Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Sailing Around Australia; How the Other Half Do It

23/7/2014 – How the other half do it

Leading up to and during our sailing around Australia adventures, we have met a wide range of other sailors. By a wide range I mean that the range in ages, interests, beliefs and is from one end of the spectrum to the other.

This also includes the type of vessels that we have seen people taking to destinations. From  a 19foot wooden hulled yacht that sailed from California to Australia, to the $45million dollar, 50 metre super yacht that our son works on.

The folks that have left their homeport aboard small vessels with few of the comforts of home have my admiration. We know several people that are travelling north without a fridge, others that have very limited facilities and no running water.

On Easy Tiger, we have most of the common comforts of home. We have hot water, electric auto flush and macerating toilets, two fridges and a freezer. We even have the quintessential big screen TV. Probably the only thing that we now think we should have is a washing machine.

This morning we got to see how the one percenters’ sail around Australia aboard their yachts. I read somewhere that the top 1% wealthiest people in Australia individually own more than lower 20% of the population combined.

This doesn’t mean a lot until you board a boat that has an art collection, a library, a 12 person jacuzzi and the varnish on the chairs in the dining room costs $4,000 per chair!

It also has a full time crew of 12 people including a chef, a master scuba diving instructor and 3 stewardesses. How many guests does it take I hear you say? The answer is 1. That’s not a typo, all that to entertain 1 person. The owner of the boat comes on board at different times for different experiences.

Those experiences include using the jet skis to go up a river in the Kimberly’s, using the motorbikes kept on board to ride the great ocean road, or the 14 sets of scuba gear to dive on the barrier reef. When he’s done he takes his personal jet back to the office, while the crew get the boat to the next destination and ready for the next adventure.

Of course there is a down side to this “super yacht”.  We are finding it hard to find pens or marina berths for our 12 metre by 7.5 metre catamaran. Imagine the costs and difficulties in berthing something 50 metres! Probably the reason that the owner doesn’t take other guests, is that the boat is so nice, the crew so friendly and the toys are such fun, that no-one would want to get off.

The other problem is the depreciation. Apparently it is not good business to keep a super yacht for any more than 4 or 5 years before you upgrade. That means of course that the next one has to be bigger! Oh and another problem is that they take 3 to five years to build! Hopefully you can get a buy one get one free offer?

I think we’ll stick with Easy Tiger for the time being. Of course if any of the mega rich would like to trade… well, we could tolerate it for a while.

We don’t have any staff, jet ski’s or fancy polish on our chairs.  But we are out there on an adventure and living the dream.

It just really proves that it doesn’t matter what vehicle you use to take you to your dreams, as long as it gets you there.

Crew member Luke Ludemann (Dive master) in Uniform
Approaching Cairns Marina

Dwarfing everything else in the marina...except 1.
All tied on at over $2000 per day.

Sailing Around Australia - Falling for Cairns

22/7/2014 – Falling for Cairns

With Easy Tiger safely tucked in at Marina Adelaide, Leanne and I have taken another short break from our sailing around Australia adventures. We travelled to Cairns to visit our daughter Bree and timed it perfectly to meet up with our son Luke at the same place.

After six years of working on remote dive boats all over the top of Australia Bree and her partner Rhys have decided to settle in Cairns and have rented a house in Redlynch. Luke has been working on a luxury super “yacht” that has been travelling around the world. They came in to Cairns a couple of days ago. So this trip has been very special for us.

Bree has taken us out each day to show us the sights of Cairns. What a beautiful tropical wonderland this area is.

1st we saw the Chrystal cascades which is a lovely walk up to a waterfall and many rock pools, then to Kamerunga and some more great waterfalls and rock pools after  a steep walk.

Next day we went up to Kuranda, a nice village markets type atmosphere then a visit to the barron gorge, where you guessed it, more waterfalls were viewed.

Yesterday we drove down to a small town called Babinda where we went to the Babinda boulders and yes, the Josephine Falls. There, Bree and I swam in the very cold but highly refreshing rock pool.

We finished up with a visit to the Botanical gardens in Cairns, which sounds like a lovely stroll around the paths looking at the collection of plants. Unfortunately for Leanne and I and our various body parts, there was a very steep path going straight up to the lookout. Bree assures us that it’s easy and sometimes does it twice up and down just for exercise! Unfortunately our legs, knees and hips have become very used to living on a boat. The mountain climbing gear was packed away long ago. I am proud to say that we made it to the top, even if we were too out of breath to marvel at the vista.

We are so glad that we undertook this adventure. We might be still in Bunbury freezing cold and going to the job everyday, wishing that we could be somewhere else.  But we are somewhere else.

We sit here on the deck of Bree's house and look out to a sea of green trees and high hills in the background and smile.We smile at each other as our two offspring chat and compare diving stories. We smile at each other when the Adelaide weather is read out. 13 degrees one day and 12 the next. It’s 26 today in Cairns, but that’s hardly a topic of conversation as it has been 26 every day for a week.

I don’t know whether it is that our family are together, the brilliant weather or the beautiful waterfalls, but there is something about Cairns that we are falling for.

We can’t wait to sail Easy Tiger here on our sailing around Australia Adventure.

Cairns from mountain goats lookout
And the vista from the other side of the hill.
One of a dozen or so waterfalls we have visited.
and another... all of them beautiful

And great for a swim

Just f f f f freezing!!!!!

We are loving Cairns.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Sailing Around Australia; The adventures of Hire a Bubble

Marina Adelaide, Largs North Adelaide, South Australia

11/7/2014 The amazing adventures of Hire a bubble.

AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!! Cabin fever had set in courtesy of foul weather.  Wind at 50 knots plus, rain and freezing cold temperature had us locked in Easy Tiger’s cabin for a couple of days.

When the weather got a little better (and I emphasize the little) we dashed to Cut Price Hire cars and managed to hire a metal bubble with four wheels. Leanne negotiated as only Leanne can and we paid the princely sum of $20 per day with 200klms per day available to us.

Have wheels will travel. First up we headed up into the spectacular Adelaide Hills to the town of Hahndorf. Here was the place where I was happy to go and browse the souvenir shops, not something I like doing normally. But, if they had a heater going strong, I was happy to stand and stare at their offerings.

Hahndorf, a lovely German influenced village in Australia full of the same Chinese made souvenirs one would find at any tourist destination.

Hahndorf is however, home to Otto’s bakery where the world’s biggest donuts are made. It would be a huge challenge for any man woman or child to eat one of these monoliths in one sitting. Leanne and I ordered one cut in half, with the chocolate icing and cream in the middle. We both struggled to finish our portions and did not eat anything for the rest of the day!!! We also had a sausage roll each, but these were not even near the top 50 on B2’ s Sausage roll league ladder.

Giant Donuts at Ottos in Hahndorf.

The Sausage Rolls weren't in the top 50 on B2's League Ladder
Hire a Bubble then took us to the next town over the hills, the town of Birdwood. Here (much to Leanne’s delight) was the Australian Motor Museum.  I did feel a little awkward in there, as the they had on show replica’s of my first motor bike and my first car. In a museum?  Surely they wouldn’t be worth exhibiting, they’re only… 30 … something years old?

On display the museum has a customized panel van called midnight express, that has expertly airbrushed murals and is fitted out inside with blue velvet. Ahhh, the memories.  My first car was a customized panel van, that I lovingly re customized. You know one of those never ending projects. I was gunna enter it into a show one day, if I could just finish it.

Midnight Blue, Top customised van in Australia (in 1979)

The good old Holden Sandman....memories

Also they had the Morris major. A friend of mine had a collection of these, except he used to keep tipping them over on his way home from the nightclub.

After the motor museum there was a chocolate factory. Still suffering the after effects of the giant donut though, we managed to go in and out of the chocolate factory quickly and only spent $4.00.

Then the hire a bubble took on the form of a rally car. The road we took back down to Adelaide during the drizzling rain at dusk in the evening was steep, winding and quite busy. We managed to do our bit for road safety in South Australia, with our hire a bubble acting as a pace car up the hills and then flying wildly down the other side. Believe me, rolling down a steep hill on a wet winding road at dusk with half the towns population behind you in their four wheel drives feels like you are flying wildly. Needn’t have worried too much though, we never once managed to hit the speed limit! Much to the delight of the locals who were behind us, I am sure. Just to add to the effect I had my hat on!

Next day, with the weather gods still trying to either blow or freeze us out of existence we decided to strap ourselves back into the hire a bubble and ventured down to Victor Harbour. One reason for this intrepid journey was that we had been told it was really pretty, second reason was that we could check out potential anchoring or mooring spots and thirdly it was Leanne’s Birthday.

Just as well Adelaide is set out in a grid pattern of roads. While I was driving Leanne was navigating. Well, supposed to be navigating. She spent most of the journey to Victor Harbour texting and facebooking well wishes for her birthday and then negotiating with car hire companies for our up coming trip to Cairns.

Somehow we managed to head south and found the delightful town of Victor Harbour. There is a long causeway from the town foreshore that has horse drawn tram cars to take you over to Granite Island.

They also have a few moorings tucked in behind the jetty and the island, which seemed quite well protected.

On Granite Island they have penguin colonies. We got talking to the man that was manning the penguin feeding ticket counter, who was explaining that feeding is on again at 2.30pm. We looked at each other realizing that it was now 1.45pm. We weren’t so worried about feeding the penguins, but feeding ourselves.

The all you can eat roast carvery was about to close! We would have to sprint to make it, but the guy wanted to ask us where we were from. He wanted to tell us about the moorings and give us the contact to ring. The guy wanted to tell us about the aboriginal dreamtime rocks representing women and children of the prince along the shoreline of the Island. He wanted to tell us about the famous artist who had been here to carve rocks. He wanted to tell us about the view from the boardwalk etc.. etc…. The only carving I wanted to see was the chef working on roast lamb.

After a huge roast lamb and beef lunch at the pub (no need to eat for two more days) we drove around to the caravan park and saw 2 yachts anchored off the beach. Looked quite protected and relatively calm considered it was blowing about 40 knots with drizzling misty rain. We added Victor harbour to our list of potential stop overs after leaving Kangaroo Island.

The navigator was back on her game after her phone went flat and the hire a bubble followed the coast road to Cape Jervis. Spectacular countryside through rolling green hills dotted with cows or sheep and steep cliffs along the shore. From the Cape Jervis lighthouse we could see our next sailing destination, Kangaroo Island.
The Kangaroo Island Ferry, busy loading trucks and cars.

Cape Jervis Light house, we'll be looking of that when we sail around the corner.

We then rolled around to the St Vincents marina (Wirrina cove).  We were going to stay there instead of Adelaide, but on visiting we became very glad with the choice we made. It is just marina, that doesn’t seem quite finished. Judging by all the for sale and mortgagee sales it ha been a good idea that hadn’t really worked. There are no services, no transport just an isolated marina with about fifty boats jostling in the wind.

St Vincents Marina, good idea, just didn't quite work, judging by the for sale signs everywhere.
We arrived back at Easy Tiger by about 7.00pm. As I unfolded my body out of the hire a bubble I thanked it for not breaking down, for making it up the hills and for having just enough breaks to stop at each set of lights. Then I thanked it for the adventure and thanked god I don’t have to drive it any more.

Happy Birthday Leanne.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Sailing Around Australia - Getting back on the Bike.

Marina Adelaide, Adelaide South Australia.

6/7/2014 Getting back on the bike.

According to the weather predictions, Saturday the 5th of July would see the next leg of Sailing around Australia Adventures start. Easy Tiger was ready to take us from Port Lincoln to Adelaide.

The forecasts were for South West winds turning westerly with low swell and moderate seas. This seemed to be right when we woke to find one of those beautiful crisp mornings. We immediately layered on the clothing. Leanne put on two pairs of base layers, then windcheater and trackies, then Musto sailing gear.

As we threw the ropes off , the remainders of our sailing family, Brian and Maree on Urchin were there with hugs and best wishes all round.

A couple of locals that we had got to know well Gary who had very nicely helped us out a lot, and David (Sonja sensibly stayed in bed) from the cat Vaya Con Dios, were also on hand to wish us farewell.

Off into the calm grey morning we motored. Not far off Port Lincoln we had to jostle for our route to the waypoints I had set with the Tuna boats. Perhaps twenty or so boats ranging from ships to crayfishing sized boats were gathered on the outer side of Boston Island. The Tuna fish harvest is obviously in full swing.

Once out of the protection of Boston and Taylor Islands the southwest swell started rocking the boat. As we were travelling southeast, the side on swell caused an unpleasant ride and a couple of queasy tummies. Seems we had lost our sea legs in the four months we spent shackled to the Port Lincoln Marina.

At 8.00am we waited for the VMR Tumby bay Scheds and were a bit dismayed that only 2 boats responded. That meant that we were the only boat in our area, on a weekend. Did we miss something? Was there something they are not telling us?

Our trip plan went well. We would try to make it around Cape Spencer before dark as there are a number of shoals, reefs and islands in that area. Easy Tiger had managed to keep over 6 knots all day so made it around the “haystack” islands before well before dark. The only hazard being a small ship that decided to cross our route. Thanks to our AIS system we spotted it early and were able to follow it’s course clearly.

We had just finished congratulating ourselves on getting clear of the cape when Leanne shouted “Cray POTS!” As we were both inside the cabin trying to keep warm, Easy Tiger was on Auto Pilot. I looked up and saw the floats about thirty metres directly in front of our port bow. In one movement, I opened the cabin door, hit the stand by button on the Auto Pilot, swung the helm hard to starboard and stopped the port motor. Luckily, the cray pot floats went by, missing the port side by about ten meres. Then there were others up ahead, so again immediate evasive action was taken. Then there was more. I managed to dodge and weave Easy Tiger this way and that for about ten minutes until we were finally clear.  We did not want cray pot ropes wrapped around our propellers. Especially our new propeller!

Soon after the cray pots, darkness fell. I mean very, very, dark due to heavy cloud cover. Again we huddled in the cabin to keep warm and dry. Easy Tiger plodded along with the auto pilot holding our course. We peered into the blackness through the windows, but except for the odd hazard marking light, we literally saw nothing. Just ploughed on trusting that there was nothing but ocean in front of us.

We tried 2 hour shifts of sitting up and staring into the black, but this became 1 hour stints as the concentration and fatigue quickly took their toll.

We passed Edithburgh and turned towards Adelaide. This turned the side on swell to the other side of the boat. That is I think we passed Edithburgh. We couldn’t see the town lights. We had considered stopping over here, but would not have possibly found the mooring buoy in the darkness.

Finally at 5.00am half a dozen ships on anchor or slowly moving around signaled our arrival to the approaches to Port Adelaide. By 8.30 we were on our last waypoint for the journey, at the entrance to the marina.

Leanne called the guy who was going to show us where to go and help tie on. She couldn’t get him. We slowed to a crawl and moved into a well laid out marina, passed a dozen or so empty pens. Passed people standing chatting on the jetty’s. No-one seemed to notice us, no-one seemed to be waiting for us. No-one even acknowledged us. The layout seemed very different to what we had been told. Leanne rang him again.

Contact. “We are here” I heard Leanne saying “but we can’t see you”.

Wrong marina!

We had to turn around, go back out to sea. Then around a long rock wall through the main shipping harbour and seven miles up the river.

We thought we had booked into the North Haven Marina. No. We had written down North Haven Marina but had rung the number for Marina Adelaide. Bit of a blessing in disguise as Marina Adelaide is brand new. There was Richard waiting for us. He helped us tie on (using mooring ropes supplied). We saw the Fuel jetty with the easiest access ever, plus camp kitchen, bbq’s, clean toilets, showers. It seems to have everything; except people. There is literally no-one around.

That is quite a relief though. After 28 hours of sailing adventure we weren’t feeling that social.

OK, someone is going to have to yield... probably me!

Excuse me... your on my waypoint.

errr... no we are not the Sea Shepard