Monday, 27 May 2013

Update of MY.........

As with anything that restricts you - as a person, as a worker, as a .. whoever - the world becomes smaller - less of everything is what you tend to get.  And so it is with me right now. 

The world has a way of defining itself - to me anyway right now - as MY.  Mainly because I'm limited by not being able to put any weight on my left foot so I get input, inspiration, information and indigestion from pretty much 4 rooms in this house and 2 telephones. 

So I thought I'd post an update of the world according to MY.  First up....

MY husband, Captain G......

Is still in the marina in Manly, Queensland and having, according to all phone calls, a wonderful time in the lovely QLD sunshine and on his beloved boat.   Manly has 4 marinas and is a huge city of boats stretching as far as you can see in many directions.

Manly marina sunrise
Looking out across a marina in Manly, Qld.  From Flickr.
He's met a few of the locals who live aboard, walked all over exploring the town of Manly, had some not so good meals at the local restaurants and is, per usual with boats, experiencing another breakdown of sorts. This time its the washing machine on board. 

Baby Nova 1000
We have the cutest little front loading machine which has been, up to now, a little workhorse quietly turning out remarkably clean clothes, towels and sheets in loads that are quite surprising due to its size.  The little drum has stopped turning.  Captain G has wrestled it out of  the little space it inhabits in the forward head (bathroom in the front cabin for the uninitiated) to check on its vital components but can't find the problem.  He's counting on our friend Pip to come over from North 'Straddie' to check the electronics tomorrow.  If that fails its an appliance repairman from the town who can, hopefully, get the cute little thing back to full health.  I'd hate to do the rest of the cruise without it!

MY foot and boot.........

Boot - with foot inside.
My foot is, I hope, getting better.  The HUGE amount of swelling has certainly gone way down and so has the yucky blue/black bruising.  I'm due to have an x-ray on Wednesday of this week and then see the specialist on Thursday.  Fingers crossed  the bones will have mended enough for me to start putting some weight on the foot and then I can start to walk without having to lean on crutches holding my foot up.  As soon as I can walk with some weight on the foot I'm OFF - back to the boat and the cruise and Captain G!

MY bag of necessities for moving from room to room.....

I am officially the BAG lady of Lane Cove!  This is how I manage to move from the 4 rooms I use in the house on crutches....with my trusty shopping bag around my neck.  Inside are the essentials of glasses, book, Samsung tablet, and 2 phones (home phone land line and mobile).  It works.  No more to tell.

MY dinner tray........

I've become very used to preparing my meals from the microwave thanks to a home delivery company called Gourmet Dinner Service.  I've got the routine down pat....take out tonight's menu from the freezer about 3pm.   Wait until 6pm when its wine-o-clock and enjoy a nice Pinot Gris with a few cheese crackers or chips.  And then, about 7 or 7:15, microwave on a plate and roll in the laundry basket to the sofa...And Enjoy!  Last night's dinner was a chicken enchilada with Mexican bean hotpot and brown rice.  I made a side of chopped tomato, cheese and avocado to go along with it...and some Weight Watchers sour cream as that extra special accent added to lift the meal to new heights!  Well, for take out, frozen, home delivered food it wasn't too bad.

Friends and house/dog sitters Stephanie and Bladen are fantastic at caring for me but they have an awful relationship to food!  Being fitness conscious, food - to them - is simply to keep one's metabolism burning at a high rate.  So eating is just fuelling the fire and not for enjoyment.  They eat a lot but its usually boiled sweet potatoes, frozen green beans or broccoli, and meat cooked to death without any oil or fat.  Yuck.  I love them both and they've been so wonderful while I've been crashing their stay these past 2 weeks - but I'd love to be able to really cook for them and show them how real food should taste and be enjoyed!

MY nest on the bed - with MY bedtime carer ...........

The best time of the day right now is bedtime and early in the morning before getting out of bed.  Its the quiet time Miss Molly and I have together snuggled under the covers.  I can read my book or my favourite sites on the Internet while Molly twitches and makes little barking noises while playing in her dream park or on her dream beach.   Its this I will miss the most when I leave to join Captain G lovely dog.  Only other pet owners/lovers will understand how much these bundles of unconditional love mean and how much they add to your feeling of wellbeing.  No wonder science is finding out more and more about the sheer healing properties of our 4 pawed friends.
There you have it....MY world at the moment.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Queensland perfect - With friends in Dunwich - Sydney raining

There's something about being on a boat in a beautiful place with the sun shining that makes it easy to rub the sensory pleasure of it in to others less fortunate.......especially to someone stuck in the house who can't walk! 

Well......maybe that's a bit of an over reaction but Captain G seems to take great pleasure in keeping me well up to date with the sunshine in beautiful Queensland.  Unfortunately its dark and pouring rain here in Sydney.  I can't complain too much...we really needed the rain...and I'm so glad he's experiencing such lovely weather and, after all, he has to do this bit by himself.

Last night Cap G spent the night moored off the Little Ship Club in Dunwich, Qld.  Dunwich is the township and ferry landing for anyone visiting or living on North Stradbroke Island.  Our good friends Pip and his wife Kate live on the island.....and a few years ago Mr G and I had the great pleasure to attend their wedding over a wonderful and memorable family weekend.  So both of us were, without a doubt, looking forward to this part of the trip!

Dunwich Jetty Silhouette
Ferry wharf in Dunwich.  From Flickr

The Little Ship Club
Bar at the Little Ship Club.  From Flickr.

Dunwich: our next stop. Then to Point Lookout... there we go
Map of "Straddie" & Dunwich
From Flickr
North Stradbroke is lovely and quite unspoiled - for a Queensland island.  Although the tourist information says the population of the island expands 5 fold for the school holidays and other 'short break' weekends, there simply isn't the hordes of people seen on the Gold or Sunshine Coasts.  Its only 30 minutes by ferry from Cleveland - an outer suburb of Brisbane - and, once there, it can seem like another world.  There are pristine beaches, 4WD tracks through forests with freshwater lakes, and the ocean wildlife offers dolphins, whales and manta rays.  Paradise!  The southern end of the island is closed to tourism due to sand mining.  More information about Straddie HERE - N. Stradbroke tourism

Mining is what brought Pip and Kate to the island.  Pip worked for the mines as a geologist.

Captain G had a great time visiting.  Kate is pregnant with their first child which is due any day now!  They had a wonderful catch up over - what Cap G described as delicious! - Kate's chicken tagnine.  Again ... wish I could have been there with them.....sounded like a great night.  Best wishes from both of us to Pip and Kate on the birth of their new baby any day now!!!!!

This morning Cap G and Southern Belle left on the high tide to move across Morton Bay to the township of Manly and the East Coast Marina.  G tried to navigate around the north end of Peel Island and then out into Morton Bay but the sand banks were way too shallow so he had to go back to where he started from then go around the bottom of Peel Island before entering Morton Bay.  He made it just fine and settled into the marina safe and sound.   He sounded very proud this morning when he told me, "I'm getting good at tieing up all by myself!".  "Don't get too used to it", I warned.

Over 5 years ago, when we were still looking for a cruising boat, G and I went to Manly to look at an Island Packet yacht we were interested in buying.  When we got there - as per all the rest - the boat was a disappointment....clearly past its youth and very well used.   Before we decided to build our dream boat we travelled around a lot in hopes of finding something that would be modern enough for me and sturdy enough for Captain G.  I'm glad we never found anything that met our criteria because Southern Belle is just what we both wanted and then more.

Captain G and Southern Belle are staying in the marina at Manly for a week.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Captain G does it solo! An 'electric' trip up the Broadwater.

Captain G, my very smart sailor Scottish husband, has completed a solo sail from Southport Qld to his present anchorage of Horseshoe Bay off Peel Island.   Well Done Captain G!  I have to say I was worried.  Mainly because that's just what I do - worry - and also because I'm not there to give him what limited support I can.  He made it through....arrived at his anchorage just before 11am this morning after what was described to me as a "hair raising" trip through the creeks and mangroves.

Unfortunately I took the new on board computer with me when I returned to Sydney with the broken foot so he doesn't have anything with which to send pictures. So I'll see if I can lift some off other sites to show you what the area looks like.....apologies to anyone whose copyright I may infringe! I'm going to attempt to only lift what is sharable!

Sunset is coming
Sunrise along the waterway. (Taken from Flicker)

Jacobs Well, Queensland
Anchorage at the Jacobs Well area.  (From Flickr)
Captain G left the Gold Coast area of Southport on the tide yesterday.  He needed to keep to high tide as much as possible so the plan was to travel to the half way point at Jacobs Well and stay the night.  Along the way he had to follow the channel markers to find his way through the rather featureless mangroves and multiple deserted beaches.  Correction - the beaches are deserted of people but Captain G said there were a lot of kangaroos enjoying the sun all along the way!  He also saw a lot of dolphins and bird life.  Some history and information about Jacobs Well are can be found HERE.

After an early gourmet dinner of baked beans on toast....Captain G turned in knowing he needed to be underway at sun up to take full advantage of the high tide all the way to Peel Island and out into Moreton Bay.  I stayed in bed all morning with my phone in hand waiting for his call telling me he had made it through!  He finally called to say he was anchored but it had been a bit on the "hair raising" side.  (I'm the one that usually uses that terminology so I was surprised that he used those exact words!  Something scary must have happened.)

He relayed the trip to me in detail.  First the morning sun was bright in his eyes which made it very difficult to see the channel markers or make out the colours.  He ran aground once but managed to back out of it and follow a motor boat up another channel .. which turned out to be the right one.  Also he had to go under high tension electricity wires which were close to the height of the mast!  The wires - according to the chart - are at a height of 20 meters above the water line.  Our mast is 17 meters above the water line.  Captain G said as he was approaching them it just looked way too close!  He even put on shoes and gloves as a 'just in case'....not sure if they would help but made him feel a bit better!  He's usually - outwardly - brave...never flinching.  But he said as he went under them he couldn't help but close his eyes!  SHIT! I'm glad I wasn't there I'd have passed out!!!

He's now at the Lovely Peel Island a beautiful national park island in Morton Bay.  Famous for once being a leper hospital and now a marine reserve complete with dugongs, dolphins and bird life.  More on Peel Island and the National Park HERE.

Horseshoe Bay, Peel Island, Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia
Horseshoe Bay and Peel Island.  From Flickr.

Peel Island, Queensland.
Peel Island.  From Flickr
I'm so proud of him and Southern Belle .. and I wish I was there.  Now more than ever!  But I'll get back to them soon.  I just know it.  Stay tuned for more Captain G adventures.


Sunday, 19 May 2013


Life can - sometimes - be like eating a lemon!

Last year I started seeing a psychologist.  I did this for a lot of reasons ... imminent retirement; a difficult (read shit head) on my board at work;  33 years of marriage; the boat; ... it goes on and on and on.  Did she help?  Hell YES!  Psychologist listen to how YOU see issues and then help YOU to see them in a different light.  They provide strategies to help get you get your self together and to stop CATASTROPHIZING!

I love that word - Catastrophizing.  The dictionary gives this definition - to view or talk about an event or situation as worse than it actually is, or as if it were a catastrophy.

The first time my psychologist said that word to me it was a screaming ah-ha moment.  The word clarified the way I reacted to so many things .. especially sailing things and work things and marriage things - well every thing!  And, I'm sorry to say, the way I initially saw this broken foot thing.  However - and I must say I'm proud of myself - I may have 'gone there' a bit at the beginning but I'm back into reality mode now (or maybe the right phrase would be 'for' now).  I no longer see this as a catastrophy but an opportunity for all kind of things.  Enlightenment and/or education being one of them.

I decided to look beyond my usual round of reading material for new things....after all I have a good deal of free time on my hands right now.

First I started with the TED application on my tablet.  I've seen a few TED talks over the years and, while always amazed and entertained by the talented people & subjects, I never made them a habit.  The talk I found last night blew my mind!  It's been watched well over 9 Million times!  It's called The Power of Vunerability by Brene' Brown .  And it resonated with me right to the relation to my current predicament but also life.  These are some of the points she made:-
  • In order to be really connected - to ourselves and others - we must let ourselves be seen, truely seen.  To be vunerable.
  • Love with a whole heart - even though there is no guarantee - of anything, ever.
  • Practice gratitude & joy even in those moments of absolute terror - like when you're waiting for the results of a test, wondering can it be possible to love this hard or believe in something this absolutely...instead of CATASTROPHIZING!
  • Believe 'I Am Enough' - and when you do that you stop screaming at the world and start listening... being kinder and more gentle to ourselves and the people around us.
I encourage you to take 20 minutes and listen to the talk.  Its funny and revealing.  You'll never spend a better 20 minutes in my view!  I'm looking forward to my next TED experience tonight.

Secondly, and they say you should never do this, I started Googling my foot injury.  The usual stuff....  How long it takes to heal.  Common complications.  Long term problems.  All the things that we, as medical morons, should not even look at or think about!   But I did discover good ideas too.  I discovered the "knit-bone herb" Comfrey is supposed to promote bone healing.  I don't think I knew about Comfrey before but Stephanie said her mother used to have it in the house all the time.  So wonderful Steph went out and, along with a number of calcium, minerals and vitamins on my shopping list she bought some Comfrey ointment.  We'll see how this bit of herbology works....if I could soak my foot in it I would.

Oh look!  It's almost wine o'clock!  More later.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Southern Belle arrives - I get a brand new boot

A great deal has happened since my last blog post and, unfortunately, a lot of it went on in the dark recesses of my mind which, really, isn't for public broadcast.  Basically you don't want to know except to say its been a bit of a struggle to come to grips with my broken foot dilemma.

Things changed yesterday afternoon and I'm feeling - for the first time in over a week - like everything will work out perfectly in good time.

So here's where I find myself  and the Southern Belle adventure on this beautiful sunny autumn day in lovely Sydney.....

Mr G and Southern Belle arrived safely at the Southport Yacht Club Marina on the Gold Coast in the Australian state of Queensland yesterday afternoon.  He and his crew sailed non-stop up the NSW coast over 2 nights and 2 and a half days.  Mr G doesn't tend to be overly descriptive when I ask him about the journey over the phone but, from what I could glean from our conversations, these were the highlights/events...
  • They had good weather/wind and calm seas meaning they made good time and were able to sail a good percentage of the time.
  • One day, when the sea was very calm, they had a large pod of dolphins round up a school of fish and devour them alongside the boat.  Mr G said he'd never seen anything like it before.
  • Two whales made their presence known well off  the boat and out to sea.
  • The only ship they encountered came within 3/4 of a mile during the night but Bruce made contact over the radio with them and the ship acknowledged they had Southern Belle on their AIS so would avoid coming any closer.
I talked to G last night and he said the plan was to spend the weekend at the Southport marina and then move the boat by himself up to one of the marinas in Manly.  His crew of Mark and Bruce are leaving today so this means he'll be travelling up the broadwater by himself.  I'm not that happy about that but there's not much I can do about it I guess.

Me....well I've had a hell of a time.  I went back to the hospital on Wednesday as a follow up to my emergency visit on Saturday morning.  I thought I was being sent to a specialist but instead ended up in the public hospital "plaster" ward.  It turns out I was there to get another plaster on my leg.  The doctor on duty had a ward of 10 people with about 30 waiting outside so he could only give me about 5 minutes of his time.  He looked at my x-rays and said, "you've got a bad break...stay off your foot for 6 weeks", and walked away.  "Wait a minute!" I shouted.  "Its already been a week and I have to get back to a sailing boat and meet my husband".  He just shook his head and told me to come back to the hospital in 6 weeks....and then told the nurse to put my foot/leg in a boot instead of cast - "that will make it a bit easier for you to move around"  and went on to another patient. 

I have very small feet.  They didn't have a boot to fit me so they put a very big one on instead and sent me on my way.  When my friend Jenny picked me up I couldn't help but cry all the way home.

Let me say right here that I think we have a great hospital system.  And, the new Royal North Shore hospital is fantastic.  The care there has been very good ...But they are trying to take care of as many people as possible in as short a time as possible they don't have time to talk to a woman who needs comfort and reassurance that she can get back to her vacation.  It isn't fair - or right - to even ask that of them.

With great encouragement from Jenny and Steph at home after the "boot" incident I called my GP and asked her for a referral to a specialist.  I must have sounded desperate because she got me into someone by 4pm yesterday.  He was wonderful.  In 20 minutes I had a "boot" that fits and reassurance that I'd be with Mr G and the boat and our vacation within 4 weeks.  Maybe not 100% but I'd be there. 

That's why today is so much better!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Standing on one foot.

Its hard to stand on one foot.  Even with the help of crutches its really difficult.  For a start there's very little sense of balance so even the slightest obstacle seems suddenly insurmountable.  Secondly it makes the supporting buttock hurt and cramp like hell.  I guess it would normally be a pretty good workout - butt wise - to do everything on one leg, but surely its important to change sides now and again and give the other one a workout!  That I can't exactly do at the moment. 

Its also hard to carry stuff - any kind of stuff - when standing on one foot and on crutches.  Suddenly all the things you take for granted - like making a cup of tea and carrying it to the sofa with a cookie - take time to work out how it can actually happen.  And I find its important to have all the things to keep me connected and occupied with me - now - at all times.  Which presents another problem ... how do I carry my glasses, book, phone and tablet from bedroom to sofa?

Necessity is, they say, the mother of invention.  So I have a bag now that I put around my neck which can hold all my reading requirements and phone.   I look a bit odd hobbling from one room to the next with this eco shopping bag around my neck but it works a treat.  Also, before Mr G left for the boat this morning, he suggested taking the washing basket trolley inside to place my food and drinks in to move from the kitchen to sofa.  I'm going to try that out this evening with my dinner.  I can shove it along with my crutches ahead of me.  The only problem is I may spill my wine so I'll need to give that some thought before dinning.  And now, more so than ever, wine is very IMPORTANT!

I have the up most respect for those who have to live with this frustration everyday and believe the NDIS can't come quick enough for those in need of much more support and infrastructure than we offer them now.

Mr G, as I said earlier, left this morning to go back to the boat and sail Southern Belle up to Queensland.  I was - and am still - so torn about him leaving.  On the one hand I know he needed to go make sure she is safe and also keep her moving toward the Whitsunday Islands and Cairns.  On the other hand I didn't want to be left here.  I want to be there - on the way, with him.  I feel for Stephanie and Bladen who thought they were house and dog sitting only to be faced with Gail sitting as well!  Bummer.  They've both been wonderful but I wonder how they will feel about it 4 weeks on after I've been rooted to the sofa for a month!

So here I sit.  I've fantasised about how this "alone" and "disabled" time will present me with fabulous insight....a jump into enlightenment.  Then I look at the clock and wish for wine-o-clock to arrive.  Ready for insight - not so much.   We'll see how the time and my sense of self progresses.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Confirmation, Sydney, home, and hospitals

We're back in Sydney....arrived last night about 8:30 after a 3 hour drive in a small rental car from Port Stephens.

Yesterday, Friday, we visited the x-ray office and then went over to the medical centre in time for my 2:15 appt.  Mr G and I were both very quiet during the morning just going through the motions of getting ready.  I was trying very hard to keep a positive non-worried face on and remain cheery while he was keeping a stoic demeanour.  Both of us were thinking hard about the possible outcome of the doctor visit.  Hoping all the while this foot problem is just a bad sprain and not a break. 

At the x-ray office - FYI this is a small holiday town and x-ray facilities are on the other side of town...not near the hospital/medical centre - the young woman called me in to the machine room.  While helping me get ready for the x-ray she asked what I did to my foot.  I explained what happened and said this was my husband's dream sailing we were hoping it was just a sprain.  She took the pictures and asked me to wait while she checked them.  Her face was, unfortunately, very transparent when she came back in to tell me it was OK to wait in the front until the report.   "Its broken isn't it", I asked.  "Yes, you've done a good job of it", she said.  "Its broken in two places and you may need surgery but the doctor will tell you more."  That bad news didn't need words again as I hobbled on crutches to the waiting room, Mr G could read my face as well.

The doctor confirmed everything, put a cast on my leg, told me to absolutely not put any weight on it and said we should go to Newcastle or back to Sydney as quickly as possible to see an Orthopaedic specialist.  It was already well after 3pm and I was all for waiting to drive back in the morning but Mr G said I had to go to the doctor quickly (never mind it had already been 2 days).  So we called for a rental car - which would be delivered directly to the marina - and went back to close up the boat, pack a bag for me and get ready to go.

Boats are hard things to leave - especially if you've moved on to them and they're your home.  As you walk away there are so many things to consider....will she be safe without us, the weather, the berth, the gas, are all the openings closed, etc. etc.  So it was with us.  We had to move quickly - the hire car would be there in an hour - but I couldn't do anything but sit in the cockpit and shout down to Mr G things to pack and do.  Usually he gets the shits if I tell him what to do too much....but this time we were working in team mode.

The car arrived right on time.  G went ahead of me to meet the man and I hobbled the distance across the marina on my crutches one more time.  There's something just not right about a woman on crutches and a marina full of happy boating types.  The image doesn't fit.

Of course I had to endure one more painful experience to my pride, dignity and body.  I decided to go to the loo before getting in the car and took myself - unescorted - up the tile ramp to the toilet block.  The tiles were wet and my crutches went out from under me as if they were ice skating with me falling hard.  About 5 men, beers still clutched in their hands, came running to see what the commotion was only to find me splayed all over the ramp.  Right behind them was my knight in shining armour, Mr G, who quickly stood me up, righted me and helped me get in the door.  Shit Shit more pain please!

The drive to Sydney was quiet.  We arrived home with Stephanie and Bladen out for the evening and promptly went for the wine rack after lots of pats and cuddles for Molly.  Surprisingly we had left a few bottles behind.   We drank a few glasses and went off to bed knowing that a visit to emergency at Royal North Shore awaited us in the morning.

We were in the waiting room at RNS by 8:30 and taken into wait to see a doctor.  Amazingly there wasn't anyone there.  We saw the young intern who called for a specialist and said it could be a 2-3 hour wait.  So Mr G left and I broke out my new book.  One thing I am certainly grateful for is our hospital and health system here in Australia.  The professionals and surroundings in both a small place like Nelson Bay and a big public hospital in Sydney were all very good and very caring.  The media always puts its focus on the negative elements or the occasional accidents which makes those who aren't unfortunate enough to have to use them think there are nothing but problems.  I can honestly say we have/I have had the best of care and treatment through this little foot challenge.

Anyway the outcome is this.....the specialist thinks the breaks will heal without surgery but I have to not walk on my foot AT ALL for 4 weeks.  I have to go back to the Orthopaedic dept next Wednesday and they will x-ray it again to see if any mending has started...or it could yet be surgery.  Mr G is going back to the boat tomorrow and will sail it to Queensland...he'll either stay up there or come back and we'll go back up together in 4-5 weeks.  We are both determined to not let this stop the trip...just delay it for a short time.

Here I sit with my cast wrapped leg for the next wee while.  Damn...but I'm so grateful it wasn't anything more serious.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Broken Foot

Yes, the headline is unfortunately true.  I've damaged my foot, maybe broken it, just 4 days into this voyage.  More on that in a minute but, just to bring things up to current, here's what's been happening.

3 big events on Tuesday at the Marmong Point Marina ...
  • The visit from David, our boat builder, and the Yanmar engine mechanic.  That all went very well, Southern Belle's motor passed with flying colours.   
  • Bruce - who is a radio 'Guru' - fixed our HF radio.  Since we had it installed Mr G couldn't get the receive function to work.  We thought we weren't doing it correctly but Bruce - who, along with his wife Thelma, had drinks and dinner with us Monday night - did some research on the unit and found the problem.  As usual with these things it was simple but you had to know what you were doing - just pushing 3 buttons simultaneously fixed the problem.
  • Also, we got to know a lovely couple on board another boat at the marina - Peter, Nicole and their dog Charlotte aboard Escape Pod.  They came over for drinks at 5 and we had a great time.  Their trip north begins in about 2 weeks so we promised to catch up along the way.
So Tuesday was another great day on the water!

I woke up on Wednesday with the blues for some reason.  I couldn't really say what the matter was except that I just felt I needed a good cry.  I think now it was a combination of homesickness - for Molly, the house, familiar surrounds - and realising the enormity of this be away, living on a small boat and controlled by nature for 7 months.  I don't think there are many endeavours that put you - as a human - in such awareness of the powers of the earth.  We had been talking about our trip out of Lake Mac which, most people, would think was just as simple as driving out.   But it isn't.  Not only do you have to take the weather into account but also the tide and the water depth.  And then there's the tide at your destination, and the weather, and the conditions during the time it takes to get there...and on and on.  With Queensland and then the Louisiade Islands ahead I think it all got to me.   Mr G is so good at this and he's been an outstanding and caring partner so far so I shouldn't have felt anything but happy but sometimes you can't help the way emotions come over you.

Then the universe gave me a cheering up!  The lady that runs the coffee shop at the marina - Julie - is from my home state of Georgia in the USA.  Its so good to talk to her whenever we're there because she talks and sounds just like me!  I love sharing stories about the south and the food and the places with her but she hadn't been there this time around so far.  Mr G went down for a shower and coffee and I did the same but said I'd just go back to the boat.  After his coffee he said Julie was looking for me and that she had made something special.  So I went down to see her and she had made cornbread.... and it was delicious!  It cheered me right up to talk to Julie and spend some time with a kindred spirit.

Lovely Julie in her little coffee café.

Georgia girls.

After that I felt much better.  We went back to the boat to get ready to leave in the evening on the high tide.  Then, as always happens on a boat, something broke - we discovered a leak under the galley sink.  Turns out the filter on the drinking water tap had suddenly (after 2 years) - for some reason - decided to come apart at the seams and start spraying water out of the side.  We brought spares for just about everything - except that...of course.  Turns out there was a Bias Marine store two blocks from the LMYC where we had moored on the first night so we decided to pull out and go there to get a replacement.  But we would have to hurry. 

As we left Bruce helped get the lines off the dock,  George came on the wheel as we reversed and I was taking down the washing from around the cockpit stepping spritely from one side to the other ... and then I kind of jumped down behind the wheel.  Then it happened.  I was wearing flip flop shoes at the time - not good - and I turned my ankle hard on the edge of the teak.  On its own this was bad enough but with the momentum of my jump my foot wedged between the teak and the side of the deck and I heard a snap.   I fell over and said, "I think I've broken my foot!".  Mr G asked if I wanted to go back but I said let's keep going and we can look at it when we get down to the LMYC.  Anyway a long story but we decided to keep going after we got the sink part.  My foot hurt but I could still walk on it a bit.  Hopefully it was just a sprain.  Mr G played nurse applying a great compression bandage which helped a lot.

The next morning we were on a courtesy mooring on the north side of the Swansea Bridge waiting for the early morning tide.  I had gone to bed the night before with 2 night strength Mersyndol so felt no pain until I woke up.  But we were already almost at sea - and the day was forecast to be sunny with no wind and a flat calm - so we decided to motor (for 6 hours) to Port Stephens.  I could go to the hospital there.   The most important thing to me was that Mr G keeps moving north.  I don't want to miss the Whitsundays or the rendezvous with the club boats so I was all for moving on.  So off we went. 

It was a lovely day at sea.  I found it really hard to move around the boat because my foot was turning quite black and blue and swollen.  Mr G alternated a frozen towel with a compression bandage all the way so I was well taken care of.  To keep things interesting - just off the port of Newcastle - we had an encounter with a very large ship that was taking on a pilot via helicopter to enter the port.  It slowly moved right in front of us as the helicopter landed.  We were so close we could take pictures!

We are tied up now at the Soldiers Point Marina in Port Stephens.  Yesterday, on arrival, we rushed off to the hospital but the doctor - who was very busy and depended on a nurse to tell her what my foot looked like - didn't order the right x-rays so couldn't tell if my foot was broken.  When she finally found time to see me the x-ray place had closed.  We have to go back at 2:15 today with new x-rays to find out if I'm broken.  Mr G spoke to a friend last night and it looks like we'll have some help in taking the boat up to Queensland....but we'll know more late this afternoon.

So the adventures have truly begun.  Onwards....with a limp.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A Pig in Poo-Poo...and other tales

The phrase "Happy as a Pig in Shit" conjures up a number of mental pictures - to me at least.  I think of a large pig on a hot day wallowing in a cooling mud puddle before a long snooze in an afternoon breeze...hence a HAPPY Pig.  I'm sure other people will have similar, or not so much, visions.

The reason I bring this up is that's exactly how Mr G is at the moment.   HAPPY as that pig.  Or, now that we're at sea, I guess I should start addressing him as Captain G (although that sticks in my throat a bit - too many years fighting the glass ceiling in business I think).  This is what he looked like on the sail up to the lake on Sunday....

Captain G in Blissful mode.

As I staggered off my bunk below - still suffering a sick tummy - I saw this vision of bliss.  There he was sitting on the back seat, his transistor radio headphones blaring in his ears.  I knew the radio was loud because the autohelm was beeping wildly to say it was off course which is what made me get up.  He didn't hear a thing!  He was totally in another world staring out to sea and clearly in his element.

I don't think I've seen my husband so happy in a long time.  This adventure is the fulfilment of a dream he's had for years and years.  Mr G has read every cruising magazine, book and story going and, given the chance (even though he is certainly a man of few words), he will talk about nothing else but cruising.  I'm so happy for him.

Day 2 started with a cup of tea and vision of our first night's berth in the daylight.  We hadn't been to or seen the Lake Mac Yacht Club before Sunday night and - let me tell you - coming along side the facility with only .05 depth under the keel was hair raising in the dark.  But, as usual, the morning sun showed us we were in a safe and pleasant place. 

Alongside the LMYC marina.

We cast off from the pier early and headed for our destination over the next few days - Marmong Point Marina.  The marina, I guess you could say, is the birthplace of Southern Belle.  After 18 months in Bluewater Cruising Yacht's factory in Cardiff she was loaded on to a very big truck, driven to the marina and lowered in the water for the first time.  That was pretty much 2 years ago exactly ... June 2011.   What a day that was!  I arranged for a celebrant to perform an official naming ceremony.  Our friends Jenny and Keith made the drive up to the Lake to join us as did the whole Bluewater factory, David and his family.

Southern Belle arriving at the water on her birthday.
So now we're here again at Marmong Point.  Yesterday, Monday, we spent washing off the salt from the sail up and getting the boat more organised.  I read somewhere that the last few days of preparation for a big cruise is referred to as 'marina madness'.... there seem to be so many jobs to do and things to buy and things to load on ... that it all becomes quite crazy.  I agree. 

Last night we had a lovely couple - Bruce and Thelma - over for drinks that turned into dinner.  They live aboard their hand built classic - and very small - wooden boat here in the marina.  Bruce is a radio expert and had worked in Misima - the main island in the Louisiade Islands - for a while.  He brought over some charts and great reference books and we talked well into the night.   All in all a terrific night with new friends.  I LOVE the socialising bit of this cruising caper!

Today David is coming on board with a mechanic.  He wanted to check the engine before we start the trip.  I know he loves this boat as much - if not more - than we do and he wants to be absolutely sure she is as perfectly sound as she was built to be.

I'm off now for another cup of tea.  More later.


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Fabulous Farewells and we're finally on our way! PLUS surprise friends from RPAYC in Lake Mac!

WARNING:  This is a long blog post...but there was so much to catch up on!!  Shorter ones to come...but these things are important.

The week just past has been a whirlwind of activity.  So much so that, as I type this right now, it seems like everything has mixed together into a kaleidoscopic blur...its hard to remember everything.  But in amongst it all there is one face that keeps coming back again and again...goodness it was so hard to say "see you later" to this love...our beautiful Molly.

Miss Molly and the "you're not really planning on leaving me behind for so long...are you?" look.
A week ago Saturday we had a busy day with our final seminar at the yacht club and then a farewell dinner party with friends. 

The seminar was amazing...a fact filled session going over all the navigational elements that we need for the trip north.  Rob, from the club, put the whole fantastic presentation together.  The sheer breadth of information was excellent.  Mr G and I feel very lucky to have been part of the course.  All the seminars and presenters at the club leading up to departure for this Coral Coast Cruise have been so good.  Hearing all the facts and meeting so many people from the club has made the reality of this adventure seem so much more "normal" to me.  I certainly am not going into it with the sense of dread I once had.

The dinner party with friends Jenny, Keith, Leona, John, Jenny and Chris was a hoot!  The food was wonderful and the company outstanding.  I don't think I've laughed that much in a long long time.   There were gifts, lots of champagne and after dinner risqué old rugby songs.  Hysterical.  And the love from everyone and well wishes were so good and so welcome.  We are very blessed to have such wonderful friends....and our neighbours have been wonderful as well.  This kind of BIG event certainly brings you closer to the people around you that you like so much but have never spent time with.  We... meaning us - me and Mr G - and probably a lot of people in general ... take those around us too much for granted much of the time.

And then on Tuesday I participated in one of those 'once in a blue moon' dinners with the women and man I worked with at Fox.  God, I love those dinners.  We had another lovely night which clicks into astonishing catch up times full of mutual friendship so easily.  Sarah and Kate gave me a St Christopher medal to wear for this adventure.  It's now forever a part of my necklace with Mr G's pearl he gave me for my 50th birthday.  Loved it!  Thanks Ken and Ladies!  See ya'll soon.

Lovely, wonderful you all so much!
A huge THANK YOU to Stephanie and Bladen for being great friends and moving into the house to take care of Miss Molly for us!  Stephanie used to be my personal trainer and we became great friends.  This past week we had a chance to be roommates as they moved in and we moved out and I loved having them there ... especially the times Steph and I had to just talk one on one.  Love you!

The lovely Stephanie and Bladen.
Through the week every day was spent getting the boat ready for a club safety audit and departure.  There's so much to tell but, really, its just minutiae when looked at it in any don't want to know about it.  The most important thing is we got it all done...and we pushed off from the marina at 8:00 this morning...finally the big day had come. 

The first day of any big journey always - for me anyway - brings a mix of feelings, emotions and expectations.  You could certainly say that about today.  As we prepared to leave this morning we were both excited.  Mr G about getting out of the marina and on the way to a good sail.  Me about the adventure ahead, really stepping out of any and all comfort zones I've ever had.  Additionally I wasn't any too happy about setting off in 2.5 and 3 metre seas.  The sail was good --- a fine wind to keep us moving at a steady 6 knots for most of the day...but the sea was messy with a surface chop and big swells.  I had a bad case of mal-de-mer for half the day.  But the sun was shining and we made it to Lake Macquarie in good time... in over the bar with no hassles, made the 5 o'clock bridge and tied up to meet David - our friend and boat builder, his wife Corinne and their children and some surprise friends!

The surprise friends were Peter and Sue Crawford....we had missed them so many times while in the RPAYC marina.  They have a boat just like ours....and when we were thinking about buying a Bluewater 420 we were introduced to Peter and shown around his boat.  They are fabulous people ... it was good that we finally caught up with them before we got too far north.  We tied the boat up to the dock at the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club and shared a drink and dinner.  Good times again!

Fantastic night at the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club!

So all in all its been a TRIP so far...and we're only into day one.  We're spending a couple of days here in the Lake with David and his family and building team and then it's off to Port Stephens.  Much love to everyone who made this departure possible and apparently so easy to contemplate and make a reality!