Sunday, 28 December 2014

Sailing Around Australia; My Best 20 Sailing Photo's from 2014

Our three boats created great interest in Hopetoun WA.

Heading out to Middle Island from Esperance

Sailing across the Great Australian Bight

On Heather and Killa's mooring at Streaky Bay

And Leaving Streaky during a glass out.

That's a big sea gull!

This bird was not camera shy.

The Dillon bay panorama

Dolphin frolicking in the bluest of water at Bremer Bay WA!

Doubtful Island at dusk.

Leaving Esperance.

Storm approaching at Hopetoun over "Urchin".

Leanne and companion fishing in Streaky Bay

Dusk at Sceales Bay

Sailing into the sunset.

Our mates in deep.

Easy Tiger at Sceales Bay South Australia

Very still Streaky Bay.

Seal spotting at Hopetoun.

Following seas on the Great Australian Bight

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Sailing Around Australia; Nearly

28th December = Crown Marina, Adleaide


We are ready to recommence our sailing around Australia adventures aboard Easy Tiger. Nearly.

It’s just a matter of waiting for two weeks. Then travelling to Bali for a two week holiday and then we will be under way. In the scheme of things this is both a bit frustrating and quite a pleasure at the same time.

Frustrating because Easy Tiger is ready. Leanne and I are both ready. Ready to be on the trail of new destinations, new discoveries and new adventures.

This pause in our travels is also pleasurable as we have spent the time with our family in Cairns over Christmas and the time in Bali will be spent with our dear friends.

The time “dockside” has given me a bit of time for reflection. I’m reminded of the many times and moments when Easy Tigers Sailing Adventure nearly didn’t happen.

The first time there was a lot of dilemma in our minds, was 5 Years ago when we put in an offer to buy a boat and had that offer accepted. Have we done the right thing? Would we be able to sail? Could we afford to keep it? Shouldn’t we buy an investment property instead? These were all questions that, had we answered differently at the time, might have seen us still working 7 days a week in our business. We would not be going anywhere, as we would have been caught up in working off our material possessions. In fact a couple of decisions that were nearly made differently meant we could be dreaming of this adventure rather than out here doing it. We learnt that it gets to the point where you have to draw a line in the sand and say “we are going to do; not dream”.

Another “near miss” happened when we found out the other boats were going and we could accompany them. We could have decided that we weren’t ready, or our family commitments were too strong or we might not have enough money to live on etc… etc…  We nearly missed the opportunity to sail across the Great Australian Bight in company. We learnt there that opportunity seems to favour those who are prepared for it.

Next came the day to actually cast off and head out into the Southern Ocean. A fourth boat that was to sail along our path left a couple of days before us and NEARLY came to grief in the rough weather. They made the choice to return back to Mandurah. That nearly scared us off. We learnt though, that if we stick to our rules such as waiting for the right weather window, our journey will be far safer.

The problems we had crossing the bight and our rescue by the Streaky Bay SES was another time that we nearly decided that this adventure was too much for us. But what we found is that when we work together, we make a great team.

Having to find work, when we ran out of money was another time that we nearly considered our sailing adventure was all too hard. But, in fact this has been quite a rewarding time for both of us, as we realise that really we can stretch our hard earned dollars by applying them only to what is really important.

Now, we have to remind ourselves of all that we have learnt on our sailing adventures this far. Because, anxiety is starting to build as we sit here waiting. We are a bit scared of getting back on to the horse. We know that at some point we will get caught in rough weather, that we will have to cross over dangerous entrance bars and that something important is going to break on the boat at the time we least want it to. These times will test us.

However the things that test us actually make it an adventure. Will they stop us? Not even nearly.

We NEARLY missed the opportunity to sail with these great people.

Nearly ready to go, just a detour to Cairns for a great Christmas with our family.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Sailing around Australia; The Week that Was

15/12/2014 = Crown Marina, North Haven, Adelaide

The Week that Was

In the blink of an eye a week has gone past, making it 2 weeks since we got back to Easy Tiger and preparations for continuing our sailing adventures.

We decided after a few days of scrubbing, rubbing and polishing, that a change of scenery might be nice. Marina Adelaide is a very good marina, and Richard the yard manager had been very helpful but the lure of moving (even if it ws just a few kilometres) was irresistible. 

With the generous offer of a vehicle, we had a quick visit to another marina on the west coast of Adelaide called Crown Marina.

As there are shops, a tavern and the Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia all within walking distance of the marina, we booked in on the spot and will be here until the first week of February.

Easy Tiger hasn’t enjoyed being left for months on end with just water rats and sparrows for company. So we are very wary about what we will find as we start our preparations for the next part of our sailing adventures. For example, we had been told that there were sparrows nesting in our sail bag. So we hoisted the main sail to remove the nests but  couldn't get it down  because the mast car ball bearings were full of dirt and jammed. These small jobs I see as just part of having a boat, I said to myself as I spent the day cleaning out the mast track and the mast cars.

We had been cleaning up after water rats and sparrows for several days, so I hadn't had time to check the engines. Then came moving day. After firing up the starboard engine I soon found the next problem. The saltwater pump had seized. 

Not to worry, I said. Just part of owning a boat. But, the further I got into the task the darker my mood became. As the saltwater pump is on the bottom of the engine, First of all I had to manouvre my body (182cms (6ft) and 90kgs) into the engine bay, then I had to lie on the engine, wrapping my arms around it, in a very intimate bear hug.

Anyone who has done a similar task would know that engines have many sharp pointy bits, arranged so that if you are lying on the top of one, giving it a bear hug, said sharp pointy bits stick into ones arm pits, rib cage and worst of all the area that men hold most dear.

This was so that I could twist my neck at a very unusual angle to be able to see one of the three bolts holding the water pump on to the engine. I could just get in to place to see the bolt that needed to be turned. What I couldn't see was approximately 2 centimetres above the back of my head, where there was a piece of aluminium which holds the steering cable. Every time I moved more than 2 centimetres I would bump my head on it.

To add to my mounting injury list and my darkening mood, after untangling my self and staggering to the phone, I rang the suppliers of the offending water pump. The supplier  told me that there were no new pumps in Australia and the price of supplying one ex Singapore is $1000!

After recovering from the shock, and while almost incapable of coherent thought, Leanne suggested I try WD 40 to try to get the pump spinning freely. Like any man whose wife makes such good practical suggestions, I gave an appreciative grunt then stated categorically that it wouldn't work. Just to humour her,  I used a couple of cans of  WD40 to drown the pump and had it spinning freely about ten minutes later.

Buoyed by that success it was back into my impression of an Indian rubber man, to renew my acquaintance with the lovely sharp pointy bits. After almost an hour of practicing my full vocabulary of curses, I had the pump back in place.

Relieved, I fired up the engine but; the pump was still not working. Another hour of bending at very un-natural angles and being continually prodded by the sharp pointy bits, I removed the  pump again and fitted a new impeller to the pump.

This time I was very circumspect about starting the engine. To my absolute delight, it pumped water as it should.

After a couple of hours to regroup and apply a few band aids, we did a weather inspection. It looked like thunderstorms were about to hit. Looking on the weather radar, the thunderstorms seemed to be going well north of where we were headed.
Another hour was spent looking at the weather and to-ing and fro-ing between leaving our safe haven or travelling around North Haven. By this time dusk was approaching. All of the above would normally mean that we would stay put.

Not being normal though, for some reason we both said at once, OK let’s go.  The ropes were thrown off at 7.00pm and we headed out into the river with huge black clouds off our starboard side.

Gladly, the hour long trip went by without incident and by nightfall we were tied in to our pen at Crown Marina, with 2 very big sighs of relief.

The surrounding area here at North Haven is much nicer than the industrial surrounds at Marina Adelaide.  The beach side walk trails have encouraged us to restart our exercise regime and the nearby tavern beckons for our weekly "date nights".

Also there are several other live aboard who we have met, each with stories to tell. 

Easy Tiger minus Water Rats and Sparrows in her new pen at Crown Marina.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Sailing Around Australia; 100% Success Rate

10/12/2014 = Crown Marina, Adelaide

100% Success Rate

In february this year I wrote a blog titled "who you know not what you know".  It was about the really amazing people we had met during our sailing around Australia adventures.

At that point, we had made it across the Great Australian bight and found refuge in Streaky Bay. Since then we have sailed via Port Lincoln to Adelaide.

From Noel and Sue Seymour's water cannon greeting at Bunbury, Brian (b5) at Albany, Heather, Peter, Jill and Bill in Bremer Bay, Ken at Hopetoun, Fud and Faye as well as Ray in Esperance and then Geoff and Heather in Streaky bay the people we have met up with have really made this adventure.

Amazingly, we have maintained our success rate with meeting terrific people have helped us out in each and every port we have visited.

In Port Lincoln we met Gary, who helped us out with a lift to here or there. One day he took us to Bunnings, but unfortunately his car broke down while we were there. I managed to get a lift back to the boat with Pamela Price. We didn't know it at the time but we would later get to know Pamela's thoughtfulness and generosity.

When we first arrived in Port Lincoln, we anchored out the front of the Port Lincoln Sailing Club. We  went  ashore to do some shopping. On the beach a fellow came up to us asking questions about the catamarans. His name is David Kerr. He had just bought a catamaran and was busy organising the trip back from the sunshine coast to Port Lincoln.

We invited David and his wife Sonia to join us on board for dinner that night. We had a lot in common, although David has far more toys than I could even dream of. They run a business based in Alice Springs that keeps them busy travelling back and forward. With David and Sonia, we shared fun trips to the pig farm, (where everyone should order the "elvis" pancakes) and  lunches at their house. They have become firm friends.

David has really earnt my respect. Having never sailed before, he sailed his catamaran all the way  from Sydney to Port Lincoln (including Bass Strait) with only himself and another inexperienced  mate on board.

After several months in Port Lincoln, we sailed around to Adelaide. While we were away from the boat
working, a fire in a boat yard up the road brought fireman Ian Sulley to the marina. Ian is another who has a dream of sailing off into the sunset. Easy Tiger caught his attention and as we had our phone number on the side, Ian sent us a text and we kept in touch during our stint in Arno Bay.

When  we got back to Adelaide, we invited Ian and his wife Susan on board.  After a tour of the boat and bit of story telling, Ian and Susan offered us the use of their car... for two days. How helpful. Then they offered to have us around for dinner. Then, they told us they were off to India for three weeks and we could stay at their house plus use their car while they were away. How generous!

The need to work took us from Adelaide to Arno Bay.  Leanne was working in the local Grain storage silos. In a strange twist of fate, I was offered a job truck driving for a family with a large farm in the Arno Bay area. It turns out that the guys I would be working for were Pamela Price's sons. The lady who gave me a lift back from Bunnings in Port Lincoln.

We got into working pretty hard and long hours in Arno Bay. After Leanne had worked a  long and particularly frustrating day, there was a knock on the door. It was Pamela with a bunch of flowers, some home made cheesecake and a smile. Pamela  introduced Leanne to another lovely lady called Barbara, and these simple, generous gestures made our stay in Arno that much easier.

In each and every port that we have visited, the biggest highlight by far and also the biggest revelation for us has been the fantastic people that we have met. We have a 100% success rate at meeting great people in each port we have visited.

Leanne says that the greatest lesson for her is about "paying it forward". That is, when one person helps another, it motivates that person to help someone else and a chain reaction is created. It has changed our focus from ourselves to wanting to help others. What a really nice mindset to be in.


Sailing Around Australia; You Dirty Rat

1/12/2014 = Marina Adelaide 

You Dirty Rat

It seemed like we had left Easy Tiger for an eternity. It was actually July when we packed up and left Easy Tiger in care mode at Marina Adelaide. We hadn’t planned to leave so long, but a severe case of the dreaded “budget deficit” disorder meant we had to rejoin the workforce.

After six months of landlocked “adventure” the day of return travel to Easy Tiger crawled along as times of great anticipation do. We travelled by bus from Arno Bay to Adelaide. This is an 8 hour trip which we put a positive spin on by saying it would be nice to see some of the country side. After about 3 hours of looking out the window it was getting hard to justify the decision to take the bus. The country side was flat, bland paddocks of straw. In fact miles and miles of straw dotted with the odd farmhouse or small town that resulted in another 10 minute stop over for the bus.

At long last the bus pulled in to Adelaide central station. Leanne hailed a taxi big enough to take our 80 kilos of luggage. Peak hour. Another hour crept past in the taxi until finally we were offloaded at Marina Adelaide.

Gathering up our bags and  urgently walking around the corner of the building we got our first sight of what is now our home. Easy Tiger.  Like players in the last leg of the amazing race, we sprinted (as well as you can carrying 50 kilos of luggage) down the gangway and along the jetty to pen S2. I was sort of expecting someone to be there to say “congratulations Stave and Leanne, you are team number1.

To say that we were stopped in our tracks would be an understatement. I caught a glimpse of Easy Tiger’s black sail bag first. That is, the material of the sail bag was once black. Now it was motely grey colour. There were also spots of white giving a dappled effect. Bird pooh, layers of it.

My eyes (and my heart) dropped to the rear transom where I was about to board Easy Tiger.  A bird’s nest. Or what resembled a bird’s nest covered the entire back steps, both sides, and the entire cork floor of cockpit.  There was nowhere on the rear of the boat to put a foot or take a step without treading in pile of what we thought was bird’s mess. There were piles of weed, feathers, some sticks and left over crab shells literally covering the floor. Oh, and pooh; you couldn’t imagine a bird producing so much “waste”.

After being away for so long, working long hours and “pining” for our sailing adventures, it was quite overwhelming to see our beloved boat and home in such a state.

We were up bright and early the next day, to start the clean up. First we made a clean pathway from the door to the jetty, then we broke out the scrubbing brushes, the heavy duty truck wash detergent, ajax spray and wipe then got head down and bum up.

Over the next six hours, passerby’s on the jetty commiserated with us as they made their way to their pristine boats just metres away. I couldn’t believe that Easy Tiger and one other power boat had been singled out by the birds to be used for nesting, eating crabs and toilet requirements.

Further inspection and discussion among the few people around the marina didn’t seem to shed any light. One puzzling thing was the amount of crab shells, and chewed crab bits  among the litter. I thought that the birds would be dining on fish, more than crabs. The marina did seem to have plenty of resident Bream and Tommies.

On and in the sail bag, it seemed more bird mess like. This just added to the intrigue of the mess down on the deck.

After another day of scrubbing, the marina staff came to work on the Monday. They also commiserated with us over the condition of Easy Tiger.  Richard the yard manager said that they would have evicted the culprit, but their hands are tied by the fact that water rats are protected.

WATER RATS! I hadn’t really heard of Water rats, so I googled them. That told me that they are members of the platypus family, the largest of these is the Australian water-rat (also known as rakali), a very attractive animal weighing up to 1.3 kilograms as big as a medium-sized platypus.

That explained the mess on ground level, the crab shells and the fact that it was only on our boat and one other.

After we spent 2 days cleaning up after this protected species, I have found a new scientific name for the Water Rat = Veri messius Pesti muchiuss.

Common Water-rat
You dirty rat!