Not Always Fun….Always an Adventure

It’s been a long time. A long time since writing my last post and a long time writing the blogs. It’s not that I don’t have much to say. I do. It’s that, life, living, cruising gets some in the way of writing these posts. They are not just off the cuff. I do put thought into them. I can’t seem to get in the swing of writing brief, frequent posts as some of my other cruising friends do. I can’t seem to make it a daily or weekly note and post updates. Sorry.
That said, since Fraser Island we’ve come a long way in activities and a short distance in miles. We hung in the St. Mary’s river with two other cruising boats, played tennis in Tin Can Bay, navigated the Wide Bay Bar and moved down to Scarborough Marina where we’ll hang for a minimum of 3 months. Oh, we also watched the fire works from South Bank. What an event! While here, we’ve reconnected with some friends from the states of 17 years ago, spent some time with them, bought a car, joined a gym, and another tennis club.

As far as the boat is concerned we began the list of projects. We ordered a new cooling system for the engine; a Bowman heat exchanger kit from TAD, we’ve completed one sewing project, attacked a wee bit of the varnish and for our comfort we purchased a portable AC unit.
There are different types of cruisers. There is the commuter cruiser that returns to the states every 6-9 months, and the tourist cruiser that hits all the highlights in an area.  Then there is us. We are slow cruisers. We want to meet the locals,  share our stories, experience how it is to live in their country, taste test their foods, and ok; see a few of the sights. We’re never going to see them all.
Bonna; a mate on the boat Good News is from the Philippines. She loved to tell everyone there are 7,000 islands in her country. Well, if we anchored at each island for just one day; that’s 20 years of cruising. You can’t see it all. So; we don’t try.
Sailing in Australia is, well, not the countries highlight. If one chooses Tasmania the anchorages are great, the scenery awesome and the wx; much too cold for us. We hear the Whitsundays are great cruising grounds. We’ve not cruised there yet. The rest, as far as I”m concerned is not for the faint of heart. Crossing bars one must watch the winds and the tides. Anchorages are packed full making holiday parking lots look empty. Katie M told us recently that they couldn’t even get into an anchorage as there were so many boats there. The anchorage outside our marina has no protection from the ESE to the NNE. The trades blow right on through. Thus we’ve joined the marina crowd. When we head out we will seek some cruising time in the Whitsundays. For now, it is marinas and projects.
Just to give one an idea of Australian navigation fun. There is channel north of where we are, near Cairns. One can navigate it during High tide. During low tide it is a cattle crossing! There are many bar entrances and exits to protected waters here. When the tide is going out and the winds are blowing ashore standing waves occur. They are big waves that look squarish and often break. Boats have been flooded, rolled and sunk trying to cross a bar at the wrong time. There is a group of people that volunteer at the Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) . They provide info on the condition of the bars. Getting across one of the bars isn’t the only thing to be concerned with. It is getting back in. Some boats have had to wait one or two days before entering a bar. People have died crossing at the wrong times. We are extra cautious.
Anchoring too is exciting. We anchored in the Mary’s River near it’s mouth. While the winds blew up the river we rarely laid to the wind. The current with the 2 m tides directed the boat. The current was often 3 kts. That is 50% of our normal boat speed; and we are not even moving, only the water. Anchoring we need to take the tides into account. Two meters tide (about 6’) means we need to add about 12 m more of chain / rode when dropping our anchor. That in turn means we’ll move in a larger circle during low tide. Further to complicate things; this river has a flood plain of about 10 meters (yes you heard me 30’). So if for some reason it floods from excessive rains inland, we would need to move somewhere else. Flooding brings debris like logs down the river. All threatening to up our anchor and damage our boat.  With that high of water we might even pull our anchor out and become part of the debris.
Settling (even temporarily) in a new country adds another set of problems. All marinas in Australia require a $10 million liability coverage. Our insurance liability doesn’t go that high. We needed to get more insurance. We contacted some companies and they wanted a new survey. We prepared for that and were ready to haul and get an updated survey. After a couple of days searching we found reasonable 3rd party insurance coverage for 10 million dollars. We will most likely haul and get a new survey when we do our yearly haul here in Australia. Then we can get the Australian full comprehensive coverage. In some countries insurance companies will not insure a foreign flagged vessel. And getting that much coverage with a US company gets to be quite expensive if one can even find it now. Many US companies have opted out of covering US vessels so far from their home port.
New Aussie WheelsAs I said we bought a car. That too came with new challenges. In NZ we had a signed title. With one page of paperwork we went to the post office, presented them with the paperwork and boom, the car was ours. Here we needed 3 forms of identification as well as a local mailing address. Our friends provided us with the mailing address.  We are fortunate that they are here. A week later we picked up a 2007 Honda CR-V. The newest car we’ve ever owned! Remember; we’ve been traveling for 12 years now.
One of the biggest challenges we have had cruising is with our bank cards. We would love to switch to the bank (USAA) our cruising friends have. They have one that supports veterans and their families. They understand people are mobile. I’m not a veteran but my father was. And sadly, he passed many years ago. I need a living immediate family veteran to qualify. Anyway, our credit union is as good as one can expect considering we don’t fit into a category of standard retiree.
They send the CC to our home address. Well, we’re not there. Because of that the CC gets destroyed and our account frozen. CC’s and debit cards is how we acquire the needed funds for cruising. Gone are the days when cruisers carry boat loads of cash to move from country to country. We have a good contact in the bank and he suggested we switch our home address on the account to our Aussie address. OK, no problem. We do online banking with a VPN. (We use Express VPN and if anyone wishes to use them please acknowledge us; we get an extra month-sorry shameless sell). Anyway I go to make the change and the profile page will not accept a 4 digit postal code. Aussies only have a 4 digit code. We again contact the bank and our “guy” is able to get one of their computer people to put in the 4 digit code. At this point we don’t have a working CC but do have working debit cards… so far. We’ve taken enough cash out to carry us through till the new cards arrive. Now that the address is right the bank will send out new cards to this Australian address. Unfortunately they don’t send them the way the best way – DHL. They send it snail mail. Three weeks later we finally receive the cards. Now to activate them.
When we call they ask for information from us to verify it is us. W/ gives them the info, but when they ask for our home zip (remember Australia doesn’t have a 5 digit zip) we give them the Aus postal code. Also remember that this is in our profile. No good. The computer program they are inputting to doesn’t accept this 4 digit code. They want 5 digits, even though it is now in our profile as 4 digits. We are lucky, the employee at the bank was able to make a work around to activate the card. We’re back in the game. Almost. Now we need to wait for the debit cards. Again that takes a few extra weeks. We have one but the other isn’t in our pocket yet.
While all that is happening we’re ordering stuff for the boat. When one orders stuff on line and puts in the CC info, merchants often make sure the address matches the CC info. Again, since this is a US card and we are in Aus we have a 4 digit post code. Merchant stores don’t like that. Orders are denied and kicked back. More issues ensue. Luckily, before we left I set up PayPal and that has been a fall back. To keep things as simple as possible we often order from Australian web stores. One order I made was cancelled when they discovered that the card was a US card with an Australian address! And when cancelled they never told me. Three weeks later I’m investigating where our stuff is. I discover that the order was cancelled and refunded. No charger or refund showed up on the card.
On top of all that, since we knew we were buying a car and planned on being here awhile, we opened a local bank account. It is much easier doing business having a local bank. (BTW, NZ and AUS banks are far ahead of the US banks for electronic funds transfers). We first went to one bank and opened an account. Spent an hour doing all the paperwork. To add money we wrote a check from our account in the states for deposit. Their policy dictated that before we deposit a foreign funds check we needed to have an account for 6 months. Even though we would not be able to use the money until the check cleared and the money was actually in the account! On to another bank we go. This one is a sister bank to the one we used in NZ. All good. We open the account and deposit a check. Almost three months later the check still has not cleared. We discovered yesterday that they never got it sent off because the bank individual didn’t have us “endorse” it. The check was to be deposited in our account. SMH!
And we needed the money to buy the car. We (both of us) got up at 2 am to call our bank during their business hours and make an international wire transfer. Finally, something went smoothly (still it was at 2am), and 3 days later we had the funds. Oh, isn’t cruising fun? Not really- always fun, but definitely -always an adventure.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.