Category Archives: Westerly Sealord

Camomile’s 30th Birthday refit – week 4 shiny boat

I’ll start this weeks blog with some information requested after last weeks blog was published.

Our new sailbag with our beautiful new sail inside

Our new sailbag with our beautiful new sail inside

We got our mainsail from Phil Auger who is based in Kuah, Langkawi. Malaysian phone no 017 625 4902 Phil came to the boat to measure up and discuss our requirements at Christmas. Our new sail is Marblehead Dacron fully battened with UV proof thread. Phil is very knowledgeable about sails and forwards the requirements to a sail loft in Hong Kong where they are made. When it arrived after 5 weeks we gave Phil our old sail so he could remove the cars and sew them onto the new sail, as there wasn’t any thing wrong with them and new ones are expensive. The cost of the new sail worked out to about £2300, which included the battens.

The sailbag was made by Nasir who’s based on the road to Kuah just outside Matsirat. It’s made of sunbrella material. We gave him our old one and asked him to copy it, which he did beautifully. It cost RM2200 (£400)

First top coat

First top coat

Friday 20th February The 50/50 under/topcoat had been applied on Wednesday and rubbed down yesterday so this morning Bill started the first proper topcoat. He is using International Perfection 2 pack  Mediterranean White that is thinned using International No9 thinners. I kept out of the way in case of problems and went off for my run. When I got back Bill had a big smile on his face and said he was pleased with it; praise indeed.

 

The coachroof before we started

The coachroof before we started

As a result of the successful first topcoat we’ve taken the decision to stay at Rebak and Bill will now paint the topsides too. This is a huge undertaking but as you can see in the photo the coach roof is as bad as the hull and having now started it makes sense to continue. You can also see how worn the Treadmaster has become. The problem we have is our friend Norman, who’s just arrived, has a couple of days spare to help Bill with the removal of the Treadmaster and if we moved the boat there’s a limit to how much of the deck gear could be removed. We couldn’t undertake a 2 day passage with holes in the deck and if we didn’t remove the deck gear Norman wouldn’t be able to help with the removal of the Treadmaster; so you see our dilemma.

Bill and Norman start the scraping

Bill and Norman start the scraping

 

In the afternoon Norman came to help Bill start removing the Treadmaster. After a lot of experimentation with scrapers, solvents, heat guns, multi-tools etc. it really seemed that scraping it laboriously with chisels was the only thing that removed the cork surface leaving the thick epoxy glue to be ground off. All in all, regardless of the extra painting work, this was going to be an extremely difficult and time-consuming job.

 

The work started slowly

The work started slowly

To help with the task, as we weren’t moving now, I was able to remove all the lines off of the deck. The fuel cans needed to be moved too so I tied those to the A-frame, which is looking rather overloaded. Bill also removed the grab handles, which he’s replacing, but this left bolts sticking up from the deck.   Bill carefully attached a nut to the top of each one with a bit of blue masking tape around them so that if anyone sits or stands on them hopefully they won’t do to much damage to themselves.

The A frame loaded up

The A frame loaded up

Wash day again

Wash day again

The dinghy cover is almost finished. To attach it to the dinghy I’m going to use Velcro but first the ‘sticking’ side of the Velcro has to be sewn onto strips of Neoprene, which in due course will need to be glued onto the dinghy. So I spent the rest of the afternoon sewing the strips of Velcro to the neoprene.   On Camomile I am lucky enough to have a fridge and a freezer. The freezer is a Waco unit and continues to work as normal while we are out of the water.   The fridge is a new water-cooled unit that Bill fitted in NZ and unfortunately was protesting about being out of the water without any water to cool it. I have turned it down to stop the unit overheating but it’s protesting too much so I’ve decided to turn it off. In this heat that’s a huge problem but I’ve turned the freezer up so it’s not freezing and have moved some foods in there. It just means I’ll have to shop more often. Wash day again.

Saturday 21st February Bill was up early to give the transom its first coat of Mediterranean white to match the rest of the hull. It can’t be painted on the same day as the rest of the hull because Bill has to start on the port aft quarter first thing moving around the bow and down the starboard side before the sun gets too high. By that time the sun is on the transom and it’s not good to apply the paint in direct sunlight. If Bill painted the transom first he wouldn’t get all the way around, therefore he paints them on alternate days. The rest of the hull had a final very light rub down for the second and final topcoat tomorrow.

More scraping

More scraping

Meanwhile Norman arrived to do more Treadmaster scraping.

I took my bike on the ferry to get some shopping. The shops should be open now after Chinese new year. I decided to cycle to Hegners otherwise know as the Australian shop because they fly goods in from Australia. It’s a good 6kms away but the exercise will do me good. I cycled round the airport perimeter fence and continued along the road to the shops. I was so cross because it was SHUT. I realised I had 20 minutes before the next ferry went so I cycled as fast as I could back again. I did it in 19 ½ minutes and just made the ferry!

Bill clearing the aft deck

Bill clearing the aft deck

In the afternoon Bill started stripping the aft deck, removing the grab handles and covering them with more nuts and blue tape. The dorade vents were also removed and I moved the lines and the aft fuel cans. When it was all cleared I vacuumed the whole deck to clear all the dust from the deck ready for Bill to paint the final topcoat in the morning.   There must be no chance of anything ruining it. There was time for a swim at the end of the afternoon and a meal with Norman and Sara.

Shiny boat

Shiny boat

Sunday 22nd February

In the morning I went for my run as Bill started painting the Final coat. I got back and nervously asked how it was going, “Great” was the reply; music to my ears. Bill was really pleased with the final topcoat; all those hours of preparation and rubbing down have paid off.   We have a shiny boat. Paint dries very quickly here and within a few hours it was dry enough to remove the masking tape. It was very satisfying pulling it off; like peeling wallpaper, we both had a go.

Peeling masking tape

Peeling masking tape

 

 

 

 

It has to be left a week now until we can put the blue vinyl stripe on; that will be fun! If it will load I’ll put a video of our beautiful shiny boat on facebook.

 

 

 

Well done Bill

Well done Bill

 

Norsa coming out of the water

Norsa coming out of the water

 

We went off to the resort to celebrate with a couple of their lovely coffees. When we got back Norsa was just being lifted out of the water, she’s come to visit Camomile having her spa treatment. Norman and Sara are going back to the UK for the summer in a few days. I spent the rest of the day writing and publishing the blog and Bill rubbed down the transom so that could have its final coat tomorrow.

Monday 23rd February

Bill rubbing down the transom again

Bill rubbing down the transom again

First thing in the morning Bill was up to put the final coat on transom but this time he was not happy. I thought it looked ok but Bill said it had fluff in it and there were runs. We went off on the ferry to get one of Mr Dins cars to do shopping but Bill spent most of the day being cross with himself. We did our usual tour of the hardware shops for various bits and did the food shopping. By the time we got back Bill had calmed down and he got straight out to rub the transom down so it could be painted again in the morning.

Removing the yacht leg lugs

Removing the yacht leg lugs

 

At the end of the afternoon Bill removed the lugs for the yachtlegs that will be in the way when we have to apply the stripe.   They put up a bit of resistance so using his club hammer made him feel better. They are chunky old things but then they need to be to hold the boat upright when the yachtlegs are in them.

The yacht leg lugs on the bench

The yacht leg lugs on the bench

Making the holes mozzie proof

Making the holes mozzie proof

 

 

The holes had to be covered with tape to keep the mozzies out until the blue strip goes back on.

 

Tuesday 24th February

Removing the treadmaster

Removing the treadmaster

Final coat on the transom in the morning and this time Bill was happy. Bill started burnishing the copper coat with very fine sandpaper, I washed the dinghy ready to do the gluing first thing in the morning and Norman arrived to do more scraping although he has to work on the bow so that he doesn’t spoil the transom but it’s usually dry within a few hours.   Norman has a saying ‘Don’t sack I boss just give I a bollocking’ but today he was working away and suddenly he said ‘Why don’t you sack I boss!’ Haha, its difficult work and we are grateful for the help he is giving, it’s in return for the jobs Bill has helped Norman with on Norsa. At the end of the day the decks looked like this and it was time for a cold beer while I vacuumed the decks down again.

Beer o'clock

Beer o’clock

19

 

 

Poor Norman was exhausted.

 

 

Wednesday 25th February

The dinghy masked up

The dinghy masked up

It was too damp to start the gluing on the dinghy first thing. The humidity in the day often leaves dew the next morning for an hour or so. Bill moved the dinghy into the sun to dry off and started reassembling the transom starting with the bathing platform. I cut to length and marked the neoprene strips and laid then out ready for gluing.   Before it got too hot Bill started on the dinghy by first masking where the glue was going to go.

Applying glue to the neoprene strips

Applying glue to the neoprene strips

I had everything ready and first handed him the primer which he applied and also to the backs of the strips of Neoprene.

Next the glue had to be mixed with a small quantity of hardener and applied to the dinghy and the neoprene strips and then a second round of glue to the dinghy and strips. I passed the strips to him one by one so he could stick them in place.   We had to work fast because the glue was going off quickly in the heat and the strips were sticking to each other but we did it.

 

The dinghy with glued neoprene strips on

The dinghy with glued neoprene strips on

 

 

Finally the masking was removed. I now have to wait 3 days for it to completely harden before I can finish the cover and use the velcro.

 

Bill working on the Hydrovane

Bill working on the Hydrovane

In the afternoon Bill continued with the transom by refitting the serviced Hydrovane and Norman started sanding with the big grinder but he still wants to be sacked!

At the end of the day the finished shiny transom looked like this; just needs her name reapplied now.

The finished transom

The finished transom

Sharpening chisels

Sharpening chisels

 

We try to be self-sufficient as much as we can and this is Bill regrinding the chisels, he has also made his own cutters because they are so specialised that no-one makes them.

Thursday 26th February

Camomile's pedicure

Camomile’s pedicure

 

I gave Camomile a pedicure after we had scraped her toes on the coral last year (I anti-fouled the keel!) Nice shade of black. It had 4 coats in all during the day.

 

Finished result

Finished result

 

Cutting the rubbing strake

Cutting the rubbing strake

Bill started on woodwork by removing a section along the top of the rubbing strake. The rubbing strake can’t be removed because it forms part of the bond between the deck and the hull and the nuts inside are glassed over and inaccessible but Bill intends to skim it top and bottom and clad it in new wood; a bit like a crown on a tooth.   He makes a cut all along the top of the rubbing strake.

The top of the rubbing strake cut off

The top of the rubbing strake cut off

 

 

 

Then it’s lifted off.

 

 

The new top and sides of the rubbing strake

The new top and sides of the rubbing strake

 

 

These are the new tops and sides jointed and glued drying. Unfortunately they turned out too weak to lift so Bill is going to glue them in place in sections. We bought the wood in Thailand; it’s Burmese quarter sawn teak. Bill took his cutting list to several wood yards and agreed to buy what he needed from a supplier near Yacht Haven in Phuket. The guy called James allowed Bill to pick his pieces and let him have a carpenter for the day to help him saw and plane it to size. We have enough wood to replace the rubbing strake, the toe rails, all the grab handles, all of the new cockpit planking, a seat by the steering wheel, a dolphin seat and a couple of other pieces. The wood, planned with the use of the carpenter for the day, cost just over a thousand pounds. I dread to think how much it would have cost to buy the pieces ready made.

We had a farewell meal with Norman and Sara in the evening.

Friday 27th February

Bill's invention

Bill’s invention

Bill made this routing guide to fit onto his angle grinder to true up the sides of the rubbing strake to set it up for bonding later.

This is it in action. It was very efficient.

 

Bill's invention in action

Bill’s invention in action

 

Norman's handiwork

Norman’s handiwork

 

Norman wanted to do a couple of hours sanding before he left. This is the aft deck after he finished with it. Bill has still got to do quite a bit but Norman’s help has made a good start.

 

Norman and Sara leaving on Ariel

Norman and Sara leaving on Ariel

At 2pm we cycled down to A pontoon to say goodbye to Norman and Sara. They were leaving with Susie and Rex on board Ariel bound for Panang then onto the UK on Wednesday. Poor Norsa up on the side behind them looked on sadly to see them leave in the lovely Ariel. After they left I cycled to the other side of the island to see them motor out into the sea.

36Goodbye Norman and Sara see you at the end of the year sometime.

Camomile’s 30th birthday refit – week 1

Panoramic shot of Rebak marina

Panoramic shot of Rebak marina

Bill has been planning Camomile’s refit for over a year now. The treadmaster on the deck has become badly worn, the woodwork is gradually eroding, the hull has become stained and yellowing and the mainsail has become weakened and torn by heavy duty and UV damage. As she will be 30 years old this year and with the miles we’ve travelled she’s in need of a face-lift.   I did an assessment of the marina prices before Christmas and, despite everyone saying Thailand is cheap, it was going to be cheaper in Malaysia. The two options were Rebak marina or Pangkor marina further south. They both had lifting facilities but also both had their pros and cons. The biggest pro for Rebak for me was that it has proper showers, washing machines and a pool to cool down in after a hot day working on the boat, the con is that the internet signal is weak and it’s based on an island so everything had to be on board or brought over on the ferry.   Pangkor pros were that it has a reasonable internet signal, Joe had given us a competitive quote to do the deck painting and good shops nearby but the biggest con is that there are no proper showers and only men’s toilets that the yard boys use. Call me a princess but I choose Rebak for our haul out!

A beautiful beach in Thailand

A beautiful beach in Thailand

 

 

So after leaving Thailand early on 30th January (I’m hoping to write a blog on our adventures in Thailand soon) we motored all day and arrived back in Kuah, on the island of Langkawi, Malaysia at 9pm ready to check-in the next morning. Our last week in Thailand had felt like a holiday and now we were back home (?) to get on with some work.

 

 

 

 

Saturday 31st February

Camomile ready to be lifted

Camomile ready to be lifted

There were a couple of errands to do after we checked in (so easy in Malaysia). Bill bought a length of studding for taking out the rudder and after taking our mainsail off it was taken into Phil the sailmaker in Kuah to see whether or not it was beyond repair as a back-up; our new one was due to arrive within the week. We then motored round to Rebak tying to the pontoon at 7pm.

Diver adjusting strops

Diver adjusting strops

 

 

Sunday 1st February was lifting day.   First on the list Bill backed Camomile onto the lifting jetty while the yard boys tied up our lines.  We’ve found in the past they always take such care when lifting boats on this side of the world and Rebak was no exception. A diver was sent down to position the strops maybe they don’t do that in the UK because he would need a full wet suit on.

 

 

Camomile slowly coming up

Camomile slowly coming up

 

 

Once every thing was in place Camomile slowly raised up out of the water. I always feel a bit emotional watching her come out; she looks like a fish out of water.

 

Shovelling barnacles

Shovelling barnacles

 

 

Straight away we could see how mucky her hull was. The Cuprotect is still working fairly well because there wasn’t any serious weed growth just the usual layer of slime and loads of barnacles which the yard boys starting shovelling off straight away. The travel lift wheeled Camomile into the pressure wash area for her ‘bath’.

In need of a bath

In need of a bath

Bill dismantling the rudder shaft

Bill dismantling the rudder shaft

 

Meanwhile Bill took our mattress out and rolled the bed up so he could take off the front of the cupboard to start releasing the rudder. The studding Bill had bought was passed through a wooden block and screwed into the rudder shaft to stop it suddenly dropping out.   Bill released all the bolts that held it in position.

Our view across the bow

Our view across the bow

 

After about an hour Camomile had had her pressure wash and was wheeled into her new position. We’ve got a nice view of the marina across her bow and the jungle from her stern.

 

The forklift was ready

The forklift was ready

 

The yard boys brought the forklift in ready to take the rudder out but Camomile was objecting to her ‘colonic irrigation’ and wasn’t going to release the rudder easily.

12

The rudder slowly releases

 

Bill unscrewed the studding and the boys were jiggling from the bottom but still it wouldn’t move. Bill started hammering on the top of the shaft with the old Hydrovane shaft but it wasn’t having it. There must be something else holding it. Bill did the studding up again to stop it accidentally falling out and did a further check inside the cupboard and discovered a keyway had become fouled. Once cleared and with the rudder resting on the forklift the studding was slowly released to allow the rudder to gently slip down.

 

The rudder was carefully lowered

The rudder was carefully lowered

Putting the cradle into place

Putting the cradle into place

Once the forklift prongs were on the floor Camomile was lifted higher in the strops and it was out. Finally the boys could get on with their job of fitting Camomile into the cradle that would hold her steady for the next 4 or 5 weeks.

 

Releasing the strops

Releasing the strops

Taking the boat lift out

Taking the boat lift out

 

 

The strops were dropped and the boatlift pulled away leaving Camomile comfortable in her new bed.

 

 

Scratches on the keel

Scratches on the keel

 

The first thing we noticed were the scratches across the front of the keel from sitting on the reef in Indonesia. No damage but it would need some sanding.

 

 

Looking up into the rudder housing

Looking up into the rudder housing

 

 

This photo is looking up into the hole the rudder came out of. The bearing will need to come out and it all looks a bit worn.

 

 

Working on the propeller

Working on the propeller

 

 

While I disappeared off to the laundry Bill started scrubbing the propeller with a rotary wire brush and by the time I got back it was nice and shiny Apparently he had found a live oyster growing on the prop.

 

The rope cutter behind the prop

The rope cutter behind the prop

 

 

The prop holds the rope cutter in place, which is our silent friend. We never know whether its done its job or not but we’ve only ever been caught in one net so it obviously does. Bill loves to tell the story that I bought him a stripper for his 40th birthday and it usually raises a few eyebrows until he tells the full story.

 

His puller kit laid out on the rudder

His puller kit laid out on the rudder

 

Bill got his ‘puller’ kit out and removed the prop without too much trouble; the rope cutter decided to be more difficult.   The reason the rudder has been removed is partly to replace the bearings but also to get the prop shaft out.

Cleaning up the P bracket

Cleaning up the P bracket

 

 

After Bill detached it from the engine it came out without too much trouble and Bill was able to clean up the P bracket – which he also managed to bang his head on giving himself a nasty gash on the head and renaming it ‘the complete and utter bastard bracket’.

Bill's first injury

Bill’s first injury

A bare rear end

A bare rear end

 

 

So her rear end looks a bit bare now without a rudder or a prop shaft.

 

 

Removing cutter

Removing cutter

A grovvy prop shaft

A grovvy prop shaft

 

 

Bill set about removing the cutter from the prop shaft, which took another hour. Time flies when you’re having fun.

And this is why it needed removing. The stuffing box packing has worn a grove, which has been causing bad leaks in the engine bay. We intend taking it to a local machine shop to get a new one made.

 

 

Cutlass bearing inside the P bracket

Cutlass bearing inside the P bracket

 

 

Inside the P bracket is the cutlass bearing, which also needs to come out and be replaced.

 

Bill's cutlass removing 'tool'

Bill’s cutlass removing ‘tool’

The cutlass bearing is extracted

The cutlass bearing is extracted

 

Bill, of course, had made an invention to remove it. As you can imagine the P bracket unattached to any thing is fairly delicate and the last thing you can do to it is whack it with a hammer, tempting though it may be.

The cutlass bearing out with a final tug

The cutlass bearing out with a final tug

So Bill put together a series of metal tubes with the studding through the middle which when tightened with the clip on spanners gently pulled the smaller tube into the P bracket pushing the cutlass bearing out with it.   I’ve suddenly realised all this detail is way too boring but some people might find it useful. That was the end of our first day out of the water. In the evening we sat down to a nice lamb curry that I had made. Our bed was still upside down so we had to sleep in the forepeak.

 

Monday 2nd February

The 'before' picture of the transom

The ‘before’ picture of the transom

This is a view of the transom before we started.   As you can see the paintwork isn’t in bad condition but all the metal fittings need a through clean and the wood of the bathing platform has gone all green and black. As the transom has always been painted it will need to be painted again so everything has to be removed.

Bill removing bolts from the inside

Bill removing bolts from the inside

 

 

 

This had Bill back in our cabin removing all the bolts from the inside.

 

 

100s and 100s of barnacles

100s and 100s of barnacles

 

Meanwhile I haven’t been sitting around without anything to do. When Camomile was pressure washed it took all the slime off but left the bases of lots of barnacles that needed to be removed. Not sure if you can see the little white dots in the photo because they are quite small but some of them were stuck fast and needed quite a bit of scrapping. I felt that was something I could do so over the space of several days, in between the washing, cooking, washing up and generally trying to keep things tidy I took every one off with a little scraper and the hull went from this….

All gone

All gone

 

 

 

… to this.

 

 

 

Matching shorts and crocs

Matching shorts and crocs

 

 

Bill said to point out that I still managed to find some old shorts to match my crocs!

 

 

The forepeak has become Bill's store cupboard

The forepeak has become Bill’s store cupboard

 

Inside our bed is back in place and the forepeak bed has now been lifted to store all Bill’s pots and potions. All of this is supposed to be kept cool but with 32C outside and 80% humidity it’s a bit difficult. Luckily we’ve got the air conditioning unit going. This job would be so difficult without somewhere cool to retreat to at the end of the day.

 

Tuesday 3rd February

The ferry across to the Langkawi

The ferry across to the Langkawi

We needed to take the prop shaft and rudder bearings to the machine shop on the main island so we joined the 8.45 ferry, which takes about 10minutes, and hired one of Mr Din’s cars. The advert says “ALWAYS starts, usually no fuel, no insurance, cash only 40RM” (£8) and that’s exactly what you get. Our one also had air con and the doors locked! (We’ve had one before that didn’t, neither did the speedo work but as they don’t do more than 40mph it doesn’t matter.) Forgot to take a photo, I’ll take one next time.

Chinese father and son in machine shop

Chinese father and son in machine shop

We drove to the little machine shop we found at Christmas time and showed the father and son our prop shaft. Bill had made a drawing of what he wanted and took it with him. The son speaks a bit of English but the father very little.   There were lots of smiles and ‘can do can do’ which was encouraging. “New year, new year” meaning after the chinese new year wasn’t quite so but he has a lathe and he makes all the prop shafts for the local ferries so fingers crossed. We also gave him our lump of POM bought in Thailand to remake our rudder bearings “can do can do” along with big smiles so here’s hoping. I’ll let you know if we ever see either of them again! We carried on into town to the International shop to buy the paint for the transom, one of the few things we hadn’t bought in Thailand. After lunch we headed back to the ferry, left the car in the car park with the keys in it (NO ONE is going to steal it) and back to the boat.

Removing Camomile's name

Removing Camomile’s name

In the afternoon Bill started removing the lettering with a heat gun and rubbed the transom down. Camomile is now completely anonymous because the sail bag with her name on it was removed at Christmas to be remade. She’s going to look so posh at the end of this refit.   I carried on with my scrapping.

 

All bare and rubbed down

All bare and rubbed down

 

At the end of the day the transom looked like this ready for painting. The rubbing strake was new in 2008 so won’t need replacing. Bill has rubbed it down ready for oiling with the rest.

 

Cycling to the pool

Cycling to the pool

As I said at the beginning of this blog Rebak has a pool. This is our third day here but we haven’t visited it yet. So after we’d finished our work we cycled over to the other side of the island for a well-earned dip in the pool.

Into the resort

Into the resort

A rare photo of Bill relaxing

A rare photo of Bill relaxing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 4th February

First coat on the transom

First coat on the transom

 

Bill was up early before the sun got too hot to put the first coat of paint on the transom.

 

 

 

Barnacle removing from the rudder

Barnacle removing from the rudder

After my run (walking jog) and more washing in the machine I carried on with my scrapping, this time on the removed rudder.   So as well as router and navigator, chief cook and bottle washer I’m now an expert barnacle scraper with sweat dripping off the end of my nose like a dew drop, at least it’s not a cold dew drop.   One of the odd things that happen here is that the hotel does tours of the boat yard so every now and then a golf buggy carrying photo clicking tourists comes by taking pictures of us all – bizarre.

Removing the gold strip

Removing the gold strip

After painting Bill moved onto removing the gold strip and rubbing down the blue cove line. Again we’ve got new ones of these. He has to keep changing sides because in the tropics it’s important to work on the shady side of the boat unlike in the UK he used to work in the sun to keep warm.

Rubbing down blue strip

Rubbing down blue strip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cleaning the hull with oxalic acid

Cleaning the hull with oxalic acid

Thursday 5th February

Bill gave the transom a second coat of paint and finished off sanding the blue cove line before spraying down the topsides with oxalic acid. This was time consuming because each section had to rinsed before continuing to the next.

The reconditioned bathing platform

The reconditioned bathing platform

 

 

In between jobs Bill has been rubbing down all the pieces that came off the transom. This is the bathing platform hardly recognisable with all it’s green slats rubbed down. I finished scrapping the hull and washed down where the boatlift straps had been as the pressure washer missed them.

 

 

 

Ready for chatting

Ready for chatting

My next task is to clean all the metal work from the transom with metal polish. It’s a nice job because I get to sit in the shade and chatting to everyone who comes by. Another swim in the pool at the end of the day.

Friday 6th February

The end of the week here. Fridays are the Malaysian Sundays. All the shops are shut on the main island, the yard boys don’t work on a Friday and all the men go to the mosques to pray. It’s also the day the little Chinese man sets up his fruit and veg stall on the Langkawi side of the ferry dock. After my early morning run I joined a group of yachties on the 8.45 ferry to go and see what he had. All the fruit and veggies were really fresh plus he had some frozen salmon and chicken in polystyrene boxes and Easi-yo yoghurt mixes, which are really difficult to get here. I came back all happy to find Bill despairing back on the boat. The hull won’t cut.

We went over to the resort to sit down and have a coffee and talk over our options.   Apparently while I had been out he had rubbed down a section of the hull and tried cleaning it with the aggressive rubbing compound we had bought but it wasn’t cleaning up. There are white blotches on the hull from past repair work and they show up against the yellowing of the original hull. Bill had hoped to clean up the yellow patches to bring them closer to the colour of the repairs but it wasn’t working, he said he had been dreading starting this stage because it was make or break time.   Do we go to the expense of repainting the hull or do we leave it as it is?

Camomile on the Mend week 2

Monday 19th we took a taxi to the JB area to get some fibreglass. We had been given an address, which we gave to the taxi driver. He dropped us in the middle of an industrial area with the comment ‘will you be ok?’ which was a bit unnerving but everything was fine.   We stepped through the gates of the fibreglass company to be faced with half a dozen barking dogs that were quickly pushed to one side and we were ushered inside. Two odd chairs were placed in front of a very elderly Chinese man who spoke fairly good English and whose sons produced what Bill was looking for at a fraction of the price he had expected to pay. The entire time we were sitting there we were scratching our legs, I think it was mossies and sandflies biting us although I’m not sure but I was really glad to get out of there. The fibreglass would not be allowed onto the boat until it was fumigated.   We walked to the bus stop pointed out by the son but as the neighbourhood felt more like Beirut than Malaysia we decided to take the taxi into town that was sitting there instead.

Radios are more complicated these days

Radios are more complicated these days

Our next stop was the big mall that sold electronics to see if we could replace the TV or the music radio but all they sold were computers. No one had even heard of a 12v television. We got in the taxi to come home and I pointed to his car radio and asked him if he knew where to get one from, despite the language barrier he seemed to understand what we were after and whisked us off to a car accessory shop which sold just what we wanted. The taxi driver even managed to negotiate a further MYR50 off (about £10) before taking us back to the boat and receiving a good tip, it really pays to get help.

Posh new radio with bluetooth

Posh new radio with bluetooth

 

 

 

Bill spent the afternoon fitting the radio even though all the wiring looked very complicated. At least we don’t sit in silence now.

 

 

It needed a large hammer to bash it into shape

It needed a large hammer to bash it into shape

These were added to a wooden frame

These were added to a wooden frame

 

 

 

The next day Bill started working on a mystery object.

Any ideas?

 

 

 

2d

 

Covered in a layer of fibre glass

Covered in a layer of fibre glass

 

 

Wednesday 21st we were ready to accept Aquila’s quote and pay over a sizable amount of money for the supply of all the new instruments. The easiest way to do this was to go to their offices in Singapore. In the morning we took a taxi to downtown JB and joined the throng on their way to Singapore on the bus, stopping to get 2 stamps in our passports on the way. We had a good day in Singapore apart from visa putting a stop on our Nationwide credit card. We discovered this after 2 phone calls to Nationwide, several calls to Aquila’s CC company and having to wait for the visa offices to open at 8am UK time (3pm Singapore time) all of which took no less than 3 hours. Eventually they released OUR money and the order was processed so now we wait for delivery in about a week.

We got this into 2 backpacks plus the head unit

Meanwhile they had an SSB radio set in stock so we bought it

but another 2 stamps in our passports.

 

 

 

Our old faithful SSB set

Our old faithful SSB set

Our posh new one

Our posh new one

 

Our old faithful but unusable SSB set was removed the next day and Bill rewired and fitted all the parts for the new one over the next 2 days. All we have to do now is work out how to programme it!

 

 

 

I try to do what I can to help, I pass tools to him like an operation theatre assistant, and tidy up behind him, along with finding things like his glasses, screwdrivers, etc that he’s always putting down and forgetting where.   It’s nice to be based in the same place for a while because I’ve been able to catch up with washing, stocking up the boat and getting on with my writing. We tend to eat on board so I support Bill with cooking nice meals and of course making numerous cups of tea and coffee.

Beautiful pool at Ledang

Beautiful pool at Ledang

 

 

Friday morning I joined Jackie of Hokele’a at the lovely gym that’s 5 minutes drive away while leaving Bill to carry on with jobs. It might seem a bit mean but I think he likes a bit of peace.

Arriving safely in Kupang

Our position at 9.00 Tuesday 30th July

10º 09.6 south

123º 34.2 east

Kupang harbour

 

A rickety Indonesian fishing boat

A rickety Indonesian fishing boat

Our 4th day at sea had seen some wind and we sailed with the twizzle rig up all day.  Now we had a dilemma because as the passage had been slow our predicted time of arrival was going to be after dark.  We could motor, but probably still wouldn’t get there in time, or we could slow the boat down.  We opted for the latter.  I hate doing that, it seemed crazy to slow ourselves down but the approach to Kupang is through a fairly narrow channel and travelling through after dark would be difficult.  We were 20 miles from the entrance at 22.00 with 5 other boats around us.  After communicating on the vhf radio we all decided to hove-to for the night.  We didn’t have the main up so we just winced the gennies in and let the boat drift.  We were still travelling at 1½ kts towards the entrance.  Bill had 4 hours sleep then let a bit more sail out.  At 6am we proceeded into the channel.  There were lots of fishing boats on their way back in with their catch plus lobster pot buoys everywhere so I think we had made a wise decision.

Our first sight of Indonesians was in a fishing boat coming towards us on its way out of the channel to go fishing.  It looked very rickety with a tatty sail; I don’t think I would have liked to sail in it.

The Kupang fishing fleet

The Kupang fishing fleet

 

 

This is the local fishing fleet a little way away from Kupang.

 

 

 

 

 

Bill hoisting the Indonesian courtesy flag plus the 'Q' flag

Bill hoisting the Indonesian courtesy flag plus the ‘Q’ flag

 

 

When we arrived Bill hoisted our Indonesian courtesy flag along with our yellow ‘Q’ flag to await the customs.  During the day the last of the fleet arrived, mostly under their own steam.

 

 

Tiare Tiporo III being brought in by the dinghies

Tiare Tiporo III being brought in by the dinghies

 

This boat’s engine had broken down on the third day and they had sailed with whatever wind they could find.  When they arrived at the anchorage I put a call out on the net to ask for dinghies to help tow them in the last bit.  The camaraderie of the rally is starting to show.

Heading north through Mooloolaba and Fraser Island

The entrance to Mooloolaba harbour

The entrance to Mooloolaba harbour

The first week in April brought strong winds that delayed our departure from Moreton bay until Saturday 6th April when we were able to sail to Mooloolaba, I love that name.  We spent the weekend anchored in the harbour.  Monday morning we contacted the marina and got a berth for 2 nights.  It was great to use the showers, washing machines, etc.  The marina was also close to a huge shopping mall so we were able to restock the boat. Lawries boat services was next door to the marina and after talking to Kieran the manager, we arranged for Camomile to be lifted at 3pm and held in the slings overnight on the Tuesday.  While Bill jet washed the hull I scrapped the little barnacles off.  Bill scraped and greased the prop and also managed to get a coat of antifoul on the keel.  The hull still has the Cuprotec coating, which seems to be holding up although Bill has had to repair it in places.  We don’t have any photos because we had to work quickly before it got dark plus it rained most of the time we were out. Kieran arrived at 7.30 in the morning to put us back in the water for our second night in the marina. More rain.

Bill found another tool box

Bill found another tool box

Thursday 11th we went back to anchor out in the harbour to find our friends Dave and Jacqui on Jackster had arrived.  It was great to catch up.  They were interested in hearing about the storm as Jacqui had been a tower of strength texting me throughout our ‘ordeal’.  With more rain falling we took the bus to Maroochydore, another lovely name, for a mooch around the shops and Bill found another big toolbox, this one had a beer fridge!!

Looking down on the beautiful beach from Point cartwright

Looking down on the beautiful beach from Point cartwright

There were strong winds blowing all week but on Sunday evening it was forecast to drop so, after a fantastic walk along the beach in the afternoon, we motored out of the harbour at 9pm with Raven I and Far Star for an overnight sail to Fraser Island.  It was an uneventful passage, we managed a couple of hours sailing before the wind died completely.  It’s been such a problem travelling up this coast, there’s too much wind for 6 or 7 days then it drops completely for a day or two before building up again.  We have to watch the forecast constantly and as soon as there’s a weather window drop everything and go.

The entrance to the Sandy straights leading to Fraser island has a notorious bar across it called the wide bay bar.  To avoid it would mean a 24hr passage at least around Fraser island so we called the VMR to check the condition at 9am.  They were reporting rough conditions but no breaking waves so, after taking the entry waypoints from them, decided to cross it.  The bar itself was fine, although we had 3 metre waves around us; the worse bit was travelling along the inside of it.  As it’s name suggests it’s a wide bar and it’s very important not to cut the corner off and we followed the waypoints the VMR had given us but there were hugh waves breaking across the shallow part of the bar making the passage feel like we were in a washing machine.  It took half an hour to reach the calmer water inside when I was able to radio back to Far Star and Raven to let them know what it was like.  As they are both single handers they were brave to come over but we all survived and proceeded to motor up the Sandy Straits to Garys Anchorage.  There wasn’t a breath of wind there but unfortunately it enabled the dreaded sand flies to fly out to the boat and Bill and I were badly bitten overnight.

The pool at Kingfisher resort

The pool at Kingfisher resort

The next day, Tuesday 16th, we motored up the Sandy Straights to Kingfisher resort, a favourite of ours with its yachtie friendly facilities of a pool, shower and nice café that sells delicious lunches.  We stayed there for 3 days waiting for the start of the wind to take us north to our first island in the Barrier reef.

Camomile’s new friend, Rocco

Camomile ready to go

Camomile ready to go

We were weather watching once again and, this time, I wanted something like perfect sailing conditions to restore our confidence on this first passage since our force 10 trashing. I was confident in Camomile as she is a tough old bird and all her hardware, with the exception of the dinghy and outboard had been brought back up to scratch. It was the human-ware which needed to get back in the saddle to repair the psychological dents and scratches.

 

Looking over the harbour wall to see what the conditions were like - no, not going yet!

Looking over the harbour wall to see what the conditions were like – no, not going yet!

Monday the 4th March brought the kind of windy conditions we would have normally contemplated at a push but it was not right for this occasion. Tuesday was less windy but the swell was still large and so it was Wednesday before we finally bade the nice folks at Coffs g’day, thanked them for all their support, especially Graham for the loan of his car,  and headed north on the 166 mile passage to Southport. Sue was so so brave and pretended not to be apprehensive but after a few hours of rolling around and being pressed back by the adverse current her butterflies got the better of her when both breakfast and lunch made reappearance on the lee deck. (sick with fear more like. S)

The high rises of Surfers Paradise

The high rises of Surfers Paradise

 

Motoring at first with the single reefed main up for stability the southerly wind eventually struck up and after one false start we were able to twizzle the two genoas, finally starting to make some headway against the current which must have been running at more than two knots plus.  We passed Byron Bay, the most easterly cape in Australia, and pressed on back into Queensland.

I was apprehensive on the approach to the Goldcoast Seaway as it is not far from a place called Surfers Paradise and, like most entrances hereabouts, is shallow. This might make it a paradise for surfers but it can also make it Yottie Hell in onshore conditions.

All was well though and we dropped our hook in the quiet, shallow Broadwater protected from the sea by its massive sand bank.

Camomile dinghy-less

Camomile dinghy-less

The following morning it was back to business and we headed up the Coomera River to the City Marina where several of the local dinghy suppliers were based. I was particularly interested in a Sirocco ex display model which was heavily discounted as it had some marks on it. Perfect! Arriving at the showroom though I was devastated to be told it had just been sold. We spent the rest of the morning looking around other suppliers but it was really starting to seem that the new tender was going to cost well above the insurance cover.

 

 

 

 

Beautiful riverside house

Beautiful riverside house

Returning down the river to the anchorage at Broadwater we admired the multimillion houses lining one side of the river which came in all possible styles and sizes with swimming pools, moorings at the bottom of the garden and, a little strangely we thought, meshing around the balconies which we assumed was to keep the sun from the fair skin of the Aussie elite who occupied these palaces.

Some of them were unreal

Some of them were unreal

 

Most with pontoons at the bottom of the garden

Most with pontoons at the bottom of the garden

Sitting back at the anchorage on Saturday afternoon and back on the internet I was surprised to see the dinghy I liked had been re-listed and thinking this was a mistake phoned up to ask “is it sold or not?”. I was elated to hear that the sale of earlier that day had fallen through so arranged to meet at the shop the following morning. We hauled up the anchor straight away and hotfooted it back up the river arriving at the marina just before dark.

As I was securing to a mooring buoy though I suddenly noticed that I was surrounded by a fine buzzing noise. I looked straight up in case I was under a power line (not good when you have a mast) but there was no sign. I peered out into the gathering gloom and saw that I was surrounded by the biggest mosquitoes I have ever seen. Suddenly the mesh around all the houses balconies made sense and we went into MosCon 5 locking down the boat and setting out on an extermination spree down below where some intruders had already penetrated. They were the size of sparrows, fair dinkum!

Shaun and Bill unloading the dinghy

Shaun and Bill unloading the dinghy

The following morning we put Camomile alongside and went off to find her new tender.

 

 

 

 

 

Launching the dinghy

Launching the dinghy

 

Mission accomplished

Mission accomplished

Shaun was quick and efficient so within an hour we were back with a shiny new inflatable which was duly introduced to Camomile and they were both told to “play nicely” Guess who?

 

 

 

 

 

Bill with the new dinghy that's going to be called Rocco and is a boy.

Bill with the new dinghy that’s going to be called Rocco and is a boy.

Sue had the first sit in Rocco

Sue had the first sit in Rocco

 

 

 

 

 

And guess who had to have the first go in him too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocco on Camomile's stern

Rocco on Camomile’s stern

So with the dinghy davited, again we motored back down the river to the anchorage.  We could now get ashore and it was great to be mobile again as we rowed to the beach that evening.  We walked across the sandy spit by the Broadwater to walk along the beach where the surf pounded the shallow approaches.

 

 

Mike delivering the new 15hp Yamaha

Mike delivering the new 15hp Yamaha

Rowing is all right but it is overrated when you need to travel a proper distance so it was anchor up the next day and into Runaway Bay marina where we could unload the bikes and cycle to the outboard suppliers.  After cycling more miles around Labrador than our bottoms are used to and some thorough interrogation of the local suppliers we became the proud owners of another outboard motor which was duly delivered to Runaway Bay Marina the following morning.

SONY DSC

Wahoo!

Wahoo!

 

 

My turn to play wahoo! The boys are really going to enjoy having a go with this one too.

 

 

 

 

Camomile was finally complete again so we were all set to make our way up to Brisbane where we were planning a family reunion with my sister Kate and family and our Aussie cousins.

Mission accomplished.

Camomile in storm force 10

Camomile on the wharf at Port Stephens

Camomile on the wharf at Port Stephens

We left Nelson bay on the southern coast of Port Stephens 06.00 Thursday 21st for a day sail to Camden 81 miles north.  The early morning forecast was for a southeasterly 10 – 15kts with a 1-metre swell.  There was increased wind forecast to arrive much further north the following evening and heavy airs the day after that giving us between 36 and 48 hours to do a 12-hour passage.  We had been in Port Stephens for 10 days and it was time to move north towards our rendezvous with my sister Kate and her family who were to fly to Brisbane on 14th March.

We hoisted full sails motoring for an hour to the entrance and after rounding the headland we turned off the engine and sailed gently on at 3 – 4kts gradually picking up more wind from the south east.  At 10.00 we rounded Sugarloaf Point, the wind perked up to about 18kts and we were zipping along nicely, we would easily reach Camden by 5 or 6pm.

After all that time sitting gently at anchor, the short chop made Sue a little queasy so she retreated below for a short snooze. All was well.

At 14.00 we were off of Cape Hawke and the wind had picked up to 22kts so we put the first reef in the main and rolled away some of genoa.

Passing Crowdy head at 17.00 we were greeted by a wonderful display of dolphins.  They were swimming from right to left and seemed to be pointing to Crowdy head harbour; did they know something we didn’t?  The wind was still south easterly and blowing 20 – 25kts, well within our comfort zone but up on the forecast.

Camden came into view at 18.30 but the last hour had seen a rapidly rising swell from a metre to well over 2 metres which gave me a concern for entry over the bar. We furled the genoa away and fired up the engine ready for our final approach.  To quote from ‘Cruising the New South Wales Coast’ pilot book “Camden Haven is a breakwater harbour between Forster and Port Macquarie.  Its bar enjoys good protection from southeast swells under the lee of Point Perpendicular.”

As we approached shallow water the swell kicked higher but, looking ahead at the entrance I was appalled to see a wall of white water breaking heavily right across the bar. I took her as far as the 4metre contour but realised that the conditions were dangerous so aborted our approach and turned back into deep water.

Now what? The strengthening southerly ruled out a return to Port Stevens so we called the VMR (voluntary marine rescue – a cross between the coastguard and the RNLI) on the vhf. They confirmed my feeling about the entrance and suggested we try Port Macquarie or, failing that, the deeper Coffs Harbour. An hour later we called the VMR at Port Macquarie and they confirmed their entrance was also treacherous leaving us no option but to continue overnight to either Trial bay, which faces north and would give us some protection from the southerlies, or Coffs harbour, 80 miles distant.  We were now getting 25kt winds from the south east with 30kt gusts and a rising easterly swell making things very uncomfortable. Needless to say the forecast had changed beyond all recognition now but, as we put a second reef in before dark, alarmingly the VMR were now forecasting strong wind warnings coming much earlier than predicted all the way up the coast. The weather system was accelerating well beyond expectations. Our passage window had all but closed so now we had to make best speed and find what shelter we could.

We were in for a busy night but Sue found a chilli in the freezer and managed to heat it up for dinner despite the rapidly deteriorating conditions.  Unfortunately she took one mouthful and promptly brought it back along with her lunch. She then decided she felt better, ate the rest of it and kept it down!

It was a difficult overnight passage because the swell had now gone round to the east and was slapping us sideways making sleep almost impossible as the sails and the steering needed constant attention. The Hydrovane wasn’t coping with these conditions well on its own so I engaged the electric autopilot as well and between them they kept our course more steady. By 22.00 the winds were 30kts with 35kt gusts.  After good early progress we had  also found the south flowing East Australia current which, having given us several knots of speed on the way down, was now pushing hard against us as we clawed our way north through occasional but intense squalls and lashing rain.

After an arduous night with very little sleep we had progressed slowly up the coast.  At 06.00 we had travelled 130 miles in 24 hours and tried calling the VMR at Trial bay.  They reported that there was some shelter in the southern corner of the bay but the bar across the river was impassable as expected.  We considered anchoring for a few hours to get some sleep but the weather was clearly deteriorating and they were forecasting that the wind was going back to north which would put the Trial Bay anchorage on a dangerous lee shore.

It was a harsh knock to hear the storm warning called. By 09.00 we were getting full gale force wind of 35 to 40kt with 45kts gusts in heavy squalls.  We were also now able to hear Coffs harbour VMR on the radio, called in our position and said we were battling towards them.  The officer on watch gave us the grave news that Coffs Harbour like all ports within 100 miles were closed due to the conditions and approaching storm. We were later told it’s only been closed 3 times in the last 20 years.

The trap was sprung. We were alone in foul conditions, on a lee shore with no where to go.  We put the third reef in the main and hove to under a scrap of genoa trying to get some rest before we were hit by the full force of the weather.

I lay down on the saloon sole and Sue wedged herself on the leeward saloon berth but it was impossible; like sleeping in a washing machine.  By now the swells were 4 metres and we were being buffeted by rogue waves.

We couldn’t go back against the wind, the weather was coming from the north so we didn’t want to go further, the swell was coming from the east and to the west was a lee shore.

The boat was coping ok at that point but then I noticed that the top car on the main sail had broken away from the sail.  We had to motor head to wind to get the sail down so I could try to repair it. We raised the sail again but half an hour later it had broken again and was flapping wildly promising to break free altogether.  After turning into the wind again a big gust whipped it badly and it started tearing.  We fought it down and lashed it firmly to the boom so it couldn’t do any more damage to the stack pack which had been ripped by the flailing main.

We were sitting ducks without the mainsail so oriented the boat northeast to close with Coffs and get some more sea-room with just a scrap of genoa and trailing a drogue to keep us from broaching on the waves.  Unfortunately the waves were now coming at all angles so we were still getting green water over the decks and one rogue wave came  over the starboard quarter knocking us down, at the same time water poured over the side and down the hatch flooding onto the navigation table.  Sue quickly grabbed towels and started mopping but there was water every where.  All our charts for the next part of our trip to SE Asia were in the chart table and Sue lifted them out quickly laying them on the fore peak bunk to dry out. Water had got into the electrics and the wifi dongle was swimming so that was unlikely to work again.

Later, Sue was sitting up in the cockpit keeping watch when another breaking wave hit the side of the boat and poured into the cockpit again.  This one ripped the spray hood and the weight of the water bent the davit leaving the dinghy hanging perilously half in and half out of the water. We were to have a further 2 knockdowns during the next 24 hours with spreaders in the water and solid green water sluicing over our cockpit combing.

I rushed to the aft deck to try and do something to save the dinghy but it was too late.  I considered towing it on a long line but realised that the last thing I needed now was a rope around the prop so I got my knife and cut it loose.  I think that was the worse moment for me as we watched our dear little dinghy with Sue’s homemade cover and clever beaching wheels float forlornly away into the chaos. I was sure I would never see her again.

The waves were now up to 10 meters high, the wind had stopped howling and become a hellish screech driving blinding spume across the surface of the mountainous sea under a black sky rent by cracks of lightning and thunder which could barely make itself heard above the melee.We decided to take the rest of the sail in and run with bare poles although our biggest problem was that we were always too close to the land.  We took the drogue up and made our way out into deeper water then placing it again and lashing the helm so we hove to at around 45 degrees to the waves which our slick disrupted enough to stop most of the beam breakers coming down on us

Some breaking waves continued to hit us though doing more damage but thankfully mostly superficial. Good old Westerly “tough as old boots”!

Sue was doing fantastically well despite being obviously really frightened because we just didn’t know how long this horror was going to last.  The VMR, clearly concerned, were keeping a two hour schedule with us, updating us as soon as a new forecast came out and were keeping police and rescue authorities appraised of our predicament. Sue was also in contact with our dear friends Dave and Jacqui on the yacht Jackster by text looking for any glimmer of hope that the wind was abating. It’s good to talk, at any rate it keeps your morale up and we were both in need of that.

We stayed out for a second night being blasted by 60kt gusts and huge waves.  Sue was so scared; it was a lot worse than the Columbian coast but we hugged and got on with it, what a lady!

After 24 hours sitting outside Coffs harbour lying-a-hull with a drogue (which I had to relay 4 times) and a failed autohelm we assumed we could go in the next morning but the VMR informed us they still had white water right across the entrance.  We motored back out to sea for a couple of hours to relay the drogue and went down below, put the hatches in and pretended it wasn’t happening; in fact we both went to sleep, we were exhausted.  We woke up at 10am and looked out to see that the wind and swell had both dropped slightly.  I called the VMR and asked them to describe the conditions at the entrance. They informed us that the wind had dropped a bit, there were periods of slight swell but they still had 3-4 metre breakers.  However they considered, with the tide relatively high, there was a minimum of 4 meters depth.  The forecast was for worsening weather and, although we had no serious structural damage I was concerned about the cumulative effect of the problems we did have. I had only just managed to bring the instruments and autopilot back on line with a jury rigged by pass in the electrics and had some concern that they had been affected by the electrical disturbances during the night.

We sorely needed to get in so I decided to go in and “loiter” near the entrance waiting for a smoother patch before making a dash.

The torn sprayhood

The torn sprayhood

Finally I saw a door in the swells open and piled the power on hell for leather towards the entrance. Just when I though I had got it right a wave reared up behind us, followed by another and then a final huge breaker. I really thought we were going to broach or pitch-pole  but surging forward in it’s powerful churning foam we surfed for a full 20 seconds, the longest 20 of my life but we made it with the VMR guy guiding us on the radio and the boat equivalent of a handbrake turn into the calm of the inner harbour.  Once in the marina it all calmed down and we motored to our berth.  Sue just burst into tears of relief, we had made it and were greeted by a group of VMR’s, yotties, and marina staff who had been following or supporting us in our drama.  Our heartfelt thanks go out to all of you who have helped and befriended us, it means more to us than I can describe. Thank you.

The torn sail

The torn sail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bent solar panels

The bent solar panels

 

Our poor dinghy washed up on the beach

Our poor dinghy washed up on the beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

along with the outboard still attached to the dinghy by it's security wire

along with the outboard still attached to the dinghy by it’s security wire

We didn’t take any photos during the event but these are some of the damage.

February Update

I haven’t written any thing for the website for ages because we’ve been so busy but I wanted to fill in some gaps before we continue on our travels.

 

Pelicans waiting to be fed

Pelicans waiting to be fed

After Australia Day the weather took a turn for the worse and we couldn’t leave Sydney until 30th January.  It was sad leaving Sydney for the last time, we had enjoyed our time in the city but it was time to start heading north again.

We sailed to Pittwater where we spent 4 days with rain on and off so we didn’t do a lot.  Monday 4th February we arrived at Lake Macquarie.  A saltwater lake that covers an area 4 times the size of Sydney harbour.  We spent a week in the lake trying various anchorages as the wind changed direction; they had some nice pelicans there.

SONY DSCOn the 7th February we took the bus to Newcastle, which occupies a bizarre parallel universe to its namesake in northern England.  Both were once grimy industrial mill towns based on coal mining that in recent years have been transformed into pleasant places to visit.  Both have a fanatical devotion to their local sports teams, although for the Australian Newcastle its rugby rather than football, but that’s where the similarity ends. The Australian Newcastle is sunny most of the time and a surf beach around every bend.

Fort Scratchley

Fort Scratchley

We took a walk to fort Scratchley, which was one of the few gun installations in Australia to fire a gun in anger in WWII.  On 8th June 1942 a Japanese sub suddenly surfaced raining shells on the city, Fort Scratchley returned fire negating the threat after just four rounds.

 

 

 

A walk around the casements

A walk around the casements

 

 

It’s now open to the public with a fascinating walk through the old casements and a view over Nobby’s beach and out to the harbour entrance.

 

 

 

A walk through the gardens

A walk through the gardens

 

The obelisk stands on the site of the old windmill

The obelisk stands on the site of the old windmill

We continued our walk along the sea front, through the gardens and up to the obelisk, which stands on the site of one of the earliest windmills in Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

Tomaree Head at the entrance to Port Stephens

Tomaree Head at the entrance to Port Stephens

The 11th February brought brisk winds, which gave us a good sail to Port Stephens.  We spent a couple of days doing ‘jobs’ (the jobs list never seems to get smaller) tied to a buoy in Nelson bay.  Valentines day was gloriously sunny so we decided to unwrap the bikes and go on a bike ride.  We headed east to the Tomaree National park where ‘you’re bound to spot a koala or wallaby’, how many did we see? None!!

 

The view across One Mile beach to Fingal bay

The view across One Mile beach to Fingal bay

 

One mile beach on the left and Shoal bay on the right

One mile beach on the left and Shoal bay on the right

But we left the bikes and climbed the Tomaree Head Summit walk and enjoyed the spectacular views back down across the peninsular with Shoal bay on one side and across One Mile beach stretching across to Fingal Bay on the other.

 

 

 

 

Fingal beach

Fingal beach

We climbed back down and cycled to Fingal Bay for our picnic lunch.  We treated ourselves to an Indian meal in the evening for Valentines Day.

 

 

 

 

 

Another lovely beach

Another lovely beach

Nelson Bay was hosting a fishing competition over the weekend which would have made the anchorage uncomfortable with all the wash from the gin palaces so we motored across the bay and crept up to Hawks nest on the flood tide touching the bottom a couple of times.  There was an anchorage at the top with enough water for us to stay for a few days. Hawks Nest and its neighbour Tea Gardens were sleepy little towns where not very much happens!  We went ashore for a walk and found a lovely beach on the other side of the peninsular.

This was the winning Marlin

This was the winning Marlin

Sunday we crept back down the river to Nelson just in time to see the winning team land their huge Marlin weighing in at a massive 180kgs.  It was a beautiful creature and I really felt it should be swimming free but at least it was donated to the local Meals on Wheels and not wasted.

 

 

 

 

Resting at Harbour bay

Resting at Harbour bay

Monday 18th we went on a longer bike ride. We stopped for a rest at Harbour bay (the Aussies aren’t very imaginative with their names although there wasn’t a harbour in this bay).

 

 

 

 

 

The beach at Anna bay

The beach at Anna bay

Then continued on to Anna bay at the western end of the Tomaree National park (not a single koala or wallaby spotted again) backed by the amazing Worimi Conservation lands home to the Worimi people who have lived here for thousands of years.

 

 

 

The ascent up the dunes was steeper than it looks

The ascent up the dunes was steeper than it looks

Walking on top of the dunes

Walking on top of the dunes

The Worimi Conservation Lands are the longest moving sand dunes in the southern hemisphere stretching over 35km.   Think Lawrence of Arabia to get an idea of the sight surrounding us; shimmering sand as far as the eye could see.

 

 

 

Camomile alongside at the Nelson jetty

Camomile alongside at the Nelson jetty

 

 

 

 

On our return we took Camomile into the harbour for our 3 free days on the pontoon inside.  It was nice to be alongside for a change and spent the next few days doing shopping and washing.

This is Bracken who belonged to the boat next door but decided we were a good bet for a peaceful sleep while his owner wasn’t looking. Isn’t he beautiful?  I wish we could keep him but he had to go back.

 

Bracken adopted us for the afternoon

Bracken adopted us for the afternoon

 

After being in Port Stephens for 10 days Thursday 21st brought a weather window allowing us to leave Port Stephens for Camden Haven.  We had dolphins swimming in our bow as we left and a good weather window ahead of us……

 

 

Coffs Harbour entrance on a calmer day

Coffs Harbour entrance on a calmer day

After the storm (see next blog) we managed to get into Coffs harbour on Saturday 23rd.  We were befriended by lots of people all anxious to hear our story and how we managed to survive the storm, including Graham from the VMR who we had spoken to every 2 hours throughout the night.  He had been plotting our position and keeping the Maritime services informed of our position who, he said, would have come out to rescue us if any thing drastic had happened.  That would have meant abandoning ship and having let the dinghy go Bill was determined Camomile wasn’t going the same way.

The dead outboard (not our boat in the background)

The dead outboard (not our boat in the background)

Graham informed us our dinghy was on the beach about 5 miles away and took Bill out to see it.  Sadly it lay on the beach looking very sad full of sand with the outboard laying next to it with just it’s security wire holding them together.  The outboard was put in Graham’s Ute and brought back to the boat but there wasn’t anything Bill could do to revive it.  I spent the rest of the day trying to get everything back to where it belonged.  I had to wash the floor 3 times to remove all traces of the salt water.

The bent Hydrovane shaft

The bent Hydrovane shaft

Sunday was spent in the laundry washing all the towels that had been used to mop up the numerous dousings and we were kindly invited to Grahams house for a welcome meal, he also generously lent us his vehicle to borrow while we were in the harbour.

 

 

 

The bent frame holding the solar panels

The bent frame holding the solar panels

and the bent davit

and the bent davit

 

It meant that for the next few days we were able to take the torn sail and the sailbag to the sail maker to be repaired and the bent metalwork to Gary the metalworker.  It was strange travelling in a car again.

 

 

 

Sue busy sewing

Sue busy sewing

 

 

The sprayhood had been torn both sides with the weight of seawater on it.  We stripped it off the frame and I set about repairing it.

 

 

 

The torn sprayhood

The torn sprayhood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All beautiful again

All beautiful again

 

Fortunately it had torn along the seam, which was quite easy to re-sew, but the area around the handle was badly shredded so I had to sew a patch over it.

 

 

 

The tear on the other side

The tear on the other side

All patched up

All patched up

 

 

The tear along the other side needed a patch too.

Thursday 28th the sail and metalwork was ready to pick up so off we went in Graham’s car to pick everything up.  We also did a big shop.  Life is so much easier with a car.

 

 

The footpath running past the marina up on to Mutton bird island

The footpath running past the marina up on to Mutton bird island

It was great being in a marina for a change, each morning I went for my run up over Mutton bird island to look at the sea.  Gradually during our stay it had calmed down but it took several days, good job we came in when we did.   Bill worked hard getting the boat back into working order so we could leave, he takes up the next part of the story.

Camomile safely tucked up in the marina

Camomile safely tucked up in the marina

November Update

We are enjoying life in Australia and I haven’t had a chance to post any blogs for ages so this is an update of what we did in November.

Enjoying Kingfisher resort

Enjoying Kingfisher resort

We enjoyed our time in Bundaberg but we were anxious to start our cruising in Australia.  On the 1st November we sailed back down the river and across Hervey bay to enter the Great Sandy Straight in the lee of Fraser island.  Created over hundreds of thousands of years from sand drifting off the east coast of mainland Australia, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world.  It’s over 60 miles long and the only place where rainforest grows on sand.  We anchored off the Kingfisher resort hotel, a very yachtie friendly place.

2With the main part of the resort set further up the hillside, down by the waters edge there were showers, a restaurant and even a pool we could use. We went on some nice walks around the surrounding area through the rainforest returning along the beach.

3

 

 

 

These tree roots had washed up on the beach.

Bird life at Pelican bay

Bird life at Pelican bay

 

 

 

 

On the 5th we motor sailed further down through the Sandy straights carrying the flood tide to Turkey island where at high tide the water flow changes direction.  We continued on the ebb to Tin can bay where we spent a few days in Pelican bay.  While there we were visited by some dolphins and saw lots of bird life. On the 7th we went to bed surrounded by 8 boats.  We were all waiting for the 2pm tide the next day to cross the wide bar bay, a notorious spot in these parts for high waves and confused sea.  We woke to find everyone had gone they had obvious decided to cross at 2am even through the locals advised against it.  It must have been something we said!!

Entrance to Brisbane river

Entrance to Brisbane river

 

We left at 2pm as planned and, after uneventfully crossing the bar, sailed overnight to Brisbane.  We entered the river just after 8am and sailed all the way to the city centre on the genny.  It was a good way to enter the city and London could learn a thing or two from Brisbane.  We passed lots of commercial wharfs with big container ships berthed alongside but they looked very clean and tidy, no graffiti or piles of rubbish lying around.

SONY DSC

 

The same for the power stations and other factories set along the waterside.  They were surrounded by nice gardens and walkways and the gaps kept giving us tantalising glimpses of the CBD area as we got closer.

The CBD in the distance

The CBD in the distance

 

 

 

It all made the journey up the river very pleasant.

Beautiful waterside house

Beautiful waterside house

Sailing up the river

Sailing up the river

Our view from the mooring

Our view from the mooring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finally rolled away the sail as we approached the Story bridge, which is their main bridge where it’s possible to climb over the top – no I won’t be doing that!  We tied fore and aft to pile mooring next to the Botanical gardens right in the heart of the city.  There are showers, a launderette, dinghy pontoon and free water all for A$70 (£46) a week, a bargain for Australia I can assure you.

The Wintergarden shopping mall

The Wintergarden shopping mall

 

 

The weekend of 10th November was spent exploring the city.  We were really impressed with Brisbane, again no graffiti anywhere, lots of brightly lit shops (lots and lots of shops, yes!), nice wide pathways, and a good sprinkling of cafes to keep me supplied with cappuccinos.

A close up of the façade of butterflies

A close up of the façade of butterflies

 

 

This shopping mall is called the Wintergardens and the outside is covered with this beautiful perforated metal facia with large butterflies attached to it.  It looked delightful but it’s very difficult to pick it out in these photos.

Bill with Helen and cousin John

Bill with Helen and cousin John

 

 

 

Monday 12th was an exciting day because we had arranged to meet Bill’s long lost relative.  Bill’s Grandmother’s brother emigrated as a young man and John is his son so he’s Bill 1st cousin once removed.  We met him and his wife Helen for coffee.  We had a lovely time talking about families before they came back to have a look at Camomile.  We’ll catch up again in March when Kate and family come across from NZ for a holiday in the Brisbane area.

Inside the Brisbane parliament building

Inside the Brisbane parliament building

 

 

On the 15th we did the tourist route.  Brisbane is the capital of the state of Queensland and has it’s own state parliament.  (The federal parliament is in Canberra)  The parliament building is open to the public and offers a free-guided tour.  As free is a magical word to cruisers we went along to have a look.  We were shown around by a very interesting man who told us all about their parliamentary system.  The building dates from 1868 which is old for Oz and looked very attractive.  Just around the corner was the Italian Renaissance-style treasury building with it’s lavish façade which is now a 24-hour casino.

The city hall

The city hall

 

 

 

Moving onto King George’s square we came across Brisbane’s city hall that was getting a huge makeover and sadly was closed but looked as though it would definitely been worth a look.

Quaint church

Quaint church

 

 

Opposite the other side of the square was this quaint little church which was dwarfed by the surrounding buildings.  The Aussies like to keep their heritage buildings and just build their skyscrapers around them.  Strangely they seem to compliment each other.

A friendly kangaroo

A friendly kangaroo

 

 

I had been complaining that I still hadn’t seen a kangaroo since we’d arrived in Australia when we came across these very cleverly built sculptures made from engine parts sitting around on the pavement.

Chris cooking the 'snags' on the barbie

Chris cooking the ‘snags’ on the barbie

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in Brisbane we caught up with some Aussie cruisers that we had met in the south Pacific.  We met Chris and Cate with their lovely girls Grace and Sarah from Equinox on the ICA rally last year and it was great to catch up again .  Cate very kindly took me shopping in the car and, more importantly, offered me the use of her washing machine, a wonderful offer to a fellow cruiser.  We joined them for a proper Aussie Barbie while my sheets and curtains churned around in her washing machine. They live in a pretty Queenslander house with the main rooms on the upper floor overlooking a huge balcony and the garage and lesser rooms downstairs.  This is Chris cooking snags (sausages) on the Barbie, delicious they were too.

Newspaper headlines after the storm

Newspaper headlines after the storm

 

 

 

The next day we had the mother of all thunder storms.  Bill and I had been out for a walk in the morning the other side of the river when the heavens opened.  By the time we caught the ferry back across the river we were soaked to the skin.  Later the lightening became really violent, crashing over our heads every few minutes.  This photo was on the front page of the newspaper the next day and shows how ferocious the lightening became.  As seems to be normal these days the weather forecasters didn’t predict it.

Kennedy, Sue, Bill, Jackie and Gary

Kennedy, Sue, Bill, Jackie and Gary

 

 

 

The 20th saw some waifs and strays otherwise known as cruisers head out of the city for the day.  Gary and Jackie from the Canadian boat Inspiration Lady (which took Gary 23 years to build from scratch!) and Kennedy an American single hander on a boat called Far Star joined us on the bus to Mt Coot-tha.  This was a ‘pink’ trip to make up for the ‘blue’ trip of the day before which saw us touring the hardware stores of an out of town retail park.  First stop was the botanical gardens where we were shown around by a very nice lady who told us all about the plants of the region and the history of the gardens.  After a nice lunch in the café we headed further up the hill to the look out.  With a perfect blue-sky day we had a fantastic view over the city and the surrounding suburbs.

A Brisbane train

A Brisbane train

 

On the 21st we were back on the train for a trip north to Shorncliffe to meet some more cruisers from the town of Redcliffe.  We had teamed up with Lloyd and Lynelle of Chappie in French Polynesia when we fell behind on the Blue Water rally in 2010.  We’d said goodbye in Fiji but had always promised we would look them up when we made it to Oz and it was wonderful to meet up with them again.

Lynelle and Lloyd outside their home near Redcliffe

Lynelle and Lloyd outside their home near Redcliffe

 

 

 

They drove us around the area and took us out for a lovely lunch before going back to see their lovely Aussie home.  Thanks Guys it was great to see you again.

Pittwater

Pittwater

 

 

 

 

Having spent over 2 weeks in Brisbane we felt we ought to get moving before we took root in Brisbane, something that would have been very easy to do.  Bill had been keeping a regular eye on the weather, watching for a northerly to head our way.  It arrived on the 23rd so we dropped our mooring lines and headed back down the river with the ebb tide.  We spent the day sailing across Morton bay and down through the Broadwater.  We anchored overnight by the Gold coast seaway and joined a group of yachts at 5am the next morning for the trip south.  There were Jackie and Jake on the American boat Hokele’a and Mike and Liz on the British boat Aurora B who we kept in touch with by VHF on the trip. We had met both boats before in the South Pacific; the cruising network is very small. It was a fast passage with 2 or 3kts of current with us all the way down.  Originally we had planned on 3 days and nights but we arrived in Pittwater at lunchtime on the third day having travelled at an average of 7.6kts all the way, probably one of the fastest passages on our travels so far.  Mike on Aurora B had arranged for the 3 boats to pick up buoys at Church Point in Pittwater harbour.  That evening we watched another one of Australia’s thunderstorms.

Liz with her birthday cake

Liz with her birthday cake

The 28th was Liz on Aurora B’s birthday so I made her a cake and Jackie found some balloons.  The 6 of us enjoyed a lovely afternoon celebrating on Aurora B.  So that was November.

Bundaberg, Australia

The entrance to Bundaberg

Our position on 19th October 2012

24º 45.4 South

152º 54.6 East

Bundaberg, Australia

As we approached the outer buoy the sea changed from Pacific blue to sea green.  The entrance reminded us of a big Littlehampton with its training wall and beautiful orange ‘sandcastle sand’ beach.   We were very excited to be in Australia at last.

Charlie the cormorant

We arrived on the 19th with this shag (we think that’s what it was), which had landed on the boat the day before and roosted on the solar panel all night, flying off as we arrived at the outer entrance buoy.  There were 2 other boats on the quarantine dock, Aurora B with Mike and Liz from the UK and Yellow dog with Oliver and Daniel from Switzerland, both of whom we had met up in the islands.  We also discovered Lorrigray is here, an ex blue water rally boat. The marina prices here are similar to the UK so we dropped our anchor in the bay outside.

The drive-through liquor store

Bundaberg marina is outside the town near a village called Burnett heads with the town of Bundaberg a further 8 miles up the river.  Burnett heads is a pleasant 20 minute walk along the waterfront.  There’s a hairdressers, where I had a much needed hair cut, a bakers, chemist, small hardware shop, a fish and chip shop, a pub selling good food and a ‘drive through’ drink shop.  This is an amazing concept where you literally drive in, give your order at the window, it’s put together, put in the back of your car and you drive off without even needing to get out!

The Bundaberg barrel

The supermarket next door was my first stop to restock the boat after the customs had relieved me of the last of my meat, fruit & veg.  It was wonderful to be able to enter a supermarket with a list and get every thing on it.  The cost of living here is quite high but the prices aren’t as bad as I was expecting.   They also offer an excellent service of a free minibus ride back to the marina.  The Port2port rally that we have joined has been busy organising various drinks evenings, barbeques, pot luck suppers, chart marking sessions and outings.  This is the Bundaberg barrel where the local ginger beer is made that we visited one afternoon on Judy’s free tours of the area.

“I want that one”

We also went to Bunnings, the Australian version of B&Q where Bill spotted this toolbox.  “No you can’t have it”

We’ve kept ourselves busy doing washing, interneting, sorting out the boat, although fortunately we didn’t have any major breakages on the trip down, socialising and generally getting used to living in a first world country again.

Didgeridoos being played

On Saturday 27th we went to the Lighthouse festival organised by the Burnett Heads rotary, which was a bit like a summer fete.  This guy was playing Didgeridoos and they were giving off an amazing sound. We spent the morning wandering around the stalls and listening to local bands playing on the stage.  In the afternoon we lifted the anchor and sailed upstream into the town, a distance of about 8 miles.  The surrounding area reminded us of the east coast of England because it’s very flat and as we floated up the river it was possible to see Bundaberg across the flood plains.

Invicta the steam train

On Sunday we walked to the botanical gardens a pleasant oasis of tropical shrubs, towering trees and flowering gardens surrounding a few small lakes. There is a little steam train running around the perimeter that is maintained by a local preservation society.  It formally spent it’s working life transporting sugar cane that is grown prolifically in this area to the sugar mills.  I’ve loved steam trains since I was a little girl when my Dad often took me to see them and the ride brought back happy memories.

Hinkler house

The gardens are also home to the Hinkler House museum set inside the house of Bunderberg’s famous son, aviator Bert Hinkler, who made the first solo flight between England and Australia in 1928.  The house was painstakingly relocated from Southampton in 1983.  As it’s so totally different from normal Australian houses it looked very strange in it’s setting.  We had coffee in the railway café then returned to Camomile anchored in the river.

 

Camomile anchored by the bridge in Bundaberg

 

 

Bundaberg gardens in the town

We spent 2 days in the town wandering around the shops, it seems you can buy just about any thing here; Bill even managed to get a new battery pack for his cordless drill so he was happy.  The town looked very similar to many we saw in NZ, being laid out in blocks it’s easy to get your bearings.  The gardens in front of the town hall had been freshly planted with summer bedding.  We discovered the RSL club (returning servicemen league) similar to the British legion in the UK, where, for one dollar, it was possible to join and enjoy the delicious, reasonably priced meals while sitting in an air-conditioned lounge overlooking the river.

A view of Burnett heads as we left

On Wednesday 31st we motored back down the river to Burnett heads in time for the Halloween/pirate/pizza night organised by the Port2port people before leaving the next day to start our journey south.

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