Archive for the ‘Places’ Category

Sailing… Cruising Queensland, Australia

Friday, July 15th, 2022

Tis a pain. We thought sailing the Queensland coast would be; well, a piece of cake. The nice warm trades pushing up along the beautiful coast. Turns out it is not, a piece of cake. Two plus years ago we arrived in Bundaburg; Bundy they call it here, and proceeded down towards Brisbane. Referred to as Brissi. 🙂 Aussies like to add an, “I”, “ie”, or “y” to much of their descriptive nomenclature.

The trip south was for the most part a pleasant 100 mile sail. There; in Scarborough, we sat out Covid completing a heaps of boat projects. We played tennis, made new great friends and renewed our friendship with a couple of Aussies that once had lived in Florida.

All was well, but two things forced us to move. Two more than anything else. Bureaucracy and weather. Bureaucracy was forcing us to move. And so we’ve been moving. Returning to Bundy again wasn’t a rough trip. From Bundy N, the trip has not been pleasant. We planned on visiting Lady Musgrave. The wx didn’t cooperate. We headed N. North to the warmth we say. The following week became cold and really, really, windy.

Mother Nature decided this year she was going to freeze out those living in Queensland, (QLD). That included us. When we left Scarborough we rid ourselves of the comforts of marina life, an electric heater and an AC unit. While it is cold on land, on the water it is even colder. Colder because the water is colder. We dressed in layers, slept under several blankets and hid from the wind as much as possible. We were sailing north every day we could. We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and it was still cold. We ducked into the first good marina along the way, Gladstone. Oh, that was sweet.

Gladstone Marina had large fairways for manuevering the boat and we slid easily into the slip. They had a complimentary taxi to local shops, and even had piped in classical music for the restrooms and showers. Restaurants and some shops were a lovely walk down the sea wall. We thoroughly enjoyed that marina, walking to shops and recovering from the cold. In Scarborough we gave out heater away thinking we wouldn’t need it since we were going N. In Gladstone, we bought another heater at Bunnings. 🙂 Warmth. It is not overrated!

From there we tracked N again. And a new adventure began. Along this coast civilisation was beginning to disapper. The first place we dropped the hook was Pt. Clinton (not related to POTUS Clinton). This was a military exercise chunk of land and only when they are not shooting are we allowed to drop in for a stay.

Here we found what the chart calls “Tidal Overflow”. There is so much water in the port that when it rushes out the entrance and sometimes in, there are rapid like conditions In the water. The boat actually moves off course as it transits various moving chunks of water. For us it wasn’t dangerous as long as we paid attention. It was; however, unnerving. At anchor we didn’t sit to the wind. We hung to the current and the chain would run in odd angles from the boat. Thus the wind wasn’t blowing as we like from the bow but at times from the side, then the stern and then the side again. Island head creek was the same. A mess.

Studying up on what was happening we saw that the huge tides were aided by Broadwater Bay. In this huge bay water is funnelled into and builds up to 10 m (30’ high). After building that high, the water then rushes back out. All this water creates noticeable currents in the surrounding area. These currents are found 100’s of miles away from the bay and may during Spring tides, be up to 3 knots! Our preferred boat speed is 6 kts, having a 3 kt current against us will impact the distance we travel in one day.

That and discovering over falls out of sight of land! Whew. Traveling to the southern Islands in the Whitsundays we came across one wild overfall. Of course the winds here add to the adventure. When they are against the current the waves don’t stop, they build up larger and become closer together. They have a steep front and sailors refer to them as “Square waves. Here the waves squared up and marched towards our stern; curling, frothing and foaming as they lifted our boat up and slid under us. This lasted for about 30 minutes then settled back down to normal. Normal for this area. To say the ride was uncomfortable would be an understatement. We were glad to anchor behind an island for a good nights sleep. The “good night” was not part of the sleep.

Behind the southern islands in the Whitsundays we found most places had a wrap around swell. The wind created waves would bend as they approached the shallow water and curve around the island tips. Then in the anchorage a wave would roll by us side on. That doesn’t sound bad. What is bad is that it now creates a roll in the boat. So we roll every minute from 5 degrees one way to 5 degrees the other. Most often, because we have 1,000’s of lbs of lead in our keel, most often there is a smallish jerk at the end of the roll as gravity pulls on all that lead. It is NOT like rocking in a hammock! On top of that roll the locals describe the winds building and flowing over the island

Nice Wide Fairways, Lovely people, Great Vibe

as “bullets”. An apt description. So for a minute or two it is nice and calm, then there is a huge gust of wind that barrels down the mountain and smothers the boat. So much so that hanging out in the cockpit and reading is not comfortable. The comfort level of the anchorage ended up being next to zero. We do carry flopper stoppers that reduce the roll and do make life bearable. As we were only staying one night (no desire to stay longer in a weird windy spot) we left them stored. We slept, We didn’t sleep well. We moved the following am.

The next am up and out of there we were. On to Curlew where we hid from the wind for a couple more days. The wrap around was moderated a bit in this anchorage but that was dependent on the tides. As soon as the winds eased enough we made a run to Townsville. There we got a good nights sleep, in another marina.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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The Hardest Part of Cruising…

Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

… is casting off the lines.

How true. We settle in. We love the area, the people and our nature is to stay, hang, party! We’ve been in Scarborough almost 30 months. It is time. Tanks are full, engine purs, we head out.

The sailing isn’t great. Cold weather had set in. But, officialdom is forcing our hand. Two things force/encourage us to move; weather and officialdom.

In Australia while immigration has acknowledged the circumstances surrounding Covid, Customs has not. If we keep the boat here longer than 3 years we are either locked down to one port or required to pay import duty on the vessel. As that duty would be to the tune of thousands of dollars we plan to leave. Besides, the world is a large place, there is more to see.

That and it is…. Cold here. We head N to the warmth!

We leave Scarborough about noon and head across the bay. There we turn N heading back through Wide Bay Bar and sliding up the inside of Fraser Island. Having done the reverse of that course to get here made casting off the lines easier.

This would also be our first overnight in a couple of years and it was cold. Once we turned N we were able to sail a bit. The winds were not great. So what. It was just time to get our sea legs out again.

Wide Bay Bar wasn’t that exciting. It could be. Boats have flipped and lives lost crossing bars in Australia. The goal is to have NO excitement. We checked with the Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) people on the conditions of the bar before crossing. They Green Lighted the trip. Sails down (we don’t sail during tricky crossings) we motored up the fairway and into the quiet waters behind Fraser. Gary’s anchorage looked nice and calm. It was. The following day we head up to Kingfisher resort.

Before Kingfisher was an active place. Now; after Covid and the shut down of a majoirty of the tourist industry here the resort was quiet. So quiet we didn’t even choose to go ashore. Dan (Captain on Vagabond) was there a day earlier and told us the resort; for the most part, closed. No more beach bar and the place was like a ghost town. Oh; there were things going on, a wedding and some people getting on and off the ferry. The vibe wasn’t all that good. So we gave it a pass.

Elysium with her favorite Sail plan

And the following day we scooted up to Bundaberg. The port we entered from. Anchored off the Marina for the first night and secured a slip for two more days.

There we ran into our neighbors from Whangarai, NZ. Brad and Gloria. When we first arrived in Australia we met up and now as we’re leaving we meet up again. That necessitated some story time and we made the most of it. On top of that bright spot they told us that Greg and Deb on Kaliope were here. We met them in Panama before we crossed the Pacific. Greg and Deb had just sold their boat and planning to do land travels. First in Australia and then back in the states.

Cruising for us is more about the people than the place. Although in some respects, they are related. We love connecting and reconnecting with people along the way.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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Cruising Lifestyles

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022

Cruising is a “lifestyle”. Like all lifestyles there are differences. There is the “Circumnavigating”, the “Tourist”, and the “Immersive” cruiser.

The Circumnavigating cruiser wishes to get around the globe. They want to test themselves, test their boat and see a bit of the world. Oh, they do see a good bit, and they miss much. Truth: no one can see it all no matter how much they try. Some cruisers sign up for adventuring through an organization like the World Arc. For a nice chunk of change, details are taken care of. Paper work (officialdom) is completed for you, ie immigration visa’s, customs paper work, canal transit details, and passage planning. All those cruisers need do is: follow the plan. There is a lot to be said for having another cover the details of cruising. We’ve joined two groups to make this life easier, the Puddle Jump and the Go West Rally. Both are the least demanding of cruisers wanting to do it their way.

Then, there is the tourist cruiser. They arrive at a port and want to see all the attractions. Life is a huge Disney World, minus many of the lines. Plus, they see the real deal, not a miniatururized plastic version with piped in music. They hop in a car, jump on a train or plane, and off they go.

And then there is the immersive cruiser. I don’t think there are many of us. We go slow. For the most part that is Elysium. We’ve been out 13 years and are only half way around the world. We plan on staying for long periods of time. We want to know what it is like living in various countries. How the people are, what the culture is like. To do that we must find a key for entry into the local’s world..

In Penrhyn it was Church. Even though we are not religious people, every Sunday when anchored off the town we went to church. No one actually said “you must attend Church. Intuitively we knew it. Church was expected. It was our way to get to know the people, to feel what they feel and live as close to how they live as we could. We joined their community clean ups on several occasions. I helped with 12 v electrical work, fixing machines that were not working properly, and repairing their swing set. We saved the town for a day when the belt on the town generator went out. Elysium had the needed spare engine belt in their inventory. Often we ate with them and I dove for Golden Pearls with them. Experiences like this one never discovers as they wave sailing by.

In NZ and Australia we joined tennis clubs. In Australia we have some tennis friends we’ve known for 30 years living in Brisbane. We played tennis and vacationed with them. We joined a local tennis club and shared in 4 social tennis outings every week. We met a tennis couple that loved traveling as much as we do. With them we made traveled to Cairns and Uluru. (We can’t skip all the tourist stuff 🙂 ) .

A lot of fun and yes, we know and love them all.

The most difficult part of being an immersive cruiser is saying “good bye”. I prefer… “until we meet again” because one never knows.

Before we left the states we had a christening party for the boat. In NZ we had a get together with our tennis peeps before leaving and we did the same here, in Australia. People we’ve met; land people, were always curious how we lived and what our “home” was like. Rather then having 50 different visits we put together plates of goodies (another of our great tennis friends- Lynn helped), some refreshments and a chance for them to see Elysium. Richard (the General Manager) at Scarborough Marina reserved the cruisers lounge for us. Two of our fellow cruisers boys – great kids, Louis and Ollie – great kids, escorted the guests through the marina gates, to the boat and back to the lounge. We added a slide show on the lounge TV of where we’ve been and commiserated how much we would miss them …all of them. And to be honest, we do miss everyone of them. They were all kind enough to share their lives and stories with us making us richer for the experience. We hope it was a fair exchange.

These cruising groups are not exclusive. There is movement in and out of them. Everything depends on ones available cruising time.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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Getting There

Sunday, June 5th, 2022

The project inside the boat is finished. The rain has abated. Time to get some color on.

Before the rain hit we washed and scrubbed the bottom. It was clean of loose paint. I paid one of the yard companies to grind off the Aqua-Coat at the waterline and to deal with the blisters. That bill topped $2k AUS. Sadly, more blisters appeared after they finished. Like all cruisers, cruisers help each other. I borrowed a grinder from s/v Vagabond and we repaired another dozen blisters. Grind, clean, fill with epoxy mud, sand, add barrier coat for preparation to paint.

Simon was off in his numbers!

The most difficult task was adjusting the water line on the port side. Simon (our painter) thought he had it right on when we had the boat painted in NZ. I tried to tell him it was low but he said he had his numbers taken when the boat was first hauled. It wasn’t worth arguing more, the line would be close. It wasn’t close enough. It was low. Slime formed higher on the hull than we wanted. Also I couldn’t convince him to make the shear stripe at the bow wider so visually it would have been the same on the water.

Thus, we had two changes to make. I needed to move the water line on the port side to have it fall where the water actually is. And I needed to widen the top of the line on the bow; both sides, where the boat stem fitting is.

After a good deal of consternation and some eyeballing by us and other cruisers we were now in the ball park. I used the bottom growth mark to get the waterline correct on the port side before we had cleaned it off. After which we measured and attempted to get the wider sheer at the bow to flow back into the normal width midships. This process took several hours. Laying it out, checking it, moving it, laying it out again. and finally, adding the barrier coat.

Tape remove, paint, re tape. Repeat.

Once the barrier coat was on, we added the white line under the sheer, then the brown sheer. And finally, the vinyl clear top coat. Over all, we were both happy with it.

Between all this we needed to service our AutoProp. While at our fiends home I was able to clean up the bronze and lubricate the prop. There is a special fitting for re-greasing each propellor blade. On the Autoprop each blade swings

PropSpeed is a two part Silicon based coating to reduce growth and save fuel.

independently. This independence allows a perfect pitch every rotation. With our new grease gun I lubricated each blade. That completed it was time to install the propeller at the boat. I don’t remember if I mentioned it – the key on the propeller had begun to wear. We needed a new one. And since we are a US boat it was an imperial key.

Luckily, Ian, the machinist that made our Groco part, could make a duplicate key. He measured, cut and trimmed a new SS key. To get the exact width he used a very cool machine to take a part of a hairs width off. It was now an exact replacement key. I put some anti-sieze on, put the key in place and slid the prop on. To finish I attached the special nut and set screw.

The final prop job; apply the PropSpeed. While PropSpeed doesn’t last forever, it is better than coating the prop with simple bottom paint. Bottom paint rarely lasts for a month of cruising. PropSpeed is designed to save on fuel (reduced friction) and keep marine growth at bay. It is a silicone based coating that is completely removed before re-coating. With the prop on and painted I bag it. The final step: we begin painting the bottom.

Slap it on. We are not a race boat. The important part is to have complete coverage and as thick as possible. We used about 21 liters of paint. Twenty of Black and one of Red. The first layer of the bottom is red. Where we had the blisters and where some of the red has worn off we recoated. In general, when we see red that tells us we are through the bottom paint and it is time to haul out. Once dried we apply the black.

Stir / pour / paint. We do this every time. We must keep the paint stirred as the Copper (the real antifouling ingredient that does all the work) will precipitate to the bottom if not stirred and not be evenly distributed. Paint would go on with zero Copper to do the work. W/ painted the lower areas while I did the waterline and mid section. Again another cruiser came by and helped loaning us a roller extension. Wow! That extension made the job easier and the application of the paint much quicker.

The only issue was the water line. Tape would not stick to the Vinyl Aqua-Coat. At the waterline we used a brush and took extra care. One coat on today, another tomorrow, launch the following day. Any extra paint was a waste in the can.We were not going to take it with us. Extra went on the waterline, the rudder, and the keel. We saved a bit for the the spots we could not get under the boat stands and the keel.

A job we didn’t like doing. But all turned out great!

Launch day arrived. The yards travel lift ambled over to lift Elysium. They lifted the boat and let it swing for an hour. We used this time for painting the last bit where the stands had supported the boat and where the keel rested. Twenty liters of paint ($900 AUS approx) is now on the boat.

I asked the travel lift operator what Elysium weighed. This is the first travel lift with a reliable scale. 17 metric tons. To the pit (the place they slowly lower the boat into the water) we went. Max speed; about 2 km / hour. 15 minutes later we were hanging over the water. Once immersed and before she is freed from the straps, I checked all the seacocks to ensure there was no water ingress. Perfect. Even the one I disassembled and re-assembled was dry.

With the slings released, and the tow attached, we slowly made way to our slip.

One huge step is now completed.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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Contrasts

Saturday, May 28th, 2022

Our lives are an adventure in polar opposites. We hauled the boat and had secured an AirBnB near by. Walking distance. A week before we hauled the AirBnB owner called to let us know that a contractor had informed him of an earlier start. The unit would not be available. Oh-oh. That was the bad news.

A couple of tennis friends we have shared much time with had gone to the UK for a few months. They kindly offered their place for us to stay while the boat is being hauled out. We accepted. While a bit farther away, we still have the car. Driving to the new and walking to the old was about the same time.

And best of all, when working on the boat we would be tracking less yard dirt and crud into the boat. We could leave it cluttered with tools when we left and begin where we left off when we return.

And yet mother nature had other plans. We knew the weather predictions. We also know that Mother Nature either doesn’t read or doesn’t care what the weather service expects to happen. Four days after we hauled, the rains set in. And they stayed. For an entire week. So much so that not only was boat work stymied, tennis too was cancelled many times.

What little could be done on the boat was accomplished.

When we hauled I had a seacock that a contractor had cracked the bolt attaching the handle. I didn’t do anything with it till we hauled out. A seacock is the beefy Bronze item that keeps water out of the boat and allows water to pass through the hull into the sea. So I waited until now. When the boat is out of the water working on this is much safer.

I thought the easiest would be to drill the end of the bolt, and use an Easy Out to remove the screw. I couldn’t get the drill centered well. I drilled anyway. I was able to get a couple of left handed bits at the nuts and bolt store. What luck. Drilling with the left handed bit would help ease the bolt end out. It did not move. I put in the easy out and twisted. The easy out didn’t hold. I needed to drill a larger hole and then use a larger Easy Out. To do that I would most likely damage the threads. The alternative was to remove the fitting. Fortunately we have kept every paper that came with parts for the boat. We have 9 folders full of manuals, instructions, and details. There was a diagram of the parts. I removed the piece.

Next, I needed a machine shop to remove the bolt and then I could reassemble everything. Remember, we live a life of contrasts. I first went to Jock at the Scarborough chandlery. I asked two questions: Where is a good machine shop to get the bolt out and can I order another replacement item.

For the most part Australia has been a wonderland of boat supplies. The seacocks we use are Groco, high quality bronze – US made. They are available here, in limited places, and pricey. It is a boat. What did I expect. First,

Innards of a Groco Bronze Seacock

Jock told me of a machine shop owned by a cruiser. Sweet. Second he would make some calls and see about the part. I gave him the part number. Hopped in the car, W/ and I drove to the shop. Always take W/ , she is much better dealing with people than I am. 🙂 We couldn’t find it the first time and called on the phone. W/ did. After chiding us for not finding it; he said he had been there for decades. He would stand out by the street making sure we didn’t…. drive by…. again.

We showed him the item and as any good machinist would do, said he would try. We left it with him and returned to the boat. We stopped at the chandlery again and Jock informed us that there are no parts available for the Groco in Australia. I could buy a new one, but not the part. Add that to my list. It is however still raining. I wasn’t yet ready to call the US, find the part and have it air freighted over. We do have a daily yard rate while hauled. 🙁 On to the next task while awaiting the results of this one.

Lubricating the seacocks. They need to be lubricated so when and if there is an issue with any leaks one can turn the handle and shut out all water. While in the past I had Rube Goldberged the process, this time I was doing them right. I had purchased two small grease guns that never, ever seemed to work properly. Again W/ and I hopped in the car looking to buy a real, full size grease gun. We did and proceeded to load it with grease and complete the next task. Now to get the Zerk fittings to grease the seacocks. Found them! Great. The 90º fitting fell apart. Some of the Seacocks were in; not impossible, but hard to reach places and I needed that elbow.

Back to the Chandlery. Jock didn’t have any with imperial threads. Remember, I said this was a US made product. The only suggestion was Zackleys; where I bought the left handed drill bits. Off I go. Here I got lucky; they had Zerk fittings with elbows and imperial threads! They didn’t have any straight fittings with imperial but my straight ones were ok. I bought a couple; always good to have extras and back to the boat I went. W/ and I began the process of lubricating all the remaining Seacocks. I love when things work and now they opened and closed easily.

The following morning we stopped by the machine shop. Ian, the owner came out with a shiny piece and the stud still in it . He showed me the corrosion and said no matter what, this would not keep water out. The best he could suggest was a new one. My head was spinning considering the cost of shipping from the US, the shipping time; sourcing the supplier; I didn’t like it. He suggested he could make a duplicate out of 316 SS. How much; $100! Hell, shipping the fastest way from the US would cost more than that! I asked him to make two. With a spare on board, that would guarantee never having another issue. That is what sailors believe, and I’m sticking to it.

Friday we picked up two new parts and I reassembled the seacock. Add the grease and celebrate one of the jobs completed.

Next: fix the water line with the Aqua – Coat, Fix the blisters, Paint the bottom and relaunch.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Haul Out

Friday, May 20th, 2022
We’re getting closer to cruising again. Hauling the boat is one of the last steps before we cast off again. I am hoping for a week. ( I was off by 2) I am expecting about $5k to do everything ( I was wrong by about $2k) . We have not been out of the water close to 3 years.
 
Elysium being pushed

Elysium being pushed backwards to the haul out.

The marina has a great system of getting boats to the slipway. They tie a tow to Elysium and move it under their power. The boat is carefully moved to the slipway and the slings set. Lifted, power washed and then cradled for our work.

 

The power washed highlighted the first gotcha!

Elysium’s bottom after three years in the water

First in 13 years of cruising. We have some blisters that are not under the paint. They are behind the gel. Now

we get to play “whack a mole”. Every time we haul I’ll be looking for new ones to grind out, fill with an epoxy filler, sand, barrier and then paint the bottom.

After 14 years of cruising we have some blisters

It may be time to do some land travels when we reach Indonesia. There we can haul the boat and let everything dry out, fix and repair the bottom. And finally, start again with a fresh bottom. We’ll see what the future holds for us. For now, it is long tiring days, and another bucket of money. I’ll hire some of the grunt work. W/ and I will try to do the rest.

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Raymarine Australia- WOW!

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022
I am impressed.
 
I sent the depth sounder Hull Transmitter and Display to Raymarine in Sydney on Tuesday. By Friday they had it and replied that the battery was the issue. Raymarine replaced the battery. Everything works now- the tech said. They were sending it back. Yipee!
 
Approximately one week later I had the pieces in my hand. I re -installed the Hull Transmitter and powered it  up. Bingo! I have soundings.
 
Bottom line. I may have been able to replace the batteries in my original unit and had everything working. Instead of spending the extra grand and time getting the new system up and running. Oddly, all to often, spending money is what cruising is. Throwing money at an issue until everything works. Out here, where few things happen fast, where you don’t have all your contacts, where you don’t have loads of time, sometimes the best option is to spend more of those precious cruising dollars.

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Sail Far
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Frustrations

Sunday, May 1st, 2022
As things run along smoothly for a bit there are always road blocks that pop up. Wack a Mole is one such idea, Rosan Rosanadan made a skit out of “There’s always something”.
 
We’ve been moving along smoothly towards a departure of May-ish June. The epoxy coating is finished and what is left is on hold. We’be began going through minimal boat systems ensuring they are functional. Checking batteries. One handheld VHF seems to be toast and batterie for it are discontinued. The other came back fine. Refrigeration is sweet. Main engine change is in cooling system great. Dinghy leak fixed. At least one out of four inflatble fenders seems to be holding. Still working on the others.
 
The bump or maybe better described as a smallish sink hole is the depth sounder. We’re not interested in leaving without a functioning one.
 
About 4 months ago we went to check our TackTick wireless sounder. Opps, it doesn’t come on. I checked things out. Batteries not good and will not charge. I buy a new batter set. Still doesn’t work. Ok, I buy a new display. It will not connect to the bulkhead sender. Ok, must be a sender issue. I returned to Wentworths with the display that will not connect. They were willing to exchange it, with more money, for a complete system. That will solve the problem. Nothing fixes an issue like more money!
 

Testing out the New TackTick -RayMarine

As we’re getting ready to haul the boat I figure now is the time to install for a check out. Now, before I need to drill another hole in the boat and install a new transducer. By the way, I also ordered a new transducer. Not one; but two. I ordered one from a company here in Australia only to be stonewalled. They didn’t have one in stock and I had to wait for about two months. Getting scared I still wouldn’t have it in time I found what I wanted on Defender’s site. Defender indicated they had one in stock. I ordered it covering any potential problems. Both arrived on the same day! Go Figure.

 

Now with all the new pieces I tested the system out. I’m stuck at the fist step. I can’t get the Display to connect to the base unit. No matter what I try it will not connect. I removed all the old wireless sounder stuff from the boat and hide the pieces in the car. The car is a long way away. The display st still will not connect. Time to call Raymarine. But… it is Saturday. Not open. And Monday is Labor Day in Australia. Still not open. Oui’ vay! Tuesday, if it doesn’t connect, the item will need to go back to Raymarine and who knows how long the wait will be. The sink hole just got bigger!

 

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Sail Far
Stay Long
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My Day!

Monday, February 7th, 2022
Finally, my White Water Rafting day arrived. Pickup was the usual time: 7:30 am. Aussie Drifterz was always on time! The warm up event was tubing this am and rafting in the pm. Sweet. (Photo’s were taken by the Aussie Drifterz guides – Sorry, W/s didnt turn out as she wished).
 
We corralled the rest of the group making several hotel / hostel stops. Stopped by the main staging area for a bus change and picking up gear. Off we went. No rain. Looking forward to a great day. It is the rainy season. So far we have been lucky.
 
An hour later we unloaded and the guides had the tubes inflated. A few instructions, introductions, a couple of stories and we grabbed a life jacket, tube and strolled down the bank. There were three guides, one to lead, one to follow and one to take photos. While W/’s phone is water proof, searching for it in a fast moving rocky stream was not high on our list of things to do. One tidbit of info the guides stressed was that ANYTHING not attached to you or not worn by you, expect to lose it. It is always best to listen to those who know!
 
We headed down the bank, sank into our tubes and floated out into the creek. W/ first and I followed. The water temp was cool enough to keep us awake and not warm enough to bathe in. Paddling was by hand over the sides of the tubes. For W/ paddling was more like fingering. Her hands would only brush the water as she tried to paddle. Big tubes.
 

Tubing Slip and Slide

The first minor rapids we slide down everyone stayed upright and I lost W/. I looked around and didn’t see anyone with their head sticking out from the tube. Looks like somehow she moved ahead of me. So I began paddling, lazing along, paddling some more, trying to catch the group. She must be in there. As I closed in on them I still couldn’t see her.

 
Five minutes later I find that she hitched a ride. All the guides used Kayaks. Kayaks are faster and more maneuverable than tubes. The guide picking up slackers had thrown W/ a rope for a tow. She hung on while he brought her up to the core group. Cheater!
 
The creek had several small rapids the guides hinted might be a grade 2, maybe a 3. Keep your hands and feet off the bottom as you are flushed through. Attempting to grab a rock or plant your feet in the bottom is a great way to end up racing to the hospital. Water is not forgiving. With your foot or hand stuck the water will push and twist you around forcing you to flow downstream. Should you find yourself in the water, lay flat with your feet out front and bob along till the current slows and you can climb back on / in the tube.
 
That… was good advice. Somewhere around the 1/2 way mark; while being flushed down between a couple of boulders my tube hit a wall of water. The tube stopped, I didn’t. I grabbed on to it and started to lay back with my bum receiving a not so nice massage from the rocky bottom. At one spot i thought I could put my foot down and climb back aboard. Soon I saw the error of my way. The guides were spot on. Once the depth thinned out I was able to stand and reposition myself in the tube.
 
Back in the tube

Oh, I’m all good now

No further events interrupted the day. We came to a flat sandy area and there we reloaded the gear heading back home. This afternoon was going to be my high point. The last day in Cairns, the last tourist event of our trip. River Rafting!

 
A wet ride back and a light lunch. We dried off and were ready to go again. The cattle bus (tourist bus) came by and we climbed aboard. Two hotels later we had picked up another group and waited on the bus for some time. Ten minutes later the driver returned. He said the rafting was being cancelled and our money refunded. There had been a great deal of rain in the Table Lands, and the river had risen 2 meters in less than an hour. The flash flooding makes the river extra dangerous. Sorry.
 
As cruisers we have learned to accept how fluid plans are. We understand. Weather changes, waves change, an anchorage good one day may be uncomfortable the next. However, accepting the change does not mean liking the change.
He wasn’t half as sorry as I was.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long
 
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Things not Planned

Saturday, February 5th, 2022
Personal note: sorry things got out of order but this is the general gist of events clogging my memory.
Things do not always works as planned. Well, truth be told, rarely do they seem to work out exactly as planned.
 

Monday we were to do the Tubing in the am and White Water Rafting in the pm. That tourist adventure was number one on my list. The bus picked us up at 7:30 am. The bus had the Rafting logo, Tubing logo, Water Falls logo, all the events this company did; plastered on the side. We asked when they arrived, Tubing and Rafting and the guide said “Yep, that’s what we do”! Unfortunately for “moi”, that was not what they did … that day. On the way out of town he asked about lunch and started taking orders. We were told

Josephine Falls

A fun falls with a smooth waterslide rock face.

lunch was not part of the Tubing Rafting adventure. We said “we don’t get lunch”. Our guide said we did. We said “No we don’t, we have Tubing this am and Rafting this pm” . It was then our guide realized we had been put on the “wrong list”! Yes we had planned to do the waterfalls but that was Friday, with our travel mates. Somehow; on purpose or not, the days for us had been switched.

 
When W/ made the reservations she even confirmed that on Friday we would be with our “mates” (Aussie speak for friends) on the waterfalls tour and the contact said yes she had us down for that and made a note.
 
Now we are stuck. I don’t know if they actually had Tubing / Rafting on that Monday but here we were…. heading out to see …. waterfalls.
 
Millaa Millaa Falls

Wendy at Millaa Milla Falls, Table Lands, Cairns

So we made the best of it. What else could we do? The Babinda Boulders and swimming was pleasant. The falls were gorgeous, the fish and chips at a restaurant in the Table Lands quite good. Plus we swam in a lake formed in the middle of a volcanic crater. After which

Curtain Fig

Found in the Table Lands outside of Cairns

and trekked around a Curtain Fig with a root system larger than any I had seen before. The tour guide helped make the trip an enjoyable experience. He actually had my dream job; that of working 7 months a year and traveling 5. Of course, now I’m a wee bit past wanting such but it is nice to know there are some of those around. At lunch he contacted the home office. They adjusted our price and scheduled us for Tubing Friday am and White Water Rafting in the pm. Sweet. In the end it will all be

Lake Eacham

Lovely Semi Warm Swim the Lake Eacham Volcanic Crater Lake

good. The rest of the day we spent playing in the water and Exiting the table lands traversing the curvyist road in existence. this road had close to 263 “corners” in approx 1 km decent.

 
 

After a slalom decent by auto we unpacked and chilled at our abode on the esplanade.That evening we hung out at the hotel and during Happy hour had a short dinner settling in to watch some of the Australian Open. The following day was a city day. W/ and I brought our tennis racquets; Gary and Paula borrowed some over the hill racquets from the hotel and we played a little tennis in the am. For the rest of the day I was interested in a City tour. We just couldn’t get our ducks in a row so we ended up walking around. We checked out an Engel place. The tech was excellent and answered some qsts on our

Pitcher Plant

Common Name as it looks.

refrigeration system on the boat. Walking on we found the Botanical Gardens. I nice walkabout in the beauty of flowers eased us towards evening. The hotel gave us some time to refresh our feet before we had an Aquarium tour and dinner scheduled.

 

I have been surprised at the various Aquariums we’ve seen since the states. The one in New Caledonia was splendid. In Mooloolaba again exhibits took my breath away. And this one; I can’t say topped all of them but I will say was a wonderful surprise. All; for my money, were superior to the National Aquarium in the US. All were superior to the Shields Aquarium in

Curved Aquarium Front

Lovely Reef Display at the Cairns Aquarium

Chicago, or the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. We had a small tour of 15 people or so and a guide that must have ingested several cups of coffee. Not bad in any way, only very excited about every exhibit; and the kids loved her! I would have loved a more “behind the scenes tour”. The fish / life was wonderful. All exhibits were hospital clean. Not sterile, just clean. The occupants all seemed healthy and happy. The lobsters looked…. perfectly edible! 🙂 You name it, it was there. No; no whales but that was about the only thing missing. Goliath groupers, several kinds of sharks, octipi, etc. What was most fascinating was how they kept everything healthy. All the water is mixed to the correct salinity on site. None pumped in from the ocean. It is continuously turned over; filtered and constantly UV sterilized. All the fish that are fed to the predators are frozen for weeks killing any pathogens that they might have. The operation is all in all… fantastic.

 

Afterwards the restaurant was…. so so. The company…. excellent. Too often I find my meal choice is not the best. I had steak. Yeah, I know it is a restaurant at the Aquarium on the ocean but….. I ordered steak. And just to be clear, Australia is not like the US restaurant industry. There are not different grades of steaks with restaurants buying the best. To my knowledge meat here is not graded at all. All too often the meat I’ve ordered in a restaurant is nothing like I would have received in the states. One would think by now I would know better. I am… a slow learner. But the presentation was wonderful and they

HUGE Restaurant Aquarium

The largest Aquarium I have seen in any Restaurant

had the largest Aquarium of any restaurant I have ever eaten at. 🙂 After all, it was “The Aquarium”.

 
As we left the rain pelted us. Time for a taxi; Ubers were not the best option in Cairns. Earlier that day W/ and I were quoted a $25 one way for an Uber to a restaurant for lunch. That didn’t cut it. We could have rented a car at a daily rate of $39 ! Oh well,
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long
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