Left a bit of a nasty taste in the mouth to be honest.

Anyway we got ourselves sorted eventually and had a quiet night in down below in the hot and humid weather. Another thunderstorm was forecast for the evening and it did rain and rumble around but not too close thankfully.

Saturday morning we got up early and headed to the Intercontinental Hotel lagoon pool for the day. Interesting that since we were here last the marina has installed some roofing to give UV shelter to the large superyachts that call this place home. All very smart but notice they are not tall enough for any boats that may have masts….

We had a lovely time relaxing, bobbing and even enjoyed a glass of Pimms or two in the sun. Was a great way to spend the day.

Sunday morning and more of the same…… On our way back to the boat Mr Nasty was walking the dock with his family and, lo and behold, he was now Mr Friendly! Oh well, it takes all sorts. We had another quiet night in.

Monday morning we headed to Pier B for breakfast and surprised David (the barista who used to work at the Boatworks) by turning up without having first been in touch. He was so pleased to see us we had hugs all round LOL.

After a nice breakfast we returned to the boat and started prepping to varnish the rail and eyebrows. Sanctuary Cove is not a ‘working’ marina as such but we had requested – and received – permission to do this whilst here as we would not be using power tools etc. And the season’s wear and tear was obvious on the rail….

We had almost finished taping up when Lester and Helen turned up (from SV Joule, a member of the Australian Island Packet family). So we had a quick chat with them and look forward to being in a better position to host them soon when we get our work done and ourselves tidied up! Part of the varnish preparation was also to move our lines, remove the rub rails, spare cans and the lifesling and dodgers. All this was done by mid-afternoon so we were happy that we were ready to start on Tuesday. We had another movie night on board.

Tuesday morning we were up really early and sanded down all the rail and the eyebrows.

Once we had this done we rested up for an hour or so before getting ourselves cleaned up and heading to the chemist where we had our Covid booster shots. Our second AstraZeneca injection was five months ago (almost to the day) and Australia had just announced that five months was now the minimum period required to have the booster jab. As we are in a tourist area here now that the interstate borders have opened we felt this was worth doing sooner rather than later. We had the Moderna jab this time so was interested to see how this would affect us. Apart from a sore arm each I’m pleased to report no ill-effects whatsoever.

Anyway we had another quiet night in and early night having worked hard most of the day.

Wednesday morning we were up really early – it gets light here around 4.30 am – and we were varnishing by 7am before it got too hot to work. By 9.30 am we were finished and, although not perfect, we were pretty pleased with how it looked after just one coat.

So, as our reward, we headed to the pool again and, this time, the lagoon pool was closed for a short while for some maintenance so we used the main pool.

While the pool itself was pretty quiet there were kids everywhere running completely feral and the noise levels were pretty high. This was definitely not the relaxing experience we had hoped for LOL. So we kept an eye on the lagoon pool and, the minute it was re-opened, we headed over to our favourite spot in the adults only zone and made camp. We had another lovely afternoon relaxing and bobbing. This is the life! Back on board we had another quiet night in.

This morning, Thursday, we were up very early and started sanding again.

We finished around 10.30 this morning and had hoped to varnish today as well but there is a chance of rain and some clouds building so we decided it was probably prudent to wait. So I’m blogging down below while Richard is relaxing in the cockpit. And that will be it for the day….

It seems the world is continually changing with the latest Covid variant and infection rates are going through the roof at home with increased restrictions and the threat of it all ruining Christmas yet again. Our hearts go out to you all going through this again – please take care of each other and stay safe! Here it feels quite “normal” right now but infections have already crossed the re-opened interstate border into Queensland so it will be interesting to see how the QLD government responds. The rhetoric is that the interstate border will not close again even if infections tick up here. So we remain hopeful that we can get to NSW in January to see my family but have all things flexible crossed just in case.

So, finally, I want to share our Christmas tree here in Sanctuary Cove. Looks quite lovely although have to say that the village decorations are rather muted this year compared to last.

Continuing the Christmas theme, here is an adorable Australian shepherd (ghost eye) dog dressed for the season. Enjoy! With lots of love to you all.


Manly to Coomera

Tuesday morning (30 November) it was raining again…..sigh….. but we needed to get something in the post so braved the elements and walked into Manly again. We picked up some fresh vegetables as we had decided that, in the damp and chilly atmosphere on board, we fancied a stew for dinner. So provisioned up, post sent, we returned to that lovely café for breakfast again. Tried something different from the other day and it was just as good – absolutely delicious!

Back on board I blogged while Richard went through our normal pre-departure check list like filling up the water tank / flushing the water maker / engine checks etc. It continued raining all day and all night so we just sheltered down below. I made a huge pot of stew as this would cover two days rather than one….and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

Wednesday morning and it was raining cats and dogs….damn…. Absolutely horrible so we dug out some wet weather gear and prepared to depart from The Royal Yacht Squadron Marina. We slipped away at 9.40 am into a flat calm sea but the rain just kept on coming…

As we crossed Moreton Bay in poor visibility we had to contend with a lot of ferry traffic so had to keep our wits about us. As we headed into the river systems we picked up a lot of adverse current so it was slow going. Because of the poor visibility we had to remove our ‘ears’ from the bimini so this was a pretty wet ride…..

We had timed this trip expecting to get a lift from the currents so thought that the adverse currents probably reflected the flood conditions after such heavy rainfalls across the region. Certainly a lot of the channel markers were virtually submerged and there was lots of debris around.

We came under the electricity pylons carefully and decided to call it a day near Mosquito Island having covered 25 miles in not the best conditions. We found a nice anchoring spot in the river out of the channel and settled in for the night – and yes, warmed ourselves up with hot showers and more stew LOL.

Thursday morning we were up early (still in drizzling rain) to catch the tide to get through Jacobs Wells so we were underway at 7 am. We came around Steiglitz area and realised that this was starting to turn into a graveyard for boats – check out some of the submerged / grounded vessels we came across.

Through Jacobs Wells and safely across through the shallow channel we headed towards Tipplers which was our destination for the night. We arrived in the anchorage and got a good spot managing to avoid the roll-on roll-off supply barge that frequents this area. I actually think he enjoys scaring people as he comes unnecessarily close to anchored boats on his way through this narrow channel and anchorage LOL.

We stayed on board for a while and then headed ashore once the rain had stopped – yay! We enjoyed potato wedges and a bottle of wine before returning to Morphie where we enjoyed a music fest in the cockpit as the rain stayed away. Was a lovely evening.

Friday morning we weighed anchor early and headed across the Broadwater into the Coomera River to return to the Boatworks. We were met on the dock so were tied up in the debris-strewn dark brown river water by 9.15 am.

We checked in at the marina office and then headed into the Galley for breakfast. It was so lovely to be ‘home’ after six months away and we were welcomed back like family. We relaxed on board for the rest of the day and I particularly enjoyed the unlimited hot water showers ashore before picking up a courtesy car for the weekend. We weren’t planning on doing anything in the evening but then decided to head out for a takeout pizza – very naughty, but nice. Really must get back on that diet! Back on board we had a quiet night in.

Saturday morning it was cloudy and thunderstorms were forecast.

We headed out at a reasonable time to the Westfield mall in Coomera. We were then busy shopping and managed to get some cash from the ATM; Christmas provisions from the supermarket; some meat at the butchers; additional supplies from the bottle shop; and then to Oxenford to visit Bunnings for Richard – who had been having withdrawal symptoms for ages LOL. He was very happy to get a new shower rail for the heads and a new tap for the galley. Back on board, all goodies stashed, we just relaxed for the rest of the day.

Except we couldn’t really have a quiet night in because we had been issued with severe thunderstorm warnings and were treated to some serious cloud formations coupled with a lightning, thunder, strong winds and rain show for most of the evening. The fierceness of storms here in Australia never fails to surprise me. Was just thankful there was no hail in this one!

Sunday morning I headed out early back to Westfield. I wanted to get a pedicure done in preparation for some pool time in Sanctuary Cove over the next month so left Richard back on board. Returned to Morphie a couple of hours later to find that Richard had fixed a broken lock on one of the drawers in the galley and had identified that one of our new Ryobi batteries was not taking or holding a charge. So we headed out again to Bunnings so that we could swap this out under warranty. It took a while in terms of process but they were very accommodating so happy about that.

On the way back we popped into the new liveaboard storage area to see Caitlin and Nick on SV Mahana. They are in the process of packing up their boat to go home to New Zealand so not much time for chatting but was lovely to see them. Hopefully we’ll manage to get some time with them before they leave. In the evening we had another movie night.

Monday morning I had to return the car before 7.30 am so we had an early start. We headed to the chandlery for some screws (which they didn’t have); then to the Yanmar dealer as we would like to get our engine checked over professionally in the New Year; we spoke to a rigging company about getting a quote for our standing rigging replacement (it is original at 2008 so it is probably time); and to the marine canvas shop as we need to get our bimini repaired in a couple of places. So quite productive – we just need the trades to come back to us with quotes and get the work scheduled in. Whilst wandering around the expanded yard we gave SV Calagorm a pat and took some photos to send home to her parents, who are in the UK waiting patiently for borders to open here in Australia for international tourists. Still no clarity on that yet….

We also checked out this huge motoryacht out on the hard in the beautifully landscaped superyacht area of the boatyard – Living the Dream is definitely aptly named. It is hard to gauge just how big this boat is – but check out the guy standing on the top near the communication domes to give you an idea of perspective.

Having done a few things we returned to Morphie and chilled out for a little while before getting to work. I did some spot stainless cleaning at the bow on the anchor rollers and Richard re-sealed the shower cubicle in the heads. Then we did some paperwork before calling it a day and had another quiet night in.

This morning, Tuesday, we have done some more admin stuff and Richard is now hosing the boat down as the hull is pretty salty while I’m blogging. We have done some checks on our boat product supplies – as we have another courtesy car booked for tomorrow night – so that we can make sure we have everything we need for future jobs. It is time to re-varnish….amazing that this comes around so quickly!

Anyway that’s about it for this blog. Nothing else to report really other than we are very pleased to have got a berth in Sanctuary Cove over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

We might even get to watch some of the ashes on the Village Tavern’s wide-screen TV whilst we are there – come on England!

We have everything flexible crossed for good weather so we can have some pool time too in between the varnishing work. So keeping the Christmas theme here is another iconic Australian animal dressed for the season….

Take care of each other and stay safe. Bye for now