Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bowen Haul Out: Part 1

We have known for a VERY long time that we needed to haul out, the only problem was that we couldn’t find a place to do it. One place in Townsville, we were restricted by draft and tides. Another yard in Townsville had a clause in their contract that rendered our insurance void. After Cyclone Debbie, we were told that all of the yards in Airlie Beach were closed to non-cyclone work for 12 -18 months. In our general area, that left Cardwell, 2 days north and Bowen, 3 days south. Our plans had us heading south so Bowen it was!

The yard at Bowen is a slipway, and was our first time taking the boat out in this manner. In the past, we’ve always used a travel-life, where they put the boat in slings and lift her out of the water before setting her on a hard stand. With slipway, the hardstand, or cradle, is already in the water, you drive into it and are secured and then you are pulled up the railway-like tracks to the work area.

We had been told to report to the slipway at 6:30 am on Tuesday morning to give us the maximum amount of water at high tide (6:31am). So we all got up early to have breakfast and get ready, no easy feat with a 1 year old. At 6:28am, we arrived and the yard was still shut, the cradle was not in the water and there was no one there. We were early, so we did a lap of the harbour. We returned to the yard at about 6:40am to see 2 of the crew working on the cradle and it was still at the top of the ramp. They told us it would be about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, they lowered the cradle and we were instructed to drive on in. The crew then advised us that they were having trouble lowering the cradle all the way because it had hit something on the tracks. We attached some stern lines to the cradle and put the boat into reverse to try and pull the cradle deeper into the water. It didn’t work.

One of the crew dived on the cradle and the boat and found a large block of timber blocking the way that they had accidentally dropped in there a couple of weeks ago. We tried to use Batty’s power to reverse the cradle a bit further again and we were able to bring it out a little bit more. We were now over an hour past high tide and we were instructed to power forward onto the cradle. We made it onto the cradle and then they tucked us in with the forward arms of the cradle. This took a little bit longer as they accidentally dropped one of the bolts in the water and had to get a screwdriver to jam into the hole.  Once we were securely attached to the cradle, they started to pull us up and that is when the cradle derailed from the tracks… with Batty on the cradle… with the three of us on Batty being told to remain still in the cockpit.
Boat, & plans, derailed!
They tried some maneuvers to get the cradle back on the track. They used their work boat to ram against the cradle to try push it into place. They tried pushing it over with their own strength, to no avail. Batty’s 12 tons were not budging. Once it became clear that were stuck, these attempts were abandoned. We were allowed to move around the boat and even allowed to get off the boat. At that point the cradle was jammed against the concrete so she wasn’t going anywhere. 
The dismount!
Bryce returned at low tide to reassess the situation with the work crew. They decided that we would attempt to re-float Batty at the next high tide which was at 7:30 pm that night. 
Night time escapades!
7:30 came and went. There were lots of extra hands on deck, including swimmers (in their clothes, in the cold water with the howling wind) but they were not able to move Batty in either direction on the track. New plan was to try again at the next high tide the following morning. The next morning, a front-end loader (a digger) arrived and pushed the cradle and Batty back into the water. It took nearly all of the digger’s power to make this magic happen and the water was up to the driver. With that roadblock out of the way, they used the front-end loader to clear the tracks at low tide and reposition the cradle ready for another go.

Free at last! 
Thursday morning (2 days after the first attempt), we showed up with Batty at high tide and everything was in it’s proper place. The crew was on deck, the cradle was in the water and the track was clear.  We drove into the cradle, were secured and up we went!
Take 2!
We are able to laugh about it now and occasionally while it was happening, but for the most part, it was a wee bit stressful! The yard was very apologetic and paid for our extra nights accommodation on land due to the delay and they also comped two of Batty’s days on the slip, both of which we greatly appreciated. 


Stay tuned for Part 2 and hear about all of the TLC that Batty got while she was out!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Getting ready to go!

It's taken us ages to get ready to leave Maggie. We unpacked the boat, then had to repack as Cyclone Debbie was heading straight for us, and then unpack again. The cyclone missed us... phew!! 

Get a glimpse of the other side of boat life!

Newly Salted Interview

Back when we were first starting to look at seriously buying boats, we were doing alot of research about what it was like to actually cruise. We read a lot of blogs and Newly Salted and it’s sister site, Interview with a Cruiser, were two sites that we literally devoured information from! It’s so great to get other people’s perspectives on this lifestyle. We are thrilled to be joining the ranks of other new cruisers on the Newly Salted site. 


We are Bryce, Alissa and our 1 year old daughter, I. We started cruising in April 2013 in Mooloolaba, QLD and have cruised up and down the Queensland coast getting as far north as Cairns. We have spent significant portions of that time at Magnetic Island and the Whitsunday Islands. Despite having had the boat for 4 years, we’ve taken breaks to travel, work and have a baby, which brings our active cruising time down to 20 months. We live and sail on a 40 ft aluminium monohull named Aquabat, that was built in 1985 by the man we bought her from. We love meeting other cruisers so please feel free to contact us if our paths may cross or you have any questions!

1. What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
Bryce: Don’t buy anything at all until you have lived on the boat for 6 months.
Alissa: There will be days when equipment breaks and the weather is crap that you will want to be done with the boat but then you have the most amazing days ever that make it all worth while. Actually, I was told that cruising combines really low lows with really high highs which is basically the same thing… I just didn’t truly understand what it meant at the time!

2. As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
Bryce: Lack of a regular income.
Alissa: Things we take for granted being relatively unlimited on land like electricity, water and internet, are no longer unlimited!

3. What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?
Bryce: Bought too much “stuff” for the boat that we didn’t really need. - Didn’t have the surveyor go on test sail! - Ran aground a couple of times, don’t just blindly trust the charts or the coastguard over the radio, (“there’s deep water if you hug the marker” There wasn’t!). - One time when we hauled out, our hydraulic steering pump needed replacing, because we were hauled out we paid way more ($1000s more) then we would have if we’d had time to shop around. We were just going back to our mooring so we could’ve used our emergency tiller and taken our time to find a replacement. - I am a competent sailor so I had thought that we had cruising figured out… but it turns out sailing is only a small part of cruising. You also need to be a diesel mechanic, plumber, electrician, rigger, sailmaker, carpenter, among other things! - Should have bought a smaller boat as our first, learner boat… bigger boat = bigger, more expensive mistakes.
Alissa: What mistakes didn’t we make!? See Bryce’s answer! :)

4. What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?
Bryce: I really like meeting new people and cruisers generally seem to be really friendly, good people. 
Alissa: We can have a new amazing backyard whenever we want! And the people! We’ve made some great boat friends in the past few years.

5. What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
Bryce: Not having space to just stretch without bumping into something. I struggle to fit into any of our beds, even having modified one of them. 
Alissa: I am definitely a fair-weathered sailor. Whereas Bryce is quite happy trimming the sails and actively sailing, I would prefer just to set the sails and go for a ride on nice calm seas! I also dislike have to disassemble the boat to do anything or find something. I don’t like mess though so that’s not surprising!

6. What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?
Bryce: I read it’s a cheaper way of life but that hasn’t eventuated. We’ve needed to upgrade a number of systems to suit our style of cruising and it’s been very expensive. For example, a compete rewire, new solar panels, new batteries, replaced head and the list keeps growing. 
Alissa: When we were preparing, we were reading about the pioneering cruisers, like the Pardeys, who were doing it hardcore. Cruising without refrigeration, freezers, washing machines and watermakers, using oil lanterns instead of electric lights and oars and sails instead of engines. Boat life would definitely be a lot simpler without the extras “complicating” things. I didn’t know that you could have an inverter and still run AC appliances so we bought manual (hand-powered) versions of appliances. I didn’t know that you didn’t have to live without creature comforts. You can have anything you want on a boat (basically) but there is the tradeoff that it makes your boat more complicated with more things to break and more things to repair. You just have to decide if it’s worth it to you or not!

7. What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?
Bryce: It’s a constant series of jobs to keep the boat shipshape.
Alissa: Boat Maintenance in exotic locations. 100% true! 

8. Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?
Bryce: We probably should have ripped out the fridge and reinstalled it as the insulation is shot! The fridge is out biggest battery drain by far.
Alissa: The wishlist is long! I would love a freezer and a watermaker but they are staying on the wishlist for awhile! I will settle for a functioning fridge!

9. What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?
Bryce: A lot of our books probably. They are heavy and take up a lot of space. We may yet get rid of them. 
Alissa: Bryce will hate me saying this but his fishing gear. I don’t eat fish and Bryce doesn’t go fishing, so it’s just taking up valuable space. 

10. What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why.
Alissa: We have a 1 year old on board now so we are just taking it slow and easy as we all acclimate to life on board.
Bryce: We will probably stick around the North Queensland coast for a couple more years and maybe head out to New Caledonia or Vanuatu once our crew is less dependent. Longer-term aspiration is to circumnavigate the globe.
11. What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?
Bryce:  How do you decide your cruising plans?  Initially, I went about planning like I had in business.  i.e. make a plan and then do it!  This lifestyle is not suited to that approach and just provides endless frustration! Instead of plans, we now talk about options until we quite close to being able to actually do something. 

Alissa: How would you recommend that someone prepares to cruise?  We both joined Hoofers Sailing Club in Madison, WI (Me as a complete rookie, Bryce as an already excellent sailor just looking for more experience) which was a great place to learn. We were able to make mistakes on a boat that wasn’t our own! We also went to a couple of boatshows and attended some really informative lectures there and we read alot of books and blogs. In preparing for cruising again, given that we were coming from a place where (apart from sailing) our knowledge base was zero, I would’ve liked to take more hands-on intensive courses on a couple of the trickier topics, like engines repair, plumbing and electrical systems. We’ve learnt alot but some of it was probably the hard way! 


Thanks for reading our interview! Be sure to check interviews with other cruisers on Newly Salted and Interview with a Cruiser!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Baby Proofing 101

Being that we live on a boat, everything is mostly contained and secure but we have had to make a few modifications to the space in order for us all to be safe with a baby on board. 

Here’s a few of the changes we made!

A safe sleeping space was a given but we forwent purchasing a cribs or portacot and made our own lee cloth to create a boat crib. This is also a place which we can stick her if we need all hands on deck quickly and know that she is safe, no matter how much she protests.
We don’t have a car so hadn’t planned to get a carseat but in the end, we ended up being in a car enough that we needed one. We had it set up on the boat for our longer passage south just in case we came into some rough weather and needed a really safe and secure place to pop her but thankfully we didn’t need it! Now that we are in protected waters we will put it away and reclaim our settee. We made sure to get a convertible carseat so that it would last for as long as possible!
Our cushion protectors (see above) aren’t fancy but they do the job. I whipped up covers for our cushions out of some old sheets and they are the first line of defense for spills and flying food. They are also much easier to take off and wash then the spot-clean only seat cushions that the boat came with. 

We only have had to install one cupboard lock yet but reserve the right to install more! Everything is mostly securely away but there are a few cupboards whose latches are the convenient height for playing. We put one right away on the one that contains some nasties and that one happens to be the one that is played with most often. 
We had some electrical stuff that we needed to protect. That problem was solved by running toy box interference! It’s also a great out of the way location for her to play. The toy box is also acts as limiter on our toy volume. 

Our latches to pull up our floor boards are a huge draw for I. and she loves playing with them and leaving them up! We ran into them a few times before we taped them down. It’s not pretty but it works! She pulled the tape off one but now no longer seems interested in them. 

Installing lifeline netting is probably this biggest, most important, non-negotiable baby proofing that we did on board. With it in place, I. can freely crawl around the boat and we know that she won’t slip through the lifelines.
At the top of the stairs, we always have one, if not two, boards in to keep I. from falling down the stairs from the cockpit. This also acts as an additional line of defense between her and the water if she manages to evade all of our other methods and climb up the stairs! At least she can’t get out! At the bottom of the stairs, we have a temporary rail (a toddler sleeping rail) that we can quickly put across but we also have a more permanent cloth which we can secure across. But for the most part, I. is free to climb and explore!
As I look around the boat, those are the only changes that I can see! There may well be more to come but only time will tell! 

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Beginning

We've owned Batty for 4 years now and been on all sorts of adventures with her! We started in Mooloolaba, QLD and have sailed as far north as Cairns. We've also had a couple of adventures without her! Lots of visits to Brisbane and Adelaide, a quick trip to Melbourne, Stints in PNG for work and a couple of trips to the US!

Join us as we reminisce about how far we've come!

Saturday, June 3, 2017


Our plan had always been to spend this season in the Whitsundays. We missed the Northerly winds to get down there so we had been toying with the idea of heading north but our hearts still really wanted to go south! Last Saturday morning, we woke up in Horseshoe Bay to calm winds and a favourable forecast for the coming days and, quick-as-a-flash, made the decision to head south. The winds were still from the southeast, which was the direction we were headed but they were light so we were hoping for a nice-ish ride! 

We had left Nelly Bay for the quick sail around to Horseshoe Bay just a couple of days earlier. It was I.’s first sail so we didn’t really know what to expect. She was a champ and stayed in her carrier the entire trip, napping, chatting and just looking at the waves going by. She didn’t get seasick either which is a huge plus. One seasick person on this boat is enough! Some friends came for the sail with us which took our kid count up to two babies and one toddler but the extra hands also meant that I didn’t have to do anything boat related! A huge thanks for them!
We passed mighty close to this guy at anchor!
To get to the Whitsunday’s, we knew we were in for several really long day sails. We had contemplated doing it all in one go but decided that that would be too exhausting. We also considered sailing at night while the baby was sleeping but we couldn’t figure out how we would balance watches and then survive during the day! Ultimately, sailing during the day and getting a good nights sleep was the best decision for us. Baby I. was so good on our big sails. She explored, played, ate, bird and wave watched and read books in the cockpit well. I will say though that I have never appreciated naptime as much as I have when seasick and want to do nothing but stare at the back of my eyelids!
Sails down as the sun goes down!
Our first day was a sail from Magnetic Island to Cape Bowling Green. It was long and rough. We got in after dark, with no moon and were exhausted! We were off again first thing the next morning in the same miserable seas, destination Cape Upstart. We had our engine running the whole time to charge our batteries (solar problems AGAIN!) and give us some extra speed: loud, smelly, extra unpleasant! But then magically that afternoon, the wind shifted and pick up and we were able to point straight at our destination, turn off the engine and arrive at Cape Upstart with enough sunlight left to head ashore! Winning!
Those blues!
And then our good wind ran out so we have just been hanging out at Cape Upstart waiting for favourable conditions to return! Cape Upstart has always been a stop on the way somewhere else so we’ve only ever overnighted here. The forecast has us here for at least a few days so it should give us a good chance to explore!