Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Southern Belle is home! Finally.

Home waters. 
Motoring to our mooring looking out across Pittwater, Lion Island and Barrenjoey Head to the right.
The resolute Captain and his crew of friend John arrived back in home waters on Friday afternoon.  This was after an almost epic voyage from Southport, Queensland lasting over 7 days.   They had great weather but an electronic part of the auto helm broke down and stranded them in Coffs Harbour for 2 days and a fridge repair took another 2 days in Newcastle.  All is fixed now and Miss 'Southern Belle' sailed back home looking fabulous.

Both the auto helm and the fridge performed perfectly during our voyage up to Cairns, out to the Louisiades and back to NSW waters but decided to break down close to home.  Well done to them.  I couldn't imagine what it would have been like to go without either for any part of the trip.

Molly and I met 'Southern Belle' at the dock of the RPAYC about 5:00pm and we decided to stay the night and go to our mooring and then home the next day.  There was a car load of things to take off the boat and she needed to be washed down.  At one point George looked at me ... I was just standing looking at the boat and him and smiling .. and said, "What are you smiling at?"  "I'm happy you're both home safe and sound.  Now I can stop worrying."

This weekend was the Australia Day long weekend which meant the boat only had a days rest.  We were back out and headed down to our usual cruising grounds for 3 days together, once more, our little family.

It took a bit of time for Molly to get back in the swing of the boat.
She did a lot of looking at the shore line and gripping the side of the cockpit .. look at her nails holding on.
Poor little working dog.  Bet she wishes for a farm and sheep sometimes.  Bless.

Normally we have a big day out on Australia Day with our friends Keith and Jenny but we missed out on that this year due to simply not knowing when the boat would be back.  We tried to catch up with some friends from the yacht club but that didn't work out either.  Probably for the best.  It was good to spend some quiet time together.  I think the time provided George with a chance to get back into "home life" mode.  He's going to miss the everyday boat life a great deal I think.

Man and dog.  They love their nap time afloat.
I feel the need to get moving on my resolutions for the year.  I've joined the gym so back into that 3 days a week.  The daily 5:00pm wine will need to stop or at least slow down!  And I've started preparing my work CV in hopes of landing a job soon.  I haven't had to apply for a job or prepare a CV in nearly 30 years!  Luckily when I left Fox after almost 25 years the phone kept ringing with people asking me to come and work so I didn't need to market myself.

Now, after our wonderful year off, I've got to go looking because I know for sure that I need the mental and social stimulation work provides.  Hopefully I'll find somewhere that's smart enough to understand there's a great deal of value in this 63 year old woman!  As far as I'm concerned age is just a number and has nothing to do with the package.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Slam Poetry on 'Upworthy'

I don't know if everyone gets the site 'Upworthy' on their Facebook feed.  From the look of it and the number of "likes" I would think its pretty widespread.

Facebook can, at the best of times, be an unbelievable time waster and at the same time a great way to keep a little in touch with people you know.  I must admit I love Facebook.  It took me a long time to get with it but I do appreciate the way I can witness a bit of the people's lives I care for or have enjoyed the company of at some point. 

Then add 'Upworthy' and, for me anyway, it becomes completely addictive ... time slips away in rather large chunks.  I looked up some information about the site and found it described as "dedicated to publicising progressive narratives".  It was also described in another reference as "lily-white earnestness".  I guess.  Being a self proclaimed tree hugger myself I can understand why it appeals to me.  I have a good bit of affection for earnestness and all its synonyms.

Through 'Upworthy' I've been impressed and now hooked on the Slam Poetry presented by young women.  Until seeing these stand up performance poetry sessions on line I must confess I wasn't aware of Slam Poetry.  Now that I am I'm wasting even more time on websites like ButtonPoetry on Utube.

Have a look if you haven't already.  Here are some of my favourites.

Shrinking Women by Lily Myers - here Shrinking Women
What Guys Look for in Girls by Savannah Brown - here Ever think?
Khalessi by Tonya Ingram and Vanessa Marco - here To the men who mistreated

Hope you enjoy! 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Doggie Poo - Eeeeewww

I usually take Molly for a long walk to Lane Cove village and back early in the morning.  But this morning it was drizzling rain and I had a few things to do so we didn't have our early walk.  I've been very good to keep this exercise thing happening and I started to feel guilty lounging on the sofa after my busy morning.  So at 3:15pm - when the rain had stopped - I grabbed the lead and the ball tosser and said to Molly, "Let's go!"

Along the way we stop on the golf course so I can toss some balls down a hill across the 8th tee ... and I saw no reason to change our routine even though it was late afternoon.  Molly had, after all, been home in the rain, on the back porch and hadn't had a run all day.  There were two parties of golfers on the course - one group just ahead of us and one group finishing up the previous hole - which meant we only had a short window of opportunity before golfers would get annoyed by our presence.

I disconnected her lead and threw the ball hard.  "Go get it!", I yelled and she went tearing down the hill to fetch.  You could almost see the elation in every muscle as she caught it and brought it straight back.  I threw it again - while noticing the next group of golfers start to put their clubs away to move to the next hole.  "One more and we have to go", I said when she brought the ball back.  I gave it one more mammoth throw right past the tee and on the fairway.  Molly grabbed the ball and started back up the hill .. but then stopped, dropped the ball and turned looking like she was in the sudden grip of a stomach cramp.  I forgot she hadn't had a run or really moved much all day!  Oh NO.

You can imagine my horror as, in spite of my calling, she crouched right in the middle of the fairway and proceeded to do a very large crap any water buffalo would be proud of.

I ran down the hill my trusty Poo Bag in hand.  Let me just say here, they don't make poo bags the way they used to.  Which normally is a good thing.  Now they're thinner and biodegradable so overall better for the environment.  However, they don't stand up to a "heroic" warm pile like they used to.  As I scooped the mess into the bag I put my fingers straight through it.  Gross.  We didn't go on the rest of the walk but turned around and came back home so I could scrub my fingers.

The good thing about poo is it washes off.  But the memory of the poo bag failure will mean I'll be doubling them up from now on.  So gross.

In other news ..  The Captain and his crew are in Newcastle Harbour and Southern Belle is almost home.  They had to pull into Coffs Harbour after the first 24 hours because the autopilot kicked the bucket.  After many calls with Coursemaster - the makers of the machine - I picked up a spare part last Friday and flew it up to them on Saturday.  Luckily the part worked and they started the journey again on Saturday afternoon.  George does not want to get home - he loves being on the boat so much! - and they're enjoying themselves cruising this part of the coast.  It will be fantastic to finally have the boat back home but I know George doesn't want it to ever end.  I hope he keeps having a good time out there ... but gets home soon.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Made it to the Gold Coast

At the bend in the journey called Jacobs Well.
We couldn't go any further until the next day because the tide was way too low.

Saturday morning we woke early.  Today was the day we were going from East Coast Marina in Manly QLD down the inside passage - which becomes the Broadwater - to Southport Marina at the northern most tip of the Gold Coast.  A cursory glance at any map makes this trip look easy but looking at a marine chart shows a much different story. 

George had organised men from the surrounding boats to help us get out of the extremely tight marina berth.  All three showed up at 7am, right on time, and made easy work of pulling Southern Belle around facing the right direction and out we went.  George said later, "wasn't that easy!".   Yes, things are always easier when there are more hands to help .. and not just my little freckled ones.

The first task was to find our way across Morton Bay to the start of the channel down.  This wide expanse of bay isn't what it seems ... there are lots of sand banks and submerged islets ... and any sea craft has to keep to channels.  Some marked well and some not.  We spent time the night before writing down a list of 8 waypoints for the GPS to help us get across .. all worked perfectly.

The channel is marked by red and green poles which should be hugged otherwise
you quickly - and I mean quickly - run out of depth.
 It looks big but mostly its a little bit of water over a lot of sand.

The trip to our half way point at Jacobs Well took most of the day.  We ran aground a few times and got confused twice.  So not a bad effort. 

There was one place where it looked like we could be in trouble.  I wish I had taken a photo.  The green marker was almost on the beach as we approached and George even stopped the boat while we thought about it.  I said it looked impossible - and it did.  The Captain checked the tide time and the chart again and declared we should "just" make it.  As the boat moved forward and passed the pole the depth gauge showed 0.2 metres of water under the keel.  Holy Shit.  George revved our wonderful 75hp engine ... (there have been so many times on this trip I'm glad we got the larger engine for, as George says, "extra horsepowers") ... and the boat pushed ahead.  For what seemed like an eternity she scraped on through the bottom sand with the gauge now reading 0.0.   With no room to manoeuvre or turn around there wasn't any other choice.  I held my breath and the look on George's face told me he was holding his as well.  Then she broke free.  Gradually the gauge rose to 0.3, 0.5, and then 1.0 - one glorious metre of water to float in!  Hooray.

We had to stop at Jacobs Well because the water was almost at its lowest point.  The night was clam and lovely but the mosquitoes were ravenous and I have about 15 itchy bumps to prove it.

The next day wasn't as stressful.  We still had to get up at the crack of dawn to make the most of the tide down to Southport but it was far less dramatic.  As we got closer to our destination we passed lots of canal estates with HUGE homes. 

We're now snug in our berth at the Southport Yacht Club.  Yesterday, Sunday, was hectic.  The Gold Coast is like an Australian Miami ... a destination for tourist and a blue water playground.  There was no peace to be had with jet skis, helicopters and sea planes making an enormous racket until dusk.  But, with all that, its exciting to be here.  I'll be here until The Captain decides to move the boat on down the coast to Sydney and home.  Our friend John will come up to help and I'll go home to Molly.

This is the view today - and a lot of days - on a boat.
There's always something to do, check on or adjust so the cushions come off and the Captain has his head down a hole.
Our fridge which has been so good has decided to stop working.

Tonight we're going to explore the area and I've been promised a night out!

Friday, 10 January 2014

An Evening with "The Adams Family" (cue music)

Champagne on arrival with the wonderful Adamses!
This Adams family are not creepy ... but maybe a little bit kookie (as the music goes in the former - and very old, but very good TV series).  They are our friends who live on North Stradbroke Island. 

We travelled to the ferry late yesterday afternoon and then spent last night on the island.

As seems to be the norm with "The Captain" and me, we did have a bit of an adventure getting there.  I looked up the address for the ferry on line, wrote it down and - now that we know how to do it - we plugged it into the trusty GPS in the rental car.  To make a long story - and an even longer drive - as short as possible I had 'googled' the wrong address/ferry line and we went about 30 minutes out of our way.  And missed the 4:25pm ferry.  There was a teeny bit of shouting and recrimination but we found our way to the right terminal for the next ferry at 5:25pm.

I dropped the injured/still uncomfortable captain off at the ferry terminal with the bags while I drove around searching for a parking place.  Doesn't he look happy?!?

The spectacular view from the Adams' back yard over Morton Bay.  They live in a little cottage way on top of the main hill in Dunwich ... the primary settlement on North Stradbroke Island.  The sunset was a Killer!

A fun night - full of love and laughs - was had by everyone.  I'm still (I think its we're but he's not as vocal as me) completely smitten by little Lillian and found it really hard to leave this morning.

I LOVE this photo of George with Lillian!

Lilli having a good time with her food!  I was feeding her and, at one point while looking like this over most of her body, she raised her arms to be picked up.  In spite of my affection I said, "there is absolutely no way I'm coming any nearer to you than spoon length!".  Forget it.
The good news is the fires are pretty much in control on the island.  You could still smell smoke, the SES (state emergency services) people were there in force but the helicopters stopped water bombing about 7:00pm last night.

Some of the tired volunteer fire people boarding the ferry on the way back to the mainland this morning.

Tomorrow morning at 0700, the Captain and I start our journey to Southport through the Broadwater.  It's going to be a bit hairy due to shallow water and confusing beacons but this time tomorrow night we should be about half way there.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Road trip to Eumundi

Early morning .. leaving 'Southern Belle' to rest in her berth in this very crowded boat city.
The sun gets up early here in Queensland.

Well its actually a simultaneous thing all over but we just register it as early.  The reason - for my friends in other places - is Queensland does not have daylight saving time which means the time here is one hour earlier than our Sydney time.  Being a primarily rural thinking and voting state the constituents believe daylight saving time "fades the curtains" (honestly, we had someone say that to us during this trip) and "confuses the cows" (yes, another actual statement).  So with every attempt to bring DS to the more commercial/urbane end of town the voters give it a resounding NO.

Back to the sun.  So, at 4:45 every day the glorious sun starts to light up the beautiful Queensland sky and by 5:30 its blazing in its true glory - and making sleep difficult.  That's how we found ourselves awake early, cup of tea and toast made, boat tidied, showered and on the road by 7:10am!  A whole lot earlier than I had anticipated for our little road trip north but, as it turned out, a good thing.

Just one more thing.  We had to find our way from the little hamlet of Manly to the freeway and then 140 some kilometres north to Eumundi.  Now this may seem odd - ridiculous even for two people that found their way from Sydney to Cairns and then the Louisiades Archipelago out in the Coral Sea - but neither George nor me can seem to program a car GPS.  I had "googled" the directions and, without a printer on board, had written down word by word how to get there.  But, the 'Captain' insisted on working out the GPS.  Eventually, with only a small delay and a few frustrated words, WE DID IT!  Our trip was punctuated regularly by a very proper sounding English woman ... and we found the little market town of Eumundi easily.

Main street Eumundi just after 8:30am. 
It turned out to be a very good thing that we arrived so early.  By 10:00 you could not move on the main street - by car or, in some cases even on foot.  The market is HUGE.  Stalls were packed in to almost every conceivable nook up stairs, down culverts and in new pavilions specially made in a field out the back of town.   As usual there was the heady mixture of organic food, hand made goods, spiritualist and enticing junk all over the place interspersed with some actual really good stuff.  I didn't buy much  but had a great time gawking at everything possible.  George was forced to give up and sit on a bench with continuing swelling and pain in his slowly getting better tendon.

Here's some of the sights ...

Neither one of us had seen anything like this little show - and from the crowd he pulled I don't think anybody else had either!  One guy - with a pretty good voice - was singing and playing guitar behind the black screen while - at the same time - he operated the puppets in the front to dance and perform.  It was jaw dropping .. and he had a good pile of money in his case for his efforts.

This guy was rocking out on his didgeridoo and he was really good.  He only had a mike with a speaker behind him but he was playing loud and very well.  His case was healthy too.

But then we went to another section of market stalls and this guy had it all!  4 didgeridoos!  An Assistant selling his cassettes, a major poster behind him and a full on sound system!  Wow.  He was good too but we didn't drop any coins for him - a bit too pretentious we thought. 

On the way home we stopped along the way on the Sunshine Coast in the town of Mooloolaba.  As coastal towns go its on its way to being another megalopolis like the Gold Coast but the high rise hotels are still only 15 stories high and they haven't taken over the whole beach area yet.  George stopped in here on his way up - this is where Keith joined the trip as well - and he liked the marina area.  We walked along the water front park and had fish and chips for lunch.  I didn't take any other pictures since if you've seen one Miami like place you've really seen them all.

We had a great trip.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Back on boat & Blowing like Hell!!

"The Captain" walking away for his flight to Yeppoon! 
He refused to turn around to have his photo taken ... so here is his contrary backside.
I haven't blogged for a week - sorry.  Mainly because I was too lazy and just a little bit busy around the house and with friends.  This part of summer - most of January - seems to suck almost all energy out of  me and, I expect, a lot of Australians.  The weather is HOT.  The beaches beckon and its really hard to break the food and alcohol habits entrenched throughout December.  My BFF, Jae, in Atlanta sent me a short email this morning asking, "what happened to your blog?"; so here goes.

Much has happened since New Year's eve.  George, who left last Monday to travel back up to the boat for the sail down to Manly (near Brisbane, Queensland) had a good - and extreme mixed bag of conditions on the journey.  He was joined by Brett who we met on the Louisiades Rally - from the boat 'Winds of Change' or "Windy".  Brett is a very good sailor and was perfect company in the sometimes screaming winds.  They left Yeppoon with well over 30 knots resulting in 2 reefs in the main and only the small staysail out.  They loved it!  Exactly why I was happy to be at home with my dog!!

In order to get the best angle to the wind, George and Brett tacked right out to Lady Musgrave Island.  A spectacular island and one of the most southerly islands of the Barrier Reef.
The highlight of their trip was the day/night they spent in the lagoon of Lady Musgrave Island.  In contrast to the conditions they had leaving Yeppoon the wind died down to almost nothing & with a forecast of a breezy southerly change the next day they decided to take refuge in the lagoon.  Of course George took delight in telling me about the huge sea turtles, crystal clear waters and big fish  they saw there.  Although enduring the rough conditions is something I missed with much pleasure, I would have loved being back on Lady Musgrave.  Way back in 1980, just after we were married, George and I spent 2 fantastic weeks on a camping and scuba diving eco tour there.  Those 2 weeks are amongst my ultimate first rate - mind blowing - memories.
Of course Mother Ocean happily throws everything at you!  After the good time they had in the LM lagoon the remainder of the trip was frustrating and hard from motoring over 9 hours in a flat calm sea to entering the shipping channel in Morton Bay in steady 42 knots of wind with gusts of 60 knots!  Not my cup of tea.  But they made it back with themselves and 'Southern Belle' in perfect condition. 
Brett's brother, Daron, invited George back to his house to stay while he waited for me to get here.  His house is Amazing! ... right on one of the canals, huge and luxurious.   The friends we made on the rally continue to be such special people in our lives.
And here I am back on the boat and, of course, the wind is howling outside!  I wonder if it's me?  I flew up yesterday to join George, to see friends and to sail the short distance down to Southport with him before the next long - and challenging - voyage down to Sydney.  Again, I'll miss that bit ... happily.
Yesterday we had a terrific lunch with Pip, Kate, the spectacular little Lilli and Pip's dad Brian.  It was good seeing Brian who is recovering as well as can be expected after his bad accident. 
Kate and the beautiful little Lilli and they dog Kloppie. 
After lunch we went back to where Pip and Kate are staying for drinks, pizza, laughs and a good bit of wine - for everyone except Kate who is a wonderful mother and didn't imbibe.  I certainly felt like I made up for anything she may have missed when I woke up this morning.
Unfortunately Pip and Kate have been staying on the mainland since being evacuated from Stradbroke Island, where they live.  Straddie - as the locals call it - has been burning.  On last count over 60% of the island was devastated by bush fires caused by lighting strikes and fanned by the extreme heat and high winds of last week.  There was an almighty storm last night with lots of rain which helped put out the fires.  They went back home on the ferry today and we're hoping to go over on Thursday for more good times.  Like I said in a previous post, I'm soooo in love with Little Lilli.  She is a doll.
In the morning George and I are driving up the coast - about 2 hours from the marina here - to the little town of Eumundi.  Eumundi is famous for its craft and alternative culture market and I can't wait to wander.  George isn't that happy about the thought of a morning in hippy heaven but I'm sure he'll be able to endure it.