Week 1 on the hard at The Boatworks, Coomera

Monday morning (31 January) we were up really early, filled up with water and disconnected from the shore power before returning the courtesy car (all by 7am). We were then invited over – a bit earlier than expected – but we were ready so we slipped our lines and slowly reversed out into the river before motoring forward into the slings of the travel lift. The guys who operate this monster machine are really careful by deftly wielding massive boat hooks to keep us centrally positioned. They then tightened the slings onto Morphie and we used our dock lines to tie the front slings back to our cockpit winches. This is just a precaution to stop them from slipping which could be possible due to our fine entry keel. Job done we were then lifted slowly up out of the river and, once we were suspended over the land, they put up the stairs for us to get off.

We climbed down and watched Morphie move to the wash down area. So we stopped off for a cooling milk shake before walking back and watched her being given a high-pressure wash. The guys were worried that by using strong pressure the paint on the boot stripe – which was very dirty from being in the river – might peel off. We said go ahead we’re replacing it anyway! Actually it did peel off quite badly in places but considering this boot stripe was painted in 2012 we had had our money’s worth!

Afterwards we followed the boat lift through the yard (which always feels like a funeral procession somehow) to the liveaboard working yard near to Garage 25. This is a brand new area with great facilities including washers / driers / en-suites / kitchen / microwave / air conditioning / BBQs and sitting area and, most importantly for those of us out of the water, the use of a shared fridge. We were quickly positioned and tied down into our cradle. So, phew, big sigh of relief all had gone well.

Checking the place out, we were a bit shocked to see SV Hurtle Turtle (who we had met earlier in the season) on the hard with a huge crack and damage along one of her hulls. We have since found out that they had anchored in the Brisbane River for New Year’s Eve and, at 3am the following morning, a large powerboat had reversed into them hard and then drove off. The owners contacted the water police – who were luckily already patrolling – and the perpetrators were caught. Assuming that alcohol was involved plus the fact that they had left the scene of an accident (without even checking if the poor people onboard were safe and well) they should have the book thrown at them. But that doesn’t help poor Hurtle Turtle whilst she languishes on the hard being cut open to be repaired…..sigh…… What a nightmare for the owners!

Later on we headed to the BBQ area and met for the first time, Russell & Barb (SV Happy Hour) and Alison & Randall (SV Tregoning) and had a nice social evening together. Here I am, freshly showered, cooking up a storm….

Tuesday morning we were up at 5.30 am as there was little wind and the rigging guys were due to remove our main sail. They turned up at 6am and when it was off the boat we flaked it and bagged it. The guys told us that the crane would be along at 9.30 am to remove the mast so we headed to Garage 25 – which we can see from the cockpit in our elevated position – and had breakfast.

We saw the crane arrive so walked back to Morphie and watched as the guys worked hard undoing all the fastenings that held our genoa furler, our staysail furler and our main mast in situ. They removed the whisker pole first, followed by the boom, then they climbed the mast to secure the crane’s hook and, finally, it was time to pull the mast out.

This was the first time we had seen this done to Morphie so I watched very anxiously but Richard was completely laid back about the whole situation as though he had done it a thousand times before LOL. Was very relieved when everything was secure and on the ground. Poor Morphie looked quite different naked!

This was completed by 10.15 am on a heatwave day with temperatures sitting at 35 degrees but feeling more like 40+ with the incredibly high humidity levels. Pretty horrible conditions to be honest and even the locals were struggling. So we took ourselves off to the Cruisers Lounge to do some admin-type work so that we could get some respite from the heat in the air-conditioned environment. On the way back we had to run for it to avoid getting soaked by the fast-approaching bad weather system.

Back to Morphie, with all fans at full blast, we did a bit of a spring clean and started to re-organise ourselves down below. We received a weather warning for severe, damaging, thunderstorms but luckily they circled us rather than coming too close. Phew!

Wednesday morning it remained hot and humid despite the overnight storms and heavy rain. So we had a lazy start and then breakfast at Garage 25. We turned our attention to the back cabin and did a bit of a spring clean there too. Then I turned my attention to the cockpit whilst Richard cleaned up the engine. And what a grand job he did too….. Morphie is looking absolutely marvellous after all this love and attention – here are a couple of interior shots to check out.

That evening we headed over to the BBQ area again….. We didn’t have any company but, as we were so exhausted from the day’s endeavours and the draining impact of the heat, we came back to the boat straight after dinner for an early night.

Thursday morning we headed down to the Galley for breakfast before a trip to the chandlery for some bits and pieces. Back on board, Richard started the toilet conversion job. We have been using fresh water for quite a while, utilising the shower hose, but now it was time to convert it properly. This was not as simple as it sounded as it required some floor cutting and some plumbing as part of the process. So I decided to leave him to it and got a courtesy car for a couple of hours so headed into town to top up on fresh food. Oh yes and, of course, this was all in the pouring rain! Looking like a drowned rat on return to the boat, I checked out progress and he was doing well although we needed to buy an in-line tap, so looked like a trip to Bunnings was in my near future. Oh joy…

Friday morning I concentrated on cleaning the toilet whilst it was off the boat, so I was able to use bleach-based products – which we don’t use onboard due to the risk of damaging the cream-coloured gelcoat. So I was in my element scrubbing away with a toothbrush. Richard then put it all together in preparation for the final installation which will happen once the mast has been dropped back in. So not in situ but looks pretty good!

In the afternoon we picked up a courtesy UTE for the weekend and headed out to get some pizza for tea – the cook was given a night off, yay! The traffic was awful virtually at a standstill and, as we crawled alongside the M1 on a parallel road, we saw numerous emergency vehicles and cloths strategically placed to shield the situation from rubber neckers. We quickly realised this was very serious and, sadly, we found out later than a motorcyclist had died at the scene. So a local family were about to receive some heart breaking news…really terrible. A bit subdued we returned to the BBQ area where we ate our pizza before retiring for the night.

Saturday morning it was so windy we could feel the boat rocking despite sitting in a secured heavy-duty cradle. That was definitely a first! We made sure everything was secured before carrying on clearing out and Richard persuaded me to throw a few things away. We had carried our old sails as spares half way around the world in the lazarette, just in case, and have never used them for anything. So I agreed to bin them along with some other stuff he had dug out. On a roll he then persuaded me to consolidate my shoe supply which I did. After that he had a manic gleam in his eye so I refused to play his ‘love it or launch it’ game anymore as he had obvious designs on my wardrobe! And that was about it for the day apart from dinner in the BBQ area followed by a quiet night onboard.

Sunday morning, around 7am, we were laying in bed considering getting up to hear lots of loud engine noises. And, of course, it was Garage 25 having a car meet. So we enjoyed breakfast in the cockpit checking all the cars from above – didn’t fancy going down to mingle with the crowds. Then I heard oriental music and realised that there were dancing dragons too – presumably to celebrate Chinese New Year – so that was quite fun to watch. Boy do the Australians love their cars or what?!?

Later on we washed the hull down and cleaned the bootstripe in preparation for the following day. Then we made the most of having transport by doing a bit of shopping for some fresh provisions and a trip to the local Bunnings, of course.

In the evening we headed over to the BBQ area but it was pretty busy with Tony (the owner of the whole site) and a crowd of people – assuming family and friends. Not wanting to disturb this social event we sat quietly in the kitchen chatting and having sundowners. We were invited to join the crowd outside to eat but we didn’t want to jellyfish into their private gathering – but they insisted we shared some of their food so brought us a plate in each to try which was very generous of them! Eventually we returned to Morphie in a break from incessant heavy rain and had a quiet night in.

Today, Monday, and the weather has changed. Yay! The temperature has dropped quite a bit and it is largely dry with just the occasional shower threatening. So Richard taped up the boot stripe whilst I cleaned all the stainless steel fittings on the mast that are not due to be being replaced. When we were both at a decent juncture we headed over to Garage 25 for breakfast.

Back to work I finished the stainless steel cleaning before climbing back up to the saloon to blog whilst Richard started sanding down the boot stripe.

Tomorrow, providing it is dry, we’ll try our hand at painting. Not something we’ve done before but the specialist paint guy in the chandlery has been very helpful in talking us through the process to follow and we’re hopeful we can achieve a good finish. Wish us luck!

So that’s it for our week here in The Boatworks. The introduction of a liveaboard area has made such a difference to us. Living up on the hard is always a bit of a trial not least because of the heat and the lack of shade but the facilities here are so great that, to be honest, this really isn’t that bad. But, obviously, peeing in a bucket is not my most favourite pastime during the night LOL. We expect to be up in the air for another couple of weeks yet but at least the list of jobs is reducing a bit each day….

Bye for now and sending lots of love and hugs to you all. My Australian cutie for today, to make you smile, is another of their amazing unique creatures. So I give you a beautifully-coloured Robin which is found in the state of Victoria. Who would have thought that our red-breasted friends would have had Aussie rellies looking like this?