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