Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Boat Jobs, Cyclone Preparation and Mango Madness

The list of boat jobs to do for November is slowly being whittled down. 
We finished double hose clamping all of the pipes that lie beneath the waterline inside the boat. I'm enjoying adding to my skills and am actually able to tell the difference between a nut, bolt and washer now (embarrassing for me, but I always used to confuse them!). 
Rene changed the oil in the engine - he managed to keep both the bilges and himself a little cleaner than last time (this job has to be done every 150 engine hours so Rene is getting practice!). I finally completed the application for Australian ship's registration - a lengthy and painstaking process involving about 10 different forms, certified documents and a hefty fee. Now we wait to see if I need to provide any further information before we get to carve our special Australian Rego number into the hull and fly the Aussie flag. This is a big hurdle as it means that we will legally be allowed to sail out of Australian waters now :) I also got the extension lead for our power tested and tagged - a hoop that the marina requires we jump through. And of course, all of the ongoing jobs continue (constant cleaning, rearranging, storing, packing and re-packing, buying and sorting). 

We attended the local cyclone information day at the Strand park. We spoke to as many officials as possible to try and absorb as much information as possible. We have discovered that preparation is key to survival. As we were walking home, we tossed around all manner of different ideas to try and stay safe. We even considered sailing all the way back to Brisbane (an 8 day sail if we don't stop and can average 4 knots) but we like it so much here in Townsville that once again, we have decided to stay. If a severe tropical cyclone does form in the ocean off the North East coast and it coincides with a very high tide, we plan to set off to Hinchinbrook Island to tie up securely in a mangrove creek. If a cyclone is forecast that isn't severe or that coincides with low tides, we will stay here in the marina - very securely tied on! Next year we might move up to Cairns where the mangrove creek is much closer to the marina. As always with cruising, nothing is certain - our plans could change once again and we could end up anywhere! I do like it here though. A gelati cafe has just opened across the park from the marina. The park itself is beautiful - full of massive old tropical trees and a pagoda to shelter from the rain. 

Mangoes here are either ridiculously cheap or free! This week at the markets, I bought a bucket full for $8 - including the bucket! I've been busy brewing up delicious chutneys to give to people for Christmas - all made from locally sourced, scrumptious ingredients!

Again I'm heartened by the sense of community amongst the yachties here in the marina. I've been struck by so many acts of kindness. Most recently, Les and Kath let us borrow their car to go and buy the oil filters we thought we had but didn't, Anna and Oli lent us their charts of Hinchinbrook and shared their years of local knowledge of the area. I've never had such generous, kind and friendly neighbours in all the 10 or so different places I have lived in since leaving home. Thank you!

This weekend we plan to motor/sail up to Hinchinbrook Island to suss out the area for potential cyclone anchorages. We figure it's a sensible idea to check it all out before things get scary (if they do, in fact get scary!). Today I'm gathering together a cyclone survival pack with essentials to take with us if we do have to evacuate the marina, I'm also cleaning out the engine room which hasn't had my organisation/cleaning ever as it is kind of a man's domain. So far I've discovered so many strange bits of machinery, weird oily stuff that stings my hands and storage space I never knew existed! As I write this, the smell of ripening mangoes wafts over me - ahhhh! yum!

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