Family fun in NSW (part 2) and our return to Queensland

Friday morning (21 January) we headed out to North Avoca beach but, of course, the minute we left the winds picked up and the rain started. So we ended up checking out the beach (again) but it was pretty inhospitable and remained officially closed… after some fooling around getting a bit chilly we got back in the cars and drove back home.

Early evening we all headed into Terrigal to go to the local Indian restaurant, The Grand Pavilion, where we had a reservation for dinner. We managed to get both cars parked up in the multi-storey and were all a bit surprised by how busy the town was.

Luckily the restaurant has an area which is open to the air on an outside balcony (although protected from the elements by a roof) so this was the position we preferred to sit to minimise the risk of covid infection – although, to be honest, the restaurant remained very very quiet all evening so people were definitely showing signs of being more cautious about indoor venues as the Omicron variant continued to spread swiftly through the region. We had a lovely evening – belatedly celebrating the two January birthdays for Jamie and me – and thoroughly enjoyed our curry. This is by far the best Indian restaurant we have found in Australia and we’ll definitely be back!

Saturday morning we headed out early to see Adam play cricket for his team. They all looked so professional in their outfits and clearly supported each other despite the very marked difference in their abilities – although have to say wasn’t impressed that their coach turned up late and seemingly didn’t even bother to keep the score leaving it up to the opposition. But Jamie stepped in to start with and they had some catching practice before the match started. During the match Adam played brilliantly, hit a few sixes although did look a bit worried when one of the balls was coming straight at us…we just yelled at him to keep running LOL. He even managed to bowl someone out with the last ball of the final over. A great team effort and they clearly deserved the win despite being short-handed at the end. So very proud of this sporty young man!

Jack had initially come with us to the ground but had left half way into the match as he had another birthday event to go to. He certainly has a lot of friends and gets lots of invites and it is lovely that he has made so many friends both at his new High School and others that he was in junior school with. He is turning into a fine young man! This event was a paintballing party and he was very excited about it, but was definitely a bit uncertain whether we were being serious or not when we warned him that it actually hurt to get shot by those things LOL.

After the cricket Richard and I headed to the large mall at Erina as we wanted to buy the new version of Uno called Uno Flip. We managed to hunt one down and then returned to the house where we then played a new word game called ‘Bananagrams’ with Hayley and Jamie – it was a very hard fought close run thing.

We then tried Uno Flip. OMG this version is just pure evil. At one point there was just us and Adam playing and Richard made me pick up 13 cards and then it was poor Adam’s turn who had to pick up more cards than he could physically handle! But we turned the tables and ganged up against Richard and made him pay. Was a lot of fun…..

Jack eventually returned from his party pretty bruised and tired but he had thoroughly enjoyed himself so that was really good. He was completely full of it when he got back but was way too tired to join in with the board games. After dinner we all settled down to watch the Australian Open tennis on the TV which was pretty good despite some rowdy crowd behaviour – encouraged by the antics of some of the players to be fair – it definitely wasn’t Wimbledon LOL.

Sunday morning, third time lucky, we tried North Avoca beach again. Yay, it was open and wasn’t too busy. The surf remained quite high but not too strong for me to give it a go this time…. So we left Jack at our beach camp (as he was still feeling a bit tired and sore from the day before) and we all played in the waves for a while. I couldn’t get to my feet in time when I got swept up the beach by the surf before the next wave hit but found that if I dived through the next pounding wave or two and swam out until I could touch the bottom I didn’t have to struggle trying to stand up against the surf. Was great fun and we were so pleased to finally enjoy this beautiful beach. After all that exertion we stayed on the beach catching a few rays. Had been a lovely last family trip out as this was our final day in New South Wales sadly – couldn’t believe how quickly the time had gone!

On return to the house Hayley and I took over the kitchen and we cooked a full English roast beef dinner with all the trimmings and we all thoroughly enjoyed the taste of home before relaxing for a quiet evening in.

Monday morning and we were up really early, said our sad farewells to the family, and were on the road by 7am on a cloudy but clear day, although we did get caught out by some biblical rain storms along the route. We made a couple of rest stops along the way and enjoyed the drive covering almost 492 miles in around eight hours arriving back onboard at 4pm. Could you imagine driving from London to Edinburgh in eight hours on UK roads?!? It just wouldn’t be possible….

There was little traffic about apart from the normal New South Wales bottlenecks at Newcastle and Coffs Harbour and the minute we arrived into Queensland, particularly on the Gold Coast, where the traffic is usually much busier anyway. Was strange to just drive across the interstate border with no restrictions whatsoever after such a long time – but a very welcome relief that there were no barriers this time. Back onboard Morphie we got ourselves unpacked quickly and had a quiet night in.

Tuesday morning Richard headed out in our hire car around 7am as we had heard that our original USA-made Worthington gas bottles had been recertified in our absence and were ready for collection. Very happy – we had failed to find someone to do this for us ever since they went out of date a few years ago – which is why we had to buy some NZ bottles to tide us over. But now we have the originals recertified to 2032 so really pleased as these can lay down in the locker as originally intended and can now be refilled as they have the appropriate Australian markings on them.

Whilst Richard was out I picked up our booked courtesy car and arranged to meet him back on board around 9am – by which time I had done some provisioning – and then we both drove to the car rental place to drop the car off. Back at the Boatworks, Richard dropped me off then took the courtesy car to Bunnings as he had thought of a few things that he desperately needed and couldn’t do without LOL. Actually, seriously, he wanted to upgrade our step-down transformer box by inserting a couple of vents to keep the transformer cool but also wanted to add an external weather-proof Australian power socket to the box so that 240V electrical equipment could be plugged in directly as Morphie is 110V when plugged into shore power. Great idea and he did an excellent job!

We then had another quiet night in as we were both a little jaded from the previous day’s road trip. In the afternoon we were lucky enough to have been able to secure another courtesy car as the boatyard still remains really quiet which meant we had one for the public holiday on Wednesday. Was expecting this place to be really busy by now so not quite sure why it is so quiet but certainly not complaining…..

Wednesday morning it was the official national day of Australia. This is observed annually on 26 January marking the 1788 landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove and the raising of the Union Flag. In present-day Australia, celebrations aim to reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation and are marked by community and family events.

Sadly it was cloudy and drizzly so not a great day to be out and about. Around lunchtime we headed down to Sanctuary Cove as there was a live band advertised at the Tavern but, when we got there, it was really busy and we felt uncomfortable with the amount of people around so we didn’t stop. We then headed to Hope Island and had a drink on the balcony of the Tavern there but it started getting really busy so we quickly left.

We then tried out the new Blue Water Bar and Grill and had an excellent meal at reasonable prices – and we were even treated to live music at the same time – so a great time was finally had by all.

Thursday morning we had a leisurely start having already returned the courtesy car very early by 7 am. We spent the rest of a miserable wet and grey day in the cruisers lounge whilst we did all our laundry and some admin / Netflix downloads. Back on board we were visited by the trades to start preparing the boat for the mast to be removed next week when we are scheduled to be up on the hard – so genoa and staysail were removed, flaked and bagged. All of the rigging was prepped – pins removed, whisper pole removed, vang removed, lines returned to the mast etc – and we were ready. Just the main to do but we asked them not to do this too soon as, when the sail is removed, the foil inside the mast bangs when the boat rocks and rolls around. As we are on the river here and affected by a lot of boat traffic – particularly jetskis and tinny rats – we really didn’t fancy too many sleepless nights and annoying our neighbours! That evening we just had another quiet one on board.

Friday morning we were visited by the electrician at 7am who came and disconnected everything at the base of the mast in preparation for it to be pulled out of the boat next week. Of course, prior to everything being disconnected, we proved that all things were operational like lights / radar / VHF / SSB etc.

After the electrician had left we spent most of the day down below getting on with some admin stuff on the computer until 4pm when we picked up another courtesy car for the weekend. We then headed into the Westfield Mall at Coomera Town Centre for some bits and pieces and were surprised to see that the local chemist actually had supplies of Rapid Antigen Tests so we picked up a few more of those….talk about lucky timing or what?!?

Saturday morning we had a very early start and walked to the Superyacht area of the Boatworks and wandered around looking at the supercars – this was the starting point of the inaugural Sunset Supercar rally – so here are a few car photos for those petrol heads out there.

We enjoyed the event, despite getting rained on a few times, before returning to Morphie for breakfast. Oh yes and I wanted to give you an update on Budd. He remains a bit poorly having now had an allergic reaction to some of his medication but thankfully can confirm he is definitely improving although he still has a “sad” face and spends a lot of his time sleeping….. Sending love and hugs to you Buddy boy.

Later in the morning we headed over to visit Tim and Naoko at home in Upper Coomera as we hadn’t seen them since we left to go cruising the east coast last year. We had a great afternoon with them before returning to Morphie for a quiet night and, of course, completely forgot to take any photos. Doh!!

This morning, Sunday, we headed out again to do some more shopping and enjoyed driving through the assorted muscle cars at Garage 25 on the way out of the yard – and Richard made me laugh hysterically when he started making loud ‘vroom vroom’ noises as we drove our modest borrowed i20 amongst the huge supercharged noisy engines. This is the one we followed out….

Shopping done – just fresh fruit and vegetables needed – we then came back to Morphie and I’m down below blogging whilst Richard is spring cleaning our cabin. Have to say we are not looking forward to hauling out of the water tomorrow morning – always a bit stressful – and living up in the air for up to three weeks. But we have a lot to do – from repainting the boot stripe; antifoul; prop speed; complete engine service; converting the head to fresh water flush; complete wash, wax and polish of hull and topsides alike; greasing the through holes; some internal varnishing; and other general maintenance and checks. And that’s without other things that keep appearing on our ‘to do’ lists….. Plus of course the complete new standard rigging being done. So nothing exciting but, despite the hard work, it always feels good to give Morphie the love and attention she deserves having looked after us so well over the season.

So that’s it for now folks. Sending lots of love and hugs to you all, please stay safe and look after each other. And, to make you smile, my Australian cutie this week is a throwback to last year when we watched this nest of baby turtles hatch at Mon Repos and make their way to the sea. Doesn’t get much better than that!


Family fun in NSW – part 1

Friday morning (14 January) we were up really early and, by 7am, the boat was secured, the car was packed and we were off to New South Wales. Woo hoo!

We had a really good drive along mostly empty roads and the occasional tall bridge plus the iconic sign to the Big Banana water park. We made a couple of comfort stops along the way and, this time, rather than the usual huge spiders we came across a large monitor lizard. At least it wasn’t sharing the toilet cubicle LOL.

We arrived at Jamie’s house at around 5pm, right on schedule! We enjoyed our reunion and had a lovely Thai takeaway to celebrate. Pretty tired after so many hours of driving we turned in at a reasonable time and it was a real treat to sleep in a huge bed that didn’t move LOL.

Saturday morning we headed out to the Gosport waterfront as Jack and Adam were going to the aqua park for a birthday party. As Adam was a bit younger than the rest of the group Jamie joined in too…. Have to say it looked like hard work – we didn’t mind just sitting down, watching, and keeping cool in the heat with a slush puppie!

We then returned home for a short while before Jack went off for the afternoon for a big boys’ birthday sleepover. Adam was clearly feeling a little left out (as no younger brothers were invited to the sleepover) so we gave him carte blanche in terms of what he wanted for eat – shepherds pie was the request – so we popped out to get ingredients. We then returned and played Uno all afternoon and had a lot of fun before preparing and enjoying our dinner together.

During the day we heard the terrible news of the volcanic eruption in the Kingdom of Tonga and the resultant tsunami. Having travelled through this area in 2017 we were aware of how devastating this natural disaster could be on the low lying islands. All we could do was pray for positive news, those poor poor people. Despite the tsunami warning for the east coast of Australia we weren’t particularly concerned over the impact on Morphie left alone up the river in Queensland as she was quite a long way inland. Sadly not to be the case for some boat owners on New Zealand’s north island.

During the evening we had a massive thunderstorm and hailstones…. Jamie had been warned (via text) from his insurance company to get the car under cover so had already put his car in the garage – but no room for us so we just had to keep our fingers crossed that our hire car didn’t get damaged in the biblical deluge. The young guy across the road came out during the storm to put blankets over his car, so he clearly took the warnings seriously. After it was all over Richard went out to check the car and, thankfully, it was unscathed.

Sunday morning we headed out to Davistown for a walk along the waterfront and had a coffee out before returning to relax at home. With the huge surge in Omicron infections here in New South Wales we had already decided to keep ourselves to ourselves and only enjoy outside spaces to minimise the risk of picking up an infection. And really can’t believe how tall Jack has got in the last 12 months – didn’t expect him to be taller than me at just 13 years old! And, of course, it wouldn’t be a good day out without some lovely pelicans posing…

We then received a photo of Morphie on the dock at the Boatworks from Lester and Helen who were out and about in the river and took a photo for us. Thanks guys, much appreciated!

Later on we headed out to Crackneck Point and the spectacular view was marred a little bit by sea mist with the huge powerful surf crashing onto the rocks and the shoreline. After admiring the view for a while we headed back home again, this time armed with a fish and chip supper, just in time to watch the embarrassment of the English cricket team falling apart in the Ashes on the TV. Sigh….

Monday morning we had a lazy start. Jamie was running a tennis coaching session so we headed out to Avoca beach without him. When we got there the beach was completely closed due to the ongoing effects of the tsunami and the very strong powerful surf that was coming ashore as a result (not helped by other weather systems converging on the region). So we headed around the coast to Terrigal where there is a bit of a lagoon provided by a rocky enclosure so we enjoyed a wave jumping session in the sea together. Was a lot of fun which was rounded off by an ice cream – which was a real taste of home!

On our return to the house we had a BBQ evening meal followed by a family movie night – this time it was Venom. Not sure this was a film we would have chosen ourselves LOL but it wasn’t too bad…. The boys loved it of course!

Tuesday morning we headed back to Avoca and dropped Budd off at the local groomers. We then went to the beach and the surf continued to pound the coast, but the beach was now open with resident lifeguards. So we stopped for a coffee break and enjoyed watching the surfers having fun! We had some great coffees and cakes before making camp on the beach with Jamie, me and Jack sitting it out whilst Richard, Hayley and Adam played in the surf.

The intrepid trio were swept off their feet numerous times and it was fun to watch them being pushed up the beach by the surf. I was very envious but realised that I wouldn’t be able to stand up against the strong pull of the currents so made the decision not to join them sadly. It was all very dramatic and beautiful to watch.

Later in the afternoon Jamie and Hayley headed out to pick up Budd – OMG – he didn’t look like the same dog! Poor Budd had been shaved pretty close and he was clearly distressed, refused to eat and was absolutely exhausted after the experience. He needed constant reassurance and cuddles so here we are with a before and after picture!

Back at home we had dinner and then a family Uno night with Jack being the ultimate winner. And was he happy or what?!? This is one competitive teenager LOL.

Wednesday morning Richard and I headed out in the rain to do a bit of shopping – he wanted a couple of things at Bunnings (of course!) and to top up with petrol. Jobs done we returned home to rest up for the rest of the day as the rain was pretty heavy. We then had another movie night – the Disney film Jungle Cruise this time – before another Uno night with Adam the victor this time. Was a lot of fun, especially seeing Jack’s really bad reaction to losing! He only came 5th with me coming dead last – I blame my neighbours who constantly made me pick up cards. Mentioning no names Hayley and Richard LOL. Was another fun day.

During the early hours Jamie and Hayley were awoken by Velvet the cat who had brought them a present – a live bandicoot! This was chased into the ensuite and eventually caught before being put outside. Bit of a drama or what?!?

Thursday morning and it was raining again. Richard and I stayed home with Budd whilst the rest of the family headed out to the mall for some ‘return to school’ shoes and trainers. They came back and the weather had improved, so we all headed out to Saratoga Oval where the family made a video to send home….and no clues other than a still shot….

Then, of course, the heavens opened so we rushed back to the cars and headed over to Terrigal. We enjoyed a walk along the boardwalk admiring the spectacular sandstone cliffs and wondered why the seagulls had died in their nests…..

We then headed back home armed with the ‘best doughnuts in the world’, or at least that’s what Jack says LOL.

Sadly Budd was still feeling off colour so Jamie and Richard took him off to the vets only to find out that he had had a serious allergic reaction to the shampoo the groomers used; they got water into his ears causing an ear infection; and they have nicked his skin in a couple of places…. So not impressed! So obviously we all made a big fuss of him when he came home.

This morning, Friday, and I am pleased to report that Budd is much better and, although clearly still a bit poorly, he has improved considerably. Phew…..that’s a relief. We are not sure what we are doing today, although the sun might have just peeked through, but we have a reservation for the Indian in Terrigal tonight so looking foward to that.

So that’s it for this blog…. Hope you are all well and taking care of each other. So just to sign off, thought it was time for another Australian cutie, and this quokka definitely made me smile.

Lots of love and bye for now, Jan

Our return to The Boatworks

Friday morning, 7 January, we were up early and headed out to Bistro 19 for breakfast before picking up a few bits and pieces in the Sanctuary Cove Village IGA supermarket.

We then returned our access keys to the marina office and started to get Morphie ready to depart, including engine checks. The wind had picked up by now and was pretty feisty. Although we had changed a number of our lines to slips to make an easy departure from the berth we were being pushed hard off the dock towards the huge wooden yacht next to us. Hmmm… Richard felt that we needed assistance to do this manoeuvre safely so he walked the dock and found three guys chatting who readily agreed to come and assist. So they kept us close to the dock as we reversed out until we had cleared the piling and then we slipped away. Phew! It went really well, thankfully.

We headed up the river and visually checked out our allocated berth in The Boatworks. This was alongside within a huge catamaran pen so we thought that, although we were being blown off the dock, as there was no other boat in situ we could manage it with assistance. So the Boatworks guys – always so helpful and professional – came down and did a great job in the very strong gusty wind conditions and we got ourselves in and tied up. Phew, glad to be here, had been quite a morning so far LOL.

Oh yes, and of course, it was raining so we went for a wander around the pretty empty facility – trades don’t return from Christmas holidays until Monday 10 January – so not many boats around either. This is the works yard which is usually absolutely rammed with a waiting list for spaces. Check out the aerial shot I found online for a comparison.

So, for the first time ever, we had a choice of washing machines so did all our bedding and towels whilst we sat in the air-conditioned comfort of the cruisers lounge and utilised the excellent 5G wifi. Once the laundry was finished we headed back to the boat via the office and picked up our courtesy car for the weekend and had a quiet night in trying to stay cool in the very hot and steamy conditions. Made worse, in our cabin, by the dinghy being on the coach roof and the removal of one dorade – and we couldn’t even open the hatch.

Saturday morning we awoke to another rainy day. Oh well, never mind. We headed out early to the Westfield mall at Coomera and I went to the hairdressers whilst Richard had his appointment in SpecSavers. I also dropped our prescriptions off at the chemist who told me that Covid RAT tests were coming into the store at 2pm. I then went to SpecSavers to find Richard mulling over all the frames until he eventually managed to find one he liked so ordered two new pairs – one being prescription sunglasses.

Tasks completed we then headed to Coles for some shopping, picked up our medication, before returning to the Boatworks. We unpacked and stored our provisions before going into The Galley for a bite to eat – we were welcomed ‘home’ by the staff which was lovely, such great people!

We then headed back to the mall hoping to get our hands on some of those elusive RAT tests. Well, this was at 12.45 pm (the delivery was coming in at 2pm) and the queue was already quite long – in fact there were two queues snaking through the mall. This is the start of it….

Around 1.30 pm the police turned up, presumably in case there was trouble when the supplies ran out and people were frustrated at having queued for nothing! All we could do was keep all things flexible crossed. By the time we got to the front of our queue (around 2.15pm) there was only about 10 boxes left so we felt very grateful to have got our hands on a couple each (the maximum allowed). Phew job done but felt very tired and sore having stood around for so long. So back to the boat where we rested up for the rest of the day keeping out of the rain.

Sunday morning we were up early although were delighted that the rain had finally cleared and we saw the sun for the first time in quite a while. We got dink off the bow onto the dock, gave it a bit of a clean, then walked it down to the stern, splashed it into the river and hoisted it back up onto the davits. Having got the dink off the bow we reinstalled the dorade and put the canvas on the bow – yay, airflow restored to our cabin!

We then headed back to the cruisers lounge and did the remainder of our laundry (clothes this time) and spent some time sorting out SIM cards. The Nokia phone we purchased in Australia is failing, the battery doesn’t stay charged for any length of time at all and, as we are constantly using it as our internet hotspot on the boat plus QR code check-ins when out and about this has been a bit frustrating as we constantly have to carry a mobile power supply with us. So we swapped the SIM card out and installed it into my UK Samsung phone and then I worked my way through all the settings so that the Australian SIM was the only one being used for calls / mobile data etc etc. Fingers crossed that works out OK. But, of course, we then realised that the contacts hadn’t come over with the SIM card so we had lost all our useful numbers like marinas / trades etc etc. So swapped the SIMs back again and linked the phones together and transferred the data wirelessly. Then swapped them back again and, finally, job done! Phew….

It was getting late by now so we returned to the boat and had a couple of sundowners before dinner in the cockpit, although we were then inundated with critters, so had to take ourselves down below to avoid the biters! Another quiet Netflix night in.

Monday morning we were up early and washed the topsides down and dried them off. We then worked our way around the coach roof giving it a good clean with Grunt, one of our favourite products that we came across in New Zealand.

We were surprised just how dirty Morphie was because whenever we had access to fresh water we had washed her down. Anyway, she looked much better and even shiny when we had finished. And, of course, because we were working on the boat under a very fierce sun we had to wear flip flops as the deck was just too hot to stand on!

Job done we had leisurely showers before heading back to the air-conditioned cruisers lounge. This time we did Netflix downloads and I installed all the apps that we use in Australia onto the Samsung phone. We then returned to Morphie for a snack meal as we were both feeling just too tired to bother with anything else.

Tuesday morning and Happy Australian Birthday to me!

Richard said he would spoil me for the day but only if I finished waxing the topsides first LOL. So we started, made short work of it, and Morphie is definitely looking sparkling and lovely.

I then stayed in the cockpit as we had a mechanic coming on board to check out our engine as we had a couple of small issues which we would like some assistance in resolving. He was great and we think we are fixed, we just need to start the engine from cold first thing on Wednesday to find out! Fingers crossed….

Once the guy had gone I took myself off to the ensuites and had a leisurely shower whilst Richard carried on with a couple of jobs. When I got back I continued working on the phone and managed to get our Covid vaccination certificates loaded so we don’t need to carry physical ones with us anymore. Felt quite pleased with myself getting all this sorted out…..

Then I got a call from the office to say a parcel had arrived for me! Very excited I went and picked it up. It was a bit mangled to say the least but the fragile contents (nothing exciting really, just skin products) were thankfully intact. So what was my Christmas present to myself – having ordered this on Black Friday to get some freebies – turned into my birthday present instead. Woo hoo. Funnily enough I had only complained about the courier sitting on this parcel earlier in the morning – coincidence or what?!?

OK so now it was time to get tested for Covid. Neither of us had any symptoms but wanted to make sure we weren’t carriers for when we go and stay with my nephew and his family in New South Wales on Friday. So we read the instructions, sat down, completed the test and waited the allocated 15 minutes and were delighted (and a little relieved) to see negative results! Yay, the trip is on. Very excited now.

We got ourselves cleaned up, collected the courtesy car, and headed out to the Westfield mall again. As we pulled into the car park so did Ernest alongside us. Completely out of the blue – was lovely to see him – and we promised to be in touch once we returned from New South Wales. We then did a bit of shopping before stowing our goodies in the car and went into the Nahm Thai restaurant for a birthday dinner. I even had a few bubbles for a change. Was a lovely meal – they do the best beef massaman curry – and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Back to Morphie we both had a couple of pontoonies with Richard making up for his earlier abstinence as the designated driver. Had been a really lovely day and I just want to say thanks to all my family and friends who sent me electronic cards, emails, messengers and FaceBook greetings – made this old dear feel very special LOL!

Wednesday morning I started on the blog and we did a quick clean and tidy up in the cockpit and down below. Richard started the engine with fingers crossed and we were both really chuffed when it started up first time and all issues were resolved. Fantastic – what a result!

I then prepped the food as we were hosting sundowners for Lester and Helen (SV Joule, fellow Island Packeteers) which had been cancelled during our stormy week in Sanctuary Cove. Everything done we relaxed for a while before they arrived at 4pm. We had a lovely afternoon in the cockpit – was a lot of fun to catch up with them again.

This morning, Thursday, we were up early and picked up our courtesy car at 8am.

We then drove 25 minutes north on the M1 to Loganholme to pick up our hire car – an i30 this time.

All the paperwork completed I left Richard to drive onwards to Yatala whilst I returned the courtesy car to the Boatworks. Richard had finally found a company in Australia that would change the valves and recertify (for 10 years) our original USA LPG bottles. Absolutely great news as they are pretty unique (as they lay down on their sides when in use) and as Worthington had never exported these bottles to Australia we didn’t think we could realistically get this done. So he has left them there and we’ll pick them up on our return from New South Wales.

So the rest of the day is going to be spent packing and preparing the boat to be left alone. We have decided not to eat out during the eight hour drive as we want to stay away from people now that Covid is running rampant throughout NSW so I’m also going to prepare some food we can eat along the way. There are lots of ‘rest areas’ along the route where we can stop to eat and keep ourselves to ourselves. Very excited about our family reunion trip now that we are actually going!

So that’s it for the week and we got a few jobs ticked off the (ever expanding) list of boat jobs. The absolute best thing this week is that the sun has come out and the rain has stopped – everything feels so much better as a result. We hope that this finds you all safe and well at home and looking after each other. To wrap it up thought I’d return to my earlier signing off theme of Australian cuties – today it is the turn of the lovely wombat – which made me smile. Bye for now.


A wet and stormy week in Sanctuary Cove

Friday morning, New Year’s Eve, and we awoke to a pretty miserable and grey day. Early afternoon, in between showers, we headed to the hotel to secure our wrist bands for the beach party and fireworks later in the day. Job done we decided, on the way back, to spend some time in the Sanctuary Cove Tavern and enjoyed a few drinks, some potato wedges, and added to our Netflix download collection.

Around 5pm we headed back to Morphie for a snooze. Afterwards we got ourselves tidied up and headed to the lagoon beach at the Intercontinental Hotel for the NYE party. The DJ was playing some very old music to a mixed age-group audience (no masked masquerade ball this year) but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and we were dragged into a couple of family groups for some mum and dad dancing moves LOL. Eventually, the countdown started, and we watched the fireworks together. Felt very sad to be away from family and friends for yet another New Year’s Eve – so much so catch up on when we get home!!! Eventually we tore ourselves away from the party and returned to Morphie.

Saturday was a day for recovering from the excesses of the day before, so we lazed around reading and snoozing most of this rainy day. So Happy New Year’s Day 2022 from Australia – a public holiday here (as it is at home) with most places closed. We were lucky though, that George’s Pizzeria was open for takeouts in the evening, so we enjoyed another lovely pizza whilst having a quiet movie night on board.

Sunday morning and it was raining…hard…sigh… The storm had now been named Seth and had been declared a Tropical Cyclone – it was threatening the Queensland coast with severe gale warnings and 4m swells forecast. Welcome to an Australian summer LOL. At this stage there was a lot of uncertainty over Seth’s path so we didn’t do any real preparation yet, but sadly felt it prudent to postpone some social events and stayed on board all day just in case.

Monday morning, very early, we received an email from the marina headed up “Severe Weather and Storm Event Programme”. Oh dear…here we go! They made various recommendations for preparing boats in the marina and also informed us that we would need to ask permission to stay onboard. So we quickly sent them an email letting them know our intention of staying put.

So it was then all systems go and we worked really hard – we removed dink from the davits, emptied it of gear (anchor / tool kit / petrol can etc etc) and then hoisted it up with a halyard onto the bow having first taken off the outboard and secured it onto the port rail. This manoeuvre also meant we had to remove one of the dorades on the bow so that dink would fit under the hoyt boom. By now the wind had picked up so it was too late to remove sails so we secured these by wrapping and securing them very tightly. We removed all surplus canvas such as our dodgers, sun screens, hatch covers etc and stored them down below. At the same time we removed all our new cockpit lights. We then doubled up on all our dock lines and put a couple of fenders high so that they would protect the newly-varnished wood from any chafe from the spring lines. In the middle of all this, Richard was cleaning something on the dock, looked up and promptly knocked his glasses into the water. Oops! Guess a visit to Specsavers is on the cards. Luckily he had a spare pair on board to tide him over….

We then checked our neighbouring wooden yacht as this was the one that gave us problems before in a blow when we spent all our time saving his steps and canvas. This time, however, we are sharing a pen rather than being on the adjacent dock. Well, his dock lines were very light and there was definitely not enough of them. On top of that he had a set of fixed steps that hung over into the space between us which could do a lot of damage if he came down on us. So we emailed the marina office and asked them to come take a look. The dockmaster turned up and added some more dock lines and tied up the steps so we were much happier. Felt very strange to have to resort to asking for someone else to take responsibility but, after our run in with our other neighbour when he erroneously thought we had touched his dock lines, we decided this was definitely the best way forward! Here is the view from our cockpit with his steps tied up…

So everything done, Seth was bearing down on the coast, it was just a matter of sitting and waiting for the event. Well, it didn’t really happen! It was a bit windy/gusty and rainy with a pretty high tide but nothing to write home about but at least we were prepared. However, the forecast remained dire for a number of days going forward so I guess the impacts of this strong low pressure system will be felt for a while yet. There was certainly some wet and wild conditions in Queensland more generally with beaches closed, some flooding and massive surf with Bribie Island being split into two.

Whilst all this was going on, we noticed that our main water pump kept on running and wouldn’t turn itself off – it is supposed to cycle. So we got everything out of the back cabin (our ‘garage’) and checked the pump itself and all was fine. The hot water tank was good too (this lives in the same tiny compartment under the stern berth) and the filter was clean. Hmm…a mystery. On checking water levels we found we had definitely lost some but the main water tank was also fine. We stood and watched over the bilge for quite a long time whilst scratching our heads! We couldn’t fathom out what was happening so decided to temporarily manually operate the water pressure switch when we needed to run a tap etc. It was all very frustrating. Had been a pretty tough and full-on type of day.

Tuesday, on another grey wet and windy day, we were both a bit stir crazy so decided to get off the boat to have breakfast out. We headed to Pier B to find only two staff were working because of staff sickness and only a restricted take-out menu was available – we didn’t fancy eating out of cardboard boxes so walked away. We ended up in Bistro 19 instead and had a very good breakfast. We then sat around using the free wifi to update some Netflix content.

Back on board the wind picked up and the king tide was making itself known with many of the million dollar waterfront houses looking perilously close to getting inundated with water over their docks. We were relieved when the water levels started dropping on the tide change. It was very hot and steamy which was totally energy zapping so we spent most of the day onboard keeping ourselves cool and Morphie safe. And we had a lightbulb moment when we realised that we hadn’t checked the watermaker when trying to work out the water pump problem…. And, of course, that was it. No leak just that when we had ‘flushed’ the system the last time we had left one of the switches open which meant that the water was pumping out at the thru hull. Well, mystery solved! So switches closed, water tank refilled, water pressure turned back on and, low and behold, the water pump cycled as it should. What a palaver all because of a switch in the wrong position. Doh!!! Never mind, at least it meant no leaks or failures and all fresh water systems have had a maintenance check LOL.

Wednesday morning it was raining hard and very windy so we had a leisurely start to the day.

Finally, around lunch time, the rain stopped so we got all our dive gear out, cleaned it up and photographed it as we are considering selling some of it. We have spoken to a few dive clubs here in Australia and they will take Richard diving but only if he has a private medical undertaken by a certified doctor who specialises in diving medicals – and each medical has a maximum six month validity. Hmmm…. So we think that, in future, we’ll do the medical thing and hire basic kit when we need it – we are obviously hanging onto our 1mm tropical wetsuits / dive computers / prescriptions masks etc in readiness for future adventures. So we’ve decided to advertise some of our gear to see whether there is any interest.

Of course, as stuff is starting to dry on the dock, the heavens opened again so we quickly get everything back onboard, hung up in the cockpit and then headed back down below again for the rest of the day.

Overnight we had very heavy rain and this continued into this morning (Thursday). Thankfully the cockpit had enabled our dive gear to dry out so we repacked all that and re-stowed the bags into the starboard lazarette. We then pickled the watermaker – as we are going to be in a marina for a while now. Then we decided to troubleshoot an intermittent coolant leak from our engine. We ran the engine at various RPMs to get the engine nice and hot but after 45 minutes there was no leak! So we can only assume we may have slightly overfilled it when we changed the coolant earlier in the season. Another problem resolved! We had hoped to get some more pool time in today as this is our last full day in Sanctuary Cove but, unfortunately, the weather had other plans for us. Oh well, never mind…. We are heading back to the Boatworks tomorrow and are looking forward to seeing everyone again.

The omicron variant of covid is now running rampant throughout Australia and interstate borders remain open although Queensland are still insisting on travellers getting tested up to 72 hours before they are able to secure their border pass. This really doesn’t make any sense with community transmission widespread and many testing clinics are turning people away as they cannot cope with demand nor return the results within this limited timeline. Rapid antigen tests (RATs) for home use are now acceptable alternatives for border pass purposes but they are very difficult to find – and, unlike the UK, they have to be privately purchased so there is some price gouging too. It has become such a problem that a really helpful web developer has started a new website called Find a RAT.

Luckily we have been able to navigate our way through this issue as we recognised the barrier to travel quite early on. NSW had way more RATs available than Queensland, so we asked my nephew to track some down and he managed to get a few. So we are good to go knowing we can test for our return to Morphie. Woo hoo… time for a family reunion! I am very excited although still keeping everything flexible crossed as things change so fast you can never be 100% sure until you are actually on the road!

Take care of each other and stay safe. So a couple of things to make you smile. I forgot to put in the Australian Christmas parrot tree that we found online and, not necessarily Australian, but this picture made me laugh out loud so thought I’d share with you anyway.

Bye for now, Jan