SVs Saraoni and Sundari

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
23 December 2018 | South Moreton Bay, Queensland
11 December 2018 | Great Sandy Strait, Queensland, Australia
04 December 2018 | Tweed Heads, NSW, Australia
20 November 2018 | Lake Tuggerah, NSW Central Coast, Australia
11 November 2018 | Bundaberg, South East Queensland, Australia
01 November 2018 | Burnett River, near Bundaberg, Queensland.
31 October 2018 | 110 nm from Bundaberg
30 October 2018 | 240 nm from Bundaberg
29 October 2018 | 360 nm from Bundy
28 October 2018 | 460 nm from Bundaberg
27 October 2018 | 560 nm from Bundaberg
26 October 2018 | 670 nm from Bundaberg
24 October 2018 | Ilot Maitre New Caledonia

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 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 Moslem 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 Moslem 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 49 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 Neew 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.

Sand Island Sailing

23 December 2018 | South Moreton Bay, Queensland
Alison and Geoff, gusty south easterlies
We are anchored in the passage between Lamb and Macleay Islands to the North and Karagarra Island to the South in a well protected part of South Moreton Bay near Brisbane. We are now only 25 nm from Southport through the maze of shallow waterways that lie behind North and South Stradbroke Islands but are not heading south yet, as Christmas and New Year are almost upon us. Anyone with a boat of some kind - big, small or ugly - gets out on the water after Christmas, making it awfully busy!



Saraoni in the sheltered passage between Macleay and Karragarra Islands in Southern Moreton Bay

We have made good progress since the Sandy Strait. We first had to cross the Wide Bay Bar that acts as a shallow entrance and exit point at the southern mouth of the strait. It can only be safely crossed when the swell is down at around high tide on a flood tide. It was pretty bumpy but only the same as the last 4 crossings we have made. A pleasant overnighter under a full moon brought us down to Moreton Bay.



Waiting for the tide to rise near Inskip Point before crossing the bar south of Fraser Island.

The coast of Queensland to the North of the Tweed River is composed of a series of huge sand islands - the Stradbrokes, Bribie, Moreton and Fraser. They are built from sand swept up from New South Wales and dumped as Australia makes a left turn. To the north of Fraser lies a gap before the first of the Great Barrier Reefs begins in fits and starts. It's that gap that makes it an easy target for yachts making it to Australia. Moreton Bay is full of sand banks and shallow water and can be treacherous when summer storms greet the offshore visitor.



Three of the rather weird Glasshouse Mountains, Beerburrum, Tibrogargan and Beerwah, old volcanic plugs, rise above sandy Bribie Island on the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane.



Saraoni running before a north easterly wind off the west coast of Moreton Island

We've met up with old yachtie friends on this trip. Ralph has been bringing his catamaran, El Misti, back from South East Asia where we last saw him and his partner, Jenn, eight years ago. He's had to do it all single-handed as Jenn is recovering from a foot injury.



Ralph is bringing El Misti back to SE Queensland after a single handed marathon from Timor - seen here off Rainbow Beach after crossing the Wide Bay Bar safely.

Meanwhile, Rosie and Mike have also just arrived back from South East Asia and by coincidence have a home perched a half kilometre from us on Lamb Island with their yacht, Shakti, on a mooring, conveniently just below them in the channel. We last saw these two on their old boat, Jemimah, in the Andaman Islands.

These South Moreton Bay islands have become a resting place for yachties who have taken advantage of cheap land prices and sheltered water. Cheap and frequent ferry services between the islands and the mainland where Brisbane can be reached as well as increasing services make them attractive places to swallow the anchor, or keep it stowed until the next adventure. We might use this area as a base if the Beneteau passes inspection next month, if only to get our stuff transferred over from Saraoni and get Saraoni ready for sale, but for the next couple of weeks we are looking for some cleaner water off one of those big sand islands.

As for New Year resolutions, humanity collectively has some pretty challenging hurdles to jump. Can the planet remain habitable for all of the present generation's kids and grand-kids? Can the current rapid loss of biodiversity be arrested? Can democracy survive? Can the trend towards ever increasing levels of income and assets inequality be tackled? Good Luck, Planet Earth. You need every bit you can get! Perhaps, thousands more Greta Thunbergs might swing it!


Cyclones and Crocodiles ...a Very Australian Christmas!

11 December 2018 | Great Sandy Strait, Queensland, Australia
Alison and Geoff, light easterlies
We left Port Bundaberg early this morning, punched our way out of the bumpy, shallow entrance channel and are now anchored behind Big Woody Island at the northern end of Sandy Strait, the complex system of often shallow waterways that lie behind World Heritage listed Fraser Island (K'gari) and the Queensland coast. This is an area we know well. We have spent two Christmases in the past here. exploring the many anchorages, scrambling along the sandy tracks on Fraser Island amongst the island's bush and hidden jewel like dune lakes. There is plenty of wildlife here from dolphins, turtles and dugongs in the water to wallabies, goannas and dingos on land, in addition to large numbers of 4WD tourists!



Anchored behind Big Woody Island at the northern end of Great Sandy Strait



Migratory waders like this whimbrel spotted near Port Bundaberg are making their way south when the wind allows them - like us!

We have enjoyed our times here in the past, but this season it may be a little different! Tropical cyclone Owen, the same system that fizzled out a week or so ago as it approached from its birthplace in the Solomons, has now reformed as a category 1 cyclone and is forecast to strengthen in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is then expected to track right across land to the North East Queensland coast and then down the coast to Fraser Island and even Brisbane as an 'intensive system,' with destructive winds and very heavy rain. Great! Well, just as well we don't have 2 boats to look after!!

Update: TC Owen is causing a nuisance in the Gulf, but is now no longer forecast to come down as far as here.

One of the snuggest anchorages on the Fraser West coast is Garry's Anchorage, well known by every yachtie that passes this way. It often has a yacht aground at one end or another, an easy mistake in this complex network of channels. A new sign has been erected on the shore: "Warning: estuarine crocodiles." We used to make jokes about crocs in this area. The last time we were in Queensland, the slow southward march of the scaly reptiles had only reached the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton. Despite the odd, false sighting of crocs further south there was never any confirmed sighting. That's now changed. Several crocs have taken up residence in the Mary River estuary and the mangrove areas of the Strait. A 4 metre croc has been seen several times off popular beaches on the Fraser west coast but is wily enough not to be tempted by the pig's head that has been used to try and trap him (or her).

Saltwater crocodiles have expanded their range and increased in numbers since they became protected, so it's not surprising they have now reoccupied their old stamping grounds. The heavily populated Moreton Bay and Broadwater areas further south are likely to be the last frontier that still provides suitable croc breeding and feeding habitat, although with climate change could crocs be seen soon off Bondi beach?!!



The sign at Garry's anchorage. No crocs seen so far, but quite a few dugongs and turtles.



Dingoes are pretty habituated to humans on Fraser Island, so much so that campgrounds have to have fences around them like some of the campgrounds in North America have to keep bears out.

End Game?

04 December 2018 | Tweed Heads, NSW, Australia
Alison and Geoff, hot and sultry
Photo above: Saraoni waiting patiently in Port Bundaberg

We are in Tweed Heads, just south of the Queensland / New South Wales border and, thank goodness, driving the last 400 km or so north tomorrow to Saraoni, which has been waiting patiently back in Bundaberg.

The weather has been chaotic for some here and a portent of the climate calamity that the Australian federal government and its backers in the coal industry seem in no desire to address. In Sydney, a huge dust storm enveloped the city, whipped up by strong north westerlies blowing over dry land, followed by torrential rain the like of which Sydney has rarely if ever before experienced. Up in Central Queensland, bush fires spread so quickly and were so destructive that they were labelled "catastrophic" by the Queensland government, a label never before used. An early cyclone, Owen, is now heading for the Queensland coast to tease weary emergency workers.

We have been on the road for three weeks and feel tired of roads and traffic. Christmas is on the horizon and the holiday traffic and crowds are going to make driving even more tedious. We have made two separate offers on yachts, one in the Pittwater, just north of Sydney, and the other in Southport on the Gold Coast. They are both Beneteau 473s and about the same age and more or less the same inside. We have tossed a coin and settled on Sundari, the Gold Coast boat, although probably either would have been fine acquisitions, although quite different in design from our first two boats.

Neither boat is "turn key" and we would have had to adapt either boat to our standards and in particular get whichever boat we chose ready for an off-shore passage next year.

Because of the pre-Christmas boating rush we won't be able to haul Sundari out for a hull survey until early January, so the jury is still out whether we seal the deal with the ex surfer business owner or not. It's enough time for us to sail Saraoni down to its old haunts in the Broadwater and "Bum's Bay" near Sea World. This is a mad place to be over Christmas as we remember from the last time we were there, so we won't be in a hurry.

Lovely Sandy Strait and Fraser Island are on the way, so we shall probably dawdle down that direction before making the final leap in open water from the Wide Bay Bar to Moreton Bay then thread the needle through the shallow, winding passages of the Broadwater in early January.

We have a lot of work to do organising both boats if we buy Sundari during the rest of January, then we are going to escape to the South Island for a couple of months to get fit amongst the mountains before returning to figure out how to get Saraoni ready for its end game, at least with us.



"Sundari" - a Beneteau Oceanis Clipper 473 in its berth in Southport. We've made an offer on it, but still have to seal the deal after an early January out of water hull survey to make sure it is seaworthy.

Eeny, Meeney, Miney......

20 November 2018 | Lake Tuggerah, NSW Central Coast, Australia
Alison and Geoff, strengthening northerlies, warm and windy!
Photo shows 3 emus defying the odds in farmland early in the morning near the mighty River Clarence, NSW Northern Rivers.

Eeny, meeney, miney, mo....with which boat should we go? We are down near Sydney on the New South Wales Central Coast after a fast trip down the Pacific Highway from the Gold Coast. We put Saraoni into a berth in Port Bundaberg last Thursday and hired a car for three weeks and have already seen 7 boats, located between Scarborough in Moreton Bay and Southport in the Gold Coast. We are now nearly 1300 km south of Bundaberg and in the rapidly developing part of the Australian East Coast - the best way to see this area is by boat as the roads, residential and camping areas are already overcrowded.

The NSW coast is a part of Australia, south of the Southport Seaway in Queensland, which is open to the ocean swells and is punctuated every so often by a river mouth or harbour with a barred entrance. Port Stephens, just north of Newcastle, is the first easy harbour to approach in swelly conditions.

We have been as far south with Saraoni as Yamba on the river Clarence, our southernmost turning point just after purchasing the boat in Queensland's Whitsundays. The Tasman in June 1998 was in malevolent mood and a providential offer of a job in Darwin's Kormilda College meant a return to the far north for three years rather than a winter crossing to New Zealand.

As far as the search for a Saraoni replacement, no yacht we have seen has been perfect..... for the price (!), so we have made up a list of preferences. We are looking at 2 more in the Pittwater, just north of Sydney tomorrow, partly because we are taking our broken Parsun outboard under NZ warranty into the Sydney Parsun dealer for a replacement. We reckon that we will make an offer on a new boat within the next few days and have, as all good yachties should have, plan A, B and C ready!

Watch this space for developments!



Cocky near Wynnum in Queensland having a chuckle at human pretentions.

Return to the Rum City

11 November 2018 | Bundaberg, South East Queensland, Australia
Alison and Geoff, sunny, windy and warm
Photo shows the Town Reach at Bundaberg on the Burnett River. You can anchor right near the heart of town now as the 2013 flood destroyed the marina, the up river moorings and many of the boats. The flood reached the Burnett Bridge shown in the background and was a frightening experience for many Bundy residents.

We are anchored in the Town Reach just by the Bundaberg city centre, waiting for the Go West! rally boats to disappear from the Port Bundy marina so we can put Saraoni in it for a few weeks while we hunt for boats near Brisbane.

Bundy has changed very little over the last 12 years. It used to be Australia's equivalent of Whangarei, with many cruisers choosing to spend the cyclone season either upriver near the city or downstream at Port Bundaberg. Climate change is gradually taking its toll on Oz. We have arrived yet again in the middle of a dreadful drought, although the Burnett's banks seem green enough.

Two bad floods that 'should never have happened' destroyed the city moorings, marina and many upstream yachts, making it no longer a harbour of choice for locals and visitors during the wet season.

Bundy is still a very useful city to provision from. It's an unpretentious place, surrounded by vege and sugar fields, its vistas stretching to the ever flat horizon. The coastal settlements of Burnett Heads, Bargara, Coral Cove and others have attracted retirees in their hundreds like many other East Coast locations.

For us, apart from the easy and free access to the city centre, the attraction lies in the abundant birdlife that is probably finding the city attractive because of the dry conditions elsewhere. The huge fruit bat colony that once existed just beyond the Burnett Bridge, has relocated since the 2013 flood to the safety of the Baldwin Swamp, where many birds and other creatures make their home. As in 2006, hundreds of birds, especially herons and ibises, are nesting noisily in the Botanical Gardens just a few kilometres away.

We have had a busy social life since arriving in Bundy. Heather and John, who we have known since 1998, live here and still have their Adams 30, 'Kindred Spirit' moored down the river, while there are many other yachties nearby we know, some we met either in New Zealand or across the oceans.



Bundaberg is home to hundreds of noisy birds and other creatures. From the top and from left to right: darter, pukeko (Aussies call them purple swamp hens), sacred ibis, rainbow lorikeet, fruit bat, pied stilt, pelican, cattle egret in breeding plumage, bearded water dragon.

Rum Done Over

01 November 2018 | Burnett River, near Bundaberg, Queensland.
Alison and Geoff, sunny and warm
Anchored just around the corner from Port Bundaberg marina in the lower reaches of the Burnett River after what turned out to be a rather rum customs clearance in the rum city. The Border Force official (new Aussie combo of Immigration and Customs) told us that she was going to put Saraoni on a 'control permit' while in Australia or we would have to pay import tax 'immediately.' This rather bizarre decision was then revoked within a few hours by a much more clued up official (the Regional Commander) who took our control permit off us and said that Saraoni would be considered 'imported'.

Apparently Australia has a rule (that few seem to know about) that demands an Australian boat has to be 'exported' when leaving the country for any extended period, then 'imported' when it is brought back, at which point it may, or may not, attract duty. The duty is only likely to be levied if improvements have been done overseas and the boat's value increased. We never 'exported' the boat when we left Australia last in 2008, as we didn't know we had to, and no customs officials in Darwin told us we had to, hence apparently creating a dilemma. It seems that the same issue has happened quite a lot recently, something that hasn't been helped by a total lack of information on the Border Force website and inconsistent knowledge of the rules by some of the officials themselves.

Anyway, we have to hang around for a bit as we need a 'timber inspection.' We're going up the river to the city of Bundaberg, 8 miles up, and catching up with old friends and Bundaberg residents, Heather and John, who have sailed with us in PNG, Australia, New Zealand and Greece. We were last in Bundy in the 2006/2007 cyclone season when we taught for a few months in local high schools.

A small mob of roos are sheltering from the sun on one of the river banks. Herons, shags and sacred kingfishers stalk fish close by and the anchorage is calm and peaceful after a week of rocking and rolling on the ocean.

Day 7 on the Rum Run

31 October 2018 | 110 nm from Bundaberg
Alison and Geoff
Currently less than 70 miles out from Fraser Island off the South Queensland coast. We make 'landfall' at the light marking the end of Breaksea Spit which juts out from the North end of Frraser Island. The wind has slackkened off a bit and turned to the east. We are wing and wing hoping to get past the 2 knot southbound offshore East Australian current before passing the spit and making an overnight passage across the relatively well protected Hervey Bay down to the entrance to the Burnett River and Port Bundaberg where we clear into Australia. Saw our first boobies yesterday, probably nesting on remote Cato Island, well to the north of our track. ETA Bundy is tomorrow, Thursday morning and back to the sound of the kookaburra. Oo oo aah aah ooh aah ooh!

Day 6 on the Rum Run

30 October 2018 | 240 nm from Bundaberg
Alison and Geoff
What a difference a day can make! The trades arrived back gently yesterday afternoon then Bang! a trough passed over with sheet lightning and rain. Now the sky has cleared a bit and we have south east winds up to 20 knots and swells from the south and south east. Should have similar all the way into the Queensland coast, saving us from rationing the diesel. ETA Bundy is noon Thursday.

Day 5 on the Rum Run

29 October 2018 | 360 nm from Bundy
Alison and Geoff
Slow progress yesterday, although comfortable enough. Had a countercurrent again most of the day of up to 1.5 knots. At one point we stopped the engine to top up with fuel and check the oil and noticed that we were making 1.5 knots back towards New Cal but pointing towards Oz! Weird.

Had a light westerly headwind until 4 pm when it shifted to the South and we could sail until the wind died a few hours ago. The ocean is now flat and glassy. The wind should fill in later tonight from the SE and we should have that all the way into the Burnett River. ETA Bundy is noon Thursday.

Day 4 on the Rum Run

28 October 2018 | 460 nm from Bundaberg
Alison and Geoff
Calm morning after light head winds and countercurrent yesterday so only making slow progress towards the Queensland coast. Keeping an eye on the diesel stock as we don't expect significant sailing wind until Tuesday morning. Current was positive again over night, but back to negative again now, about a knot against us. 4 other yachts on same passage we are keeping in touch with. Just passed a fishing boat out of sight and drifting, probably grabbing some sleep in the calm. Our track passes between 2 offshore banks, so expect more fishing boats around. Link for position is https://www.yit.nz/yacht/saraoni

Day 3 on the Rum Run

27 October 2018 | 560 nm from Bundaberg
Alison and Geoff
Photo shows this morning's calm sea!

Light winds and a full moon overnight. Yesterday one cup of coffee flew from one end of the saloon to the other but apart from spraying its contents didn't actually break. Haven't seen any other boats today and lost contact with the yacht behind. Slowly motorsailing westwards towards the Australian mainland for the 3rd time. Not much wind for the next day or so and a countercurrent of about a knot at the moment. Our at sea email is saraoni2@myiridium.net.

Day 2 on the Rum Run

26 October 2018 | 670 nm from Bundaberg
Alison and Geoff
Light winds today after a bumpy, lurchy day yesterday. Will be looking for a mooring in Bundy when we get there while we check out a few boats further South. Might also be flying to Auckland as there is another boat for sale there we are interested in.

This ocean passage could very well be the last moana for this little Aussie battler.

Bundy Bound!

24 October 2018 | Ilot Maitre New Caledonia
Alison and Geoff, warm and sunny
Just left Iliot Maitre for Bundaberg, Queensland, 790 miles away. Brilliant blue sky day after 40 knots yesterday bouncing around on the mooring. Mixed bag to Oz, some good wind, and some no wind! Should take a week.
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
The ABCs - Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are mostly low lying dry, scrubby islands in the Western Caribbean near the Venezuelan coastline
15 Photos
Created 21 May 2014
12 Photos
Created 20 March 2014
4 Photos
Created 9 March 2014
Images taken in and around Suriname's capital
40 Photos
Created 9 February 2014
River Images
8 Photos
Created 28 January 2014
Images of the 2 islands in the Cape Verde island group we visited on our way across the Atlantic in 2013 - Sao Vicente and Santo Antaao.
37 Photos
Created 26 December 2013
3 Photos
Created 16 December 2013
1 Photo
Created 16 December 2013
21 Photos
Created 23 August 2013
What we saw in the USA
14 Photos
Created 21 August 2013
9 Photos
Created 19 August 2013
Unexpected meeting with old friends "in the woods".
6 Photos
Created 24 June 2013
A brother found amongst the gorges of the Cevennes
5 Photos
Created 10 June 2013
Photographic images of our long walk along the Appalachian mountains in the USA
26 Photos
Created 10 June 2013
17 Photos
Created 19 December 2012
15 Photos
Created 25 November 2012
9 Photos
Created 16 November 2012
25 Photos
Created 15 November 2012
16 Photos
Created 20 October 2012
2 Photos
Created 4 June 2012
Greece is in the throes of a recession, but they still have the last laugh - never far from the sun, the sea, colour, culture and bags of history. The photos document our Aegean odyssey from May to September 2011
31 Photos
Created 17 December 2011
O.K. We're mad, but we somehow prefer a home on the sea to one on dry land.
12 Photos
Created 17 December 2011
Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur - the three ancient city states of the Kathmandu valley have mediaeval architectural wonders in their Durbars and old town areas - a meshing and merging of Hinduism, Buddhism and materialism
9 Photos
Created 17 December 2011
Some of the shots taken of us while on one of our 30 odd days on the three main mountain trails we walked in the Anapurnas and Helambu region of Nepal's side of the Himalayas
10 Photos
Created 15 December 2011
People make the Himalayas a unique place to walk through. From Hindu rice and buffalo farmers in the foothills to the Buddhist villages in the highlands so influenced by Tibetan ancestry and trade over the passes
16 Photos
Created 15 December 2011
Nepal has ten of the world's highest mountains within its boundaries or shared with India and Tibet - these are truly giant peaks!
22 Photos
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.
18 Photos
Created 14 December 2011
Saraoni hauled out on Finike's hardstand for biennial maintenance and painting
3 Photos
Created 26 April 2011
8 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 6 March 2011
4 Photos
Created 6 March 2011
Ruined city
4 Photos
Created 10 January 2011
3 Photos
Created 10 January 2011
12 Photos
Created 10 January 2011
7 Photos
Created 30 December 2010
5 Photos
Created 28 December 2010
6 Photos
Created 11 December 2010
The small rocky island of Kastellorizou is Greece's most remote island
7 Photos
Created 11 December 2010
Cruising and walking Turkey's Lycian coast September and October 2010
19 Photos
Created 11 December 2010
8 Photos
Created 6 December 2010
Images taken while walking sections of the 500 km Lycian Way or Lykia Yolu on the South West Mediterranean Coast of Turkey
11 Photos
Created 9 November 2010

Post Circumnavigation

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