Sunday, 26 July 2015

Sailing Around Australia; Musing in Mooloolaba

Mooloolaba QLD

24/7/2015 Musing in Mooloolaba

Our sailing around Australia adventures have brought us to Mooloolaba for what we thought would be a few days, as our plans were to sprint northwards so that we could catch up with Neville and Amanda on Bossa Nova and to find some nice warm weather. Unfortunately the weather has dictated that it would be a couple of weeks.

Bossa Nova and crew are now well north of us,  headed for the Percy Islands group. They are sending us cheeky reports of sunny days, turquoise water and lovely places to anchor.

Unable to tweak the weather to our satisfaction, we have busied ourselves with some shore activity in Mooloolaba, a means to remove the angst of not being able to stick to our plans.

Last weekend we spent an hour or so watching the Surf Lifesaving clubs surf rescue boats competition. This was a series of races in boats not unlike our dinghy.

The format of the races saw one person at the start line a little way up the beach. The gun would go off, they would sprint to the dinghy. Another person was at the dinghy a little way into the water, both would leap in, start the motor and hurtle off shore towards some marker buoys. Once they got to the marker buoys they would circle around one buoy then around a second. As they circled around the second marker buoy they picked a third person up out of the water into the boat, all in one motion. Such was the precision, timing and speed of these boats, the third person appeared in the boat like a magic act.  Then they raced back to the beach, finishing by jumping out of the boat and sprinting up the beach to the finish line.

After marveling at how fast these boats went and how skillful the teamwork was, I suggested to Leanne that we should include emergency evacuation of Easy Tiger by dinghy as one of the drills.

Next morning, we prepared to leave Easy Tiger to go to shore. I fancied myself as a rescue boat racer form the day before. I looked at my trusty stead (our dinghy). I took a breath and leapt in, I pulled the starter, firing up the engine instantly. Then I waited for Leanne. She came a minute or so later and threw the rubbish bag in. Then she went back to get her shoes. I waited.  Finally she had her shoes and was about to get in. I revved the engine expectantly. No. Leanne’s not getting in because she was NOT going to sit on a wet seat. Off she went to get a rag to wipe the seat. I turned the engine off. The racing urge died.

Finally, the rubbish was in, the seat was dry and we had our shoes. Off to the shore we went. We were puttering along looking at the the McMansions lining the waterway, when another dinghy ripped past us. Instantly my racer mode kicked in again.  

I twisted the throttle, daring to ignore the 6 knot limit  no wash signs. I steered into the wash of the other dinghy, we were gaining on it. The single hooded figure in the other dinghy was crouched low. I twisted the throttle harder trying to get every inch of power out of our outboard.  The destination jetty we have to use (otherwise we get nasty sand on our feet) came in sight. The other dinghy had about thirty metres on us but confirmed by is path the same destination. As we had three people in our dinghy, the other had only one, we couldn't catch up.  The other dinghy gained line honors at the jetty.

We leapt on to the public jetty and introduced ourselves to the woman who had had beaten us in the dinghy challenge. (even though she didn’t realize it was a challenge).

Turns out that Sue and Mike are twenty year veterans of cruising sailing on their yacht Yarandoo 2. They have been round the world including places like Vanuatu and Alaska.

We thought that some of the challenges we had faced since leaving our home port in 2013 were pretty big, but after spending some time with Mike and Sue on their yacht and hearing their many tales of these far off places, our adventure seemed a little less…well, adventurous.

In dinghy racer mode getting psyched, visioning the win...and waiting for the crew

and waiting...

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Sailing Around Australia; Barred

 Mooloolaba, Queensland

16/7/2015  Barred

Having Easy Tiger back in the water and the final wash down completed, we were eagerly anticipating heading off on the next leg of our sailing adventure.

A few “finishing off” tasks were completed along with a final wash down. That’s when I suffered the usual bout of anxiety and apprehension about what was in store.

Turns out I didn’t have to fret or wait very long at all for the next story of our adventure.

After pulling out of the Boatworks, Easy Tiger glided along the Coomera river quite effortlessly. The outgoing tide helped us along. All I had to do really was keep an eye out for the deeper water channel markers. I had just spent time with our friend, Leanne Clingan, who is along for the trip to get some sailing and boating experience, explaining that the red and green markers outline the channel and to keep vigilant because the channel may not necessarily be in the middle of the river.

Unfortunately, I didn’t heed my own advice. The girls had given up their bow seats where they had been marveling at the castles and mansions built along the river banks and had gone to the galley to fix lunch.  I gave up spotting the channel markers and weaving Easy Tiger in and around the bends, and corners the deep water channel makes along the river, to place my lunch order.

As I was confirming my order for roast pork sandwiches, Easy Tiger gave a stutter. Then a lurch and then we came to a quite dainty but definite stop.

Quickly hitting the throttles to neutral and then full reverse, I took stock of the situation. Looking to my left I saw the port side channel marker. The one we should have been on the other side of. Reversing the engines proved futile. We were stuck in mud, no more than about 800mm deep. We need 1200mm to float.

Even though it was obviously too late now, we logged on to the internet to work out the tides. Should have done that before we left the Boatworks.

Sure enough we were right on low tide. High tide would see us float quite easily over this area, but that was seven hours away. Leanne Clingan had an idea to use a stern anchor and see if we could pull our way into deep water that was only about 20 metres away. I dropped the dinghy and set the grapple hook anchor up on a 45 degree angle from the stern, as this was where we entered the shallow water. Alas, it was no avail, but at least the stern anchor would stop the wind from pushing Easy Tiger sideways on to the shallow water.

There was not much else to do but sit and wait for the tide to turn and push more water underneath us.

While we did this several big boats teased us but traversing the channel quite easily just 20 metres from our stern.

After 3 hours of sitting and waiting we felt a slight rocking motion. Then as a boat went past, Easy Tiger rocked quite a lot on the wake. Encouraged, I started the engines, put one in forward and one in reverse. It seemd to work, we were now slowly twisting around. I then reversed the direction of each motor, then back the other way. After several attempts at this we finally wriggled free.

Leanne and Leanne pulled in the grapple anchor and we were underway once more.

We had hoped to make Peel Island but having lost three and a half hours on the sand bar, I thought it might be worthwhile to find the nearest anchorage and call it a day. Across the Broadwater from the Coomera River mouth, on the end of Brown Island we saw a few small boats obviously anchored.

There were three channel markers noting the entry channel to the anchorage, so we were very careful to pick our way around these.  After the third marker I steered toward a houseboat that I thought we would anchor near. Unfortunately I should have turned right rather that going straight on. I say unfortunately, because we ran on to a sand bar and came to a sliding sort of halt.

This time I wasted no time at all in getting both throttles into full reverse. Gradually we started inching our way backwards. Keeping the power on we gained momentum and finally were back into enough water to start floating again.

We dropped anchor into some quite shallow water, but thinking the tide was coming in, we would be ok for an overnight stay. We would leave next morning on high tide.

Having settled in after the days events, we were sitting in the saloon, chatting. Leanne C, put her head up with a start. “We didn’t anchor so close to the house boat did we?” she gasped. Like Meercats sprouting out of their desert den we all popped up to see that the wind had blown us back and Easy Tiger dragged the anchor about 100metres, perilously close to a houseboat and the muddy shore of Brown Island.

So it was all hands on deck, to pull up the anchor, get the engines going and find some deeper water with protection from the now very strong wind.

We crept around behind some anchored boats calling the depths as we went. .8 then .7 then 1.1m there had to be some water hear somewhere. We sort of ended up behind a row of mangroves and dropped our anchor in what seemed like only a puddle at about .8 metres of water. It made for a nervous night.

Next day we were up at sunrise, pulled the muddy anchor up and gingerly made our way out to the Broadwater. Happy to have used high tide we had no problems with sand bars that day motoring all the way to Scarborough.

The next day, we motored through windless conditions arriving in Mooloolaba about 2.00pm.

As we came into the Mooloolah river, passed several marinas, fishing boats and the yacht club, we found the anchorage we had ben told about. Both Leanne’s were on the bow and marveling at the shops etc as we went past. I was looking at the many boats already at anchor, surveying for a possible spot for Easy Tiger to rest for a couple of days.

BANG! Nothing even nearly dainty about this one. One second we were going forwards at about 2 and a half knots, then the next second we were at a dead stop.

Easy Tiger’s helm like most Fusion 40’s, is hidden in the cockpit. When maneuvering in close quarters there is a hatch like a sunroof that I put my head though to gain full view of the boat and what is in front of us. This is a great idea if you are sailing out in the open ocean as the helm is very well protected from the elements. This is not so good if you have your head though the hole, looking for a spot to anchor and the boat slams into the third sand bar in three days.

On impact my chin hit the hatch opening, resulting my tooth going though my lip. Also the newly fitted washing machine left its’ post, the oven fell out of it’s cupboard and fruit and veg flew from their storage points to the floor and many points in between.

The noise of the impact roused a fellow on a boat anchored nearby. “Oh", he said "by the way there’s a sand bar there. Better reverse over to the other side of the channel.”

After the initial shock, I checked all the bilges for any incoming water. I didn’t think it was a big enough hit to cause real damage but you never know.

Some Dettol on my fat and bloody lip and after putting the boat back together, we had a debrief on our issues with sand bars.

Seems that we had been a bit complacent with our system for entering unknown water ways. That is with our helm being where as is, it is impossible to keep a good look out as well as watch the depth and directional instruments.  So Leanne usually watches by Navionics on the I pad, while I keep a look out up through the hatch.

In each case we just weren’t being attentive enough. No-one to blame but ourselves. So lesson learnt the painful way.

The real message is to stick to the system, no matter who else is on board or where we are.

I think also we should bar any possibility of sand bars for at east the next month.

Interesting mountain scopes behind Caloundra.

The shipping channel out of Moreton bay was pretty busy. 

The anchorage at Mooloolaba. Who would have thought there was a sand bar here?

On safe dry land, not a sand bar this time!
Mooloolaba  Beach.

Past the pole moorings and marinas, there is a sand bar waiting!

The only shark we want to see this close up.

Moreton Bay figs, north of Moreton bay.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Sailing Around Australia; It's Only Money

Boatworks Coomera, Gold Coast Qld

12/7/2015  It’s Only Money

After 18 days on the hardstand at the Boatworks near the Gold Coast, Easy Tiger was lifted back in to the water on Friday.

55 of the 79 jobs were completed by 7 different trades, with 500 hours of labour, 14 trips to Bunnings, 20 trips to the chandlery and about $12,000 spent.
All in all several of the long list of jobs were essential. Other items might make life a bit easier and some were blatantly cosmetic.

On the upside, Easy Tiger is more self sufficient, is better organized and probably a few kilos lighter. The hull is now nicely polished, has three coats of high quality anti foul paint and the “whoopses” repaired.

On the down side, we probably could have lived for 12 weeks on money we spent, but something may well have broken on the boat had we not repaired it.

For example, both the engines have been stripped back, rustproofed, repainted serviced and tuned. They had become quite rusty after being doused with salt water during our sailing adventures. Also, the bows are now reinforced where the spinnaker bowsprit pull down cables are attached. These were suffering as they take the full force of our multi purpose sail when it fills with wind.

Other jobs, while not as essential as preventing rust overwhelming the engines will make tasks easier, like getting in and out of the dinghy and having the barbecue out of the wind. We have a new BBQ and grab rail, new rope cleats and repositioned dinghy tie on cleats. New LED strip lighting mounted in sail track will brighten up our evenings indoors where previously we would fossick around in dim, low light.

One item we had been managing to do without for the past couple of years, was the washing machine. The problem was that we had not allowed enough money for Laundromats in our original budget. We find that a couple of machine loads and then some time in the dryers seems to cost about $30 or thereabouts and as this is a weekly expedition it adds up quickly.

Coupled with this is the logistical battle of trying to find a Laundromat close the an anchorage and then dragging the washing into and out of the dinghy, or waiting to do laundry during a stay at a marina berth. We were also looking for ways that we could stay away from marinas for longer as they are getting more expensive as we go into the popular sailing areas.

The first issue we faced when thinking of installing a washing machine was where to store it aboard, when not in use. A quick survey of the boat revealed the only possibility was to strap it on to the roof, as all other potential places were taken. At this point we were thinking a cheap twin tub type washer, but storing a bulky item like that until required is presented a real problem. We found a place that we could make a cupboard to store it in, but to go to that effort, we might as well get a machine “built in”.

After a quick measure up I calculated that it would fit in our rear cabin where there were three drawers that could be removed. A trip to Bunnings and Good Guys revealed that most 5kg machines were way too big and drew too much power for our generator to handle.  Then after some research we found a 4kg Camec RV front loader washing machine that would fit perfectly (Or so I thought). Problem was it was double the price of standard “Good Guys” type washers.

After much debate, we decided that the machine would pay for itself within a year, so we could go a bit over our budget. We ordered the washing machine and it was delivered a day later. I got to and removed the drawers. Battling the 80kg machine through a doorway that was exactly the same width as the machine and then twisting it into position by myself was no mean feat. Then I found the real problem. The opening was actually about 6mm too narrow!

I contemplated cutting the opening out a bit more. But the sight of nicely finished timber work, routed edges and the overall presentation of interior of Easy Tiger stopped me in my tracks. It would have to be done by a professional.

A visit from the boat cabinet maker and $800 fixed the problem. So for exactly 2.5 times our budget, the washing machine works well and I would say that in 2 and a half years should have paid for itself. BUT!

Now with a great washing machine using 32 litres of water per cycle, we are going to need a whole lot more water, which means finding water sources and either lugging it in jerry cans or pulling into fuel jetties and marina berths weekly to top up the water supply.

There is no problem that money can’t fix. Feeling very light headed from much debate and empty walleted we ordered a Rain Man desalination unit. These come as a portable unit and can produce 140litres of water per hour. Water problem solved. BUT!

Where are we going to store this when not in use? After a long search and again much more “debate” the anchor chain was taken off and replaced with our spare that we had been keeping for a rainy day. Also one of our 2 spare anchors was thrown off. All in all we took of nearly 100 kilos.

Leanne hit upon a brain wave and as she is the Gumtree queen, advertised the old rusty chain and the anchor. A day later we had $180 in our pockets and were rid of the cast off.

I have for some time, with very limited success said to Leanne, “if something new comes on to the boat, something old will be thrown off”. For some time I had been thinking and planning how to get rid of some weight off the boat. Our water line is now 100mm higher than when we bought the boat, due to the weight we have brought aboard and that affects our sailing performance.

So I was vey pleased to get the old anchor and chain off. I was very pleased when Leanne finally decided to part with some clothes and shoes that didn’t fit into our newly rennovated walk in robe. I also had a throw out of odds and sods we hadn’t used for quite a while and were storing for the maybe one day. I could feel Easy Tiger lighter and a half a knot faster already.

My hopes however were dashed though, when I did the maths. 20kilos of old clothes removed, 20 kilos of odds and sods thrown off, 100 kilos of chain and anchor gone. 80 kilos of washing machine added, 50 kilos of water desalinator, 10 kilos of new weights for dive belts and… doh! Just as heavy as before.

So now we are back in the water and staring at a bucket full of invoices. We kind of feel sick about the money we spent and laugh when we look at the budget amounts we allocated for each job.

But with a nice shiny, organised and maintained boat ready for the next part of our sailing around Australia adventure, we’ve just got to take a deep breath and say… it’s only money!

Seeing the back end of the job.

First Mate leaning on the bin that was full of our throw outs. 
"Ellie the sea lift arrived to take ET across the yard to water.

These cushioned rails are remotely driven under the boat. 

The "works" end of the sea lift.

Have wheels... ready to roll.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Sailing Around Australia; Rushing on the Gold Coast

Boatworks, Coomera, Gold Coast QLD

5/7/2014 Rushing on the Gold Coast

Easy Tiger arrived at the Gold Coast in company with Bossa Nova on the 19th June ready to be lifted out of the water on the following Tuesday. That was the day the rush began.

As Easy Tiger hadn’t been lifted out of the water for three years or more, we expected to have quite collection of weird and wonderful creatures that had glued themselves to our hulls. We had decided to lift out at the Gold Coast as ther are far more facilities specifically for boats like our Fusion 40. We had been making a B line for the Gold Coast since our sojourn in Sydney.

Usually non trailer-ised boats or that is those boats like Easy Tiger that live in the water full time need to lifted out at regular intervals to clean off all the sea life that sets up home by sticking on to the hull. These “cling ons” can affect the performance of the boat as they create a lot more friction and slow the boat down. Plus, they like growing inside holes such as engine cooling water inlets and that can create big problems.

Since our last haul out we had also been compiling a list of jobs to do “when we haul out”. This was a good way to put off many jobs until later. Only trouble with that is that later actually arrived, with that list now grown to more than 70 items.

On our arrival at the Boatworks we were ushered into a marina berth. No sooner were we tied on we leapt off the boat to do a tour of all the businesses complete with our list in hand.

After seeing the trimmer, the fiberglass guy, the mechanic, the stainless steel guy, boat cleaners, then to the office to book in and booked the courtesy car, ready for the dozen or so trips to good old Bunnings.

The first night we retreated to the customer lounge, armed with promises of quotes and work completed in good time. The lounge was where we were able to enjoy the kitchenette, lounge suites and the heater. That’s right on the Gold Coast it was quite chilly in the evenings.

Tuesday’s lift time came round quite quickly. I was quite nervous about what we might find once Easy Tiger rose out of the water.  The guys would use the Sea lift machine which lifts the boat from underneath and in between the two hulls. Usually we have been lifted out in a Travel-Lift which has big bands that wrap around the whole boat and lifts inside a big cradle.

I needn’t have worried too much because Clint and the Boatworks crew were fabulous. The Sea-lift fitted under Easy Tiger easily and within 5 minutes Easy Tiger was out of the water revealing her nether regions.

Leanne and I were very surprised to see how clean Easy Tiger’s hulls were. After three years without replacing the anti foul, after a couple of underwater hull scrubs and maybe because we have been on the move for a couple of years there was a small gathering of barnacles near the back transom steps only.

After a pressure wash, the Sea Lift was expertly maneuvered and Easy Tiger found her new home for the next few weeks on the concrete yard.

That’s when the rush went up a gear.

Leanne decided to take on the hull work, which would involve sanding off the old antifoul paint, prepping and masking then applying 3 coats of new antifoul.

I took on the engines. The engines had been soaked in salt water at some stage and since then had become quite rusty. The engine mounts were nearly worn through as well so they had to come out. After negotiating a price with the mechanics I did as much of the work as I could.

Leanne’s friend, also named Leanne offered to come and help which was really appreciated. I am not sure that she felt that she had made such a good decision after a couple of hours of sanding black dirty dusty antifoul paint.

The girls turned black after a few hours of sanding, then spent an hour in the showers trying to get it off.

For the first week we were dismantling and stripping back. It was quite depressing to see everything being undone, wondering whether it would ever go back together.

Finally, the in the second week on the hardstand, we started “mantling” rather than dismantling. We now have a new washing machine installed and the walk in robe is sporting new shelves and baskets.

After 2 weeks though the rush is still on in our minds but the bodies are starting to wither. Also the trades we have engaged are starting to wither. “Oh just got to go and look at a job”. No sign of them for another two days. Plus a couple of days of rain set us back too.

Encouragement has come form ticking off the finished items on the list. Hopefully the list will run out before we do. 

The Leanne's tackled the sanding job... thank goodness

I tackled the walk in robe renovation

And assisted the mechanic to pull out the engines.
The fibreglass guy started the repairs.
Our new washing machine fitted in well.

A new stainless steel BBQ rail was installed.