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