Home soil at last
15 October 2021 | 27 26.662'S:153 06.434'E, River gate marina, Brisbane
27 26.663 S
153 06.434 E
Weather; cold and wet , wind 4 - 22 knots, waves 2 meters
So our last day at sea had finally arrived and not a moment too soon! It was a cold and overcast start to the day. We managed to sail for most of the day but each time the speed dropped below 5.8 knots we started up the engine as we were determined to get to River gate marina today. The swell was lumpy and we tried to stay comfortably seated in the cockpit for the day. By lunch time the swell had calmed down enough that I could go below and cook up our last hot meal, or maybe I should say reheat it, as it was our last pre-cooked meal in the freezer.
As we approached Morton Bay the weather turned nasty, it began to rain like there was no stopping it, the wind increased and was coming at us at 22 knots on the beam, we were roaring along with just the main deployed at this point and wondering whatever happened to the "Queensland, beautiful one day and perfect the next" that was used so extensively in advertising the state. Maybe it was a different Queensland! Going through the bay there is a shipping channel that avoids all reef and is the safest passage to reach the river, did we take this option? Of course not, Gerry thought we would be perfectly OK taking a smaller route through the area which had a reported depth of 20 foot all the way through it - until it didn't! it was Ok to begin with but all of a sudden the depth reader began to drop rapidly, panic began to set in as it reached 6 foot (this is below the keel reading) and increased rapidly as it went down to 3 foot, 2 foot, 1 foot 9 inches. Before we grounded the boat Gerry took it out of auto pilot and hand steered us to where he hoped was deeper water. Thankfully the depth increased gradually and we were once again in water over 6 foot deep under the keel which was just as well because there wasn't room for us to turn the boat around and we were under sail which would have made it pretty difficult to do anyway. A short while after the depth scare the rain finally let up for a short while and Gerry suggested that we get the main down and away before we got swamped once more - it was obvious that it was going to continue to rain, it was just a matter of how long we had between downpours. As quickly as we could manage we dropped the main, it wasn't pretty and didn't entirely drop into the bag but the rain had begun its relentless pounding yet again so we repaired to the cockpit and made sure we were back on course as the channel was quite narrow with reef on both sides, we didn't need to be getting any closer to it. The rest of the trip
up the river was uneventful and by the time we were close to the docks the rain had disappeared and the sun was getting hotter by the second. We had notified Border force and the marina that we were close to arriving and continued until we were in sight of the marina where we had been instructed to go into Berth B13. There was a fair tidal current going through as we approached the marina and Gerry wasn't confident that we could get into the slip we had been allocated without getting pushed sideways into the boat in the next slip so the dock master suggested that we go onto the quarantine dock until slack tide. This dock is a T dock and easy to get alongside so we were soon there and ready to tie up, at this point we were told to wear masks and gloves to throw the lines ashore, really?? Gloves to handle lines that have been handled by us all year, wouldn't it make more sense for the line handlers on the dock to be wearing gloves if they were worried? Anyway we didn't rock the boat (pardon the pun) and wore gloves to throw the lines to the dock master. We were quickly tied up and given the rules for the moment, no stepping off the boat under any circumstances and no disposal of rubbish as yet. A security gate was then locked which shut us off from the rest of the docks. We spent the time clearing out and bagging up the foodstuff that we knew bio security would take off of us, referring to the huge notice boards about what we couldn't import which were attached to the security fence, luckily there wasn't too much as we had managed to eat just about everything that was banned prior to arrival. At slack tide the dock master reappeared and directed us to go across to the berth we had been allocated. The fenders and lines were swapped across to the port side as that was the side we would be tying up to and we motored across the way and into the slip where we were once again throwing lines to the dock master and tying up. At this point we noticed that there were 4 uniformed officials waiting at the end of our slip. As soon as we were settled the first lady approached, she was from Bio Security, wouldn't come aboard as we were "in quarantine" so we sat out on the deck to answer a heap of questions about what we had on board that might present a bio hazard. The lady was very pleasant and we were soon done with the questions, there was no inspection at this point but we were told that after we had finished with the hotel quarantine we have to call Bio Security who will then come on to the boat and do their inspection (after the horse has bolted!). Next the other 3 officials - all from border security (customs and immigration) came onto the boat, gloved and masked and sat in the cockpit to carry out their questioning. So we filled out the usual in-bound cards and Gerry had already let them know that we were carrying a fire arm so for the next hour there were a million and one questions about the firearm which is a WW2 gun originally belonging to a German soldier which Gerry's dad owned and Gerry had inherited. As it was still operational it had to be surrendered and if we want to keep it it has to be rendered un fireable by a gun smith, all of which we were aware of and prepared to do. We had kept the gun in a small pelican gun box and offered the box to them to transport the gun but they had their own boxes and refused ours. Now this gun is small and fits into the palm of your hand easily, so not very big, it has 2 magazines both of which were empty and we had no ammunition. The border security guys produced a huge pelican case about 2.5 feet square and 1.5 feet deep, then inside that case were 2 smaller complete cases, both of which were bigger than the case we had. They put the gun into one of the smaller cases and the 2 magazines into the second case , put seals on the small boxes and noted the numbers, put both the small cases back inside the big case, applied seals to that and handed us a heap of paperwork. Finally they had finished with their clearance, no further questioning about goods, alcohol limits, prohibited substances etc. we were cleared in. Whilst we were going through this process 2 police officers appeared at the side of the boat and waited until the border security officers had finished and left before they began their spiel about why they were here - basically it was to escort us to the quarantine hotel. Again there were a heap of questions, iPad filling out, data gathering and we were at last told we could get our gear together and make our way to the quarantine hotel. The police called for a taxi to take us there and followed behind as a police escort, how to make you feel like a criminal 101! Once we were at the doors of the hotel the taxi driver told us not to get out of the car until we were told to, all we were missing were the handcuffs! Eventually the 2 police who had escorted us, following the taxi in their car, handed over our details to the police who were milling around inside the hotel foyer (nine of them) and one of them came to tell us we could exit the taxi and collect our bags from the boot. With bags in hand we went to enter the foyer and were abruptly told not to step up onto the side walk but stay in the road and come around to an entrance at the side. Here QLD health had a table set up which they were sanitizing as we approached, Gerry was a little in front of me and as I went to join him at the table I got told to wait back and socially distance from him - WTF???? We have spent every day together and slept in the same bed for years and now I have to socially distance???? Any way the health people told him to remove his mask, issued him with a fresh disposable mask, sanitized his hands, asked him some questions and then pointed him through the doors to the foyer where another table was set up with 2 police officers standing behind it. Meanwhile I went through the interrogation and got asked if I had any questions, when will I learn to keep my mouth closed? I just had to know the reasoning behind 4 PCR tests - in my thinking it is overkill on a mammoth scale. I told them I could understand the arrival test and the day 13 test but why another test at day 5 and again 3 days after the quarantine period is completed - I just wanted to know the reasoning behind them. The answer I got was "because it's the protocol". Oh boy, I just couldn't shut up and said "that's not a reason" to which I got asked what I was expecting as a reply - the science behind it maybe? The final answer I got given was "so that we can move you quickly to hospital if you test positive". I'm still unclear about the extra 2 tests so if anyone with a science background can help me out here I need to hear it! (I didn't mention my background at any stage and at no stage have we been asked if we have been vaccinated or had Covid). So eventually I got pointed to the desk where Gerry was waiting and had a quick intervention from a policeman to assure the 2 behind the desk that it was OK for me to stand next to Gerry. These 2 police gave us the "rules" for the hotel stay - mask wearing at all times except when in the room, escort to our room (not allowed a key in case we can't be trusted to stay inside), no leaving the room for any reason apart from emergency evacuation, if the room has a balcony we can go out on it but no talking to any other guests, passing stuff to them etc, food will be delivered to the door - a 3 raps on the door, wait 15 seconds before opening the door fully masked and with the light and fan going in the bathroom to retrieve the food parcel and follow the instructions on the booklet in the room. The first PCR test will be done in your room tomorrow. Then there was a bit of a discussion as to whether we could travel in the lift together! In the end they deemed it OK - what a hoot! The next thing, as we are about to make our way behind the policeman to the lift, is we see another police officer with a mop going over the areas we have walked through, I almost wanted to look around for the hidden cameras and the guy who jumps out and calls the prank it was so ridiculously OTT but to be honest we were both knackered and ready to fall into bed by now. As the police officer opened the door to let us into our cell, oops I mean room, he reiterated the facts that we couldn't leave the room and that we must always be masked when opening the door to collect packages or put out our dead, oops I mean rubbish and that there is a surveillance camera watching every move outside in the corridor and no mask equals fines. So my understanding is that we can go out of the door stark naked as long as we are wearing our masks - who would have thought! Apparently the hotel would send us up some food shortly as it was past dinner time by now. We were now in our home for the next 14 days at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, the room is a typical hotel room, queen bed, 2 bedside lockers, a 2 seat sofa, small desk and work chair, coffee table, wall mounted TV (only viewable from the bed) empty mini fridge, small wardrobe with iron and ironing board, small ensuite, shower, toilet and basin, NO bath which was a disappointment as I was looking forward to a relaxing radox soak to get rid of some of the aches and pains, as expected all the comforts of prison without the ability to go out for exercise. Oh and we do have a balcony which we can go out and stand on - whoop de do! I was very glad at this point that I had packed up all of our snack stuff, biscuits, chips, crackers, cheese, chocolate, cake and rum and coke. A short while later there was a rap on the door and 15 seconds later Gerry masked up and retrieved our "dinner". Two paper sacks each containing a throw away cardboard container with Nachos, a plastic knife and fork, a second small cardboard container with 2 doughnut holes in it, a bottle of water, a sheet with instructions on how to deal with the trash, a plastic trash bag and zip lock tie , this was dinner! Too tired to care we ate it and followed the instructions for disposal of the trash. Next it was time for a Hollywood shower (thank goodness for decent hot water and good water pressure) and bed. We were both exhausted and needed to catch up on some sleep. I'll fill you in with more tomorrow, I think that s enough reading for today. My last thought is that of all the countries we have been to and gone through quarantine and testing this is the most draconian and OTT system imaginable, there is no science to what is being done, it is all just thoughtless protocol and someone needs to justify the actions that are being applied. The Australian government has a lot to answer for!