Week 3 on the hard at The Boatworks, Coomera

Wednesday (16 February) after the riggers had left, Lester and Helen came by for a coffee so that gave us a welcome break and it was nice to see them. Richard then rubbed down the antifoul – as it is ablative paint there was a constant stream of blue-tinged water running everywhere – so whilst he was busy I was armed with the fire hose to move all the excess water towards the drains as we didn’t want to leave a mess on the new concrete floor. Later on, when I had finished the blog and Richard had prepped the hull, we washed the mainsail so that it had the night to dry off.

Thursday morning we were both up really early and applied Sailcote to the main (which makes it slide easier inside the furling mechanism). The rigger came by (at 7 am) and helped us reinstate the sail – but the furling mechanism was very tight and stiff – not good at all! So we pulled the sail out and did it again and checked that all the vertical battens were going in straight into the mast and, yes they were. Puzzled by this, especially having just had the whole mast serviced whilst the rigging was being replaced (and having serviced the sail ourselves), we spoke to the rigger who said that when the boat was back floating and the final rigging tensions had been set properly (we have the specifications to hand) then he was confident it would be fine. We weren’t sure whether this was true but having done some further research on the worm drive furling mechanism, we have found that this could well be the case. So we’ll have to wait until we’ve splashed to get this sorted out. Sigh….

Richard then started applying primer to the most worn spots on the antifoul whilst I got on with sanding down and applying the first coat of varnish to some interior cupboards / drawers / external fuel jug boards that needed some attention.

After a break to let the primer dry Richard then continued to work hard and managed to apply the first coat of antifoul to the whole boat. Phew!

In the evening Ernest came over for dinner with us (in the liveaboard BBQ area), so was nice to catch up with him again. The cruisers had organised a movie night in this area so we started watching – the new James Bond – but none of us were that enamoured so we left and returned to Morphie so that we could chat. Was a really nice evening.

Friday morning I sanded down and applied the second coat of varnish to the cupboards and drawers while Richard applied the second coat of antifoul.

Once the varnish was dry I put the locks back on etc and reinstated these on Morphie. I then started on our cabin floor – there were three planks of wood where the varnish had been damaged by a bug spray – so I taped up, sanded them down and then gave them a coat of varnish. By the time I had finished Richard had almost completed the antifoul.

So we got ourselves cleaned up, collected our courtesy UTE at 4pm, and headed over to Hope Island to see Sandra and Nigel. At this point the thunderstorms were rolling in so we were grateful that Morphie was parked next to a huge catamaran on the hard LOL.

Sandra and Nigel had kindly offered to let us stay over at their apartment whilst we were doing the interior varnishing so we didn’t have to sleep down below with the varnish fumes. We got ourselves settled in, had a few glasses of wine on the balcony before then retiring indoors for our dinner escaping from the torrential rain. Was a really nice evening and we had great fun – in fact it turned into a bit of a late night, not turning in until the early hours of Saturday morning! Outrageous behaviour LOL.

Saturday morning we headed back to Morphie after a leisurely start. I sanded down the floor again along with some other interior surfaces and then applied the varnish. Whilst I was doing this Richard was working on the refrigeration and earth plates under the hull in preparation for splashing on Monday.

Job done we then packed up and headed back early to Hope Island – we had planned to spend some time in the pool. Sadly the rain continued sporadically throughout the day so that wasn’t such an attractive option but, never mind, we had another lovely dinner and evening. Although this time the physical hard work of the last few weeks kicked in so we ended up having quite an early night!

Sunday morning we had a leisurely breakfast and headed out to have a look around the beautiful grounds of this apartment complex which overlooks Hope Harbour Marina. We then headed to the pool for a few hours which was lovely and warm and I enjoyed bobbing in the shallows…. Had been a long time! Sadly we then had to bid Sandra and Nigel farewell and thanked them for their great hospitality and returned to Morphie.

We then headed to the Coomera Westfield mall for a bit of shopping and a visit to the doctors to get some repeat prescriptions. Job done we returned to The Boatworks and had a catch up with our fellow cruisers in the BBQ area before having an early night.

Monday morning we were up very early and returned the UTE to the office. We then had to get everything off the concrete and back onto the boat. And, of course, after a wet and rainy weekend it was a blisteringly hot day. Typical! We were in the middle of doing this when the electricians turned up to reconnect all the wiring through the mast so we were able to check things like the plotter / radar / VHF was working. We were due to splash at 12 noon and by around 10.30 am we were ready to go and admired our girl, she was looking absolutely beautiful, and certainly worth all the effort we had put into her. It made us so proud when so many people commented on her too!

At 11 the travel lift came for us and lifted Morphie into the strops and removed all the stands so Richard rushed around to get a couple of coats of antifoul onto the areas which had previously been inaccessible. At this juncture, Buddy turned up for a chat too!

Job done we did the funeral procession back to the dock and climbed back onboard.

We were then lowered and splashed into the water. Before releasing us from the slings, we checked for leaks (none) and got the engine running with no problems. We were then free to go so we reversed out of the slip and went down the river to our berth. We pulled in, got ourselves tied up, and breathed a huge sigh of relief. We got all the additional fuel cans off the topsides and placed them on the dock – these will be reinstated once the topsides have been cleaned, cut, waxed and polished. But we are putting this job off until the riggers have finished as they will continue to climb all over Morphie for the fine tuning of the rig. We got the fridge up and running so I collected our belongings from the liveaboard communal fridge and restocked. Had been quite a day and we decided to relax for the rest of the afternoon and once it got dark we were able to check out that all our mast lights etc worked. Actually we felt so weary we ended up in bed by around 7.30 pm. Was lovely to be floating again….

Tuesday morning it was very windy so we weren’t expecting the riggers to come by. I picked up a courtesy car and headed to the shops for some provisions now that I had a working fridge again. Whilst I was gone Richard cleaned, cut, compounded, waxed and polished the hull on the two areas on the starboard side where the posts had been in the way. He was able to do this from the dock. On my return, after a short break, we got dink down from the davits and I held the dinghy away from the hull on the port side whilst Richard completed those two areas too. Afterwards we pulled the dinghy alongside the dock where we scrubbed, cleaned and protected him before returning it to the davits on the stern. Richard then put the dinghy back together – in terms of canvas / locks etc – whilst I worked on our cabin floor. Everything else was good but I wasn’t happy with this so I did it again….. Afterwards I locked the cabin door and exited via the heads so that we couldn’t inadvertently step on the floor – it also kept the smell isolated. While I was doing that Richard started on the topsides as there were a few very dirty areas that he wanted to get on top of now and, finally, we called it a day. We had a quiet night on board watching a pretty useless movie before retiring to bed to sleep in our stern cabin.

Overnight it rained really hard and the forecast for Queensland is abysmal. Autumn officially starts here on the 1 March so I guess summer is over sigh…….

So, in the light of the forecast, we probably don’t expect to see the riggers before next week now so it’s a good job we are booked into this berth until 7 March. So today, Wednesday, I’m back in the cruisers lounge blogging (and multi-tasking doing the laundry) whilst Richard is doing a complete engine service including oil change / filters etc.

So that’s it for now folks. We have been watching the devastating footage of the succession of storms at home and hope that you all are safe and well and suffered no damage to yourselves or your properties. Thinking of you all and sending lots of love and hugs – please take care of each other. This week’s Australian critter is a male lyrebird who, as well as being extravagantly coloured and feathered, clears patches of forest floor to prepare themselves a stage on which they sing and dance their complex songs in order to attract a mate. Another beautiful cutie that made me smile….


Week 2 on the hard at The Boatworks, Coomera

Tuesday morning (8 February) we were up early and did our first coat of Awlgrip paint on the bootstripe. We found it relatively easy to apply and were pretty pleased with our efforts. Phew, that was a relief.

Then we headed over to visit our mast which was being dismantled in the shop. It certainly looked very different and, of course, much bigger because some of it is usually hidden inside the boat through into the hull. We discussed service items and agreed for some items to be installed – such as a new windvane and VHF aerial. We also asked them to reroute the radar cables into the conduits….that will get rid of the annoying slapping inside the mast when rocking and rolling at anchor.

Back on board, Richard started taping up under the capping rail in preparation for varnishing. While he was doing this I worked on the stainless steel fittings that had been exposed by the mast coming off in readiness for it being reinstalled.

Later on we headed to the chandlery for supplies and organised a scissor lift for the weekend so that we could start working on the hull. The evening was spent, yet again, in the BBQ area with other cruisers living here in the yard.

Wednesday we applied the second coat on the bootstripe.

Then Richard sanded down and started varnishing under the capping rail plus he also gave the stainless steel in this area some care and attention.

During a short break, he then removed the teak steps off the companionway and I scrubbed them down with a special two-part teak cleaner. Was very surprised how dirty they actually were….

Whilst the teak steps were drying I picked up a courtesy car and headed out for a haircut and some more supplies. I’m tending to shop every few days at the minute as I do not want to take up too much room in the shared fridge in the liveaboard facilities – as we have no refrigeration whilst on the hard. And, yes, you guessed it, we had another social evening in the BBQ area as we all recovered from the working day. One thing I particularly love about this new area is the access to washers and dryers so we never have to have dirty clothes on board after a days graft – we wash them directly after showering each evening.

Thursday we did the third and final coat on the bootstripe and Richard finished the varnishing and stainless steel cleaning before starting work cleaning the stern. I then started servicing all the ports and the peek-a-boo blinds down below. After another busy day we had a BBQ dinner in company before retiring for an early night.

Friday morning the scissor lift was delivered to us. So first task was to remove the masking tape from the bootstripe now that it had completely dried. Using the scissor lift we then started on cleaning and compounding the hull. It was hard work but we managed to get most of it done by the time we called it a day.

During the day Nikki from the Boatworks had grabbed us from our work to deliver a complimentary meat tray to the BBQ area for the liveaboards for that evening. So we cooked and tucked into that along with Barbara and Russell’s granddaughters who were really funny plus others of course. Oh yes, and my hair really isn’t that short, I had just got out of the shower LOL.

Saturday we had another really early start and finished cutting and cleaning the hull. Then we went round again and waxed and polished it too….. This is hard physical work so we took some time out to have a late lunch at The Galley – obviously in the ‘cafe’ side rather than the ‘restaurant’ whilst pretty scruffy in our working clothes.

On return I continued on the ground level waxing and polishing the new bootstripe whilst Richard continued on the hull alone. I had had enough but he pushed on and managed to finish the job. We were both delighted with the results of our hard work. Morphie looks absolutely beautiful! Antifouling is next…..

Whilst I was in the cockpit and Richard was still working on the stern we were treated to the arrival of some Yank Tanks for a Garage 25 car meet. Was great fun to see them all from our elevated position, although someone should tell the owner of the beautiful VW beetle that he didn’t quality for this event LOL.

That evening we headed over to the BBQ area for a few drinks before bed – the area was really busy and all the BBQs were full of food so just as well we had eaten earlier… On the way we stopped off to check on SV Hurtle Turtle’s repairs and it certainly looks good. Never realised that this type of catamaran was plywood based under the gelcoat.

Sunday, finally, was a day of rest. Yay! We had been working really hard all week and needed a break from the physical labour of it all. So we had a leisurely start and then headed out to meet Sandra and Nigel at The Galley for a delicious lunch before returning to the liveaboard area for more drinks along with others so a fun time was had by all.

At one point the sky turned orange and then a torrential rain storm came through – the noise as it hit the tops of the metal sheds in the yard was truly incredible. Will never get used to the extremes of the Australian climate LOL.

Monday, I finished servicing the ports and peek-a-boos whilst Richard serviced the winches on the mast in the shed. It is really looking very nice with all its new stainless wire and fittings.

Richard then reinstated the saloon steps before cleaning the mast area on deck in preparation for the stepping of the mast the following day. So I headed out for more provisions whilst Richard painted the additional thru holes on the stern. They originally matched the cream gel coat colour but have worn back to their original white over the years so he decided to make them match – and they look amazing! Great idea….

Again, dodging very heavy rain showers, we headed to the BBQ area for our dinner before retiring to bed. And here it comes again….

Tuesday morning the mast returned to sit alongside Morphie on the hard. We closed hatches; took down the canvas; made sure the deck was clear and uncluttered and waited for the crane to arrive.

It turned up right on schedule at 9am and the team started to get ready to lift and install the mast. It was tricky and fiddly in places to get the mast into position as they had to line it up through the hole in the deck down into the keel (through the heads) – but they finally got it in place and then reinserted the pin through the mast into the deck.

Where the mast goes in the heads…
…having passed through the coachroof first

As the crane was finally detached from the mast they smashed our mast-mounted steaming light but they will replace idc. Next Monday (21 February) we are due to ‘splash’ back into the marina and, right now, it looks like we are on target so fingers crossed for only a few more days up the stairs.

This morning, Wednesday, the riggers returned to do a few more bits and pieces, and they reinstated the genoa and the staysail so Morphie is starting to look like a sailboat once again!

Richard is currently underneath the hull preparing the antifoul for it’s spa treatment whilst I’m blogging in the saloon. My next job for the day is to clean the mainsail before it goes back on tomorrow, fingers crossed, if the wind behaves….

So that’s it for now – please take care and continue to look after each other. Sending lots of love and hugs home to you all. I decided against an Australian cutie this week because I thought it was time you met more of Australia’s weird and wonderful critters instead. So today’s offering is an Aye Aye, which is a long-fingered lemur with rodent-like teeth that perpetually grow and a special thin middle finger. Who knew that lemurs – even ugly scary looking ones – lived in Australia too? Definitely a face only a mother could love LOL.


Week 1 on the hard at The Boatworks, Coomera

Monday morning (31 January) we were up really early, filled up with water and disconnected from the shore power before returning the courtesy car (all by 7am). We were then invited over – a bit earlier than expected – but we were ready so we slipped our lines and slowly reversed out into the river before motoring forward into the slings of the travel lift. The guys who operate this monster machine are really careful by deftly wielding massive boat hooks to keep us centrally positioned. They then tightened the slings onto Morphie and we used our dock lines to tie the front slings back to our cockpit winches. This is just a precaution to stop them from slipping which could be possible due to our fine entry keel. Job done we were then lifted slowly up out of the river and, once we were suspended over the land, they put up the stairs for us to get off.

We climbed down and watched Morphie move to the wash down area. So we stopped off for a cooling milk shake before walking back and watched her being given a high-pressure wash. The guys were worried that by using strong pressure the paint on the boot stripe – which was very dirty from being in the river – might peel off. We said go ahead we’re replacing it anyway! Actually it did peel off quite badly in places but considering this boot stripe was painted in 2012 we had had our money’s worth!

Afterwards we followed the boat lift through the yard (which always feels like a funeral procession somehow) to the liveaboard working yard near to Garage 25. This is a brand new area with great facilities including washers / driers / en-suites / kitchen / microwave / air conditioning / BBQs and sitting area and, most importantly for those of us out of the water, the use of a shared fridge. We were quickly positioned and tied down into our cradle. So, phew, big sigh of relief all had gone well.

Checking the place out, we were a bit shocked to see SV Hurtle Turtle (who we had met earlier in the season) on the hard with a huge crack and damage along one of her hulls. We have since found out that they had anchored in the Brisbane River for New Year’s Eve and, at 3am the following morning, a large powerboat had reversed into them hard and then drove off. The owners contacted the water police – who were luckily already patrolling – and the perpetrators were caught. Assuming that alcohol was involved plus the fact that they had left the scene of an accident (without even checking if the poor people onboard were safe and well) they should have the book thrown at them. But that doesn’t help poor Hurtle Turtle whilst she languishes on the hard being cut open to be repaired…..sigh…… What a nightmare for the owners!

Later on we headed to the BBQ area and met for the first time, Russell & Barb (SV Happy Hour) and Alison & Randall (SV Tregoning) and had a nice social evening together. Here I am, freshly showered, cooking up a storm….

Tuesday morning we were up at 5.30 am as there was little wind and the rigging guys were due to remove our main sail. They turned up at 6am and when it was off the boat we flaked it and bagged it. The guys told us that the crane would be along at 9.30 am to remove the mast so we headed to Garage 25 – which we can see from the cockpit in our elevated position – and had breakfast.

We saw the crane arrive so walked back to Morphie and watched as the guys worked hard undoing all the fastenings that held our genoa furler, our staysail furler and our main mast in situ. They removed the whisker pole first, followed by the boom, then they climbed the mast to secure the crane’s hook and, finally, it was time to pull the mast out.

This was the first time we had seen this done to Morphie so I watched very anxiously but Richard was completely laid back about the whole situation as though he had done it a thousand times before LOL. Was very relieved when everything was secure and on the ground. Poor Morphie looked quite different naked!

This was completed by 10.15 am on a heatwave day with temperatures sitting at 35 degrees but feeling more like 40+ with the incredibly high humidity levels. Pretty horrible conditions to be honest and even the locals were struggling. So we took ourselves off to the Cruisers Lounge to do some admin-type work so that we could get some respite from the heat in the air-conditioned environment. On the way back we had to run for it to avoid getting soaked by the fast-approaching bad weather system.

Back to Morphie, with all fans at full blast, we did a bit of a spring clean and started to re-organise ourselves down below. We received a weather warning for severe, damaging, thunderstorms but luckily they circled us rather than coming too close. Phew!

Wednesday morning it remained hot and humid despite the overnight storms and heavy rain. So we had a lazy start and then breakfast at Garage 25. We turned our attention to the back cabin and did a bit of a spring clean there too. Then I turned my attention to the cockpit whilst Richard cleaned up the engine. And what a grand job he did too….. Morphie is looking absolutely marvellous after all this love and attention – here are a couple of interior shots to check out.

That evening we headed over to the BBQ area again….. We didn’t have any company but, as we were so exhausted from the day’s endeavours and the draining impact of the heat, we came back to the boat straight after dinner for an early night.

Thursday morning we headed down to the Galley for breakfast before a trip to the chandlery for some bits and pieces. Back on board, Richard started the toilet conversion job. We have been using fresh water for quite a while, utilising the shower hose, but now it was time to convert it properly. This was not as simple as it sounded as it required some floor cutting and some plumbing as part of the process. So I decided to leave him to it and got a courtesy car for a couple of hours so headed into town to top up on fresh food. Oh yes and, of course, this was all in the pouring rain! Looking like a drowned rat on return to the boat, I checked out progress and he was doing well although we needed to buy an in-line tap, so looked like a trip to Bunnings was in my near future. Oh joy…

Friday morning I concentrated on cleaning the toilet whilst it was off the boat, so I was able to use bleach-based products – which we don’t use onboard due to the risk of damaging the cream-coloured gelcoat. So I was in my element scrubbing away with a toothbrush. Richard then put it all together in preparation for the final installation which will happen once the mast has been dropped back in. So not in situ but looks pretty good!

In the afternoon we picked up a courtesy UTE for the weekend and headed out to get some pizza for tea – the cook was given a night off, yay! The traffic was awful virtually at a standstill and, as we crawled alongside the M1 on a parallel road, we saw numerous emergency vehicles and cloths strategically placed to shield the situation from rubber neckers. We quickly realised this was very serious and, sadly, we found out later than a motorcyclist had died at the scene. So a local family were about to receive some heart breaking news…really terrible. A bit subdued we returned to the BBQ area where we ate our pizza before retiring for the night.

Saturday morning it was so windy we could feel the boat rocking despite sitting in a secured heavy-duty cradle. That was definitely a first! We made sure everything was secured before carrying on clearing out and Richard persuaded me to throw a few things away. We had carried our old sails as spares half way around the world in the lazarette, just in case, and have never used them for anything. So I agreed to bin them along with some other stuff he had dug out. On a roll he then persuaded me to consolidate my shoe supply which I did. After that he had a manic gleam in his eye so I refused to play his ‘love it or launch it’ game anymore as he had obvious designs on my wardrobe! And that was about it for the day apart from dinner in the BBQ area followed by a quiet night onboard.

Sunday morning, around 7am, we were laying in bed considering getting up to hear lots of loud engine noises. And, of course, it was Garage 25 having a car meet. So we enjoyed breakfast in the cockpit checking all the cars from above – didn’t fancy going down to mingle with the crowds. Then I heard oriental music and realised that there were dancing dragons too – presumably to celebrate Chinese New Year – so that was quite fun to watch. Boy do the Australians love their cars or what?!?

Later on we washed the hull down and cleaned the bootstripe in preparation for the following day. Then we made the most of having transport by doing a bit of shopping for some fresh provisions and a trip to the local Bunnings, of course.

In the evening we headed over to the BBQ area but it was pretty busy with Tony (the owner of the whole site) and a crowd of people – assuming family and friends. Not wanting to disturb this social event we sat quietly in the kitchen chatting and having sundowners. We were invited to join the crowd outside to eat but we didn’t want to jellyfish into their private gathering – but they insisted we shared some of their food so brought us a plate in each to try which was very generous of them! Eventually we returned to Morphie in a break from incessant heavy rain and had a quiet night in.

Today, Monday, and the weather has changed. Yay! The temperature has dropped quite a bit and it is largely dry with just the occasional shower threatening. So Richard taped up the boot stripe whilst I cleaned all the stainless steel fittings on the mast that are not due to be being replaced. When we were both at a decent juncture we headed over to Garage 25 for breakfast.

Back to work I finished the stainless steel cleaning before climbing back up to the saloon to blog whilst Richard started sanding down the boot stripe.

Tomorrow, providing it is dry, we’ll try our hand at painting. Not something we’ve done before but the specialist paint guy in the chandlery has been very helpful in talking us through the process to follow and we’re hopeful we can achieve a good finish. Wish us luck!

So that’s it for our week here in The Boatworks. The introduction of a liveaboard area has made such a difference to us. Living up on the hard is always a bit of a trial not least because of the heat and the lack of shade but the facilities here are so great that, to be honest, this really isn’t that bad. But, obviously, peeing in a bucket is not my most favourite pastime during the night LOL. We expect to be up in the air for another couple of weeks yet but at least the list of jobs is reducing a bit each day….

Bye for now and sending lots of love and hugs to you all. My Australian cutie for today, to make you smile, is another of their amazing unique creatures. So I give you a beautifully-coloured Robin which is found in the state of Victoria. Who would have thought that our red-breasted friends would have had Aussie rellies looking like this?


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…..so 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

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 cafĂ©. 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.