We have been working diligently on all our boat projects and, with a lot of help from Noel, we should be ready to leave on Monday.
At this point our primary activity is putting on additional coats of varnish where we stripped the teak on deck.
Until yesterday we had excellent weather for varnishing. Yesterday it rained all day and got colder. It's still chilly today but the cloudless Queensland skies have returned and our varnishing progress is unimpeded.
Noel invited us to go to the boat show with him today but we took a pass on that. Boat gear is really expensive here in Oz and we will probably be in South Africa before we have to and additional needs.
Here is a list of what we have accomplished here in Brisbane:
1. We modified the lee board for our pilot berth so it can be raised up 6 additional inches while we are underway on a port tack. I always felt like I was going to roll over the top of the boad at its original height That involved stiffening the bunk board by attaching a cleat on the inside face of it and installing barrel bolts to hold the board at a higher place when its needed.
2. Noel cut a corner out of the raised edge on our dining table. The original design had a 3/4 inch rail all the way around the table so there was no place to wipe crumbs off the top and into your hand. The original design was obviously devised by someone who had never been to sea or even observed the solution used on other boats. Now we can wipe the table easily as soon as I finish varnishing Noel's handiwork.
3. we stripped the boom gallows, the laminated beam under the mainsheet traveler and also the main hatch. At this point I have 4 coats of varnish on all of these services and would like to get 6-8 on before we leave.
4. We removed the rigid boom vang and replaced it with a traditional block and tackle vang. The rigid vang was wearing our the goose neck fitting.
4. We installed a line for the third reef in the mainsail. The rings for the third reef have always been in the sail but the line to allow it to be easily used was not installed when the boat was delivered. We installed a line that will make it a lot easier to put in the third reef.
5. Noel cleaned the waterline of our boat for us. One morning I looked out and his dingy was gone from his boat but it was not on his dingy mooring hear shore. It turned out he was hiding below our rail and working his way around the boat with spray bottle of dilute hydrochloric acid. That removed the stains at the water line that we tend to get when we are in less than pristine harbors like Sydney. The boat looks great.
6. We put some plastic electrical conduit on the life lines where the job sheets cross. We had started seeing chafe on the sheets when they rode on the lifelines on those long passages. It was the lazy sheets that crossed the life lines but the constant motion abraded the cover on the dacron line we use for sheets. The total cost of that repair was $3 Australian.
The Australian dollar is slightly weaker than the US dollar now. When I think about that old adage that you should never put off until tomorrow what you can do to day I remember that if I had ordered our new sail a week earlier it would has cost about 5% more just because of the exchange rate. Procrastination has its virtues.
Shawn has been dealing with a case of the flu. He was feeling very puny a couple of days ago and is still feeling bad but seems to be improving. We are hoping he will be in good enough shape for us to leave on Monday.
We have been in Brisbane for almost a week now and have spent most of our time here taking care of a variety of boat projects that will be easier to do here than in more isolated areas up the coast.
Our friend Noel is helping us with some carpentry to modify the bunk board on our pilot berth. It needs to be raised a few inches to make the berth more secure when we are sailing on a port tack. Noel also made a teak hand grip that we can use to help us get out of the bunk when its on the leeward side of the boat.
We have also removed the rigid boom vang and replaced it with a conventional block and tackle type vang. The rigid boom vang had serious attachment problems on the bottom of the boom and also tended to cause the gooseneck attachment hole to wear in an elliptical shape because the rigid vang pushed the boom up as well as pulling it down which is the fundamental role of a vang. Problems like the wear on the gooseneck are not things that tend to be issues when a boat is used for weekend sailing but when you use the boat for crossing oceans all sorts of problems surface.
Noel has shown us several vendors including a shop that does nothing but rope and has excellent prices on very high quality rope. Ill be adding the information on several vendors that Noel has taught us about to the SSCA port guide for Brisbane.
We also got to visit a very good brew store near our mooring and I was able to buy some of the harder to find ingredients for future batches.
Since we have been here our friend Ian has loaned us a car so we have been more mobile that we are used to. We were thinking about doing a little sightseeing but have been so preoccupied with our projects that the sightseeing did not happen.
The rigging work we had done in Sydney seems to be working fine. The rigger finally sent me a bill. They sure were casual about that.
My ATM card is with Bank of America in the US and we can get cash out of Australian ATM machines with no fees if we use Westpac bank here in Australia. But Bank of America really gouges us on foreign transaction fees if We use credit cards. I figured out that I can pull cash out of the westpac ATM and deposit it in my westpac checking account and use the westpac debit card to pay for stuff here with no fees.
So we started a campaign of pulling our daily limit out of ATMs and depositing the cash in the Australian checking account. That set off red flags at Bank of America and they froze the ATM card. After a couple of hours on the phone I finally got a number that let me talk to someone and resolve the problem. Several of my attempts to reach BofA were met with robotic phone systems that make you enter your account number a few times before they hang up on you. Im sure glad I signed up for Skype's service that lets me make unlimited calls to the US for $4.50 a month.
Over the past couple of years well over half of my phone call minuted to the US have involved being on hold for B of A.
05/11/2012, Moreton Bay (near Bisbane)
We started up the channel between the outlying islands and the Brisbane river around 7 this morning.
When we motored out of Bums' bay we passed Sukanuk, a trim little ship sailed by Derick and Anthea Bunting. They are a delightful British couple we met at the Camaray Marina Christmas party last year. Sukanuk was looks as pretty as we remembered. Given the hour we did not hail them but kept on our way.
The trip from the Gold Coast seaway to Moreton bay (at the entrance of the Brisbane river) is almost 40 miles. The first 25 miles is tedious because the channel runs through delta like areas that are very shallow in places (even in the channel as we discovered).
We had traversed this passage on our way down the coast so we had a saved track to follow on our way back. The route contained over 60 waypoints to follow so it was a tiring day with lots of concentration required.
The last time thorough we cut one corner too close and bumped the bottom but this time we were in the channel near Jacob's Well when we hit hard and got stuck. We lost close to an hour waiting for the flooding tide to float us off and would have waited longer except we were fortunate to have a power boat come by that ignored the speed limit and threw a big wake. His wake, coupled with the rising tide, got us loose and we were able to continue on our way with some verbal assistance from the VMR (volunteer marina rescue) folks who could see us from their control tower. They coached us to the deep part of the channel .
Unfortunately the time we lost kept us from getting to the mouth of the Brisbane river early enough to ride the tide up the river. It would have been a long slog up the river against the tide and the river current so we decided to anchor for the night near an Island called Peel Island.
Its a comfy anchorage and we are going to get a good night's sleep.
Tomorrow morning we will get up early to catch the last couple of hours of the ebb tide to carry us to the river entrance and, if we time it right, we will be there for the change of tide and be able to ride the flood tide up the river. At least that is the theory.
Its going to be really good to see our friends Noel, and Ian and Annie. Ian and Annie had us to their place for an Aussie style BBQ when we passed through in November and have stayed in touch as we explored Tasmania and parts of southern mainland Australia. When we realized we were heading back up the east coast we started laying our routes to include a stop in Brisbane to see these good friends. We are also hoping to see Keir and Margaret Malpoakes while we are in Brisbane.
We have one more thing to look forward to. One of the big Museums in Brisbane was closed for renovation while we were here the last time. It should be open now so we will get to see the Queensland Museum this time through.
In our opinion Brisbane is a real sleeper in that it does not get the publicity it deserves.