07 December, 2006

We made it back to Brisbane!

2 December

We’re back ! Back on the blog and back in Brisbane. We’ve been back for over a week now.. When we last wrote we were in Townsville and had done most of the bad sailing, well motoring actually. Since then the sailing has been pretty good really. A mixture of pleasant winds and calmish seas. Oh, I forgot, coming into Bunderberg was a tad tense. About 35-40 knots astern which was fine until we had to turn into the Bundy river, pitch black, howling wind on the beam with waves crashing over the side, trying to get some sail down and a couple of smaller motor boats puttering in at the same time that we had to watch out for. I must say radar is a great navigation aid in the dark. Still we made it in safely, anchored up the river a bit out of harms way and had a peaceful dinner about 9.30.

Then of course there was the lightning squall that hit us a couple of days later going down the Great Sandy Strait. That was impressive. The night before was lovely and calm but we awoke to a strong southerly, which meant we had to move from our once safe anchorage and head down the strait. As we left, the VHF radio station covering the area said they were shutting down due to a lightning storm. Apparently getting zapped down your antenna while broadcasting isn’t the done thing. We could see the lightning over the bay as well as hear it. It was amazing watching huge bolts strike the ground on the horizon. Unfortunately the horizon got nearer and nearer and it becomes less amazing as it started to hit all around us. When you start to see and hear massive explosions around you, along with sheet rain dropping your vision to about 100 metres, it gets a bit off-putting !! Given that getting a few million volts down your mast when you are sailing isn’t great for the electrics, we disconnected everything we could - batteries, radios, GPS, computers, radar etc. Here we are, lightning belting all around us, heavy squalls of rain and wind, in about 7 metres of water with sand banks all around. Time to drop the anchor and hunker down. After it had passed our immediate area we carried on, the only damage being that the surges appear to have knocked out our electronic wind direction indicator. Did I say the sailing had been pretty good? It’s amazing really because when it’s all over, you really do seem to forget it.

Since that storm it has been really nice. That night we stayed in Garry’s anchorage, which is very protected, and we watched as the lightning storm went on all day and into the night. Very impressive. That same storm brought big winds and storm damage to Brisbane, covered the MCG with hail and brought snow to NSW, it really was an “event” as they say.
The winds were staying southerly for a while so we holed up in a little town in Tin Can Bay where we managed to do our usual, have coffees, go to the markets and watch some sport at the pub. This time the Aussies beat the Poms in the league to put us in the final. (Sad story from then on.) Yet another nice wee town, very protected down the end of a long estuary, even had some tame dolphins that came for a feed every morning.

Seeing as the southerly had blown for a few days, by the time we left with a good forecast there were quite a few yachts doing the same and heading down to Mooloolaba. This was the first time we’ve really been able to gauge how the boat performs compared to other yachts and I must say we were pretty happy. For a 15 tonne plus steel cruiser we were able to pass some and hold our own with others, so that’s good. It was somewhere around here, about Great Sandy Strait, that we passed the 2000 nautical mile mark, so you could say we have sailed around NZ! From north cape down one coast, around Bluff, watching out for icebergs (are those things still around?) and back up the other side. I suppose that only goes to show how big Aussie really is. We haven’t even done all of one state!

One really nice place we stopped at on our way south was Middle Percy Island (in the Whitsundays). The scene when we arrived was of clear and blue waters, and a lovely white sandy beach with palm trees. Quite idyllic …… Shane tried to climb up one of the coconut trees to get some coconuts; after he had gone to all the trouble he found a ladder under one of the trees further along!! The owner of the island built an A-frame about 50 years ago, and since then it has been filled with all sorts of memorabilia from passing yachties. Some yachts have been there a number of times over the years. It was really interesting to look at the very arty and creative contributions left by some of the passing yachties. The sign out the front of the A-frame says "Percy Hilton".

We stopped again at The Town of 1770 and had three days there – a great spot. Caravan park right on the beach; pelicans swimming by all the time, and the beach a hive of activity all day long with holidaymakers swimming and fishing.

So, now we are in Brisbane, tied up to the pile berths in the Brisbane River with the city a 50 metre tender ride away, all for $50 a week. Fantastic. Not a bad view from the rear deck of the boat either........

The ferries go past during the day and give us a bit of a rocking but it’s quite pleasant really. They stop during the night so we get a good night’s sleep. The object of getting here of course was to see Elton John. He was great. Did mostly his popular older stuff with only about four songs from his new album. He must be a happy old “married” man now as he is a chubby wee thing, but he can still belt out the ivories. Great show with seats really close to the stage. It will forever be known as the “Chunder down-under” concert as about three quarters of the way through he left the stage with no announcement or anything, just up and left. The guitarist said something about he was sure he would be back soon and jammed some music till he returned. He duly arrived back on stage; he said he had to be sick and thought it better to throw up in the toilets rather than the front row. A true professional, not a sign before and not a sign afterwards. Elton was great but Cirque de Soleil was just magical. We went to see their latest show “Varekai” and it does leave you speechless. Fantastic skills needless to say, but all wrapped up in such beauty. Heather has seen three of their shows now, me two, and each time it is a trip to wonderland. I suppose it’s like looking at a great painting coming to life. And for our third form of entertainment this week - there is the movie “Borat”. Entertainment at a whole new level. About as low down in the gutter as you can get and absolutely hysterical!!!! Shane reckons the movie is one of those classics that will live forever. If you have no problem taking the p*ss out of everything go see it. It must be good, several people are suing big time.

Which brings us up to date, apart from that on the last day we were coming in to Brisbane, we sucked up a jelly fish into the engine intake, blocked off the cooling system, overheated the engine which now only runs at about ¾ revs without overheating.

There were literally thousands and thousands of jellyfish in the water - this photo will give a bit of an idea. In some parts of the river, it was wall-to-wall jellyfish, you couldn't see the water for them.

So, it’s off to a marina next week and we will fix the engine problem. It really is one thing after another with the boating life. (We know now what they mean when they say B-O-A-T stands for ‘bring on another thousand……). Good news is we thought the fridge (again) had finally given up the ghost and were pricing and planning how to put in a new one. A couple of days later Shane found it was only a grub screw that had come loose. The beers and gins are cold again!

Fast forward to today - December 7th!……. We left the pile berth in the river this morning, and have moved to a berth at Rivergate Marina to get the engines looked at. As well as the problems we knew we had with the big engine, the little engine (that we use to top up the power in the batteries each day) is playing up as well. We have had limited power over the last week, which means that we haven’t been able to use the laptop much (and get this blog update finished!). We are a little ways out of the city now; close to the Gateway Bridge and right by the airport (should be fun trying to sleep at night with the planes flying by…….). One bit of good news – it took us an hour and a half to get to the marina today and the engine showed no sign of overheating at all. So it might not be all bad news. We are also going to get two solar panels fitted while we are at the marina which will mean we will have lots of power from here on – as long as the sun shines!!!!!! We are on ‘A’ finger at Rivergate; we think ‘A’ here must stand for ‘awfully flash’ as the good yacht enzwell looks really tiny compared to the million/multi-million dollar yachts that are alongside us. There’s nothing like us lowering the tone of the neighbourhood!

The engine fix-it man has just been – and it’s good news with the big engine. It appears that the problem was likely to have been an air-block somewhere, and it has cleared. Not such good news with the small engine – it is not well – but we don’t need to worry about sorting that in the immediate future.

While we were on the piles (and close to the shops) we managed to get all our Christmas cards and shopping done. It’s got to be a record for me, having all that stuff done by 6 December. Now we can just sit back and let everyone else get stressed out with the Christmas rush!

And on that note, we hope that everyone has a great festive season. Merry Christmas and all the best for 2007 from the ‘enzwellers’.

Heather and Shane Posted by Picasa

28 October, 2006

Our last blog finished with us arriving in Cairns. We ended up staying for three and a half weeks – a little longer than we intended……. – but in saying that, Cairns was a pretty nice place to spend a bit of time.

When we got into the marina in Cairns we had Kiwis for neighbours – Brendan, Di and their two kids Sophie and Finn from Mangawhai. Like us, they are just starting out on the ‘cruising life’. Through them we met yet more Kiwis, Phil and Kate and their two girls. The Aussies can’t get rid of us!

The day we arrived we got told of the great fruit and vegie markets that Cairns has every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We thought we should go and check them out …… Sure enough, the markets were great, with everything being pretty reasonably priced and fresher than the supermarkets. The bargain hunters arrive at one o’clock on Sunday afto (an hour before close) to get everything at super-reduced rates! As well as the usual fruit and vegies, the markets had lots of fresh herbs, and tropical fruits. Here I am having a browse around the stands, working out what to buy to whip up my culinary delights for the rest of the week.

We spent two weeks in the marina, as the fridge starting playing up; we thought it might require a major effort to fix it. After much gnashing of teeth, two visits from a ‘fridge expert’, and work from Shane to effect minor repairs, we got the fridge sorted. Fingers crossed ………..

Once that was done, we could set about enjoying our time in Cairns. I managed to get motivated and fit in about three runs; we spent quite a bit of time drinking lattes and doing stuff on the ‘net’; we even got to the movies twice; and went to a great pub to watch the Air NZ Cup (rugby) final, and the two first Tri-Nations league games on a big outdoor screen – and after the results of all three we won’t talk any more on that subject!

The waterfront in Cairns has been done up really nicely. The stretch along the beach is called ‘The Strand’ – there are lots of open park areas, shops and cafes, and a great pool complex, which is packed most days. We used to take our books and lie in the sun and read, and it was real easy to then just jump in the pool and cool off. Note the lovely ‘fish sculptures’ at the far end of the pool.

The reason that they have such nice pool complexes at some of the beaches in far north Queensland, is that a lot of the beaches in the main cities aren’t up to much. (Plus there are the additional problems of ‘stinger’ jellyfish and crocodiles). The ‘beach’ along the Cairns waterfront…….

See what I mean! It is just one vast expanse of boggy mud. What you see is mud - there is no water for about one kilometre, until high tide comes in. We saw a guy walking in the mud one day – heaven knows why – and with each slow step he took he was up to his knees in mud – yuck!

Most of the time in Cairns it was unusually windy, even though it was still about 29 degrees. We also got quite a bit of rain. The winds became a real nuisance, they were still blowing from the S to SE, and we needed them to change to the north so we could start sailing south.

Before we all moved out of the marina, we decided we should have a Kiwi BBQ. True to form for a Kiwi barbie, it started to rain just as we were about to start cooking. Luckily most of the BBQs they have in the parks here are under cover! We had a good night ……

As you aren’t allowed alcohol (given we were in a public area) we had to get a little cunning to enjoy an ale or wine with dinner – let’s just say the water in Shane’s pump bottle was chardonnay-coloured!! All our years of training at the Wellington Sevens paid off!!

We decided we had to start heading south, so made plans to leave last Sunday (after having watched the league the night before). We left Cairns late afternoon, knowing that we would be going into the winds and that they were expected to be between 25-30 knots. The trip was to be my first proper overnight passage, so I was a little apprehensive – two hour watches during the night, being in the dark and not being able to see rocks, reefs and other boats made me a little angsy.

It was not a pleasant night…... The winds got up to 45 knots, waves were constantly breaking over the bow of the yacht, and I was feeling a little on the ‘green’ side. I managed the two-hour watches, but only just. Each time I moved I felt queasy, and had to yell to Shane at one stage to get enzwell’s equivalent of airplane sick bags – white plastic supermarket bags, double bagged in case there were any holes! They weren’t actually needed, but I came close….. After 18 hours at sea, we got to Mourilyan Harbour – a small commercial port with a calm safe anchorage. I was extremely happy to get there and get out of the wind. When we arrived, I found I obviously hadn’t crossed my fingers hard enough – the fridge had packed up again. This time it was a bearing in the motor – and a bearing on a ten year old 12 volt motor from the USA isn’t the sort of thing you find in a kiosk at a small commercial port where all they do is load sugar on big ships …. So we spent the next two days frantically eating everything in the fridge and freezer. After two nights at Mourilyan, the winds had abated, and we could make the next overnight trip and get to Townsville. To say I wasn’t looking forward to the trip (given the experience of getting to Mourilyan) would be an understatement. But I needn’t have been worried, as the winds were a lot lighter, and it was a pretty good trip. As a bonus, Shane got the TV working, and I spent my two hours off (when I wasn’t sleeping) watching TV. Aren’t reruns of MASH and Blue Heelers great! It made the time pass by really fast. We got to Townsville on Thursday morning, after 25 hours at sea, and got straight on to getting the fridge sorted.

It was good to know I could manage fine with an overnight trip. Although we have been cruising for nearly four months now, we had only been doing day trips, and we will certainly need to do overnight trips, as well as passages of several days, in the next few months, so it was good to get the first ‘overnighter’ under my belt.

We’re currently at the marina at Townsville, and with a bit of ‘downtime’, Shane went out yesterday morning and fitted in a well-deserved game of golf. He enjoyed it, but managed to come back with two less balls in his golf bag. The fridge is still proving to be a bit of a problem, but as I type this we have our toes crossed as well as our fingers that it is finally going to work properly.

We’re going to watch the league tonight with Pete and Viv (remember them from Shane’s “it’s a small world segment” a couple of blogs ago) and then we’ll head off tomorrow morning. It should take us two days to get down to Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays. We want to get a few longish trips in to knock off a few miles in our trek down to Brisbane. As well Elton John’s concert at the end of November, we’ve also got tickets to Cirque de Soleil’s latest show, Varekai. Quite a few cruisers are starting to head south now, so I’m sure we’ll bump into lots of familiar boats and faces along the way. All we need now is for the northerlies to arrive.

Carry on reading for another segment of the blog……..

Heather and Shane Posted by Picasa
28 October 2006

I had too much to write this time, plus we can only get four photos in per blog article, so here’s what we did one day we were in Cairns.

We decided to get a rental car for the day. I was keen to see and learn a bit of the Aboriginal culture, and Shane wanted to check out the crocodiles. Of course, we picked the rainiest day that we were in Cairns.

First up was Tjapukai, (pronounced Jab-u-Kai, and they say Maori is hard!) Aboriginal Cultural Park, which is in the Barron Gorge about 20 minutes north of Cairns. The Barron Gorge area is the traditional home of the Tjapukai people. A bit like NZ with it’s different Maori tribes being associated with specific areas, the many aboriginal tribes are much the same.

The park has five theatres where we learnt the history of the people, there were song and dance performances, boomerang and spear throwing demos, and didgeridoo playing. Shane was very disappointed as due to the rain, the boomerang throwing was cancelled.

Shane thought the park was average, but I found parts of it great, particularly the skills involved with playing the didgeridoo.

Next up we were off to Cairns Tropical Zoo just up the road.

Not long after we got there, it was “have your photo taken with a koala time”. So here we are, Shane and I, with Tilly the koala.

Isn’t she cute??!! Koalas sleep for 18-20 hours per day (I think I want to come back as a koala in my next life!!). Koalas are amazing in how they manage to stay sleeping in the branches of a tree, without falling out. They have very strong front paws, but their body and back paws are very weak. They also have very poor eyesight and rely on their strong sense of smell to work out if the eucalyptus leaves that they are near are the right ones to eat. There are many varieties of eucalyptus leaf, and only a few are on a koala’s diet. The zoo had recently had a few mother koalas give birth; the little baby koalas were really really cute…..

Part of the reason Shane was keen to go to the zoo was to see a crocodile or two. We thought it best to see them at the zoo first, rather than our initiation to them being a visit on or near ‘enzwell’. Well, we saw a few crocs at the zoo all right……

As well as the ones in the photo, there were some extra huge crocs in another enclosure. The scary part is that when they are under water, you are lucky if you can see their eyes and bridge of their nose, so you have absolutely no idea of the size of them. I did learn though that crocs are relatively slow over land – compared with their speed through the water – so I better start work on my 100 metre sprints.

And of course, what would a visit to an Aussie zoo be without a snake or three. The zookeeper brought out a few pillowcases at the start of his demo, and when they started wriggling it wasn’t too hard to figure out what was inside. Most of them he touched, but with this little sucker he used a pole with a hook at the end.

One bite from this baby and it would be all over within five minutes. I made a mental note to pay a bit more attention to things at ground level the next time I’m walking near any long grass…

After the zoo, we drove on up to Port Douglas, as Shane hadn’t been there before. We had the obligatory wander around the shops, dinner at the pub, before we headed back to Cairns after a pretty full-on day.

S and H Posted by Picasa

05 October, 2006

OK, get yourself comfortable ‘cause it’s been a while and we’ve covered some ground, or sea, since then.

When last we spoke we were in Townsville and having some drama with water not being on the outside. All in all though it went well, one less area to worry about and we had a good dodger made which gives us protection in the cockpit from the wind when at anchor and hell there’s been some wind. I don’t think we have had more than a couple of days with less than 25 knots. At least it calms done in the evening so we can sleep in some comfort and there is no wind chill factor like Welly. From Townsville we went to Magnetic Island, about 2 hours sail from Townville, a bit like going to Waiheke in Auckland I suppose. This was probably one of our favourite stays. Really chilled feel to the place and the bay we anchored in was very protected from the wind, had a couple of good pubs and cafes. There was also the unofficial Horseshoe Bay Yacht Club, which is one of the shelters set up for getting out of the sun and having BBQ’s etc. Lots of yachts leave a wee plaque as a record of their visit there. So we are now members of the Horseshoe Bay Yacht Club. (OK it might be a bit hard to see, we are top left)

We also met another great couple there, Les and Jax, both Japanese Hawaiians who most recently lived in Whangarei for about 14 years I think. Again, great people with lots of good advice, interesting history and Jax was one mean cook. Magnetic had some lovely walks to more secluded bays, one of which was clothing optional. On the day we went, Sunday, they had taken the option to wear clothes as I think they were mostly day-trippers from Townsville.

From there to Orpheus Island, pretty ho hum, then across the ways to go up the Hinchinbrook channel. At the entrance is the longest sugar wharf in the world with a loading platform at the end. And it is long!!! Over three miles long and it dips two metres in the middle to take account of the curvature of the earth. The problem around here is that the water can be shallow for miles, often being under 10 metres deep over two miles from shore, hence very long loading platforms for coal, sugar etc. Anyway the Hinchinbrook channel was beautiful, a mixture of scenery like the canals in France at one end and at the other, a bit like NZ mountain scenery.

Where we decided to anchor for the night was near the northern end, and we had to go over a bit of a sand bank to get there, necessitating taking a very wide sweep……….oopps, not wide enough. We had a wee rest for half an hour while the tide came in and lifted us up a bit more so we could motor off backwards. The Admiral was not happy. Sorry about that boss. Very scenic though and as we were in mangrove country we decide to try our crab pots. A bit of a story to that but suffice to say…….yum, yum. Our first crab.

Then it was off to Dunk Island. They have a very nice resort there, which is even nicer since Cyclone Larry ripped through the place and they had to completely rebuild the dining, bar area. Supposedly off limits unless you are a guest but we got gussied up a bit and went in at night, well, the NRL semis were on and we had to watch it somewhere. Cyclone Larry really did tear this area apart. Lots of damage still apparent all the way up the coast, none more so than in Innisfail where they took a direct hit. Still lots of buildings without roofs and windows.

Lots of the vegetation looks very bare and is just starting to regrow. It also made the sea bottom change in lots of places especially at openings to river mouths, sometimes washing away, sometimes filling in. Leaving Innisfail, which is just up a river, we scraped the bottom, following the channel and at high tide! Innisfail was another cool little town though and when it’s all fixed up it will be better then new, and when they grow their bananas again, the price may come back from $10 a kilo !!!!!!

So a quick stop at Fitzroy Island (yawn) very rocky anchorage due to wind swell sweeping around the corner, and now we are at Cairns. Another great city with lots happening for the tourists, backpackers and Asian students. Stuff going on in every bar every night, you know, toad racing, wet T shirt comps, live music, outdoor movies at the pub, cheap pizza, the usual things. So we will be here for a couple of weeks doing a bit more on the boat, like rebuilding the fridge/freezer box and the rust, and lattes, walks and chilling out. Presently parked up beside more Kiwis? They’re everywhere! Nice folks though with two young kids they are home schooling, surprising how much of that going on. Great life for the kids, well it must be ‘cause it’s a great life for us.

Till later.

Shane and Heather. Posted by Picasa

12 September, 2006

Thursday 7 September

Here’s the latest update from our travels.

We left Airlie Beach on 22 August and headed back around the Whitsundays – one of the main reasons being to go to ‘Whitehaven Day’. We found out what it was all about. Every August Hamilton Island Race Week is held. On the lay day, all the boaties (along with most of the backpackers in the area) head over to Whitehaven Beach for a ‘party day’. We had heard it was a 24-hour party, but in fact it only went from about 11 in the morning until late afternoon. Whitehaven Beach usually only has a few yachties, and the daily charter tours visiting for a couple of hours, but on Whitehaven Day there would have been between 200-300 yachts, not to mention charter boats packed full of party goers, beer tents, and loud music. In all, there were probably about 5000 people there!

Here’s a shot giving an idea of how it was wall-to-wall yachts along the beachfront.

Shane and I anchored pretty close to the action, sat on our rear deck, (gin and beer) cans in hand, and ‘people watched’ a fair bit of the day. The water Police were there; we saw them ‘put the bag’ on the driver of a tender, who had been yahooing right in front of them. Nothing like drawing unwanted attention!

Our last night in the Whitsundays was at Blue Pearl Bay, which is on Hayman Island. There I saw some of the best coral and fish that I had seen in all of the Whitsundays.

We continued our travels north up the coast, and stopped one night at Jonah Bay in the Gloucester Passage. It was a beautiful little bay that looked virtually isolated. On closer examination, we could see a few tents on the beachfront. We went ashore for a walk, and met a couple, John and Lynn, who were ‘free camping’ on council land. They camped at Jonah Bay for four months over winter, before they moved on. John was originally from Gisborne. They invited us back at night to sit around the fire with them. We had a good night, with John recounting many a story of his adventures over the years being a crayfisherman, hairdresser (ladies and mens), sailing up to Asia etc. He was in amazing nick for 69! He also told us about the oysters across the bay at Saddleback Island. We went and got some the next morning – oyster patties for lunch, yum! We are finding one of the great things about the cruising life is the many interesting and varied people we are meeting; people we would never have come across in our ‘old life’.

After Jonah Bay we had planned on spending two nights at the Gloucester Eco-resort, which is at Cape Gloucester. Although we caught up with Ken there (a yachtie who we had first met in Brisbane), and met another lovely couple, we were not that inspired with the resort, so only stayed one night.

The next stop was Bowen, a town on the Queensland coast that time and tourism has virtually forgotten. Bowen had a great bakery, with pie eating competition, and internet café, but apart from that, the town is very similar to somewhere such as Taihape. Get the picture? (Apologies to those who were brought up in Taihape!!).

We left Bowen on the morning of 1 September, our plans being to head for Cape Upstart. Cape Upstart is yet another location along this coast that was named by Captain Cook. Shane decided to put two lures out to see if we could get any fish. We had heard the mackerel in these parts were pretty good. We put the asymmetric up (big front sail) and were getting along at quite a good speed. I noticed the lure lines had crossed over and told Shane. Guess what, we had a fish! A nice big mackerel, 87 cms long! That was dinner taken care of for four nights!

While Shane was making sure the fish wasn’t about to make a dive for freedom, there was a loud bang. The halyard at the top of the asymmetric had broken. The sail flopped into the water, causing no end of drag. The fish got dropped on the deck, and while I tried to keep the boat away from the approaching rocks, Shane frantically hauled the sail out of the water and into the boat. It was hard work, but we got there in the end. However, we now had a broken halyard to replace and a sail to dry. We still had the fish though!

The following day was even more exciting (??!!). We left the anchorage at Cape Upstart, planning to spend the night at Cape Bowling Green before heading into Townsville the following day. The winds were quite fresh when we left in the morning, but they really got up during the day. Gusts of up to 50 knots heading up the isthmus of land to Cape Bowling Green, and 3 metre sea swells. Not pleasant, having swells coming up and over the boat all the time, and it was certainly a little scary! We got a gust of 55 knots as we rounded the Cape, and could see there was no protection at all from the weather where we planned to anchor. We decided to carry on and head north up to the next point, Cape Cleveland. We got there 4 hours later; conditions were only a little better so we decided not to attempt anchoring, but continue on to Townsville, just another two hours away. So, after 12 hours in total, we finally made it at 8.30 at night. That was the worst weather we have had to date. Shane told me the following day that the winds we experienced were classed as ‘severe gale force’. That explained why we heard hardly any other boats on the airwaves!

We got to Townsville, and the calm waters of the marina. On day two there, Shane decided to do a bit more work on the rust. There was some in the hull, right in the engine compartment area of the boat. Shane worked on some on the struts, and then turned his attention to rust on the inside of the hull itself. After a few minutes of banging at areas that were under the waterline, water decided to make an unwelcome entrance. An immediate withdrawal from the water was required and so we headed for the one haul-out yard in the area. Back to life on the ‘hard’ for a few days. And if that wasn’t enough adventure for one week, there was more to come!

Shane found a second hole in the hull, way bigger than the first. This meant we had to get welding done in the hull. The job was half done, and Shane thought he would go into the ‘bowels’ of the boat to see how the job looked from the inside. Lucky he did, as the welder had forgotten we have foam lining on the inside of the boat, and the heat from the welding torch set the foam alight. Shane arrived to find foot high flames. The water on the boat had been switched off, so he used the remaining water in the stove jug, and threw a water bottle to me to fill quickly!

We are due back on the water tomorrow, after which we’ll be back to the marina again for five days some of which will be spring cleaning the boat as it has got filthy on the ‘hard’. Hopefully the hull has no more surprises in store for quite some time, and we can get back to enjoying the Australian coastline, rather than making frequent trips to haul out yards! Still while we were out we did the shaft bearing and put on a new coat of anti-foul so the boat actually looks pretty smart at the moment. Lesson learned: never, never, never work on any part of the boat that is below the water line if not near a haul out facility, and only do such work on weekdays. Had the haul-out yard not have been nearby and available, it would have been all hands to the pumps!

Shane busy anti-fouling the boat.

I have encountered one further problem. I managed to avoid contact with the Aussie mossies and sandflies up until a few days. They are obviously making up for lost time, and my legs are now covered in huge welts from where they have attacked. One of the not so pleasant aspects of tropical living……… It was off to the chemist this morning to get some high-octane relief cream………. And I’m now using a new body spray called ‘Rid’ and taking mega-doses of Vitamin B…….

Sunday 10 September
And now for Shane’s “It’s a Small World” segment……

I could make this a very long story and unfold it as it happened however suffice to say, here we are back moored up at Townsville marina, next to us is a boat that I had seen for sale a while ago and these people have just moved on to it, as in last week. He has a “Warriors” flag flying from the stern and so we get chatting and yeah he’s a kiwi. Not only a kiwi, no great surprise here, but went to school with my brother Kim, played in a band with him when they were teenagers, came around the old home and remembered Dad and the house really well. 40 years later, here we are moored beside each other in Townsville! Well bug…er me! Oh and for a short time he also stayed in the same flat I was in at Bondi a lifetime ago with a mate of mine who I was flatting with. So Kev, do you remember Peter Anderton?

Heather and Shane Posted by Picasa

18 August, 2006

When we last checked in, we were in Mackay and about to head off around the Whitsundays.

First stop was Brampton and Carlisle Islands. The two islands are joined by a narrow sandy channel, which dries at low tide. Most yachties anchor off Brampton Island (where the resort is) but we chose to ‘drop the hook’ (I’m getting very nautical now aren’t I !) off Carlisle Island. There was only one other boat, and it was more sheltered there from the winds. We had two days at Carlisle, and I got to try out my new wetsuit, having a look around the coral. We had a giggle to ourselves as two guests from the resort got transported over for their ‘secluded beach picnic’ option – away from the resort – only to have we two intrepid yachties tromping past them and probably spoiling their little romantic getaway!

Next stop was Hamilton Island to pick up Cushla. As well as being really pleased to see her Dad (and me I hope!), she was also pleased to be in the warmth after her first week of holidays in chilly Melbourne. After spending the night at Hamilton Island, we then set off around the Whitsundays proper.

First stop was Cid Harbour. This is a popular anchorage for cruisers, in that it is totally sheltered from the prevailing southerly swell, and also the first stop on the way up to the best diving and snorkelling areas. We shared the anchorage with at least 40 other boats, so there was always something going on. Here’s a photo of Cush and Shane enjoying sundowners. (For the non-nautical readers, ‘sundowners’ is a well-established tradition called drinking and eating while ejoying watching sun go down. Not wanting to risk the wrath of King Neptune, we have decided it’s best to follow the tradition ….. )

For me boats are fascinating; much like at ‘home’ where you drive past and check out other peoples houses while out for that Sunday drive, I am now always checking out other people’s boats!

We spent the next night at Nara Inlet (at the bottom of Hook Island), and then the following morning it was off to Butterfly Bay. Our friend John had told us that the snorkelling here was great. We stopped on the way at Stonehaven Bay and had a fish. Cushla’s infamous fishing skills were still in evidence …… seven in total – all bream – so that was dinner taken care of!

Butterfly Bay was magnificent for snorkelling. Although Cushla was a recalcitrant snorkeller (still love that word Woody!!!!), she conquered her fears and braved the watery depths. She was rewarded with magnificent coral, metre wide clams, a turtle, along with many many beautiful brightly coloured fish. The snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef and surrounds is absolutely amazing. Here’s a photo of the girls about to head off …..

The wind blowing a steady 20 knots from the south really determined our movements around the islands, but we still managed to get to Whitehaven Beach. It is famous worldwide for its magnificent fine white sand, for those technically minded, it is 98 percent silica, so they say. It’s the beach you see on any brochures advertising the Whitsundays. The water is a beautiful blue, and crystal clear where it meets the sand. We arrived there mid-morning – with only about three other boats and 15 or so people there – but within half an hour all the tourist day trippers descended. At the end of the day the beach was back to just a few boaties which was lovely.

We heard last night that next Thursday a HUGE beach party is on at Whitehaven. Six thousand plus people, beer tents, live music all day, guess where we are going!!!! Sounds like a good party ……

After a hurried farewell to Cush at Hamilton Island, we went back to Cid and Butterfly, then off to South Molle Island, which has a resort on it. As it was our fourth anniversary, we just had to take advantage of the facilities - massage/restaurant/bar/golf course. It was hell….. Another beautiful anchorage, this is the view looking down over the bay.

We are currently at Airlie Beach, on the mainland. It is a real fun town, full of Pommy backpackers, good bars, yachties (as it is race week) and the internet! We are one of hundreds of boats anchored out from the yacht club, and it’s only a short ride into town for a latte. We did say after all that our intentions were to café-hop up the Queensland coast!

We soon discovered that swimming here is a little hazardous!!!!

Shane thought that the crocodile in the photo had a lovely smile, but then remembered the rhyme "never smile at a crocodile".

We are liking it here so much that we have decided to stay a week, to catch up with washing, provisioning, and many other things that need doing. Oh, and watching the rugby….

Heather and Shane

PS. Doug – just for you….. No, Heather doesn’t need a ‘chuck bucket’. She hasn’t fed the fishes yet and doesn’t intend to!!! Actually, she’s coping better than she thought, and only took seasick pills as a preventative measure for the first week or so. Are you still taking them on the Earnslaw!!!!!!! Lake Wakatipu can get so rough, can’t it!!!!!
With love,
Shane Posted by Picasa

01 August, 2006

In the Tropics

Just a short note to let you all know – it’s official – we are now in the Tropics.
Last Monday, 24 July, we sailed across the Tropic of Capricorn, marked by a dotted line in the ocean. Well, it was on the map anyway …..

It was at about this point that we discovered a stowaway on board by the name of Paddington, or some such other pseudonym.

When we found him, he certainly wasn’t shy, and demanded to have his photo taken going over the Tropic.

We spent our first night out from Gladstone at Great Keppel Island, along with about 30 other boats anchored in the bay there. We thought the island (and the resort) were highly over-rated, but the island did have lovely white sand.

We had lunch at the resort at Great Keppel, well, the seafood pizza that we managed to eat in between fighting off the lorrikeets. Beautiful birds, but quite agressive in their search for food.

We left Keppel at 3 o’clock in the morning, and had a mixed sail heading north, with a stop at the Cannibal Group of islands (I wonder why Cook named them the Cannibal Group???). Next was a stop at Curlew Island.

On our day north from there, we had a very quiet run in to MacKay, apart from passing another 20 or so freighters anchored in the bay waiting to load up with coal. A bonus that day was that we saw more dolphins, and also two whales – a Mum and her baby – and we hope to see a lot more as we hear they are pretty common around these waters at the moment.

The freighters might be a bit hard to see in this photo, but I think you'll get the idea of how they are all lined up on the horizon.

We are now safely ensconced at Mackay and have just finished provisioning for the Whitsundays as we hear it’s very expensive there. We are a bit concerned that we have spent more on liquid supplies than food! We hope the former lasts longer than the latter!!!!

Mackay is really taking off. It’s going the same way as SE Queensland; the population is increasing at quite a rate. The taxi driver today told us 1500 people a month are moving to the city. Shane even noticed the difference in the city from when he was here a year ago.

We pick up Cushla from Hamilton Island on Saturday and look forward to a week cruising with her around the Whitsundays. The weather continues to be lovely and warm (average 25 degrees during the day) and we managed to find a pub to watch the rugby – with sound – on Saturday. Yay – the AB’s. We watched the game with a couple from Bluff – Helen and Ian – who are making their way up the coast in their boat. We are following similar tracks so no doubt will bump into them again.

It’s all been a bit of a rush up to now – having to get to places to meet people by a certain date – so we are now looking forward to a very leisurely passage around the Whitsundays. Clear blue waters, white sand, sun, and leisurely days will be us for the next little while …..

By the way, this is what the boat looks like from 50 feet up, at the top of the mast. If you look real closely at the photo, you'll be able to see the pained look on Heather's face, having winched Shane to the top ...... Posted by Picasa

23 July, 2006

It’s been nearly three weeks since we last updated the blog – when we were travelling up the Great Sandy Straits between the mainland and Fraser Island.

We left the nice sheltered water of the Straits, and headed into Hervey Bay and up to Bundaberg. We anchored for three nights in the river, just across from the public jetty and a five-minute walk to the town centre. No visit to Bundaberg would be complete without a visit to the distillery – so we did the right thing ….. As you can see, Shane paid homage to the big Bundy bottle!

The tour itself was not that exciting, except to learn how much rum that place pumps out! (At their cannery, they produce 1500 cans of Bundy mix per minute!!!) More to our liking though were the two free tastings at the end of the tour – Shane liked the rum/coffee liqueur, and although I am not a rum drinker, I didn’t mind the ready-to-drink rum and ginger beer mix. After two quick drinks, and it being only three o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, pedalling our bikes back to the marina became quite an effort!

Kim (Shane’s brother) arrived and after a couple of extra unplanned nights in Bundy (to get the boat batteries checked out) we left town. We had a night at Burnett Heads (up river from Bundy) and the following day left early to track down some surf and do some fishing. Kim had brought his brand new surfboard over and was keen to catch some waves. The locals had told us either Agnes Waters or 1770 were the places to go.

Shane and Kim did a spot of fishing on our way out of Bundy. Here is Kim proudly showing off his first catch – the photo was taken just prior to him throwing it back into the tide and saying something about it being good luck to throw your first fish back.

Good luck obviously wasn’t with him that day; he never caught another thing, and we spoke to the locals later and the particular fish he had caught was apparently quite a tasty morsel!

Our next stop was The Town of 1770 – yes that’s right, the town has got a number for a name! It was where Lieutenant James Cook (he obviously hadn’t made Captain at that stage) first discovered Queensland back in May 1770.

The entrance to the ‘creek’ where the town is has sandbars on both sides, so one can only enter at high tide. We arrived at 4 pm; high tide was midnight (and it is best not to try and navigate between sandbars in the dead of night!) so that meant we had a rather uncomfortable night bobbing in the surf out in Bustard Bay. (Our experience was they left out the ‘a’ and put a ‘u’ instead!). Kim and I were both a little green around the gills, and Shane was designated chef for the night. Kim and I weren’t up to cooking duties; we both struggled to eat much. That night would have been my most uncomfortable to date ……

Noon the next day finally arrived, and we could enter over the bar and get to the relatively tranquil waters of 1770. It wasn’t long before we were in the tender and off to visit the café ashore for a coffee fix. We could just about have waded over at low tide – well I exaggerate a little but we only had about 20 feet of water to cover …..

1770 was a neat little place; a great caravan park right on the beach; and that quaint feel about it that seaside towns in NZ had 30 years ago. The locals told us not to tell everyone about 1770 – as I’m sure it won’t be long before the developers move in and all the original baches are demolished and high rises take their place – and 1770 won’t be the same. This view of the sunset on our last night shows you one reason why the town has a lot of appeal. This photo is exactly as it was taken – it hasn’t been altered at all – so it gives you a true idea of how spectacular the sunset was.

After three nights at 1770 (where unfortunately it only fined up on the afternoon of our last day) it was time to head north. We had an overnight anchorage at Pancake Creek, and then it was off to Gladstone to drop Kim off to head back to NZ. The weather forecast for our trip from Pancake to Gladstone didn’t sound that good (I still had vivid memories of Bustard Bay!) so I wasn’t looking forward to that day, but the anticipated bad weather was a non-event. We had the wind behind us and made good time to Gladstone.

Gladstone is one of the industrial centres of Aussie. This fact was evidenced as we came into the harbour – we counted at least 26 huge tankers lined up waiting to get into the harbour so that they could load up with coal and head off to back to China. The city is better than we remember from our first visit (back in April when we were boat-hunting).

Yesterday morning Shane went up the mast. This entailed me having to winch him up. It seemed to take me forever (I started to wish I had spent more time doing weights at the gym!) and I got some idea of how hard the grinders worked in Team New Zealand. There was one slight problem – when Shane was at the top of the mast, he broke the lens on the navigation lights. I knew this meant only one thing – he was going to have to fix it, and I was in for another session on the winch. All I can say is that I now have stronger arm muscles, and the second session wasn’t as bad as the first!

We went to the local Leagues Club last night and watched the All Blacks-South Africa game. We have done quite well on the sports watching front – we seem to be near civilisation when all the major games are on. All I’ve got to do now is make sure that Shane has us in port for next Saturday night’s All Black-Australia game!

We’re leaving Gladstone in the morning, and making our way over the next ten days up to Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays. Cushla (Shane’s daughter) flies in to meet us there, and I certainly am looking forward to a relaxing few days cruising around the azure blue waters (well, that’s what they look like in all the travel brochures!!). I’m sure Cushla is looking forward to some good weather, after what Wellington has been having lately.

And here I am at the Cook memorial in 1770, looking forward to our next leg of the journey.....

Until next time ..
Heather and Shane

 Posted by Picasa

07 July, 2006


What a day….

We left Mooloolaba at 4.30 am and arrived at Garry’s anchorage at the back of Fraser Island 13 hours and 75 miles later. Lovely clear crisp morning when we left and 35 knots plus when we arrived at Wide Bay bar, with 2m swells which was no problem till we turned into the wind to drop the sails. “Where did these bloody big swells come from” and “why didn’t I close that front window?”, water everywhere, and then as we enter the bar entrance which is a very precise waypoint, well three waypoints actually, the ‘C-map’ crashes and we are left with bugger all guidance. Exciting is one term but not the one that springs to mind. I wonder if that water coming in the front had anything to do with the C-map taking a rest? Still we obviously made it. If anyone can “Hecan” eh Mannie.

Heather was great, she had/has real concerns about her sea sickness but coped fine including being able to have a wee lie down for a couple of hours.
Getting here has been a cycle of ups and downs with lots of stress getting things done in time to depart and lots of achievements along the way. Staying at the Manly marina was very enjoyable meeting lots of helpful and nice people. Having done so much work on the boat I do have a much better understanding of our new home, and it is a helluva boat.

Our first day out was a very easy three hour motor to Moreton Island and play in the sand hills, massive big hills just made for yahooing down, which we did with a mate John who had sailed out in his “cat” to farewell us. Day two was a very cruisy motor sail to Mooloolaba and then day three, here we are. Tomorrow a wee 20 mile potter up behind Fraser Island to a resort where we know they will have the final State of Origin game, well they better, then a few relaxing days to get to Bunderberg where my bro Kim is flying in to meet us for a week on the boat which will be great.

That’s it for now folks, it’s off to have another wee chateau cardboard, very big here and very tasty, still they do have a wine glut big enough for a glass for everyone on the planet….and we are doing our share. It’s 7pm and we’re shattered.

It’s a new day. We came up the Big Sandy Strait yesterday, sandbanks everywhere which you can’t see, so you follow the channel markers, such that they are and we still scraped the bottom twice. Arrived at the Kingfisher Resort on the back of Fraser Island about 3 pm and went straight for coffees. Last night we went over the island a bit to, yes, The Dingo Bar, to watch the final State of Origin match. What a great game and we were in the right place to see the Maroons win. A real backpackers bar, reminded me of a ski bar, very “rustic”. Speaking of ski bars, I assume you guys are off to a flying start with truck loads of the white stuff. Us, well, this morning we awoke to water gently lapping the boat, the sun shining, dolphins lazing around which they do a lot of here, and fresh muffins and coffee. OK I lied about the muffins.
This is what it was all about.

02 July, 2006

We've begun .....

We’re about two hours out of Mooloolaba, by which you should gather we are now sailing on the water and our ‘real’ adventure has begun.

The two weeks we though would be in Brisbane (from when we arrived to when we thought we would have a boat) turned into three months, but it’s all been worth it.

We left Manly on Saturday morning 1st July, with Jan and Arnold waving to us from the pier. Arnold is the only man I have ever met who has towed a 16 foot ply surfboard to Bells Beach, in the 50’s, and that’s towing it behind his bike. The man is a qualified legend, and his board is now on display at the Melbourne Surf Museum.

True to form, as soon as we wanted wind, there was none, so we ended up motoring all the way over to Moreton Island. We spent a nice afternoon and evening with John. He came to join us on his catamaran ‘Jacana’. We all ran down the giant sand dunes together. Shane had fun jumping off the tops of the dunes and crashing onto the sand below!

We cracked a bottle of ‘bubbles’ – amongst others (thanks Wayne and Marjorie for the chardonnay) – on our first night to celebrate our first day on the water.

As I type this, a pod of dolphins is playing off to our port side. Every day we have been out on the water we have seen dolphins. I keep calling out to them “hey, Flipper, Flipper” to encourage them to keep swimming alongside us for a while. They don’t, so maybe I’ve got their names wrong …..

Tonight, it is fresh fish for dinner – courtesy of the great white hunter (Shane!).

At Mooloobaba we hope to catch up with Vaughan, who used to be the Nurse at Telecom; earlier this week we caught up with Niki McNickle and her hubby Ian at Manly (thanks for the drinks and hangover Nik!) so it is quite a week for catching up with my old Telecom workmates.

The sky is blue, the sun is shining brightly, and we both think we can cope with this lifestyle for a little while yet. As you can see, Shane is still hard at work!

 Posted by Picasa

17 June, 2006

An update now that we are living on the boat

We’ve been living on the boat now for nearly three weeks, so I thought it was time the blog got updated.

We moved on to the boat on Monday 29 May. Here we are moving onboard with our (then) possessions, plus our recently purchased kayak.

The previous owners left heaps of their gear (and junk) on the boat, so we had to go through all their stuff, decide what was going to be kept or thrown out, and then sort out where everything (their gear and ours) was going to go. That’s one thing you learn fast living on a yacht – you have to be really organised as far as storing things goes, and the saying “a place for everything, and everything in it’s place” really applies.

Here is a photo of us the first night on the boat. Enjoying some ‘bubbles’ at sunset to celebrate ………

Wednesday 31 May was like Christmas morning! Our seven tea chests containing all our gear (that we hadn’t seen for three months) arrived. It was really exciting coming across things we had totally forgotten about; but also a little despondent realising some things should have been left at home, and things at home should be here! I was also a little worried how we were going to fit everything on the boat, but once a couple of tea chests were empty I knew it wouldn’t be a problem. Tin Can is certainly a very spacious vessel.

‘Tin Can’ had a bit more rust than Shane remembered from his trip back to NZ, and it has proved to be quite a mission to get rid of it. Every morning last week, Shane disappeared into his ‘hole’ in the forward cabin, and for much of the day there was a mighty racket as he used a needle gun to remove the rust from the hull and the anchor well. He emerged at the end of the day looking like a chimney sweep – grime and dust from top to toe. He became quite despairing with the job in hand; at one stage there was even the utterance “do you get the feeling we have got a lemon?” Happily, a visit from the local engineering guys put his mind at rest. One look at Tin Can and their response was “we’ve seen more rust on Navy ships” and “this is nothing at all”. After that, Shane felt heaps better (and I have to say, so did I!).

Shane has been doing all the interior rust removal and painting this week, and also doing the prep-work for next week. I have been doing more of the “run around” jobs.

The boat goes into the marina work yard for three days next week for some new steel to be welded in. The rust was so bad in the anchor well, the steel that was left was paper-thin and in fact in some places, Shane went right through the steel with his needle gun rust removal (fortunately above the waterline).

We did have a break from hard work a couple of days last week, and we took the boat out into Moreton Bay. On the second day, John came out with us. John is a fellow Wellingtonian living here in Brisbane on a boat. I knew John vaguely from my dragon boating days in Wellington. On the day the three of us went out sailing, there was very little wind in the late afternoon and at one stage we were becalmed. Unfortunately that meant only one thing – we had to sit back and enjoy and ale or three, and some fresh Aussie prawns, until the breeze picked up again. Gee, this is a tough life!!

Life on board (albeit it in the marina) is just like living in a small flat, but we have to be a little more organised and flexible. To do the washing, I can’t just go and throw everything in the washing machine in the laundry at I did at home, and then peg it on the line. I have to hope that I time my visit to the marina laundry when everyone else is not there, and then I have to rig up lines on the boat to hang out the washing. The boat looked a little bit like a Chinese laundry the first washing day, but fortunately we have got plenty of space on the rear deck.

Hopefully we will have all the work done on the boat inside of the next two weeks, and then we can head off into the bright blue yonder. In the meantime we are enjoying all that Brisbane has to offer, not to mention helping keep their economy afloat by spending lots of money in the local marine stores, Bunnings, and hardware stores. Oh, and also the local cafes and coffee outlets ……… The weather here is fantastic – still shorts and t-shirts – and we are enjoying the sports (all the rugby is on TV here and we watched the second State of Origin on Wednesday). All the Brisbanites were certainly happy after a great win to tie up the series. We are heading into the ‘big smoke’ tomorrow night to watch an AFL (Aussie rules) game; let’s see if we can work out the rules. We had a good afternoon on the last Sunday we were at the motel. We took Doug’s advice on the blog (thanks Doug!) and went to the Story Bridge Hotel and listened to the great dixie-jazz band that plays there. They were so good, and it was such a cruisey afternoon, we hope to get back there again before we leave Brisbane.

Everyone here is really friendly and they go out of their way to be obliging and helpful. We have enjoyed our time in Brissy, but at the end of the month we’ll start heading up the coast, in time to meet Shane’s daughter who flies in to meet us in the Whitsundays in early August. Our days are certainly busy at the moment, but hopefully we’ll soon be able to sit back and relax a little…… I am certainly looking forward to many gin and tonics on the deck.

To finish off this little chapter - we have just had some good news. Maritime NZ have accepted our registration, so we are now “all legal” – ‘Tin Can’ is no more, and from here on in, ‘eNZwell’ sails the ocean waves. We are getting all the signwriting done next week! We will do the necessary dancing on the deck, and offer the requisite gifts to Neptune, so that good fortune follows eNZwell and her crew…….. Posted by Picasa

26 May, 2006


It's here !!!!!!!
We were on our way out to the marina to check out the berth when the owner rung to say he had arrived, at least a day early, so YE HAH. Let the adventure begin, well, begin with cleaning, rust killing, scrubbing etc. Anyway it's here and we will move on to it Monday then we can give you a proper update. Oh and of course Heather hadn't seen it before and thankfully the admiral is happy.
Till later Shane and Heath

19 May, 2006

Killing time!

While waiting for the boat to arive, it left on Wednesday, here are some shots from the past and from the present. The room has been our home for the last seven weeks. The boat is the last New Zealand view of Tin Can, soon to be Enzwell. Heather sailing the Cook strait and one of us looking not our best at our farewell .
A few shoots around Brissy. Posted by Picasa