Monday, 27 March 2017

Sailing around Australia; Rallying for the rally.

Cairns, Queensland.

March 2017

Rallying for the Rally

During the wet and cold August in Bunbury WA, last year  Leanne and I had gone for several weeks, without even mentioning it to each other. Leanne was suffering from dry eyes syndrome and had developed planta-fasciitis in her foot, which made going outside and walking quite a painful experience. I was working from early in the morning to late evenings. Thinking that this was all towards our goal of getting back on the boat, but at the same time getting quite despondent about it ever actually happening.

Out of the blue, Leanne got a face time call from our sailing buddies, Melian and Ian on Indian Summer.  They had left Mandurah (Perth) six months ago to sail north through the Kimberleys to Darwin from where they had joined the Sail Indonesia Rally.

Melian's tales of adventure and fun sailing in the warm climate of Indonesia visiting many small villages the and Orang-utan sanctuary along their journey rekindled Leanne's sailing spirit at exactly the right time. She couldn't wait for me to get home from work. By the time I did trudge through the door, she had done quite a bit of research into Sail Indonesia.

It was inspiring to see Leanne so upbeat about our sailing adventures again. I was a little horrified about the idea of travelling through Indonesia as the last three times I have been to Bali I've suffered from Bali Belly (aka; dysentery)  Also last time we were there Leanne caught a bout of denghy fever. so, no Indonesia didn't hold great memories, but at least it was nice to be discussing the possibilities and destinations and dreaming of sailing adventures again.

Over the next week or so Leanne did more research on yacht rallies in general, which is when she came across the Down Under Go East Rally. This was a rally, or if you like a convoy, that heads out to the South Pacific. The more we discussed the idea the more we like the sound of going in a convoy to the South Pacific and visiting the beautiful islands of New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

The work I was doing at the time was four days on and four days off. As luck would have it, the Down Under Go East Rally was holding an information day in November at the boat works (where Easy Tiger was in storage) and on a day that fell right in the middle of my days off. So tickets were booked and arrangements made. We got to spend a few days on Easy Tiger and got to attend the information day for the Down Under Go East Rally. The best part, though was that we got to see so many of our sailing friends as they were packing up their boats after the cruising season that we had just missed.

Our arrival at the Boatworks coincided with Neville and Amanda lifting Bossa Nova out of the water for six months storage. Also, Brain and Eva from Sofia had come down from Brisbane for a short sharp visit and to attend the information day.

There were about 40 people in attendance at the information day, where the promoter of the rally, John Hembrow spoke. He showed us the barrier reef of New Caledonia and the lovely small villages and islands of Vanuatu.

New Caledonia certainly seems like a wonderful place to cruise for a few months. This French province has the second biggest barrier reef in the world that forms a huge lagoon full of differing islands.

We also heard from a guy who did the rally last year, which gave us confidence that we could do it.

After "expressing" our interest we started talking about it more. We discussed the possibilities at length with others that we knew. Most seemed quite interested. For me there was a fair bit of trepidation at taken on another long passage, as we had a bit of a rough time crossing the Great Australian Bight. This trio would be couple of hundred nautical miles longer. But the more we talked to each other and to other cruisers we knew each and every problem could be solved. Also we started adding up the costs, looking into things like national registration for the boat, Insurance for overseas passages, searching for crew and a whole host of other items.

While their seemed so much to think about, so much information to be sought and so many decisions to be made it could have been a bit overwhelming. The nice part was though that since that day we have approached our sailing adventures with a new sense of vigour and excitement. A dream was generated. It was just like the year before we left to sail around Australia. A whole new adventure.

We had started to rally for the rally.

At home we had to make do with our inflatable friends while our sailing buddies were cruising without us.
At the Down Under go East Rally information day we caught up with  Brian and Eva off Zofia  among others. Didn't take long for the Champers to come out.
Really hope this guy isn't leading the Rally!
Quite a crew got together for the Down Under Go East Rally

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Sailing around Australia; Feel the heat

Boatworks, Coomera, Gold Coast, Queensland.

Feel The Heat

This week the Gold Coast of Australia has been a heat wave. Temperatures have hovered near on 40 degrees celsius on the coast, while a little further inland 45 degrees was forecast for several towns. During our road trip from Western Australia to the Gold Coast we had regular readings on the car dashboard of 45degrees external temp.

Easy Tiger is being prepped for the next adventure. This means that she sits on the hard concrete yard. The hard concrete reflects the heat.

Part of our prep and for Easy Tiger’s 10Th birthday we have decided to give the saloon area a makeover.  After getting a few quotes and prices it was soon clear that it wasn't going to happen unless we did a lot of the hard core labour ourselves. We didn't factor in the heat though.

The first task required, was to tape up the whole saloon/galley area, sand back the bench tops and then sand off the worn cork floor. Not the sort of job that should be done in 40degree heat. But it had to be done.  We decided to work Mexican hours to see if that was the best way to tackle the task. Mexican hours are starting early, then a siesta in the middle of the day and then an "afternoon" shift in the evening. This worked well for a few days until we found that afternoon shift just wasn't happening. We had stuck too much to Australian afternoon hours which means 5.00pm is beer o'clock.

Our sailing buddies, Brian (B1) and Maree are here at boat works as well. They, like us, had been back in Western Australia for a “spell” and like us were finding it hard to acclimatize to the Gold Coast heat.

As I was prepping the floor for sanding one particularly hot day, Brian knocked on the boat and came aboard to see if he could borrow our car. “I am off to buy a portable air-conditioner,” he said, “We can’t cope any longer without some sort of cooling”.

“No need to borrow the car”, I said. “I think we will come with you to buy one as well!”  I probably should have cleared this with Leanne first, as an air conditioner was well over our budget. It was with a little trepidation I told her of my brief conversation with Brian. “Thank god for that. Let’s go,” was her reply.

Brian had a particular make and model in mind, as it would fit in the best spot on their boat “Urchin”. Another boat in the Boatworks yard, Aqualibrium had one of these, so after finding out where Gerry got his, I decided to do a ring around to see who would give us the best price.

I soon found out it wasn’t who would give us the best price; it was a matter of who would have anything like a portable air-conditioner in stock in South East Queensland. With a heat wave lasting a couple of weeks before we arrived and another impending hot spell forecast it seems that most people in South East Queensland were looking for the same thing as we were, portable Air-conditioners.

After ringing all the major big brand stores and being basically laughed at, I rang a smaller store who said that he had one left.  We thought briefly about leaving Brian and Maree behind, while we raced to the store at the speed of light. We relented though and took them with us. Guess what? They got in first and paid for the last one in stock.

After some discussion with the sales guy (and pleading and begging from Leanne), the guy rang several other stores and located one portable air-conditioner in a store 20 kilometers away.  Our heat wave was over. We would be cool tonight. Or so we thought, until we tried to get one big portable air-conditioner, plus Brian and Maree, plus the left over bits and pieces we can’t fit on the boat, into our car.

What to do? The store couldn’t deliver for a few days. We wanted to be cool, now. Thankfully Boatworks yard have courtesy utes available for folks using their boat yard which are available for three hours at a time. They are hotly contested among the boaties who are all trying to get things done on their boat in the shortest possible time.

Hurriedly we rang to book the courtesy utility from the Boatworks, Luckily one was available but only for two hours as it had to be back before the office closed. Then we had get back to the yard, change vehicles and drive to the far off store, getting there before they sold the last unit. If we failed, we would be feeling the heat for another month.

Fortunately, we were successful. We picked up the second last portable air-conditioner unit in South East Queensland. Leanne wept tears of joy as we plugged it in and felt the cold air it blew into our faces. Our 4.1kw of cooling power, plus our boom cover providing some shade over the boat have made a far more comfortable existence while we are getting through our list of chores.

The only time it has been switched off since that moment was the day I spent a day sanding down bench tops and floors, our new best friend, as I didn’t want to fill our new most favourite thing on the boat filled with sanding dust and grit.

Even that day is now a distant memory, now that we have our new floors in, our new bench tops and our lovely new seating. The only problem is, that it is even harder to get out side, feel the heat and get things done.

As for the makeover of Easy Tiger...well we think she now looks...HOT!

Our new most favourite thing on the boat. Our Portable Airconditioner.

All systems ready for the change

Taped up masked up and temperature up

The start of the floor boards

While I was doing the floor Leanne prepped the bench tops

Now for the tricky bits

Flors done then our new upholstery arrived.

It all came together at last.
The final product.