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I’m Excited

To a certain extent the weekend has been more of the same but we are slowing down a bit.

On Saturday Bert and Ingi popped by to say Hello / Goodbye. Just like when we’re out cruising we often say goodbye to people many times and sometimes never get to say goodbye. The former is always better. But as the French say, it’s always Au Revoir as we really hope to see our friends again in some future time and place.

We had another viewing in the afternoon. Seemed to go pretty well but there are so many factors for each party to consider we will have to let this play itself out as far as it goes, if indeed, it goes any further. One thing both Helen and I agreed on was the professionalism of our new broker was orders of magnitude better than the last.

In the evening we had drinks, nibbles and conversations with Jack & Jan from Anthem and Don and Marie from Freezing Rain. A lot of very interesting discussions were had including some about the devastating news unfolding surrounding the tragedy in Connecticut.

Sam visited us on Sunday. It was great to spend most of the day with him, chewing the cud, giving parental advice (hard to avoid), etc. With his work with Greenpeace getting more and more interesting and involved (he is now coaching the next batch of workers) and our random movements between here and Melbourne, we always wonder if each visit we have together may be our last in Australia. We had a nice walk together along the Esplanade to Wynnum and back treating ourselves to ice cream in the park on the way back. I have to be honest, I still find the 30c ice creams at MacDonalds the best.

This was a really good weekend. And there is still some excitement to share. Ben let me know that he has received notification that the Nexus 4 I ordered has been delivered to his office. Assuming he confirms physical delivery I can cancel my order here in Australia. Then all I have to do is wait two and a half months (argggghhhhh) until we meet up with Ben and his partner, Amy, in South Africa i. But getting to see Ben and Amy and giving them big hugs is what I’m really excited about.

Healthwise I still feel like I’m on an upward bounce from the last chemo. I have had a few bouts of extreme tiredness over the last few days. I think the sail we went on knocked a bit more out of me than I imagined but I look at this only in a positive light. Today we’re heading back to Melbourne where tomorrow we have an appointment with Michael MacManus at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. Lot’s to talk about and hopefully we can take a few more steps towards building a bridge to the UK health services.

Back to the Marina

We had another lazy morning in before readying to depart the anchorage just before midday. The Jacksters did stop by as we had a bit more dive gear for them so another round of goodbyes were had.

The wind was in the high teens to low 20s and ahead of us so we were on a close haul all the way back. We put two reefs in the main and headsail as we knew we would be close to and indeed the apparent wind was occasionally as high as 30 knots though mainly in the low 20s. Again we were against the current as we left earlier than before and low tide was now nearly 3 hours later than before. Despite this we easily averaged over 7 knots over ground (over 8 through the water) and later were doing 8-9 knots over ground around low tide.

We passed west of Mud Island and then had to tack 12 times to sail into port. I loved it. Helen did too, sort of. After a while she wanted to motor in rather than keep tacking so she could clean the boat. I did not give in to this as this could well be our last sail and I was where I wanted to be.

In the end we made it back with time to spare. At the dock we were met by Niel from Attitude, Jan from Anthem, Cornelia from A Cappella and Don from Freezing rain who all stood by to help with lines. With 20 knot winds squeezing into the dock next to Attitude was a little challenging. I aborted early the first attempt and nailed it the second time. Piece of cake.

View 2012-12-12 Moreton Bay in a larger map

In the evening Sam came over. We went out for a buffet curry in Manly and were later joined by Rob from Bristol Rose who happened by by chance. We ended the evening walking with Sam to the railway station then returning to the boat when his train arrived.

Now we’re back in the marina and back connected is back to our admin. We have one or two viewings coming up this weekend so want to be ready for those.

For your entertainment here is a video taken by one of the brokers and some pics of our time in the bay.

YouTube Preview Image

It just kept getting better

Monday turned to be a day full of nice surprises.

The weather started off pretty poor for sailing – overcast, dark clouds and little wind. We had always planned to leave late morning anyway as this was when the wind was expected to pick up so we had a lie in and enjoyed it. Later in the morning Helen went off for some essential provisioning while I sorted out a bit of extra fuel for the dinghy.

On our return to the boat we noticed Don on Freezing Rain who had arrived on Sunday. We called to him to say Hello and soon he and Marie were over to have a chat during which time the heavens opened. We had an accelerated catch up as we wanted to be out when the rain stopped.

As soon as it did, Don and Marie popped off to check to the office while Helen and I set about prepping the boat for departure. By the time we had removed all bar our last dock line Don and Marie returned and helped us cast off. Leaving the dock was a cinch and soon we were motoring out of the marina. We only had 2-3 knots wind for the first hour or so we we just carried on motoring. In the second hour the wind picked up so we raised the sails. Our next surprise was how easy this was with the new rig. The next surprise was how well the boat was performing in light winds, even better than when we had new sails put on in New Zealand.

The wind remained patchy however so we alternated between sailing, motor sailing and, at one point, pulling in the head sail but leaving the main up while motoring. Our last hour, though, was spent purely sailing in winds in the low teens with the boat doing easily half that through the water. Nice.

Along the way we cleaned and calibrated the speed log at slack tide. We tested and calibrated the radar and similar for the wind speed indicator. Towards the end the speed log/gps combined to suggest we had nearly 2 knots of counter current. I wasn’t sure if the speed log had been calibrated correctly. As calibrating the wind speed indicator required turning the boat around twice that enabled me to get a calibration independent read on the current. Turned out it was not too far off if at all. Will have another check inside the marina when we return.

Lowering the main was considerably easier than ever before. Everything ran smooth in fact. The only complication was the overlong lines which got in the way a tiny, tiny bit.

Overall, despite the mixed conditions, we really enjoyed our sail. Dignity is better than ever. We both felt, afterwards, a little jealous of the new owners, whoever they may be. But pleased for them too. Dignity is a fine boat now probably approaching the prime of her life. We feel like proud parents.

As we approached our destination the weather simply got better. Looking over our shoulder we could see continued grim weather back on the mainland. The air coming of the sea was forming clouds and rain over land. We were far enough off land to be away from it all. Internet based weather radar we’d checked earlier had suggested this may happen but it was thrilling to know we’d dodged the bad weather.

The anchorage we’d picked (the Wrecks at Tangalooma) is known to be very popular at the weekends but uncrowded during the week. There were only a few boats in the vicinity so despite being a tight area we had plenty of room. As we approached our desired spot we noticed a lady on the nearest boat seemingly standing with her ‘bitch wings’ out. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen this – mostly in the Caribbean. It’s a way of standing with hands on hips to say “Don’t anchor near me”. Then her husband came out and stood with her. Double bitch. Then we both clicked – it was the Jacksters – David and Jacquie. What a brilliant surprise!!! We knew they had been in the area but hadn’t managed to hook up and we assumed they’d moved on.

As soon as we dropped the hook we were on the VHF with them and arranged an evening meet up. We weren’t set up to entertain food wise so we all ate early. Helen cooked sausage sandwiches (I told you it just kept getting better) which we had with a glass of red wine (better and better). I tested out the email over the SSB and it worked first time. Bang on.

Shortly after 6 Jacquie and Dave were over for a long evening chat and catch up (best). Drinking G&Ts with them brought back so many memories. They’re one of the boats we’ve been connected with all the way back to the Caribbean so it was particularly special.

We’ve both had a great night sleep. Despite being a little rolly it has been wonderful being back on a slightly rocking boat. I wonder if you can buy beds that have a boat simulator built in because this is simply the best way to sleep. We are so happy we made the decision to get out even though it meant missing a get together on land being organised for this evening. Despite all this we both feel a sense of closure. We realize we have now moved beyond the cruising life and are ready for the next phase of our lives. There has been so much excitement over the last few years and there is so much to look forward to. We’re still in transition, enjoying some of the old life, battling to survive 2012 and looking forward with so much hope and resolve to the future.

Back to now. Our vodafone internet dongle barely works here so we’re almost cut off from the outside world. I can squeeze a few packets in and out every now and then so we’re just going to have to enjoy ourselves. Slack tide is around 1:45pm today so we plan on snorkeling the wrecks around that time. We’re also having the Jacksters over to give them as much of our dive stuff as they want to take. We can’t use it and regulations here make most of it valueless. Of all the people to give it to, the Jacksters would make the best use of it. Apart from that, a lazy day is in order I think.

The Sun – it Shines

After days of miserable weather today was a very welcome change. The skies were blue and the sun was out. It hasn’t rained all day.

This morning we went out for a walk with Marion from Kilkea. She showed us the walk around/through the golf course. It was simply nice to be out.

We popped into the shops at the tail end of the walk to pick a few things up. On the way back to the boat we were passed by and picked up by Don (Irv) and Marie from Freezing Rain who are back in the area. We ended up chatting with them for a while before heading back down our dock to the boat. Before we reached Dignity we ran into the Ivory Keys and ended up chatting with them for some time too.

We eventually made it back to the boat and at some point geared ourselves up to do a little more boat work. Mostly cleaning at this stage. I cleaned out all my fishing gear throwing a lot of old line away and derusting a few things that needed it. I also fixed the navigation light which had given up the ghost.

We invited the Kilkeas and Freezing Rains over for curry dinner. Knowing that the Kilkeas and we are likely to be leaving tomorrow we imposed a limit of one bottle per couple on ourselves. I think we did pretty good when we ended up with three between us and a sip of port (well – what was left from Tuesday evening) back on Kilkea.

The weather is looking okayish for a departure to Great Barrier Island tomorrow. As long as we leave early. We still may lose the wind along the way but might get away with it. We need to move on.

It’s only a month before Sam arrives and we’d like to get to see a fair bit of the Hauraki Gulf before then. Time to move.

Presuming we do get out of here early morning we’ll be turning our AIS transponder on. We should be visible for sometime at the the station down in Auckland that relays boat positions onto the web. A good site to see this data is Look for us popping out of Gulf Harbour around 7:30am to 8am.

And if you want to see the weather forecasts we’re looking at, a good one is here.

At the foot of Franz Josef

Our plans were to have an easy day followed by a long day. With the Saturday weather forecast deteriorating and not wanting to get up at the crack of dawn on Friday to pack the tent we decided to move into one of the small cabins here. So Thursday morning was spent drying the dew off the tent, packing it and moving into the cabin.

Just before lunch we were done and off for the 45 minute walk to the foot of the Franz Josef glacier. This time we hiked from the car park along the wide bed of rubble formed by the river running under the glacier. As we approached the glacier itself we could see the maw of the river which was gushing strongly carrying large chunks of ice from within the glacier. We ate our lunch here taking in the valley and ever present waterfalls around us.

Back at the car we decided to drive to Fox Glacier 20km away to have a quick look around there. We drove to a point where we could see the glacier before returning to the small village to book our guided day hike for today. We also visited a campsite there and decided we’ll move into a cabin there after our day hike.

In the evening as we were settling down we ran into Don and Marie from Freezing Rain who had just arrived and moved into a cabin very near to us with Don’s sister, Sue. Inevitably we all ended up chatting the evening away over bottles of wine – a very nice surprise and end to the day.