14 January 2007
Happy New Year to everyone – and whoops, it’s been over a month since we last ‘blogged’ so sorry for the tardiness on our part. Christmas festivities and all have a lot to answer for…….. You must all be hanging with baited breath for our next instalment, so here goes….
We are now in the marina at Coffs Harbour on the NSW coast, having come in here to get a couple of things fixed on the boat. On our trip south the engine started overheating (turned out the impeller in the raw water pump was totally knackered) and the hot water cylinder had been leaking for a few days.
Back to what we have been up to. We spent our time in Brisbane – one week at the marina at Rivergate (on the Brisbane River near the Gateway Bridge) and four weeks on a pile mooring next to the Botanical Gardens right in the middle of the city. The week at the marina was necessitated by what we thought were major engine problems. It turned out to be nothing more serious than an airlock, but we used the time at the marina to get two solar panels installed. Shane reckons we need one more solar panel, and along with the wind generator we already have, we should be sweet for power to the batteries. At the marina we also pulled out our small engine (used for topping up the batteries). It wasn’t terribly well and would have cost a lot to get fixed. Getting rid of it has probably made the boat about 300 kgs lighter. Mind you, the cases of wine we have on board have negated some of that!!!
Our time on the pile mooring was great. We met some really nice yachties there, who helped me celebrate when the birthday fairy visited just before Christmas. I had a really nice day; brunch at a local café late morning, a very relaxing facial in the afternoon, and drinkies and pizza at night, followed by more drinkies aboard ‘Irene’ (the yacht of English couple Dick and Pat). Another highlight on the piles was that we have got hot water on the boat! Shane hooked up the hot water cylinder to the engine (prior to that it was running off 110v power) and so now I can do the dishes without having to boil the jug, and we can have hot water for showers (without having to rely on solar showers). GREAT!!!!!!
I insisted that we have a Christmas tree on the boat, and managed to find a small Christmas tree that we decorated with small Father Christmases. They were bought from one of the $2 type-shops and therefore the workmanship wasn’t outstanding. One of the Father Christmases didn’t have any eyes, so in one of his lighter moments, Shane made a white stick and attached it to Santa’s hand!! We had the tree on our dining table, with our presents around the bottom of the tree and Christmas cards hung around the cabin. At least Enzwell was a little Christmassy.
Christmas Day for us was fairly quiet. Lots of phone calls home in the morning (to catch up with friends and family around lunchtime NZ-time) and then we were off for our Christmas lunch at a nearby hotel. When Shane made the booking, he asked what the menu was (we wanted to afford ‘buffet style’ at all costs). They told him it was six-course, and that we would hardly be able to move at the end. They were right! The second course was an antipasto platter that would have fed us both as a main course by itself. We then struggled through the main course and dessert, before conceding defeat. We left the restaurant with a doggy-bag containing courses five and six – which we enjoyed the next day!
SE Queensland has had unusually cold and wet weather over the holiday period, so Wellington, you haven’t got the bad weather on your own. It was 19 degrees in Brisbane on Dec 27th, the coldest it has been on that day for over 80 years. We caught up on a few movies we wanted to see while the weather wasn’t great. We didn’t mind the cool weather too much; better than it being stifling hot. Brisbane is big on fireworks, and New Years Eve was no exception. We invited Marj and Wayne on to the boat – they were our moteliers when we first got to Brisbane, and we have enjoyed their hospitality during the year so it was time to reciprocate. It was like State Highway One in the afternoon and early evening as everyone in Brisbane with a launch headed up the river to get a good vantage point for the fireworks. We decided not to watch the fireworks from the tender – far too much traffic on the river – but instead walked to the Goodwill Bridge ten minutes away from the yacht and had a good view from there.
Enzwell hosted farewell drinks on January 1, and we set sail the next day to head south. We had five nights on the inland route between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Because the waterways are inland, and therefore relatively calm, there are a lot of houseboats on the Gold Coast. They look a bit like a Skyline garage on a barge! We saw heaps of them; they looked quite funny after we have been used to seeing yachts.
The Gold Coast would also have to have one of the highest jet-ski per person ratios that we have come across. Some launches we saw were towing a tender, plus a couple of jet-skis. Nothing like taking all the toys away when you go on holiday! We went ashore our last day in Surfers to head to the markets at Carrara. We got back to the tender late in the afternoon, to find someone had pinched one of our oars. I don’t suppose that it’s too bad considering it took six months for us to have something stolen. There was a rave-party/music festival on further up the coast, and it is possible that someone on their way there took it for a laugh and threw it away further up the beach. I had a good walk along the shoreline but didn’t find it. Shane managed to get a surf in while we were on the Gold Coast, but a strong on-shore wind meant that his dreams of a good surf didn’t eventuate. He’ll have to wait until we get to Sydney.
Last Sunday we left the Gold Coast Seaway and were into the Tasman Sea. It was nice to be sailing again! A planned 24 hour trip down the NSW coast to the Clarence River only took us 15 hours due to the strong current we had with us. It meant though that we were coming over the bar entry at midnight – a little scary entering an unknown bar for the first time at night! Luckily it was near a full moon, and the Clarence River bar is one of the best on the coast.
We picked the eyes out of the weather, as the day after we came into the Clarence River, a squall came up, and it would have been fairly scary sailing and coming over the bar in that weather. We had two days at Ilkua, going for a walk through their heritage-listed rainforest. Looked pretty much like dry bush to us…….. It certainly wasn’t how I remember the last rainforest I was in (the Daintree Rainforest in far north Queensland a few years back). We had two nights up the Clarence River anchored in the river at Maclean, which is known as the “Scottish Town in Australia”. To get there (and back), we had to go under the bridge at Harwood. The centre of the bridge lifts up; there we were, stopping traffic on the Pacific Highway between Sydney and Brisbane so that the centre of the bridge could lift up for us to go underneath!
Maclean is a lovely little town; there is evidence of their Scottish heritage everywhere. Each of the lampposts in the main street is painted with the tartan of a different clan. Lots of the shops sell Scottish souvenirs, and the butcher sells black pudding. I was tempted…..!
There are lots of trawler boats operating in the Clarence River. They trawl for ‘schoolies’ – tiny little prawns. Probably the reason they are tiny is that the river appears to be obscenely over fished, and the prawns don’t get a chance to grow big. Due to the boats, lots of birdlike is attracted to the river, to get the pickings of what the trawler boats throw overboard. One of the birds must have mistaken us for a trawler boat, and hopped along for the ride as we were heading back down the river!
Our last night in the Clarence River on Thursday was spent at Yamba, a seaside town at the river entrance. Shane got to have a surf there, and given it was his birthday the following day (and we would be at sea) we went out for dinner in Yamba and went to the movies (Happy Feet).
We left Yamba on Friday and headed south for Coffs Harbour. We have got the problems sorted, and plan to leave here on Tuesday morning. NSW is certainly not as yachtie-friendly in terms of protected anchorages as was Queensland, so we will probably try and do a couple of long trips to knock off the miles. We plan to get to Sydney by January 26 which is Australia Day, as there is bound to be a lot happening on the harbour – including more fireworks! One thing we are enjoying in NSW is daylight saving; it is nice being able to sleep in past 0500 hours in the morning!
We will anchor in Sydney for a while, and then find a safe marina to leave ‘enzwell’ for three weeks when we come home in late February. We’re already planning what warm clothes we will bring home to wear; we have got very well acclimatised to the Australian weather and it is going to be a shock to the system to return to NZ!
That’s it for now – the next blog should come to you from Sydney.
Heather and Shane