Thursday, 29 May 2014

Australia, Gold Coast - 23/5/14

We're on the Gold Coast! Although it hasn't been very exciting so far. We had a 24 hour passage, which ended up being about 28 hours. Short passages can bite me.

90% of the time I'm sick on the first day, especially the first night. It usually takes me two or three days to get over the seasickness and get used to the ocean. On an overnight passage I have no hope. So I spent most of that trip feeling pretty miserable and trying to sleep in the cockpit. I eventually made it downstairs to sleep for a shift when it started raining, but it was a pretty uncomfortable trip nonetheless. It's really hard doing just a day or two - by the time you start adjusting to the two hour shifts, it's over and your body clock is all over the place.

We spent the first day here sleeping, collapsing as soon as we dropped anchor. We hadn't had dinner or breakfast, so I took a meal replacement shake to bed with me, along with some crackers and that was that. We are not good at this. I remember reading stories and blogs written by people who had sailed around the world before we started this, and I always scoffed when they said it was too hard to cook or eat properly. The shake took me half an hour to make at anchor, and I only had to add water. I guess once you reach a certain level of exhaustion everything is impossible - 28 hours in the rain with minimal sleep seems to get you to that level.

We've had all of the dramas since arriving. We were supposed to stay a few days, pick up our new electronics, go to a theme park and head off. We're quite far from the shore, so decided to use the dinghy to get in. The repairs we did in Sydney didn't fix it properly and it still slowly deflates, albeit it takes longer to sink than it did before. We tried to start the outboard and got nothing. Zilch. The boys pulled it apart and eventually found some rust in the pistons, so it's an anchor now. We had to give in and buy a brand new 2hp Yamaha. That was expensive but exciting. This one will live in the cockpit locker in a comfy waterproof bed, and not attached to the back of the boat like our last one. Hopefully that will be the last engine I ever have to buy for the rest of my life.

Then a few days ago we got a short in our anchor light. Annoying. We had to stick up a lantern for two nights in a row while we dealt with it, which wasn't ideal. After a run into town on the bikes we loaded up on cables and other junk to rewire the tricolour and anchor light. It took an entire day. We had to tie strings onto the cables to feed the old one out and the new one in again. They wouldn't fit, so we ended up taking out the cable for our wind direction thing, which has never been hooked up and we have no intentions of fixing. It was a tight squeeze and in the end after hours of Garth parked up the mast and Sam and I tugging on cables, the only way to make it work was to coat them all in oil before squeezing them through the hole in the mast. So we wasted a whole day fixing one light, the bathroom is covered in oil and Garth has a permanent wedgie from the bosuns chair, but at least it's done.

Garth bought us cheap tickets to Wet and Wild, which was fun. When we got there we realized he'd actually bought us unlimited entry tickets to Wet and Wild, Seaworld and Movie World. That was an exciting surprise, so we hit up Seaworld as well a day or two later for free.

We haven't gone exploring much, but we've still found some interesting animals. At low tide the beach is covered in pretty purple crabs who run away and then bury themselves under the sand when you come close. However when you come back on the kayak at night they don't realize you're there, so every step you take is potentially going to end up with you either covered in crabs or crushing them all. This was not my favourite thing.

We woke up most mornings to little birds singing on our lifelines, which was awesome. Sometimes it was one, sometimes more. They always sang the prettiest songs and it was delightful waking up to them. Everywhere we go there should be little birds to sing us awake!

We also picked up our new electronics. They're AMAZING! I got them from Marty at Marionics on the Gold Coast and he set us up with everything we needed. We've now got a nice tidy Navstation with a grown up chartplotter mounted on it. It looks so professional! We've hooked up the AIS as well, which is ridiculously fun. It tells us what course all the other boats are traveling on, as well as setting off an alarm when we get too close or if we're on a collision course. It's pretty cool clicking on the boats around us and seeing what they are and what speed they're going at. You can see their previous ports of call as well, and where they're heading to. When we get around to setting it up, we'll also have wifi access to the chartplotter from our phones and a fish finder under the transom. Exciting!

Navstation before...

Navstation after!

We managed to catch up with an old friend of mine too, which was awesome. She took us to see Surfers Paradise, which was exactly what we expected - a tourist trap. But we had a nice picnic lunch and some well overdue socializing.

So that was the Gold Coast. Next is South Stradbroke, then Brisbane and North Stradbroke. We're slowly heading towards warmer water!
Xxx Monique

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Australia, Yamba - 18-05-14

We just spent a few days in the Yamba area, between Coffs Harbour and the Gold Coast. It took 14 hours of motoring in mostly rain to get there, so that wasn't ideal. 

But Yamba was nice. There's not too much to say so I'll just chuck up a heap of pictures.

We stopped at Iluka for a night, and kayaked to shore to go exploring. We wandered along the beach and explored all the rocks and rock pools, which was stupidly fun. There were lots of interesting things to find in the pools. My favourite was a giant snail who was missing his shell, so he just looked like an oversized slug. But there were lots of cool rocks as well as crawly things and fish and birds and water. So a nice day all round.

We walked back through a rainforest, which was supposed to be home to coastal emus, rare birds and koalas. We found none of these, although our bird watching skills have significantly increased. I've never walked so quietly for so long before. I kept expecting to get eaten by snakes, seeing as we were all creeping through the bush staring up at the sky instead of at our feet. But we didn't find any of those either, thank goodness.

There was a pub on the beach and after a rest on the boat from our exhausting explorations, we kayaked back for dinner. That was pretty fun - just jumping in the kayak and rowing over to the pub. The food was both good and cheap and it was nice to eat out - I think our first time since Sydney.

Then we spent a day in Yamba, which proved more exciting than we had planned. We knew there were a lot of shallow bits on the way but we tried to sneak out just below low tide anyway. No dice. We got very stuck and after trying to wiggle out, pumping the engine and finally letting out the headsail to try and heel over a bit and bring the keel off the ground, we were still stuck. So we had to sit there at the entrance to the anchorage area for three and a half hours. I put the anchor down and tried to look like we were just casually fishing, but there were no fish. And we were facing the opposite direction to everybody else. So that was embarrassing.

Getting into Yamba was scary after that encounter - we lost our "it will be fine" attitude to water depth for a day or two. The preferred channel on the charts went through a lot of sections that were supposed to be one metre deep, so it was pretty nerve wracking crawling through to the marina. We knew it was probably dug out for big boats to get through, but I was watching our little arrow on the chart supposedly going over 0.9 metres of water and trying not to panic. We got stuck in 2.2, so we were all nervous. Of course it was fine.

We had trouble trying to fill up with fuel when we got there - the breather hose must have been blocked, because fuel just kept bubbling back out and going all over everything. We eventually filled up with Sam sitting downstairs watching the fuel tank with the lid cracked. So we obviously need to look at that - I think the breather just has a bend in it or something. On the plus side, Garth used one of my good towels to mop up the diesel. So I guess it's a good thing we got rid of something else off the boat, I just hate trashing nice things.

We were only in Yamba for one day so Sam hired a third bike and we went exploring, riding all day in pretty surroundings. We went to Angourie to see a blue pool that was supposed to be really pretty, but there was algae in the water so we couldn't go swimming. Picnic lunch on the beach and a nice ride home via a lagoon, and that was Yamba. It was a cute little town and some of the surf beaches looked great - I'd love to visit in Summer.

Xxx Monique