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Thursday, March 22, 2012

March 19 – 21, 2012 Brisbane and Scott’s final days with us

Monday afternoon we were all bushed but nothing could keep Frank and Scott from the Story Bridge Hotel for some ice-cold beer and sports on TV. They freshened up and set off within the hour. I phoned Deery's, the steak house at Story Bridge for a dinner booking and then settled in for some P's and Q's. At the appointed hour I walked up to Deery's to meet them for an astonishingly good steak dinner.

Tuesday we walked Scott half to death. We had one full day to show him the town, so of course we took him to our favorite highlights. First we hopped on the river ferry across to town for a stroll through CBD to Queen Street, and then over the bridge to Southbank. Frank introduced Scott to The Plough Inn. It was of course a big hit. The sun came out for a good bit of the day – thank you Mother Nature. We walked from Southbank to West End for a tasty Chinese lunch at West End Gardens, and then afterward the guys decided to bar-hop their way back via Southbank, so I went on ahead and left them to their last day of guy-time.

In spite of the return of intermittent rain, we donned our "going out to eat dinner" attire and walked to Spizzico that night for a good old-fashioned home cooked Italian meal. Scott left EARLY Wednesday morning to catch a cab to the airport. His return would be a flight to Sydney and then an afternoon flight back to the States.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March 15 – 19, 2012 Sailing Overnight to the Gold Coast and Visiting Gold Coast

Rock and roll as the story goes, from Coffs. We pitched and we rolled under gray skies out of the harbor heading offshore chasing the current and hoping to catch good wind. It was not our favorite overnighter. None of them are for me anyway. We were thankful to have Scott and the extra pair of eyes and a body to take the load off watches. We were all too keyed up, though to make an attempt at sticking to a schedule. I have been feeling somewhat under par, and after mid-morning I was down for the count, leaving the boys to take care of the day. It was like that on and off all day and into the evening. I felt somewhat guilty, but the exhaustion was nearly overwhelming. They both seemed to enjoy being up there together in the cockpit, alternatively reading and watching for obstacles. There wasn't much else to do. Into the night we dodged several large ships and fishing vessels. Daylight could not come soon enough, but as always it did and as always we made it through just fine. Winds were not cooperative, nor was weather but thankfully that is why we have an engine.  Our arrival at Gold Coast's Mariner's Cove was much easier this time as we hit it at nil tide around 2:34 in the afternoon.

The rain has remained with us but was now slowed to fits and bursts. We were all very tired from that journey and although we wanted a good meal, we settled for the mediocre Hogs Breath Saloon where we paid entirely too much for a sub-standard meal, but according to the boys the beer was cold and afterward, Scott enjoyed his wine so the evening had its successes.

Friday brought more rain. We wanted to take Scott to the beaches, which are so nice here and made it a short walk to the surf club. We took him on the bus to Surfer's Paradise so he could see what the Gold Coast hoopla is all about. He was fortunate to catch sight of two scantily gold-clad meter maids.

Saturday I needed to get to the Apple Store at Robina for some tutoring on my MacBook, and it was raining anyway so the boys came along. Little did we know this was the day they were rolling out the new iPad. The Apple Store was filled to overflowing and had a queue of hopeful patrons running halfway through the mall. We settled for lunch and a little shopping.

Sunday the guys went to a local bar to watch rugby and I managed to get my appointment at Apple.  The rain persisted.

Monday we left at 6:00 AM, heading for Brisbane. Time to get a move on so Scott could at least see a little of Brisbane before he left. We arrived at Dockside Marina at 3 PM. Guess what?! It was raining.

Friday, March 16, 2012

March 11 – 15, 2012 – Last Time at Coffs Harbour and a Visit From Friends

Good Sail for the first part of our day and then as a curtain falls, so did the wind. We made it into the marina at Coffs Harbour in time to get checked and for the boys to scramble off to the yacht club for drinks. I opted for some solitude.

Monday, the boys took off for a round of golf while I went into town.  I enjoyed my day of no men. It is nice that Frank has a friend to do "guy stuff" with, and nice for me just to have some time alone. I went into every store that I felt like browsing without the irritation of having someone impatiently waiting outside or hovering over my shoulder.  A friend of mine and I agreed one day that men take all the time in the world when they are in a marine store, DIY store, hardware, auto parts, or liquor store, but when it comes to shopping with us they grunt and moan as though being punished. So, yes I enjoy these times alone. I ended my browse around town and then walked the few miles back down toward the marina where I stopped for a very good lunch and a coffee. I retuned to Destiny, stowed my (mostly grocery) purchases and then settled down with a book to get the laundry done at the local facility. I was nearly finished with the washing when the boys appeared in high spirits. Scott insisted on treating us to dinner at the new local seafood restaurant overlooking the bay. We enjoyed that while appreciating a very lovely sunset.

Tuesday it rained. Frank went into town to take care of some of our personal banking business, with Scott in tow. I did rainy day chores. Then on Wednesday, Jan Meggitt's parents, Cecil and Patricia Williams, who live in Coffs Harbour, came for a visit. We had missed them the last time we stopped here. They drove down with Pat's sister Jean to the marina for a peek aboard Destiny, bearing an entire branch of Coffs Harbour bananas. We had a cuppa and some biscuits and then went up to the yacht club for lunch. After a lovely visit with them and a short stroll they returned home and we returned to Destiny to finish our chores and to ready Destiny for an overnighter to Gold Coast.

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 6 – 11, 2012 – Port Macquarie, Scott Morlan’s visit cont’d

On the way up to Port Macquarie (Port to the locals) from Port Stephens we warned Scott about "The Bar" into Port. Frank timed it so perfectly, however, that Scott wondered what the fuss was all about as we easily cruised through the jettys. The roughest part of that trip was getting literally thrown all over the place leaving Port Stephens! My gosh it was awful, and it wasn't until quite a long way out of there that conditions settled enough to feel really secure. I told the boys I would not be spending much time in the galley, and that they are on their own for lunch.

Because this is one of our favorite stops along the Aussie coast we enjoyed showing Scott the highlights. Foremost on the list was Finnian's Pub for the $10 NY strip steak. He loved it, as we knew he would and in fact we made a return visit for dinner one night for fish and chips. Everything they cook there is good.

Two of our days in Port, Frank and Scott played golf on the two different courses, declaring one of them nicer than the RYGC.

On the first pretty day we took Scott on the jetty walk along the waterfront of town out toward the river bar, showing him the colorfully decorated granite boulders that lined the entrance.

We paraded Scott on the "Bat" walk, through the park area along the stream. He didn't care so much for this one due to the stench of the massive amounts of guano and the screeching of thousands of Flying Foxes hanging from the trees above us. Parts of the walk are quite lovely though, taking you through the botanicals and along some very pretty trails.

Another day the boys amused me by accompanying me on the very long coastal walk toward Flynn's beach to the local second hand bookstore/coffee shop. We had gotten Scott hooked on Lee Childs' Jack Reacher novels, so he didn't mind so much perusing the shelves. Afterward, we hiked back into town along the inland path (road) and stopped at a local pub for a bit of people watching.

By now Scott has become quite the yachtie. He has very nearly perfected weighing and setting the anchor, grabbing a mooring ball and helping Frank with general boat chores. He is a good cook and insisted on helping out in the galley, washing or drying dishes. He has a great attitude about living aboard. We even taught him our favorite card game (Baja Rummy) and how to play Qwirkle. We got him as into "My Kitchen Rules" as we are. And best of all he became very comfortable with our evening after dinner ritual of having a cup of tea while eating chocolates. He of all the visitors we have had on board now understands the life and lifestyle of Frank and Barbara living aboard a yacht. He is now ready for an overnighter. This he would experience very soon.

At 5 AM on March 11th we effected a very dark departure from Port due to two objectives: number one was to go with the outgoing tide from here and number two was to arrive at Coffs Harbour before nightfall.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March 2 – 6, 2012 - Port Stephens

We sailed fast and rough most of the way from Broken Bay. Weather was ugly making our ride a wet one. We pulled into Port Stephens' Nelson Bay in the pouring rain and finding no available mooring we dropped the hook. Eventually the rain lightened to intermittent, giving us a shot at going to shore. The boys found a great people-watching bar, and so that is just what we did. We sat, ate and watched all the people.

Saturday morning we could hear music wafting through the air from somewhere on shore. As the skies cleared we noted several small tents set up along the walkway at the local park. Frank and Scott decided to go in for an exploratory mission, leaving me on the boat. I really thought they were just going to see what was going on and would come back for me, but they were gone for several hours. I decided I could either be angry about this, feeling more than a little abandoned, or I could kick back with a good book and enjoy the solitude. I chose the latter.  Around mid-day, the Coast Guard stopped by to let me know that they would be clearing out the anchorage in the afternoon in order to move in the fire-works barge for a big show that night. I phoned Frank to let him know that we should move the boat. When he didn't answer I realized a rooster was "cock-a-doodling" from our study. Frank's cell phone ring is a rooster. Well so much for that. I climbed out on deck and craned my neck, searching the crowd but found no sign of Frank or Scott. I returned to my reading, counting to 100 first..
The sun made a big entrance at about mid afternoon and at that time Frank came out in the dinghy to tell me there is a BIG fishing tournament going on, a wine-tasting, music festival and market all happening together and that I should come to shore because I was missing all the fun! Now is this the best thing he could have said to me? I think not. I said that he initially was going to go check it out and get back to me...hours ago. He explained very innocently that he forgot his phone. Oh – I see, that explains it.  I then casually mentioned to him we had to move the boat. We began to weigh anchor just as storm clouds reappeared, blotted out the sun and threw wind into our faces, churning up the water. With great effort we managed to get Destiny moved over to the next cove and secured to a mooring. By now, the entire bay was filled with whitecaps. Frank wanted me to return to shore with him and I probably would have had he intended to go to shore at the beach where we were moored, and then walk over to the festival from this anchorage. He felt that would take too long and was worried about having left Scott alone to fend for himself. I told Frank with a wine festival and a beer booth at his disposal Scott would be just fine, nonetheless, he opted for the faster route across the cove around the point to Nelson Bay in the dinghy. I thought he was crazy because it was too nasty, and opted to stay onboard.  I watched Frank take off heading back with my heart in my throat. Several times he bashed into oncoming waves that literally stood the dinghy straight up on the stern. Only when he rounded the point into the protected waters of the marina did I exhale.  Eventually, Frank and Scott returned none the worse for the wear. They had a great time and carried commemorative wine glasses to prove it.

Sunday, Pauline phoned from her place at Boomerang. She was scheduled to drive home to Sydney that night and if she had time she planned to stop at Port Stephens to see us one last time. I tried to urge her to come early for the festival. She made no promises, having her hands full for the day. The weather had cleared to a nice sunny day. After breakfast Frank, Scott and I went to shore. There was plenty to see and do. They boys were done with wine. We strolled the waterfront tasting some of the food, checking out arts, gifts and other displays, then sat in the entertainment pavilion to enjoy some great live music.  Pauline phoned with the good news that she was on her way over. She joined us for part of the frivolity and then we watched the return of tournament fishing boats. We ended the day with a lovely dinner and then I tearfully saw Pauline to her car and on her way back to Sydney. I knew this was the last time I would get to say goodbye to my very dear friend. She above everyone else has gotten so close to me. She is my Aussie Gemini sista! I love her dearly. She hugged me hard and promised to come visit us when we get into Asia. I believe she will.

Frank and Scott had wanted to play golf at Port Stephens but with the crazy weather we experienced there they just couldn't get to it. We took Scott for some of our walks that we always enjoyed so much here, and then all too suddenly it was time to leave. Tuesday morning, Frank announced that we should be leaving around 9 or 10 AM so that we will hit the Port Macquarie Bar at incoming tide.  We braced ourselves for the rodeo ride out of beautiful Port Stephens and again, had a thriller of a sail all the way up the coast.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Feb 28 – March 2, 2011 Goodbye to Broken Bay and our Friends the Meggitts

Tuesday afternoon's arrival at Broken Bay was met with a downpour of rain and typical Russell/Aussie style hospitality. He had driven his classic Holden car down to pick us up at Bobbin Head, all smiles and ready to meet Scott. He deposited us at his house where he, Frank and Scott immediately began the male bonding process – meet new friend over a beer. I sought out Jan who had been busily preparing dinner. We enjoyed a down home evening with them, ending with one of Kate's mouthwatering dessert specialties: sticky date pudding.

Wednesday morning Jan picked me up for a girl's day out. We hit the Hornsby (Mall) shopping center where we enjoyed a wonderful seafood lunch, shopping at her favorite dress shop where I bought 3 lovely dresses, and went to see the movie, "The Vow".  We arrived back at Bobbin Head in a torrent of rain. I had forgotten to bring an umbrella. We didn't have the marina key so we sat in her car watching the downpour intensify while trying to figure out how to get in there. After quite a while of sitting and hoping for someone to come along with a passkey Jan was able to raise Russell on his cell phone only to find that they were sitting on board Tomkat in the marina berth. They didn't seem keen on letting us in. Instead, Frank appeared in the dinghy instructing me to meet him at the public jetty. I gave Jan one last long hug, thanking her profusely for everything and promising to always stay in touch as I bounded out of the car. I was laden with bags of food and clothing trying to walk from the parking lot down to the public boat ramp in the rain. I was drenched by the time I reached him. He grinned up at me, proffering my foul-weather jacket and although it was a little too late to do much good, I accepted his peace offering. I just couldn't be upset with him. He was so charming I knew he felt guilty about something, but I didn't want to know what about.  He seemed relieved when I sent him on his way (back to the boys and the beer), so I could get my purchases dried and stowed. I was very happy to be onboard a dry Destiny. Quite a long time passed before Frank and Scott returned. I'd had a big lunch and presumed that they would not be ripe for dinner, and had retired to our cabin to read my book. I was nearly nodding off when I heard the approaching dinghy motor, followed by giggling, stumbling and something crashing which I presumed to be Scott into the cockpit. He is still developing his sea legs. I stifled a laugh and sent up a prayer that neither was seriously injured.

Early Thursday morning we moved Destiny out to Little Pittwater Cove close to the mouth of Broken Bay.  The boys told me about their day with Russell. He took them in Tomkat over to his favorite restaurant in Broken Bay at the Patonga Beach Hotel. They declared it the best Fish and Chips in the Universe, as they know it.  They bonded with the proprietor and a local radio station celebrity who offered them t-shirts and a spot on the early (radio) show if only they would be on the open channel at 4:00 - 6 AM. He wanted them to broadcast their adventures moving along the coast. I am sorry to say it didn't get to happen.

Friday, March 2, we swallowed some coffee, weighed anchor at 7:00 AM and were off for Port Stephens. We enjoyed a bit of a rough ride exiting Broken Bay, which is on par in these parts, but that discomfort did not compare to the sadness I felt leaving here for the last time. One more door slowly clicked shut, keeping a piece of my heart behind.