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!