04/17/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina
Today our friend John of S/V Sea Mist and I drove into town to pick up my outboard. It was finally ready to be picked up. John had wanted to go to town to get a new battery for his watch. Having him with me also was a big help in moving the outboard engine back to the boat. The cost of servicing my engine was just $178 AU since the plugs were in good shape as was the impellor. The corrosion on the crankshaft was the problem and that just took some labor time to remove. They were able to restore and reuse the old seal so a new one was not needed. Hooray! Now with the outboard back on the boat, we are ready to start our cruising season.
While we were gone, Mary Margaret cooked up a storm and made some great tasting gazpacho and a wonderful vegetable medley for dinner. It went great with the roasted chicken.
We plan to move over to the fuel dock tomorrow to fill up our tanks and then leave at dawn on Thursday to sail over to Lady Musgrave Island. We are sooo ready! The weather continues to look very favorable for a comfortable stay at Lady Musgrave Island. The winds should be below 15 knots until at least Tuesday. If the winds blow over 15 knots, then at high tide the swells pass over the lagoon reef and make the anchorage a bit dicey. Boats have dragged in such conditions and have washed up on the coral. Not good! However, if the weather continues to behave, we should have a great time there.
04/16/2012, Port Bundaberg Marina
Today I drove into Bundaberg to pickup our outboard and do a number of errands. While in town, I received a call from the Yamaha dealer saying that my outboard (which he had previously told me it was ready to be picked up last Friday) actually was not yet ready and that they would need a new rubber seal to closer her up. However, they did not have such a seal and it was backordered and would be another two to three weeks before it would arrive. Yipes! There was no way we would be willing to hang around here until that seal came in and I nicely but firmly let him know that. He said that they would call around for a generic seal and see if they could get that. After finishing the rest of my errands, I stopped by the dealer to see what the status was. It turns out that they could not find a generic seal but the mechanic said that he could clean up the old seal and it should be good to reuse. Thus, my outboard should be ready to be picked up tomorrow. We shall see and it better be ready!!!!
Once I dropped my stuff off at the boat, I picked up Mary Margaret and we returned to Bundaberg to finish our provisioning. We went to two supermarkets to get all the things we needed and it took all afternoon. By the time we had returned to the boat and had everything put away and inventoried, it was 1730. We were exhausted.
A number of boats start to head out tomorrow. Our neighbors, Julie and Paul of S/V Silver Lining II, moved over to the fuel dock this afternoon to top off their tanks. They will be spending the night at the fuel dock so they can get off early tomorrow morning. We are expecting to see them again at one of the anchorages between here and the Whitsundays. We hope so.
Our itinerary for the next couple of weeks is tentatively the following:
Leave Port Bundaberg Marina and sail to Lady Muscat Island: Thursday, April 19
Leave Lady Muscat Island and sail to Heron Island: Monday, April 23
Leave Heron Island and sail to Great Keppel Island: Tuesday, April 24
Leave Great Keppel Island and sail to Pearl Bay: Thursday, April 27
Leave Pearl Bay and sail to Middle Percy Island: Saturday, April 28
Leave Middle Percy Island and sail into MacKay: Monday, May 1.
We are planning to haul out for a week at Mackay to do a little hull work but even that may be postponed until we get to Malaysia at the end of the year. We shall see.
If you are interested in learning more about each of the places we will be sailing to, you can Google them and/or you can zoom in on them using Google Earth. Each place has a series of pictures that you can click on once you zoom in on them. If you do this, be sure to include the words "Queensland" and "Australia" with the name of each anchorage.
04/15/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina
Each day it gets harder and harder to wait to start our cruising season. It seems like years since we last sailed. It has been 5 1/2 long months since we last sailed from New Caledonia to Bundaberg. During that time, we have traveled a lot. We first went back to the States for 3 months and criss-crossing the continent visiting family and friends, many who we had not seen in years. It was a great trip but exhausting.
When we returned to Australia, we checked out the boat and then spent about 5 weeks exploring this country. This too was wonderful. Thus, when you add our land travel time up, it comes to a bit over 4 months. This means we have only been on the boat in the marina for just 6 weeks or so. That is not so long so I really should not be complaining. The problem is that we just love the sailing life and sitting in a marina, waiting for the weather to turn, gets harder and harder as we are more and more anxious to return to the sea.
This evening we had our friends Lori and Ken of S/V Trim back over for more cards. Ken and I were ready to avenge the thrashing that the girls gave us a couple of days ago. However, it was not to be. In fact, it was worse. After the first hand they had totally demolished us. If we had added up the points, they would have been in the many thousands and we would have been deep into the negative numbers. To avoid counting, Ken and I just declared the girls the winners of the game and pleaded to start a new one.
The girls took pity on us and agreed to begin a new game. While we never did finish the second game, once again the girls were so far ahead that we guys were thankful to call it a night and leaving the game hanging.
Tomorrow Mary Margaret and I will be going into town to finish our provisioning and to pick up our outboard. Yea!
04/14/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina
With the boat projects behind us, we are basically biding our time now. We are waiting for the weather to turn to more ideal conditions before we leave for Lady Musgrave Island, 50 nm to the NE of us. As you can see from the Internet picture I posted to this blog, Lady Musgrave looks very inviting and it is singing a siren within my head, calling me, calling me, calling me to her. If Mary Margaret only knew what went on in my head, she would whack me a good one!!!!
However, like any good siren, Lady Musgrave can lure you to great dangers with her inviting songs. When the winds are below 15 knots she is a wonderful anchorage. Her reefs protect you from the swells that are outside of the lagoon. However, as the wind builds and high tide comes, the surf crashes over the reefs and makes the center of the lagoon a cauldron of lumpy seas. Boats have been known to hobby horse in such water and pull their anchors free, drifting into the coral heads that dot the floor of the lagoon.
Thus, we are waiting for an extended period of calmer winds before we venture out to visit Lady Musgrove. Right now, it looks like next Wednesday is when the winds start to die back and Thursday just may be the perfect time to go. Plus, to make matters more complicated, we are waiting for a package to be sent to us from the US. It should arrive at our daughter's house today or tomorrow and then she will forward it on to us. We are waiting for a couple of computer cables that we need. As the lady at the computer store told me here in Bundaberg, Australia has not yet caught up with the rest of the world when it comes to technology and they don't have the cables I need anywhere in this country.
This afternoon Cheryl and John of S/V Sea Mist came over for dinner and cards. The chili that Mary Margaret made and the Waldorf salad that Cheryl made were great. The cards were fun also but we were not able to finish the game before it was way past cruiser's bedtime. After two hands, the game was too close to call with the guys winning the first hand and the ladies winning the second.
Tomorrow is Farmer's Market day as we continue to stock up on provisions for our cruising season.
04/13/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina
You can tell that the boat projects are behind us and we have time and energy for socializing again. We have celebrated with guests, cards and sundowner drinks twice recently and will be doing more of that tomorrow and the next day. Our dance card is filling up and the ball (i.e., cruising) hasn't even started this year!
Tomorrow, Cheryl and John will be coming over for drinks, cards and dinner tomorrow afternoon. They have just returned from spending 9 days driving around the state of Queensland. They had a great time and saw some cruising friends in Brisbane who have since buried the anchor. Mary Margaret spent part of the day making a yummy chili from scratch so we will have that with Cheryl and John.
The following day Lori and Ken will be returning to play some more Hand and Foot. Maybe Ken and I will be a bit luckier than the last time we played.
Since the boat projects are basically done, I had time to spend on cleaning parts of the boat that I have ignored. The plastic windows of our bimini enclosure have suffered through the summer here without being cleaned. They were filthy but now you can at least see through them. Tomorrow I hope to polish them.
Meanwhile, Mary Margaret armed herself with stainless steel polish and gave the galley a good going over. The stainless steel counter now sparkles! She also finished the gruesome task of emptying out all of our food storage areas, cleaning them, putting the food back and then inventorying them. By doing this, she now knows what additional provisions we need and how much space she has to store them. Plus, we have the benefit of a list of food items and where we can find them. This comes in really handy when we need to find something.
Techno-Tip Of The Week: Tap and Die Sets
When you go cruising, you many times find yourselves in exotic places that do not have any support facilities. In fact, you will find that you actually seek such places out. After all, you want to anchor in a quiet, secluded bay, with the white sand beach in front of you and the clear electric-blue water underneath you. However, even in such ideal places, those nasty, never ending boat projects sneak up on you. Sometimes, the little bugger of a project requires that you replace a bolt that pulled out since the sail over to your exotic anchorage was a bit rough. In such cases, you will need to drill out the hole and tap in new treads so that your new bolt can screw in and hold.
Thus, it is important to have a good tap and die set. Taps and dies are cutting tools used to create screw threads, which are called threading. A tap is used to cut the female portion of the mating pair (e.g., a nut). A die is used to cut the male portion of the mating pair (e.g., a screw). The process of cutting threads using a tap is called tapping, whereas the process using a die is called threading. Both tools can be used to clean up a thread, which is called chasing. A good set can usually be bought for under $50.
Along with a tap and die set, you will also need a good set of drill bits that are sized to support your taps. The best way to do this is to Google the phrase "Drill and Tap Chart" to see what size of bits you need for your taps. Then go out and buy the best drill bits you can. I recommend Carbide drill bits since they are the strongest and will allow you to drill through stainless steel without ruining your bit. They are bit more expensive but it will be worth it.
04/12/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina
The weather slowly deteriorated as the day passed by. It was windy all day but, around 1400 you could see the cold front moving in from the SSW. Up until then, the sunshine compensated for the 25 knots of wind and I was able to "tie up" some lose ends to some of the boat projects I had been working on. Actually, I was cutting and trimming the loose ends of a number of lines that I had replaced. By 1930 front had arrived and it was cold and raining.
Today was also the day that I made a sad realization. Despite my repeated attempts to patch up our shade tarp, I realized this morning that it was a lost cause. I found a number of areas in the tarp where I could just touch it and put my finger through it. The material was that rotten. Boo Hoo. I loved that tarp as it gave me many hours of shady relaxation. My favorite place on the boat is lying in the hammock, under the shade tarp, enjoying life in paradise. Now, that shade is gone...
We plan on going into town next Monday for our last effort in provisioning before we depart. At that time, I will try to find a temporary replacement to our shade tarp. I am not sure I will find anything that is wide enough and durable enough to last out this cruising season.
We had invited Karen and Frank of S/V Tahina over to play some cards this afternoon. They came over around 1630 and we played Hand and Foot until 1900. Mary Margaret and Frank were one team and Karen and I were the other. While we have had Karen and Frank over before for sundowners, this is the first time we played cards together. We had a ball and hope that we will get a chance to play some more. However, they are returning to the States in a couple of days to attend both of their daughters (twins) graduations. Thus, when they return to their boat, they will be a month behind us in their departure for Darwin. We will meet up again in Darwin in July since we both are joining the Sail Indonesia Rally.
This afternoon I was told that the service on my Yamaha outboard would be completed on Friday. There was some corrosion in the gear box that was causing the problem. It will all be taken care of and with the annual service the cost will be just $200. There are no rental cars available until Monday so that is when I will pick it up.
04/11/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina
The highlight of our day was when Lori and Ken of S/V Trim came over around 1630 to play the card game Hand and Foot. Lori has been back in the States for the last 4.5 months and just returned two days ago. Poor Ken has been here by himself for all of that time.
We had stopped by his boat a few times since we returned from exploring Australia but his boat seemed to always be shut up. As it turns out, he was there but had the boat closed up since he was running the air conditioning all of the time. The back of his boat is facing the predominant wind direction so he doesn't get the benefit of the great breezes that are here and his boat heats up. Oh well, Lori is back now and all is well in the world of Ken!!!
Ken and I were partners and quickly took a 2000 point lead in our game. The girls came back in the 2nd game and cut our lead to just 900 points. Then they really stuck it to us poor guys in the 3rd game. It was so bad that Ken and I declared defeat and did not even add up our points. Those girls sure can be brutal sometimes! They take no prisoners and give no quarter. Oh course, neither do Ken and I when it comes to this game... Maybe next time the card gods will take pity on Ken and me and let us win one. Then again, we are playing against the girls and they are really, really good!
The weather is changing a bit. For the last few days, it was predicted to have thundershowers and then a couple days of rain. There is a huge High pressure system to the south of us, with its center over Melbourne. Its winds are bringing some unsettled weather up in our area. However, the unsettled weather is only arriving now instead of coming a few days ago. The winds have been blowing 20 to 25 knots all day and the skies actually spit at us a bit. The forecast for next week does not look encouraging but given how inaccurate the weather predictions have been this week that does not mean very much in my book!
When we start cruising, we want our first stop to be Lady Musgrave Island and reef. However, it is not a good anchorage when the winds are 20 kts and above. Right now, the weather reports are forecasting winds well in excess of 20 knots for the first part of next week. Bummer!!!