Sunday, June 27, 2010

Our First Overnight Sail

It is 80 nautical miles from Platypus Bay on Fraser Island to Lady Musgrave Island. Rene worked out that we’d have to leave at 3pm to arrive in the lagoon at midday the next day travelling at approximately 4knots.  We ended up being 22 hours under way = our biggest non-stop journey so far. It was a beautiful night; the full moon accompanied us until dawn, when it swapped the sky for the sun. The wind was a little indecisive and we had to motor occasionally to maintain course and speed. We had an alarm clock set to beep every 15 minutes – it was there to remind us to perform a regular lookout for navigational hazards. This alarm became quite annoying, because just as we’d start to drift off to sleep (lying in the cockpit - as pictured) it would wake us up resulting in a very disrupted night for both of us. The proper way to manage a night voyage is to sleep in shifts – but at this early stage in my life as a sailor, I’m not yet confident to sail solo thanks! 

Lady Musgrave Island sits inside a large lagoon. It is like an oasis of calm, crystal-clear waters in the big, bouncy ocean. We washed away the journey with a snorkel around Anhinga and were pleased that our antifouling paint still looks great!

This morning we watched the sunrise while sitting up in the cross-tree of the main mast. A great way to start a perfect day! We also walked around the island - it brought back so many good memories of when we spent 2 weeks here over Christmas back in 2005. 

I'm beginning to understand more about why people choose this lifestyle. The sailing and maintainance of a boat is hard work - but when you arrive at a place as perfect as this - it all makes sense! Time to have a coffee and bake something to take over to a lovely couple we met today. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ironic Anchoring and Fast Sailing

Early yesterday morning, we prepared to leave Maryborough and head further north. As Rene was winching up the anchor, it became stuck! We tried all the usual tricks to get it loose but to no avail - we were not going anywhere! Rene dove down (just in his boxer shorts - brrrr!) and discovered that the 2nd anchor we'd put out had become caught up in an old, disused QLD Transport mooring. Oh dear! The picture (right) is of Rene under the water just in his boxers. I was struck by the irony of this situation: when we first arrived in the Mary River, we had trouble making sure that we wouldn't drag - now, we weren't going anywhere! 

Some more pulling on the anchor with various winches did nothing but hurt my hands and warp the metal. Rene was shivering so much and I eventually convinced him to wear his wetsuit. When he dove down again, he took a knife and, as soon as he cut a rope that was caught around the anchor, we were free! We're glad that this worked, as we weren't so keen on hiring a diver to untangle it all.
This is the bounty that we gleaned - an old buoy, very thick rope and some silver shackles. 

By this stage, we were running 2 hours behind schedule. You have to time your trip with the tides in the Mary River as some sections go as low as 0.8m. We draw 1.7metres - so we need enough water over the bottom to not run aground. I was keen to just anchor further up and wait for the next tide but Rene, high on adrenalin, pushed us forward. We had the motor on hard and were sailing as fast as we could go - Anhinga got up to 9knots! A record speed! This is Rene holding on as we go so fast! 

We shot out of the Mary River and back into the Sandy Straits. Then continued up to the northern top of Fraser Island where we anchored in Platypus Bay for the night. It's gorgeous here - as you can see! 

Happy Birthday Rene - what a day!! 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Victualling and Fixing Things

We've been taking the opportunity to do some big jobs on Anhinga. Rene has installed our Telstra antenna (so we can access phone and internet in more remote locations). Can you spot him crouched onto the first crosstree on the Mizzen mast? Rene also fixed the stern gland (and a bunch of other things) - here is a picture of the greasy business - yuck! 

Maryborough is a really friendly country town. Everywhere we've gone, people have striked up conversations with ease and we've been so grateful at the generosity of strangers. It's also a great town to stock up in. In marine terms, this is called victualling. We've taken advantage of the Farmer's Markets to get fresh veggies and also bought many bits and bobs for the boat. Today was the biggest haul yet - we bought a generator, a battery charger, grog, fuel jerry can and more! The dinghy was pretty laden down on our way back to Anhinga tonight! In the photo I'm having to crouch on the seat which I would normally be able to sit on. 

The other thing I've been getting better at is baking. It's not helping me to lose weight....but it is fun! Here is a picture of my latest effort - a pumpkin bread. I can't believe how big it grew in the oven! 

So, we've almost bought everything we need to here in Maryborough. At the moment, we're trying to decide whether to head out to Lady Musgrave this weekend as the weather looks suitable for it or to stick around here and spend time with my family who have said they will visit.... aaaaargh! What to do??? 
Stay tuned for our decision! 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happiness is about the journey, not the destination.

I've had this quote as my signature on my email for years now - but I'm having to really take it on board now. We're going to be in Maryborough for longer than expected. 
Our mail is holding us up because the Post Office we had it sent to is no longer in operation! We need to not rely upon google so much as it had the wrong details! 

Can you spot Anhinga? This is the view from Queens Park lookout here down toward the Mary River. We ended up having to re-anchor 6 times in total to be satisfied that we weren't dragging (I was very over it by number 4). 

Rene has been getting greasy in the engine room - figuring out why our stern gland is leaking and now figuring out how to fix it. A fellow yachtie who lives here in the marina - Peter and his little dog, Bundy (pictured) have been a big help. Peter has lent us a key to the marina here so we've been able to access the land easily and have a couple of hot showers (BLISS!). He has a lifetime of knowledge and has been filling us with plenty of stories and advice. 

There are many other jobs to keep us busy while we're here. But, for now, I'm going to go and explore the town...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Slow Progress

I'm writing this from the Mary River in Maryborough. We're both pretty exhausted after wet, windy and twisty-turny journey here. Pictured (left) is the view we had for part of the journey. Note the water drops on the camera lens! 

The winds really picked up where we were anchored over the long weekend at River Heads - yesterday it was gusting over 30 knots. We were quite nervous because the winds pushed us against a lee shore. At low tide, we bumped the bottom a few times (plus a few imaginary ones) so Rene and I put out a second anchor to try and keep us away from the bank. We were fine but we have now had a few restless nights in a row. Every time there's a new sound, one of us (usually Rene) leaps up and races out to check that everything is as it should be. The latest is the sound of a dripping stern gland (hole the prop shaft goes through), which unfortunately is definitely is not as is should be and will require a bit of love!

We have learnt not to stay in an anchorage that we're not completely happy with - but don't regret staying there as we got to spend some time with Nick and Jan from Yawarra 2 (pictured). Jan tried her hardest to coax our MF/HF radio to work but to no avail. Nick fixed up my cheap fold-up bike so that it doesn't collapse when someone heavier than 40Kg sits on it! Rene managed to get their Internet working and I provided baked goods for all. We lapped up their advice from 30 or so years of doing this. I enjoyed reading their first log written back in 1977 when they cruised up to PNG from Brisbane on their first boat, Warlock. Things have changed so much. We have GPS, weather forecasting and the Internet now. When they first set out none of these things existed; they had to do celestial navigation (using the stars to determine location) at night and took fixes on landmarks during the day. They guessed what the weather was going to do and rang home using public phones when they could. Very different to me updating this regularly and texting my Mum whenever we arrive in a new anchorage! Things were also a lot cheaper back then (only $124 to tie up at a mooring in Bowen for one whole year!!!) and more young people went cruising back then. It seems to mainly be for retirees these days and there are hundreds more boats out on the water - making it a very tight fit in some popular anchorages. 

Jan and Nick have recently made the move from sail to motor - they have written a fantastic article about the transition here: 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Anhinga, Standing By...

The South-Easterly's and Westerlies are really blowing at the moment. We have taken shelter in the Susan River (just at the mouth of the Mary River) and are anchored right next to Rene's Uncle and Aunt, Nick and Jan on board their motor vessel, Yawarra 2

The strong winds are forecast to drop off in the next few days but we can't continue our journey north until we have installed a few things. We discovered (with the help of Nick and Jan) that our VHF radio is dead. No wonder no one responded when we tried to talk on the radio! Having a working radio is kind of important - we won't always have telstra wireless internet connection! Knowing what the weather is going to do is vital to our safety. So we've ordered a new radio from America (West Marine had the best deal) and are awaiting its arrival at the Pialba Post Office. Ren has also ordered some wind generator blades from the UK so that he can try his hand at making his own wind gen. 
So - we're standing by.

The next big milestone is that we plan to head out to Lady Musgrave Island (once we've successfully installed the new radio and fixed up a few other things). We've never sailed out to the reef before so it will be quite nerve-wracking (for me anyway!). Because it's so far from land, and you need to arrive in the day time (to be able to see the reef and not hit it), the trip will also involve our first overnight sail!

But, I'm getting ahead of myself... for the meantime, we're holding tight. Doing boat maintenance and socialising with Yawarra 2.

Pictured is Jan's hand next to a dingo print we found on Fraser - so big!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Unlucky Turtle and Where the Hell We Are

Today we moved to Boonlye Point - we've anchored here despite there being no anchor symbol on any of our maps/books/charts (a first for us!). Just a little way north, the tide changes direction so we've set down here for the night to await the next high tide before continuing on tomorrow. It is quite shallow in these waters - getting here today we were grounded right after a green directional beacon!! Don't worry though - the tide pushed us off again quickly enough. 

We explored the deserted beach here and discovered a few interesting things. Firstly was a fresh set of dingo tracks, then some useful flotsam (a new fork for our galley!) and then a sad turtle that was beached. It was missing one flipper and had fishing line coming from its mouth - the hook was firmly lodged deeply in its mouth. We took pity on it and moved it down to the water. Rene tried to remove the fishing line but it was really lodged in and we didn't want to hurt it anymore than it was already. We contemplated taking it back to Anhinga and nursing it to health but decided to comply with the nature park's rules and not interfere. It slowly slowly swam away - perhaps for its last swim.... 

View Larger Map

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tassajara Bread Recipe = THE BEST!!!

Mum sent me this recipe when I was searching for one that would taste amazing and not be too tricky to make. I made it, and Rene and I loved it so much that I just had to share it! 
It is adapted from The Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown

I grew up with Mum baking this bread for us kids - it is absolutely amazing!!!

Yield: 2 Loaves


cups lukewarm water 

Tbsp. dry yeast 

cup sweetening (honey, molasses, or brown sugar)

cup dry milk (optional)

cups whole-wheat flour (substitute 1 or more cups unbleached white flour if desired)

tsp. salt

cup oil or butter

cups additional whole-wheat flour

cup whole-wheat flour for kneading
1.  In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Stir in the sweetening and the dry milk (optional). Stir in the 4 cups of whole-wheat flour to form a thick batter. Beat well with a spoon (100 strokes).
2. Let the dough rise for 45 minutes.
3. Fold in the salt and the oil, then fold in the additional 3 cups of flour until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Knead on a floured board for about 10 minutes, using the additional 1 cup flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the board. Stop when the dough is smooth.
4. Let the dough rise for 40 to 50 minutes, or until doubled in size.
5. Shape the dough into loaves and place in 2 loaf pans or a single heavy baking dish. Let rise for 20 to 25 minutes.
6.  Preheat oven to 180 Degrees Celsius.
7.  Brush the tops of the loaves with an egg wash (a egg beaten with a few tablespoons of water or milk) and bake for 40 minutes to an hour, or until golden-brown. Remove from the pans and let cool before slicing.
You can replace part of the water with milk.
If you like a lighter bread (and quicker risings), use an additional package of yeast.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Too Salty Fish, Paradise, Washing and Ghost Ships

The fish Rene salted turns out to be saltier than anchovies - we struggled to eat some the other night and then worried that we had salt poisoning! Any suggestions on what I can do to make it edible? I've thought of making a pate of some description...

While in Tin Can Bay, Rene installed the salt water pump for the galley - the old one had totally rusted away. We'll use less water now as all our dish rinsing can be done with sea water! 

We're now at Garry's Anchorage on Fraser Island. It's named after a 'sharp-witted Butchulla man' whose family lived on bush tucker here on the island. Garry Owen was apparently a great tracker and horseman, even helping to track Ned Kelly in Victoria
The water is crystal clear here - so I think we'll be able to spot if there are any Crocodiles (there is a sign warning us of their possible presence here). We'll hopefully go for a swim later on when it's high tide. This is what Anhinga looks like from the shore. 

This morning we had our first washing day. We dug out the old Bamix Presawash that my parents used to use back in the 80's when they first started building their place in the bush. After spinning the clothes around in the washer filled with hot water, soap and clothes, we then had to wring them through the ACME (which I thought this was only a cartoon company!) clothes wringer that came with the boat. The whole process took over 2 hours and we didn't even wash everything! Rene loved it of course (not!). 

All day we have been complaining of a motor boat whose engine we could hear but which we never saw. We turned up our music louder but the annoying noise just wouldn't stop! After hours of us getting increasingly annoyed at 'that bloody motor boat' Rene noticed that one of the halyard's was vibrating... yup - the annoying 'motor boat' turned out to be a simple vibration in our rigging! Silly us! 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fish, Sunsets and Changes

 Rene caught a Shovel-nosed Ray on Tuesday night - we gave some away to two other boats and still have so much to eat! Fish soup again tonight! 

Last night we had drinks on board New Horizons. Ian and Robyn had sailed up from Melbourne and we saw the most incredible sunset from their cockpit. 

Today we motored down to Tin Can Bay to refill with diesel and water. I got a bit scared when our first two attempts at anchoring near Norman Point were unsuccessful. Eventually we held well much further down on a flatter seabed. Rene is really amazing at all of this - I'm growing more and more respect for his abilities on the water. 

We found an IGA in town and stocked up on a few essentials. It was interesting carrying the shopping back to the dinghy through shallow water - very different to just driving it to a jetty!! 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Loving it!

I'm writing this from the cockpit as we're anchored in Pelican Bay just off Inskip Point in the Great Sandy Strait near Fraser Island. It's beautiful. There is hardly any wind and the sounds are of birds and other happy people also anchored here. 

After a lovely couple of days spent with my relatives in Coolum, we left Mooloolaba at dawn on Monday to a gorgeous day of sailing all the way to Double Island Point. It was a long journey (about 13 or so hours) but it wasn't scary (mostly). The waves were small but the wind was strong enough to push us along at good speeds. The Sunshine Coast looks pretty spectacular from the ocean. In particular, the lighthouse at Double Island Point sits atop a large craggy rock and around the corner from this is amazing colourful sand cliffs (I think they're called Rainbow Beach) which we anchored in front of just at sunset last night.  
This morning we watched another sunrise over the ocean as we sailed up to the first of three way points (longitude & latitude position) to get through the infamous Wide Bay Bar. We motored over it easily and I was so relieved when we set anchor here that I promptly opened a bottle of bubbly to celebrate! 
This afternoon we went swimming and I baked my first loaf of bread. Rene did some work on his laptop and also did some fishing practice. I think I could get used to this....