Thursday, 27 June 2013

Finally!!! The Spectacular Tropic of Capricorn

After 6 weeks of sitting at home with my broken foot...and talking to Captain G on the phone 3 or 4 times a day as he made his passage from one place to another ..  I'm here really cruising in our home on the water - Southern Belle.  And boy it was worth the wait!

Yesterday (Wednesday), after saying our goodbyes to our good friend Brian, we left Rosslyn Bay harbour for a short sail over to Great Keppel Island.  Its only 15 nautical miles but Captain G wanted to try out my ability to function on the boat.  I was fine.  I'm still in a bit of pain when moving around but I've decided to give "the boot" the boot and just move around in a shoe....and so far so good.

When I first came to Australia - 34 years ago - Great Keppel Island was one of THE happening places.  There was a resort on it run by a company called Contiki which catered to "backpackers" and anyone else under 30.  Sort of like the resorts school leavers and college kids go to on spring break.  Sadly - or otherwise - the resort is long gone.  Cheap airfares to Bali and the gold coast took the appeal away.  Today it offers basic accommodation to families and there are some private houses there.  (I have some great photos but there isn't enough Wi-Fi available to upload the photos - will send a pictorial blog when I can.)

We anchored in a little bay called Leeke's Bay.   There were quite a few boats around and the beach was pretty much deserted save for a flock of goats - we not sure it they were feral or belonged to someone.  On approach we also saw what looked like a yacht way up in the mangroves ... it looked impossible.  Not happy with not knowing, the Captain launched the dingy and somehow I manoeuvred on to it to have a look.   It turns out there was a large yacht that had been dug into the mangrove - using it for support - and the owner was cleaning the hull.  Some people will do anything to save money!  (Again I have a great photo...later.)

At 7:00am this morning the anchor came up and we set off for Port Clinton about 45 nautical miles north.  There was wind forecast - 10 to 15 knots - but not much arrived.  Captain G did all he could - set the main, then pulled out the MPS (spinnaker/multi purpose sail) - but the boat couldn't move without the motor.  Our trip up was very nice - calm water all the way. 

We arrived at Cape Clinton about 2:00 pm (1400 hours) and then started to cruise around the headland - which is complete with big with rocks and shallow areas to avoid.  Once inside the "port" we travelled down towards the best place to anchor all the while being amazed at the sheer beauty of the place.   How to describe it?  Wild, Picturesque, Vast, Isolated, Uninhabited, A Sanctuary for many species like the Dugong (called a Manatee in the US I think)!!!!  A completely unspoilt place - apparently - for now.  Our cruising guide - Alan Lucas' Cruising the Coral Coast - tells us that at one stage Lange Hancock - the uber rich mining magnate and father to Gina Rinehart Australia's richest woman - wanted to develop the whole area.  He pictured this beautiful place as a coal export location.  His vision included railways, shipping docks with arms and wharfs extending out to sea and an end to the more dugongs.  Happily he was prevented from his dream of mining riches ... but its not over!!!  Gina, along with Tony Abbott and the LNP - if they win the next election - are already planning to take over much of the mineral rich lands of Australia for more and more coal and iron ore.

But tonight there's only 2 boats as far as you can see.  The sunset was spectacular and we're safe and sound in a corner of paradise.  Worth loving ... worth protecting.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Ahhhh...That's Better!!

Back together - at the Singing Ship monument to James Cook outside Yeppoon.
After all the weeks of sitting at home with the broken foot and talking to Captain G on the phone as he described the azure waters of the ocean and beautiful Queensland its more than nice to finally be here! 

And what a great first day it has been!  My Captain was there at the Rockhampton Airport when I arrived.  It was so good to see him again....lots of hugs and smiles from both of us!

I haven't actually been to the boat yet.  I've just seen the marina for a few minutes when we stopped by there long enough to collect my other shoe - which was left unceremoniously when my left foot was wrapped in a cast in Port Stephens so long ago.  Then we went straight to Megan and Brian's house.

We are staying with our wonderful friends Megan and Brian who have a lovely home just a short drive out of Yeppoon.   We don't get to see them often - in fact we hardly see them at all because they've always lived somewhere outside of Sydney - so when we do actually spend time together it is precious and always memory making. 

They have a lovely home in a tropical setting on top of a hill.

On the front porch looking out through the trees to the hinterland hills in the distance.
Last night Brian made a fire in the chimera in the back yard.  We drank champagne - and enjoyed a "nibble platter plate" of cheese and dips then talked, laughed and watched the moon come up over the trees.  The feast then moved inside where we sat down for a spectacular dinner with reef fish and roasted veggies from the local growers...and more wine + laughs.  The big Australia vs UK/Ireland Lions rugby match was due to start after dinner so we moved to the sofa to watch the game.  Megan made a killer dessert of mixed berries, Cointreau and ice cream just to top off the night.  We all went to bed stuffed with food and glowing from a lot of hugs and love and laughter. 

The morning sun was bright and warm....such a welcome change from the Sydney weather.  Megan and Brian made a spectacular platter of Queensland fruit with Yogurt and a big pot of tea to start the day.  We sat outside again and they pointed out paw prints from the wild dogs that checked out the fire site once we had gone to bed.  This is quite an area for animals we were told.  As we had our drinks last night there were 4 bush turkeys roaming the perimeter and they told us there were lots of kangaroos, wallabies, dingos and snakes all around in the bush. 

Brian and Megan out the front of their house after coffee and muffins!

After breakfast and a lovely morning B & M took us on a tour of the area for a look at all the inlets, homes and beauty of the area.  You can see island after island from the shore...its a tropical paradise!

The marina 'Southern Belle' is in with islands in the distance.

Time to stop ... its time for champagne again!  Tomorrow Captain G and I will have an audit of the supplies on the boat and start to restock for the rest of the trip up to Cairns.

Friday, 21 June 2013

No More Crutches!!!!

Don't need them any more!
Yesterday my lovely friend Sarah drove me back to the bone doctor - Thank you so much Sarah!   I was hoping for the best - but kind of expecting another, "it needs 3 more weeks", conversation.  Not so.  The doctor had a look at my x-rays and said there was good bone growth so far.  I'm not completely healed but it's all happening the way it should.

Then he leaned back in his chair and said the magic words, "I'm OK with you going back to your boat."

"Whoopee!" I shouted and waived my arms around in his office not worrying one little bit about being seen as slightly eccentric and/or just plain nuts.

"You can start to put some weight on the foot but you must still be careful and wear the boot whenever you are walking around.  On the boat and at home you can start to wear a shoe but don't push it.  Complete healing will still take weeks.  No jumping, no running.....and, you can leave the crutches here!"

Love.  That.  Doctor.

Tomorrow I'm on an airplane bound for Rockhampton.  I'll get to see and be with my Captain G when he picks me up at the airport.  Heaven.  It will take another 45 minutes before we arrive at the marina in Rosslyn Bay and I get to see the lovely Southern Belle boat again.  Double Heaven.

Our great friends Megan and Brian live in Yeppoon so we'll spend the weekend at their house and take it easy next week before deciding when to move north again.

I'm very happy.....guess you can tell.

Thanks to Stephanie, Bladen and Molly for being my house carers and to all my friends who have been so wonderful to take me places, visit me, drink wine with me and generally ensure these past 6 weeks have been so manageable and downright enjoyable in places!  Love you all!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Bundaberg to Hummocky .... Friends, Snakes & Foot Update

Sorry I haven't posted in a while.  Nothing stopping me really just haven't had too much to tell ... but there's quite a bit to catch up on now!

Following on from the last post, Captain G and Mr K spent two nights off the Kingfisher Resort at Fraser Island.  The first afternoon they arrived it was planned to go ashore, have a look around the resort, maybe have a swim in the pool and enjoy a few beers.  The weather wasn't in their favour that afternoon with one rain downpour after the other which meant staying on the boat for the evening or getting really wet.  The next day turned out much better so they did some exploring of the resort and had the lunch and beers planned for the previous day.  Then, on Friday, they made the crossing of Harvey Bay to the Port of Bundaberg.

Captain G at the mast - with the MPS sail fully out - on the way to Bundaberg.
They arrived in Bundaberg to meet up with a number of boats from the Yacht Club as well as Southern Belle's sister ship - Sabbatical II - with Greg and Heidi.  The next rendezvous for the club was scheduled for Saturday night.  After help tieing up to the berth from club members and a visit from Greg, Captain G and Mr K joined club members for drinks and then went on to a very welcome dinner ashore and a quiet night.

Bundaberg Port Marina - from Flickr
Bundaberg, and it's surrounding infrastructure, was one of the places hit hard by the Queensland floods over the past couple of years.  Before we left Sydney there was talk and concern about the marina and its ability to still host yachts.  Fortunately they have repaired much of the area but Captain G told me there are still many wrecked boats visible all along the opposite shore.  Below is a picture, from Flickr, of just how much of the marina was washed away back in Jan 2011.  In 2012  they had another flood - but not quite as bad.   Its been a very tough time for Queenslanders during the tropical months for, what seems like, year on year....I'm sure they'd like a break now please!

Bundaberg Marina after Jan 2011 flood.

On Saturday, June 15, Mr K left to fly back to Sydney early in the morning.  Captain G would be on his own until Roslyn Bay and Yeppoon the following weekend.  Captain G enjoyed the rendezvous on Saturday night and then went to the local markets on Sunday with Greg and Heidi.  That night as we were talking on the phone he suddenly exclaimed, "there's a sea snake swimming around the back of the boat!"  He's getting really close to the tropics now with sea snakes on the surface and so close in shore.

Monday morning it was time for the long trip from Bundaberg to Pancake Creek - just behind Bustard Head headed north.  The forecast was for very calm conditions and little wind.  

This was going to be a long haul of about 10 hours and - again because its what I do - I was worried about the Captain being on his own for the journey.  Not because he isn't up to it - goodness knows he has certainly proved he is a very good skipper - but because sometimes when the weather is calm you can let your guard down a bit.  But, as usual, he did a great job and called at 1530 to say he was anchored up and having a beer.  We heard about/read about a fantastic hike up to the lighthouse on Bustard Head (called that because Captain James Cook supposedly ate a bustard bird there and named the headland after the poor thing) but since I wasn't there Captain G decided to spend only one night.

That brings me to today!  The cruise destination today has been Hummocky Island.  The Captain upped anchor at 0600 this morning and has just phoned me - at 1500 - to say that he's safe at anchor on the northern side of the island.  I haven't been able to find much about Hummocky Island on the web except that it was named - like most things along this coast - by Captain James Cook.  My Captain said its quite spectacular with the tropical aqua blue waters all around and the 'hump' like hills of the island (could be how it got its name).  Here's a photo from Flickr....

Hummocky Island.
The plan for Southern Belle is to stay at the Island for the night and move on in the morning to either Great Keppel Island or Roslyn Bay....and that's where I meet them and resume my part of the cruise!

I've booked my ticket back to Captain G and the boat this Saturday!!!  I see the doctor on Thursday and, hopefully - since its been 6 weeks tomorrow, I'll get an OK to do some walking on my foot.  I'm not really expecting to get a clean bill of health since the break was so severe but I think I can at least give up the crutches.  That's what I'm hoping for ... if I can at least walk I'll be right to climb aboard and get into that tropical sunshine!

Lovely Yeppoon - Very near the Tropic of Capricorn!  Next stop!  (From Flickr)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Captain G and Mr K go up the Great Sandy Straits

A quick update on the whereabouts of Captain G and his crewman, Mr K, aboard the good ship Southern Belle.

After a really rainy weekend the intrepid two pulled out of Mooloolaba Marina on Monday night at 10:00pm ... Destination - The infamous Wide Bay Bar and the Entrance to the Great Sandy Straits. 

It rained or drizzled most of the night and blew a steady 5-10 knot cold northerly breeze which meant they had to motor the whole 10 hours.  The journey up was uneventful but, as happens on rainy moonless nights, it proved to be long and tiring.   A requirement to travel over the bar only at high tide meant they had to leave at night to be in place and ready to make the manoeuvre on the incoming tide.  All was successful and they crossed at 8:20 am.  The report on the phone that morning was, "It was easy!  Good conditions but the breaking waves made it a bit uncomfortable once we were in the inside channel.  But all good, don't know what all the fuss was about."  That comment had me reminding him, "Don't be cocky!  We have to come back that way."

The Great Sandy Strait is a body of water running 70 miles between the Australian mainland and the world heritage listed - largest sand island in the world - Fraser Island.  The scenery is supposed to be you can see from these photos.  (Since Captain G still hasn't sent me any photos - and I'm still having to vicariously enjoy this trip from the confines of home and my broken foot - here are some I lifted from Flickr.)

Fraser Island and one of the many anchorages on the Great Sandy Strait.
Southern Belle caught up with her sister ship - Sabatical II, with Greg and Heidi aboard - along the route from the entrance up to Garry's Anchorage and SB followed them in to anchor for the night.  I've read before that this is a pretty spectacular place ... as you can see from the photo below.  The only problems they had were mosquitoes and sand flies trying to eat them alive when they went ashore for a look.  Luckily we were forewarned about the insects during one of the seminars at the yacht club so Captain G was ready with everything on the boat to keep them off them and the boat.

Garry's Anchorage at sunset - From Flickr
Mr K caught a fish off the back of the boat but when I asked what kind he just said, "small".  So it went back to live and grow for another day.  He also almost "caught" a mud crab that had just decided to hold on to the line on the way out of the water.  Unfortunately, for the hungry sailors, once he - the crab - saw daylight and the men peering hungrily at him he let go of the line.  Dinner was steak that night.

Today they upped anchor and travelled up the Strait to the Kingfisher Resort - the only resort on Fraser Island.  This afternoon - again once the constant rain squalls pass - they are planning to go ashore for  swim in the resort pool and a few cold ones in the bar.

Jetty leading up to the resort.  From Flickr

Kingfisher Resort through the trees.  From Flickr

Tomorrow the adventurers will be off to somewhere in Hervey Bay, I guess.  Mr K has to fly back to Sydney on Saturday so they will be in Bundaberg by Friday of this week.  The next yacht club rendezvous is Saturday at the Bundaberg Marina. 

My next x-ray and doctor appt is June19 and - regardless of the outcome - I'm planning to meet Captain and get back on board Southern Belle by June 22!!!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

New Baby Arrives and An Afternoon out on the town!

First of all, a BIG congratulations to Pip and Kate on the birth of their Beautiful daughter Lillian Mary-Jayne Adams!!!!  She arrived in this world yesterday at 3:52pm and is a wonderful bundle of joy.  I'm looking forward to meeting her and, hopefully, being the "cool" old lady in her life!  I said I wanted to be her neat crazy Auntie ... but they said they wanted me to be an honorary Grandma!  WOW that would be an honour!  Love. Love. Love... and Joy to you 3.  Can't wait to see you.  (Pictures coming soon.)

Now, for more on me and Foot 'n Boot...and Captain G later.   We (the foot in boot and me) had an outing yesterday and it was soooooo good to get out of the house for a change. 

If you've ever been sick or injured or house bound you know how the days become the same...1. Get up, wash face, make cup of tea.  2. Sit in front of TV and, within 10 minutes, despair at the content of daytime TV.  3.  Think about having some lunch and then decide its too much trouble.  4.  Have another cup of tea and read book or the Internet....or worse - waste hours on Pinterest!  5.  Take a nap.  6.  Yearn for 6pm and wine o'clock.  7.  Watch the 7 o'clock news and then some more TV.  8.  Go to bed exhausted and wonder why you can't get to sleep.

So you can imagine how excited I was to be going out for LUNCH!

Spanish Food Restaurant North Sydney

My two Jenny friends had organised a table at a little Spanish Tapas restaurant, wine bar, deli on Blues Point Rd.  And on a stunning Autumn day it was perfect.

We had a table outside and enjoyed several glasses of completely agreeable wine and some mighty fine conversation. 

I may have said this before, but I LOVE the company of women.  Don't get me wrong, I love the company of men too, but there's something about a good few hours being with and talking to other women that's just plain good for the soul.  Even if the conversation is silly or just about general "stuff" - it doesn't need to be deep - its just delightful.

The 'Jennys' and me.

The area we were in was particularly pleasing.  After lunch, as I sat parked on a bench waiting for Jenny to get the car, I noticed how lovely the Blues Point Road area is.  It reminded me of my BFF Jae's area of Atlanta ... called North Highland ... or maybe some parts of how I would imagine San Francisco.

Waiting for my ride. 
Lovely Blues Pt Road shops and restaurants - the road leads right down to the north side of Sydney Harbour and a terrific view of the Harbour Bridge.

Don't you just love little neighbourhood shops - so much more soul than supermarkets!

Jenny dropped me back at the house and today I still have a warm glow from the day out and lunch with good friends.  I am so grateful to have good friends and to live in such a lovely place.  Living with "food 'n boot" has certainly given me the opportunity to slow down and tune in.  Even though I'm missing Captain G a whole lot - and walking with crutches is a bitch -  I've still got heaps and heaps to be happy about.

Speaking of Captain G ... he's still in Mooloolaba and having a pretty good time himself.   Yesterday he lowered the dingy off the back of the boat and took an exploratory ride up the many canals and waterways of the area.  Queensland - like a lot of places on the ocean - has created lots of areas where more and more people can live "on the water".  So there are miles and miles of McMansions with little private jetties and associated shopping malls attached.

Mooloolaba canals with glass house mountains in the distance.

Captain G took his dingy and tied up to a public jetty to check out one of these malls.  He called me to tell me how HUGE it was ... he was gob smacked just standing in the entrance.  Turns out he didn't end up buying anything because the whole experience - and the crowds - were too overwhelming.  He high tailed it back to the boat and the local shop on the marina boardwalk!

Our friend Keith will fly up tomorrow (Sunday) to be crew for the next leg of the journey. They will have a great time I'm sure.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Captain G arrives in Mooloolaba

My eyes opened at 7:30am on Monday.  I don't normally wake up at that time but I was concerned.  Captain G was moving on today.

The Morton Bay forecast was for 25-30 knot winds (that's a lot) and dangerous waves of up to 3 metres.  Captain G - who by now fancies himself an elite "solo sailor" - wasn't willing to wait until the forecast was better.  He told me on the phone, "I can see what the weather is doing here and I can tell you its a beautiful day!". 

He left the marina about 10:30am on Monday headed for Deception Bay - still within the larger confines of Moreton Bay.  The sail would take about 3-4 hours and he would cross the busy entrance to the Port of Brisbane.  He called me a hour or so in to tell me he was crossing the channel into the port and motoring between two going out and one coming in.  He had them on the boat AIS so they would know about him too - even if they hadn't seen him.  The remaining journey was uneventful.  He sailed some of the way and the forecast didn't eventuate.  Cap G set anchor in the southern part of Deception Bay, made himself a lovely dinner of BBQ chicken & baked potato, carrots and brussel sprouts and was in bed early.  He did say he had to listen to fishing trawlers going up and down the bay all night.

From Flickr - Shipping in Moreton Bay
Deception Bay, and in fact most of the northern part of Moreton Bay, has panoramic views of the Glass House Mountains.  These are a spectacular series of steep hills - which are defined as steep sided volcanic plugs - formed from long ago volcanos.

Frm Flickr - Glass House mountains from land - they look really spectacular from the sea.

The next morning the forecast was just as bad for wind and waves....and again Captain G stuck his head out from the cockpit and said the day was, "perfect!".   Departing from his southern most point he tried to steer directly up the bay but found it uncomfortably shallow in the swell.  So he moved into the spitfire channel which runs along Bribie Island and leads out to the sea.  When he cleared land a bit the head sail went up and away he went sailing at an average of 6 kts all the way to the Mooloolaba river entrance.  As forecast the waves were big and breaking at the river - as well as his  port side beam.  Captain G had to time the waves, wait for the right break and then -  in his words -  he gave the engine, "THE FULL WELLY".  That means he went fast in through the breakers and into the safety of the river.  Rob and Ian from the yacht club were on hand to help him tie up in the marina....and yet another successful solo sail was completed!

Last night he met the other guys from the club cruise for drinks and dinner and today he had a walk around.  Here are some photos .... they didn't turn out that well (he knows now the camera lens needs cleaning!) but you get the idea of the area.

The headland at the Mooloolaba river entrance - from the beach.

From the beach looking south towards the river entrance.

The boardwalk along the beach into town.  Beach is on the right side through the bush.  Cap G also said there were Brush Turkeys all through this scrub.
Photo of the Glass House Mountains taken along the way.

Captain G and the other boats from the Yacht Club are having a rendezvous dinner tonight to talk about the adventure so far and the journey ahead.  Hope its a great night!

Me,  I'm still at home with the "boot" and enjoying the tall tales from the sea!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

3 to 4 More Weeks!

My wonderful friend Jenny took me for another x-ray on Wednesday and my anticipation level was almost as high as the day Mr G and I were in Nelson Bay.  X-rays are passive, there's not much you can do really except wait in a pleasant little room until called and then lay under the x-ray machine.....well it would have been pleasant if not for the incessant concrete drilling and building noises going on in the office next door.   Then they ask you to wait again until the picture is ready.  All I could think of was - I hope the bones have grown significantly!  I have been so good these last 3 weeks - rested, took calcium, drank protein shakes, took vitamins, religiously rubbed my foot with comphrey, and visualised the bones growing & growing - the whole gamut of  "bone self help". 

I made the mistake of asking to have the report emailed to me at the same time as the doctor....I wanted to celebrate the miraculous bone growth even before being told about it I guess.  So imagine my deep disappointment when I first saw the x-rays at home - they didn't look any different.  And then, when the copy of the report came it was only 1 sentence long - 'no visible sign of healing' - that was it.  Deep deep disappointment.  So the rest of Wednesday and Thursday morning I was pretty quiet.

Jenny was back on Thursday afternoon (Bless her!) to take me to the specialist.  She and Steph did their best to cheer me up.  "It is what it is", Steph kept telling me.  The doctor, just like last time, made me feel a whole lot better.  He said the bones don't show growth in 3 weeks - for anyone.  He was looking for stability....were they in the same place and not moving around.  Luckily they are.  He said I needed to give it another 3-4 weeks of doing what I was doing now...and he said he did not recommend that I go back to the boat before then.  Bummer - Big Bummer.  Oh well, "it is what it is".  I have to go back for more x-rays and another appointment in 3 weeks....hopefully for the 'all clear'.

I called Captain G to give him the news.  He didn't say much - except that I needed to get better and it would be OK.  I cried and said I was sorry - He said so too.  Then we moved point in dwelling on what can't be changed.  I'm keeping up the "bone self help".

Enough of that.  Captain G is still in Manly Marina in Morton Bay.  He's been pretty busy with the washing machine, visiting with Pip, Kate and Brian, and meeting up with Greg and Heidi - who launched a centre cockpit version of our Bluewater 420 recently - we were side by side in the boat show last year.  They pulled into Manly mid-week on their way north. 

The washing machine is pretty sick.  Turns out, even though the Soba 1000 are promoted for boats and caravans, they don't particularly work that well on boats.  They aren't grounded properly...which means the outer drum has rusted from electrolysis.  David, our boat builder, is on the way up there to see Captain G and he'll check it out.  He's already been on to the manufacturers in Europe.  We may have to engage in the dreaded marine LAUNDROMAT! for the rest of the trip north.   Not so bad really, I'm sure we'll manage just like everyone else.

Last night Jenny and I went out to dinner at a local Japanese restaurant called Ju-Rin.  Lovely night and great food.  We had a terrific time talking and laughing and drinking way too much wine.  Getting myself into the house and into bed on crutches after too much wine was interesting!  Thanks Jenny for a terrific night....and for being such a good friend!

To end this post on a lighter note I'd thought I'd show some pictures of the Morton Bay Fig tree since that's where Captain G is at the moment.  I LOVE these trees!  Wikipedia says - Ficus macrophylla, commonly known as the Moreton Bay Fig, is a large evergreen banyan tree native of most of the eastern coast of Australia.  It is best known for its beautiful buttress roots. 

Hope everyone has a great weekend!!!!   Here are some nice Morton Bay Tree pictures from Flickr....