Farewell to Nika and life back on land
18 December 2015
First Mate Linda
As we begin settling back into life on land, our NZ and South Pacific journey seems like a dream. I am going to keep our blog going for a little bit longer because I want to capture how we settle back into an everyday routine. So many blogs I read cover only the cruising, and not how they adjust settling back after such an incredible experience.
Nika has been officially handed over to her new owners on the Gold Coast, so hopefully she will continue to give as much joy as she gave us. It was sad to step off so suddenly, but we would be crazy to pass on the offer.
While I took to easy option and flew home with Grace and Rose, Craig and Olivia had to tough job of packing up all of our personal belongings and cramming as much as they could into the "Juicy" campervan. They had to sacrifice all of our remaining food (2 large boxes) and two boogie boards, which we gave to our new friends on "AnnieT", Rick and Zoe.
Grace had fun at her secondary school orientation, meeting heaps of new friends and mixing with those she knew. Mentone Girls Secondary have eight year 7 classes next year.. that is about 200 new students! Huge!! She has been popped into Japanese /band form, and playing flute. Her uniform, school bag and books / stationery has been ordered so we are all set for her start in 2016.
Grace was also excited to attend her grade 6 graduation ceremony with her Cheltenham PS classmates, and while she has officially completed grade 6 through DECV, she has spent the final two weeks of the school year with her class at Cheltenham. It has been so lovely to see her welcomed back into the school, and also Rose who has settled in as a bit of a transition into mainstream schooling in readiness for grade 1. Both girls have been busy re-igniting friendships and catching up with what has happened during our year away.
Once all of the packing of Nika was completed, Craig and Olivia decided to enjoy the drive south and took the opportunity to check out the surf breaks along the way. Rick and Zoe gave Olivia some tips of surfing and she is now carving it up with the big kids, and can't get enough of it. This has conveniently shown a need for Craig to purchase a surfboard of his own as Olivia is now catching the big waves at the back, where Craig cannot stand to help her.
We are all now back together and the five of us are cosy in Sonia's unit in Glen Iris. It has been a bit crazy, and I am conscious of the extra chaos 5 people bring, but Sonia seems to be genuinely enjoying having us here, as is her dog Molly who is getting an overdose of attention. Craig is making up for the chaos by doing a few odd jobs around her home. The tenants move out of our home by Dec 31st, and we will be looking forward to spreading out once again. After a 4 cabin yacht, our house will seem huge. We have booked in to have our floors re-sanded, and will be re-painting so we will probably move back in towards the middle of January.
It has been great catching up with friends and family (especially getting to hang out with our gorgeous new nephew Sebastian). Everyone is interested in hearing of our journey and I have tried to share our experience through our blog. I will always read back over it and look over the photos myself as we have so many happy memories, and made so many new friends along the way.
When we meet up with friends, and they ask "how was your holiday?", it is so hard to explain without going on and on for hours!. How do you summarise a whole year in a few short sentences? Amazing, life-changing, an incredible experience, our favourite places (there are so many)?. All of those things plus so much more. To have the opportunity to spend so much time in each other's company (and survive!) has been so cool. Very few families get the chance to do what we have done, and it is definitely a life-style which will not appeal to many families, but we are quite adventurous and it worked well for us!
Now to face the realities of life back home.. Craig has been shooting off resumes for roles and reaching out to all of his business contacts in search of some work. The girls have all been enrolled in schools with fees paid and uniforms ordered. They have all been placed in their classes for next year and met their teachers and friends who they will be with, and I have started looking into which after school activities we will tackle next year. Now we just need to survive CHRISTMAS (yikes!), move back into our home, and then enjoy the summer (yay!!
Sold on the Gold Coast
30 November 2015
First Mate Linda
We are coming home!
While we haven’t moved from the Gold Coast and are still enjoying the lovely, although humid weather in Surfers Paradise, however our trip has taken an unexpected turn to the south in that we have sold Nika!
We listed her with 2 brokers here on the Gold Coast thinking it would take a little while to sell, and with a plan to sail down the east coast on a bit of a yacht ‘roadshow’ and pop into Pittwater which is the next best location to sell. We have sold her here on the Gold Coast to a couple from Mooloolaba. I hope they love her as much as we have. We are a bit sad as we would have liked to sail back into Melbourne for a welcome home, but this is a good outcome to have, and we would regret it if we didn’t take the offer while we have it. It does feel like our holiday has been cut short prematurely though.
The contract has been signed and pending a sea trial, we will be moving off Nika here in Southport on 15th December, and transporting all of our belongings into a van for the trip back to Melbourne.
After our week of ‘schoolies’ in the theme parks we have taken a more leisurely approach to our remaining days and spending the early mornings at the surf beach, taking the dinghy trips along the in-shore waterways for some knee-boarding and kitesurfing. We have even taken to sneaking in to the Sheraton Mirage resort to blend in and swim in their pool!. We spent a morning at a waterpark adjacent to the marina which is a bit like the TV show ‘wipeout’ with obstacle course, rope climbing and water slides. Heaps of fun!
The official ‘schoolies week’ as not really affected us as we are in the marina here in Southport, and the partying usually starts long after we are fast asleep anyhow! We do see them taking boat trips departing from the marina, and cruising about on electric scooters, but that is about it. The whole event is very well governed with official entry to the events, and the schoolies are all pretty well behaved.
We have been busy packing up our personal belongings as Grace, Rose and I will be flying home this week. We have secondary school orientation to attend next week, and Grace has been invited to take part in the graduation ceremony with all of her friends at Cheltenham Primary. She is very excited!. Craig and Olivia will finalise the packing up and cleaning of Nika. We have arranged to relocate a campervan from Brisbane to Melbourne through ‘Juicy Rentals’. This has turned out to be a very affordable option given the need to move the bulk of our belongings, and get back home.
Talk about downsizing .. we have moved from a 4 bedroom house to a yacht, and now from a yacht to a car. As our house will not be available to move back into until December 31st, we will stay with Sonia for a little bit, then probably spend a couple of weeks at the farm in Ballarat.
It looks like we will be home earlier than expected, and will be back in time for the festive season! Our time in the South Pacific feels like a wonderful dream and we have so many awesome memories, but we are excited to see everyone at home again. I wonder how we will adjust back to life on land?
Sunshine and Gold
20 November 2015
First Mate Linda
We are well and truly back in Australia now, and couldn’t be further from the remote islands and villages of the Pacific islands. I must say it hasn’t taken long to get back into the groove of the Australian way of life, but I do miss the serenity and simplicity of the beautiful anchorages we enjoyed in the South Pacific. It is just so easy to pop down to the local café and pick up a cappuccino, and have multiple return visits to the supermarkets to get loads and loads of fresh fruit, veggies and bread. Gone are the days of Nescafe instant coffee, powdered milk, canned vegetables and making bread stretch over 5 days. We are spoil here with the variety and ease of access to everything.
The Rosie / Daddy morning adventures of collecting coconuts and building huts has been replaced by surfing and sandcastle ventures to the beach and includes the whole family (at 5am mind you – no sleeping in for this family!)
We spent an enjoyable week in Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast where we caught up with the Pitara family who were here on vacation. It was great for the kids to have ‘kid company’ on the beach while the adults got to enjoy catching up and a wine or two. Christmas arrived early for our girls in Mooloolaba where we got to see beautiful Christmas lights over the water, and bought Grace and Olivia their own surfboard (pink of course!). Olivia’s grungy determination light weight and positive attitude means she has mastered the surfing instantly, much to Graces annoyance.
We met a family from Apollo Bay when we first arrived in Bundaberg (Ash, Sue, Angus, Isabel and Tilly) who have sailed south and left their catamaran in Mooloolaba. Their family live here in Mooloolabah and were kind enough to loan us a car to use for a day. We thought about visiting Australia Zoo, but with the theme parks of the Gold Coast awaiting us, we chose instead to drive to Noosa, do the National Park hike and swim on the beach instead.
We took an overnight sail from Mooloolabah to Surfers Paradise. I must say, this is a very busy stretch of water with shipping markers, fishing boats, cargo ships and other yachts all out and about. This passage definitely kept us alert while on watch and meant, while the girls all had full night sleep, we were very tired and frazzled when we arrived in Surfers Paradise at 6am.
We are here on the Gold Coast for our version of ‘Schoolies Week’!
Very early in the year, we promised the girls if they worked hard on their school modules and got everything completed by the time we arrived to the Gold Coast, we would take them to the theme parks. They have come through (well almost – we are down to the final module!), and we have purchased a 7day unlimited entry pass to SeaWorld, Wet’n’Wild and Movie World. The girls are very excited. As we are on anchor right outside of SeaWorld, we couldn’t help ourselves. Tiredness aside, we made our way across and hit the rides, water slide and shows for the day. It has been priceless seeing the joy and excitement on the kid’s faces, especially Rose who is seeing it for the first time (she was too young to remember the last time we came to SeaWorld). I forgot how amazing the dolphin show, and the seal show is. We have all enjoyed the ‘big kid’ rides as the girls are now old enough to come on them too. So much fun!. Having a 7 day pass means we can return day after day to catch the shows we missed the day before. It has been easy to pop across to SeaWorld as we are within walking distance, but I can safely say we have seen everything here. We hired a car for two days in order to take the trip out to Movie World and Wet n Wild.
Movie World was a revisit of all of the Warner Bros characters I remember when I was a child, Batman, Superman, Road Runner, Tweety and Sylvester, and the girls experiencing these up close. As the girls have discovered and become obsessed with Harry Potter this year, we hoped there would be some attraction including this, but it was closed down in 2013. It seems we missed the Harry Potter craze by a couple of years! Nevertheless, we had a full day of rides, and shows to enjoy.
Wet n Wild was all about the thrilling rides and getting wet. We had a beautiful sunny 29deg day for this and ran from one ride to the next, ending with the wave pool. Some favorites were the aqua race, kamikaze, the black hole, and the tornado, and for Rose it was the junior wet n wild.
Surfers Paradise is full of high-rise time share apartments, and never a shortage of people trying to sell them. With the promise of a grand prize, we headed on over for a 90 minute tour and sales pitch with this girls being looked after in a kids-club. We had no intention of purchasing time-share, but Craig loves to question the numbers behind their logic, and watch them try to convince us – quite fun! We come along just for the prize at the end. In this case we walked away with 5 night accommodation back on the Gold Coast which we may or may not use. We were hoping for the $2000 Flight Center gift card!
While in Surfers Paradise and in a marina, we are taking the opportunity to do a bit of boat maintenance. Our boat stove / oven is presently in bits, so we are using a portable gas stove. Not ideal as we need to use it outside in the cockpit, and things take much longer to cook because it is so drafty. Our hot water service is also leaking so we have had to pull this apart to find the source and stainless steel welder to get this repaired. Fortunately we have access to multiple chandleries and trades people to get things fixed. A pleasant change from the challenges we had in the islands in finding parts.
We have also listed Nika with a couple of boat brokers in order to sell her. This was always the plan, as Melbourne just does not have the cruising locations that you get in NZ, or in Sydney or Queensland, and Nika is too big to just have sitting around. We spent a good four hours cleaning her up and I must say she looks AMAZING. We needed to have a photo shoot, and have her ready to show to prospective buyers while we are still here in Surfers. We have already had one couple through and while Craig went through the mechanics of sails and navigation, I excitedly shared our experiences of the past 11 months.
While we are still in cruising mode, the reality of life back at home is slowly creeping into the back of our minds and the forefront of our credit card with 2016 school fees due, enrollment and paperwork to be submitted. Craig has already begun putting the feelers out for work when we return and has sent of this resume to a few recruiters. We are gradually being reminded of our pending return home, however still have lots of fun in store. We have a few more days here in Surfers before we start to head further south.
Bye for now! Xx
Goodbye South Pacific, Gidday Australia!
03 November 2015
First Mate Linda
While it is great to be back in Australia, we are already missing the serenity of the South Pacific islands, and our ICA cruising friends.
Our passage to Australia was trouble free, which is firstly due to the ideal weather conditions, but also the confidence in our sailing ability we have gained over the past six months. We approached this passage so much more relaxed than our first leg from NZ to Tonga. We arrived in Bundaberg late afternoon, so were advised to anchor and move into the marina the next morning for clearance by customs and quarantine. Dinner this night was made up out of tinned foods as we had used up all of our fresh foods (one day too early) prior to being inspected by bio-security (gah!).
After 6 months of not quite what we are used to foods, and not so fresh fruit and vegetables, it is FANTASTIC to be able to go to the local Coles or IGA and pick up all the foods we love and have missed. I have to keep stopping myself buying too much as we have only a tiny bar fridge with an even tinier freezer, so cannot store too much at one time.
The Marina in Bundaberg was our port of entry into Australia, but is about a 20 minute drive for the city. Customs was quite a quick process, but Quarantine (Bio-security) took about 1 hour. We had been warned about this, as Australia has a very strict screening process with boats entering into Australia. They went through every cupboard and locker on Nika. The only things they took away were a couple of weaved head bands, 4 shells, and the little bags of beach sand I had collected from each of the countries we visited.
We spent 5 days in the Bundaberg Marina, catching up on a bit of maintenance (including haircuts for all, and a colour and treatment for me ), exploring the local area, taking the courtesy bus into downtown Bundaberg for some shopping and celebrating ‘trick or treat’ Halloween - Nika style, at the local ‘lighthouse festival’.
As much as we would love to take Nika north to the Whitsunday Islands, time is running out and we decided to enjoy the trip south. We sailed through the ‘Sandy Straight’ which is the inside passage of water along Fraser Island. Unfortunately the beautiful white sand beaches are on the ocean side of Fraser Island, which means the beautiful calm waters on the inside straight is all mangroves. Never the less we spent a couple of nights on anchor here and enjoyed sundowners at Inskip Pt (Pelican Bay) on the southernmost tip of Fraser Island. A trip over land on Fraser will not happen, with car hire of $450 per/day, we could not justify the expense at this point. A small sacrifice for the year we have had, we will just have to come back another time (next time with our own car!).
We have now just arrived in Mooloolabah and plan to spend a few days here enjoying the surf beach and cafes, before heading to the theme parks of the gold coast! The girls still need to finish their school work modules before this will happen!
Bye for now xx
My South Pacific Playground - a poem by Rose
20 October 2015
I love building sandcastles,
and swimming in the sea.
Building cubbies on the beach,
that's the life for me.
I love my morning adventures,
climbing in the trees.
Searching for seashells on the beach,
that's the life for me.
I love searching for starfish,
and corals under the sea.
Swimming close to turtles and dugons,
that's the life for me.
The summer's breeze, warm sunny days,
and the smell of the sea.
Playing with new friends that I meet,
that's the life for me.
20 October 2015
First Mate Linda
As we missed the traditional "school photos" this year, we set up and staged our own. This included the standard individual and sibling photo's. Lots of fun!