Haul out in Singapore! (5th Dec.2008)

After almost four weeks of waiting we finally get hauled out of the water in Raffles Marina, Singapore.

Corrosion caused by serious electrolysis weakened the bronze propeller strut, it sheered off after we hit something in the Malacca straights off Malaysia.

Grinding out the base of the old strut.

The bronze base of the old strut is attached to the hull with four bronze bolts.

The New and the old!

It took a full day to build up the Fibre glass around the new strut.

...The finished product!

After eight days in the hard we finally get dropped back in the water to give Blue Moon a test run.

The wild man of Borneo!

Wednesday 15th October

As Blue Moon slowly wound her way up the chocolate brown waters of kumai river we sat back and took a moment to breath in the sights and sounds of a real life Rain Forest. We were heading deep into the heart of Kalimantan, the southern part of Borneo island belonging to Indonesia, to visit our closest living relatives the Orangutans. Seven years ago I made this same trip and it was an experience that I was really excited to repeat.

Our ultimate destination is Camp Leaky; in 1971 a young woman called Birute Galdikas persuaded Dr Louis Leaky, along with help from the National Geographic Society, to fund a research camp in Borneo so that she could study the illusive Orangutans. Dr Leaky who is famous for discovering fossils of early humans in Africa was also supporting Diane Fossey in her studies of Mountain Gorillas and Jane Goodall with the behaviour of Chimpanzees. Galdikas set herself what many scientists claimed to be an impossible task, tracking wild Orangutans through some of the most inhospitable jungle in the world. Nevertheless she succeeded and would spend days living and following these amazing animals through the canopies while she wallowed in leech filled swamps and fell ill to malaria numerous times.

As night fell over the jungle we motored up river and dropped anchor off the town of Kumai, the base for organizing our trip into the Tanjung Putting National Park. We'd just missed the Indonesian Rally's official stop here so there were still a lot of cruising yachts anchored in the river which was great as we were able to catch up with a lot of friends who we hadn't seen since Lembata nearly two months ago.

The following morning we set straight to work finding a Klotok (wooden river boat) and river captain who could take nine of us on a two day trip up to Camp Leaky. Brenda and Brian on Galliano had just come back from a trip and recommended their boat to us and for just $80 per person for two days including all our food and drink so we organised the trip for the following day. In the afternoon we jumped into a bemo (minibus taxi) for a 40 minute ride to find an ATM in the bigger town of Pangkalanbun. Pangkalanbun is a really interesting bustling town with the river at it's heart, the people live on it's banks and use it for transport, washing clothes, bathing and just about everything else you can think of!!

At 7 am the next morning we were picked up by the klotok from our boats and a guy dropped off who would stay on the boat while we were gone for security...we just hoped it wouldn't rain as he had to sleep in the cockpit! Our Klotok was probably the nicest on the river with teak furniture and a covered toilet and Separate shower. This may not sound surprising but many a time we pulled up to another boat and had a clear view of someone in the shower! We slowly wound our way up the Sekonyer River and as cruisers sat back to enjoy being passengers on boat for a change. The scenery was beautiful and constantly changing with pampas grass and swampy forest becoming thick secondary forest...more green than we've seen in a very long time.

With our eyes peeled for fresh water crocodiles, Dugongs, leopards, all kinds of monkeys and of course the Orangutans themselves. We enjoyed a lunch of local delights that our cook produced from the tiny gally below decks. Our first stop was Camp Leaky itself, after four hours on the boat it was great to finally get to walk into the jungle to explore. There are three camps in total but camp leaky is where we were to find most of the Orangutans. After walking down the long wooden board walk we visited the Information center to meet Tom the current king Orangutan.

Orangutans live most of their lives alone only coming together to mate or by accident...here at the camp it's slightly different as many of these were rescued from captivity by Galdikas as babies. One of the greatest threats to the Orangutans is illegal logging and the destruction of lowland forests. Often the young orangutans are taken from their parents by the loggers and sold as pets. Galdikas would hear of a house keeping a wild Orangutan and with the help of local officials would rescue them and reintroduce them back into the wild. Each day the foundation provides a feeding for the orangutans consisting of bananas and milk for those who are not yet fully self sufficient.

While waiting to be taken to the feeding station we were blessed with a visit by a young male who came to have a look at everyone and grab hold of whatever he could! Jimmy had a close encounter with a rather large adult male on his way out of the toilet (Jimmy on his way out of the toilet not the orangutan!). The assistants employed by the Orangutan Foundation are mostly men from the local Dayak tribe, once known as head hunters they now enjoy working to preserve the wildlife around them.

At the feeding station we didn't have to wait long before the trees were crashing down around us and a group of female orangutans carrying babies came to feed. They have very little fear of humans and were a lot less interested in us than we were of them. Orangutans share 98% of our genetic make up and are our closest living relations and it's easy to see when they walk standing up. They're hair is a beautiful Auburn colour that curls in the rain and makes the babies look adorable! We sat and watched them for over an hour and then were escorted back to the camp by a mother and baby out for a stroll. Astrid had a fright when the mother grabbed hold of her arm but the ranger quickly told her to hand over the water bottle she was carrying and the orangutan unscrewed the lid, drank the contents, put the lid back on and handed it back!

Camp leaky was our only stop the first day so we had time to wander around the camp watching the gibbons playing in the trees and hoping to catch a glimpse of 'Princess' the female orangutan made famous by national geographic and the fact that she can use sign language to communicate with the rangers...but no such luck. So it was back on the boat to move back down the river to anchor up for the night in a spot all on our own. As night fell we watched DVD's of documentaries made by Julia Roberts and Joanna Lumley who both visited the camps. Our captain took them both up the river and shared stories of the filming and some close encounters they both had with the orangutans. That night we fell asleep under our mosquito nets listening to the Proboscis Monkeys playing in the trees and the chorus of sounds coming from the jungle!

Our second day we visited two more camps and hiked into the jungle to the feeding stations, at these the Orangutans are more wild and so we were really lucky to get a glimpse of more mother and babies and one very large male. The Orangutan population may have fallen by 50% in the last ten years and with 50,000 to 60,000 remaining in Borneo and Sumatra. It's important that they do not become to familiar with humans as we are their greatest threat so its good to see that fewer are coming to the feeding stations and are supporting themselves instead.

The jungle itself was beautiful with Birds of Paradise and wild orchids hanging in the trees and such a diverse amount of vegetation, great to know that someone is out here trying to preserve it for future generations. We arrived back at our boats by night fall and had an amazing trip, if we could do it again we'd probably do the three day trip but I guess that gives us a reason to come back!!

If you want to know more about the Orangutan Foundation just go to www.orangutan.org


1st October 2008

We're currently in Bali the cultural center of Indonesia, life has been good, we're tied up to the Marina in benoa harbour and are finally getting a chance to sit still and relax! Hinduism is the largest practicing religion on the island and it really shows. With temples on every corner and offerings lining the streets it makes for a really colourful setting.

The marina is a ten minute taxi ride from the town of Kuta and bali's most touristy area...an absolutely crazy place to be after the peaceful islands of Lombok and Sumbawa. Legian Street is the central area for shopping and boy is there a lot of shopping to be done here! For $20 dollars you could fill a suitcase with clothes and housewares and still have change left over.

We took a side trip up to the artisan town of Ubud up in the hills and for the first time in years we spent a night off the boat. Our hotel was slap bang in the middle of town but we still had great views of the surrounding rice paddy fields and a beautiful pool to chill out in. Again we shopped till we dropped finding the best prices in the local market and then checked out the monkey Jungle at the end of the main street. We hired a driver to take us up to the volcano where we had lunch overlooking it's crater and of course more beautiful paddy fields. The driver insisted that we stopped at a couple of temples and it was well worth it with beautiful carved rock figurines and more importantly the chance to see Jimmy wearing a skirt!

It's something you can't say about many countries in the world but we can honestly say that we haven't met an unfriendly person since arriving in Indonesia and Bali is no exception. Smiling faces greet us everywhere we go and even though they're hard bargainers, buying an item of clothing can take 30 minutes to get to a price you can both agree on, you still come away with a feeling that their having as much fun as you! So it's hard to believe that in 2001 something happened here to rock the foundations of every ones lives when the Sari club on kuta's main street was bombed and over 200 people were killed causing complete devastation.
In August 2001 I celebrated my 21st birthday in the Sari club and to see now what locally is called 'ground zero' is extremely moving knowing it could so easily have been us. Across the street a beautiful memorial has been erected with the names of all those that lost their lives and is particularly moving. Tourism was hit hard at the time but things are starting to get back to the way it was, locals stop us in the street to let us know how happy they are that we're here and not to worry as it will never happen again...strong words!

We've loved our time here in Bali and my recommendations are:
~ Having as many cheap massages as possible.
~ Hiring your own moped so you can avoid expensive taxi fees.
~ A trip to Ubud for more shopping.
~ Getting out into the countryside for the amazing views.
~ And most importantly trying all the great food that's on offer!

Komodo...The Land of Dragons!

Wednesday 27th August.

After leaving Kupang in Western Timor we headed north to Kawula and the main chain of Indonesian Islands that run in a straight line from East to West. We passed pods of Dolphins and Whales and sailed up in between the high volcanic islands dropping anchor off the town of Lembata. These Eastern islands are really dry and parched compared to the lusher Bali and Lombok but they’re still extremely beautiful. With huge volcanic mountains towering above the anchorages and small wooden hut villages fringed with white sandy beaches the scenery is breathtaking. We restocked with fruit and veg from the local market in Lembata and headed west to avoid the rally crowds which by now we were happy to escape and try to stay ahead!

On the north side of the larger island of Flores we stopped at some great little anchorages, most of which were only big enough for three or four boats as they’re really deep all the way to the beach. The diving is supposed to be good around this area but we'd heard from some locals that the tsunami ruined a lot of the reef so we decided to wait until Bali...especially as we found out one of Jimmy's tanks had a whole in it and had to leave it on the dock.

We hit civilisation again in Labuan Bajo which is a largish town on the North West point of Flores and the tourist gateway to the Komodo Islands. It was a huge shock for us to see white faces again but it was also nice not to be the center of attention all the time. Anchored right off town we re-stocked the boat with water and fuel, had some great meals out for a couple of dollars and went a little crazy buying wooden carvings of Komodo dragons! Two days later we upped anchor and headed for the ranger station on Rinca island, you can find the dragons both here and on Komodo island but we'd heard Rinca was has much more variety of wildlife and the prettier of the two.

Monitor lizards are known the world out as Komodo Dragons, they're the largest species of lizard and actually quite aggressive when they're on the look for food. They hunt alone biting their prey once and then waiting for the animal to die from blood poisoning caused by the bacteria in the Komodo's saliva. Their usual pray ranges from monkeys, deer, wild boar, water buffalo...and of course the occasional Japanese tourist!!

Arriving at the ranger station a little too late to get the guided tour we were lucky to see up close, four huge Dragons, attracted by the smells from the kitchen. One of the guides grabbed a six foot forked stick and stood between us 'just in case', I have to admit seeing them lounging around on their belly's didn't really give me the sense that these are dangerous creatures, however, sitting in the bar listening to the rangers tell stories of how they'd all been attacked at various times gave us a much greater appreciation! Later we got the chance to go Dragon hunting on our own in a bay further south with the help of a Komodo Island fisherman and I have to say seeing the worried look on his face when we did find them was pretty scary!

Landfall in western Timor, Indonesia

3rd August 2008

Well we've made it to Indonesia and all is well. It took 4 nights to Reach the city of Kupang in Western Timor from Darwin - the wind died off the very first evening and never came back until the last... We had to motor almost the entire way.... I spent many hours with the calculator trying to determine if we were going to make it...Happy to say we found a little wind and it all worked out in the end. In an emergency Gunner and Ingvil on S/v Helen Kate were planning to drop us a couple of cans of fuel!
It was an ok trip all in all as the autopilot did its job and steered us on course so we were comfortable... Unfortunately we were one of the slowest boats so that sucked to say the least. We just couldn't figure out why... I ended up jumping over mid ocean to clear the prop and was successful in stripping off some heavy seaweed... It seemed to improve our speed but it was mostly a mental fix, without enough wind old Blue Moon is too heavy to make way efficiently - the concerning part was that friends on s/v Antares caught a 2 meter shark a little later just behind their boat about a mile from us... Yikes!
Kupang has been great- it's like India meets South America, Lots of noise and craziness. We spent most of the time trying to get cleared/checked in... It started out smooth but as always became tangled in typical third world bureaucracy. Lucky for us we had several over 60 cruisers maintaining a round the clock watch and kept the pressure on the rally staff and local government rep's... In the end everyone was able to get cleared - but not until they impounded all the vessels in the fleet - not physically but by writ - and everyone had a very large seizure sticker affixed to the hull... This again was resolved by a little extra money and more forms and stamps to be collected...
Things here are much cheaper than OZ - Fuel is under a dollar a liter but dirty... Worst fuel I have taken since I departed Florida -or Ever! I had to dump and clean out the baha fuel filter three times - what a mess but at least we're topped with fuel and bottled water now..
We took a tour of the island as part of the rally - they provided 11 buses, a police captain with land cruiser to lead us and an ambulance to follow not to mention several military and civilian escorts... It was quite a sight...Visited a few mountain villages including 'Soe' and 'Boti'- traditional & very isolated - really interesting but the bus ride - Wow ! My kidneys are still sore - they used an old WWII Japanese built road to get us out into the highlands - we took off at 7 am and got back at 10 pm... Long day but worth every minute and all free with the rally.
Caroline & Eli were asked to visit a school - middle and high school combo - they were the first white people many of the kids had ever met... They had seen some on TV or in a mag but never in person! Interesting ... The Indonesian's are really nice people - funny, warm and always love to try to communicate. Kupang is a mix of Muslim and Christian; most people are quick to tell us that they have a problem with the radical Muslim element as well... We were able to get a sim card for Caroline's phone for 5 bucks so we have a mobile phone again!
The Kupang anchorage was very windy and dirty with all sorts Of garbage - mainly plastic and junk floating around... Several boats broke free and went drifting on the second day as the wind picked up... It took ten of us with dinghy's four hours to rope then all in and re anchor the boats as the owners were off on tours... This inspired everyone to get a cell phone working. We had an incident as well; someone slipped down and hit Bluemoon... Lucky for us not hard and no visual damage - he was onboard at the time and apparently the radio was ablaze with everyone yelling to get people over to help and he was able to start his engine and get away in time... What a pain especially since I had already asked him twice to move and he wouldn't - needless to say he has been hard to find since...
We've now moved on from Kupang to the smaller island of Roti 20nm south with s/v Helen Kate, Antares and Silene. There are about 6 other boats here- mostly the younger cruisers. The remainder of the fleet has gone north to Alor; I needed a break from the crowds. So many people and 'Pushy'... Some are really unaware of themselves, at one of the villages the King handed out hand woven 'Ikat' scarves to each person. With a 100 or so people around some started to shove their way in front of each other to get theirs first...I was pushed out of the line several times.... It was all to do for me to not yank them back by the collar... This selfish "me first" attitude highlighted itself later that day when I was in line for lunch...Lets just say that I was glad they only handed out spoons with our food! The Indonesians are so calm and generous at times it was embarrassing to be associated with such rude white people.
However, we're enjoying being back in another culture and one that is a heck of a lot more affordable... Everyone in the rally have been very helpful and the locals are great - many of them understand English which makes it a little easier although it's like learning Spanish again - start with the numbers and thank you then work your way up.

Do you think they eat in Indonesia?!!

Tuesday 22nd July

It's a natural instinct to be prepared and to want have as much food as possible around for those 'just in case' situations. With cruisers, however, it's addictive and even though we promised our selves we wouldn't do Panama all over again....we have. It starts with a rumour that toilet paper and peanut butter cannot be found and then we decide that everything we like, we have to get here......and we like a lot!!

We've already made over eight trips on the bus with huge backpacks filled box milk, cereal, pasta, canned vegies and a whole lot more. People are amazed that we have room on the boat for so much and quite honestly so are we. The fun starts when we have to mark all the tops of tins with whats inside just incase labels get torn off and try and make packages smaller by removing boxes and putting in zip lock bags. It's a long and expensive process but how will do we know if in a couple of months time we're going to feel like eating baked beans on toast instead of fried rice?!


Monday 21st July

Darwin is the Northern territory's only city and arriving here as our last stop in Australia has been a great experience. We've been here over two weeks now and even though there's been a constant stream of work on the boat we've still had time to explore and enjoy the endless perfect sunny days. With Backpacker bars and cafes everywhere it's been possible to get cheap meals out and Jimmy's favourite $10 pitchers of beer!

The anchorage here in Fannie Bay is huge but with 20ft tides we have to anchor a LONG way from shore. Heading to the beach in our dingy is a voyage of its own and if you time the tides wrong it's an even bigger task to drag the dingy up the beach to the high tide mark. Luckily the yacht club provides dinghy trolly's we can use which have given us a great source of entertainment when heading home in the dark after a few drinks and trying to find the water with dinghy in tow!!

Joining the Rally from Darwin to Kupang in Eastern Timor is probably one of the best decisions we've made. Even though we were pretty skeptical about travelling with over 100 other boats the organisation has made things really easy. On arriving we had to start the check out process with customs and apply for our Indonesian visa ourselves but all else is done for us and these were really easy to do. We've already had our welcome BBQ with free food and drinks and live Indonesian music which gave us a chance to get to know some of the other cruisers.

Every Thursday and Sunday night there's a huge market on mindil beach which is a short walk from the yacht club. It's a great place to buy food and crafts from all over the world and sit and watch the famous sunset while listening to the live music. July and August are the busiest times in Darwin and it's a hive of tourists and young travellers looking to have a fun time. Unfortunately we still have to finish our varnishing, cleaning, stocking etc but I'm sure we'll have time to squeeze in a few more fun things before we leave on the 26th.

Our New Cruising Log

Monday 14th July

Check out our new cruising log by clicking on the Daily Log link on the right hand side of this page. We will be emailing updates via the boats SSB radio so that we can give you more frequent info on where we are and what we're up to!!

Australia's Far North!

17th June 2008

After a really great sail up behind the Great Barrier Reef we have made it safe and sound around the most Northern tip of Australia, Cape York. We've been moving everyday getting up just before sunrise and sailing with over 30 knots of wind but flat calm seas due to the protection of the reef. It's a sailors dream which has allowed us to make day hops of over 60nm! That may not sound too impressive to you land dwellers who can get that far in your car in less than an hour but to us moving on average at 5 nautical miles an hour it's fantastic.
One of my favourite stops so far has to be the bush town of 'Cooktown', this is where Captain Cook took his ship after hitting the Endevour reef to make repairs and thus became Australia's first official european settlement. Cooktown is way up in far north queensland surrounded by rainforest and very isolated from the rest of the country. The Endevour River where we anchored is supposedly infested with Crocodiles and they've even been seen walking down the mainstreet not so long before we arrived. Jimmy had a great idea that we should go for a cruise up the river in the dinghy to see if we could spot one......male logic! Luckily we had no such luck as i'm pretty sure they find you and only when they fancy a snack.

Here we got a great feel for Aussie bush life with a constant influx of four wheel drive vehicles coming into town to stock up. Australians don't do camping half heartedly, not only do they take their huge aluminium boats with them but just about anything you could possibly think of gets stacked and packed on top of and behind their trucks. They spend months in the outback and here 4x4's are used in the way their meant to not just to drive the kids to school but go 'Off Road' and quite literally 'under water'....now we know what the snorkel is for! The great thing is the people have been really friendly and after a drink at the RSL club we now know the history of the whole area.

From Cooktown we made a day sail to Lizard island another favourite spot with cruiser Pot luck dinners everynight and most importantly crystal clear water for swimming and snorkelling. We jumped overboard to scrape all the funky growth off the hull thats grown in all the rivers only to find ourselves covered in millions of tiny shrimp that managed to find every spot on our bodies. Jimmy was sure he could feel them wriggling in his ears a week later!!The water was still a little cold for my liking so I'm looking forward to getting back closer to the equator again. The hikes were fantastic here and a short walk over to the Blue Lagoon to watch the Kite surfer competitions made a nice break from work on the boat. We found out the cheapest room at the resort here is $1,2oo a night so we're all pretty happy that we had the best view on the island and it cost us nothing!!

The Whitsundays

Monday 19th May

Well we finally made it to the gorgeous Whitsunday Islands & are really loving relaxing on the pure white sandy shores of Whitehaven Beach and snorkelling in the clear waters of Butterfly bay. With names like Daydream island how can we go wrong? The whitsundays are perfect for moving anchorage everyday and just taking it easy for a while. I've been showing Jimmy around as it was here almost seven years ago that I first discovered sailing while working on a charter boat trying to make cash to keep on backpacking! Nothing has changed and we've found ourselves anchored next to my old rivals & making fun of all the tourists in their very unattractive sting suits (they have to wear them because of the jelly fish).....Ingvil pointed out that they look a lot like Tele Tubbies going for a swim.

We celebrated Norwegian Independence day, 17th May, with a trip to Airlie Beach on the main land and Back packer central. The bars were packed and we partied the night away with hundreds of happy drunken people, the down side is that we're still trying to recover. It was this day last year that we arrived in the Marquesas after 25 days at sea, I can't believe how quickly the time has flown by. The plan now is to finish up some work on the boat as we have to stitch sails, brew some more beer and top up on fuel and water. We've had beautiful hot sunny days for over a month now so fingers crossed it keeps up and we can make a jump up to Magnetic island in the next couple of days. From there we'll move on up to Hitchinbrook and island hop up the coast to cape york, hopefully stopping along the way to get in some dives on the Barrier reef.

With over 140 boats now signed up for the Indonesian rally everyone we meet seems to be on the same schedule as us and from what we can tell there's going to be a lot of socializing and a lot of fun to come!! Check out the rally web site on the links up above.

Vacation Time!

Saturday 10th May

The past three weeks have been hectic, we’ve sailed over 300 Nautical Miles spending no more than two nights in any one place until reaching the Keppel Islands and all with Jimmy’s mum on board! Pat flew into Brisbane on the 21st March with over 150lb of spare parts, new clothes, bottles of rum, DVD’s and player, Girl scout cookies (delicious biscuits sold in the states by the Girl Guides- for those non Americans), New shoes, hundreds of zip lock bags (very important on a boat) and much, much more. After all that what space was left she managed to squeeze in a few clothes for herself!
We didn’t give her much of a chance to settle in before heading out of Brisbane to more exotic anchorages. However things didn’t go so smoothly as we’d expected….it started with us wrapping the second anchor line around the propeller and having to get a local guy to dive into the murky, bull shark infested water (Jimmy wisely decided not to do it himself) to cut and pull it free. All went well but it put us a couple of hours behind schedule and so we pushed to get to our first anchorage before it was too dark. No problem except we were anchoring between a row of sunken ship wrecks and the beach with not a lot of space for mistakes, we put on brave faces and maneuvered in. All went very smoothly until Jimmy went down below to switch on a light and found himself standing in water! Someone (we’re still not sure who) left the salt water pump in the bathroom switched on and so water was pouring into the boat. He swiftly found the problem and got it under control long enough to get the anchor down and review the damage.

The next two hours were spent getting the water to drain out into the bilges and washing the carpet out on deck with precious fresh water. When at last it was finished and we were getting ready to prepare dinner the wind and swell in the anchorage picked up and we began to roll back and forth as if we were in a rough passage. The rest of the night was spent trying to hold ourselves in our bunks and Jimmy decided the only way to stop Pat falling out of bed while asleep would have been to Velcro her in!
We survived the night and we’re all happy to get away out to sea the next morning even though it was an overnight passage to Fraser Island and the following day we had to cross the Wide Bay Bar. I think at this point Pat was starting to think twice about her choice of a ‘relaxing vacation’. The Wide Bay bar turned out to be very interesting as we watched boats ahead of us disappear through a line of breaking waves, knowing we had to go next. We got lucky and our timing was perfect, the breakers were all around us but we passed through safely (we later found out a 40ft Catamaran had been flipped over here a week before). To celebrate Pat decided that we should treat ourselves to a calm night and hot showers and so we happily pulled into the marina in Tin Can Bay.
The next week we spent day sailing the coast and exploring Fraser island, the largest sand island in Australia, hunting for our first sight of a wild Dingo’s and relaxing by the pool at the beautiful ‘King Fisher Resort’. With only one sleepless night caused by giant fruit bats fighting for a place to sleep in our rigging! Before long we were underway again and after another couple of day sails and one overnight we made it safe and sound to The Keppel islands. This was the end of the trip for Pat so we decided to spend a few days taking it easy before heading to the main land for her flight home. We hired a car in the town of Yeppoon giving us a day to do some sightseeing and visiting a zoo so at least pat could go home having seen a glimpse of the Koalas, Kangaroos, Dingo’s and Cassowary birds!
Pat flew out at six thirty in the morning so it was an early trip to the airport and a very sad farewell. The time always seems to fly by when anyone comes to visit and it’s never long enough. We really enjoyed having her with us and hope we didn’t make her suffer with too many rolly days at sea. We spent the rest of the day making the most of the rental car and shopped till we dropped stocking up for our trip around the top end of Australia and Indonesia. We haven’t brought this much food since we left Panama and there was no room left in the car once we’d finished!!
So now you find us sitting in another rolly anchorage on the Keppel’s trying to figure out where we can possibly store everything over a much needed rum and coke. I have to admit we are pretty exhausted but with the Whitsunday’s only two days sail away there’s no rest for the wicked and so much more to see!!!

Brisbane River

Sunday 20th April

Well we're back in another major city, Australia's third largest to be precise,and really loving it! sailing 15 miles up the winding Brisbane river we passed through ever changing industrial and residential areas and finally made our way into the heart of the city. Anchoring off the botanical gardens with towering skyscrapers all around us I quite literally think we have the best view in town.

Once we figured out how to anchor without swinging into any other boats as the tide changed direction (there have been many near misses!) we were able to get ashore and explore for at least six hours until the next change over. Brisbane is a much smaller version of Sydney and so instead of taking weeks to explore it's only taken us a couple of days to get ourselves orientated. It's a beautiful city with a really great vibe, the people are friendly and we've already met just about the whole cruising community living here.

We've also finally caught up with our friends Eli & Jorn on the Norwegian boat 'Silene' who we haven't seen since Bora Bora and have been making up for missed drinks and nights out! They've helped us to decide that we will be carrying on to Indonesia with an organised rally in July. If you know us you know that we're incredibly indecisive and would have procrastinated to the last minute. We did consider stopping in Australia to work but there lure of more exotic islands and warmer climates (yes it is autumn here and absolutely freezing at night) is just to much!! So we'll be leaving for indonesia on the 26th July and then cruise through to Singapore, Malaysia and hope to be in Thailand for Christmas.

Goodbye New South Wales - Hello Queensland!

5th April 2008
Yes we have finally crossed the border and passed out of the State of New South Wales and into Queensland! It’s been a bit of a slog over the last few weeks pushing up the coast as soon as the winds turned round from the south. However the quiet, tucked away little towns we’ve found along the way have been fantastic.
We pulled into the town of Yamba after a tough three day sail up from Port Stevens and our first experience of crossing over a bar – no, not the type you buy a drink in but the kind that’s created by a build up of sand at the entrance of a breakwater! The area gets really shallow and breaks in bad weather, however, with the help of pre- planning the tidal flow on an incoming tide you can hopefully avoid anything too bad.
Yamba’s a typical Australian small surfing town, really relaxed and friendly and completely laid back. We were lucky to catch up with some Norwegian cruising friends on board “Blue Marlin” who stopped here so their twin daughters could spend a couple of months attending the local school. Luckily for us they’d befriended the local shrimp fishermen and so we feasted on delicious cheap fresh prawns! We also got our first sight of Kangaroos.....at last! We'd heard that they love the grass on the Golf course and that's exactly where they were.
We took a side trip up the river to the town of Maclean , originally settled by the Scottish it’s still brimming with their ancestors and traditions. Unfortunately we’d just missed their yearly Highland games but we spent our time admiring all the painted telegraph poles with clan tartans and took a hike up to the cairn (almost killing Jimmy) with beautiful views over the river.
Our next stop was the town of Ballina, just 55 miles north of Yamba and a slightly more tricky bar entrance. The anchorage was on the other side of the river from town so it was blissfully quiet and just a short walk to a perfect surf beach. We jumped on the bus and took a trip to the famous town of Byron Bay, one of my favourite stops on my last visit. Byron is a mecca for travellers and surfers looking for that perfect chilled out experience. With all the great little clothes shops it's hard not to love it!!
I dragged Jimmy up to the lighthouse and Australia's most easterly point to get the great views of the coast and Fingal Beach - the famous surf spot. We visited the Arts Factory backpackers where I once called home and Jimmy got a feel for the possibility of becoming a backpacker for a while!

Our time as always was short and we decided to push on through to Queensland while we had a reasonably good weather window. However crossing the bar on the way out of Ballina in rougher weather was not a fun experience. After arriving we heard from a local that this one was rated one of the worst bars in Australia (we wished we'd known before coming in). As we started to leave we could see big breakers all across the entrance and as we got closer they got bigger. The thought of turning around was appealing but we decided to keep on and we're extremely lucky that our timing was perfect. With breaking waves all around us we slipped on through just before a rogue wave crashed behind us!

We are now safely anchored off of Surfers Paradise (yes that's what it's called) in the Gold coast and are waiting for the rain to stop before we sail up through the inland waterways to Brisbane. Jimmy's mum arrives on the 21st so we have a lot of work to do to get the boat guest worthy again!!

Port Stevens – We have Guests!!

Saturday 15th March 2008
Our next stop up the coast was the town of Newcastle, the second largest port in New South Wales and a real industrial center. We spent a couple of days exploring the largest sand dunes in Australia and climbing the town’s famous phallic tower (known locally as the ‘Giant Penis’?!). The lonely planet says ‘you gotta love this city’ but Jimmy and I both agreed that two days were enough so we upped anchor and headed on to Port Stevens!
We loved Port Stevens on the way down the coast and it’s still just as great……Long white sandy beaches, quaint little towns and lots of bush walking trails.
The real excitement came with the arrival of two packages at the post office from both England and Florida. My dad sent us a mobile phone and my old digital camera and Jimmy’s dad sent a huge package filled with new running shoes and an underwater camera for me along with dock shoes, running shoes, a new barometer, loads of T-shirts and the all important Loo seat for Jimmy!! It was like Christmas all over again and the boat was filled with and explosion of goodies.
After a week of relaxing on the boat we had some great news that Jimmy’s cousin Mac and his wife Julienne were in Sydney on business and really wanted to come and find us for a couple of days. The sun god decided to bless us with a predicted nine day heat wave and as the temperatures soared we got to work cleaning and organizing realizing how much we’d been neglecting our boat chores lately!

Mac & Julienne were to be our first guests on board since Jimmy’s mum in Galapagos and a couple of cruising friends during the Panama Canal crossing. I was really worried that they’d feel cramped, especially trying to fit Mac’s 6ft 3” frame into our tiny V-birth! However, Jimmy cunningly prepared them that it would be a lot like camping and when Julienne arrived with her own toilet roll I was able to relax that it had to be better than they expected!

With the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky we spent two days showing them around. With the perfect weather, however, came little wind so when we went out sailing we were only able to turn off the engine for a couple of minutes, just long enough for Julienne to take the helm and get a couple of all important Photos. Extra hands also came in handy especially pulling our dinghy ‘Goliath’ up the beach, it weighs a ton and with the big tides here I think we’re going to have to invest in wheels!
We had a great time and really enjoyed having Mac & Julienne on board, Jimmy loved having some fellow Americans around to talk about home and have a break from all the Europeans and Australians! They were great guests and very easy to please, we were sorry to see them go but at least we now feel a lot more confident about having more visitors……So what are you waiting for?!!
Since they left were still experiencing the heat wave with temperatures rising to over 35*C. We’ve made the most of it by having BBQ’s on the now famous ‘Jimmy’s beach’ (yes that’s what it’s called) and searching for the illusive Kuala and Kangaroo – which as of yet we still haven’t been able to find!

Broken Bay and Home & Away Beach!

Tuesday 24th February
Broken bay is just 16 miles north of Sydney harbour and as our cruising guide says ‘this region constitutes one of the world’s great cruising grounds’. We had a beautiful sail up the coast and then another 6 miles into the bay heading up the Hawkesbury River. There are loads of cruiser friendly 24 hr courtesy moorings throughout the bay and along with ‘Helen Kate’ we picked one up off the town of Brooklyn, happy not to have to drop the anchor. Our Dutch friends on ‘Antares’ had rented a house further north for a couple of weeks while their family visited & had invited us all up for a BBQ. The next day we jumped on the train and headed to Gosford where Jasper met us in a huge rented car and took us to their house in Coca Cabana beach.
After living on the boat for so long it’s a really strange feeling to walk into a house with a full size kitchen and Bathroom – everything seems huge. The back porch is bigger than our whole boat and the BBQ grill almost twice the size of our Galley!! We had a great time relaxing in a new environment and it was easy to see that Astrid was going to find it very hard making the transition of moving back on the boat after all this luxury. Their son Marijn, who’s just over a year & a half and lived on the boat his whole life, was over the moon to have so much space to run around in. However, we heard later that he was the happiest of the three to return home to the boat……with cruiser kids it’s in their blood!

A couple of days later we headed to one of the southern inlets called America Bay and picked up one of the hundreds of moorings right next to a huge waterfall that pours into the bay. It’s named one of the best anchorages on the east coast of Australia and is extremely beautiful. However it’s not a well kept secret and you’re certainly not going to get any privacy here! Every square inch is taken up with private mooring balls and on the weekend or holidays boats are packed in like sardines with music blaring. We couldn’t really go ashore here as the sides of the bay are sheer rock faces and vegetation and so after a couple of days of being boat bound we decided to head around to Pitt water and re provision.
Pittwater is an inlet that stretches south of the main harbour with Ku-Ring-Gai Chase national park on one side and Sydney’s northern beach suburbs on the other. As we started to motor down the channel we had a call on the radio from Ingvil and Gunnar to say that their engine had broken down and could we give them a tow in. We took them to the closest mooring ball and then decided to sail the five miles to the end of the inlet as we’d be closest to the facilities. We’d never seen so many sail and power boats in one place and every bay was packed full. Luckily we found two free police mooring balls and squatted on them for the week – If the police came we’d tell them it was an emergency!!
It turned out that Helen Kate had shattered a few of the valve springs and bent one of the rocker rods in their engine. After checking out the price of mechanics here in one of the richest parts of Sydney, Gunnar decided that he’d just have to fix it himself! Luckily he was able to order the parts and had them in his hand a day later; he went to work straight away and did a great job. Three days after he’d ordered the parts the engine was back together and chugging along happily. It goes to show that cruisers can do anything when they put their minds to it!
We were all happy to leave the rolly moorings in Pittwater and headed back up to the entrance of the bay to anchor off Palm Beach – the home of the TV series ‘Home & Away’. I grew up with this show in England as it’s been screened five days a week ever since I can remember. We Walked over to the ocean side of the spit and stood outside the surf club looking at the familiar scene of the long golden beach. It’s probably the most beautiful beach in Sydney and surprisingly very few people on it. Hiking up to the light house high on the point we got fantastic views of the whole bay. Looking out to sea it was obvious that this was perfect weather for making our next hop north up to Port Stevens. Southerly winds don’t come along too often and so the very next day that’s exactly what we did!


February 10th 2008

We’ve now moved away from the hustle and bustle of city life, sailing back down the harbour past the Opera House for the last time and into the Suburb of Manly. Manly is a really laid back beach town right by the entrance of Port Jackson with a great surf beach on the ocean side of the town and quiet little harbours on the inside. We were able to anchor off our own private beach in Store Bay which is just a short dinghy ride to the main town and a beautiful anchorage.
We were shocked to find out that we couldn’t anchor too close to shore because it’s a penguin breeding area! I would never have believed that there were penguins in Sydney however we can confirm that we had many sightings of them around the boat and they were just like the ones we saw in the Galapagos Islands. Manly is really popular with Backpackers and tourist who give it a great relaxed holiday feel especially when the sun is out and the bars and beaches are full. We really enjoyed relaxing on the beach playing paddle ball while the braver ones tackled the waves to go surfing.Hiking almost 20 km along the coastal scenic walkway into middle harbor we passed through housing estates one minute and beautiful national parks and beaches the next. It was hard to believe we were so close to the city and civilization, which is probably why the wealthiest of Sydney’s residents choose to live here.

On the 26th of January we celebrated Australia day by wearing our Flip Flops and going to the beach for a sausage sizzle and surfing. The lifeguards were all out competing in their rowing boats racing through the heavy surf and tides around a marker about a mile off shore and then back to the beach without getting flipped by the huge waves in the process. They’re a tough group of people and after seeing that we feel a lot more confident going for a swim! The anchorage increased from three boats to a hundred and everyone was partying and having a lot of fun. The Australians definitely know how to make the most of a public holiday and luckily the sun stayed out all day.

Being in Sydney has been a fantastic experience and we’ve really loved every minute of it. It’s a city that really needs to be seen from the water and being on the boat has allowed us so much freedom, something I don’t think you’d feel staying on land. We’re really going to miss it but our feet are starting to itch and we’re longing for the wind in our sails again. We plan to sail slowly up the coast stopping as much as we can along the way to enjoy the smaller towns and harbours. We’ll spend some time in Brisbane and then Hop up the islands off the Barrier reef to the Whitsunday’s where I first learnt to sail almost seven years ago.

Sydney New Year 2008

After arriving in Sydney a couple of weeks before New year we've spent all our time exploring and taking in all the sights and sounds a major city has to offer. We sailed into the harbour early in the morning as we were determined to sail the whole way past the Opera house and Under the Harbour Bridge without starting the engine. Luckily we had just enough wind to keep us at a steady pace to avoid the constant stream of ferry boats, pleasure cruisers and other sail boats that pack the inner harbour. We fulfilled many cruisers dream that day; sailing past the famous land marks and having our picture taken by all the tourists along the way! Our friends on Helen Kate had already found a great anchorage in Black wattle Bay, just off Darling harbour and right in the heart of the city making everything was accessible by foot.

We spent the next few days finding our bearings and walking more than we probably had in the whole pacific crossing so lots of blisters and sore feet. I'd been here around seven years ago on my last visit and was really keen to see all the things I had missed the first time. Poor Jimmy was dragged around the Botanical Gardens, The Rocks (the oldest part of Sydney), Kings Cross and numerous department stores and that was just our first day!

Christmas morning we spent opening presents and preparing for a cruisers BBQ in the park for lunch along with two Norwegian, two swedish, one Dutch and one American boat. Quite a European event which of course consisted of the traditional way too much food but of course it wouldn't be christmas with out that.

For New Year we decided to move out to the main harbour with a view of the Opera house and Bridge to watch the famous fireworks. Our friends on Antares were having problems with their engine so we towed them out into the harbour so they didn't miss out on all the fun. We anchored up the day before and really glad we did as there must have been over a thousand boats anchored around us by New Years eve night. We got a great spot and Helen Kate and Antares came over for dinner and drinks to watch the Finale of 2007. At midnight the fireworks started and lasted for over fifteen minutes. With four identicle sets being fired off from Barges all along the harbour and the bridge covered by an almost constant set of explosions. There were even fireworks going off the top of the tallest building in the downtown area, all syncronised perfectly.

Bluemoon Down Under

Well we finally made it and are now very happily anchored in Sydney Harbour, Australia. We had a tough last sail from Noumea in New Caledonia to Coffs Harbour on the Gold Coast, taking seven days with every weather condition thrown at us. From flat calm and motoring to 40 knots and rough seas, we changed our course three or four times thinking we'd never be able to get further south and to make the boat more stable. But from sheer determination to be in Sydney by Christmas we pulled into Coffs Harbour just before sunset on the last day and celebrated the end of our pacific crossing by getting a very good nights sleep!!
We'd heard a lot of horror stories about checking into Australia, mostly that quaranteen would take just about all our food and give us a lot of hastle about when the hull of the boat was last painted. This never happened however and we we're really pleased with the reception we were given at Coffs. Once the check-in was complete we pulled into a slip in the marina and headed ashore for our first 'Schooner' of beer and English style fish and chips! We made it and we were going to celebrate in style so that night, along with Helen Kate and a lot of champaign we retold stories of our great adventures and planned many more for the year ahead!!

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