Friday, December 31, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
and unless you are a member or a local it doesn't feel as inviting to
us as transients. Terry and Christine invited us over for dinner at
their home, so in the afternoon we went over to their place.
Their home is one of those multilevel ones you'd see along the
shoreline that is built up the side of the hill. It is like a
beautiful resort. Every room faces the water and has a balcony. It is
open and fresh. In the early evening the birds come right onto the
balcony just off their dining room for the daily treats that Terry and
Christine provide to them. We were thrilled to see Cockatoos, parrots
and Kookaburras practically eating out of Terry's hands. They came
right up to us, no fear. Fair dinkum!
After that we dined on Terry's amazingly prepared grilled steaks and
prawns. Ah, it was a lovely evening. Before leaving we agreed that the
next day they would come by for sundowners and then we would head over
to have dinner at their favorite Thai restaurant.
Frank and I spent the next day just doing boat chores and getting
settled from the overnight trips. We are not comfortable here and look
forward to leaving for Sydney tomorrow AM.
Dinner with Terry and Christine was very good. Great Thai food and
company. We all hugged goodbye and then headed home. They sure are a
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Australian waters, a dense thick fog settled in around us as the wind
and seas became virtually still. We turned on all of our running
lights and deck lights in an effort to be visible to all traffic,
since some may not have/use or be paying attention to their radar.
Fortunately we forged on without incident.
The going continued at a snail's pace as the countercurrent pushed
against us and as we maneuvered back toward land to make approach at
Pittwater. I was happy to be able to brew up some coffee and prepare
breakfast in the becalmed conditions.
Time passed, the fog lifted we both got some rest and then just after
midday we had a good visual of the entrance to Pittwater. The day
turned out to be beautiful, the water sparkled and the approach into
this huge bay was an inviting and welcome sight. Lots and lots of
activity greeted us, as we passed by several yacht races, bobbing
fishing boats and vacationers participating in all kinds of water
sports. We felt revitalized.
We dug out the phone # of our friends, Terry Moran and Christine Soul
whom we had met in SavuSavu aboard their beautiful big catamaran,
Sedna. We had cruised with them on and off during the season in the
islands. They lived somewhere in Pittwater and had told us to be sure
to ring them when we arrived there. We got in touch with them and
obtained directions to their area of the bay. Pittwater is absolutely
huge; 5 miles long and littered with inlets, bays, lovely beaches,
resorts, yacht clubs, townships and reserves. Terry and Christine
lived on a little private island called Scotland Island, which is at
the far end of Pittwater. We bobbed and weaved, zigged and zagged past
the sailboat racers, fishermen, jet boaters and water skiers taking an
hour to arrive at the little anchorage off Scotland island. The
anchorage was packed and so we motored around for another half hour to
find a suitable place to anchor. Even still it was in the path of the
water taxis and ferry boats but we had no other choice. It was 2:30 PM.
Terry came out in his runabout to tell us the lay of the land and to
invite us to dinner at their house the following night. We unpacked
our deck chairs, the grill and tidied up Destiny before having an
early dinner and settling in for a nice long rest for the evening.
Friday, December 17, 2010
as we navigated our way through a minefield of large fishing boats and
container ships and watched a dazzling light show. We left Port
MacQuarie yesterday at 9 AM, thinking that we would have a quick and
easy 24-hour passage to Pittwater, some 170 miles south. Had the
weather forecast been correct we would have done just that, but it is
now 10 AM and we are at least another 7-8 hours from our destination.
The first couple of hours out, we managed to get 20+ knots of wind on
a very close reach. We knew from experience that once we got to the
eastern Australia current we would shoot right down the coast at
between 8 and 11 knots, regardless of the prevailing winds. For
whatever reason that did not happen. The current eluded us and
instead, we got some crazy erratic winding, swirling current that
would literally knock us out of Auto Pilot. We needed the winds to be
as forecasted: 15 -20 knots nor' easterly, tending northerly. Most of
the day, however, the winds were in our face (southwesterly) and the
current against us. By mid-day, we were managing to sail along at a
little over 6 knots, when Frank yelled to me to come help him with the
headsail. The halyard had snapped causing the genoa to drop like a
rock right into the water! Of course it immediately filled with water
and got sucked up under the bow. I scooted forward and for nearly 30
minutes, we heaved and pulled to get the sail out of the water, aboard
the boat. Thank God, the sea swell was less than 2 meters and the
winds were still under 20 knots. Frank quickly rigged a temporary
halyard from the spare we use for the gennaker. He got the sail re-
threaded into the track as I tried to hand crank it up. Geez, this
sail was wet and very heavy and I was having a hell of a time trying
to hoist it. Finally, we changed places so Frank could man the
hoisting efforts and I could guide the sail. When it was about
halfway up of course the wind began to build, trying to rip the sail
out of my grasp. Frank kept trying to turn the boat into the wind to
give us a break but the swirling current would just spin us right back.
Eventually we got the sail back into operation and were ready to sail
away with this fresh new wind. We were riding pretty steadily so we
turned on the watermaker and carried on. After about an hour,
however, the winds continued shifting and we began to heel too far to
Starboard so that the watermaker lost efficiency and began to suck
air. We shut it down to find that the water pump would not shut off
and that all of the water had gone into the Starboard tank, leaving
the port tank dry. It kept grinding away, so Frank turned it off –
this means we cannot use any water because the water pump enables
water to come out of the tanks into the faucets. We changed tack,
hoping that the water would level off back into both tanks. The
promised nor'easterlies did not arrive, but the sou'westerlies
prevailed so rather than beat ourselves to death as we'd done the
other day we just took our time and tacked back and forth making no
more than 6.5 knots.
As we were settling into a nice rest after lunch, Frank announced that
our flag halyard had broken. The Australian courtesy flag was
flapping haphazardly in the wind and hanging on by one end. He tried
to bring it down, but was unsuccessful, so he attempted to tie off one
end at the mast pulpit, raising the courtesy flag to the spreader in
hopes that it will hang in there until we can go up to retrieve it and
the broken halyard.
By 9 PM, both of us were still too wired from the day's events to get
any sleep but Frank urged me to try to go down for a few hours so we
could begin our night watches. This is about when the seas decided to
kick up, so I tossed and turned until around 10:20, announcing to
Frank quite often that I just can't do it. I drank 2 cups of
Sleepytime Tea and about 30 minutes later I finally got fell off to
sleep. I awoke at 11:40 feeling OK, although I'd only gotten an hour
of sleep. I went up to relieve Frank and that is when I saw the
virtual traffic jam of sea vessels. They were all around us and
seemingly coming at us from everywhere. The seas were chock full of
plankton giving us the phosphorescent light show we love so much,
throwing luminous pale green flashes out from Destiny's sides that
looked like glow in the dark wings, and shooting out the stern leaving
a brilliant 20 foot trail of sparkles in our wake. There was a
lightening storm many miles to the west that threw fantastic jagged
streaks across the skies illuminating the entire night like a giant
strobe. And to top it off, we witnessed numerous falling stars. It
was a show that entertained us and kept us awake and in awe as the
long hours passed. It was such a frenzied and busting atmosphere
around us that we both stayed up all night long watching and
maneuvering. I was tired, but Frank was exhausted. Finally just
before dawn, at around 4 AM, Frank went down for some rest.
Now the winds are nearly gone and the seas are relatively flat as we
continue to motor toward Pittwater.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
cruise up the Brisbane River, past the major shipping port, meandering
along commercial and residential areas. We felt a certain excitement
and thrill at arriving here. Our destination was the Dockside Marina
just around the bend from CBD Brisbane. We were advised not to
attempt to dock until "nil tide", which on this day would be well
after dark. Fortunately the marina gave us a temporary berth at the
end of B-pier giving us the opportunity to slide right up and side-tie
for the night. We had been forewarned that this marina could be quite
uncomfortable because it is right out there on the river without a
breakwater of any kind, and is heavy with traffic. It is, however,
the absolute closest to downtown Brisbane, therefore we felt we could
tolerate the discomfort. We stayed for two weeks and YES it is
uncomfortable but quite tolerable.
There is something very important that happened to us at about this
time. Our young friend, Owen Topolnicki who is a second-grader in
Castle Rock, CO sent us a paper doll character that he made, named
Flat Stanley. We are to take Stanley around with us, show him some
important landmarks and then send this all back to Owen so he can
report it to his class. When we shared this information with the
Spencers they decided to help us show Stanley the sights of Brisbane.
We even set up a Facebook page for him. You are welcome to visit him
there. Just look for Flat Stanley.
Thursday morning, at 6:30 we moved into our berth, had breakfast and
then at 10:00, Scott and Muriel Spencer came to get us. It was a rainy
day, as most recent days have been but it did not deter us one bit.
They took us for a driving tour of the Brisbane area, which gave us a
good overview of what this lovely area has to offer. Our first stop
was the lookout at the top of Mount Coot-tha. Even on this dreary day
the panoramic view was spectacular. Next stop was a famous landmark
– The Breakfast Creek Hotel, affectionately known as Brekky Creek.
Built in the late 1800's, it is not only a beautiful landmark but also
a famous steakhouse and watering hole. We had a delicious steak
lunch, basked in the lively ambience for a bit while the boys enjoyed
some ice cold brews and then as the rains threatened to soak us to the
bone we ran for the car to continue our get-to-know Brisbane tour.
The next morning we packed our bags for a long weekend with the
Spencers. When they picked us up we set off directly for the
Australia Zoo, which was the pet project of Steve Irwin, The Crocodile
Hunter. This zoo is absolutely amazing! We had an opportunity to
actually interact (touch) koalas, kangaroos and wombats. Of course we
saw lots of crocs and snakes and lizards. The birds here in Australia
are amazing as well, and it is so shocking for us to see varieties of
cockatoos, parrots and macaws flying around wild. This is where I got
to hold a koala and get my picture taken. It was most assuredly the
highlight of my visit to OZ so far! Of course we took Stanley who
also got to touch the animals and watch the croc show, the bird show
and the elephant show.
Friday night we gussied up for a night at the theater. We went to see
"The Ultimate Rock 'n' Roll Jam Session", featuring music from Elvis,
Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis on a historic date:
December 4, 1956, when these four men met at Sun Record Studios in
Memphis for an impromptu jam session. It starred four famous Aussie
musicians. We had front row seats. It was incredible! What a great
end to a wonderful day.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
big and the winds high during our trip down, but getting into the
marina is just as challenging. With the local swell and
countercurrents we struggled to get into the berth. There are
cruisers who do not care for this marina and then there are many who
like this marina for various personal reasons. Do not count us among
them. It is laid out in such a fashion that the walk up to the office
and facilities is annoyingly long. Other than the marina office and
amenities, a local seafood shop and a high-end restaurant, there isn't
much here. Unless you own or rent a car you pretty much feel like you
are out in the boonies. There were a couple of redeeming attractions.
Foremost was that our friends Laura and Mark Pitt were here on their
yacht, "Sabbatical III". We had last seen them in Noumea, New
Caledonia last October. The second positive aspect for us is the
amazing hiking/walking trail that goes on forever. It is very nicely
maintained and is equipped with lots and lots of exercise equipment,
picnic tables and state-of-the-art BBQ grills all along the path. We
spent two nights here. Both nights we took food over to the picnic
area and BBQ'd with Laura and Mark. The first night was just the 4 of
us. The next night, Bob and Belle on "Bichou", and Mike and Mary on
"Carpe Vita" also joined us. We enjoyed visiting with our friends,
but were anxious to get going, so on Wednesday we set off for Brisbane
which is just 30 or so miles up the coast.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
where we anchored in VERY shallow water along with too many other
yachts and much too much watercraft traffic. Because it took us the
entire day just to travel the few miles to the bottom of Fraser
Island, we stayed the night. We felt very uncomfortable here, but it
is where boats await a good opportunity to pass across Wide Bar Bay.
The waterways in this area are a challenge for keelboats. You must
time entrances, exits and crossings over the sand bars carefully.
There are many, many shoals which actually move with the strong
shifting currents, varying tide differentials and winds. Prudent
sailors ("Boaties" they call us here), check with the Coast Guard
before making a move in or out of these areas. Weather has been
erratic and not optimum for cruising, so we must be patient.
Early Tuesday morning, we took the incoming tide into Tin Can Bay,
following Endangered Species and Wind Pony. We all went in to shore
for a nice long walk, had a fantastic lunch and then consulted with
the Coast Guard about best next moves. The others decided to stay for
another day to feed the dolphins in the morning.
Frank and I were ready to get going and had a good weather window, so
at first light we rode the incredible rollercoaster that is called
Wide Bar Bay. Oddly, you must exit at incoming tide. It was quite the
most unusual ride we have had since cruising; bucking the tide and the
wind, seeking the exact waypoints issued by the Coast Guard so that we
could hit the precise exit point out of the bay, while watching the
rollers crash toward us. It is an ominous feeling. We revved the
engine to nearly 3000 RPM, making barely ½ knot of forward movement at
times. Frank finally found the sweet spot and we made it through the
3-mile pass in just over an hour and a half. Wow, what a ride! Poor
Destiny – she looked like a hobbyhorse going through that pass! But
when we broke free we got good wind and flew toward the river leading
to Mooloolaba. We passed by several multi-million dollar homes along
the river telling us that this is where the big boys and girls come to
play, once again arriving at the anchorage just at sundown.