Thursday, December 4, 2014

Where are we?!

You guys... check it out! I have just spent the whole day updating our "Where are we?" map to show our route this year, well just these past few months really!

To view the map, click on the tab above titled, "Where are we?" or click on this link to take you to the same place. I recommend that you make the map bigger because 1) it's cool to zoom out and see how far (or not so far) we've gone in the bigger picture of Australia and the World, and 2) because it's cool to zoom in and check all of the places we went along with the little notes that I've included about our adventure.

Seeing how far we've come on one map (as opposed to many smaller charts day by day) is pretty surreal and it fills me with pride to look at it. We did good! :) Lots more places to go though!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Airlie Again

So this is definitely a sign of how far behind I am with posting but... Happy Halloween! I did briefly contemplate how we could dress Batty up for the occasion but it all seemed too hard! I did come up with the coolest idea after the fact, so look forward to next year! So no costumes, instead we will be celebrating with pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin soup!

From Cid Harbour, we headed back to Airlie Beach. It's getting to the point in the season where we needed to start heading to our safe harbor to hide from the cyclones. When we left several months ago, it had been our intention to take Batty back down to Brisbane for the summer and get some work done on her there. But certain people (our friends!) turned out to be very persuasive and we decided to keep the boat at the marina on Magnetic Island, a small island off the coast of Townsville. If a cyclone does strike in the area, there is still a risk that we may suffer damage but the marina has a good track record of surviving such blows and we will be with Batty to help her through it for most of the time. Fingers crossed for a relaxed cyclone season. I HATE dislike, very strongly (with a passion) backtracking, so was particularly thrilled with this decision. We still have some travel planned to various parts of the country over the time period we will be in the marina but hopefully we will still be able to get everything we need to done as we prep to *drum-roll* actually leave Australia next year.

So we hung out in Airlie Beach for a bit. At the suggestion of another cruiser, we tried out a new-to-us anchoring spot. It was right next to the channel into the marina so we were subject to some pretty phenomenal wake as powerboats came flying out, so after one night of that we moved. We were waiting for the wind to change to something more favorable for getting us north but we were also waiting for a friend to arrive so that we could give him a ride out to his boat and save him the swim. It was a bit traumatic when Bryce dropped him to his boat and they found that it was covered in prolific amounts of birdpoo. After a lot of cleaning, their boat looks great!

Aquabat had been moving a bit slow so we had someone dive on the hull to clean it. It's so amazing what a difference this made. Batty now cuts through the water like a knife! This will be a job that we need to do semi-regularly ourselves but we haven't quite yet figured out a system for doing it. It's on the to-do list.

The steering system had been making noises and since steering is pretty important so we wanted to figure out what the noises were ASAP. We also had a problem with an actuator cable that disables the hydraulic steering (the wheel) so we can hand steer with our emergency tiller (stick that attaches directly to the top of the rudder post). To investigate these problems we had to go "down in the hole." "The Hole" aka our lazarette, is the home of our rudder post, the hydraulic steering and our lines, fenders and hoses. I have to go down there semi-regularly to grease the rudder. Due to his size and lack of flexibility, Bryce is an infrequent visitor. Unfortunately for him when there is something I am unable to do or don't have any clue how to do, he has to head down there. The actuator cable had seized in place holding the hydraulic bypass valve partially open. Bryce disconnected the actuator and manually closed the valve and most of the noise went away. So we will keep the actuator closed in its proper position and if we need to disengage the hydraulic steering, we will need to head down there and open it. Our emergency tiller, which also lives down there, will need to be brought up and put into service in this instance.

So that's what we are up to. We will probably continue our journey north in the next few days.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cid Harbour

We had gorgeous weather leaving Nara Inlet and had every intention of sailing out but... there's always a but! But as we put out the jib we discovered that the furler was broken again. We pulled into a little bay, dropped the anchor and set about fixing it. Now the good news is that we did figure out what was causing the problem. When we bought the boat we replaced the existing anchor for a bigger one. When we raise or lower the bigger anchor, sometimes, as careful as we are to avoid it, the anchor hits the furler, knocking it out of alignment and causing it to cease functioning. Anyway, having already fixed it once, this time it was a piece of cake! When we were ready to go again, I volunteered to take the helm so that Bryce could work on finding a way for the anchor to not hit the furler. Now putting the anchor down and pulling it up are "my jobs" and while I'm quite happy at the helm out in the big blue where there is nothing to hit, maneuvering the boat whilst surrounded by coral reefs and other boats is not really something I've ever volunteered for. It all went fine, I didn't hit anything and I suppose, practice will make perfect.

So while of course we came over to Cid Harbour to enjoy Cid Harbour, we also came here because we thought (and had been told) we would be protected and have Internet access. We had reception across our entire sail so imagine our surprise after we set the anchor that we had none.  Now I'm realising that it may sound a bit like we are obsessed with being connected but that is not the case. It's just nice to be able to check email every once in awhile and communicate with friends and family, so it was no real big that we didn't have a consistent connection because when the boat was pointing in a certain direction and you held the phone at a specific angle, we were able to get emails in and out. Easy!

Cid Harbour itself is a gorgeous place but for me the highlight was the walks it offers. There are two walks from Sawmill Beach, one around to another beach and one all the way to the top of Whitsunday Peak. The walk up was switchback stairs most of the way and was brutal but the view at the top made it all worth while. 360 degrees of Whitsunday islands! Just stunning. Well worth the walk up!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Nara Inlet

When we finally left Airlie, it was because the weather was forcing us out. The wind was changing and Airlie would've become untenable as an anchorage. So we headed on over to Nara Inlet. Well that was the plan anyway. Just outside Nara Inlet is a little bay called False Nara (Looks like Nara but it's not). There was a free mooring ball so we picked it up and spent a rolly night there. The next morning with the wind picking up, we headed around the corner into Nara Inlet. 
Fjord-like Nara Inlet with many boats in the distance
As we were pulling in we could see that there was a substantial quantity of boats already anchored and over the course of the night boats continued to pile in as the wind picked up and made all nearby anchorages miserable and possibly dangerous. There were easily 100 boats piled in there. At night when everyone had their mast and boat lights on, it lit up like a city. We heard from some local boaters that this was the most boats they had even seen in Nara Inlet. They themselves had moved in because nearby Cid Harbour, another popular anchorage, was getting a 2 metre swell. Not fun! These same people also had a still on board their boat and made some of the most delicious rum I've ever tasted and we met them when they came over to tell us that they had seen an 8-10 metre shark jump out of the water not far from our boat the previous night. They were my friends for many reasons!

Nara's resident & unfortunately tame cockatoo

Nara Inlet has a trail that leads up to an aboriginal cave with paintings in it. There are tons of other caves in the area and if you keep your eyes open, you might see a window here or there.  Up at the main cave there are informational boards and voice recordings of aboriginal stories.
Aboriginal Cave
One cool tidbit of information that I took from there was that the native Ngaro people referred to themselves as Good-dig-a-goori (spelled phonetically), which means salt-water people and that is what we are. Good-dig-a-goori. There was no reception at Nara unless we went up to the top of the hill and even then it was a rather frustrating connection holding phones and laptops as high as we could above our heads so we embraced the chance to disconnect and relaxed.


Monday, October 13, 2014

The Land Trap

After Nannie left us at Airlie Beach, we quickly adjusted to life in town. After so long away from shops, water, rubbish disposal, internet and phone service, it was nice to have them all on hand. Airlie in itself is a lovely small town, very touristy and definitely catering to backpackers and holidayers. There is a swimming lagoon set up on the waterfront which was a refreshing and relaxing place to spend some time. The weekend markets have a great selection of fresh fruit and veg with a wonderful atmosphere. The one downside of Airlie from a boating perspective is that it is quite a rolly anchorage. At least it was consistent though so we adjusted to it relatively quickly.

While we were in Airlie some old family friends of Bryce's were going to be holidaying at their beach house back up near Glouchester Island. The invited us to come and stay with them for the weekend and even came and picked us up in Airlie. It's amazing how much faster you can get somewhere driving! But at least the wind is free! we had a lovely, relaxing, family-filled weekend (with real showers and beds!) that was just what we needed. We are so grateful to them for sharing their holiday with us.
"Small" fire in Airlie that was thankfully quickly contained
One activity that occupied an entire day for us was cheesmaking. Last year for christmas, Bryce had been given a cheesemaking kit. We had gone to use it once before only to find that you couldn't make cheese from UHT or powdered milk. So when we found organic full-cream  milk 50% off at the local woolies we jumped at the chance and it was fun. We ended up with a small amount of ricotta, a medium amount of mozzarella and a gigantic ton of whey. In an effort to use all the whey up, Bryce tried to make oatmeal with it (not delcious) and I tried to make pancakes with it (delicious). In the words of Bryce from whom compliments are treasured, they were the best pancakes he'd ever had. Bryce looked up what else could be done with whey and found a suggestion to mix warm, fresh whey, rum, honey and lime juice. It was a bit like a hot toddy with little chunks of cheese in it (surprisingly delcious apparently!). So thank you cheesemaking gift giver - you know who you are! It was fun and we look forward to doing it again! :)
The cheesemaking results
When we finally broke out of the clutches of Airlie and everything it had to offer, we had some mild growth on our anchor chain which was a sure sign that we needed to move on.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Grandmother on Board

My Nannie lives in Northern Queensland, so when I first told her last year that we were heading this was she said that she would come and see us. When I asked if she would like to stay on the boat, she said "well yes, I think I would." The first time we had this conversation I probably didn't even really know myself what living on the boat entailed but here she was 80 years old and ready to give it a go. So when we did <finally> make it up here, we gave her a call and a few days later she was on board Batty. We met up with her in Bowen and spent the night on the public jetty just to ease her into it and from there Nannie got the good, the bad and the ugly.

Our first day sailing was, of course, not as forecasted. So after we left Bowen we ended up cris-crossing around the bay as we beat to windward. For non-sailors, a sailboat cannot sail directly into the wind. So in order to sail in that, you need to sail just off the wind in one direction, then tack and sail just off the wind in the other direction and repeat, ad nauseum. Sailing close to the wind like that causes the boat to heel over (tip) substantially so it is not a very fun way to travel and best to avoid if possible. Unfortunately, there wasn't really anywhere nearby that we thought we offer us protection so we stuck with it. Not far into this fun game, we went to put the jib (front sail) down and discovered that our furler was broken. Sorry for using so much sailing technology but bear with me... I hope it's interesting! :) The furler allows us to control the jib from the cockpit as it roll up inside itself on the forestay for storage (the wire at the front of the boat that runs up to the top of the mast and supports it) and comes unwound when we use it. The alternative is one or both of us needing to go up on the foredeck (the front of the boat) to put it up or down manually. It's an amazing system... when it works!

So... instead of continuing our trip across to Gloucester Island, we ended up doing a circle around Stone Island, just off Bowen.

I think Nannie was blissfully unaware that as the sun was setting after sailing all day, we ended up just a couple of miles from where we started. She was just enjoying the ride... though she did comment that she could feel that it was a bit stressful at times.  We were hoping for better winds the following day so we could cross the bay without needing the jib. It was unfortunately more beating to windward but it was made bearable by the staysail (a smaller sail up the front of the boat) and we made it. We arrived at Bona Bay with enough sunlight left to stretch our legs on the beach. The following morning Bryce was up on the foredeck trying to fix the furler when a nice man, Peter, popped over to say hello. Turns out he was a boat builder and wanted to help Bryce fix the furler! Cruisers are such nice folk! It wasn't as bad as Bryce initially thought and Peter saved him (us?) much angst by helping with the repair.

From Bona Bay we headed around the corner to Breakfast Bay to wait for a window to head out to the islands. We had three days of little to no wind, the water perfectly still.  One day we tried to make a run for it, thinking that there might be some wind out there hiding on the other side of the mountain but we turned back disappointed. As it was so flat, I was finally able to convince Nannie to come up on the foredeck to explain how the anchor worked as we pulled it up. Thankfully there was no wind at all because just as we had the anchor in sight, the chain jumped off the windlass (the machine that saves our poor arms by pulling up the anchor for us) and the chain started running out freely. Just a little excitement to keep us on our toes! All was OK! It always is!

Doing Laundry... We put her to work!
When we were finally able to leave we had a gorgeous morning sailing and then the wind changed. We reevaluated and changed directions to head up to Double Cone Island. When we got there, it appeared as that staying there would've made for a rather un-enjoyable night so we hightailed it across to anchor at Blue Pearl Bay on Hayman Island again.
There are many resorts in the Whitsundays and Hayman Island Resort is one of them. There resorts that are situated on islands that are National Parks can not restrict use of their hiking trail by non-resort guests. Hayman Island is not in fact a national park but we got a bit confused thinking it was and so had a lovely hike up to the resort and saw tons of wallabies (Sorry, resort management). Blue Pearl Bay is just magnificent. Stunningly crystal blue water that is so deep all you can see is the parrot fish swimming underneath the boat.

Hayman Island
Despite the fact that we had had mostly miserable sailing weather, we had been blessed with calm and comfortable anchorages while Nannie was with us. Blue Pearl was mildly rolly while we were there and then when we headed over to Airlie Beach, we had a bit more rolliness (this may not be a word but you catch my drift). Nannie took it all in stride as she enjoyed being rocked to sleep by the boat. Over the course of the week she was with us, Nannie found that all of her aches and pains went away. She was able to crawl into her bunk and maneuver around in it without any problems and was able to really relax. We absolutely loved having her on board. I'm so proud and in awe of her to have so eagerly jumped on board (literally!) this adventure.

Monday, September 22, 2014

We Made it!

Now Bryce and I had both been to Whitehaven Beach before. My last visit there was about 7 years ago and Bryce hadn't been there for 20 years but for both of us this signified "The Whitsundays" so making it here was making it north!
After not being able to leave last year, we were pretty keen to get going. We were so focused on "getting north," that was our only objective. So... We were pretty happy. The gorgeous pristine white sand stretching for miles is hard to beat. The downside to this being one of the more popular tourist destinations was that there were so many other boats anchored there as well and when the tour boats brought even more people in multiple times a day, it kind of lost it's appeal.
So white it's like snow
We spent a morning making a repair on out sail. We had tried to do running repairs a couple of days prior on the way up but they didn't hold. One of our battens (sticks through the mainsail that help it keep some shape when sailing) had torn through it's pocket and was chafing on all sorts of things on the mast. It was our first sewing repair and it turned out pretty OK I think!
First sewing repair... many more to come
We enjoyed our walks on the beach and the hiking that leaves from there but we were ready to move on. The day after we got there we upped anchor to leave, taking the scenic route along the beach to leave. When we got to the northern end of the beach, the sand was whiter (if you can believe it!), the water was clearer and there were no people! Win! So back down the anchor went for the night. From here we headed up to Blue Pearl Bay. It was an easy, breezy, relaxing sail. It is clear to us why this is such a popular destination for sailing. We made it up to Blue Pearl Bay and picked up a mooring buoy just in time to say adios to our Welsh friends heading north on their Catamaran. This was our first time on a Cat and it's a different life then that on a monohull.

UPS (light-wind) sail
Blue Pearl Bay is located on Hayman Island, that of the resort and again just another stunning place. The water was crystal clear and so deep but we could see the large parrot fish swimming around underneath our boat. The snorkeling there was stunning.
Living the dream
Now at this point we had been planning on heading into Airlie Beach to resupply, do some laundry and get rid of our rubbish. It had been three weeks since we had left Bundaberg and seen civilization.
We probably could have gone longer and we were pretty keen to get some fresh food but.... we had some friends, Michael & Caitlin, who had just left Airlie and headed up to Gloucester Island. They somehow convinced us to head up to join them and we are very glad we did! We had a quick stop (<18 hrs) at Airlie Beach to resupply and so some laundry and then we were off again.
Laundry Day
 Our trip up to Gloucester Island was bonus. We had never planned to go further than Airlie Beach. This was a bit of a leap of faith seeing how we had never actually met before. Caitlin and I met in an online sailing group and had kept in touch. Thankfully we hit it off! There are also two resorts at Gloucester Passage with restaurants and pools that are very cruiser friendly. We came in with most gorgeous sunset but we were too busy anchoring to take photos, though I did contemplate how I might manage running to get my camera.
Dusk off Gloucester Island
We bought Aquabat from the man who built her 22 years ago. We had no reason to change her name and nothing better to change it to so we stuck with Batty. As we were sitting in the cockpit one morning anchored off the resort, a man sailed by and yelled out that when he was a young backpacker, he had sailed across the Indian Ocean on Aquabat. We have encountered this type of thing a fair bit as we have come up the coast and it's kinda cool to collect these stories about Batty's history.

From Glouchester Passage we headed off to Bowen to pick up a very special passenger!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Getting North: Part 2

So we left Port Clinton headed for Pearl Bay. I was pretty keen to give it a miss but Bryce was insistent (and does not let me forget it) but thank goodness he was. Pearl Bay is so far one of the highlights of our trip so far. Just open your imagination and I will do my best to try and describe how we were welcomed into Pearl Bay.
The entrance to Pearl Bay
Our sail up was gorgeous. Deep blue water, majestically rocky shores, dolphins, it was wonderful. The entrance into Pearl Bay is a tight channel between rock cliffs on both sides. As we entered, I was standing up on the bow of the boat keeping a look out for boomies (isolated coral reef heads) and was supposed to point at them if I saw them. Just as we came through the channel, past a deep grotto carved out of the cliffs on our left, a GIANT turtle swam right at our bow! I pointed at it excitedly and quickly retracted my hand as the turtle dove to avoid the boat. Thankfully Bryce missed my brief hand signal and didn't swerve to avoid it. I could see some dolphins swimming in the bay and then all of the sudden the boat was surrounded by swarms of turquoise and chocolate butterflies.
One butterfly of thousands!
Seriously it could not have been choreographed more perfectly! They were everywhere. We put the anchor down and just as I finished putting enough chain out (snubber not yet on) I looked out through the entrance we had just come through and there were five whales jumping up into the air, broaching, splashing and having a marvelous time! We both just stood at the bow staring in awe. I honestly don't think this could have been scripted better and it set the standard for Pearl Bay. The rest of the time we were there, we saw dolphins, turtles and of course the butterflies. Pearl Bay is still in the military training area and so is unreachable by land. All of the other boats left one morning and we were thrilled to have the place to ourselves for an hour before the next boats came in.

Pearl Bay Beach
We were so close to the Whitsundays now, we could practically smell them so we made a run for it. From Pearl Bay we went to Middle Percy Island. I wrote about Middle Percy last year and Aquabat's presence in the hut there. We got in too late to go ashore but were able to see the A-frame from the boat.We'd had a long day so it was close enough for our needs.

A-Frame hut on Middle Percy Island
From Middle Percy we headed to Scawfell Island where we had a great night with some Welshmen, Dave & Steve of S/V White Hawk, whom we met at Middle Percy. When we left Scawfell at first light, just as the sun was rising, just 50 feet off our beam, two whales lifted out of the water and breached. It was amazing (and a bit terrifying) to be so close to something so huge and powerful! We had a bit of a photo shoot with Dave and Steve. Each of us taking photos of the others boat under sail. After a full day sailing, we made it to our destination, our shangri-la: Whitehaven Beach.

El Capitan is happy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Getting North: Part 1

We left Bundaberg early in the morning just before the sun rose. It's really such a beautiful time of day!
There is a channel heading into Bundaberg and as we left before the sun came up the channel was lit up like an an airplane runway. We were headed for Pancake Creek with a strong wind warning blowing us along. We had a gorgeous day sailing, averaging about 7.5 knots. Just outside of Pancake there are a series of rock puddles that are not marked. The intention is to go between two of them, which was a bit disconcerting. We did spot them right before we passed them though and we had plenty of space. The rest of the entrance into Pancake Creek is well marked but was a bit hairy. We anchored just as the sun went down. When we woke up the next morning, we were in for an awesome surprise. We could see the bottom and the water was so crystal clear we were able to follow our anchor chain back to the anchor. After the Brisbane River, Mooloolaba, the Sandy Straights, the Burnett River, all murky and gross.... this was amazing! We had made it! We spent a couple of days here before heading on.
Can you find the anchor?

On September 6th, 2014 we officially entered the tropics by crossing the Tropic of Capricorn. A pod of dolphins joined us in celebrating by swimming, diving and splashing all around the boat. Definitely a most memorable experience!
That night we anchored behind Cape Capricorn which was remarkably uncomfortable and rolly. After our last unpleasant night, we are that much smarter and so at 2:30 am after not much sleep we decided to up anchor and move on. Now we have never sailed overnight before so this was still a novelty. We set up a nest in the cockpit with blankets and pillows and dozed until the sun came up. We set an alarm and every 15 minutes one of us popped our head up to check out the perimeter. By leaving earlier we were able to eliminate an entire day of sailing and made it to Port Clinton.
2:30am and ready to go!
Now Port Clinton marks the start of the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Facility. It is this amazingly beautiful and ginormous reserve.

Sometimes the area is shut for training and even when it is open it is still not permitted to go above the high water mark as there is possible unexploded ordinance around. We were lucky to be there around a full moon so had lots of extra beach to play with because of the extreme tides.
It's pretty thick brush though and so not very inviting! While we were at Port Clinton, we were able to to isolate our electrical leak. We didn't fix it but we at least know where it's coming from. I should also mention that we were boarded by the Water Police here. This was a shock to us as we had *JUST* been boarded for sewage and safety checks in Bundaberg. Most people we tell this to are shocked as they have been cruising much, much longer than we have and have never been boarded. And no... it's not us. Every boat in the anchorage was boarded. From Port Clinton, we headed up to Pearl Bay.
Rainbow after the storm

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bundaberg & the Burnett River

Getting to Bundaberg was easily the most unpleasant sailing experience either of us have has and it took us a day or two to recover. After we got over it, we headed into Bundaberg. We had been planning to take Batty up the Burnett River and anchor in Bundaberg proper. We found however that there was one bus that came out to Burnett Heads just a short walk away and so we decided to spare ourselves the trouble. The first bus leaves for town at 7:30am-ish and the last one leaves town at 3pm-ish. Weird hours? That's cause it was the school bus. It was a 40 minute roundabout route to collect kids from all over the countryside. The bus was packed and noisy and we were the only adults on board. We spent a couple of days meandering around old town Bundaberg and resupplying.
It took us a few days to make the connection but we finally figured out the the phone call we got about our anchor dragging was from our friend Mike who was anchored nearby. We had been baffled as to how someone got our phone number! Mike had a car in the area and took us to check out the nearby town of Bargara. We took the opportunity to fill up our fuel tanks at the marina. We had some issues when we discovered that we couldn't get the fuelcap off. *Someone* doesn't know their own strength and habitually overtightens things on board. We did finally get it off with some help. We were relaxing, got our dates mixed up and missed a weather window to leave northbound, but it was nice as we got a few days extra in the area.
The day before we left we took the school bus into Bundy again. Last year, Bundaberg was severely hit by floods where the water rose about 18 metres above the river. They still haven't completely recovered. There is a lovely riverwalk that goes from the old marina under the two oldest bridges and ends at the town "zoo" - Some kangaroos and emu. All of this was under in the floods. We were looking for the visitors bureau which is probably not worth going to if you don't have a car. It was a nice walk but from the zoo we went through the business/industrial area of town. The Tourist Info Centre did have coupons for free smoothies at the shopping centre and discounted tours of the Bundaberg Rum Distillery if those are on your agenda. We caught an IGA's going out of business sale and it was very eerie to be in a shop with practically empty shelves.

All stocked up we were ready to continue north.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Sandy Straights to Bundaberg... the long way!

We spent one gorgeously calm night at Whitecliffs on Fraser Island and were up early to head to Kingfisher Bay Resort. We weren't really looking for or needing a break but we were both looking forward to a swim, a real shower and refilling our water jugs. When we got there it was pretty miserable and rainy so we thought we would go ashore the following day. Well... we had an absolutely miserable night with the boat pitching violently forward and backwards. When we "woke up" the next morning after not really sleeping much, we decided to forgo the swim and get on with our lives. As we were leaving we saw some more dolphins and had our first whale sighting! It was nothing showy, just a little wave but enough to keep me looking out for more. Later in the day we also saw another whale surface and blow. We had a miserable and frustrating day sailing as the predicted Southeasterly winds changed halfway through the day to northerlies with a strong wind warning. This also meant that the protected anchorage we were heading for was no longer. Now this is where hindsight is a great thing... unfortunately we didn't have any at this point! You know that sentence I wrote above about having a rough night? "We had an absolutely miserable night with the boat pitching violently forward and backwards." That's the one! I take it back! We really had no idea what absolute misery was like until this night. We had the most miserable night with the boat rolling violently from side to side. It was kind of like trying to sleep in a roller coaster that wouldn't stop. I tried to sleep on the floor at the bottom of the companionway but it didn't help much. We spent most of the night searching for all of the random noises that seemed to constantly come forth from the depths of the boat. Whenever we silenced one noise, another would start. Prior to this experience, I had heard of rolly anchorages but it had never occurred to me that it could cause such unimaginable discomfort.
Autumn colours (in Spring) at Kingfisher Bay
The one awesome thing was that we were now far enough away from civilization that we could no longer see the far off glow from city lights. With the exception of the nearby lighthouse and because of the cloud cover, we were in complete blackness for the first time. 

Because the wind had changed from the forecast, our northwards route through Lady Musgrave and Lady Elliot Islands was now out of the question so we decided to head west to Bundaberg. Another miserable day and running short on sleep we were wondering when it would end. We were going into 25 knot winds, steep seas, rough, miserable, rainy and stormy. (I know it can get worse than that but we are sailing babes and need to work up to it!) Waves breaking over us and the constant up and down of the sails was. not. fun. When we straggled into Burnett Heads later that evening we were exhausted. One last hurdle, just as I went to put the anchor down, I realised that with the spinnaker up (we hadn't put it away from the day before), we were unable to put the anchor down. We were finally anchored and walking around like zombies below when we got a phone call that our anchor was dragging. We didn't question the source and leaped up on deck. Thankfully we were not dragging, just doing a funny dance with the tide around the anchor. We pulled the anchor up anyway and moved a bit up river to give ourselves a bit more room and promptly hit the sack. I had the revelation that I may just be a fair weathered sailor!
Calm on the Burnett River

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Off Again

With much fanfare we were delivered to Batty and relieved of all our "landly" responsibilities. We took her out for a sail with our visitors and had a lovely, albiet, windy picnic on the beach. We hung around Mooloolaba for a few days waiting for a weather window and then we were off. This was our first time sailing in the ocean just the two of us. Last year on our trip to Hervey Bay, we had company on both ocean legs. Right when we left Mooloolaba, we saw a couple of dolphins off our stern and so we knew it was going to be a great day! Dolphins are always a good sign! We had a practically perfect sail up and an uneventful crossing of the Wide Bay Bar. We had been warned that bar crossings on the eastern coast can be tricky at dusk as you are sailing directly into the sun but we had no problems. We were through and anchored in Pelican Bay before dark. We were the only ones there, which always makes us second guess our plans as I wonder why such a popular anchorage in empty. Did everyone else get a weather report that we didn't? Is this going to be a rough night? Fear not, we had a comfortable night and were ready to head up through the Great Sandy Straight this morning.

Off we go!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Great Boat Depression

You know those days where it feels like nothing goes right?

That kinda feels like our life for the past few months. All the negativity is not really something that made me want to run straight to the computer and share with world. So here’s the summary of what we've been up to!

Our battery charger (shore-to-ship) decided it was time for a party and turned on the smoke machine and brought in the sparklers and fire dancers. We thought this could possibly be caused by the isolation transformer (which the electrical surveyor “couldn’t” “even” “find” during the survey - which we weren’t present for) so we had to get that checked out. We had decided that replacing the charger and installing an inverter (allowing us to run small AC appliances on board) were wants, not needs and we could live without them for the time being. But Bryce got bronchitis and as an asthmatic was needing to use a nebulizer as many as five times a days (despite not having needed it for years), so the inverter got upgraded to a need. During the installation, some of the battery leads were left unsecured and when Bryce went to put the lid back on the batteries after the electrician left for the day, the leads crossed and shorted the fridge. The fridge was pronounced dead and so we *got to* get a new one. While we were having the inverter and charger installed, we also had a leak meter put in. This basically tells us if there is any stray electrical current and wouldn’t you know when we turned it on, the lights lit up red indicating a nice negative leak. Turns out as far as leaks go that a negative leak is better than a positive leak and we have lots of sacrificial anodes doing their job to combat the electrolysis. We have made some effort to find the leak but due to the *GIGANTIC* mess that is the electrical system on board we ran out of options quickly. 
This is another issue that should have been discovered during our survey, as we specifically requested that he check that it was an isolated DC system, which turns out it’s not. So yeah… we are facing a complete rewire sometime soon. Then we finally left the dock, turned on the wind generator only to find that it isn’t working… hopefully just in need of a service, but without it we are running a bit low on electricity and our new fridge, as the biggest draw, is suffering the most. And of course when we actually went to buy a nebulizer (we had been borrowing one), we were able to get a wonderfully small, battery-operated one. Who would’ve thought? Certainly not us (but then we didn’t even need to go ahead with all the electrical stuff… grrr).

It’s times like these when *EVERYTHING* is going wrong that we are at the most risk of falling into, as we like to call it, The Great Boat Depression. And it starts: Why did we buy this boat? Are we complete idiots? I think we bought the worst, most broken boat in the world. Seriously we must be idiots. Do we just attract people who don’t know what they are doing? We are so stupid, we know nothing. What a stupid dream is it to buy a boat and sail around the world? What kind of crazy to you have to be to want to put yourself through this? Everything we touch breaks…. The list continues! We both keep diligent watch for if the other is falling down this black hole and try to reverse the cycle as quickly as possible. Now, we know that we are not idiots and we aren’t stupid, however when the doubt and problems come in, it’s very easy to blame ourselves. What is also oddly reassuring is knowing that if we, where we are today, knowing what we know today, were to be in the same situation we were a year and half ago when buying this boat, that we would be able to approach the situation and the boat a lot more confidently. Most of the time, we do not regret buying Batty, even with all the hard work. Sure she may be a pain in the butt, but she has taught us so much. Some day we will get there…

We have had some small wins, which we do celebrate. For instance, we ripped out our old toileting system and installed our new composting head all by ourselves. This was our first foray into the electrical world and we didn’t kill ourselves (admittedly almost impossible to do on a DC system, but as I said, we celebrate our wins!). Another time when filling our fresh water tanks, when they were full, water started to leak out of the manual hand pump we have in the galley and the foot pump in the head. This blew our minds and made us think we has a ginormous problem as we had always assumed that the foot pump in the head was salt water, but no. We just found out that we actually have a fresh water foot pump in the head! Win!

So we are close to leaving…. and when I say leaving I mean heading north. Our goal last year had been to head up to the Whitsundays and we were really disappointed when it got too late in the season. So that’s our only goal, leave and head north. We will probably head back down this way towards the end of the season, perhaps on our way to New Zealand. We have no plans. We just need to leave, get out of our comfort zone and sail off into the sunset!

Friday, June 20, 2014

We have ourselves a Master!

I almost forgot to share the most exciting news and its completely unrelated to sailing off into the sunset! For the past four years, Bryce has been working part-time on a Masters degree in International and Community Development. Last week, he submitted his last paper and took his last exam! He won't have the grades back for another month but is pretty confident he passed! ;) Congratulations to Bryce!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

And we're back!

Well hey there! Remember us? WE'RE BAAACKKK! :) Bryce is back from PNG and we've got this boat adventure rolling again. While things have still been happening while he was gone, I thought I would spare you the blow by blow on my recovery. Not much has changed but I am improving... just very slowly! I am still doing my hourly exercises and scar massage, my finger still has a bit of a pregnant belly (It's swollen), and I can't quite make a full fist yet but.... I have been discharged by both the surgeons and the occupational therapists and the rest of my recovery is in my hands. It could take up to 18 months for the swelling to go and to regain a full fist but its all up to me keeping up with my exercises and actually using my finger. I am allowed to do basically everything, except for maybe a cartwheel... but that will come! 

So lets get you up to speed! Probably the most exciting thing to happen on board Aquabat is our new bed! Our old bed was a little less than a double at the head and a single at the feet. It also wasn't long enough for Bryce so he would sleep diagonally which left not much space for me! 

White was the old bed, brown is the addition.
Our new! It's now bigger than a queen at our heads and just under a double at our feet. We switched to sleep with our heads towards the bow to achieve that but it is just amazing! A little bit like heaven! We removed the door to the master cabin to give us a bit more room so I've added a curtain to my to-do list of sewing projects. We had a new foam mattress cut to size and it's super comfy! Combine that with a luxe mattress topper and new sheets and we are really excited to go to sleep at night! Looking at what the bed used to be... I'm impressed that we lasted as long as we did sharing!
Complete Luxury! Will never go back!
We've been working on a few other projects but some of them just aren't quite finished. We owe the bed and several other projects to Bryce's brother who artfully applied his cabinetmaking skills to boatbuilding! Bryce is currently working on replacing the wooden slats on our swim platform with beautiful new teak that he brought back from PNG with him. I have been going container crazy trying to fit everything onto the boat while using the space the most efficiently. It's a bit like a giant puzzle but I am getting there! 
This is not even the half of it!
That's about where we are... I won't jinx us by sharing a departure date yet but we are close! Fingers-crossed... XX

It's wonderful to be back on the boat!