02/22/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU
Today the winds were fairly mild. There was a big storm inland and, for some reason, it had taken most of the wind with it. Thus, we decided now was the time to start getting the mainsail back on the mast.
This is no small job since the sail weighs well over a million pounds... OK, I know my nose just grew a little bit on that fib but after hauling it around the boat deck and getting it ready to raise it, it sure felt like a million pounds to me.
With Mary Margaret manning the winch and I standing on the mast steps just above the boom, we slowly, very slowly, raised the main. As it went up, Mary Margaret would stop the winch when each batten rose up to the level of its respective batten car. I would then insert a bolt into the batten car and through part of the batten receptacle link that is affixed to the sail. Holding on to the mast for dear life, I would then tighten the bolts down. Now, that does not sound too difficult but it was since I had to wrap my arms around the mast to get to the bolt and the nut and still hang on. It was slow work and in the process I discover that I reinstalled one of the batten cars in the wrong order last week. D*@#n!!!
When I made that discovery, the wind was starting to pick up so we just continued on in order to get the sail attached and then stowed into its stack pack before the heavy winds returned. We will need to re-raise the sail again so I can remove the batten car and place it in is correct order. Since we still need to raise the sail and insert our new battens, this is just a "minor" inconvenience.
On the "batten front", Keith, the owner of the local fiberglass shop brought our three new battens to our boat today. Hooray!! That saga is now behind us. We now just need to insert them into the sail, measure where the ends need to be cut, then cut the ends and reinsert them into the sail. I can tell this is going to be another all day job....
02/21/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU
This morning we said so long to Ange and Allen of S/V Honey Wind and then help cast off their dock lines. They actually did not go very far since they just anchored in the river about 200 feet away. They needed to do a few more little boat projects before they continued sailing south but did not want to pay the daily marina dockage fee for their last day since they no longer needed access to shore power.
We have finalized our sail plan for this coming cruising year. I have posted a picture of it to this sail blog. Around mid-April we will start sailing north, up the inner passage along the Great Barrier Reef. This will be mostly day sailing as we island hop up the Reef. Once we reach Cape York, which is the finger of land at the NE corner of Australia, we turn west and cross the Gulf of Carpentaria. This will be one of the few times that we will actually be sailing over night. Once we reach the north coast of Australia, we will make our way to Darwin. We plan are arriving there in early July. In late July, we will leave for Indonesia. At this time, we are planning on joining the Indonesia Rally but, since we are not really "rally people" we are still having a hard time with that concept.
You can see the course we will be taking from Darwin over to and through Indonesia. From Singapore ( We are still not sure we will sail into Singapore since it is so crowded with ships. We may stay across the bay at one of the islands) we will follow up the Malacca Straits along the coast of Malaysia until we reach the island of Langkawi, which is right next to the border between Malaysia and Thailand. We will park the boat in Langkawi as we wait out the monsoon season. We hope to arrive in Langkawi in early November.
Well, there you have it: the 2012 passage of S/V Leu Cat!
The first time Mary Margaret made her Key Lime Pie, it was all gone before I thought about taking its picture. Well, today she made another one. This time, I had the camera out and was ready! Here is is. It two was yummie!!!!
02/20/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU
Yesterday, I mentioned that we met Angie on the way to the Farmer's Market. Today, we really got to know her and her husband, Allen. Their boat is a ferro-cement boat named S/V Honey Wind. Angie stopped by this afternoon to drop off some of her preferred coughing elixir for Mary Margaret. Mary Margaret every now and again gets into a coughing jag. Angie swears by this stuff and thought that Mary Margaret would like it. So far it is working!!
While she was on Leu Cat we learned that her husband grew up in Tasmania and since we are going there, we asked if we could talk with him to get some good ideas as to what to see and do when we are there next month. When Angie left, she had a couple of slices of the new Key Lime pie that Mary Margaret had just finish making and we had agreed that we would stop over around 1900 to talk more with her and to meet Allen.
Getting together was great as we learned about how they had survived two Category 5 hurricanes that had slammed into Cairns in the last 5 years and how their boat was the only one in the bay that survived. As an aside, Allen had use the same double anchor technique that we use when we are in poor or unknown holding areas. We have withstood 45 knot winds without dragging. Now we know that this technique can stand up to Category 5 winds! For those of you in the US, Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane so you can understand how powerful they are.
This is their first year as cruisers and they have already sailed up from Cairns over to PNG and back and are now heading south a bit. They will be leaving this marina tomorrow. In April/May time frame they will be returning to Cairns. They will be up there before the time we arrive in Cairns so we are hoping to see them again there. While we were on Honey Wind, Allen shared some great places to visit while we are in Tasmania. We are even more excited now then we were before!
Today was another great day regarding boat projects. I went into town and met with the fiberglass shop guy and ordered three new fiberglass battens. He called down to a place in Brisbane that sells them in 6 meter lengths for $84 AU each. Thus, for $252 AU, I have new battens being sent up instead of paying $800 AU, which the local sail maker wanted. I am still steaming about how he tried to rip us off...
Techno-Tip Of The Week: More On Hose Clamps
Last week I wrote about making sure you check the condition of your hose clamps periodically since they will break or vibrate loose over time. The last thing you want is a thru-hull hose leaking because of a loose or broken hose clamp. To that tip, our good friend Clint left a comment to say one should always double clamp when possible. I wish to underscore that very important point he made but to also offer a couple of additional tips to his point.
First, you will find that a number of hose bibs (i.e., the thing that the hose fits over) are not long enough to really hold two hose clamps. It that case, you should not add a second clamp since it will just sit on the end of the bib and as you tighten it, it was slip off the bib and cut into the hose.
Second, even if the second hose clamp will fit onto the bib, you should not tighten it down as much as you do the first hose clamp. The first hose clamp is there to seal the hose onto the bib and to prevent leaks. The second hose clamp is to act as a safety net in case the first hose clamp fails. You will notice that hose bibs have a rise at their end. This is to seat the clamp and to help prevent the hose from sliding off the bid. If you try to tighten the second clamp down as much as the first hose clamp, that rise at the end of the bib will force the clamp to wear into the hose and over time may damage the hose. This is not good!! Thus, if you put on a second clamp, just tighten it down until you feel that it is tight on the hose and then turn the nut just one more complete rotation. Thus should be good to keep the hose from popping off if the first clamp breaks.
02/19/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU
Early this morning, we boarded the free shuttle bus that goes to the Farmer's Market each Sunday. This time we were joined by Cheryl and John of S/V Sea Mist, as well as Angie, whose boat name I can't remember. She and her husband live up in Cairns and they just arrived here in Bundaberg.
After getting our weekly fresh produce and returning to Leu Cat, I tuned in the Michigan/Ohio State basketball game on our computer and enjoyed listening to our Alma Mater beating those nasty boys from Ohio. The Big 10 Conference is now extremely tight with Michigan State a half game ahead of both Ohio State and Michigan. Michigan has now played both of those teams twice and split each series. Michigan State and Ohio State have played each other only once so far and MSU beat OSU, even though OSU is ranked 6th in the nation. In the last game of the season OSU plays MSU and if OSU wins, there may be a three way tie between these three teams for the conference championship. It kills me to say this but..."Go OSU". This is about the only time I will ro for those nasty boys down south!!!!
After the game was over and I had enjoyed a celebration Cuban and a Manhattan while rocking in the hammock, Mary Margaret and I got together to plan our explorations of this continent. We have decided to buy a rail pass that will take us up and down the eastern coast of Australia, so we can visit Brisbane, Sydney (including the Blue Mountains), Melbourne and Tasmania. We will also be flying from Melbourne to Perth and back. We will be leaving Bundaberg on or around February 27th and return on or around April 3rd. Thus, we hope to have 5 weeks of touring Australia by land. This will give us a week or so when we return to rest up and then start our cruising season in mid-April.
Now I just need to make all of the reservations and start digging the beaches here looking for buried treasure. I need to find a way to pay for all of this!!!!
02/18/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU
You know that things are just not going well when you get consistently killed (that is peeled, chopped, diced, and then spit out) in cards. My so called "loving" wife has been dominating me lately when we play our favorite card game. It is a made up version of Head and Foot, which is a form of canasta. Our friends Lorie and Ken of S/V Trim taught is this version, which some other cruiser friends (Ron and Roz Worrall of S/V Worrall Wind) made up in Fiji last year. They call it "Fiji Rummy - Cannibals and Coups" because it is such a more vicious version of the tamer game. Why they call it rummy instead of canasta is beyond me but it really does not matter.
Anyway, memories of me killing Mary Margaret in one game where I scored 6,400 points in one hand (3,500 points is about the average per hand) have almost completely vanished. Instead, I am faced with one loss after another. It is now getting to the point where after playing the second hand (you play three hands to determine the winner), Mary Margaret is now asking me that since I am so far behind, do I really want to play the last hand. Humph, the nerve! OK, so I now have a history of conceding defeat after two hands but it is my prerogative to throw in the towel when I am so far behind. Do I come across as being a poor sport and a little bit bitter? Naw, I am just telling it the way it is...
Since each hand takes so long to play, I have patience for only playing two hands at a sitting. We usually sit and play cards two or three times a day and usually can get two complete games in a day. We mix playing cards between boat projects, reading and listening to music. It usually makes the day pass by quickly and enjoyably. However, when all one does is losing and then lose again, one starts to pout!
I am now starting to dream of playing this dumb game. Maybe I need an attitude adjustment; after all, it is just a game...
02/17/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU
By now I am sure that you are totally bored reading about the slow progress we are making on our boat project list. Thus, today, I will not even mention it, except for saying that today was another good day. You will just have to sit there, in ignorant bliss, not knowing which projects progressed so well.... Ha, ha, ha!
Instead, I will share with you what epicurean delights we have been enjoying while back on Leu Cat. As I have written before, we find that the fresh fruits and vegetables that are in the supermarkets in Australia are somewhat lacking, compared to what one is used to in the US. While the selections here are good, the quality is just not Grade A. It might have to do with how the produce is handled between farm and store. We have been to a number of different supermarkets here in Bundaberg (in the heart of a large agricultural area) and in Brisbane (one of the large major metropolitan areas in Australia) and we are still in search of a supermarket with good produce. We have been told by Aussies that the food is first shipped from a farming area to a major metropolitan area for distribution and then shipped to the various supermarkets. Thus, for produce to end up in a supermarket in Bundaberg, the produce grown here is shipped to Brisbane and then reshipped back to Bundaberg. This means that the produce is stored or carried for many days before it ends up in the supermarket here!
However, when we went to the Farmer's Market last Sunday, Mary Margaret was very pleased with the quality of produce she saw and bought. If she is happy, I am happy because it translates directly to a happy tummy around dinner time. From now on, we will be going to the Sunday Farmer's Market to get our weekly share of produce.
Regarding meats, we have found some packaged chicken breasts that are excellent, the beef is hit or miss, and the pork, while tasty, is usually presented with a roll of fat and the skin still attached. The fat layer and skin probably adds to the rich taste and moisture of the pork when you roast it but given that we have a propane oven, we tend not to roast things since it takes so much propane and heats up the salon too much. Instead, Mary Margaret will buy pork tenderloin and slice it into either one inch or ½ inch thick portions. The thicker portion is for grilling on the BBQ with a special glaze she makes while the thinner portions are pan cooked over the range. Thus, she has to struggle to remove the thick, tough skin and the deep fat layer that surrounds the pork tenderloin she buys.
What she has been trying to do since we have returned to Leu Cat is turn our focus from meat to vegetables. I gained too much weight when we returned to the US and Mary Margaret is helping me get back into fighting shape by cooking up delicious and healthy dinners. For example, a few nights ago she cooked up a vegetable medley of carrots, celery, onions, eggplant, green peppers, garlic, tomatoes, fresh parsley and zucchini. This she sautéed in olive oil and soy sauce with the herbs and spices she added, it was to die for. It is a variation of a dish she learned from our daughter Heather. I can hardly wait to have it again. Last night she took the fresh basil she had bought at the Farmer's Market and made a double batch of pesto sauce. We had my favorite pasta for dinner last night fused with pesto. She added some pork tenderloin as a side and I was in hog heaven (excused the pun).
The other day Mary Margaret also made a triple batch of gazpacho which only lasted a few days. It was wonderful and very healthy. Plus, being serviced chilled, it cooled us off during the hot spell we had a few days ago.
While not very dietetic, she also made a Key Lime pie the other day for my Valentine's Day treat. I had not had Key Lime pie in years and it was marvelous!! Thus, as you can see, we have been adapting to what we can find here in Australia and in turn, have been eating well. I have lost about 6 pounds in the two weeks that we have returned, so I am hopeful that soon I will be back to the svelte Dave Leu that I once was....