Ohana, the saga....get a drink it's long and convoluted!
05 March 2016
With regards our time in Sint Maarten, we don't feel like we wasted our money, as we had a month long holiday in the Caribbean and only paid for the first week in a room over on the French side. The next 3 weeks we were fortunate that with an introduction through the broker we met a pair of Canadian's who let us stay on their boat, since they had to go home early. It all started when we offered to help the broker fix an 'in furling main' problem (as we were going stir crazy in our room) on a boat he had sold this couple. We struggled for almost an hour on the boat while they had lunch at a nearby restaurant. In the end the broker asked the owners to come and help and with about another hour of tugging and fuss, with all 5 of us we finally got the main into the mast! 3/4 of the leach had folded over itself and jammed on the way in, making a real mess. You could say we bonded over that experience and as we told the couple about our trip and how handy Dave is... We struck a deal. We could stay on s/v ESTIVAL for the next 3 weeks if we wanted, if Dave agreed to fix a list of stuff, including replacing the hot water heater. Buying the parts and fixing these issues would be our "rent". Awesome. It didn't hurt that the boat was tied to the dock at Porto Cupecoy Marina, a gorgeous facility with many restaurants of all flavours and a well stocked grocery store and beautiful pool on site. We spent the first week going back and forth by dinghy, to the far side of the lagoon about 3NM each way every day, searching out the right parts, bouncing along against 2-3' waves, one day dealing with a snapped dinghy engine cord, which Dave had never had to figure out before....not so much fun. I had dealt with this before many years earlier a few times when I used a chainsaw, building log homes (in another life - for 6 summers). So after much trial and error, Dave fixed it and we finally made it to the store just as it was closing, only to buy the wrong hot water heater, we found out later! Yep back in the morning for the right one. The day before we were still communicating back and forth with the local insurance brokers who needed to acknowledge our boating experience in order to allow us to take out Estival. What they wanted was our Captains licence papers, which we don't have. I had sent in all our experience including the most recent Pacific crossing details....and still they weren't sold. Seriously! So I sent back a long letter describing the thousands of times Dave had been racing, always the one on the helm, in control of getting very close to other boats, never with a problem...how he had taken his boats in and out of slips each of those days.... And a breakdown of our most recent 18,000kms of boating....I mean seriously!!! They finally relented.
The day before Jim and Toni came I got winched up the mast to install new flag halyards to the bottom of the lower spreaders. While I was there I noticed a bunch of cotter pins were missing. And some of the key supporting parts were starting to move out of their correct positions, because of the missing cotter pins. Yikes! The broker called a fellow who came the next morning and fixed everything up, correctly, so now we were safe to go. The other thing we had to deal with was a leaky dinghy....one tube kept deflating.... Ah the charm of boating.....!
Before our friends arrived, we had had a week of fixing and were ready to have fun. 5minutes after I collected them at the airport we went to the Pink Iguana bar (a huge old tugboat) where Dave had parked and was watching the brokers big fancy dinghy. We had learned that in SM, if things aren't locked, they tend to walk away. We spent a few minutes catching up and celebrating seeing our friends, with a round of Margarita's to kick off the festivities. We were on a tight schedule, so took our 'go' cups and headed for the next stop, Lagoonies, to pick up the newly patched dinghy. We had to wait for it to cure a bit longer, so we each got a beverage there. We had bumped into a girl at Lagoonies earlier in the day who claimed to have lived onboard Ohana. While chatting with her she said she needed to call the Caretaker of Ohana, to plan to meet with him. When she explained about meeting us, he suggested meeting us later that day at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club. OK. So this was our next stop. We just got a table at the SMYC and some food ordered, when Dave noticed Ian, the Caretaker come in. We left Toni and Jim to fend for themselves for a few minutes while we exchanged notes on Ohana and our take on our experience, so far. I went back to spend time with our guests and Dave talked a bit more about Ian's take on the boat. It was really interesting to put another 'piece of the puzzle' together. All these people we had heard about and now we had met most of them, within a week of being on the island, without really trying very hard. A small island indeed!
We had 3 days to get some sailing in before my mom came, so we took off the next morning to do a quick circumnav of Sint Maarten. It was great although too short a time on the water after being land bound for the past 9 weeks....we could have relaxed on the hook a bit more. Once mom got there we had a rental car and the 5 of us toured the island, finding a few special spots, which were returned to with mom, once we were down to 3. Thank goodness our friends and mom came, as it really "made the trip" for us. Otherwise we would have brooded and stressed out the whole time. They really were invaluable to bounce things off of. Especially our friend Toni, who has had numerous real estate deals, some of which have been very difficult, including she and Jims most recent home purchase, which also took forever. It really helped to get some perspective! And some 'down time' away from the deal.
Our perspective on trying to buy Ohana goes like this....
We could have owned the boat months ago, and would have been happy to on one hand... as it is still Daves dream boat. The seller was never ready to actually let go of the dream she had, that her family would circumnavigate on it. She had been through hell, for years as her husband had defrauded her out of millions of "family money", then left her for another woman....brutal ! Dave found this out early on when he searched all the names relating to the deal, while we were in Tonga. So we had an idea why this lady was being so difficult. She had said partway along that the headsail was not included in the sale. A brand new one that had been part of reason we were interested in the boat. Initially we refused to pay extra for it, though the broker and the caretaker felt it was included in the sale and the seller was furious, accusing us of trying to rip her off..... New it would be $4000 or more...taxes/shipping. Then she had emailed to say she had never formally hired the broker, or accepted the offered price! This led the broker to engage his lawyer in crafting a letter to the seller, explaining that this was a legal deal and she was bound by it, since she had responded previously in an email to him to accept the offer. During this time we were not aware of the broker talking to his lawyer, so we emailed him, agreeing to pay an extra $1200 for it, as the survey had not listed it as part of the boat. An oversight on our part, and the brokers, as the broker had talked about it so much we were sure it was included. The other hiccup that came up along the way was that the seller (the mom) was not actually the owner, as she found out while we were in Australia, when she went to Texas to renew the Registration? The daughter was gifted the boat when she was 8 years old, shortly after the parents bought the boat, presumably to avoid paying tax?
This meant sending a new cheque, with the correct name on it, which took forever to show up on the Sint Maarten end. A 3-10 day guaranteed delivery through Australia posts fastest service...(small town meant no Fedex or DHL) which took a month to get into the brokers hands......which meant sending another cheque directly to the seller's house in the Toronto area. What a pain...not to mention $....and stress! All this time we were staying with Daves mom, who worries about everything, in a Huge way. There was no way we could tell her about Ohana, without increasing our stress load x10.... So we were sneaking around and trying to hide our real emotions we were struggling with, day to day. Thank goodness she is very hard of hearing! I was already DONE with this boat purchase, but Dave still had his heart set, so we carried on... Even though at times we were truly miserable over it.
We got to SM and were at the storage yard office our first morning on the ground and we were asking the office girl if she thought we would be able to go on the boat (since we had come all this way...) and she said "I will email her right now and we will find out". We and the broker looked at each other, wondering how this would be helpful...when the response came back right away! WTF? The seller responds to the storage yard THAT FAST? Turns out this was the norm. Apparently the seller checks her phone constantly. This was a real newsflash! That changed things right away! The seller had often taken weeks to respond to anything the broker sent her. I immediately realized that she was "done" with dealing through THIS MAN. Unfortunately the response was a resounding "No one is allowed on my boat or I will sue the yard!"
With the OK of the broker, I decided to try emailing her directly and she responded within the same day every time. We started to build a rapport and the broker would send something inflammatory. It wasn't long before I was giving him asking him not to contact her without me seeing it first and she was asking me to tell him not to contact her at all !!!!! Oh boy. The broker was getting frustrated, as he felt 'cut out of the deal', but realized that I was not going to wait for her to take weeks to respond to his emails. We didn't want to throw away too much money on rooms, when we should be on the boat, getting it fixed. We had family and friends coming! She had our Signed offer. And a cheque in her hand. So we waited and tried to work with the seller and our bank to try to figure out how to pay for the boat. She now she wanted a wire transfer instead of a cheque (which the bank wouldn't do, as we weren't there to sign for it). The owners mom wanted the $ to go to another person (supposedly a grandmother of the owner). We were not comfortable with this 3rd person option, so as our friends were arriving that day we took a "time out" to think about it and bounce all these details off our friends. During the first week we were there, we stumbled on a number of people who knew the boat and the owner and the resounding feeling people had after their dealings with her was the same frustrating, difficult experience we had been having. We learned many more things about the boat, some really good (the transmission had been replaced and the exhaust sized up to 3" to correspond with the new engine....). It sounded as though anyone who had worked on it or been owed money, had to fight to get it. (That all made sense in the end, as she was left with so little money, and had no financial support and an 8 year long legal battle with the father of the child....I expect money was tighter than it had ever been.)
We talked it out with Jim and Toni and then mostly stopped thinking about the boat purchase and explored for 3 days on s/v Estival and had fun. During this time Our banker was very nervous that this might be a shady deal, so we put a hold on the cheque and kind of zoned out for a bit and enjoyed the island our mom and friends visit.
In the very end the seller admitted that her daughter wanted to go to school in the states and needed financial assistance, which meant both of their accounts had been scrutinized and would continue to be, so at no time could they have this money come into their accounts....which I believed, but by then we had found new evidence of more boat damage (one day while I was with my mom who had come to visit, Dave went and sat under the boat). The first evening when we landed we asked the broker to show us the boat and we looked at it briefly in the near dark. We had stayed away since then, to prevent the yard from being sued. As it seemed we were nearing a deal and the seller was being more reasonable (but still not letting us on the boat) Dave went by one afternoon to see the boat himself and when he was looking at the hull, he thought he saw evidence of a grounding. He saw what he feels is the rudder and the P bracket are off by 2-3 degrees due to what he thinks is evidence of a grounding and another very experienced sailor he asked to look at it noticed the same thing. We had initially seen that that first evening that the boat had some cracks along the keel joint and some rust on the Stbd aft section. That was my first 'oh shit' moment. When Dave told me he found this other damage it was the second such moment for me and thankfully Dave realized this was a potential big problem as well. Yet he was still trying to convince himself and me that the boat was worth it.
So now there was just a few days left of the offer before it expired. But we really needed to think about how much more money this was going to take to fix and we still had mom there to spend the time with. During these last few days we spoke with the broker, bringing these issues to light and he sent off an inflammatory email to the sellers. I decided to reword those details into a different offer which had the sellers pay for the storage of approximately $4000 USD, up to the current date....she had insisted we start paying storage Aug 1, so thinking a deal was days away, we did. Then as the CDN $ value had gone down during the 6 months since this deal had been on the table by around $4000, the storage costing $4000, adding $8000 to our purchase price, along with this new damage discovered which would add gobs of money to the fix it price....making this no longer a good deal for CDN $$$$$. For a handy american, perhaps, but not for us so much.
During the time we had met the care taker of the boat and he vouched for us, she became agreeable and tried to work with us. She spilled all these details about the divorce, etc and after 6 months of feet dragging and generally being extremely difficult, she turned nice as pie and was doing anything and everything to make the deal happen. But by then we knew about the other damage and were trying to figure out how we could fix it. Not likely able to do it ourselves and how much would it cost at a yard? The seller was still on one hand trying to get us to pay for the storage since August! She hadn't replied to our last letter asking her to pay storage. She finally sent the signed "Offer to Purchase and Sale Agreement" 4 days after it expired! She still didn't address the storage or allow us to see the boat. Enough! The contract was expired. We were BOTH done!
Meanwhile we had been living beside the broker and incidentally met the couple who had paid for the survey on the boat that we used! Dave went to help catch them as they came into the dock a squally afternoon and they came by for a drink later. On his way home form their slip Dave offered dinner to a single guy down the dock, who was care taking an 80' Boatman. That night we had a rousing party on board as we all chatted and I kept the Margaritas flowing. There were 7 of us, all in and I doubt we were trying to be too quiet. The brokers ears were burning as he looked over (he told us this later) and saw us conferring with the couple who had tried to buy before us! There was major frustration all the way around.
We avoided the broker for a couple more days as we didn't trust ourselves. In our last conversation with him things had been tense, with us coming away with the feeling that we may have to fight to get our deposit back from him. He had said from a legal standpoint he wasn't sure who would be at fault, as he had 'refused payment' by having placed a hold on the cheque and she had refused paperwork.... Essentially trying to find a way to keep our deposit, I think. He had been through the the wringer, but he had also pointed out to us that deals are rarely this much problem.... As we know since we sold our boat with no broker in less than 10 days in Australia.
Flying to the Caribbean, hoping to close the boat deal.
18 January 2016
This post has been coming forever. Partly because of how long the whole purchase process took, and partly because I wasn't sure what I would write about it or if I would at all.
It took so long it's actually going to take me a few days to write about it, I'm sure. So be patient. The very long version is coming.
The short version is that we both really wanted the boat and we thought it could work into our long term plans really well for the right price. The problem was with the seller, not really being ready to let go of a family dream that truly turned into a nightmare, for her and her daughter. It's a really long and convoluted story and I will try to simplify it, while still including enough details that you feel like you get the full gist of the story.
We didn't want to risk the deal by writing anything about it.... But now that it's really over.... We can finally speak up about WHAT HAPPENED.
As I said, it's going to take a few days to spell out the simple version...bear with me!
Put in offer
Counter, we accept, ask broker to verify details... It is the Canadian long weekend holiday, in August, our banker is away on the Friday, and the other two support options were gone early in aft or just not answering the phones, despite long waits. TD is unable to get someone help us until Tuesday. Have sent detailed emails and voicemails for bank to find upon return. On Mon, Tues & weds we anchor the boat in front of Sofetil resort to use wifi. Have phone, emails and Delorme in use steadily. We are struggling with not wanting to send money until we are sure we can get insurance, which Dolphin turned us down for. With thanks to the broker, there is a local insurance in StM which will cover us. Then Dave is busy emailing the boat yard, where Ohana is stored, as the seller is insisting that we need to pay for everything right away, while I continue trying to figure out how to move the money. Banker is working with brokerage firm to release enough funds. Phew.
In the meantime Dave must set up his web banking, which he didn't have time to do before we left, now at Bora Bora YC, and getting first down payment instalment sent. Finally get first one sent from BBYC. Can't get wifi from boat, even though we are anchored near, so in we go.
The seller is not accepting anything but a wire transfer. Talked with Tonia- working on it. The TD says they cannot do a wire! How else ? USD / CDN funds issue is ongoing, as we try to figure out how to get them the correct funds in USD with our CDN $ account...probably simple for most to figure out, but we were feeling the stress of it all and a loud tick tock in the background.... We needed to be out of the country within a day or so.
Can't send money anywhere without actually being there. And the broker would not take deposit via Visa or MC.
We decide to do 3-4 payments for deposit via e-transfer. Confusion about limit, and transfer not going through for 3k but goes with 2500. We also had the added wrinkle of needing to check out of the country, which had been stressed to us we HAVE to leave that day, by midnight! Ask broker if he will do some of deposit by visa? Nope! Crap.
Now thinking we will need to do 4 instalments of e-transfer... 24 hrs apart. Can't get it done in time. We have to leave Bora. On weds, the 5th. Stress! The next day we are informed by Tonia that we can each send 3000$ per day, as it goes by the separate bank card. But each cards transaction has to be 24 hrs apart or more. During this time we are wondering if we can transfer a wire within Canada? Idea was maybe we could send directly to Reg's acct in Toronto in USD. Nope! Send to Diane's bank in Cdn ? Nope. Has to be a cheque. Can't get a wire transfer without being there. Our bank would be ok with it because they know us, but rules are rules!
So in the morning we get Dave's sent. 3000$ works this time. I send the balance that evening. Now we have to chase down how to get the other 90% sent. In the meantime we have checked out of the country. We go to the post office to buy stamps for sending check out forms to local gov't and look into Fedexing the boat cheque and it's closed. At 130pm! We ask a local snack bar lady and she steers me somewhere to get stamps. Wendy and Mac join us to have lunch. We need a drink. It's been a stressful few days! What a schmoozle. Thank goodness I had downloaded DocScanner before we left home, an app for taking a picture of documents and emailing them. That allowed us to get our "Agreement to Purchase and Sales" sent back.
Meanwhile every time we need wifi we go to shore and the closest is this fine restaurant with a typical island feel. The wifi and phone calls are barely working and time is running out. We need the sellers banks address or at least somewhere to send the 90% that's left, so we can proceed to contact them with the heads up this needs to be dealt with today. Of course we are having a challenge being on "island time" when trying to get an international boat purchase done. Did I mention that the boat's in Sint Maarten, one seller is in Nunavik and the other in Nepal? And us here.... A challenge of time zones and wifi availability, or the lack thereof.....
We still had to figure out how to get the cheque sent. We went back and forth between the Post office in Bora Bora and Tahiti Airlines, who ship all the time. The Post Office couldn't find a code for Sint Maarten. They had a Saint Marin. They had locations for all the nearby islands, but this one although likely the right place, was not inspiring any confidence. Back to Tahiti Air....they could send it, but once it got to Tahiti, they needed to weigh it and then it had to be paid for (in Tahiti !) by credit card. Seriously?!? Our friends had all left at this point.... So back to the drawing board. Then it hit me. We could send it to Hal, if we could get ahold of him in time and he was ok with it. Yes and yes. Finally a breakthrough! Hurried emails, led to hurried calls, which got the details we needed. Hal to the rescue again! So we posted it to him, by the quickest method and he Fedex'd it the rest of the way.
That night we were very happy to scoot out of Bora Bora. A passage seemed so welcoming after the craziness and emotional turmoil of the past few days.
If only we knew it was just the beginning....
In between now and Australia, it's many weeks of unsatisfying nothing. No emails, no details.... The seller is pretty incommunicado. Then things start to get difficult again....
Visit's with the Donovan's and their great group of friends
24 December 2015
We got to Sydney on Dec 19th, having driven 1100 kms (or at least Dave did) from Mooloolaba. It's Christmas Eve and we have managed to twist Dave's moms arm to let us visit down here a bit longer, as we won't get back on this trip.
When we first got to town, we stayed with the Donovan's. Friends from Apex a LONG time ago. Dave also got in a quick visit with his brother Greg and sister-in-law Maureen. While he was there, I went on an awesome early morning bike ride along the waterfront with Rob, Leanne and several friends. The walkways go forever, right above the beach.....in front of posh houses, Surf Lifesavers Clubs and Sailing clubs. Even early on a Sunday morning there were thousands of people like us out and about. Surfing, swimming, walking....dogs, kids, you name it...everyone was out.
After the ride, we all stopped at a coffee shop run out of a sailing club and Ian, the only sailor in the crowd was happy to talk boats and we were quickly nudged over to one side as the others laughed at us for being "sailing geeks, talking the talk". Leanne invited everyone over for lunch and we all headed back to get prepared.
During lunch we had plenty of time to talk boats and Dave was back by then, so he and Ian swapped stories. It was really great to spend some time with the whole bunch, kids and all, as they are such a nice circle of friends. By now Archie the guard dog had warmed up to me, so I was in heaven. Funny...he is a little fluff ball, who has an alter ego once he has a ball in his mouth and although he loves to play tug of war with it, if you didn't know better,the sounds he made would make you think he was a sabre toothed tiger!
Later that day we ended up on Ian and Lisa's 'Moody 41'. It's a beautiful sailboat and it was really nice to go below and really check it out as it will be a similar layout and size to the Catalina 400.
For those Apex people out there, keep your eyes peeled as the Donovan's are inbound...first a couple of weeks at Silverstar mid Jan and then a week at Apex for the first week of Feb! Save then some freshies.
Heading south, first stop Brunswick Heads to meet Tara Webb
18 December 2015
A couple of days later, around mid Dec we borrowed Kev's Ute and headed back to Dave's moms. We needed to ask her about borrowing her car to go south. Kev's Ute could probably get us there and back, but it would use twice as much fuel and it was a much older vehicle. We had looked at flights, return cars etc...but then we'd need a way to get around and see everyone. Mostly needed to get his passport renewed, which meant at least a quick trip to Sydney and the sooner the better because we wanted to try to have it back before we left Australia. We also wanted to see friends and since the trip was 1100 kms, we would stop along the way, visiting friends where possible.
Tara Webb, who I had met many years previously and had lived with me at my little house in Keremeos for a few weeks, lived in the Byron Bay Area, so we met her there. We found each other at a fishing co-op and had the freshest fish and chips you could imagine. Later we followed her back to her house in the hills, with an incredibly scenic drive along a ridge and hilly lush greenery falling away on each side of us, as far as we could see.
Our destination was Federal Domo, a tiny group of buildings between large properties, with an extremely successful boutique cafe run by Asian folks, right next door to the house, who marry regular menu items with Asian flair to create something greater than the individual pieces. Devine. Tara's flat mate created a casual and uncluttered yet stylish farmhouse oasis in the country, with chickens, ducks and a veg and fruit garden in the back yard. The house was a classic Aussie Queensland style with 12' high ceilings, huge rooms and a white washed wooden wall and ceiling finish. Old style original metal door knobs and other antique touches completed the theme. They even had a composting toilet, which seemed to be working really well for them. An excellent way to save on water.
Kev and Noeline and Raby Bay
03 December 2015
When we left Mooloolaba, we headed for Raby Bay and Kookaburra headed for Manly, just a few miles away. They would be leaving the boat there for a couple of months while they spend time in NZ. Lucky for them their kids will be joining them for Christmas at the beach.
While they got Kookaburra ready to be closed up, the first 10 days or so after we got to the area, we cleaned out every nook and cranny of Aussie Rules and there was an awful lot more than you'd think on such a small boat! Between the safety gear, tools, toiletries, and kitchen gear.... Books, clothing, toys (2 inflatable kayaks, 2 surf boards) and a lot of leftover canned and dry goods.... It sure added up! It took many days of packing and cleaning and removing most of our upgrades to the boat. We only left on the solar panels and the frame that holds them up. Everything else that could be unbolted, was - as its all new technology and we can put it all on whatever new boat we end up with. As most boats end up stripped like ours, we will have saved ourselves many thousands of $$$$$ by not having to replace all these items, taxes, shipping and all. We took into consideration the costs of loading it all into luggage and getting it flown wherever we end up. It made sense, so we went for it. I ended up going up the mast 3 times and Dave once, first taking off the radar, then the frame that held it and wind instrument and the wires from the top of the mast and lastly the mid mast ones from the radar.
During this time we stayed with Kev and Noeline, we first left the boat in front of their friend Dave's house, on the canal. We shared many a delicious meal and many stories of Dave and Kev's escapades when they were younger, travelling to many different clubs together, often with Kev in a flashy sports car, towing a 20' Nacra catamaran.
After about a week, we got permission to move it to in front of Kev and Noelines unit, into a slip that was unused. There it would stay while we did the quick trip to Sydney.
South to MOOLOOLABA, Marj and Monty
26 November 2015
We decided it was time to get back out to Inskip Point, as the weather showed the next day would be the last in awhile with weather good enough to do the jump south. We moved out to Pelican Bay, only an hour away from Tin Can. Dave and I decided to go explore the shoreline of Inskip Point and during our wander a nearly 5' long Goanna ran across my path and up a tree near the path. Of course I jumped and screamed, but I was sure happy to see it so close, once it was staying still on the tree!
We were up around 0445, and underway by 5, with a few boats already heading out the pass. There was a definite exodus happening. We had plenty of wind, with 10-12kn to start and a steady increase throughout the day. By the time we entered the Mooloolaba River we had over 20kn and we were all keen to find a berth. It had been a fast run, punctuated by boats who kept getting far too close to us, prompting many course changes!
Thankfully we arrived in great time and had a great welcoming committee of Dave's mom Marjorie and her trusty dog Monty.
We spent a week in this area, visiting with Marj, walking over some mornings along the beautiful shoreline walkway, which weaves through wild scrubby forest, along the downtown business area and past stunning beaches and again through parks and along the back of RV lots. With dozens of restaurants nearby, Wendy and I enjoyed some nights off and some delicious meals. Fresh seafood everywhere led to more memorable meals onboard and the crews of Imoogi and Whale and the bird came for visits. After many days of borrowing Marj's car, it was time to head south to stay with Kev and Noeline and the beautiful area of Raby Bay.
Skinny water, Inskip Point and Tin Can Bay
23 November 2015
In the morning we carried on towards the 'high point' in the narrows between Fraser and the other islands towards the mainland. This point is the spot where the incoming tide from the southern pass and the northern pass meet. We needed to get there in the morning at the height of the tide, or it would be even more dodgy. The area has many tricky points to navigate and even with the best devices, it was hard to believe the route that Navionics suggested, while we looked around and saw we were supposed to weave towards islands of shrubs sticking out of the water! Especially as we were flying along at 7-8 knots, so once we sailed up and over the 'high point' where the tides met and we were going out with the retreating tide. I couldn't imagine how the folks with fin keels were faring as we were scared enough drawing only 5 feet with our wing keel. The only thing that made us feel slightly better was that we were all lined up, with many other boats, ahead and behind us. At least we weren't going this crazy route alone! Luckily the super sketchy part was in about 3 places in a mile or so stretch. Flashbacks to Bora Bora and the skinny water leading to the SE corner.
We spent another couple of hours getting to the S end of Fraser Island, where Inskip Point provides a sandy point at the edge of Pelican Bay which can be anchored behind on the S side of the pass. As we tried to anchor it became apparent it wouldn't be comfortable at all, as the wind had come up and with the opposing current and wind, it was hard to tell how well we were anchored. We decided to bug out after a few minutes and carry on south, on the inside, up Tin Can inlet where a few miles away is the small retirement community of Tin Can Bay. The guys went ashore to wander around and get the lay of the land.
In the morning we all went ashore to explore and since the guys had noticed there was a Dolphin Feeding Program, that was our first stop of the day. We got up very close and watched as many others did the feeding. I was happy to be 5-7 feet away with a good spot to shoot pics and videos. There was unexpected entertainment as pelicans and cormorants fought to get to the fish, the cormorants definitely won, snatching several fish out of people's hands, often biting the hands in the process!
Later, in town some enjoyed a very popular treat, fresh scones with cream and jam and of course yummy coffees. We really enjoyed this quaint little town, walking around through parks and the whole place had a great, laid back feel.
Kingfisher Resort to South White Cliffs
22 November 2015
We went a short hop of about a mile and anchored beside Fitzpatrick Pier. We got in really close so we'd be more out of the current. Wendy kept seeing what she thought was a whale tail as they came in to anchor in front of us. I couldn't imagine a whale choosing to be so close, but she saw a tail....we realized later it must have been a Dugong! This was the first sighting for our group.
We got all 4 of us loaded up and headed to shore. While we were walking along with the dinghy the sand was sinking under foot. As we discussed a new plan we saw that large amounts of the beach surface was moving! Soldier Crabs, Dave called out....and off I went...chasing them, getting the phone on video mode and then taking several pictures. They were like adorable little blue racing striped VW bugs, slightly smaller than a ping pong ball, which once you got close enough they quickly burrowed under the soft sand and disappeared! So adorable. There were whole platoons of 80-100 of these guys and gals marching all over the beach. It was hard to leave, but I had deserted my post with regard to dinghy carrying, so off I went.
We explored the area around the Pier, quickly realizing that without a vehicle we couldn't go far. When checking out the fine dining options we realized that we could quickly go broke trying to eat on shore, so carried on south. Also since we'd only come a mile, it was hard to stop for the day.
We noticed that we could buy a drink on the Pier so we stopped, relaxing and enjoying the gorgeous view along with our beverages. Strangely enough while we sat there a tour of folks on Segway's wheeled up. That was about the last thing I expected to see touring a beach!
It was a cruisey afternoon, covering many miles down to South White Cliffs, where we stopped for the night.
South along the shoreline to Big Woody Island
21 November 2015
We slowly sailed south the next day, with perfect conditions. Wind coming over the top of Fraser, no waves and the tides not so noticeable. It was peaceful. We stayed about 1/4 mile or less offshore and ran the shoreline, on a port tack for the whole day. Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, so it was surprising to see so much greenery...interspersed with big hillsides of white sand and of course the continuous beaches. With Fraser being 65 miles long, the plan was to take several days to travel its length, as this was likely the last cruising we would do.
We knew we had a few options of where to stay and as we travelled up to the first two, they didn't look ideal. They were exposed to a stiffer breeze than we'd be comfortable in, as the wind would push us towards shore and if anything went wrong with the anchor, we would have no time to react. We had started out early, to leave ourselves enough time to find the best spot so we carried on to the last option of the day.
Big Woody Island is just that. It might more aptly be named Big Woody Long Skinny Island! By now we had the incoming tide pushing us and we flew past it to the southern end, in no time. One quick turn head to wind and we had the main sail down and quickly dropped the anchor. As SOON as we cut the engine the deafening sound of the Cicadas 100 feet away in the trees was impressive. It's one of the very interesting things about travel. As we are undeniably so close to nature, whatever is happening is immediately on display. Sometimes it's birds, bats, Dolphins, Dugongs....you just never know what it's going to be. But since we have so little to distract us...we notice allot, Dave especially. Every time he is on watch he sees whales, which is extra special because before we left home he had hardly seen any. By the time he got to Fraser he had likely seen close to 100!
ROONEY POINT, Fraser Island
19 November 2015
We left early in the morning to catch the outgoing tide, which helped to pull us towards the top of Fraser Island. When checking the weather it looked like the wind direction may switch and we might get some 15kn Northerlies, so being behind the tip of the island we'd be more comfortable. That meant aiming for Rooney Point. Besides it was the remote corner which cars and trucks aren't allowed to drive to. Thanks to Shelly and Drew (s/v Firefly) who told us about this bay when we had caught up with over dinner recently. This was supposed to be the prettiest bay (Platypus bay) in the whole region. The turquiose clear waters we had seen all over would quickly be a distant memory.
It took most of the day to get there. With seemingly endless beach and hardly a soul besides us and a few fishermen in powerboats, it was truly the prettiest anchorage we saw. We quickly dropped anchor and got the dinghy in. We got our swim gear on, loaded cameras, food and drink and beach chairs and quickly got ashore. The sand squeaked and squelched under our feet. The bay was really shallow a long way out from shore and after shooting a couple dozen pics, videos and panos, we all
waded into the water. How nice to be in the ocean again.
A long walk down the beach and we found a dead turtle :( and also the skeleton of a small whale or a maybe a Dugong. The skeleton was really interesting. We tried to dig it out, as the tail bone and about 3' of the spine were all that was sticking out of the sand... It would have been really interesting to see it whole....but it had long since mostly sunk into the sand. It was like being at Science World, only at the much smaller Fraser Island exhibit.
The tranquility of being at anchor in a quiet place simply cannot be beat. I will miss that the most.
Life on Bryan And Sues farm
14 November 2015
We connected with Bryan and Sue, friends who live near Bundaberg. Dave and I met them while they were travelling in Canada. They came out on the boat in Kelowna and stayed in our house on their next visit. We were all (Mac and Wendy) welcome to come out and stay for a few days on the farm. We knew we'd be getting our hands dirty and we were all happy to get out and be on LAND. It was an extremely busy time from early until late! Farm life is not for the faint of heart. On top of caring for the hundreds of animals, Bryan does a table of fresh fruit and veg for sale at a weekend market. The funny thing is Bryan's nature is to tease everyone to the limit of their patience. It's hilarious to be around and pretty never ending. Wendy ended up with the nickname of "Blisters". Bryan explained that it was because blisters always show up when the work is done! We all thought that was pretty funny....and although Wendy was enjoying her time off the boat, relaxing - she is a whiz in the galley and will happily be the galley wench serving up endless drinks and good food and thinking nothing of the massive load of dishes she'll be left with.
Before we knew it we had been at the farm for 4 or 5 nights and it was time to drag ourselves back to the boats and plan for moving down to Mooloolaba, via the inside passage of Fraser Island.
Bundaberg Port Marina
10 November 2015
We were greeted at the dock in Bundaberg by friends we made in Mexico. What a nice welcome after coming in exhausted, running on fumes and feeling very revved up and a bit 'bug eyed' from our last stressful 24 hours.
Bundaberg Port Marina was an oasis after being at sea. It was a beautiful facility which had a fine restaurant, a seafood market and a grocery store nearby. Aside from that, it was in a quiet area of the coast, leaving us feel quite relaxed as we walked past the umbrella shaped Pointsiana trees loaded with deep orange blossoms. Best of all as far as I was concerned in the first couple of days was that they had laundry at $4 per load to wash. Everything was wet on board from several changes of clothes (waves washing over the boat, soaking us down the neck of our wet weather gear). Later on as we got into more protected waters, the sky was lightening up and the wind had eased, so I asked Dave if he was alright with me having a quick nap. As I went below, I was so dreary and dreaming of warm, dry clothes. The wind had dropped, it was pretty stuffy down below so I thought it might be ok to open the hatch above my bed. Bad idea! Just as I got to sleep I was DRENCHED in cold wet salt water. All because of me opening the hatch when I shouldn't have - soaking pillows, sheets and blankets and of course myself, right after I put on dry clothes! Too tired to care, after swearing several times, I took the least wet things and made a bed on the windward (high) side of the boat and got a bit of sleep. (I know - WHAT was I thinking? I wasn't... Very tired and desperate for some fresh air)
We got into town and after many attempts got the phones going-Telstra may have the best coverage, but the company is going through some growing pains as Mac and I both had several problems. Thankfully Steve and Angela and others learned the coal pub had a 2 for 1 dinner special and they picked up at the dock and drove you back! Couldn't think of anything better, so off we went, having the best food we had eaten in a long time a steak and oyster special, with Salad! What a treat after eating almost exclusively an Asian inspired coleslaw for the bulk of the past many months.... Although we loved it... A change is nice!
Crossing from New Cal to Australia
08 November 2015
When we left New Cal, it looked like we had a fantastic weather window....enough breeze (12-18knots) to last 36 hours, then lighter weather (5-8) for 4-5 days and then finish up with about 15 knots from the NE. We started off nicely. The breeze lightened up quicker than I would have preferred. But we were able to cook anything at anytime, clean out cupboards and organize. (We had been told over and over the Aussies could be really strict and tear the boat apart if they had the slightest hint that there were bugs on board, or things weren't pretty spotless). The wind was indeed light in the middle. But the end didn't work out quite so smoothly as we hoped. The day before things got rough I even got in a swim in the ocean, trying to get close to some Short Finned Pilot Whales....the winds were so light I was able to snorkel over near one which allowed me to identify what it was. We had bought a plastic coated guide of the whales and dolphins of the pacific while in Tonga.
The day things got snotty, Dave caught a 4' Mahi Mahi (Dorado) and had managed to get everything cleaned up and put away, when the wind started increasing. At first it wasn't terrible, but we could see ominous clouds in the distance, covering the whole skyline to the west, signalling that land was not far away and the weather there was very active! Oh boy! Here we go. We had both been up for most of the day, so we tried to catch an hour of sleep each, over the next few hours and only just managed a bit...then things got more lively....I will add more soon but the gist of it is below and what Dave posted on Facebook so our fellow sailors and family and friends would know we got in, but it was a bit of a white knuckle experience!
We have arrived in Bundaberg. After a mostly calm and uneventful passage, we came closer to the Australian mainland a weather system called a Surface Low hit us around 4pm. The winds were 30-35 knots with gusts to over 40knots from the SW with 3 meter square waves at 4 seconds apart. What that did to the boat was that it wanted to launch off the back of the waves and drop into the void between them. The result is a boat motion that made us feel like the ball in a pin ball machine. For the next 10 hrs we battled wind, waves and current. We could not make any headway and at times the conditions started to push us close to the shallows and islands and sometimes back out to sea. Some of the waves raked the boat from stem to stern. The tide changed at 2am, now flooding, which gave much reprieve, but in the dark, the waves continued to come at us, with white water crests breaking as they hit. We took turns hand steering as neither our wind vane nor auto helm could respond quick enough to the sea state. At that point we felt that fatigue was going to be the next biggest danger and we took turns trying to sleep, which is amazingly possible when totally soaked and freezing. Except for a short nap we had been awake for about 24 hrs. It was comforting to have our buddy boat, "Kookaburra" with Mac and Wendy close brand with their boat being longer, higher and heavier, it was handling the conditions allot better. For the next 6 hours we made our way towards Bundaberg and at 8am we entered the channel and protection. All in all the boat did very well with no damage except for a wet interior and a very tired crew.
Back to town for the RUGBY WORLD CUP FINAL - NZ vs AUSTRALIA !
01 November 2015
We got back into town Saturday afternoon in time to find a slip for the next couple of days. We came back because in the wee hours the Rugby World Cup final was on. 3am to be exact. We weren't going to make that time slot, but luckily one of the Patisseries was going to have the replay on starting at 7am when they opened. We were able to enter a pool to win a free Rugby ball, which with Dave's help, I won! We thought it would make a good present for Dave's brother Greg who has travelled to the World Cup to see it in person, he loves it so much. It was a great match but the Kiwi's held off the Aussies at the end....though they were catching up quickly.
Later in the day we did another shop for fresh stuff and after looking at the weather decided to get ready to leave the next day. That meant another round of visiting the 3 offices to officially leave and by early afternoon we were headed out to another one of the islands to stay for the night....I was torn, as we had good wind at the moment and the wind was due to die off within a couple of days and that would mean more motoring the longer we put off going.
Since Mac and Wendy had skipped coming out to the islands with us, we felt they wanted to stop off and enjoy some small island scenery before heading out to sea. (In a weeks time when we got 70 miles from the Australian coast we would dearly regret this decision! )
At Ilot NGE, the afternoon light was beautiful and I took a bunch of pictures, with the iPhone and iPad, I could see a group of people snorkelling and pausing for great lengths of time watching something. Wendy and I wasted no time and were quickly in the water, cruising around between the boats and the shore. What quickly became evident, was that there were way MORE fish than we'd seen ALL THE WAY across the Pacific and they were way BIGGER!!!! There were dozens of 3 and 4 footers. Many different types. What I at first mistook for the tails of sharks, turned out to be huge fish! I could hardly believe my eyes and when I tried to convince Dave to come in, he was not going for it, no matter how many or how big. His fear of sharks was just too strong. Though we were starting to get cold and Wendy had had enough, I couldn't quite drag myself away from the sights and I continued to swim around, trying to see some new areas. I decided to check out just a bit more and I could make out an odd shape. It seemed like the outline of a turtle, only it was vertical and not moving. Odd. Swimming a bit closer, I could barely make out that it was hanging by it's front flippers, having hooked them on the side of a coral formation, about 4' off the bottom. It looked a bit like a rock climber hanging out off a wall with the back flippers were just hanging in 'midair'. Weird! I got the GoPro going assuming it would quickly bolt, but as I slowly got closer it very slowly allowed itself to gradually slide down off the coral and it turned and swam off. What a fun, slow mo, close up look at a turtle.
Isle Maitre - another Marine park, with half the island a resort and half park.
29 October 2015
Isle Maitre had a swank resort, but the island was still cute. The water turquiosey and clean. There was a regular ferry that brought foot traffic over to Kite board from the city. This island was only a couple of miles away and with the regular service, it was a no brainer for a quick getaway for the day with locals packing some water wings and a picnic lunch.
It also had the free moorings and lots of them. Boaters trying to get away from town in the dark had lots of difficulty picking up moorings, prompting lots of light shining on moorings from helpful neighbors. Yep, we had a show. A few times. Some gave up and anchored off. By midday there were many moorings occupied and we slipped ours to head back to town. Who knew there would be a slalom course with us weaving in between the dozens of SUPers, paddling like mad to catch the waves and surf miles downwind to a far beach. We could also see many kites flying in the distance, with Kite Boarders ripping along beneath them. This is surely one seriously active community!