Life aboard Morpheus in Coomera

Wednesday afternoon having had a reasonably long day having moved Morphie to the works yard, we sat in the cockpit up on the hard chilling out while we waited for the beer to cool down in the ice box. The Australian neighbours next door shouted up and said that they always had sundowners in the yard at 5pm so why didn’t we join them? So we took a beer downstairs and, keeping a decent distance, we got questioned over our return to Australia. They particularly wanted to know why we had not been quarantined on arrival for 14 days. We explained that our arrival predated this policy and, when we travelled, although the virus existed there were very few known cases in the UK. The actual WHO pandemic announcement occurred as we arrived in Australia. That seemed to placate them and we had a nice evening with a number of other cruisers.

Thursday morning we prioritised provisioning over boat jobs as the news continued to deteriorate and we knew that there had already been fights in supermarkets over basic supplies. The Boatworks is an amazing place as they offer complimentary trucks and cars to liveaboards for three hourly bookable slots, all for the cost of a few dollars in the kitty towards petrol.

We quickly headed out to the first shop – a newly-opened large Aldi – but the pickings were very disappointing and there were lots of empty shelves. We were only looking for dried and canned food (in the absence of any refrigeration whilst on the hard) but even that was hard to find. We did manage to buy a single bag of pasta and rice but that was about it. So we headed off to another one – this time a Woolworths in the new smart Westfield mall . This was much better stocked and we managed to get some basic provisioning done albeit with a few exceptions. Not very exciting stuff but would keep us alive in an emergency. We were, however, delighted to find canned Fray Bentos pies which were definitely a blast from our childhoods LOL. We also got one of our gas bottles filled with LPG whilst we were on our travels.

In the late afternoon we headed down to the yard and, this time, no one joined us. The night before we had heard some mutterings about the self-isolation issue and clearly that had taken hold so we decided that we wouldn’t bother again. We had deliberately avoided the BBQ area – despite being invited – as it was not a big enough space to keep a decent distance so felt that we had been acting responsibly. Oh well, never mind.

Friday morning and the detailing guys turned up as they had got ahead of their schedule. We worked down below cleaning the fibreglass, polishing the wood and generally tidying up. The boat is still a mess but looking better each day LOL. The end result was that Morphie’s hull looked really shiny – very pleased with the job that they did. In the late afternoon we did sundowners in the cockpit after a busy day and had an early night after watching some TV series we had recorded. Oh yes, and the sail locker returned our sails, all checked and re-stitched where necessary. Great service from Evolution Sails.

Saturday morning and we were off out again. This time it meant that Richard could visit his favourite hardware store Bunnings where we successfully purchased some power tools – another small hand-held vacuum cleaner (the other one had died) and a buffer/polisher. The price for the hull was OK but the subsequent quote for the topsides was for more than we wanted to spend. After some debate we decided to invest in materials and machines instead so that we can do it ourselves. Whilst out we filled up some of our diesel cans and visited another supermarket Coles. This was surprisingly well stocked and we managed to get most things left on our list.

Whilst I tried to find a place to stash all these stores, Richard started anti-fouling the hull. I continued cleaning down below and also checked our instruments were working etc. After a hard day’s work we enjoyed sundowners in the cockpit and were surprised by how many cruisers were now congregating in the yard for a chat – we, however, decided not to join in and stayed in splendid isolation.

Sunday morning and Richard was doing a second coat on the waterline, the leading edge and had taken the bow thruster propeller out for cleaning, which he reinstalled later once the tunnel had been painted and dried. He also worked all the thru holes. What a great job he did! In the afternoon we chilled out and enjoyed a quiet evening down below as it was raining.

Monday morning and we were doing final jobs before splashing. I was doing the laundry plus checking out all the cleaning materials we had on board. Armed with a list I headed to the on-site chandlery and managed to get everything I needed. By this time Morphie’s topsides were a mess with our coming and goings on top of all the dust and dirt of the works yard. Never mind, she’ll get a good clean up soon! Here she is all ready for splashing.

Tuesday morning and I headed to the office to pay our bill – as per usual, ‘no cash, no splash’. By this time the Covid-19 advice had taken another serious turn with the FCO advising UK nationals to return home if they could – which was actually about a week too late with most of the transit hub airports closing their doors and prices for those flights left available being seriously uplifted. This news didn’t concern us as we had already got agreement to stay but we did double check once again with our travel insurance and, yes, they remained happy. This was then followed by both New Zealand and the UK locking down. The advice in Australia toughened up with cafes and restaurants only allowed to offer take-out services and bans on group activities / weddings / gyms etc. Boatworks, at this time of significant business uncertainty amazed us with their generosity to their staff as we saw boxes of free sandwiches / cakes / pasties delivered to both staff and trades from the on-site restaurant. This generosity was also surprisingly extended to us! They announced that all time on the hard from the 19 March onwards plus time on the dock would be 50% off. So when they could have doubled their fees as they had us by the “short and curlies” they heavily discounted their services. We can certainly see why this place has so many loyal and regular customers.

As the virus situation was becoming more and more unpredictable we decided that, once splashed, we would remain here in the marina tied to the dock. The individual states in Australia had, by now, introduced border controls and as well as social distancing they have requested that nobody travels unnecessarily. If you do have to cross a border – for example we would have to cross from Queensland to New South Wales if we wanted to get to Sydney – then there is a 14 day compulsory quarantine period in place. Sailing around, even within the state, is non-essential travel in our eyes so we paid up to stay here until the end of April.

Having paid the bill, by 11 am Morphie was on her way to be splashed.

She was eased into the water – we quickly checked our thru hulls then started the engine, motored around to our slip and got tied up. We got the fridge and freezer up and running – with the fridge needing a little bit of gas to help it – and by 2pm we were back on the road. This time we were looking for meat and fish. We headed to Coles again as the last visit there had been so successful and were surprised that we were able to get pretty much everything we wanted. We also stopped by the adjacent liquor store and got supplies from them as well. Our habits have definitely changed though as we now clean car interiors before we set off and clean handles of shopping trolleys. When we have to touch anything – like the keypad at the checkout – we immediately sanitise. We are taking this virus seriously and ensure that we keep distant from everyone.

We finally got back and stowed everything away. This means that we are now fully provisioned and self-sufficient for a while. So if we go into lockdown we are ready. We had another quiet night on board reading and enjoying the movement of the water beneath us before turning in. Well, it was supposed to be a quiet one but Morphie makes a terrible noise with the self-furling foil banging around inside the mast every time we get ‘wobbled’ by a passing boat.

Wednesday morning we were up very early and got the mainsail re-installed. Phew, thankfully it went very well and there was only light winds. We have decided not to reinstall the genoa or the staysail yet – we are not going sailing for the foreseeable future and it seems pointless to expose them to UV damage unnecessarily.

Feeling pleased with ourselves we cleaned up and headed out. We are thankful that we no longer have to use the shared shower facilities now that we are back in the water as we have emptied the water tank and refilled with fresh. It feels nice to have nice hot showers back on Morphie once again. The marina includes water and electricity in the slip price, so there are no worries about wracking up additional bills.

The final external job was to register at a local doctors to get a prescription. We had pre-filled in the forms and got an appointment so we headed over to Oxenford. We popped into the Woolworths there as we were a little early just in case we found something we couldn’t get earlier – would you believe tinned potatoes and cling film were the only things that we hadn’t yet found?!? Well, yes, we managed it. Woo hoo!

We got to the doctors and finally came out with the prescription. Went into the pharmacy – expecting to get the five month supply as prescribed – only to be told you can only get one month at a time. Apparently that is Government regulation here. Well, we are OK as we bought three month’s supply into the country from the UK (the maximum importation allowed by Australian customs) so we now have just under four month’s supply on board. Arriving back we cleaned up yet again and were relieved that our final trip out was completed. We are now keeping ourselves to ourselves.

This morning, Thursday, and it was finally time to prioritise boat jobs. Today’s was to get dink off the deck after breakfast which means that we will be able to open the hatch in both our cabin and the heads. Although the fans have kept us cool enough at night, some fresh air will be much appreciated! Here’s Morphie enjoying being back in the water.

We pulled dink up with a spare halyard and then pumped air in before hoisting him over the rail to the dock. Richard is currently working hard replacing the wheels while I’m blogging (multi-tasking as I’m also doing laundry). We purchased the original solid plastic ones in New Zealand but they turned out to be absolutely useless in sand….we just got bogged down and were not man enough for the weight of the outboard engine. So we are replacing them with proper pneumatic wheels which we have seen and envied on loads of dinghies for a couple of years now LOL.

Then we’ll clean dink up and hoist him onto the arch. And I think that will be it for the day. Lots of boat jobs to do to keep us busy while we self-isolate here on the dock.

So I’ll sign off with a thought for all our family and friends who are in lockdown wherever you are. Please stay safe and keep well. We are thinking of you all constantly and miss you lots.

Bye for now