Out and about in Queensland

Friday afternoon Richard had his scheduled telephone appointment with the cardiologist which he thought was a waste of time as it just went over the same questions that everyone else had asked him previously. Never mind, despite this, he is being monitored really well by a range of medical professionals.

We picked up our car for the weekend excited that we could actually go out and about now that some of the Covid restrictions had been relaxed. We had sundowners with Steve and Jo in the BBQ area early evening and, for a while, we were the only ones there before a large group of people turned up which made us uncomfortable – so we left as it was clear that social distancing would be difficult to maintain.

Saturday morning we headed off in the car towards the Tamborine Mountain in the Gold Coast hinterland. The road was pretty steep and chicane-like in places but I enjoyed the drive and laughed at the very different road signs that they have here in Australia.

First stop was Gallery Walk which is a small ‘high street’ full of restaurants (closed), breweries and wineries (open for takeaways) and open gift shops selling an eclectic selection of items such as German cuckoo clocks and Egyptian oils and glassware. It was pretty busy and we had to go around the block a couple of times before we found a car parking space. Then we had to dodge all the people to keep our distance. Was a strange touristy sort of place but it felt good to just have a change of scenery.

Moving on we headed to the National Park and into the rainforest. It is possible to hike to waterfalls from here on quite good paths but sadly the terrain was too hilly for us. Right now Richard is really only supposed to be walking on gentle slopes. Was fun for a while although pretty chilly out of the sun.

Leaving the park we headed over to the Sky Walk but, sadly, this elevated (flat) walk through the forest canopy remained closed. We continued driving around through the mountains and found the British pub. Sadly it wasn’t open but we enjoyed nosing around at some familiar sights LOL.

Driving back to the marina we stopped at one of the fresh fish stalls which is selling direct to the public from the trawler so we picked up some supplies including snapper and barramundi fillets for Richard and, of course, lots of prawns.

Back on board Morphie we got ourselves organised and then headed over to the BBQ area where we met Steve and Jo and had a cook up on the provided grills. Guess this could be classed as an Island Packet minivous? This time no-one else came along so we had the place to ourselves which is just how we like it. Was great fun and, yes, Richard is still abstaining from alcohol….

Sunday morning we were up early again and this time we headed down towards Surfers’ Paradise beach in Southport. We easily found somewhere to park on the promenade and walked about a mile along the beach even paddling for a little while in the rather chilly water. The lifeguards were monitoring the surfers and the bathers in the shallows and we really enjoyed people watching. On our return leg we walked the promenade and took a few breaks sitting on benches enjoying cold drinks from one of the open cafes. The police were patrolling the area in beach buggies and most people were being very careful to socially distance.

We then headed to the Southport Marina to have a look around – it is a pretty big place – and we were tempted by the seafood markets but did not want to queue up with lots of people so decided to give it a miss this time.

We returned to Morpheus via the supermarket to pick up some nibbles as we had been invited over to French Curve for the evening. We eventually decided to purchase sushi and, armed with our supplies, we headed over to the Gold Coast Marina next door. Funnily enough, Mark and Cheryl had decided to buy sushi too, so we had lots of very healthy nibbles. Was a lovely evening.

Monday morning and we decided to drive south again expecting everything to be closed as it was Labour Day (a public holiday). We headed to Paradise Point first and strolled around the small town which was pretty busy. Continuing on foot we walked to the river and just sat at one of many of the public seats taking in the scenery. There were lots of ibis around which the locals call ‘bin chickens’ as they spend a lot of time rooting around in the rubbish! Was really nice…. Funny that we sailed (motored) up this river on our way to the Boatworks but it sure looks different from the shore.

Moving on we continued driving down the coast road through Runaway Bay and into Biggera Waters. This whole Gold Coast area is pretty affluent and the houses reflect that with lots of expensive waterside homes with private docks. So lots to look at as we drove around.

On the return trip back up the coast we went to Hope Island where there are lots of communities being built, not all of them that attractive to be honest. We then arrived at Sanctuary Cove. This is a large up-market marina, hotel and gated community which we fancied taking a look at. Sadly the waterfront was largely (temporarily) sealed off so we couldn’t really see much but the shops / boutiques / restaurants / cafes / theatre all looked very nice and, perhaps one day we’ll return and be able to enjoy the facilities.

Back at the marina we popped down to see how Steve and Jo were getting on with their jobs and spent some time with them before having a quiet night on board.

Tuesday morning I taped up Morphie’s eyebrows and starting rubbing down. We are not taking the varnish back to the wood this time round (as we did that last year in New Zealand) but we definitely have lots of areas that need some love and attention after being exposed to the strong UV here in Australia whilst Morphie was in storage on the hard.

Richard wants to help but I’m banning him from varnishing as often you have to contort your body to reach everything. Which is exactly what he was doing in the cockpit when he had his heart attack! So way too soon for that but am letting him do other jobs so here he is working on the new dinghy wheels again. On his first attempt he hadn’t realised that the bar across the stern of the dinghy meant that the new wheels wouldn’t lock into place in the upright position. So he took them off again, made up some teak infills, and then reinstalled them. And, hey presto, they now lock into place. Good job!

Going through the onboard supplies I realised that we didn’t have enough gloss varnish and thinners to do the whole job so headed to the chandlery. Sadly Epifanes, our varnish of choice, is not available here in Australia. They have some excellent products but, unfortunately, are not compatible with the existing varnish. So we decided upon Goldspar Original. When I got the varnish ready for our first coat I was surprised to find it was red in colour and much thinner than we are used to. Anyway, I did the first coat, found that it flowed really nicely and was quite pleased with the initial result.

During the week I had received news that one of mum’s friends had reached the amazing milestone of 100 years old and had duly received his telegram from the Queen. I felt quite emotional to see photos of the occasion. Congratulations Don, hopefully you can have your large party to celebrate once lockdown is lifted at home.

Wednesday morning and I sanded down again and applied another coat. After that it was threatening rain and, despite best intentions of both of us, we didn’t get anything else done other than the laundry! Oh yes and Richard had a chat with his cardiac nurse on the phone who had got his blood test results back and relayed the news that everything was looking very good. They also discussed the heart clinic that he is going to start attending next week for a while. Late afternoon we had sundowners with Steve and Jo again which always rounds a day off very nicely.

Thursday morning and we picked up a courtesy car at 7.30 am and headed out to Woolworths for a bit of shopping – primarily fresh produce as we were running low. After that we headed over to BCF (Boating, Camping, Fishing) to get one of our gas tanks refilled. We had hoped to get our original US Worthington bottles re-certified here in Australia (which is why we can’t get them refilled) but, apparently, that is not going to be possible so we are using our NZ ones instead. We also heard that our in-mast furling mechanism is still in the machine shop as they make a replacement (plus a spare) for us. The price of the needed replacement parts (excluding the worm drive which is fine) from Sparcraft were stupidly expensive so we had gone with the local fabrication option. Hopefully we’ll have that reinstated next week and will get the main sail back on. Obviously we’ll need a very low wind day for that to happen.

Back on board we both cleaned up down below and I started cooking for the evening as Steve and Jo were coming for dinner for our last night together. In the midst of this Mark and Cheryl came over to see us so we caught up with them and their news. Later on Steve and Jo arrived bringing with them a lovely fresh prawn cocktail starter. After dinner we had a couple of games of Sequence (something that the Bracken / Pigram family introduced us to whilst we were home) and had a very social time. It was funny that in the first game Steve and Jo won (obviously beginner’s luck) and then it was boys -v- girls and the boys won…..Certainly not my best night as I was the only one on the losing side twice LOL.

Friday morning we popped over to see Steve and Jo and return their tupperware containers to find them a bit fed up – yes, the trades had let them down so they were definitely not leaving as expected and, on top of that, some cruising vagabond had nicked some of Jo’s bedding from laundry machines which are locked to everyone other than to people on boats within the facility. Really did not expect that sort of thing to happen here! Silver lining for us, of course, is that we get to spend more time with them before they head out.

Back to Morpheus I got on with rubbing down and applying the third coat of varnish on the eyebrows and was pretty pleased with progress so far. Richard was keen to do something so he taped up the rest of the boat in preparation for me so that I can start tackling the capping rail. In the late afternoon we met Steve and Jo and had dinner at our private BBQ area.

We recognised that it was a public holiday in the UK to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day and to give special thanks to all those who served. We hope everyone enjoyed such a special day despite the lockdown restrictions in place.

This morning, Saturday, and I’m up early trying to get this blog finished and published before I start on the varnishing again….

Stay safe everyone, we miss you. Bye for now