SVs Saraoni and Sundari

19 November 2019 | Picton, Marlborough, NZ
04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
29 October 2019 | Nelson, South Island, NZ
22 October 2019 | Christchurch, Te Waka o Māui, New Zealand
15 October 2019 | Scarborough, Queensland
05 October 2019 | Scarborough marina, near Brisbane, Australia
16 August 2019 | Southport Spit, Gold Coast, Australia
06 August 2019 | South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast, Queensland
15 July 2019 | Boatworks, Coomera River, Gold Coast
25 May 2019 | Biggera Waters, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
12 April 2019 | Coomera River, Gold Coast, Australia
02 April 2019 | Southport, The Gold Coast, Australia
16 March 2019 | Southport, Gold Coast, Australia
09 March 2019 | Currigee, South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast
21 February 2019 | Santa Barbara, Coomera River, Gold Coast, Australia
04 February 2019 | The Broadwater, Gold Coast, Australia
13 January 2019 | The Broadwater, Southport, Gold Coast, Australia
03 January 2019 | Curigee, South Stradbroke Island, The Broadwater, Queensland
29 December 2018 | Dunwich, North Stradbroke Island, Moreton Bay, Queensland

Blown Away on the Crest of Totaranui

19 November 2019 | Picton, Marlborough, NZ
Alison and Geoff Williams | Mix of cloud and sun
Fern trees and Queen Charlotte Sound at every bend

We are back in busy little Picton at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, after a 5 day jaunt along the Queen Charlotte Track. Like the Abel Tasman, it's a popular track and one we have avoided before because of its popularity and the expense of getting to the start of it. Queen Charlotte Sound is the main entry point to the South Island from Wellington by ferry and like so many others we have traversed this route and across the Cook Strait many times before, but never bothered to walk its length.

The track follows the northern coastline of the sound from Ship's Cove through to Anakiwa, about 75km in length. In the middle part, it traverses the ridge between Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sound to the North. Boats take walkers to different access points along the track, so you can more or less do as little or as much as you want, staying in anything from simple DOC campsites to 5 star resorts. As usual, we chose the cheapest option, loading our packs with camping gear and 5 days worth of food and got a ride through to the far end of the track, Ship's Cove*, where Captain Cook dropped in several times on his various exploratory jaunts to and around Aotearoa.

The track is also the first section of the South Island half of the Te Araroa trail, the 'long pathway' that runs from Cape Reinga in the North to Bluff in the South. The TA has become more popular since we walked a part of it back in 2016 and we met quite a few TA walkers on the track, a nice soft starter before the rigours of the Richmond Range.

The weather wasn't so generous this time, with strong to gale force north westerlies for the full 5 to 6 days of walking. The first night we spent in a picture perfect grassy clearing at Schoolhouse Bay with a feast of mussels on the shoreline, but the wind raged all night, threatening to topple the tent and break its slender aluminium poles. Despite the weather, the scenery throughout was surprisingly unspoiled and we met far few hikers than the Abel Tasman.



Schoolhouse Bay before the gale



Camp Sundaoni above the Bay of Many Coves



Above Roitama Bay looking South



Punga Cove



Coffee time!



Endeavour Inlet

The Sounds are a patchwork of DOC managed conservation land and private property. The first colonists, eager to turn NZ into their version of Merrie England, chopped most of the original forest down, including the huge tōtara trees that Maori had sought out for their canoes and had given rise to the Māori name for the sound - Tōtaranui (big tōtara). They then tried raising sheep, which became uneconomical once the world's appetite for wool and sheep meat waned. Now, much of the land is slowly regenerating, or has been put into pine plantation. It's a hard slog trying to revert this convoluted and steep land back to what it might have been, but there are signs of progress everywhere and the walk itself was rewarding despite the weather attempting to blow us off the track or the campsites at times. As in Abel Tasman, there seemed to be weka around everywhere. Even in places where we just stopped for a breather, one would pop out of the bush looking to see what mischief they could make.



Large rimu tree that escaped the settlers' axe



Tiki?



Hoi - Come Back With That!

We are back to tapping away to make some money for a short while before we venture out again in to the wilds, probably a 5 to 6 day walk in the high country East of the Lewis Pass. We are keeping an eye on the ongoing fire drama in NSW and SE Queensland. We can't understand just what more Aussie politicians need to get in to their thick heads before they junk King Coal and Uncle Rupert (Murdoch) and get serious about climate change. The fires have been catastrophic for the people and habitats concerned, but haven't threatened our two boats, except perhaps showering them with black ash!

* Just missed the arrival of 2 Polynesian ocean going sailing waka and the replica of Cook's bark, the "Endeavour" and the Spirit of NZ in Ship's Cove. It's all part of the 'commemorations' surrounding Cook's 1770s visits down under, and have been a very controversial and thought provoking series of events, with the Endeavour banned by local Māori in several North Island ports.

Glorious Weather Along the Wrecker Weka Trail

04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
Alison and Geoff Williams | Warm and windy, rain soon
Photo shows two flightless male weka facing off against each other at the Anchorage DOC campsite in Abel Tasman NP.

We are in the small village of Collingwood, almost as far north west as you can get along the top of the South Island. Past here is Farewell Spit and the Puponga Reserve, which we will explore tomorrow.

We spent four days walking on the Abel Tasman coastal track in glorious sunny weather. It's one of NZ's 10 (soon to be 11) Great Walks, hiking trails we have always avoided because of their popularity and cost (their campsites and DOC huts are much more expensive than those along ordinary wilderness tracks in the public conservation estate. Camping is normally free and 800 odd non Great Walk DOC huts can be accessed by a 90 dollar hut pass on non Great Walk huts). We assumed because it was only November it wouldn't be too busy. In fact, perhaps because of the weather, it was quite busy with people from all over the world using the trail.

The Abel Tasman coast is atypical of the South Island's other, more rugged, parts. It's more boutique and easier walking than, for example, the North West Circuit of Stewart Island which we have walked twice before, taking 12 days each time.

It's a very lovely walk, easily the best coastal scenery since we walked the Yedi Burun on Turkey's Lycian Coast. The track winds up and down from one golden bay to another, sometimes challengingly steep for our old legs, but plenty of views to keep the camera clicking.

We last walked part of the track in 1986 after packing kiwifruit in nearby Motueka (the island/ motu of the weka!). Since then, apart from the track becoming almost uncomfortably popular, there has been a huge restoration effort to restore the park area to something of its former faunal and floral glory. The weka that so teased us back in 1986 completely disappeared under pressure from stoats in the 1990s, but have since been reintroduced and are now seen everywhere, alternately delighting and enraging campers. Kākā parrots have joined the park to add to depleted wild ones and are merrily making mischief around Bark Bay. Predator control has also meant the return of the orchestra like dawn chorus, as bellbirds chime along in unison early in the morning.

South Island birds like the weka and SI robins seem to be more oblivious to danger than their North island cousins, something which has not helped them after the introduction of mammals. Weka can't stop themselves, poking and prying and stealing or destroying whatever they can find. Even if you chuck something at them, all that does is encourage them to come closer. The DOC warden at Bark Bay said that the kākā there have learned how to turn on water taps when they want to, but don't bother turning them off again.

We are off to Farewell Spit tomorrow while our muscles and joints get some rest, then will plan the next long walk.



It's one lovely bay after another along the Abel Tasman track



and another



and another



and another



and another



Kākā parrot at Bark Bay.This is one that has been recently reintroduced.
Note the bands on each leg.




This lovely Californian quail is an introduced species, but is no threat to other native birds.

Sounding Out the North of the South

04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
Alison and Geoff Williams | Warm and windy
Photo shows "Sounds Fine" steaming down the Kenepuru Sound.


We've been keeping away from ice and snow by moving North in the South Island. Nelson and Marlborough are two of NZ's sunniest regions and the sun has been shining since we left Kaikoura. No doubt that will soon be about to change, but for now we are enjoying the warmth and blue skies.

First stop was the town of Blenheim, where old yachtie friends, Alastair and Vivienne, have comfortably settled in a relatively new house on a hillside out of town, conveniently right next to a vineyard and a golf course. Since selling their 40 foot Island Packet, "Largo Star," they have bought a new, smaller motor cruiser, perfect for cruising the extensive network of waterways in the Marlborough Sounds. They wanted to rename the cruiser "Piwakawaka" after the movements of the fantail, but gave up after learning that according to Māori legend, it was the harbinger of death!

We went for a short cruise up the Kenepuru Sound with them from their marina in Havelock, enough to give us an idea of this potential new cruising ground. Unfortunately, it's not an easy task sailing down to the SI from Northland. A Belgian yachtie we first met in Tenerife was on a mooring in Picton, on holiday from Wellington, 30 nm across the Cook Strait. He crossed both the Atlantic and the Pacific at the same time as us and got work in Auckland, then sailed down the East Coast of the North Island in "Boxing Kangaroo" to take up a new job in Wellington. Bregt single-handedly stopped Saraoni from dragging on to rocks while we were off walking in Isla Isabela in the Galapagos. The boat dragged as the wind got up, then luckily passed a mooring, just as Bregt got to it to tie it up securely.

Next stop is the Abel Tasman National Park. We might come back later to walk the Queen Charlotte Track that lies along the Sound of the same name.



"Sounds Fine" in Havelock marina. The Sounds are more suited to chugging along in a motor boat than in a yacht.



Alastair and Geoff in "Sounds Fine," Vivienne steering.



Kenepuru Sound, looking East



Freddy, the dog, Geoff, Alastair and Vivienne. Geoff's just looking chuffed after not collapsing after a 3.5 km walk near Havelock



Queen Charlotte Sound from the windy road between Picton and Havelock

Kaikoura – A South island Taonga

29 October 2019 | Nelson, South Island, NZ
Alison and Geoff Williams | warmish and sunny
Photo shows the Seaward Kaikoura Range from Kaikoura's wharf. Mount Fyffe is the lower, broad peak, middle left at 1,600m. Manakau is the highest of the Seawards at 2,600m, middle centre.

We are up at the top end of the South Island, preparing for our first real walk - an easy stroll along the Abel Tasman coastline. It's normally one of NZ's most popular walking tracks, particularly in summer, so hopefully quiet at the moment.

We have spent a few days in Kaikoura on the South Island East coast. We've passed through a few times over the years, but haven't actually taken time to explore the peninsula itself since 1978 (!) Then, the little town was just a fishing village and seals and whales were there to be hunted or shot.

Most of the residents here now make a living from taking tourists out on the sea to see the sperm and humpback whales and several species of dolphins that come close to the coast here. There are also a lot of seabirds, especially shearwaters, petrels and albatrosses. Fur seals have expanded in large numbers all along this coast since a ban on hunting. There must be thousands of seals between Ohau Point, where the larger colony is to the North, and the peninsula itself.





Fur seals on the Kaikoura Coast

The 2016 earthquake resulted in 2 to 4 metres of seabed being raised along the entire coast. The town and the environment is generally only now recovering.

The two high snow covered mountain ranges, the Seaward and Inland Kaikouras, march along parallel to, and very close to, the coast, making for spectacular scenery when the sun is shining. The country between the ranges is one of NZ's latest conservation areas, Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia, easy to access, but rugged once you get there, in the valley of the Clarence River.

We both climbed Mount Fyffe, almost by accident, back in December 1978. It was the first walk we did together and almost the last!

We had camped at the base of the mountain in a hinau forest, then left everything behind to climb to the top. By the time we got near the peak, it was almost dark and there was ice on the track. We found a hut and made a fire and helped ourselves to food and coffee that had been left inside. We didn't know at the time,but this was one of the country's 900 strong back country huts built and maintained for the public to use (then by the NZ Forest Service, now by DOC). In the past, we haven't always used DOC huts and have preferred to camp, but they can be a life saver!



Cabbage trees along the peninsula walk



Looking South along the head of the peninsula, raised seabed clearly visible.



The Seaward Kaikouras across the Northern bay.


From the Mountains to the Sea

22 October 2019 | Christchurch, Te Waka o Māui, New Zealand
Alison and Geoff Williams | Cold and rainy!
Photo shows the Southern Alps rearing up in the background across the city and the Canterbury Plain. The Heathcote Estuary is in the foreground.


We are in the South Island of New Zealand, Te Waka o Māui / Māui's canoe. Māui claimed he caught the biggest fish in the world, the North island, Te Ika o Māui, from his waka while anchored at Kaikoura. Mind you, Māui had about the same reputation for bullshit as Boris Johnson, so there you go.

We have another couple of days in Christchurch before heading up the coast to Kaikoura and then starting a series of walks. The weather has varied from abominable to mildly sunny and pleasant since our arrival, but we have never been down here this early, so we will start in the North and work our way South, alternating between tapping for our kai and heading for the hills.

We haven't been to Christchurch since 2006, before the two bad earthquakes which radically reshaped the city. Christchurch was settled as an uber English colony back in 1856, planned in England even before anyone had a clue about where to place the city. The nearby deep water port of Lyttelton, nestled in one of the two extinct craters that make up the Banks Peninsula, had too little flat land for a city.

The decision was made to build the settlement on reclaimed swampland on each side of the Avon River / Ōtākaro. 165 years later, that decision came back to bite the founding fathers when the soft ground under the city centre and the eastern suburbs liquefied during the two earthquakes, resulting in the death of 185 people and necessitating many of the CBD's buildings, and 10,000 private houses in what is now the Red Zone to the East, to be demolished.

It wasn't the only strange decision made back in the nineteenth century. The settlers cut down what was left of the native trees that survived the depradations of Māori moa hunters, and planted just about every species of English tree that could grow, plus quite a few others,including gums. Just to make them feel more at home, English birds were brought in, like sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes, yellowhammers, chaffinches and skylarks, as well as Aussie magpies.

Christchurch seems to have survived emotionally after the earthquakes and the recent slaughter of 51 Muslims in the two city mosques. The best parts are still lovely and there are huge areas of parks and green spaces scattered around. The Red Zone, all 6,600 hectares of it, between the city and the beach, is finally to be regenerated with wetlands and recreational facilities. There are cycleways popping up everywhere and the number of residents who walk, jog and cycle matches the number of jetskiiers and motor boat users in the Gold Coast - it's a huge contrast.

We've been to see a couple of old friends who live here. Pete and Cathy arrived back in NZ just before us in 2015 on their steel ketch "Waverunner." It's now in the new Lyttelton marina, parked next to Largo Star, Alastair and Vivienne's old boat. Pete and Cathy live 20 km out of the city and are trying to make up their minds whether to put Waverunner on the market. Good luck with that! We also saw Rowan Taylor, last seen up the Ruatiti River at Riamaki, a 1,000 hectare block in the Whanganui back country to the west of the central North island volcanoes, bought by us and several others back in 1978.

Rowan and I (Geoff) shared a tumbledown timber house for a while back in 1975, coincidentally just behind what is now the Al Noor mosque in Riccarton, scene of the March massacre.



Rowan Taylor and Geoff. Rowan was last seen 40 years ago in the Whanganui back country. He now lives a stone's throw from his parents' old place near Lake Ellesmere, where his dad had an eeling business.



Library with a view. The New Brighton library has a great view of the Pacific.



From Red Zone to Green Stripe. The Te Ara Ōtākaro cycle trail is the first step to regenerating the eerie green void that used to once house 10,000 houses along the Avon. The grey shading on the poster is the part of the city most damaged because of liquefaction. It is too risky allowing any rebuilding on this once swampy land, so it will become Christchurch's newest park and wetlands.



A poignant lingering display outside the Al Noor mosque. The Silver Fern flag seems a bit incongruous though.



Can't get away from boats. Largo Star, last seen in Turkey, lies alongside Wave Runner in Lyttelton marina.



Lyttelton Harbour - one of two breached extinct craters (with Akaroa) on the Banks Peninsula



Brrrr! The Haast Pass was closed last night after a wintry blast and the Alps were covered in fresh snow down to 800 m. this morning. That settles whether we go North or South first! Pic from the RNZ website

Sunny Days on the Sunshine Coast

15 October 2019 | Scarborough, Queensland
Alison and Geoff Williams | Sunny and windy from the NE
Photo shows Mounts Beerwah and Coonowrin on the Sunshine Coast from Mt Ngungun

We've always enjoyed gazing at the oddly shaped Glasshouse Mountains that rear out of the flat coastal plain on the Sunshine Coast. Maybe it's because of their evocative names. They had a lot of spiritual significance to the mostly long gone indigenous people who lived in this area and it's not hard to see why.

The Glasshouse Mountains are all eroded plugs from a series of volcanic eruptions about 25 million years ago. A few are easy to climb, like Beerburrum and Ngungun, but the others are rock climbs or tricky scrambles. With a few days of car hire, mostly to sort Saraoni's new berth out back on the Gold Coast, we had a couple of days to spare for exploring further North.

We climbed Ngungun with what it seemed like half of Brisbane (tip: avoid weekend bush trips anywhere within 100 km of Brisbane!) and had all the other 12 or so mountains in sight from the top. Think we scrambled up Beerwah many years ago on a trip into Brisbane from PNG, but it didn't look so easy when we looked up this time and with healthy twenty somethings rushing up the bare rocky slopes we decided to give it a miss!

Should be in NZ in a couple of days, where the mountains are a lot higher and no doubt covered in white stuff.



Panorama of the Glasshouse Mountains. Tibrogargan is the highest, centre left.



Rocky Beerwah, too steep for us today. In Aboriginal mythology, Beerwah was the mother, Tibrogargan the father, Ngungun the (dingo) dog, the other mountains the children.



Culture clash. Uluru (Ayers Rock) is from this weekend officially not climbable, but it might be hard getting Brisbanites to stop climbing these lumps of rock.



Coonowrin, the tallest son of Beerwah and Tibrogargan. Definitely one for the birds!



Forget snakes, spiders, scorpions, crocs, dingos, blue ringed octopi and angry rednecks, around here at this time of the year the main danger is swooping magpies! Cyclists are a prime target so those in the know wear helmets with spikes on!

Sundari and Saraoni Tied Up in Harbour for Now

05 October 2019 | Scarborough marina, near Brisbane, Australia
Alison and Geoff Williams | SE, windy afternoons, calm cool mornings
Photo shows Sundari in Scarborough marina. Saraoni is tied up back in Park Cove in the Gold Coast enduring a steady stream of fender kickers and uncommitted wannabe yacht owners.

We are in Scarborough marina with Sundari on the Redcliffe Peninsula in Moreton Bay. Sundari will be here for the next 6 months while we spend our time over the cyclone season / Southern hemisphere summer getting fit and healthy clambering over the South Island (NZ) mountains and doing a cycle ride from Wellingon to Whangarei. At least that's the plan for now.

Our Tekin GC stalled after dealing with the steady trickle of wannabe yacht owners coming for a sticky beak on Saraoni and counting their pennies (not enough of them!), while a steady trickle of nasty lows emanating from the unusual 2019 polar vortex cut across our route between the Gold Coast and New Caledonia. It didn't look much point so late in the cruising season bashing our way eastwards then hanging off a buoy near Noumea just doing more weather watching before the trip down south to NZ. The last straw and decider was when we did a close check on Sundari's 17 year old genoa. It revealed a rip behind the UV strip on the leech, and the feel of the sail indicated it was on its last legs. That means a new sail has to be ordered, costing anywhere between $2,500 and $4,500. Ouch.

We've hired a cheap car in Christchurch for 3 months and will do as much tramping as our 60 year old legs and backs will stand, then fly back to Brisbane to check out the 2 boats (assuming Saraoni hasn't been sold by that stage) in January. We then fly back to Wellington and cycle up to at least Auckland. We will check out the penguin pad in Tutukaka for measurements. We don't think that it will fit Sundari, but you never know. The marina manager said that he might do a swap with another berth in the middle of the marina to fit Sundari's draft.

We'll be back here on the boat early April, ready for the first weather window to New Cal. and / or Vanuatu. Depending on the Brexit result, that gives us 6 months in the islands before we need to sail down to the Bay of Islands in NZ.

Scarborough is no stranger to us. We left Corsair, our first boat, a 1933 kauri sloop, in Newport marina, just around the corner for a couple of months back in 1988 while we tried to make some money picking fruit in Victoria. It's a bit old-fashioned around here. Redcliffe seems to have hardly changed in 30 years and reminds us of a rather seedy, down at heel, English seaside own.


Not everything in Redcliffe is so English. There are always the raucous cockatoos and parrots to remind you are down under. Here in a quiet part of town is a darter, a little pied shag, seagulls and three penguins (eh?), or maybe they are supposed to be dolphins?


However, Moreton Bay is shimmering in the sun not far away and the sand hills of Moreton Island are only just over 10 miles away across the bay. There are as many dugongs, dolphins and turtles around as we remembered and humpbacks are now using the Bay to give birth and generally have a holiday away from their Antarctic feeding grounds.

We took Alison's sister, Susan, and husband, Nick, across the bay in 1988, a trip they still fondly remember. What they don't remember is the all night vigil we had over at Moreton Island when the wind suddenly turned and blew from the west most of the night, putting us on a lee shore. After bouncing around most of the night, the wind typically died and became a lovely sea breeze coming off the sand hills.

Before leaving the Gold Coast we made the second trip this year into the Brisbane CBD to take part in the international climate strike. Compared to March, the crowd was much larger and more diverse with an indigenous group leading the way down George Street. Coming just after the ravages of Hurricane Dorian you would think governments would be getting the hint by now. Unfortunately, ScoMo, Australia's Prime Minister is caught between a rock and a hard place, beholdened to both Rupert Murdoch's hold on the Australian media and the power of the coal lobby.



Climate strike posters in Brisbane CBD: ranging from the plain to the funny, witty, angry and frustrated.



Some of the 30,000 climate strike march in Brisbane

We caught up with old Sail Indonesia friends along the way to here. Rosie and Mike now live on Lamb Island in Southern Moreton Bay, but haven't entirely swallowed the anchor as they still have a yacht they bought in Trinidad. Catherine and Peter on "The Southern Cross" had just sailed back from Noumea and are on their way down to Sydney, contemplating their next move. Ralph, who we met up with last year as he was single handing "El Misti" down from Indonesia, has tied up to a mooring just out of the marina in Deception Bay

Much of Southern Moreton Bay is relatively free of the encroaching sand banks of the Gold Coast and we have at last had an opportunity to put Sundari through its paces.It is certainly a delight to sail.

The Waiting Game to Tekin G.C!

16 August 2019 | Southport Spit, Gold Coast, Australia
Alison and Geoff Williams | cold nights, clear skies, mild northerlies
Photo of "Sundownie" anchored just behind the Spit in Southport.


Saraoni's original name was "Tekin JB" which apparently meant "Escape from Jervis Bay" in the local indigenous Dharawal-Dhurga language. We changed it to "Saraoni" assuming that this Jervis Bay place must be a helluva nasty place. It isn't. In fact, it is a lovely large bay on the Southern New South Wales coast. Guess it was just that the previous owners of Tekin JB had just got bored with seeing the same old place, however lovely it was!

We are now in the Tekin GC stage with Sundari. The boat is ready, we are ready, and we are just waiting for the "right" weather for the crossing of the Coral Sea. It's the old frustrating waiting game that is the most annoying aspect of moving a yacht around the larger stretches of ocean as any reader of this blog would have noticed.

The only thing we haven't really had a chance of doing is putting Sundari through its paces in the open sea. The Broadwater and the inland waterways between the Nerang River and the Southern Moreton bay are blessedly well protected, but not a useful place to go sailing, as all the stretches of open water are hemmed in by sandbanks, mudbanks, mangrove islands and, at least down this way, expanses of numbing suburbia. We'll exit through the Seaway a couple of times this coming week and see what the boat is capable of. At the same time, we may get close to some of the humpbacks that have been cruising up this way on their annual winter holiday. We saw a couple from the dunes at the Spit today and more a couple of weeks ago from Burleigh Heads.

It's only just over 5 or 6 days to one of the passages through the Southern lagoon reef. The trick is to leave here on the back of a high as a low passes to the south so you can use the westerly winds to advantage before hitting the trade winds closer to New Cal.

As we are playing the waiting game, we are keeping an eye on 16 year old climate activist, Greta Thunberg's trip across the North Atlantic in the racing yacht Malizia II. She and her Dad have never been on a sailing yacht before, but she is determined not to fly across the North Atlantic. Currently, the 60 footer, none too plush by the sound of it, is beating into 20 knot westerlies at over 13 knots. Makes us feel like wimps, but maybe it's better not to know what ocean sailing can be like?



Greta Thunberg, her Dad, 2 beefy racers and a blue bucket for a loo thrashing their way across the North Atlantic from Plymouth to New York. No doubt Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a cast of thousands will give her a rousing welcome on arrival. Doubt if President TChrump will be there, though!

3 Weeks From Smash to Splash!

06 August 2019 | South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast, Queensland
Alison and Geoff Williams | Lovely, sunny days, cool to cold at night
Sundari is launched back into the Coomera River at Boatworks - just around the corner from where it received a nasty smash just over three weeks ago.

It is just over three weeks since we were hit by a hit and run motor boat owner in the Coomera River just after midnight, holing the boat and causing extensive damage to the stern and rear stainless steel, worth $29,000 in insurance costs.

We are now back in the water again after 3 weeks up on the hard in Boatworks. Sundari had its shattered stern backed into a shed, while we alternated between doing extra jobs on the boat that could be done because of the location and escaping the inevitable cloud of fibreglass dust and smell of curing resin.

All credit is due to Craig Humphries' crew at Signature / Shed 16, who won the contract to do the repairs, as well as the prompt treatment by Club Marine's (Insurance) assessor and HQ who approved the $29,000 bill without too much of a murmur. Funnily enough, it's only the second time we have been comprehensively insured. The only other time was a couple of years in Darwin (again with Club Marine) just after Cyclone Thelma's almost near wipe out of the city in 1998.

Sundari is now looking better than it ever was. The repairs have almost miraculously rebuilt the stern to look like new. The stainless steel pulpit and davit have been replaced or repaired. Signature's crew have also thrown in a polish of Sundari's topsides, repaired a couple of noticeable chips in the bow and replenished the obvious blemishes on the topsides that a previous repair had bungled before we bought the boat.



Sundari's new stern with rebuilt starboard quarter, new davit repair and pulpit.



Sundari backed into the shed at Boatworks, ready for relaunching


We've made good use of the time. Apart from several days in an apartment paid for by insurance, we have done important upgrades on Sundari that probably wouldn't have happened if we hadn't been hauled out. For a start, we have cleaned the hull and painted it with antifouling. We have replaced the so-called "clears" in the bimini, installed a ground plate for the HF radio, replaced 2 dodgy seacocks, replaced an equally dodgy port nav light, marked the anchor chain with 10 metre markers, fitted two huge removable wheels on to our new dinghy, and swapped the VHF radio with Saraoni's better AIS radio unit.

As they say in Hindi "Hamaaree naav phir se sundar dikh rahee hai!"
"हमारी नाव फिर से सुन्दर दिख रही है" (Our boat is looking beautiful again - Sundari is Hindi for beautiful!)

We have been very lucky with the weather,with superb, sunny, dry days, day after day. The last job was fitting a new rubber strip which had to be imported from Beneteau in France, but otherwise there was no delays due to rain or other potentially nasty winter weather,

Of course, it hasn't been pleasant living on the boat while it has been parked in a dusty shed, but hey ho, it's another of life's experiences. We are now looking at the next available weather window to head ENE to Noumea.



Saraoni is safely tied up in Palm Cove marina awaiting a cashed up new owner. Bye Saraoni!

French Crunch

15 July 2019 | Boatworks, Coomera River, Gold Coast
Alison and Geoff Williams | cool to cold westerlies, sunny
Photo shows the damage done to Sundari's starboard aft section after the boat was hit by an unidentified motor boat early Saturday morning.

Our plan to leave the Gold Coast and sail to New Caledonia soon came to a crunching halt early last Saturday morning at about 1.30 in the morning.

We were anchored overnight in the Coomera River, not far from the Boatworks boatyard where we had gone for last minute boat bits. In the dead of night, we were woken by an almighty crunch. Rushing out on deck we saw a boat speeding off into the distance. Sundari had been hit badly and part of its lovely stern smashed to pulp, one of the new davits snapped in two and the starboard pulpit buckled.

We limped into Boatworks' marina later that day, after contacting the police and Maritime Safety Queensland, in charge of marine incidents, as well as our insurer, Club Marine.

To give the insurer credit, by this afternoon we had had visits from one of the main boat repair firms, been given a quote for nearly $30,000 in repairs, had a visit from the assessor and had the repair work approved by Club Marine. Sundari will now spend the next two weeks or so getting its bum done and stainless steel repaired. Fortunately, we don't have to worry about Saraoni as it is now tucked up in a private marina off the Coomera River under the wing of a broker.

We will be looking for the next weather window north east to the tropics in three weeks time. Meanwhile, we will try and get away from boats while the work is being carried out.



The snapped davit




Side crunch



Sundari anchored off Stradbroke island a few days ago, captured by our drone's camera - nearly ready to hit the high seas!

Messing Around in (Too Many) Boats

25 May 2019 | Biggera Waters, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Alison and Geoff Williams | Cool at night, warm in the middle of the day, southerlies
Photo shows the Nerang River from a leisurely canoeist's low down view point.

We are anchored with rather too many boats off Biggera Waters in the Broadwater. We have to keep re-anchoring every now and again because of the Gold Coast anchoring rules which are supposed to stop people hogging the best anchoring spots. There aren't too many boats around now apart from our little menagerie as plenty of yachties have buggered off to warmer parts of the world - the Go East Rally finally left for Noumea just over a week ago and many boats have left to go up the Queensland Coast.

Heather and John, our old Bundy friends, came to visit and got the big fore cabin to themselves while they stayed - rather a step up from Saraoni's aft cabin which they have used several times before over the years!

We are getting itchy feet ourselves, but haven't sold Saraoni yet, although there has been quite a lot of interest. and one offer, a bit on the low side. Just to make life more interesting, we have bought two second hand inflatable kayaks and a windsurfer and are about to buy another dinghy so the present smaller one can remain with Saraoni. That makes 7 boats in total here with us. There are two more in Tutukaka, probably with a lot of cobwebs and leaves on them!



Too many boats! The kayaks, dinghy and Saraoni behind Sundari.


The inflatable kayaks are of good quality and allow us to pack them up and take them in a car or on a bus to somewhere interesting. We've kayaked up and down nearby Tallebudgera Creek and then took them up to Nerang by bus and kayaked down the Nerang River which flows from the hills to the west around Canungra and Tambourine Mountain down to the Broadwater at Surfers Paradise and on to Southport.



The two kayaks in bags waiting for the bus to Nerang in Southport.

Once upon a time, this area would have been spectacularly rich in wildlife. From Fraser Island south along the East Aussie coast, the sand dunes which are built up by the constant onshore swell block the progress of the numerous waterways which cascade down from the Great Divide, the escarpment which runs parallel to the coast from Victoria to the Cape York peninsula. The water can't get out easily, so backs up and forms the series of waterways which makes this part of South East Queensland so distinctive. Unfortunately, here on the Gold Coast, much of the waterways that are formed by the lower Nerang and Coomera Rivers are built up and fronted by lifestyle properties that are stunningly boring. Amazingly, wildlife still survives and manages to co-exist. Here where we are anchored, bottlenose dolphins turn up every few days and there is a resident dugong.

It's getting pretty cool for us, now, especially during the long nights. The first good weather window back up to Noumea this year is turning up next week, but we won't be able to take it. Perhaps the next one? The trick from the Australian coast is to leave with a southerly or westerly, get as far east as possible before the wind inevitably turns back to the south east.



Kayak kaleidoscope down the Nerang River. Note the Surfers Paradise skyline in the bottom picture.

Alien Invasion of Saraoni!

12 April 2019 | Coomera River, Gold Coast, Australia
Alison and Geoff Williams | Lovely, sunny day, but cool - down to 19C last night!
A couple of spaceships from a more enlightened planet decided to have a look at Saraoni from above, presumably deciding whether to make an offer! The total cost of the balloon rides would have probably been more than we are asking for Saraoni, though!

We are now anchored again just down the Coomera River where we stayed during the anticipated arrival of Cyclone Oma, about a mile and a half from Boatworks, the Gold Coast's best known (to yachties) boatyard, where Saraoni spent a couple of days getting its bum scraped off and repainted.

We could have spent longer, but technically we only have 24 hours at a time at anchor in the Coomera River and with Sundari anchored in the river just off the boatyard, we had to get in and out quickly. Hopefully, at least for Saraoni, it will be the last time for us!

It was a particularly lovely, still morning when the hot air balloons drifted across. Not sure why they chose this rather industrial area of the Gold Coast to transit, though. Maybe that's the way the wind was blowing!

Boat Works is frequented by many overseas yachties ( as well as many Australian based yachties, too) hauling their boats out, to the benefit of the many boat services here. It's like Whangarei on steroids, although quite a bit more expensive. Here we saw Australian catamaran Toucan, last seen with its mast toppled limping up to the Town basin in Whangarei after hitting a channel beacon. They are off to PNG and Irian Jaya. Catamaran Impi, the South African cat that made the YouTube doco on 'Moose' the Isle Casy (New Cal.) dog that died recently. Also, American / Australian mono, Fair Winds, bound for a circumnavigation. but delayed because of 'boat problems - expensive ones!

We will be looking to put Saraoni somewhere secure for a month or so while we concentrate on getting Sundari ready for the Coral Sea crossing.



Saraoni ready for the splash at Boatworks, Coomera yesterday.

SARAONI IS NOW FOR SALE!

02 April 2019 | Southport, The Gold Coast, Australia
Alison and Geoff Williams | showery south easterlies
The view of Saraoni from the top of Saraoni's main mast yesterday, just outside of Bum's Bay in Southport.

Saraoni is now for sale - after 21 years of ownership and hundreds of memorable adventures together.

Everything is working and Saraoni is looking better than it has ever been and about 20 cm higher in the water than it was before.

Meanwhile, Sundari has sunk about 20 cm!

We are selling Saraoni for around Aus$60,000 ono (£32,000, NZ$62,000, US$42,000).

Interested? Ring 0477285361 in Australia, or +61477285361 from anywhere else or email us at saraoni@gmail.com The main ad with all recent inventory, specs and photos will be on Yachthub until the boat is listed with a broker. The link will be added to this blog post as soon as the entry is finalised.

Link to interior photos

Link to exterior photos

Link to specifications

Link to main ad on Yachthub



Saraoni's mast makes a great place to look around. This spectacular view is of the Southport Spit and Bums' bay with the anchored boats. Sundari is in the foreground on the right of the picture.

The Very Best of Days.. and the Very Worst of Days!

16 March 2019 | Southport, Gold Coast, Australia
Alison and Geoff Williams | wet, stormy and very humid
The best of days....kids in Brisbane taking the lead on climate change



The worst of days...the Christchurch massacre.


We took the day off yesterday in support of combating climate change and the kids who were striking all round the world. It's hard being in Australia for too long without realising just how the world's climate is changing and how badly adults, especially privileged older ones, are handling it. We took the train the 80 odd km into Brisbane to attend the Brisbane school kids 4 climate demonstration. On the train we followed the thousands of kids in New Zealand earlier who had filled the streets, even in little conservative towns like Whangarei, New Plymouth and Blenheim. It was inspiring to listen to such impassioned youngsters taking the lead on what is the planet's most important challenge....after all it is their future and not the future of us old fogeys. Similar large turn outs were expected here in Australia and elsewhere around the world.

We reflected on the last time we attended any sort of political demonstration. It was 8 years ago in Luton, a gritty, grey but multiethnic town northwest of London where we had gone supposedly to make some sorely needed cruising funds teaching. A fascist group, the EDL (English Defence League) was expected in the city and were planning to wreak havoc in the Muslim neighbourhoods of Bury Park in Luton. In the end, we never saw the EDL. They were separated from us by hordes of cops, but we went with other protestors down to Bury Park to join some pretty heavy Pakistani and Bangladeshi dudes in that majority Muslim suburb to show our solidarity against white supremacist far right wing violence.

And then...the first news of the tragic shooting in Christchurch filtered through before we got to Brisbane. Maybe it was a coincidence but it was also 8 years ago that we listened to the news of the earthquake in that city and wondered "why Christchurch FFS?" The world's partial lurch to the right has reached far away New Zealand. Events are unfolding as this blog is written but it does seem now that the 50 people who died yesterday were all shot by the same young man. He seemingly had spent a very normal upbringing in small town Grafton, NSW, a town we have been through many times. He was radicalised in Europe and influenced by the growth in the far right white supremacist movement but still seems to have planned everything all by himself.

In Brisbane, we joined the kids march through central Brisbane. It was rowdy, funny, smart, multiethnic and multiaged, despite the obvious student leadership. Just how could this very best of days for humanity be the same as the very worst of days for some? The kids' stand against adults inaction against climate change has been overshadowed by the slaughter in Christchurch, but the only consolation is that Tarrant's murderous attack has probably done more for interracial understanding not just here in the Pacific, but elsewhere in the world and put a spotlight on the danger of far right terrorism than anything else.

Email from Greenpeace NZ

Russel Norman, GREENPEACE via server8839.e-activist.com
6:10 PM (31 minutes ago)
to me

Kia ora Geoffrey,

Yesterday we saw the best, and we saw the worst.

Thousands of young people came together to demand a brighter future, and a white supremacist inflicted a terror attack in two Christchurch Mosques.

It's hard to hold those two things in your heart at the same time.

Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, to the Muslim community, and to the people of Christchurch.

It's a day of deep sadness for Aotearoa. It's a sad day for all of us who harbour a love of humankind living together peacefully on Earth in all our wonderful diversity.

It was a jarring contrast of hope and hate to have the dark events in Christchurch so closely follow the bright light of the school Climate Strike.

What should have been a day remembered for the peaceful calls of our striking rangatahi marching in the streets for climate justice, will now go down as one of the darkest in our country's history.

To the young people who organised and participated in the School Strikes for Climate, you gave us hope on a dark day. You stood for hope and for the future, united across cultures, across religions and united around the world.

Together we will keep that hope alive and stand for peace and cooperation. We will stand against hate and and oppression, and work to promote peace, in this country and around the world.

Already people around the country have responded with overwhelming love and solidarity.

We must grieve and heal, but let's also make sure that love and hope triumph over hate and ignorance.

In peace,


La Lotta Continua!

09 March 2019 | Currigee, South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast
Alison and Geoff Williams | Sunny, hot and northerly
Photo shows the two boats off South Stradbroke

We are back off South Stradbroke Island in the Broadwater after a lot of dithering around. It's hard work with two boats to look after, especially when the weather turns funny. Work is continuing on both boats intermittently between moving from one anchorage to another. Saraoni is slowly having an internal face lift, but we will soon have to put it on the market and maybe take it down to the Pittwater.

We expect to sail Sundari when it is ready up to New Cal., then down to New Zealand later in the year. One bit of welcome news is that the Tutukaka marina manager will arrange for us to swap our leasehold berth for one that will fit Sundari. Unfortunately, the Penguin Pad just behind the breakwater will be too shallow and probably not quite long enough, so the idea is that we take a berth on the piles in the middle of the marina when we leave Sundari any time.

It's been hectic at times with the two boats although we've been becoming adept at manoeuvering both at the same time, generally with Al on Saraoni and me (Geoff) on Sundari, mainly because at the moment it's easier to see through Saraoni's nice clean glass in its hard dodger rather than Sundari's rather hail scarred clears, which need replacing.



Mr Whippy, mobile boat version. On weekends, this guy chugs up the Broadwater selling booze and ice creams. It has been hot, so plenty of customers!

We've had two dramas. One when we both went aground more or less at the same time trying to anchor behind Wave Break Island, just inshore of the Seaway. Luckily it was at low tide so we got off easily. The next drama, which could have been more serious was when anchored off Runaway Bay after Cyclone Oma disappeared. The weather was quite squally, but most of the time OK. As we were getting covered in goo, paint and other crap on Saraoni, a squall came through and we noticed Sundari dragging - even with its 60 lb Manson Supreme! I rushed over in the dinghy to get it before it hit the rocks on the mainland while Al watched as Saraoni started to drag, too! I managed to reanchor Sundari, rush back to Saraoni, up anchor and then Al hung around motoring up and down, while I dashed back to Sundari as it was dragging again. Then we set off round the sandbanks and re-anchored again in the shelter of South Stradbroke. As we have very rarely dragged anywhere in the world, we assume the Runaway bay area has terrible holding - it's probably hard-packed sand, swept by the strong tidal flows.

Since then we have been up to Coomera again and into the Gold Cost City marina to get Sundari's Volvo engine crankshaft oil seal replaced, which was leaking.

Sundari now has a rather sporty looking pair of davits, a wind generator, two of the three solar panels strapped to the deck, a home made boom bag for the new main sail and some nice new hatch covers to stop the hatches from crazing any more.



Sundari's solar panels draped on the deck off South Stradbroke in lovely, if hot, weather. Note the new boom bag and hatch covers!

In between looking after the two boats, improving both of them, we are still furiously tapping away at the computers making the money to pay for it all!

Think we need a holiday!

O Ma God!

21 February 2019 | Santa Barbara, Coomera River, Gold Coast, Australia
Alison and Geoff, sunny, hot and windy
Picture shows TC Oma bearing down (slowly) on the SE Queensland coast.


We've been blessed by remarkably pleasant weather since the last big storm experienced in lower Moreton Bay before Christmas, but now the Yang is overcoming the Yin. TC Oma, the same cantankerous storm that savaged Far North Queensland in January is making a direct beeline for South East Queensland.

The movements of tropical cyclones in the SW Pacific are notoriously difficult to predict and Oma is one of the more difficult of the bunch. It started as a storm in the Gulf of Carpentaria several weeks ago, crossed the Far North of the state, dumping shitloads of rain. The Burdekin River swelled at one point to 65 km across. Many tens of thousands of cattle drowned and part of Thuringowa and Townsville were evacuated because of flooding.

Not content with making mischief in Australia, the storm made its way out to sea, headed for Northern Vanuatu and reinvented itself as a cyclone, did enough damage there, then skirted past the Beleps and the North of Grande Terre in New Caledonia. One model has it arriving off the Fraser Coast or even closer to Brisbane or the Gold Coast and then heading North West again and finally tracking across the coast further north. Another model has it skirting the southern coast right down towards Sydney.

Not taking any chances, we have brought both boats up the Coomera River and have them anchored together off a park in Santa Barbara on Hope Island, one of those rather amorphous lifestyle deserts so common all over the Gold Coast. At least we can get off the boat easily, and there's water, rubbish bins, barbecue facilities and a short walk to a booze shop and a Coles supermarket.



Saraoni and Sundari quietly anchored in the Coomera River off Charles Holm Park on Hope Island

It's pretty gusty at the moment, but the shit really hits the fan tomorrow, so we're hoping the anchors hold.

We've done this all before of course, but not with two boats! Cyclone Justin was a memorable cyclone in 1998 when we holed up at the end of Milne Bay near Alotau in Papua New Guinea for 10 days with 40 knots blowing constantly. The cyclone was massive in size and just slowly shuttlecocked between PNG and Cairns.

Also memorable was the appearance of Cyclone Thelma early in the cyclone season in December 1998, east of Darwin. We had only recently bought Saraoni in Queensland and were living on it up a creek in the mangroves on a Darwin City Council mooring when the cyclone appeared. It hovered around for some time before we got sick of the suspense and abandoned Saraoni to the elements and hightailed it into a hotel. The storm decided to veer off and menace the Kimberley instead and we and Saraoni were spared.

And then of course we've weathered many a gale in New Zealand, but they tend to be very short lived at that latitude.

As for what's happening with the two boats. We are making slow progress and at the moment it's more work than pleasure. We are sorting out Saraoni's interior before hauling it out, while gradually installing equipment on Sundari. We now have our solar panels feeding the batteries, although they are just lashed to the deck at the moment. Two nice shiny new davits are waiting to be fixed. We fixed the recalcitrant old echosounder with a secondhand display unit bought at a shop in Coomera. The new wind generator doesn't seem to be working which is a bit of a bummer. (Update Sunday - it is now, just a poor connection. Plenty of wind = plenty of free power!) We had both Saraoni's and Sundari's old liferafts checked and discovered both were ok, so are opting for the bigger one of the two. Sundari has still many mysteries we haven't fathomed out yet. We'll probably be still finding things out in a year's time!



Google map showing our cyclone anchorage up the Coomera River. Lots of birds around and a mob of kangaroos in the remnant scrub across the river.



Update late Friday -it has been very windy all day, although it is quite safe here. Another yacht was anchored not far away yesterday evening, but today no-one was aboard. The yacht, a nice Amel ketch, dragged when the wind and tide were strong and is now leaning over down river on a sand bank. We couldn't do anything as it was too windy and we needed our spare anchors in case the same happened to us. the Coastguard sounded rather weary when we told them as it was unlikely to be the only boat 'gone with the wind!' (Update Sunday - the water police came yesterday at high tide with the VMR rescue boat and managed to drag the ketch off the sandbank, so we are on our own again! The cyclone is now a low and headed back towards Noumea, possibly reintensifying again!)



The Amel ketch down river where it grounded after dragging. Looks like it has just been antifouled at the Boatworks boatyard a mile or so upriver.Probably will need another antifoul, now!

Sundaoni Sailing!

04 February 2019 | The Broadwater, Gold Coast, Australia
Alison and Geoff, SE wind, sunny and showery
Saraoni and Sundari next to each other by Australia Fair in the Broadwater.

Sundari has been paid for and we are now ensconced in relative luxury on board, with poor old Saraoni close by in the Sea World anchorage, aka Bum's Bay.

The first day didn't get off to such a good start, as we hadn't had a chance to familiarize ourselves with Sundari before having to leave the Palazzo Versace hotel marina the morning after signing the Bill of Sale. Alison rather courageously edged the boat out of the marina and we did a quick trip up to the Seaway entrance and back to the Australia Fair anchorage.

We noticed that the engine was leaking oil from an oil seal which should have been replaced before final purchase (the mechanic didn't think it was leaking).

The roll up dinghy which we had spent time rolling down to the boat with the owner fell apart on the deck when we tried to blow it up.

The echosounder display was unreadable making it a bit scary moving around these shallow waters.

The freezer wouldn't work.

The 3 hp Yamaha outboard that came with the boat either shot off like a startled goat or chugged along at snail's pace.

Then we decided to make a move up to Runaway Bay, only a few miles to the North, a less crowded anchorage. We decided to singlehand both boats, and coordinate our movements with Captain Al in front on Saraoni and Captain Geoff following on Sundari. We started off well, with anchors hoisted and Sundari's genoa catching the breeze. The newly reconditioned autopilot didn't work with Sundari careering off at an angle as soon as the auto button was punched!

Then, disaster!
Saraoni's engine stopped, just after a large launch passed us, with its usual huge wake.

Alison dropped the anchor right in the middle of the channel and Sundari anchored nearby in the Sea World anchorage. We had found an abandoned fibreglass dinghy on the beach a day before so were able to get between each boat by swapping the two dinghies with the roll up a chuck out. The engine problem was soon solved - a rag had fallen on top of the engine and got sucked over the air intake, starving the engine of air. We decided to lick our wounds and stop where we were.

Things have improved since then. We have fixed two seacocks, got the saltwater pump working, worked out what was wrong with the freezer, got the old navigation instrument that the owner thought was broken (back when he bought it in the U.S.) working, giving us wind and depth information, fixed the weather display, calibrated the autopilot which now works well, ordered new solar panels, a wind generator, a hand held VHF radio (the old aerial had blown off the top of the mast a year ago) and carted hundreds of items over from Saraoni, filling up most of the nooks and crannies on Sundari.

Have we done the right thing? Well, Sundari is a lovely, big boat and very comfortable. No doubt there will be things to improve on it, but hey, where can you buy a 3 bedroom home with a view of the sea and no rates, rent or hotel bills to pay (so far!) for what we paid for Sundari?

As soon as we get everything off Saraoni of any value, the next step is to concentrate on cleaning it and getting it ready for sale. It looks like a few weeks yet! Luckily, we have had some fantastic weather, although very hot in the day time. The same huge, almost stationary, high pressure systems that have been hanging over Australia and giving it some of the hottest temperatures on record have given us very benign weather. Hope it continues for the next couple of weeks.

The Discombobulated Catamaran!

13 January 2019 | The Broadwater, Southport, Gold Coast, Australia
Alison and Geoff, dry, hot, with mild easterlies
Photo shows one half of a discombobulated catamaran!

We are anchored just off Australia Fair, one of Southport's big shopping centres. It's quite a spectacular anchorage and free - as long as you move out of the area for 24 hours every 7 days! The towering apartment blocks of Gold Coast City are on one side, a more muted Southport on the other and a series of sandbanks, between which ply the constant phalanxes of boats of all sizes and shapes, mainly far too fast for the comfort of those of us freely anchored. Just over the sand dunes lies the surf beaches of the Tasman, or is it the Coral Sea?



A billion dollar view of billions of dollars of real estate, both on land and on or close to the water, but this Southport anchorage of ours is free for a week at a time!

We have had the survey of the Beneteau. It went o.k. The surveyor was very thorough and spent a total of 6 hours on it, first with the boat out of the water, peering and prodding at its keel and then crawling all around its interior. We thought we knew all there was to know about boats, but Captain Tim found things about Sundari that we hadn't, mostly things that no longer worked! In fact, it's amazing that such a nice looking boat had so many things that weren't working, perhaps because the businessman owner had hardly used it for so long.

Saraoni, despite being somewhat tattier, has everything working and if something breaks down we get it going again as quickly as possible! In fact, Saraoni is better equipped than many of the fancy looking marina boats we have seen recently - solar panels, a wind generator, an HF radio, a VHF radio with AIS, a desalinator, a working outboard and dinghy, a nearly new anchor winch, nav. lights that work, water tanks, a stove that works, an autopilot that refuses to give up the ghost and a wind vane. Did we mention the relatively young Nanni diesel?

Anyway, we have convinced ourselves it's time to move on. Sundari's owner is buying some stuff to replace the things that don't work and getting other things fixed that shouldn't need to have been fixed and no doubt we will part with some of our cash at the end of next week.

We will then have two boats - perhaps we can tie them together, like a discombobulated catamaran? Or maybe we can put the two boats end to end, making an 83 foot long odd-looking bendy schooner?

The plan, such as it is at this point, is to take them one at a time back to the channel between Karagarra and Macleay islands in Southern Moreton Bay and haul Saraoni out at the nearby boat yard for some much needed TLC and a bottom paint before tentatively putting it up for sale. Meanwhile we should have our new 47 foot boat to live somewhat more luxuriously on while plotting the next step.



"Relative luxury?"

There’s a Red One, Then a Green One...

03 January 2019 | Curigee, South Stradbroke Island, The Broadwater, Queensland
Alison and Geoff, light easterlies
Fireworks explode by the Brisbane River at New Year's Eve. We were anchored at New Farm, around the corner from the main viewing points near Eagle Street and South Bank, so we didn't get a full view of the display. We did get an ear full of drunken yahooing from each bank, though!


We are anchored off the west shore of South Stradbroke island, just up from the Southport Spit in the Broadwater. The tall skyscrapers of the Gold Coast are close by to the south of us and the sheltered passages between here and Moreton Bay are buzzing with boats of all shapes and sizes, mostly small motor boats and jet skis. It's not the best time to be on the Gold Coast as the area goes crazy with boat activity, but the survey of the Beneteau is now only a few days away.



In amongst the growing human presence, migratory birds find quiet places to grab a takeaway feed. This lovely little Rainbow bee eater was seen catching flies on St. Helena Island, in Southern Moreton Bay. St. Helena was once Queensland's Alcatraz, but is now a peaceful refuge for birds and wallabies.

We made a diversion up the Brisbane River in time for New Year's Eve. Brisbane was our 'home city' during the many years we spent teaching in Papua New Guinea, Queensland's closest neighbour to the north. We had lost our NZ permanent residence status while in PNG and England was just too far to go when we had time off, so we used to fly down to Brisbane (or Cairns) for some R and R from time to time.

A year before we ended up, rather accidentally, in PNG, we had spent several months moored in the river by the city's Botanical Gardens, right by the Brisbane CBD. We had been working in the city while sailing our old kauri yacht, Corsair. When Alison's older sister, Susan and husband Nick turned up on their backpacker jaunt around the world, we took them down the river and across to Moreton Island. The trip was memorable as we went aground (for the first time) just past the Gateway Bridge - with full sail up and the engine on! We had to wait for the tide to come up before continuing, something that Sue and Nick always remember!



Passing the Brisbane CBD near the public moorings located by the city's Botanical Gardens. They used to be the cheapest way to access Brisbane, but the city council is now removing half of the pile moorings in favour of providing better facilities for kayakers and other small boats.

Between Moreton Bay and the Gold Coast, the meandering shallow channels need constant attention to the chart and the location of the beacons, green,red and yellow! It's well charted, with the beacons occasionally moved when the channels move around, but it's easy to go aground if you get the tide wrong. This area is somewhat scenically challenged with its low,mangrove covered banks, but is enormously valuable as a breeding ground for fish and feeding area for birds, dugongs, dolphins and turtles. No crocs, yet!

It's the fifth time we've made this trip and every time we have passed by it seems as if it's getting more and more (over) developed. Fortunately, the sand islands are hard to build on and have been left as national parks in the main, with their wilder side, the ocean beach, forming a 'road' for 4WDs at low tide.



Saraoni anchored just off the beach near the Gold Coast on the sheltered side of South Stradbroke Island. One wonders just what will happen to this whole area and its hyper active development as climate change continues to bite unabated. It ain't much of a barrier between the ocean and all those fancy McMansions on the mainland!



All roads don't necessarily lead to Rome! Here on the ocean side of Stradbroke, the 4WD tracks are all headed south towards the Gold Coast high rises looming out of the haze from the surf. These long ocean beaches are marred by constant busy 4WD vehicle traffic, although the high tide removes most of the traces.



Motoring the last few miles down the Broadwater. Skyscrapers in Southport to starboard and the Gold Coast beaches to port. Thousands of boats everywhere!



The Southport Spit anchorage aka "Bums' Bay." We are anchored just outside popular but crowded Bums' Bay, within spitting distance of the Spit and just across the water from Southport. Main Beach and Surfers' Paradise just down the beach

The next blog should be after the survey. If all goes well, we should be the owners of 2 boats, which is going to be an interesting and challenging experience! If not, we might revert to another boat of the same type that we originally put an offer on near Sydney, or do something different altogether!


Minjerribah Dreaming

29 December 2018 | Dunwich, North Stradbroke Island, Moreton Bay, Queensland
Alison and Geoff, dry, sunny and calm(ish)
Blue Lake National park lies in Quandamooka territory on Straddie / Minjerribah

The scrubs are gone, the hunting and the laughter.
The eagle is gone, the emu and the kangaroo are gone from this place.
The bora ring is gone.
The corroboree is gone.
And we are going.



(from a poem by Kath Walker / Oodgeroo Noonuccal from her first book, "We are Going" published in 1964.)


We are anchored off the northern end of North Stradbroke Island, Straddie to the locals and Minjerribah to its traditional owners, the Quandamooka people. The normally hot, sticky, stormy Brisbane summer weather has gone away for the moment, perhaps for a holiday (!) We are getting day after day of dry, sunny skies and light to moderate easterlies, perfect for anchoring on the east side of Moreton Bay or off the sheltered west coast of the big sand islands like Straddie.

Minjerribah is now mostly owned by what is left of the Quandamooka Aboriginal people, after a landmark Native Title decision in 2011 which saw most of North Stradbroke returned to their stewardship, as well as the southern end of Moreton to the north, Peel Island to the west and a fair bit of southern Moreton Bay. The Quandamooka people once roamed right through this area and on the mainland from the Logan River through to the Brisbane River. No doubt there was plenty of tucker to eat and life was generally easy before European colonisation, albeit with an average life expectancy about half the present day one!

Colonisation followed a familiar pattern as elsewhere. Despite early reports that the island's Quandamooka people were generous and hospitable to the ragbag of foreign stragglers who landed one way or another on Straddie's shores, they soon lost all of their land and were reduced in numbers by disease, the sorry remainder herded into a reservation at Myora, where there is a natural freshwater spring. If it wasn't for activism in the 60s, that would probably have been the end of the story. One of the Quandamookas, Kath Walker, became a well known poet and author and campaigned for Aboriginal rights at a time when the first Australians were denied citizenship in a land they had occupied for 50,000 years. She changed her name in disgust at the approach successive federal and state governments were dealing with Aboriginal affairs to Oodgeroo Noonuccal, a Quandamooka name. She was instrumental in helping pave the way for the 1967 referendum which decisively confirmed Australian citizenship for all of its first people, but died before her island's Native Title determination came to fruition.

Today, Straddie is still very much a modern European Australian entity. Hundreds of SUVs and other vehicles pour off the car ferry from Cleveland every day, exploring the 4WD tracks, the Brown and Blue lakes and ocean side beaches. Dunwich, Amity and Point Lookout, the island's three settlements, are like any other small Australian seaside villages, inundated by summer crowds. However, there have been changes. The Quandamooka islanders now have a much bigger say in development and conservation and have helped to impose limits on destructive sand mining and are slowly asserting themselves. Interpretive signs have been erected wherever there are cultural and natural reminders of what went on before Australia was colonised.

They are often sad to read, giving a glimpse of a period in human history when people had an intimate self sustaining relationship with nature, rather than the out of control, consumerist Titanic that we have today.

Some visitors to Australia despair of its lack of 'culture' and the vacuous uniformity of its identikit towns and suburbs, but these indigenous links to the past, for those who care to find them, are like juicy half hidden currants in an otherwise tasteless Australian cultural dough.

In 2017, one of South East Queensland's electoral districts was named "Oodgeroo," in recognition of Oodgeroo Noonuccal's contribution to the fostering of a socially more enlightened Queensland.



Blue lake / Kulburra is a naturally occurring freshwater 'window' lake formed by seepage from the water table. You have to walk 3 km to it through the bush, which limits the number of gawpers considerably!



Freshwater Brown lake / Bummiera, looking suspiciously blue in this photo, is easy to access by day trippers and has a lovely, white beach.



These grass trees are all over the place in the eucalyptus understorey on the sand islands.

Vessel Name: Saraoni
Vessel Make/Model: South Coast 36
Hailing Port: Tutukaka, New Zealand
Crew: Alison and Geoff Williams
About:
Saraoni is named after an island in Milne Bay which guards and protects one of our favourite anchorages - Kana Kopi Bay - frequently occupied by us while we were teaching in Alotau, PNG. We have lived, cruised and worked for the last 30 years on three very different boats. [...]
Extra: CONTACT DETAILS Telephone / SMS number +61 477 285 361 (Australian mobile no.) Email saraoni@gmail.com (main email address)
Saraoni's Photos - Main
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Created 2 April 2019
Photos taken of Saraoni. All interior photos were taken in the last week.
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Images taken in and around Suriname's capital
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Created 15 December 2011
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Created 15 December 2011
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Created 15 December 2011
These were all photographed in the wilds of Chitwan and Bardia National Parks - which are two of the last havens of biodiversity in Nepal's low lying Terai district.
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Created 14 December 2011
Saraoni hauled out on Finike's hardstand for biennial maintenance and painting
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Ruined city
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Created 10 January 2011
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Created 11 December 2010
Cruising and walking Turkey's Lycian coast September and October 2010
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Post Circumnavigation

Who: Alison and Geoff Williams
Port: Tutukaka, New Zealand