Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Back to the US

We have had a great season here.  We have to head back to the States to take care of house projects and celebrate the holidays.  We will return mid January, rent a camper van and drive about for a month.  The plan is to head down to Sydney and take the coast road to Adelaide and then back to Brisbane via an inland route.  Thanks to everyone who welcomed us so graciously and made us feel like family here.

There is now a "Follow by Email" link at the top of the screen.  If you sign up for this, you won't have to keep checking the blog for updates as they will be emailed to you when and only when I post a new blog. 

Dave and Booker

We're outa here

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Propspeed vs. Velox --- Test Results

No sooner than Tortuguita was out of the water, Marty from Bradford Marine was over to see the results of our antifouling experimental trial.

We were able to see how things were going during the season but didn't let anyone know prematurely how the two processes were holding up.

After the first month, I inspected the props and the Velox had failed but the Propspeed was holding up well.

Here are pictures of the props after 3 months:

Velox on Strut, Propspeed on the Prop
Where the strut was antifouled with Velox, it lost adhesion in places and some growth occured.

The propspeed picked up some growth but alot of it happened during the past 2 weeks in the berth.

The tips of the props had all the antifouling removed by swirling sand when we used the engines to get us unstuck in the Mary River and the Sandy Straits.  So all growth on the tips and an equivalent amount of growth elsewhere occurred since we arrived here at the marina.

Velox on both Strut and Prop
The Velox prop did not fare so well.  Most of the velox came off the prop and growth occurred on the bronze underneath.  However, there was no growth on the actual Velox itself, only where it came off.  It appears that it would be a good product if they could get it to stick to the metal.

Out of the Water, again

That's a wide Travelift
We are right on schedule.  The 2 weeks in a berth were used efficiently, the sails have been removed, the engine oil changed, batteries watered, dinghy and engine cleaned and flushed, lines removed, sunshades made and installed, water tank welded and ready for installation, toilets and holding tanks prepped for storage, and on and on.

Dry Storage at the Gold Coast City Marina
After haul out, the antifouling need to be scrubbed, tanks filled, boat washed, engines flushed with fresh water and preserved with antifreeze, and finally 'cleaned up'.  This all takes about 4 days if no problems are encountered.

Still need to be scrubbed and cleaned

Removing and Repairing a Privilege Catamaran Watertank

Tank exposed, cabinetry and freezer removed.
During our first day out of Guaymas, Mexico, we discovered freshwater in the starboard bilge.  It turned out to be a leak from the stainless steel water tank on that side.  We could have delayed our trip across the Pacific but instead have been using the remaining tank and 5 gallon water jugs.  This project has been a unknown black hole of time hanging over my head ever since.  Well if ever there was a place to repair the tank, it was Australia.  The big problem with this job is that the the tank was put in place right after the keel was laid.  Everything else was built over it.  This meant a serious amount of cabinetry that had been fiberglassed to the hull had to be removed.  The new freezer that was installed in Mexico had to also be taken out.  There were lots of unknowns and once started, that side of the boat would be torn apart until the tank was back in and the cabinetry reinstalled.  That could be weeks or maybe a month.  This is not something you wanted to do during the cruising season.

Tank ready for removal
As it turned out, only the cabinets on the outboard side of the tank had to be removed.  It appeared that it would be possible to rotate the tank during removal so it would slide under the inboard cabinets.  That was incredible luck since I don't think the factory ever intended these tanks to be removed.   The tank was also fiberglassed in place and all that had to be cut out.

This is the area that I suspected had the leak.  The welder at the Gold Coast City Marina was very busy and I would not be a priority for him.  We met a welder named Malcom last year and when we went to find him, it turned out that he closed up shop.  The guys next to his shop at 'ICE CAP' do refrigeration but were not too busy and were able to do the welding right away.

They set me up in their parking lot with saw horses and I removed all the corrosion and leak checked the tank. to find the leak.  As it turned out, there were quite a few places that needed to be welded.  Tony had to cut out the entire bottom edge and weld new metal in place.  There were also some tiny cracks that he closed up with the TIG welder.

While they were doing the welding, I was sanding and prepping the keel to get it ready for the tank.

Looks alot better that before it was removed.  Hope for no leaks.
Repaired tank installed and ready for fiberglass.

There will not be enough time to finish everything before we leave for the US so the rest of the installation will have to wait until we return.

Gold Coast City Marina, again

Besides the normal storage preparation checklist, we have a few big projects to do before we leave for the US.  The exterior sunshades that I made back in May are blue and really absorb the heat.  During past boatyard layups, we have put black plastic (also absorbs heat), reflective mylar (doesn't last), and reflective bubble wrap type insulation (also doesn't last) under the sunshades to keep the heat from building up inside the closed up boat.  I was disappointed that the old sunshades only lasted 8 seasons so in order to extend their life, my goal is to make new shades out of a lighter color that will be used temporarily during times of storage to keep the tropical sun from ruining the 'real' ones.

Making the Tan Sunshades
We bought 2 Shade Sails, basically triangular pieces of shade cloth 12 ft per side with D-rings during the window replacement project to keep the sun from expanding the plexiglass while the adhesive was drying.  They came in handy this past season and we have plans to make more and larger Shade Sails to keep the boat cooler.  We bought some of the tan colored shade cloth at a hardware store in Maryborough but they only had 5 meters left on the roll.  I made window covers out of that but still needed more.  We picked up a small roll at Bunnings (like Home Depot) to finish the project.  Bunnings also had some reflective Wall and Roof lining plastic that will be fitted under the new Sunshades.  I expect this to also fail from the UV but something is better than nothing.
Tortuguita with the new 'temporary' Sunshades

Sandy Straits and Moreton Bay

During the Austral Winter, Low pressure areas over the Tasman Sea reinforces the Trade Winds coming across the South Pacific and give predominantly Southeast winds on the Queensland Coast.  In the Spring (October/November), High pressure over the Tasman will redirect the Trade Wind flow and come from the Northeast.  This is the time to start heading South.  These Northeast winds only last for 1, 2, maybe 3 days at the most.   This is what we have been waiting for and using to get ourselves back to the Gold Coast.

We went to Maryborough because the other option was to anchor behind Frazer Island and wait.  We left Maryborough to time our departure out of the Wide Bay with the Northeast winds.  We had a good run down the Mary River pushing tide for the first hour and had great current the rest of the run.  The outgoing current was great for the river but left us with low tide in the Great Sandy Straits.  We struggled through the shallows only bumping a few times and ended up anchoring a few miles from the Wide Bay inlet.  There is an anchorage at Pelican Point which is just inside the inlet but from the a distance there were so many boats there that it looked like the Spanish Armada was there.  For sure they would have taken all the good spots in that small anchorage.

We left at dawn (5AM) and were toward the back of a pack of 20+ boats.  We passed over 10 during the day.  The Northeast wind was forecast to last 3 days and even though most of the boats were heading to Mooloolaba, some were heading further offshore for multiple day legs.  3 days was all we needed to make it back to the Gold Coast.

We anchored in the Mooloolaba River and left early for the Moreton Bay so we could catch the ingoing tide.  The wind was forecast to built to 30 kts during the day but it would be behind us and the so would the shallow shoals of of the NW ship channel.  The thing that was interesting however was that when the tide switched to outgoing, it was counter to the winds and with the 25-30 ft depth in the southern Moreton Bay, the waves were very short period, steep, and higher than you would normally see.  It was a good thing that we were going with them.

We anchored at Karangarra Island around sunset just as the wind was dying down.  The following morning we got an early start before the wind picked  up and made it to the Gold Coast City Marina by 10AM.

We plan to stay 2 weeks in a berth and then put Tortuguita in land in dry storage until April.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Maryborough, Queensland

Photo with Mary Poppins

The only thing we knew about Maryborough before we came here was that it was a long way up a river and it is where the lady that wrote Mary Poppins was born and lived.  We called the Mary River Marina and fortunately they had a mooring that had just opened up or we wouldn't have risked anchoring in the strong reversing tidal currents.  Not a bad price either ($105/week).
River mooring, taken from Queens Park

The trip up the river took 4 hours from the Sandy Straits.  We ran aground once and almost hit 2 other times.  The river has silted in from the agricultural runoff and major floods over the past 3 years.  There is almost no visibility due to the muddiness.  It is impossible to see the shifting uncharted sandbars.  Even when you are stuck on one.  Fortunately the diesel engines were able to back us off against the current.  I would much rather hit a mud bank than a coral head.
The Post Office Pub
As it turns out, Maryborough has a rich history, was a major port of entry in the mid 1800's and was slated to be the capital of Queensland.  Gold was discovered in the 1870's near here and gold fever added to the population growth. 
Inside the Post Office

The architecture in the town is some of the nicest we have seen in Oz.  The Historic District on Wharf Street has been kept to original appearance.

The Mary River has had some huge summer floods that put most of the waterfront underwater.  There were 2 in 2012 that were around 35 feet above normal river level which wreaked havoc on the marina.  The boats in the boatyards all floated away and the floating docks went higher than the pilings and were washed away.  The residents seem to take it all in stride and the boaters all keep a good eye on the weather when it starts to rain.

A 6 month old orphan Swamp Wallabee. His mum was killed by a car but he survived
We went to yet another wildlife sanctuary outside of town.  Like we haven't seen enough kangaroos.  This one had more birds than the others and the roos were plentiful.


The usual suspects, at the daily marina Happy Hour
This was a great place to explore and wait out the strong SE winds.  It looks like north winds are coming and we need to get back out to the Great Sandy Straits in position for a run south.

Check out that baby catamaran.  A guy actually lives on it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Up to Townsville and Trying to Get South

We came north to Townsville to find our friends on ZENITUDE and go exploring the Barrier Reef.  We thought there would be more time to spend here and more calmer days to anchor out at the reef but the wind was blowing strong.  Oscar had water pump problems with his dinghy engine so we fixed that but he had to take the ferry to Townsville twice to get parts.  This delayed us to the point that if we took the next calm period, we would not be able to head back to the Whitsundays for at least 2 more weeks.   

Booker, Jane, and Phil
We went in to the Nelly Bay Marina for 5 days to get away from the rolling swell in Horseshoe.  The days were spent hauling diesel from the petrol station, grocery shopping, washing the boat, and doing preventative maintenance.  We met some backpackers, Phil and Jane, partied, and spent some time walking about.

The top of a Stepping Stone

We used the north wind and had a nice 24 hour trip down to Bait Reef.  We sailed the entire time except for 5 hours when it got calm. 

The reef was really nice.  The Stepping Stones are a row of maybe 10 giant flat topped coral heads about 50 feet high and 20 feet in diameter.  The coral was beautiful, the water crystal clear, and heaps of fish.  We were using a Marine Park mooring so as to not destroy the coral.  One sweep of our anchor chain across the bottom can wipe out a thousand years of coral growth in a minute.
Our fish friend. He let us touch him. No worries.

We left the following day and went to Whitehaven Bay.  The last place on our checklist of anchorages in the Whitsundays.  The beach was beautiful white sand but very crowded with tourist boats during the day.

The plan was to start south when the winds would allow.  The normal wind pattern has been to have 3-4 hours of calm in the morning that we could use to motor to the next place.  We were passing Burning Point on Shaw Island and got a call on the radio from our friends, Terry and Elaine, on Virgos Child.  They were anchored there with Colin and Sjani on Shikama.  We dropped anchor next to them and ended up spending the next 2 weeks with them there and in the Mackay Marina.

Booker on Whitehaven Beach
We waited 10 days in Mackay paying $75/day for the berth.  Ouch.  Finally things looked good and we headed out only to find the winds on our nose.  We turned northeast and went to anchor at Scawfell Island.  We saw some incredibly large sea turtles in the anchorages.

The 100 mile stretch of coast south of Mackay is a difficult passage.  The 20+ foot tides cause strong currents that run counter to the winds, at least twice a day.   Cape Townshend, is not quite like Cape Hatteras but is nothing to mess around with.  The currents whip around the Cape and there are always steep short period waves that are called 'overfalls'.  You need to time the tides for your passage around the cape.  

Whitehaven Beach
We left Scawfell and were able to sail for most of the day.  We were doing well until passing the Percy Islands at sunset and had an unexpected 2 knot current reversal.  We went from 8 to 4 knots.  We wanted to pass Cape Townshend at midnight for the tides so we fired up the diesels to keep our speed at 8 knots.  At 11PM we heard on the radio a very worried 'bloke' on QUE SERA calling for help.  Nobody was answering so we called him back to see what was going on.  He had lost his engine and couldn't sail faster than the current.   His position was 5 miles from us, closer to the land, about 1 mile from the rocks and being pulled into 'Thirsty Sound'.  We diverted to his position, dropped our sails, and stood by in case he was grounded.  When the tide changed at midnight he was able to make headway and headed south along with us and another boat, ANDIAMO.
Mackay Marina... notice the height of the pilings... huge tides.

After Cape Townshend we saw no reason to stop anywhere so we continued for another day and arrived at Bundaberg just in time for thunderstorms to dump rain and wind on us when trying to get docked.  We stayed at the Bundaberg Marina, $65/day, for 2 days and headed to the Great Sandy Straits between Fraser Island and the mainland.  We anchored at Moon Point, were greeted by more sea turtles, and had a nice night.

It takes a full day to make it down the Straits to Wide Bay where we once again enter the ocean.  A high pressure over the Tasman Sea is reinforcing the tradewinds and are forecast to blow hard from the southeast for 5-6 days.

Our options are to go hide behind an islet for that time or head 16 miles up the Mary River to historic Maryborough and explore.  We chose Maryborough.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Bowen, Queensland was a nice stop for us.  The wind was kicking up and we needed a place to tuck in.  The boat harbor has rows of steel piling which you tie the boat between.  It was actually very secure in the howling winds and the price was much better than a marina.  You did have to use your dinghy to get to the dock but otherwise it was quite satisfactory.

Nicole Kidman rides in to 'Darwin'
Bowen is a very rural Australian town.  It is where the Nicole Kidman/Hugh Jackman movie 'Australia' was filmed.  We watched the movie a while back but had to see it again after seeing the 'real' places.  

Old Customs House, Bowen
 Here's a picture from the movie and the actual building.  They brought hundreds of truckloads of dirt and covered the paved streets to simulate Darwin in 1940.  The cattle station was set up right at the waterfront and the coal loading pier was modified to look like the Darwin shipping pier.  It was a pretty good movie.

Booker modeling my Aussie Hat
We met Gordie James at the Sailing Club.  He had great stories.  We rode our bikes to the Sunday Market at the beach.   I got an nice Aussie Hat to keep the sun from destroying my ears.  Baseball caps just don't provide the sun protection down under. 

The Giant Mango

We met up with Gordie and Roseanne there.  We put our bikes in his van and they took us around to see the big Bowen sights such as the 360 Restaurant and the Giant Mango.  We burned off the extra calories from breakfast ('brekky' in Australian) by biking back to the marina.  Bowen, an unexpectedly great stopover on our journey to Townsville.

Bowen Bay, Boat Harbor on the right. Very dry in the winter.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Whales, Wallabies, and Cockatoos

It is so hard to get a good picture of a whale.  The delay between when you press the button and when the picture actually takes is enough that the whale has already gone under.  We have seen quite a few whales.  We are careful not to get too close and make them feel harassed but they have come close to the boat on their own.

Cockatoos are around here like pigeons are in the US.  We see them alot and hear them more than that.  They are loud squawkers.  One afternoon we heard noise outside and came out to find a cockatoo walking around the boat.  We gave him some peanuts which he devoured.  He flew away when they were gone but came back an hour later for more.   This time he got a cracker but left a crumby mess.  I think he liked the peanuts better.

At Geoffrey Bay, Magnetic Island, there are Rock Wallabies living in, guess where? (the rocks).  They are like small Kangaroos.  About the size of racoons.  Like many of the other animals here, they don't seem to be too worried about people.   We brought some carrots to them which seemed to be a big hit.  They gently take the carrot and slowly eat it.  There were mum wallabies that had baby joey's in their pouches.  This place is like being at the zoo, without the zoo.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Let's Shag, baby

 Pirate-front lores
There is a small island 20 miles north of the Whitsundays that acquired the name of SHAG ISLAND.  A group of cruisers founded the Shag Island Cruisers Yacht Club (  The name has evolved to 'Shaggers' and has members from all over the world.  Every member is a Vice-Commodore and is responsible for a specific geographic area that they are knowledgeable about briefing others that may be cruising there.  We are now members and my location is Harvey Cedars, New Jersey, of course.  There is an annual Shaggers Rendezvous at Shag Island and Monte's Resort on Gloucester Point.
There are quite a few business sponsors of Shagges and they give nice discounts. 
We arrived Friday afternoon and anchored with about 200 other boats.  We didn't get a close parking spot so the dinghy ride was quite far.  We did Friday Happy Hour with a band that played on the beach.  Saturday had plenty of events and a concert by a Jimmy Buffett cover band.  The Rendezvous is not just a drunk-fest but actually raises money for the Australian Prostate Cancer Foundation.  This year they raised almost $200,000.
So, we met old friends and made new ones.  We left on Sunday, made the 20 mile sail back to the Whitsundays and picked up a mooring ball in Butterfly Bay on Hook Island.