Friday, 19 October 2012

Cruising musings

Well, we left Bluewater last Sunday and it is now Friday. We don't seem to have achieved anything much due to this pesky weather which is unrelenting. Apart from yesterday when we made an abortive attempt to leave for Fitzroy, we've been in the Trinity Inlet - mostly well up the inlet where it's quieter and a little more sheltered. On Wed. night we anchored off Cairns CBD with the intention of going ashore there but we felt anxious about the security of the boat anchored in a very strong tidal stream with poor holding. We then left on Thurs. morning but had only gone about halfway out along the channel when we were getting winds of 25 knots (more than 50 kms.) and more so, although we could have made Fitzroy easily, albeit uncomfortably, we started wondering how the anchorage would be for rolling. It's typical of most of the anchorages on this coast - all the way down to Bundaberg - where they appear to be sheltered from the SE, but often the swell rolls around whatever point is sheltering the anchorage and causes an unpleasant roll. So, we turned around and came back up the inlet where we'd been before and wondered what to do next. On the way we explored Smiths Creek where the Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron is and where we will probably haul out next March. All good to reconnoitre in advance.
Up here is the most sheltered but you can't go ashore because of really thick mangroves, and anyway there's the crocs!! You don't leave the dinghy in the water overnight because there's a good chance that it will be partially or totally destroyed by morning. Crocs also have a love hate relationship with outboard motors where they will come up astern as you are motoring along and attack the outboard. Must give them somewhat of a toothache but who needs that? So we haven't been off the boat for almost a week and getting fairly bored. If it wasn't for the stock of good books we have on board we'd be quite stir crazy by now and probably picking spots of light off the ceiling!! One book deserves a mention - it's a biography of H.G. Wells and a fascinating read. If you get a chance the name is "A Man of Parts" by David Lodge.
There's also the marine stingers whose season is just beginning. One variety in particular has the ability to be lethal. So, generally this coast is hostile and one needs to be very careful. At least it's warm, unlike NZ, although there one generally doesn't need to worry about anything except the odd short lived blow and there's always good shelter no matter what the wind strength or direction. Touch of homesickness perhaps??!!
The GRIBS show no sign of the wind letting up until the end of next week so we've decided to go back into the marina tomorrow and get on with some more worthwhile pursuits and then if conditions are more benign later we'll go out to Fitzroy then.
We heard today of a 50' Beneteau which left Lizard sometime in the last 24 hours to return down here, but after half an hour they decided conditions were too tough and turned back so it vindicates our decision not to go there until we head north next year. The problem generally is that there is nowhere to go around here in these conditions. Anchorages out on the reef are worse because there's even less shelter.
So, it means that we have to go back into the marina. It isn't possible to anchor off as the approach is completely open to the SE which makes it tricky as you need to steer a fairly precise course to avoid going aground on the sandbanks close on each side. We sometimes think we spend too much time in marinas with a consequent insidiously growing reluctance to get out and sail, but it increasingly looks as though most of our next major sailing adventures will have to wait about 5 months. In the meantime we will keep trying and no doubt there will be the odd short lived opportunity, but it looks like being land based for a while.
Cheers from us again and hoping all is well.............
Jim and Jean (Gina)

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Monday, 15 October 2012

Tiare Taporo III in Trinity Inlet

We are now anchored in the Trinity Inlet, Cairns - just downstream from Redbank Creek. This is a very extensive tidal inlet almost as big as Whangarei Harbour. There are thick mangroves on shore which largely preclude any chance of landing, even if one was sanguine about the crocodiles!!
We left Bluewater on Sunday and our original plan was to go north to Lizard Is. but we have flagged that plan because there is a gale warning out for most of this week and we had serious concerns about getting back against gale force SE winds. In any case we will be going there as part of our voyage next year to Darwin. So, we decided to go back to Fitzroy Is. once the winds die down and the anchorage not so rolly! In the meantime we have come into the Trinity Inlet which has the CBD of Cairns on its northern banks as you enter. It was suggested that it would be a good idea for us to come up here to get a bit of local knowledge in the event that we had to come back up here if a cyclone greater than Category 3 headed this way. Not a silly idea.
So, here we are and very glad to be in sheltered waters while the absolutely crazy winds rage. Right now it's 2000 on Monday night and the winds have died right down but during the day we have had gusts up to 28 knots so goodness knows what it's like outside. There is a strong tide running through here so at times we are held against the wind which isn't so comfortable but at least it's calm. There has been no rain and in fact continuing bright sunny weather.
We continue to meet lovely people as part of the cruising experience. The latest are Chris and Gilli from a wooden double ender called "Westwind". We have had drinks and BBQ's with them and others at Bluewater which has a great atmosphere. Chris and Gilli are leaving in a week or so on their voyage down to Tasmania to be part of the Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart in early February. We would love to be part of that and so would the "old girl" - the boat of course!! But, it's around 2,000 miles down there so would add 4,000 miles return to our already extensively planned itinerary to Singapore next year. That's 4,500 miles on its own.
Jean is cooking dinner - steamed salmon for her and roast rolled lamb noisettes for yours truly. The lamb is rolled with creamed macadamias and is absolutely delicious, courtesy of a great butcher at the Smithfield shopping centre! On that note the fresh food continues to impress. We have discovered a seafood place on the northern outskirts of Cairns which has bugs, prawns, squid and very good fresh fish of all kinds. Then there's Rusty's Market in Cairns where the array of fruit and vegetables is mind boggling and reasonably priced. Pawpaw, mangoes (just starting), citrus of all types, strawberries, avocados, pineapple, grapes, asparagus, beans, herbs, courgettes, and all manner of other greens you can imagine.
As well as that we have found a website that has great specials for wine - some as low as $4.99 per bottle. And not cheap nasty stuff. In fact we found some Grove Mill (from NZ!) Pinot Gris which was wonderful - Jean's favourite. Sadly it now seems to be out of stock - we should have bought the lot and cornered the market! If we'd sunk the boat, never mind!!
So, things aren't all bad - just the frustrations with this pesky weather which we probably still haven't come to terms with. We are looking forward greatly to the visits of Hamish and Sara (from Whangarei) and Jean's son Perry and his girlfriend, Tracie later in November. Hopefully we'll be able to take them out to the reef or Fitzroy.
More in due course as always,
Lots of love from us.........
P.S. Jean is much better although not completely back to her old self. She went to Cairns Hospital the other day for a check-up just as a precaution and all vital signs seem normal so that was re-assuring.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Monday, 1 October 2012

Update from Bluewater - Tiare Taporo III

We are finding our stay here at Bluewater Marina to be absolutely pleasant and hassle free and a total change for the better from Yorkeys Knob. The only possible downside is the necessity for us to leave or arrive at near high tide and on a rising tide. The idea of going aground in a tidal river with the odd crocodile swimming around isn't an attractive one. We've been told that there is a 4 metre croc in the river, although we haven't made his acquaintance just yet!
We've met some very interesting people here and everyone is very friendly. Not least are Chris and Gillie on "Westwind" which was built in Tasmania of Huon Pine - a timber similar to NZ Kauri. She is another double ender about the same size as us but a foot wider. Chris, who is a boat builder, rebuilt her at Botany Bay over a period of nine years and in the process replaced at least 40% of her timber fabric. They are leaving soon for Tasmania to go to the wooden boat festival.
Made us feel we should be doing something like that as well but it's about 2,000 miles down there which would add 4,000 miles to our already long itinerary for next year which is already over 4,000 miles from Cairns to Singapore. We're wondering about whether we could visit the Kimberleys in WA (about 300 miles west of Darwin) after we leave Darwin next year for Kupang in Indonesia. Would all depend on whether Australian Customs would clear us out of Darwin and then allow us to remain in Australia for a few more days while we did that.
An invaluable (for us) aspect of our stay here is the provision of a courtesy car which is owned by a local boat broker. It's an old Corolla with signwriting all over it but it gets us around very reliably. We need to book it in advance and we can have it for up to 3 hours at a stretch. If we go to Smithfield the cost is $5 and Cairns CBD is $10. Way cheaper than the bus and so much more convenient. Especially when buzzing around the Portsmith area looking for boat things. Bit different from Jim's ancient Mercedes-Benzes but this is a different life now!!
We are well advanced with our deck re-caulking and now only have one left to do. Would have done it over the last weekend but there was the possibility of rain and we didn't want to take the risk. Instead we repaired some splits in the deck planking in the cockpit area, some of which MAY have been leaking or at least COULD have leaked in the future. By the time we get up into the monsoon rains of SE Asia we'll be as watertight as possible. The two maxims of cruising on a yacht are not to hit anything and to keep water out. So far, apart from scraping over some shoal bits once here and once in New Caledonia, we've been doing a pretty good job in those areas! We've also been doing fun things like renewing the hinges on the toilet seat and attempting to remove mould from our port water tank breather pipe!
Jim hasn't had a haircut since Airlie Beach in early June(and that was only a trim!) so is starting to look like a great mop of white hair floating about the marina. Noel and Litara, take note. Definitely not up to Noel's standard we're sure. We're thinking of starting a wig business!
Today (Mon.) was Queens Birthday in Queensland and we decided to walk up to the shops to get another Telstra voucher for our internet access. There was a bus stop right there so on a whim we decided to go a bit further north to Trinity Beach where Jim had stayed in a previous life 15 years ago! We had a very good Italian lunch along with a bottle of Australian Pinot Gris which was from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, and surprisingly good. We had a walk along the beach which was all brown with stirred up sand from the usual strong SE wind blowing. Then eventually arrived back at Bluewater in a mellow mood!
We've been absolutely astounded at the unfolding Dotcom saga which we've been reading in the NZ Herald. We believe that law enforcement in NZ is corrupt as evidenced in all the nonsense that's been unfolding with the usual lack of accountability. Arthur Alan Thomas is a good example of Police corruption. We despair of NZ and it's future with the secret agenda of this Government. We voted for them in 2008 but by last year were already becoming very disillusioned so were pleased we had the opportunity to vote for an alternative while we were still in Noumea. Regardless of one's opinion of Dotcom, there seems little doubt that he will have to sue either the US or NZ Govts. or both in order to recover, not only damages for losses to his business, but also his legal costs. The total would be well over $2 billion and once again the NZ taxpayer will pick up the tab. Then the power generators will be sold at firesale prices because of the Maori water ownership caveat! On top of that the Kiwi dollar (and the Aussie) stay at ridiculously high levels which is ruining our export trade. In Australia's case the iron ore prices have fallen below the cost of extraction for most of the mines and this combined with the high Aussie dollar is creating an untenable situation long term. The high Australasian dollar values are a result of comparatively high interest rates available to foreign investors and also the rorts being perpetrated by the counterfeit creation of paper money by the U.S., Britain, the Eurozone and now Switzerland as well. In the meantime China is building up its reserves of gold to hitherto unprecedented levels.
Where will it all end? If you ever read the NZ Herald on-line you will see from time to time a blog on some of these subjects under the by-line of "Tiare Taporo III". It provides some mental stimulus and an outlet for the frustrations we feel.
But ultimately the best is to stay sailing and we are doing that as far as possible for now. On or about the 10th. Oct. weather permitting we will leave here for Lizard Is. (150 miles north) and then back here 3 weeks later to snug up for the cyclone season in the marina - the only cyclone rated marina in Cairns. At least while we're away from here we'll be away from internet access and thus will have an enforced absence from political commentating!!
As always watch this space and lots of love from us..........

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: