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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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