Saturday, 22 September 2012

Fitzroy Island

We finally left Yorkeys Knob Marina with great relief on the 15th. We had insisted on staying an extra week to get our "free" week which is all we've managed to retrieve from our ill fated "investment" in the Louisiades Rally. Not sure whether it was worth it as it became very unpleasant but anyway we did it and then escaped to Fitzroy which is a volcanic (high) island 18 miles from Yorkeys Knob just south of Cape Grafton which is SE from Yorkeys.
We started off at 0730 and had a good sail for about half an hour with Cairns City on our starboard hand. Then the wind dropped and headed us (how unusual!!) so we motored the rest of the way.
There is a resort there and the island is visited daily by daytrippers and tourists from Cairns. We anchored in the bay in front of the resort along with approximately 8-10 other boats. A fairly deep anchorage (about 10 metres) and beautiful clear water. We launched the dinghy and went ashore each day where we alternately went for walks or sat in the bar!! There are a few good walks through very pretty rain forest including over to Nudey Beach where another yachtie of our acquaintance claimed to have seen 6 young women in a state of considerable undress!! Unfortunately we missed the spectacle. For the most part the weather was beautiful with clear sunny days and not too hot - yet. Cool nights and one night a bit of rain which necessitated closing the fore hatch. Always exciting being awakened out of a deep slumber by the gentle patter of rain drops on one's forehead!!
All in all a very relaxing time and we met several other yachties - all Aussies. We tended to meet at the aforementioned bar at Happy Hour time. There's one thing about yachties - they always seem to manage to suss out times and places of the best prices!
We met Jonathon and Jo and another couple whose names we forget from a catamaran called "Backchat". Strange how you tend to remember boats and faces but names are very elusive. Then there were John and Nancy who are on a Leopard catamaran (which they had bought in the Carribbean a couple of years ago) called "Alana Rose". They are on their way to Darwin from where they plan to continue to the Kimberleys, WA and then across the Great Australian Bight in a circumnavigation of the continent. A big task given the size of the place. By the time we get to Darwin next year we will have covered over 2,000 miles from Bundaberg. John very kindly downloaded onto our computer some charts and cruising notes that he had of the Northern Territory and Indonesia. They'll be handy next year.
Then, 3 days ago we came back - this time to Bluewater Marina half a mile up the same river from Yorkeys. Totally different from Yorkeys (although that wouldn't be hard). We were met at the dock and our lines taken which was in total contrast to our previous experience. A much more friendly atmosphere. Bluewater is a residential marina development and so far they have some berths available for casual visitors like us. They are the only cyclone rated marina in Cairns (up to category 3)so we're as secure as we can be. The biggest issue would be storm surge, rather than wind or wave action, where due to low atmospheric pressure the sea level rises and in extreme cases marinas have risen so much that they've floated right off their retaining piles. However, as we say that is extreme and all should be well. The Queensland Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting up to 4 cyclones forming in the Coral Sea this summer but it's entirely possible that none of them will even eventuate or make landfall and if they do they will probably be in a manageable category.
We are looking forward to taking off again in about 3 weeks for Lizard Is. 160 miles north. Happily Jean continues to improve - helped no doubt by the shedding of all the unpleasantness of Yorkeys. For those gory details see our previous blog!
More from us again in due course..........
Cheers and love from us
www.tiaretaporo3.blogspot.com

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Friday, 21 September 2012

The tribulations of Tiare Taporo III

Captain Cook named a cape just north of here Cape Tribulation and, although his problems were far greater than ours, we can't help the analogy.
There is a marked contrast between the Yorkeys Knob Boating Club Marina (where we have been since late June) and the reception we had 2 days ago here at Bluewater Marina which is just half a mile further up the same river. We contacted Bluewater to let them know we were coming in and Rick the manager said he'd be on the dock to take our lines. Makes berthing so much easier when there is someone on the dock to do that - the only other places where that occurred were Port Moselle in Noumea and the Koumac Marina on the NW coast of New Caledonia. Compare this welcoming attitude with Yorkeys who during the whole two and a half months we were there never appeared to care whether we were there or not. Certainly we were never welcomed and never had a visit from any of the marina staff to enquire how things were going.
We don't want to continue to labour the issues we had with the Louisiades organiser, Guy Chester, or with the marina, and apart from any official complaints we intend to make, this will be our final word on the matter. We have referred to the extreme disappointment we encountered in dealing with Chester and his point blank refusal to refund our Louisiades fee of $A990. At one stage he did indicate that he would "probably" be able to refund something less than $A100, but then later appeared to indicate that this would only be forthcoming if we agreed to keep quiet about our overall experience. That was insulting as he must think we are very cheap!! After we first met him Jim was struck by his similarity of personality with his other bete noir, John Martin of the Island Cruising Assn. in Opua NZ. Both have egos way in excess even of their ample physical sizes and both suffer from a complete lack of integrity. We could kick ourselves that we ever agreed to join his rally (much less pay the fee) because we had these bad vibes from the outset. We have always told ourselves to obey our instincts but in this instance we broke our own rule. Probably because we were looking at an enforced stay in the Cairns area of around 8 months and felt we needed some variation to that. As it has happened we later became aware of another possibility and that is another rally to Lizard Is. about 160 miles north of here which we will take part in during Oct. - Nov. and doesn't cost anything!! Happily Jean is improving all the time and should be fine by the time we depart for Lizard.
We have already referred to the dodgy arrangement Chester has with the marina. We say "dodgy" because for some inexplicable reason the marina chooses to keep it confidential from the berth owners affected. We were told about the arrangement at a meeting we had with Chester on board his vessel "Sanctuary" after we had asked for the fee refund. In essence the marina makes available to Chester one week's berthage for all the rally yachts at $A80 per week as against the normal weekly berthage of $A250. It is perhaps no big deal in pure financial terms but, as we have said, they don't tell the berth owners whose incomes are affected. We were told to keep this information highly confidential for this reason. However, in view of the way we have been treated and the unpleasant attitude we have received from the marina we do not feel bound by any such stricture.
As regards the marina, they have denied that any such arrangement exists and indeed that they have nothing to do with the rally. If what Chester told us is true then they are obviously telling lies. We have been on the receiving end of several threatening emails from a Stuart Vella who purports to be the marina manager. Vella has issued veiled threats of our being sued for libel and expulsion from the marina!! So, you can see things deteriorated markedly towards the end of our stay. This so-called manager who never even had the decency to come to see us (we have in fact never met) couldn't in our opinion manage his way out of a paper bag! We complained twice in writing during our stay there about the lack of cleanliness in the showers/toilets and the laundry. We never received a response. In one toilet there was a lavatory brush just lying in all its naked and unhygienic glory on the floor. In the others no brush was in sight. The shower curtains were mildewed and the floors invariably plainly dirty and awash with water with no mop even. There was no method of drying one's hands and again in one toilet no liquid soap for our entire stay. In the laundry there was no flat surface clean enough to even put the laundry bag down on much less fold clean laundry. Jean always took a cloth with her to clean sufficiently so that she could fold things.
Yorkeys Knob makes much of its restaurant but on the 2 occasions that we were foolish enough to eat there we felt that the meals were substantially below acceptable standard and nowhere near worth the exorbitant prices.
Then there was the question of our berthage. We were paying the exorbitant monthly rate of $A895. Bluewater is substantially less. At the expiration of 2 months we needed a further 12 days before our "free" rally week kicked in. Firstly the marina said that as this was less than a month we would have to pay the weekly rate! We told them what they could do with that and then they backed down with bad grace and no apology and said we could pay for two weeks at the monthly rate. We again had to point out that it was only for 12 days and that when we went to school there were 14 days in a fortnight. We finally paid for the 12 days at the monthly rate, albeit incorrectly calculated. In the midst of all this Chester threatened to "withdraw" his "offer" of the "free" week's rally berthage to which we were contractualy entitled as we had paid the full rally fee. We told him we were going nowhere and precisely what he could do with his threatened withdrawal.
To summarise, our experience at the Yorkeys Knob Boating Club Marina has been by far the worst that we have had in all 10 marinas we have spent time in since leaving NZ in July 2011. And we have never had any trouble or unpleasantness in any other marina and in fact have very fond memories of the people we invariably met.
Although we have only been at Bluewater for 2 days so far, the contrast is stark. We are sure that our stay here will be most pleasant. Last night we went to the weekly residents' drinks and BBQ where we met a number of the other marina residents.
On a happier note we we will be blogging about our recent experience out at Fitzroy Island.
Until then, cheers from us............

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Saturday, 1 September 2012

Re: Tiare Taporo III - update from Cairns

Hi Guys,
 
Good to hear Jeans health is improving.
 
Sadly I thought YNBC was the most pathetic marina I have been to as well, never will I go there again, the Port Doug. Marina is cheaper and has a proper yacht club with sociable people, check them out. The YKBC was noisy and not many yachties used it, staff unfriendly.
 
We are now at Sutera Harbour, paid our full membership, and will now be full members, it is a nice setting with all+ the amenities, very comfortable spot and less $$$ than YKBC. (good medical stuff all over town as well). We installed a aircon, and ordered satelite TV, takes 2-3 weeks to come install the dish. We bought a second hand membership for a good discount MR36K instead of the MR50K advertised.
 
We came fairly straight to KK and would have spent more time at a few overnight spots, as we were going to haul out in Kudat, but the owner was too hard to deal with, as he would not work with us on the lifting keel, so we didn't haul out, that gave us 10 days in KK I would have rather spent a few days at lankayan Island (day sail north of Sandakan - free moorings too), or Banda Naira. The stops along the way before clearing in was no worries, I suggest you clear out of last Indonesia port for Kudat, but stop along the way, easier than Sandakan, and no one will question you, we meet a guy in the boat yard in Kudat who was 3 weeks and never cleared in yet.
 
Cheers
Brent & Raewyn



--- On Sun, 2/9/12, ZMQ5985@sailmail.com <ZMQ5985@sailmail.com> wrote:

From: ZMQ5985@sailmail.com <ZMQ5985@sailmail.com>
Subject: Tiare Taporo III - update from Cairns
To: "Blogsite" <redmoonray.zmfr824@blogger.com>
Received: Sunday, 2 September, 2012, 11:26 AM

Hi to all,
Well, the best news is that Jean is definitely improving. She still has to be extremely stringent as to her diet - nothing acidic basically. This means no alcohol, coffee, most fruits, and no gluten. It's very restrictive but we're hoping that as time goes on the need for most of these restrictions will lessen.
We've been settling into life here - finding our way about, going to the weekly Cairns (Rusty's) Market and getting various items needed for the boat. We went to the cinema the other day and saw an Australian made film, The Sapphires. This is about a quartet of Aboriginal female singers who were discovered and eventually taken to Vietnam during the Vietnam War to entertain the troops. It was a poignant film and dealt with all the issues of the day, particularly some pretty nasty discriminatory racism which was the case in most of Australia in those days.
This marina (Yorkeys Knob Boating Club) has a courtesy mini bus which goes to a major local shopping mall at Smithfield 3 times a week so provisioning is no problem. In addition the buses into Cairns leave from a stop about 800 metres from the marina. Only problem there is that direct buses to town only run at commuter times. Otherwise it's necessary to change buses at Smithfield or the James Cook University campus. Then it can take an hour and a half!!
We are getting on with the deck caulking - we've now completed 16 out of 22 (73%) as well as some shorter seams on the foredeck and in the cockpit. We've now still got about 2 weeks here and hope that we might have completed most of them before then.
On that subject we have had a most disappointing time over the last month or so. We withdrew from the Louisiades Rally in early August when we realised that it would not be a good idea to take part in view of Jean's health. We asked for our fee ($A990 - over $NZ1,200) to be refunded and were refused point blank in a most discourteous and peremptory fashion. Our reaction was predictable and we threatened them with legal action but the cancellation policy as written is at best misleading and at worst deliberately misleading. There seems some doubt as to whether we would succeed or otherwise. However, part of the rally deal was that we would get a "free" week's berthage from 8/9 to 15/9 so we are determined to stay and at least recover that, although for us the week is of course far from "free" and the stay here has now become quite unpleasant. The whole business has left a very nasty taste and we will be doing everything we can to make people aware that if they do enter this rally in future, they would need to be very sure they won't be cancelling. In addition to all this we were made aware by the rally organiser of a dodgy arrangement they have with the marina for the "free" week for rally participants. This is supposed to be highly confidential. Since we told them that this could well become public as an unintended result of any legal action we might take, we've been threatened with expulsion from the marina and being sued for libel!! Another issue that arose was that we needed another 2 weeks between our last month for which we had paid at the monthly rate and the start of the "free" week. The marina told us that, as this was less than a month we would have to pay the weekly rate, in spite of having been here for 2 months already!! We refused point blank and then they backed down and said we could have the 2 weeks at the monthly rate. However, it was actually 12 days and we had to point this out to them too. So, things here are only fair to middling and we are looking forward to the day when we can leave.
We intend to go out to Fitzroy Is. for a few days before we go to another marina where we expect we will be much happier - and more secure from cyclones. The litany above is an entirely new and unpleasant experience for us. Since 2009 we have been in 3 marinas in NZ - Town Basin and Marsden Cove in Whangarei and Opua in the Bay of Islands. In addition we have been in 2 marinas in New Caledonia - Port Moselle in Noumea and Koumac in the north and now 4 in Australia - Port Bundaberg for 4 months, Abel Point at Airlie Beach, Breakwater at Townsville and now here. This is 9 marinas (some for considerable periods of time) and we have never been treated as we have been here. In particular we have very fond memories of all of the above marinas and we miss the friendly people we invariably met.
Sadly the Louisiades Rally and the Yorkeys Knob Boating Club Marina will not be getting any good publicity from us.
Cheers from us
Tiare Taporo III
www.tiaretaporo3.blogspot.com
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Tiare Taporo III - update from Cairns

Hi to all,
Well, the best news is that Jean is definitely improving. She still has to be extremely stringent as to her diet - nothing acidic basically. This means no alcohol, coffee, most fruits, and no gluten. It's very restrictive but we're hoping that as time goes on the need for most of these restrictions will lessen.
We've been settling into life here - finding our way about, going to the weekly Cairns (Rusty's) Market and getting various items needed for the boat. We went to the cinema the other day and saw an Australian made film, The Sapphires. This is about a quartet of Aboriginal female singers who were discovered and eventually taken to Vietnam during the Vietnam War to entertain the troops. It was a poignant film and dealt with all the issues of the day, particularly some pretty nasty discriminatory racism which was the case in most of Australia in those days.
This marina (Yorkeys Knob Boating Club) has a courtesy mini bus which goes to a major local shopping mall at Smithfield 3 times a week so provisioning is no problem. In addition the buses into Cairns leave from a stop about 800 metres from the marina. Only problem there is that direct buses to town only run at commuter times. Otherwise it's necessary to change buses at Smithfield or the James Cook University campus. Then it can take an hour and a half!!
We are getting on with the deck caulking - we've now completed 16 out of 22 (73%) as well as some shorter seams on the foredeck and in the cockpit. We've now still got about 2 weeks here and hope that we might have completed most of them before then.
On that subject we have had a most disappointing time over the last month or so. We withdrew from the Louisiades Rally in early August when we realised that it would not be a good idea to take part in view of Jean's health. We asked for our fee ($A990 - over $NZ1,200) to be refunded and were refused point blank in a most discourteous and peremptory fashion. Our reaction was predictable and we threatened them with legal action but the cancellation policy as written is at best misleading and at worst deliberately misleading. There seems some doubt as to whether we would succeed or otherwise. However, part of the rally deal was that we would get a "free" week's berthage from 8/9 to 15/9 so we are determined to stay and at least recover that, although for us the week is of course far from "free" and the stay here has now become quite unpleasant. The whole business has left a very nasty taste and we will be doing everything we can to make people aware that if they do enter this rally in future, they would need to be very sure they won't be cancelling. In addition to all this we were made aware by the rally organiser of a dodgy arrangement they have with the marina for the "free" week for rally participants. This is supposed to be highly confidential. Since we told them that this could well become public as an unintended result of any legal action we might take, we've been threatened with expulsion from the marina and being sued for libel!! Another issue that arose was that we needed another 2 weeks between our last month for which we had paid at the monthly rate and the start of the "free" week. The marina told us that, as this was less than a month we would have to pay the weekly rate, in spite of having been here for 2 months already!! We refused point blank and then they backed down and said we could have the 2 weeks at the monthly rate. However, it was actually 12 days and we had to point this out to them too. So, things here are only fair to middling and we are looking forward to the day when we can leave.
We intend to go out to Fitzroy Is. for a few days before we go to another marina where we expect we will be much happier - and more secure from cyclones. The litany above is an entirely new and unpleasant experience for us. Since 2009 we have been in 3 marinas in NZ - Town Basin and Marsden Cove in Whangarei and Opua in the Bay of Islands. In addition we have been in 2 marinas in New Caledonia - Port Moselle in Noumea and Koumac in the north and now 4 in Australia - Port Bundaberg for 4 months, Abel Point at Airlie Beach, Breakwater at Townsville and now here. This is 9 marinas (some for considerable periods of time) and we have never been treated as we have been here. In particular we have very fond memories of all of the above marinas and we miss the friendly people we invariably met.
Sadly the Louisiades Rally and the Yorkeys Knob Boating Club Marina will not be getting any good publicity from us.
Cheers from us
Tiare Taporo III
www.tiaretaporo3.blogspot.com

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