Manly to Coomera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday morning it was cloudy and thunderstorms were forecast.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan

Mooloolaba to Manly

Tuesday morning (23 November) we were picked up in the car by Mike and Karen (SV Island Girl) on a very cloudy and rainy day in Mooloolaba. They took us out and about to visit Noosa (where they live) and we had a lovely time exploring this beautiful area – despite the weather – and finding out a bit more about it. Such great tour guides! Check out the views out to the Noosa Bar – despite the rain this wasn’t even a windy day. Certainly wouldn’t fancy trying to navigate in through that narrow and shallow river entrance.

And what about the Tawny Frogmouths we came across up at one of the lookout points? They are so serene and laid back and we were transfixed having never seen anything quite like them before.

We decided to drop Dudley (the dog) off at home before we headed out for lunch and had a quick look around their neighbourhood. Now this has to be the most unusual fence you will ever come across – who would want or even need to make a driveway fence out of giant pencils? Just plain weird!

We have noticed here in Australia that building styles can be extremely varied and Noosa has an eclectic mix of properties scattered around the hills of this beautiful neighbourhood – which is delightful in that it does not allow high rise properties in the town. It was very strange for us to see so many different styles in the same place…

At Mike and Karen’s home we were completely blown away by the way in which their architect had designed the house to flow up/down the hill with the different areas being very distinct but discretely linked. Absolutely amazing job and brought to life by Karen’s stunning artwork and some fantastic design features within the decor. The whole place is just simply fantastic – they should be so proud of what they had achieved! I could live there in a heartbeat…

Moving on we headed back through the main street in Noosa – which has a very laid back village-type vibe to it. Destination was the Noosa Heads Surf Club where we had a lovely late lunch.

We then headed back towards Mooloolaba via more scenic routes and stops along the way – including picking up some fresh prawns for me and a spanner crab for Richard for tea.

Finally back at the marina we said our sad farewells and returned to Morphie – had been an absolutely fantastic day. That evening we had fun demolishing the seafood before having a quiet night in.

Wednesday we were getting ready to depart Mooloolaba so were doing usual jobs and checks – getting rid of the rubbish / engine checks / inputting route to the plotter / topping up water etc. We then headed out of the marina admiring the fishing fleet as we went through and headed out to cross the river bar at 10am, around slack tide. Thankfully it was flat calm with very little swell so no dramas as we headed out towards Moreton Bay.

As we continued down the coast we had a stormy sort of view of the Glass House Mountains, they look quite menacing in these cloudy and miserable conditions. There were a lot of ships about and a particular shallow-draft ship – The Brisbane – went outside of the official shipping channels so it could overtake a large container ship – so we had to keep our wits about us.

The wind was light but at least from the right direction (northerly) and we had to push hard to maintain speed to arrive before dark. At 5.30 pm, having travelled a distance of 38 miles, we had the anchor down just south of the resort near Tangalooma wrecks and opposite some people ‘wild camping’ on the island. We celebrated our arrival with dinner down below as the heavens opened yet again.

Thursday morning we had our anchor up by 6am and motored out in horrendous rainy conditions. Thankfully the rain eased and we ended up motor sailing with both main and genoa deployed watching out for rain squalls all around us.

And, of course, when it was time for fenders and lines to be deployed before heading into the marina the heavens opened yet again….sigh….

At 10.25 am we came through the leads into the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron marina (RQ) at Manly having covered 21 miles. RQ promised assistance on the dock (which we were sceptical about) and there was no-one there when we found our allocated berth. So Richard did a 360 whilst I got ready to lasso a cleat and then, suddenly, we had company and assistance so we went in and got ourselves tied up quickly. The wind had started kicking in by now at 15-20 knots and we were being blown off so was grateful for the berthing help.

Richard went to the office to check in but I stayed onboard. It was a long walk and by now I was seriously hurting from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I believe it was a fibromyalgia flare up so I gave in, listened to my body, took some strong pain relief, and went back to bed. Richard returned from the office and joined me as he felt a bit weary too. And that was it for the day – with the rain thundering down on the coach roof above us – we just relaxed, rested, read and snoozed the day and evening away.

Friday morning we awoke to more rain and strong winds. So we stayed down below getting on with admin / banking / computer type jobs and I continued to be careful when moving around but was very pleased that I felt much better for taking some time out. At 6.30pm we headed out to meet Steve and Jo (SV Tamanu) for dinner at the Moreton Bay Trailer Boat Club. We hadn’t seen them since the Shaggers Rendezvous back in August. So we had a great meal (curry of course LOL) and lots of laughs.

Saturday morning we were up early and I was relieved to feel completely back to normal. So we decided to stretch the legs and walk into Manly. We were lucky to avoid the rain showers and enjoyed watching all the kids getting ready to go out sailing at RQ. We admired the views of the marinas as we walked along – there are four in this basin – and then arrived at Manly after about 25 minutes.

We had breakfast out at a local café called Keiths on Cambridge. We didn’t have high expectations of the place but preferred the menu here more than the up-market Sea Vibes across the road. Well, we were very pleasantly surprised, this was the nicest breakfast we had had in a very long time. It could be our bias towards ‘fat’ toast being included though LOL.

After breakfast we did a little bit of shopping – just fresh fruit, vegetables and some bread from the bakery. Then we took the slow walk back. I did have to stop for a breather once we got back to RQ so enjoyed a soda water watching all the little ‘ducklings’ go out racing for the day. Lovely to see the kids having so much fun and wonder how many Australian champions are here in the making?!?

We rushed back to Morphie as the clouds started building again and wondered if we were about to get the thunderstorms that have been forecast for days. But we just got the torrential rain instead and some very strong winds. So we had a quiet afternoon and evening down below.

Sunday morning we were up at a reasonable time and I headed to the laundry having stripped everything whilst Richard cleaned and tidied the boat up down below. By the time I came back he had even re-made the bed and polished the teak. Amazing job…. At 5pm we had sundowners onboard Morphie with Steve and Jo plus Ed and Yvonne (SV SteeLee). So another Shaggers reunion! Was fun to catch up again and we had a really nice evening.

Monday morning, after a bit of a lay in, we checked the tides and weather in preparation for our departure on Tuesday. The wind continues to howl and is quite strong with gusts up to 30 knots from the south – which is exactly the direction we are heading. The forecast for Tuesday had the winds moderating slightly but a very heavy rain day so we decided to extend – we will be leaving here on Wednesday now instead. Oh well, never mind! ,

In the afternoon we were joined by Steve and his friends Ron and Annette for sundowners. They had recently sailed into Australia from New Zealand on their Tayana yacht (they are Australian citizens) and were forced into hotel quarantine (at their own cost) for 14 days on arrival into Queensland with no time allowed for their passage at sea. Queensland have been trialling home quarantine for double vaccinated returning citizens but, unfortunately, yachts (along with caravans / lodges etc) are not considered to be suitable places for home quarantine purposes. Again more examples of rules being made on the hoof that really don’t make much sense. Would have thought a double-vaccinated couple isolated on their yacht at sea was a much lower risk than someone who flies in on a commercial airline! Anyway, it was lovely to meet them and we had a good evening.

So what else is going on? Well the Australian international border was supposed to be opening soon to international students / visa holders and some ‘green list’ countries such as Korea and Hong Kong. But, of course, since that announcement we have the new Omicron strain and the whole border opening has been delayed by a further two weeks. So here we go again! Just hoping that we will be able to go to visit my family in NSW in January but know that it will not be a certainty until much nearer the time. Many people here in Queensland support the regional Government for their tough border stance – despite some heartbreaking stories – but the restrictions for non-vaccinated people that are due to be coming into play in December will certainly be contentious. Check them out below. Will certainly be very interesting to see how all this pans out!

Anyway, time to lighten up LOL. To cheer us all up I thought I’d stick with the Christmas animal theme from last week – so here is a cute but puzzled dog dressed as Father Christmas. Enjoy, it made me smile!

Bye for now, Jan

Bundaberg to Mooloolaba

Tuesday morning (16th November) we were up before the sun and, as promised, by 5am we were helping Buddy and Helen (SV Desire) slip away from their berth and head out to sea. We then returned to Morphie, got ourselves ready, and departed too. We were very grateful for little wind and a slack tide to make it a bit easier as the berth was quite tight. Thankfully we made it out OK and motored off down the Burnett River passing the mysterious anchored (tourist attraction) pirate ship; a prawnie coming home to offload his overnight catch; and, finally, the sun rose over SV Begonia in the anchorage – absolutely beautiful!

We sailed along in light airs with the pole out and it was fantastic…until the wind died completely so we ended up putting it all away…then the fickle wind picked up again and we pulled it all out again….

As we got closer to Kingfisher Resort on Fraser Island (now known as K’gari) we had to gybe so the pole was finally returned to the mast and we continued under genoa alone. We had the anchor down just before 4pm having covered a distance of 55 miles. As we anchored we were met with some strong winds and rumbles of thunder in the distance and it was a bit bouncy. Thankfully the nodding eased up during the evening as the storms moved away and we rested up in the cockpit.

Richard then spotted three sea eagles attacking something in the water and we assumed they were fishing. But we quickly realised that they were attacking a duck with two ducklings. The parent duck would rear up at the eagles as they swooped down and the ducklings would dive underwater only surfacing when the immediate threat was over. This struggle went on for quite a while and we didn’t think that the ducks would survive so were surprised when the eagles gave up and the duck / ducklings continued on their journey. What a drama to witness and we even managed to get an action shot! It is funny, though, that when we see a sea eagle swoop down and catch fish we admire their skill but when they tried to take a little duckling we think f*****g b******s!

After all this excitement we had an early night having watched the sky turn the most beautiful red as the sun set.

Wednesday morning we awoke to some grey clouds and then had a heavy rain squall (just after we had dropped dink into the water) so that put paid to our intention of going ashore.

But it had passed by 11am so we headed ashore, met Buddy and Helen, and then we all walked up to the main resort. We enjoyed the rest of the day by the pool; in the pool / jacuzzi; having some lunch; and playing a few spirited games of UNO. The horseflies were a real nuisance and were constantly on the attack – they hurt when they bite that’s for sure – but were surprisingly easy to kill. The upside to this was that the ducks turned up pool-side and they made quick work of eating all the large fly carcasses littered about. They certainly seemed to enjoy them LOL.

Later on we headed back to Morphie for another quiet night in after a stormy sunset.

Thursday morning we headed ashore again. We enjoyed some time in the pool and jacuzzi and decided to take ourselves inside the main hotel building for our afternoon card games to avoid the flies.

After another lovely day with Buddy and Helen we headed back to our respective boats for an early night. Was interesting to see a small cruise ship anchored off the island – that’s the first we’ve seen in a long long time.

Friday morning we were up at 5.30 am and had weighed anchor by 6.30 am. The timing for going through this stretch of water inside K’gari is crucial as we need to be going through the Sheridan Flats on a rising tide to get us through the very shallow area. Unfortunately there was no wind – with not even a ripple on the water – so we had to motor the 31 miles down to Inskip Point.

We had tried to anchor here once before but was thwarted by weather so was delighted to get a good spot this time and enjoyed watching the ferries take their 4x4WD passengers to and from the mainland.

We headed over to have sundowners on the spit with Buddy and Helen – particularly enjoying the seabirds – before returning to Morphie for a quiet evening sat in the cockpit watching the spectacular partial lunar eclipse before turning in for the night.

Saturday morning we had picked up anchor and were heading out through the Wide Bay Bar having got the new waypoint coordinates from the Coastguard the night before. It was serenely calm and we had a very good crossing.

Having got across the bar safely we headed south towards Double Island Point admiring the beautiful coastal scenery along the way.

As we arrived we made our way in behind the sand spit to avoid the fetch coming into the anchorage from the north winds. This sand spit had completely transformed since our last visit so we were delighted that we were going to be able to make the most of a lovely day having got the anchor down just before 11 am. We got ourselves organised and waited for Buddy and Helen to turn up – they had changed their mind at the last minute to come here instead of continuing directly to Moreton Island. They got anchored alongside us and we headed ashore to the sand spit. So the question is where do Australians go to have fun on a Saturday? Well it is this beautiful area with the main beach covered by 4x4WD vehicles and temporary camps with many of them setting up on the sand spit as well when the tide went out. So loud music, lots of laughter, bobbing, jet skis, and general noise levels were up there at times!

We bobbed in the clear shallow water and watched the paragliders flying around in the thermals clearly having lots of fun. And the bonus of this was that they captured and uploaded a photo of the scene and you can see Morpheus and Desire sitting side by side behind the spit – so very lucky to have come across this photo online!

After a couple of hours we said our final farewells to Buddy and Helen who were leaving at 4pm. We had a couple of hours snooze in the afternoon as we were heading out at 10pm for a slow overnight passage to cover the 51 miles to Mooloolaba. It appears a strange time to depart but this was to ensure that we were able to cross the bar at slack high water the following morning. We had an uneventful overnight passage and had to slow down at the end to make the timings work…. It was an absolutely lovely moonlit night and we both enjoyed our short passage.

Sunday morning, at precisely 9am, we headed in to cross the bar into Mooloolaba. The entrance to the river was semi-blocked by a prawn boat which was a bit strange – he wasn’t anchored nor was he stooging as his engine was off, so not sure what to make of it all we headed across his bow into the mouth of the river. We went close enough that he could have warned us off if he had wanted to but the guys on the boat seemed to be just going about their usual business. At this point we spotted an overturned and semi-submerged motor boat just the other side of the harbour wall and the Coastguard boat was out in the anchorage. As we continued into the river we were passed by a police launch so not sure what was going on – we have checked out the local ‘news’ but nothing has been reported so far. Anyway, after that bit of excitement, we were pleased to get into our slip here at Mooloolaba without any problems and, once Morphie was safely tied into her slip (with the kind assistance of our neighbour), we checked into the office and then went back to the boat to catch up on some sleep.

Later in the afternoon we tidied up and washed the salt off Morphie before heading into town – coming across the Aquaduck on the way.

We went to the Surf Club as this is one of our favourite places here. Last visit we had won a $50 voucher in the raffle so had some credit to spend – so we had a very reasonable dinner and a few drinks before wandering back to the Wharf where we had a final pontoonie in the Savy Squire which was pretty empty and completely lacking in any ambience. Oh well, never mind, we had had a good evening so we wandered back to the marina for the night.

Monday morning we were up early and did some more cleaning and tidying up before walking to the local fish market so that we could stock up.

We then returned to Morphie, cut the fillets to size and put them in the freezer, before heading out again to the Wharf where we got the bus to the Kawana Mall. First stop the chemist for a month’s supply of medication; then Coles for fresh fruit and vegetables plus a few other staples; then on to the food court for a recuperative milkshake; then the bottle shop for a box of beer; and finally to the taxi rank to return to the marina. Was interesting to see all the Christmas clothing on sale – clearly shirts / jackets / dresses / teeshirts of all shapes and sizes festively decorated appear to be all the rage. Really, it is not even December yet!!! All seemed much too premature for us….

Back on board we stowed all our supplies and had a quiet night in. There has been a lot of rain and some rumbles of thunder but nothing more than that, thankfully!

Today, Tuesday, we are meeting Mike and Karen (SV Island Girl) who live nearby, so that should be fun despite the rainy weather. Wednesday we are heading out of Mooloolaba to continue our journey south. Annoyingly the wind is turning south later in the week so we are going to pull into a marina in Manly for the weekend until the wind direction changes in our favour again and we can continue towards the Gold Coast.

Looks like the interstate border between Queensland and New South Wales is on target to open on 17 December. But there is negative commentary about QLD requiring negative Covid tests at a cost of $145 per person to enter or re-enter the state (taken 72 hours in advance). Covid tests are free and paid for by Medicare to those that are showing symptoms so wonder whether this announcement will mean that people will change their behaviours and claim to be symptomatic. After all, $580 for a family of four is a lot of unexpected cash to find on top of the cost of their trip. This requirement is out of step with other states although Northern Territories have just announced the same deal this morning. Anyway, it is looking good for our January visit to NSW but fingers remain firmly crossed for no further hurdles to be put in our way. Lots of news on international borders reopening but it is only to specific visa holders / students and not every state is agreeing with the Federal Government so still a pretty confused picture over here.

Anyway that’s about it for now. Another Australian cutie and continuing with the Christmas theme, here is a koala suitably attired but not sure he is looking too happy about it LOL.

Bye for now, Jan

Our week in Bundaberg

Sunday morning (7 November) we got busy in preparation for departing from Keppel Bay marina, so we got rid of the rubbish; conducted engine checks; filled up with water; flushed the watermaker; and headed out of the marina towards Great Keppel Island. We were being followed by Lynne and Andrew on SV Mischief. Well, it was horrible, really lumpy and bumpy and we were very grateful to get into the anchorage with our anchor set.

We spotted SV Begonia so got in touch with them – they were out walking – so Maryanne and Kyle came by for a chat after they had finished their trek. It was great to catch up with them after more than a year! We then headed to the beach to have sundowners with quite a big cruising crowd. Was a lot of fun.

Monday morning, at 11am, we picked up our anchor and headed out to sea. It was cloudy, grey and it started raining….so not great conditions….but the sea was completely flat and the wind was blowing pretty hard so we had a really fantastic downwind sail.

We had dinner in the cockpit around 5pm, saw the sun go down on a stormy day, and started our overnight shifts.

Thankfully the rain held off for a while but the lack of sun during the day meant that our batteries needed a bit of a boost so we motorsailed for an hour to top them up. We swapped shifts again and for the three hours between midnight and 3am on Tuesday morning it absolutely poured with rain, there was thunder, lightning strikes on the water and lots of tankers which certainly kept me on my toes. As Richard came on shift at 3am, as though someone had flicked a switch, the rain stopped. Typical! By the time I came up again around 5.30 am the wind had died so we ended up motor sailing towards Bundaberg. As we approached the river entrance the wind picked up to 9 knots so we enjoyed the last bit of our sail before turning into the channel. Of course, as we entered the river, the wind started howling and we had 20+ knots to get into our slip. Thankfully there was assistance on the dock and we made it in safely by around 10ish. Phew! Another 132 mile overnight passage successfully completed.

Our first job was to take the anchor chain off the boat – it had got a bit rusty in places, although still in good order – so we had decided to get it re-galvanised here in Bundaberg. So we sorted that out and took the chain to the chandlery who do a delivery / collection service to the factory. Very interested to see how it comes back. Later in the afternoon we headed to the Cruisers Cove area of the marina for fish and chips and enjoyed the company of Helen and Buddy (SV Desire) who had also done the overnight passage down the coast.

We then headed back to Morphie to catch up on our sleep. We then had a quiet night in, although it wasn’t that restful with torrential rain and thunderstorms all around us.

Wednesday morning Richard headed out to see the stainless guy taking with him the burner caps from our cooker. He left them there and we then had breakfast out in the marina’s Baltimore restaurant. And very nice it was too!

After a bright start, it turned cloudy and grey again and then the heavens opened. So we spent the rest of the day down below hiding from the rain doing some paperwork and generally just lazing around. Richard headed back out to see the guy only to come back with the finished product – amazing job! Very happy customers. We then had another quiet night in.

Thursday it continued to rain so we carried on with admin sort of tasks down below. In the late afternoon we met Buddy and Helen in the Cruisers Cove for sundowners and a few games of UNO – which they had never played before – but quickly got the hang and we had lots of laughs together. Oh yes, and my boat-made smoked mackerel pate went down a treat!

Friday morning we got the call to say that our chain was back in the marina. So we went to the chandlery to collect it – wow it looked good! We then laid it up and down the dock so that we could redo the length markings. Then we rethreaded it through the windlass and back into the anchor locker along with a new shackle.

At this stage we hadn’t finished the job but it started to rain again – with all this no worries about having to clean the salt off the boat LOL. We had a late breakfast out and then spent the rest of the afternoon keeping out of the rain. In the evening we went to the Friday night BBQ at the Cruisers Cove where the marina supply the meat and cruisers bring their own drinks and a plate to share. Was another fun evening with Buddy and Helen and others. And, of course, I completely forgot to take any photos!

Saturday morning Richard was busy splicing the rode to the anchor chain sitting on the edge of the locker. So I started the stainless steel cleaning and polishing avoiding the bow sprit to keep out of his way. Here he is hard at work….

By the time I had done both starboard / port sides back to the ‘gates’ Richard had finished so he did the bow for me. Here is Morphie looking all shiny again.

We then had a late lunch onboard before heading to the Lighthouse Tavern in Burnett Heads. They do a free collection in their minibus so we didn’t even have to walk there and back – result!

We had a nice evening (and used their superfast free wifi to do some more Netflix downloads). But were a bit surprised to find a full-on Christmas office party in swing in one of the areas with all the workers dressed in fancy dress. Seemed a tad early or what LOL?!?

Sunday morning we both carried on with stainless cleaning – this time from the gates back through to the arch and got this done.

We then rested up for a while before tidying up down below and then welcoming Helen and Buddy onboard for sundowners. Another really nice social evening with them.

This morning, Monday, we’re both sitting outside the marina office taking in the nice weather whilst the laundry is getting done.

I’m blogging whilst Richard is catching up with various online content. Since we’ve been sat here we have been joined a couple of times by our “neighbour” who is looking to keep busy as their boat has just been hauled out – her husband is still on board. The sad story is that they hit bottom – hard – in an anchorage called 1770 – and had cracked their catamaran hull / bulkheads both inside and out. Significant damage in that they were taking on water and none of the cupboards now closed. The purpose of the haul was for an insurance assessor to assess the damage. Of course they are liveaboards so she was worried about where they were going to be sleeping tonight or even where they were going to be living whilst the boat is being repaired. Well, we had a chat in the laundry and she has just now returned to confirm that the insurers have written off the boat. An absolute disaster in their first cruising season but it is definitely the right result as they can walk away and start another chapter. Absolutely devastating for them though and she definitely needed some support so glad I could be there to help her talk it through and provide a supportive hug. Our hearts go out to them.

We’ve just had some fish and chips – very naughty but nice – and then we are going to have a quiet night in once we have done our navigation / engine checks etc in preparation for tomorrow’s early morning departure. We are heading towards Fraser Island taking the opportunity to get a little further south before the winds switch again mid week and are hoping to anchor off Kingfisher Resort again and perhaps even a bit of beach time.

In the meantime, we continue to monitor the vaccination rates here in Queensland which are steadily improving and it is looking more likely that the border with NSW will be open for us to visit my family in January. The earlier opening is for people travelling by air only. But things change rapidly so keeping everything flexible crossed. Restrictions about to be introduced for non-vaccinated people are pretty draconian so reckon it is a carrot and stick approach to the situation here, although they haven’t gone so far as Singapore who have just announced that non-vaccinated people will have to pay for their own healthcare if they are taken ill. Will be interesting to see what happens next in Australia as more freedoms are introduced generally.

Anyway, that’s it for now folks. We are continuing to enjoy Queensland and looking forward to returning to our ‘home’ base at the Boatworks towards the end of the month. Take care of each other and lots of love and hugs. Today’s cutie is a Western Pygmy Possum – enjoy!

Jan

Having fun in the Keppels

Friday afternoon and evening (30 October) the wind was howling through the rigging and we were nodding up and down so decided this wasn’t the day to get the dinghy down and go exploring Great Keppel Island after all. So we had a movie night on board.

Saturday morning, after breakfast in the cockpit, Richard spotted a dinghy floating out to sea and realised that it had come off the boat behind us followed by a swimmer in the water who obviously thought they could retrieve it. Although the swimmer had fins on it he wasn’t making any headway into the chop and the other guy on board threw a lifesling out but it missed the mark. This was looking serious, so as fast as we could, we dropped dink and Richard sped off to assist. First stop was the guy in the water – who was so exhausted he need to recover before he could even climb into dink. Then, the guy safely aboard and him now resting in the bow of the dinghy, Richard sped off after the dinghy. Luckily he caught it as it continued to travel quite quickly out to sea. So secured behind, he towed the dinghy back towards their boat – picking up the lifesling on the way – and then depositing them back at their boat. The guy in the water had been in serious trouble and thanked Richard for saving his life! Phew, some worrying moments, but thankfully this international rescue ended well.

After all that excitement, Richard took a while to recover himself, before we headed over to the beach for the afternoon and had a lovely bobbing session in the clear and warm water keeping an eye on Morphie in the anchorage. Was a really nice way to end the day. Back on board we had showers followed by an early night.

Sunday morning we were up very early to weigh anchor and leave Great Keppel Island behind. We had been told by the Keppel Bay Marina that our berth was available at any time so we motored in light airs across a glassed-out sea for a couple of hours and pulled in around 9.30 am.

We slowly headed down the fairway towards our allocated slip to find that, despite assurances, the berth was already occupied so Richard had to do a very quick turn around which he managed really well. At this stage, we were both very relieved that the forecast strong winds hadn’t yet kicked in. We were then reallocated a berth – up by the fishing boats – and got ourselves tied up with some assistance from Andrew (SV Mischief) and Ron (marina staff). We then headed into the office and paid for our berth on a pay five, stay seven, night basis. We also booked our two hour courtesy car slot for Friday morning.

We quickly got some boat jobs done: washed down all the anchor chain with fresh water and renewed some of the chain markers; sluiced out the bilges; reinstalled the chain in the locker and then washed the boat down. Trying to connect to shore power we had some problems but a fisherman on another pedestal was having the same issue so clearly a general one rather than a Morphie specific one. Luckily we got it sorted out and, around 4pm, we headed over to the Capricornia Cruising Yacht Club (CCYC) where we met up with Mark and Marion (SV Zenna) and Andrew and Lynne (SV Mischief). The wind, by now, was howling and storm clouds were threatening with many waves splashing over the docks. Beyond the entrance to the marina we could see significant whitecaps so we were all pretty pleased to be sheltered inside. There was a live band playing which was incredibly loud so conversation was a challenge so we moved slightly further away to join a big table of cruisers and had a really fun evening with even a dance at the end! It turned out to be quite a late night too!

Monday morning we were up very early as we had arranged to meet Lynne and Andrew at 7.30 am for breakfast in The Waterline (the marina’s on-site restaurant). Andrew is currently working from his boat hence the really early start. After a lovely breakfast we headed back to Morphie still feeling pretty weary so just chilled out on our return.

In the afternoon Caitlin and Nick (SV Mahana) came by. Their autopilot course computer had died and they had raised the issue online as supplies of all sorts of goods (particularly from the USA) being shipped into Australia have been severely impacted by the pandemic. We had tried to get some spares from the USA ourselves in the few weeks to be told ‘no can do’ right now. So really felt for them especially as they were quoted the earliest date of arrival as January 2022 – that’s a long time to hand steer!!!! As we actually had a spare on board (kept when we upgraded our electronics in New Zealand) we offered it to them to see if it would be any good – it was compatible with their system so we agreed to part with it. They drove all the way from Bundaberg to pick it up (a four hour trip each way) and, having passed it over, we had a coffee with them before they headed back with their precious cargo. Obviously we were concerned that this might not be the answer to their problem but, have since heard, that it is working really well so very happy it worked out for them.

During the afternoon we had power problems again so turned the wind generator back on and relied on that and solar for the rest of the day. During the evening the wind really picked up and the lines on the dock were straining and we even heeled over at one point – very glad we weren’t out there on anchor! The winds were much stronger than forecast – in the mid 30s – so were pleased we had decided to come into the marina to sit it out.

Tuesday morning we had a late start and got ourselves ready to go out as we were going to Emu Park for the Melbourne Cup. Walking to the bus stop through The Waterline restaurant we were really surprised by how busy it was with lots of fancy outfits and hats – even though there isn’t even a screen here to watch the race – clearly it is an ‘event’ in everyone’s calendar LOL.

Anyway, we met up with Mark and Marion and after a short bus journey headed into The Pine Beach Hotel, known as The Piney. This tavern has the normal Australian set up of pokies / betting booths / TV screens etc. We were very lucky to get a table and had some pub grub for lunch before placing our bets for the race.

We failed to win anything but thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere…. Marion did manage to pick up a third place so she was happy LOL. We then headed back on the bus to the marina and had a pontoonie in The Waterline before saying our farewells. At this point Richard decided it was too early to return to the boat so we ended up going over to the CCYC for yet another pontoonie! Was such a fun day.

Wednesday we got up late and headed out to The Waterline for coffee before walking down the quay to the fish market. We managed to pick up some nice fresh fish for Richard and, for the first time in Australia, I managed to find some smoked mackerel so intend to make some pate with that at some stage…. And that was it for the day.

Thursday I headed out on the bus alone to Yeppoon. First stop was the pharmacy to drop off our prescriptions so that I could collect them later. Then I walked along the promenade – enjoyed watching the kids playing in the Kraken water park – before crossing over to find the hairdressers which was tucked away up an alley and above a fish and chip shop. I was quickly looked after and was very happy with the result of the cut and colour. I then walked back to the pharmacy, collect our medications, popped into the bakers and made my way back to the bus stop to return to the marina.

While I had been in town Richard and been cleaning and, on my return, we sat down and looked at the weather forecast so that we could plan our future anchorages. Well, this was not good news. There are a couple of lows moving around so bringing with them unsettled weather – with lots of rain, strong winds and the chance of thunderstorms.

Hmmmm…..what to do?!? Well, we wanted to get our anchor chain re-galvanised and we know that Bundaberg is the place to do that – which is just an overnight sail from here. So thought that maybe, if we need to sit out more weather, perhaps we should do it there because at least we can tick this job off the list….

In the evening we headed out to Beaches for dinner – this is highly recommended with great reviews so thought it would be really nice. Well, the service was lovely, and the company was great. The food was alright although not outstanding and quite expensive. Never mind, a fun evening had by all.

Friday morning we headed out in the courtesy car into Yeppoon and did some provisioning before returning to Morphie and packing it all away.

Then we started on our long list of things to organise and managed to get booked into Bundaberg for the week from next Tuesday. We also spoke to the company that does the re-galvanisation and they can accommodate us. So that was good news. On a roll, we booked into Sanctuary Cove for Christmas and New Year – having thoroughly enjoyed it last year – and booked a hire car to visit Jamie and his family in New South Wales in January. Fingers crossed! Obviously the border might not open but a ‘covid restrictions’ cancellation comes with no penalty and the deposit is carried forward to our next booking – so no risk. Apparently there is a lack of hire cars in Australia right now and the prices are spiralling, particularly in school holiday periods, so we felt very happy to have got this ticked off the list. We also did some other admin type things as this is the time of year that our annual insurances become due – house, car and yacht – so working our way through renewals of all these policies too. Phew!

In the evening we headed over to the CCYC and met the gang again – Friday night is dinner night there and the volunteers cook for the club. We had a table of nine and, without the live music, being seated on a round table we got the chance to chat. Was another really good evening.

This morning, Saturday, and we’ve stripped everything and done the laundry. We have had lunch out at The Waterline and are now back on board. Engine checks etc to be done later and we’ll have a quiet night in tonight in preparation for our departure tomorrow.

Tomorrow we’ll head over to Great Keppel Island for the night and on Monday we’ll depart for Bundy, expecting to be pulling into the marina around noon on Tuesday (which is slack high tide). The wind could be quite strong but it will mostly be a downwind run so should be fun! Let’s just hope the forecast is correct this time….

So that’s about it for now folks. Nothing much else to say other than we really look forward to having reunions with you all at home in 2022. Take care of each other and stay safe – this pandemic continues to be a serious threat to everyone – so please be careful. Lots of love as always. So today’s cutie is a really beautiful Fairy Wren which can be found throughout Eastern Australia.

Bye for now Jan

Airlie Beach to Great Keppel Island

Wednesday afternoon (20th October) we decided to stay on board for the rest of the day because the conditions quickly deteriored. Then the heavens opened and we had torrential rain and thunderstorms all around but thankfully nothing hit too close. We only saw 37 knots in one squall when we popped our heads up to check all was well.

But, compared to what others endured, this was nothing. Nearby in Shute Harbour they saw 67 knots and boats dragged and bumped into each other with some damage sustained. Check out this poor ‘tinny’ tender which got squished under its mother ship’s stern as she violently nodded up and down in the swell. Further south suffered too with winds in Mackay so fierce that planes were flipped over at the airport and there were record-breaking hailstones at 16cm which were named ‘widow makers’ by pundits. Phew, storm season in Queensland is dramatic or what?!?

Thursday morning it was still muggy and stormy but, thankfully, storms were a reducing threat. We headed out for some coffee and a cake – checking out the fuel dock at the same time from the promenade cafe – before picking up our courtesy vehicle, which turned out to be a large UTE.

Firstly we drove to Cannonvale stopping at the bottle shop; butchers; bakers and finally the supermarket for fresh fruit and vegetables. And then round the corner to Coles for our pre-ordered ‘click and collect’ order. We returned back to the marina, found a cart, and dragged it to down to our dock and then onto Morphie. We then unpacked and stowed all our goodies. It was so hot we both felt absolutely exhausted and drained after all this effort so spent the rest of the day down below chilling out.

Friday we had coffee and cake on the way to the pool and Richard made friends with the smallest ghekko ever! So cute.

It was a lovely sunny day for a change – things just look so much better without the ominous clouds!

We then walked to the resort and got ourselves settled down on a couple of sunbeds and that was it for the day, although I did make the most of the pool-side spa and treated myself to an absolutely amazing back massage! We were not interested – or inspired enough – to consider joining in with the complimentary yoga class on the pier LOL. And we had fun watching the blue helicopter that landed at the end of the marina wall – presumably another superyacht owner / charterer has arrived?!? Before we returned to Morphie for the night we had showers in the hotel complex and then, back onboard, we had a quiet night in.

Saturday, on another cloudy, hot and steamy day, we had an early start and treated ourselves to breakfast out in another marina cafe (more like a small grocery store really). We then walked to the pool where we stayed until around 2pm.

We then headed back to Morphie to do some jobs in preparation for our departure on Sunday. The showers were busy at the resort so we used the marina ones this time on the way back. On board, we stripped everything and got the laundry together, packed an esky with sundowner and dinner ingredients, and then headed to the Ocean Club. We put all the washing on in the laundry and then headed upstairs to the sun deck and got ourselves settled in. Again, we were the only people there – not sure why people don’t use this facility much, but definitely not complaining! I put the sausages on the BBQ and started downloading more Netflix content before returning to the laundry to move the washing into the driers. By this time the sausages were done so we had our supper. Laundry and downloads finished we then returned to Morphie for an early night.

Sunday we were up at a reasonable time and Richard did engine checks; removed the canvas; washed the boat down; topped up the water; flushed the watermaker; rinsed fresh water through the bilges; and topped up the coolant. I got busy stowing everything down below ready for going back to sea and also checked out our route / tide times etc. At 11am we slipped away from the dock and headed to the fuel dock. Richard started refuelling whilst I returned the security gate keys and got rid of the rubbish. Back on board we departed around 11.30 am and headed out towards Lindeman Island.

The winds were light and it was a downwind run so we poled out the genoa and went wing-on-wing for the 31 mile trip to our anchorage.

Was a really good trip and we had anchor down by 5.30 pm. Such a shame to see another abandoned resort ashore – this time it was a Club Med facility. We had a quiet night on board enjoying being back on anchor yet again.

Monday we were up early and by 6.20 am we had weighed anchor for the sail to Keswick Island 39 miles further south. The wind was slight with glassed out seas but the wind kicked in as promised and gave us a 60-90 degree angle on the wind which Morphie absolutely just loves…. At one point we were doing 7.4 knots in only 13 knots of breeze under a full main and genoa. It was the most fantastic sailing day, just perfect!

By 1.20pm we had our anchor down at Keswick Island with lots of chain out as it was pretty deep – luckily it was pretty quiet so plenty of swinging room available. We then had a movie night before turning in early in preparation for our departure the following morning.

Tuesday, by 5.20 am, we had picked up our anchor and were motoring out in flat seas to a grim looking day although the sun managed to rise through the dark and threatening clouds around us.

The wind was supposed to be from the north east – the same as the day before – except it wasn’t. Instead it was on the nose….and the wind built….and the seas built….so we had to resort to motor sailing to maintain momentum as we kept getting stopped dead by waves hitting us on the bow. And the clouds were ever more threatening with some nasty rain squalls around so we had the radar on to check for storm cells around us just in case we needed to divert.

The wind was so fickle we couldn’t hold the genoa at the much too-tight angle of 30 degrees so we motor sailed along with full main and staysail instead which added a bit to our speed. We managed to get across the shipping lines without any problems spotting one tanker leaving crossing our bow and one arriving to cross our stern with about 20 others anchored off waiting to be loaded with coal. Quite fun to listen to the helicopter on the VHF as he gives instructions to the captains of when he is going to drop pilots / officials off.

Of course, the sea continued to build, we hit some adverse current, and it was very bouncy to say the least. Such a contrast to the day before! But we persevered and managed to arrive at Middle Percy Island by 4.40 pm which wasn’t too bad considering we had covered almost 67 miles. We had planned to go to Rescue Bay – which is protected from the forecast northerly winds – but, as the wind was now due east, we headed into West Bay instead and found a good spot and anchored for the night at the back of the fleet.

Wednesday, we awoke to a lovely sunny day with fickle winds in terms of both strength and direction so we decided to stay put. I started blogging – although the spotty internet was not good enough to upload / publish what I had done – whilst Richard kept busy with boat jobs. He cleaned out the shower drain box; worked the Y-valves; and removed the old burner caps on the Force 10 cooker as they are pitted and we want to buy some new ones; he also cleaned and flushed through the waste pipes from the sink to the overboard discharge. Very industrious or what?!? Later on we headed out in dink to explore the creek as it was just after high tide – last time we had walked this area. We then went ashore to the A-frame and chatted to some cruisers over sundowners. A new addition to the memorabilia left behind by cruisers was this solar powered light, with built in AIS, which are normally attached to drift nets to aid mariners regarding their position and obviously found floating off somewhere by Phoenix 9. Had been a lovely day.

Thursday morning we had a leisurely breakfast and then, at 10 am, we picked up anchor for an overnight sail of 110 miles to Great Keppel Island. We motor sailed, initially, in light airs and by noon we were sailing along at 60 degrees to the wind with full main and genoa deployed. By 3pm the chop in the sea had built which was slowing us down but we continued on and enjoyed dinner together in the cockpit and a lovely sunset before going into our overnight shifts and yes it gets chilly when the sun goes down LOL.

During my first shift the winds just died….so we ended up motor sailing yet again….sigh. Not much traffic as we passed the Shoalwater Military Exercise Exclusion Zone other than one tanker running parallel for a while. By 9pm the wind had shifted and was now off our port quarter so we put the main away, engine off, and ran downwind under the genoa alone. At midnight the wind picked up and we were going really well – unfortunately too well – as our estimated arrival time was now during the night! So around 1am on Friday morning we reduced sail to slow down as the wind continued to build. We were both up again by 5.30 am as we were approaching the narrow and shallow cut between islands so we enjoyed a lovely sunrise together too.

By 6.50 am this morning we had our anchor down on the south side of Great Keppel Island where we are going to shelter from the northerly winds. We both felt a bit sleep deprived as the strong swells had made the journey pretty bouncy for the last six hours or so….. So we are now just recovering and relaxing and will go ashore to explore the beach later.

Next week there are some feisty winds forecast so we have booked into Keppel Bay Marina (Yeppoon) on Sunday to sit them out there. A couple of other boats we know also have the same plans so expecting some socialising as well as really important things like getting a hair cut LOL.

Nothing to report otherwise really – although Queensland have announced that they will open their borders to New South Wales on 17 December – so fingers crossed that we can go visit my nephew and his family in January for the school holidays again. But this ‘opening’ depends upon a certain percentage of QLD residents being vaccinated. Being cynical we think that the border opening ‘news’ was the proverbial carrot to encourage people to get jabbed as Queensland are seriously lagging behind other states. But only time will tell! Anyway, fingers and all things flexible crossed for another family reunion in early 2022.

Anyway, that’s about it for now, we hope you are all safe and well. Take care of each other – sending love and hugs. Today’s Australian cuties are some kangaroos as it has been a while. Enjoy.

Bye for now, Jan

Having fun in Airlie Beach

Wednesday (13 October) we dropped our marine parks mooring ball and headed out towards Airlie beach inside the passage alongside Daydream Island which gave us a better sailing angle across the top. We sailed along slowly and approached the marina by which time they gave us our allocated berth so we put the sails away and spent time stooging around getting our lines and fenders ready. The anchorage outside of the marina was very choppy with boats rocking and rolling around so we were pleased to pull inside the walls.

We got ourselves settled into our berth and Richard washed Morphie down while I sorted out all the paperwork we needed to take with us. We then had quick showers and took ourselves off to Airlie. We had a list of things to do – doctors, get our prescriptions filled, ATM, and a bit of shopping. We managed to achieve all those and, to our complete surprise, the pharmacy actually had some repeat prescriptions waiting for us to collect (as they promised back in July) so we were now good to go for about three months or so.

On our travels we came across a nest of baby swifts waiting to be fed – not sure it is ideal to build a nest under the roof of a shop on top of a security light but guess it will just have to do and at least it is protected from the rain LOL.

Anyway, all jobs completed, we headed back to the marina and had a quiet night in.

Thursday morning we were up early and got on with some boat jobs – Richard did a few repairs like fixing the outboard motor mount which resides on the rail; fixed some lights in the heads; and checked engine oil levels; whilst I defrosted the freezer (which was pretty iced up). Then Richard re-gassed the freezer and we got it up and running again quickly. At this point I went off to the laundry only to find a big queue – of the five machines only three were working – and there were two ladies (each with three loads) in front of me. But there were people turning up after me so I sat it out and waited not wanting to relinquish my place in the queue. While I was away Richard cleaned the boat down below. Finally after a few hours I returned and we relaxed on board for a little while. At 5pm we headed to the Ocean Club and met up with Lynne and Andrew from SV Mischief and we had a BBQ on the sun deck. It was lovely to catch up with them again.

Friday morning was Richard’s 64th birthday.

To start the day off right we headed again to the sun deck at the Ocean Club and Lynne and I cooked a bacon and egg breakfast on the BBQ for the lads. We even tried out the complimentary bean-to-cup coffee machine which was very nice. Lynne and Andrew then headed off as they had lots to do before departing from the marina in the morning – we spent a few hours doing downloads in the Ocean Club’s ‘business lounge’ which had surprisingly fast wifi so we made the most of it. In the evening we headed out into town and to La Tabella Trattoria for dinner. First, though, we had a drink in the Pub next door which was manically busy before going to our table in the restaurant.

Our table in the restaurant was on the pavement overlooking the shoreline – very nice.

We really enjoyed our dinner and even had three courses – although, have to say, the meal could have done with being a bit hotter. But the deserts were amazing, the service was very good and the wine delicious – with thanks to Carolyn and Ron for their generous contribution to Richard’s birthday celebrations. We stayed put until the restaurant closed around 9pm (as people in Australia eat ridiculously early with dinner service often starting at 5pm).

We then walked down the street looking for a place to have a night cap – the Pub remained very busy and we weren’t that impressed by their live music that evening. We came across this steakhouse / bar called KCs which also had live music so we popped in there – it was pretty busy with a relatively older crowd – and we found a seat and listened. The guy was great, very versatile with a really good voice. We had a lot of fun people watching and I even got up and danced a few times! Around midnight we returned to Morphie….

Saturday morning we headed over to the next pier to help SV Mischief cast off.

They were going to the fuel dock so we climbed on board to help them with that manoeuvre only to find that the boat on the fuel dock was still sitting there…so we stooged….and then we were told that a very large superyacht was going to be leaving so could we keep clear so we moved around the corner out of the way and carried on stooging. After he had left we pulled back around to the fuel dock only to find a motorboat had slipped onto it quickly despite us shouting at him that we were next in line! So we had to change all the lines over and pull into another fuel dock on the other side of the marina which, because of the wind direction, was actually going to be quite difficult to depart from so not a happy crew! Lynne did a brilliant job on the helm despite all this going on around her but was definitely not happy when the motorboat captain came over and apologised to Andrew but not her!

After they were refuelled we helped them off the dock and then walked up to the Garden Bar and Bistro. The intention had been to have breakfast out but, by now, it was 12.30 pm and we were starving so decided to have lunch….and a hair of the dog…. And that was where we stayed for the rest of the afternoon as Richard declared it his birthday weekend and we went a bit crazy! Great food and good fun but straight to bed once we got back onboard LOL.

Sunday we had planned to go to the pool but we were both a little under the weather – no sympathy, completely self-inflicted – so decided to have a recovery day on board. And so we just relaxed, read books, watched movies and literally did nothing.

Monday we headed to the Coral Sea Resort along the boardwalk.

It was pretty busy when we got there but we were lucky to get sunbeds under the slatted cover so enjoyed a lovely day by the pool. We did have some lunch but this was decidedly expensive and below average so won’t be eating there again! The winds had picked up significantly during the day and I watched one boat in the anchorage which I was sure was dragging….later on, the owners came back on board, and immediately picked up anchor and reset, so guess I was right! The anchorage was looking particularly rough and nasty again.

Later in the afternoon the heavens opened so we took to the bar and had a drink before packing up and returning to Morphie for another quiet night in.

Tuesday morning we headed to the resort and pool again and enjoyed another lovely day relaxing and bobbing.

On the way back – around 4pm as forecast – the skies darkened and the storm clouds built up.

We ducked into Sorrento to get some shelter and sat out the thunderstorm there – didn’t seem that close although the thunder was so loud it did make me jump every time…. So we had to have a selfie (ignore my post-swimming hairdo LOL).

Check out these holidaymakers on their balcony during the storm!

Eventually we returned to Morphie and had another quiet night down below. At this point we picked up the news that a charter catamaran had been hit by lightning. These boats are moored on balls just outside the marina entrance when not on charter. So very very close to us! Phew….

This morning, Wednesday, and there is a severe weather warning about dangerous thunderstorms all day with ‘gorilla’ hail forecast for the whole of the coast. It is incredibly hot and humid! So people are being warned to stay undercover and to get their cars out of the open as this type of hail is potentially life-threatening and certainly damaging for property. So we have decided to stay on board today just in case one of these storms does actually come through this area. We had our first thunderstorm at 7am this morning, there has been the odd sharp rain squall come through. The clouds are building and it is clearly very unstable out there right now as the wind has picked up and we can hear it whistling through the rigging. Fingers crossed that these storms don’t come too close!

Tomorrow we have a marina courtesy car for two hours so we are going to be doing a provisioning run as we plan to leave here on Sunday to continue south. There is, however, the chance of some strong winds from the wrong direction on Tuesday so we’ll probably have to just sit that out on anchor somewhere….. We are enjoying our time in Coral Sea Marina and definitely making the most of the lovely facilities here and feel relieved that this stormy weather has come through whilst here and not out on anchor.

To keep Morphie legal in Australia, we have just extended our Australian Border Force control permit for the final period, so she can remain here until October 2022 – which is the maximum time allowed. So, at that point, we either have to import her to continue cruising in Australia (5% import duty + 10% GST) or leave the country. Boats have already left to go to Indonesia (which is now open) or further afield (such as the Maldives) but the cyclone season is almost upon us and we certainly don’t fancy going to a third-world country (who still have Covid problems). So, in these uncertain times, we know that our circumnavigation will be effectively coming to an end here in the southern hemisphere. This is sad but inevitable, especially after Richard’s heart attack and both of us now needing to have access to regular medication and check-ups. We continue to hope that New Zealand will open its borders again so we could return there and bumble around the nearby islands for a while – but that is looking increasingly unlikely for cruising yachts in the near future. We had to inform our yacht insurance company of our cruising plans for the next year (in preparation for a November renewal) so we have declared the East Coast of Australia again. We are now closer to the point of having to make a decision about what we are going to do going forward. The options are limited and we just have to go through the pros and cons of each approach and adapt them as more information becomes available.

Anyway, enough of all that, hope you are all well and sending lots of love and hugs. So today’s Australian cutie is a baby wombat and mum….just to finish on a smile.

Bye for now, Jan

Exploring the Whitsunday Islands

Wednesday (6 October) we left our overnight mooring ball at Stonehaven Bay, Hook Island, and moved around to Butterfly Bay on the north coast. This is a no-anchoring zone so we picked up another mooring ball and were settled by lunchtime having done a huge passage of 4.25 miles LOL. And, as anticipated, we no longer had any phone / internet coverage so I was glad to have blogged before we left.

Sitting there quietly bobbing on our anchor ball we had a turtle visitation which was lovely.

Then we watched three sea eagles swooping and swirling and fighting in the sky then suddenly one plummeted into the water. The sea eagle started trying to get aloft but was obviously water logged and couldn’t manage it. So we started to get the dinghy ready to go into the water to attempt a rescue. At this point another dinghy came out trying to help with a net but then, luckily, a marine parks landing craft came into the bay and took over the rescue. He lowered his ramp into the water near the sea eagle but it started to swim away clearly frightened. Thankfully the marina parks guys were determined to get him to safety and eventually they had him on the boat with a blanket over his head to calm him before they took him off to dry land. Was very relieved for the poor bird!

During all this excitement, we were being bothered by March flies (large horseflies) who are blood suckers with a prominent proboscis. Yuck! Very annoying (and painful when they get you) so we spent much of the time trying to keep them away. Later on, we decided not to bother snorkelling so headed out for a bit of a dinghy explore instead, enjoyed another turtle visitation, checked out a rather large neighbour and even spotted some wild mountain goats. Back on board we had a movie night although it did get a bit rolly overnight.

Thursday morning it would have been Mum’s 91st birthday – she was such a big part of our lives we both continue to miss her a lot. RIP Mum, love you so much.

At 9.30 am having had a leisurely breakfast in the cockpit, we headed back around the corner to Black Island and were lucky enough to find a vacant mooring ball. So we dropped dink and headed over to explore One Foot Island first. Quite spectacular scenery in this part of the world…..

Afterwards we headed off to explore Black Island.

By this time we had been slightly longer than the two hour limit on the mooring ball so we quickly got ourselves back on board and dropped the ball for someone else to enjoy this area. Motoring away in very light airs we decided to continue down the west coast of Hook Island and came across Cave’s Cove which had a single mooring ball free for the night. Excellent! This has to be one of our favourite spots we have found this season….just beautiful….

Later on we decided to go ashore to our own private beach for sundowners but found the way blocked by rocks with no easy access – so we headed further down the bay to the other small beach near the trawler behind us but this was blocked too. Oh well, never mind. The people on MV Turtle waved at us and we headed over to say hi – and they then invited us on board for sundowners. As we had supplies with us we gratefully accepted and had a really nice few hours with them. A fun time had by all.

Friday morning we left Cave’s Cove and travelled through the Hook Passage which goes between the bottom of Hook Island and the top of Whitsunday Island. We had timed this to go through one hour before high tide so there was some current / overfalls and eddies at the exit but nothing too bad or uncomfortable. We then worked our way down the east coast of Whitsunday Island and pulled into Tongue Point. SV Island Girl were already in the bay so on our way ashore we went by their boat to say hello.

Going ashore we had to navigate some rocks on the beach as the tide was falling. We then made the trek up the 360 steps to the Hill Inlet Lookout and were the only people there – absolutely stunning and well worth the trip although my legs probably wouldn’t agree LOL.

We then returned to dink who by now, was even harder aground than when we left so had to navigate even more rocks to get back out into the bay passing through the navigational withies very slowly as it was getting shallower by the minute. Thankfully we made it out and back to Morphie for another quiet night on board.

Saturday we left Tongue Point and went down to Whitehaven Beach passing close to Hill Inlet enroute. We had a lovely time sunbathing, people watching and bobbing at Whitehaven before then inviting Mike, Karen and Dudley (yes Dudley not Douglas as I reported last blog – oops!) on board for sundowners. Had another lovely evening with them.

Sunday we spotted someone departing their mooring ball at Chalkies over on Haslewood Island (where we had hoped to have visited yesterday) so we quickly picked up anchor and headed over. Annoyingly we were chased down by a charter catamaran who drove his boat hard and fast so won the race and took the ball – so we stooged around for a little while to see if anyone else would leave – and after about 15 minutes we managed to snaffle a ball. Was very happy as this is not a good anchoring spot. Funnily enough our mooring ball did not have a time limit on it and, checking out the boats around us, it was clear that they were staying for 24 hours at a time. So we decided to do the same….

In the afternoon we headed ashore and the family from the catamaran – who were on the beach when we arrived – quickly departed. Think they might have been a bit embarrassed by their behaviour earlier….. So we had the beach pretty much to ourselves. The water was a bit warmer than the day before and we enjoyed a bobbing afternoon ashore. We didn’t realise that the sand flies were out and about until we got back to find we had both been bitten…oh well, never mind…. Oh yes, as we left the beach, the catamaran family returned to play – obviously trying to avoid us LOL. We had had an absolutely lovely day.

Monday morning we timed our trip through the Solway Passage which runs between Whitsunday Island and Haslewood Island – so were under way early at 7.40 am to get the best conditions through this area which can be a bit tricky if you get it wrong. Thankfully all good for us this time although continue to be surprised by these swirling waters as we come through them. As we came through the Passage we spotted a large trawler Rous Explorer hard aground on the rocks – oops! The chart here is quite detailed so obviously they got caught out either by a tide or wind change. Hopefully they were OK as we didn’t hear any urgent call outs on the VHF.

We arrived into Turtle Bay at the south end of Whitehaven Island and enjoyed the scenery. We had planned to go ashore in the afternoon but neither of us felt like it so we just had a lazy day on board and used the opportunity to put the phone up the mast to get some internet coverage after a few days offline. Later on we were joined by a few other boats but there was plenty of room in this wide-open bay. We then had a quiet night on board.

This morning, Tuesday, we picked up anchor and came around Hamilton and Dent Islands towards the mainland, picking up a mooring ball at a little bay on South Molle Island. There is a scrubby beach ashore so we are not planning on exploring – tonight’s stop was really just to stage for our return to the Coral Sea Marina tomorrow morning. So having a relaxing day aboard.

So that’s about it from us for the moment. We are looking forward to some marina time in Airlie Beach over the next 10 days or so. It’s Richard’s birthday on Friday so we have booked a table in a nice Italian restaurant to celebrate his 64th trip around the sun. We hope that everyone remains safe and well and looks after themselves. We love you and miss you all. So to make you smile here is this week’s Australian cutie, a dingo puppy. Bye for now

Jan

Magnetic Island, Cape Gloucester and Hook Island

Thursday (30 September) morning, after another rocking and rolling sort of night onboard, the winds and swells finally abated and it became much more comfortable. So we took the opportunity to go ashore, to get rid of our rubbish, and hoped to treat ourselves to some coffee and a piece of cake. But the cafes were closing (it was around 2pm) so we ended up having lunch at the tavern instead.

The food was average at best – which was a shame – so we walked to the end of the road to purchase ice creams and enjoyed sitting on the foreshore whilst we devoured them.

Whilst we were out we checked out the latest Queensland Covid contact tracing list as some had just been published for Townsville – luckily we had not been to any of the establishments at the times / dates listed. Phew! We then returned to Morphie checking out our neighbours before settling down to a movie night on board.

Friday we were preparing to leave Magnetic Island so Richard did engine checks while I got the passage plan saved into the plotter. And we both tidied the boat up ready for an overnight run, including pre-cooking our evening meal. And before you ask, whatever happened to our resolution never to go on a passage on a Friday?!? Not sure we even thought about it to be honest LOL.

It was cloudy and drizzly day with very little wind so, as we had to motor anyway, we decided to make water to start with so got that running while the engine was warming up. We picked up anchor at 10.15 am and headed south toward Cape Gloucester.

At lunchtime we had a couple of ships running parallel with us but they were of no concern as shipping lanes are well defined on this part of the coast and we were not planning anything other than crossing them at various points of the journey. At 2pm we turned the watermaker off and by 5pm we were eating dinner in the cockpit. Just before 6pm the sun went down and gave us a glorious red sky which mingled with some fires burning on the mainland – obviously controlled burns rather than anything more sinister.

We then started our overnight three-hourly shifts with me taking the first 6-9pm. After the sun had gone down it was an intense black night with no star cover and, suddenly, I’ve got the company of four prawn boats. They go fast, go slow, change direction at any time and are lit up so brightly you can’t see their navigation lights and, of course, they don’t have AIS so you can’t track them. So I started to track them via radar and was doing OK until I got a “dangerous radar target warning alarm” of a potential collision as one of the boats turned towards me so I called Richard to help me. Suffice to say he wasn’t impressed that I needed assistance! Anyway, eventually the danger passed with a couple passing ahead of us and a couple passing behind. Phew…. Was glad when that shift was over.

Richard then had an uneventful few hours and I came back on shift just as we approached Abbot Point which is a major coal loading depot. I had been expecting this to be quiet at night – but it was clearly fully operational with six ships sitting at anchor with lots of lights on waiting for their turn with one being filled up on the wharf. AIS is definitely my friend in these circumstances as I was able to keep an eye on them all (including the two tug boats) and cross the shipping channel without any problems. Made for an interesting shift! To get the idea of the scale of this operation, check out this picture I found online.

By the time I came back on shift again we were approaching Cape Gloucester on a completely flat and calm sea and had anchor down by 6.20 am on Saturday having covered 111 miles.

Once secure we went down below, got cleaned up, and caught up on our sleep for a few hours. In the afternoon we headed ashore to the Cape Gloucester Eco Resort and had a couple of drinks and listened to the songster.

We could look out to sea to watch Morphie at anchor so was quite chilled. Then, like a switch had been thrown, the wind picked up and the swell started and Morphie started nodding viciously.

Well, we had had a couple of drinks so we weren’t going to think about moving on, so looked like we have another potentially uncomfortable night ahead. Oh well, never mind. But Morphie was holding her own on anchor so we decided to stay out and enjoyed the next act before the final act, who was the best of them all. So was a lovely afternoon.

We then headed back to Morphie and got back on board as quickly as we could and got dink straight back onto the arch as we could see him going under the stern in the mayhem. But, funnily enough, in the cockpit the movement wasn’t anywhere near as bad as we had anticipated from shore and we were actually happy to stay put. As there were no other boats around we put out more anchor chain to keep us secure and settled down. By the time the sun went down the sea had calmed, the wind had died, and it was back to a glassed-out anchorage again. So we had a lovely night’s sleep after all.

We awoke on Sunday just as the rocking and rolling started again so we decided to move on and picked up anchor and motored around Shag Islet and into the Gloucester Passage where there were other boats sheltering from the conditions. We decided we would stay in this protected spot too so made sure we were out of the channel and dropped our hook – having travelled a huge 1.82 miles. As we started to anchor we spotted another Island Packet yacht in the anchorage – SV Island Girl an IP 380 – whom we had met in Great Keppel Island on our way north. They were actually also in Townsville at the same time as us but had gone on a road trip so we never caught up with them there. We got ourselves settled in and Mike and Karen came by to say hi – so we arranged to go to Montes resort for lunch to have a catch up with them later.

So just before 1pm we headed over to Montes in dink and caught up with them in the bar – we had some cold plates for lunch and had a really social afternoon. Was really lovely. Back on board for a movie night and the anchorage was so calm it was like being tied into a marina so we had a very good sleep.

Monday morning we headed back (in dink) to the Cape Gloucester resort to get rid of some rubbish and have a coffee. We were very surprised, particularly as it was a Bank Holiday, to find both Montes and Cape Gloucester closed for the day! Oh well, no coffee for us, but at least we disposed of our trash.

In the afternoon we headed ashore to the nearby beach to clean dink and planned to have sundowners with Mike and Karen. Dink got the spa treatment, we even polished him off with a UV Protector spray. We had just finished when Mike, Karen and Douglas the dog came ashore to meet us. By now the horseflies were buzzing around, being incredibly annoying and I got bitten a couple of times – so we decided it would be more comfortable onboard so decamped back to SV Island Girl for sundowners (and doggie cuddles) instead. Had been another nice day.

Tuesday morning, at 7 am, we were picking up our anchor and motor sailing under genoa downwind whilst we made water. SV Island Girl followed us out and started to sail – trying out lots of different sail configurations to get up some speed in the very light airs – and here is a picture of them wing-on-wing behind us.

At 10 am we turned the watermaker off, turned off the motor and sailed along with the main and the genoa as the wind – although still very light – had switched so we were now on a nice beam reach. We went slowly along and enjoyed the ride. By 1pm we had picked up a marine national parks mooring ball in Stonehaven Bay, Hook Island, having sailed 26 miles. The anchorage is beautiful with boulders coming out of the abundant growth – completely deserted, nothing here, but just lovely.

We enjoyed our afternoon in the cockpit watching the mooring ball shenanigans of the charter boats as they started to fill up the anchorage later in the afternoon. We were also very surprised to see people snorkelling along the shore at 5pm – that’s shark activity time here in Australia – thankfully they came back with all their arms and legs intact LOL. We sat on the coach roof for an hour or so at the end of the day so that we could really enjoy the spectacular sunset before dinner and another movie night.

This morning, Wednesday, we remain at Stonehaven checking out our new very large neighbour with all the toys….

We are thinking about where to go next but, as we don’t expect to get internet coverage in our next anchorages, I am making the most of a reasonable signal here to blog before we move on later today. Looking forward to exploring more secluded and beautiful anchorages over the next week or so before we return to the fancy Coral Sea Marina in Airlie Beach for doctors / prescriptions and to celebrate Richard’s birthday!

So there was some news in Australia this week with Scott Morrison announcing that the international borders will reopen in November – but only for those states that are 80% vaccinated – and, the bit that was missing from much of the news coverage was that the borders are only reopening for Australian residents / citizens with home quarantine now allowed for the double vaccinated (rather than the compulsory hotel quarantine that is the regime at the moment).

So the situation becomes more confused as time passes rather than real clarity. So, trying to make sense of the new rules, it means we can visit my nephew in New South Wales but are not allowed to cross the interstate border to return to Morphie in Queensland. My nephew is not allowed to visit us in Queensland but he will be able to fly to and from the UK (from Sydney). We can fly to the UK but are not allowed to return to Australia. There are elections coming up here so guess many of these ‘announcements’ may actually be political sound bites….. Anyway, enough of all that, hope all our friends and family are safe and well and here is an Australian cutie to make you smile.

Bye for now, Jan

Exploring Townsville and Rugby!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bye for now, Jan