Tregoning

29 November 2021 | Krummel Passage, north side Russell Island, QLD, Australia
23 November 2021 | The Boat Works Marina, Coomera River, QLD, Australia
19 November 2021 | Tangalooma Wrecks, Moreton Island, QLD, Australia
15 November 2021 | Horseshoe Bay, Peel Island, Moreton Bay, QLD, Australia
06 November 2021 | Northwest side of St Helena Island, Moreton Bay, QLD, Australia
03 November 2021 | Scarborough Marina & Brisbane River, QLD, Australia
12 October 2021 | Off Hamilton North Shore, Brisbane River, QLD, Australia
05 October 2021 | Off Shorncliffe Pier, Bramble Bay, Moreton Bay, QLD, Australia
03 October 2021 | Lady Musgrave Reef, Capricorn Bunker Group, QLD, Australia
29 September 2021 | Fitzroy Reef, Capricorn Bunker Group, QLD, Australia
22 September 2021 | South Arm, Port Clinton, QLD, Australia
19 September 2021 | Mackay Marina, Mackay, QLD, Australia
18 September 2021 | Broken River Mountain Resort, Eungella, QLD, Australia
16 September 2021 | Mackay Marina, Mackay, QLD, Australia
14 September 2021 | Roylen Bay, Goldsmith Island, Whitsundays, QLD, Australia
11 September 2021 | Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, QLD, Australia
29 August 2021 | Little Pioneer Bay, Orpheus Island, QLD, Australia
27 August 2021 | Haycock Island, Hinchinbrook Channel, QLD, Australia
26 August 2021 | Brammo Bay, Dunk Island, QLD, Australia
23 August 2021 | Welcome Bay, Fitzroy Island, Australia

Thanksgiving with a new island to explore

29 November 2021 | Krummel Passage, north side Russell Island, QLD, Australia
Alison Stocker | Photo: Mexican water lilies (not native) in a conservation pond on Russell Island
Since it is springtime in Australia, it was reasonable to expect some showers. Instead, we have endured many cloudy days, most of them with rain, including some deluges which have resulted in the flooding of numerous roads. Forecasts for 13 consecutive days of cloud and rain might not sound so unlikely in Manchester or Seattle, but are very unusual here. It has recently been officially declared as a second consecutive La Niña year. This anticipates a wet spring and summer, which is good for farmers and wildfire fighters. Last year, we had plenty of rain in March when we were contending with floodwaters on the Coomera River, but this year the rain seems to have come early.

The news media got all excited last week about a "4,000 km rain bomb" over QLD and NSW. The weather radar images for the Australian east coast were swathed in the blue, orange, and red colors that indicated increasingly heavy rain. The "bomb" title was rather overdramatizing the conditions, however, as it was simply a large storm-front. "Rain bombs" are specifically wet downbursts from a thunderstorm where the wind blows directly downward then spreads out in all directions on hitting the ground. Wet downbursts produce locally heavy rain or hail but not country-wide systems. "Weather bombs" are an extratropical cyclone that deepens (pressure lowers) explosively over 24 hours. This was not the case here either but the misuse of such melodramatic phraseology does indicate that it was unusual weather.

The rain that greeted us at Tippler's Landing for all of Tuesday afternoon (23rd November) continued the following morning, washing-out our plan to row ashore to undertake an Ebird survey. Instead, we waited until an hour before high tide and then motored north through the Jacobs Well shallows around midday. With a couple of days of strong northeasterly wind forecast, we returned to Browns Bay off the west coast of Russell Island. With no access to shore over the wide shallows, we enjoyed three isolated nights there including the American Thanksgiving on 25th November. Randall made a delicious roast-turkey meal with two new recipes, citrus-glazed sweet potatoes and cornbread stuffing. I was very keen on first, not so sure about latter. After another pandemic year that had relatively little effect on us, we had much to be thankful for.



Randall with our Thanksgiving dinner

By Saturday morning, the wind had veered to the southeast and was forecast to strengthen to 25 knots. Although Brown's Bay would have been adequately protected from those winds, we were starting to get a little restless and wanted to explore the neighboring island. So, we motored north at low rpm with the assisting wind and ebb current, following the channel around the west, north, and east sides of Karragarra Island. This put us in Krummel Passage (which sounds like a dark and mysterious place in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry), between Russell and Karragarra Islands (south and north, respectively). We managed to tuck between moored boats on the east side of the ferry terminal and west of Kibbinkibbinwa Point, beyond which is Ooncooncoo Bay. We were quite exposed to the wind, which was good for generating electricity, but close enough to the shore, especially when the mudflats were exposed a at low tide, for little wind-wave development.



Seen at low tide, Tregoning (under the arrow) is anchored between moored boats on the north side of Russell Island (to the right), with the west end of Karragarra Island on the left - the crane was moored for the weekend but was moved to work on the construction of a new ferry dock during the week

This did not mean that the channel was calm all of the time. An incredible number of ferries used this channel to reach the only terminal on Russell Island. With extra ferries to accommodate the lower capacity allowed during the Covid pandemic, on a weekday a total of 66 ferries, running between 4:30 am and 11:35 pm, visit the Island's dock. That included 16 car-ferry departures, 22 passenger-ferries going directly to the mainland at Redland (via the west end of the channel that is too shallow for us and the car-ferries), and 28 passenger-ferries going to Redland via the three other inhabited island in the area. That averages as a ferry passing every 17 minutes although they are more concentrated at the morning and evening commute times. Despite being larger, the car-ferries move more slowly than the passenger vessels, creating much less wake. In addition, ambulance and police vessels use the dock and there is also a helipad for emergencies.



Frequent visitors to Krummel Passage: a passenger ferry left, and car-ferry right

The large number of ferries was perplexing given that we could see relatively few houses around most of the shoreline of Russell Island, from Brown's Bay to Krummel Passage. However, studying Google-Earth images soon disabused us of any notion that this was a sparsely populated Island. Considerably smaller than North Stradbroke and Moreton Islands, at 8 km by 3 km (5 by 2 miles) Russell Island is the third largest island in Moreton Bay but has the most inhabitants.



The ramp from the ferry terminal to the north shore of Russell Island seemed to disappear into uninhabited vegetation

In fact, according to the 2016 census, there were 2,836 residents on the Island and about 30% of houses are second-homes, only occupied at weekends or holidays. Chatting with some locals, however, they estimate that the current population probably exceeds 4,000 (the 2020 census data are not published yet) and there appear to be plenty of houses less than five years old. With the nearby Macleay Island having a population of 2,681 people (all 2016 data), 204 on Karragarra Island, and 423 people on Lamb Island, a total of 6,153 residents use the ferries (with another potential 2,000 at holidays and weekends).

There have been various proposals to build a bridge to the mainland but the current upgrade to the ferry terminals suggests that this is not an imminent likelihood. In the 1970s, a vague promise of a bridge led to an infamous land scam when unscrupulous vendors sold to gullible customers some of the 20,000 blocks of subdivided former farmland. Purchased blocks were often in different locations from where they had been promised, and some were even underwater at high tide. With fewer than 500 residents, there was no local authority enforcing planning regulations and very few areas were left for public lands. The mangrove-covered shorelines have been relatively undeveloped but numerous roads crisscross the Island with surprisingly dense development in many areas.

The Island was originally called Canaipa, meaning "place of ironbark spear/digging stick" from the Ngaraangbal dialect in the Yugambeh-Bundjalung language. Traditional ownership of the Island is asserted by the Quandamooka and Yugambeh people. A proposal in 2015 to revert to the Aboriginal name of Canaipa has been supported by the Yugambeh people, many Island residents, and the Redland City Council. The name Russell Island, after a Secretary of State for the Colonies, was applied in 1839 when the area was first surveyed by Europeans. This was followed by the settlement of farmers and oystermen in 1866. The first village, Jacksonville, was created on the western shoreline in 1906 with a jetty, sawmill, pineapple canning factory, and small cinema. Currently, a small shopping center is located inland of the ferry terminal and is anchored by a medium-sized IGA supermarket.

After staying aboard Tregoning on Saturday to make sure that we were securely anchored and sufficiently far from the neighboring moored boats and channel traffic, we launched the dinghy on Monday morning and went ashore to explore. Predictably, this included the IGA supermarket but only after we had completed a couple of Ebird surveys of the residential area inland of the ferry terminal. We had left the dinghy next to another on the inland side of the ferry dock and this seemed to be acceptable.

There was a surprisingly large number of laughing kookaburras in the tall eucalyptus and melaleuca trees in the undeveloped parts of this area. Sadly, however, there were "Land for Sale" signs nailed to many of these trees, so the habitat was unlikely to remain favorable for much longer for these and many of the other birds we saw. With other areas already cleared for previous agriculture but now for sale for housing, it was hard not to be a bit depressed by the prospect of further deforestation as more blocks were developed. Various studies have shown that "Australia is one of the worst developed countries in the world for broadscale deforestation" (quoted from:
https://www.wilderness.org.au/news-events/10-facts-about-deforestation-in-australia).



Eucalypt forest cleared of undergrowth with "Land for Sale" signs all around the edge

In addition, there are many feral cats on Russell Island, which is a pity as the Island is an important rest-area for migratory shorebirds, and there are many ground-nesting birds such as masked lapwings and bush stone-curlews (a.k.a. bush thick-knees). We were pleased to find the Fern Terrace Bushland Refuge, one of only a few conservation areas on the Island, with the main pond attractively covered by water lilies with yellow flowers. Disappointingly, these Mexican water lilies were another non-native species considered an environmental nuisance in Queensland.

We were rescued from descending into despair about habitat-loss and invading species by almost tripping over three Australian wood ducks (a.k.a. maned ducks) that were settled in the grass across the road from the "Land for Sale" forest. These handsome endemic ducks are found throughout Australia, more often in grasslands or open woodlands than on water, as they prefer to forage on land.



Three Australian wood ducks (to 48 cm or 19 inches), two males left and female with eye-stripes to the right

Passing the Island's public swimming pool, I noticed several wood ducks near the water's edge. The life-guard mentioned that they were frequent visitors and often brought their ducklings. She proudly pointed to the mat draped over the edge of the pool as an escape route for ducklings.



An Australian wood duck resting on the side of the public swimming pool

Seeing a couple more wood ducks wandering towards the base of a tree above the pool area, we were thrilled to see that they were going to rest in the grass next to a bush stone-curlew. Closer inspection showed another bird's head next to the alert bush stone-curlew and, to our great delight, this bird stood-up to reveal itself as a fluffy juvenile.



An Australian wood duck (right) resting in the grass near a couple of bush stone-curlews including a fluffy juvenile in the middle

During our run or fast-walk the next morning, we also spotted sulphur-crested cockatoos, little correlas, pale-headed rosellas, rainbow lorikeets, black faced cuckoo-shrikes, martins, welcome swallows, noisy friarbirds, figbirds, blue-faced honeyeaters, and a forest kingfisher. I went all the way east to Canaipa Point which ends at the gate of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron's "down-the-bay" property. It looked attractive with large, well-tended lawns running down to the Canaipa Channel, where there are many moorings available to full members. Costing A$400 for a couple, it is unlikely that we are going to become full members of RQYS but, after going to St Helena Island for tomorrow night, we will be checking into their main marina in Manly on Wednesday.

Other than it being a large, expensive marina, we have no idea quite what to expect. The staff we have spoken to on the phone have been very friendly and we are ready for a few weeks of relatively calm marina-life. And, in mid-December, we very much look forward to helping Lynne and Andrew get SV Mischief into their berth just down the dock from Tregoning. With Randall playing festive music from his vast digital collection and baking his holiday cookies and fruitcake, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!"

Being in the way

23 November 2021 | The Boat Works Marina, Coomera River, QLD, Australia
Alison Stocker | Photo: Partial lunar eclipse already in progress at moon-rise over Russell Island
Although we had enjoyed our three-night stay at Tangalooma, by Friday (19th November) it came to an end for several reasons. We had been able to enjoy snorkeling on all parts of the wrecks. The weekend crowds were starting to gather. The wind was about to shift to the northwest from which our position just south of the Wrecks had no protection. And, we decided that we needed to get estimates for some of the boat-work that we planned to have done on Tregoning at The Boat Works (TBW) in late January.

The most significant project during the haul-out will be to have the rudder thoroughly inspected and, if necessary, rebuilt. We also need to replace the wind-turbine’s two eroding support poles. Two other projects are less critical but we wanted to decide about them before January. One is to replace our delicately thin and well-patched sail cover with a sail-bag (a.k.a. stack-pack). The other is to repaint the cracked and worn burgundy paint on the cove-stripe.



Sunset in calm conditions seen from Tangalooma Wrecks the night before heading south again

The best way to get estimates on the latter two projects was to take Tregoning to TBW and we knew that we would be unlikely to do it once we have started our six-week stay at the RQYS marina. Thus, on Friday morning we departed from Tangalooma and headed southward towards the Coomera River. We had hoped to sail as far as Brown’s Bay on Russell Island but the wind was much lighter than forecast, so we had to motor towards Coochiemudlo Island. By the time the wind had strengthened sufficiently to support the jib, we were winding around the islands and dodging ferries at the south end of the Bay, so we motor-sailed, arriving at Brown’s Bay by 4 pm.

The previous evening we had admired the almost-full moon over Moreton Island, and on Friday we were particularly pleased to have clear skies again. This was because we would be able to see the longest partial eclipse of the full moon since the 15th century. The partial eclipse was already in progress by moon-rise in Australia with a pink cast over the small part of the moon’s face not darkened by the earth’s shadow. It was fairly dark by the time of the maximum eclipse in which 97.4% of the moon was in shadow.



Maximum partial lunar eclipse seen over Russell Island from Brown’s Bay

The following morning, we waited until 8 am to raise the anchor and motor south, which allowed us to pass through the shallows near Jacobs Well just before high tide. When we were last here in March, the channel was being dredged. There was still good water-depth from the dredging, so there was no cause for concern. We planned to try anchoring at Tippler’s Landing on South Stradbroke Island, but being a Saturday, we were prepared to go elsewhere if it was too crowded.

There were quite a number of anchored boats at Tippler’s Landing, but we managed to squeeze into a spot not far north of the café. We rowed the short distance to shore in the early evening and went to the café for a pleasant dinner followed by a short walk. Many of the anchored boats had left by the evening, so it was pleasing to see from the shore that we were perfectly spaced from our neighbors. The next morning we returned to shore to fast-walk or run across the Island to the ocean. During my run, I saw a couple of agile wallabies, some bush thick-knees (bush stone-curlews), laughing kookaburras, pied currawongs, black oystercatchers, and a few other birds. And we just managed to beat the rain.



Tregoning happily spaced from other anchored boats at Tipplers Landing

Later on Sunday morning, we motored up the Coomera River and anchored off the Charles Holm Park at Santa Barbara. We have anchored here several times before but usually a little further to the south and mid-week. The windlass was not operating perfectly, so we drifted a little further north and closer to the small boat ramp by the time the anchor reached and held at the bottom. We were not blocking the boat ramp and the tide would turn after a couple of hours moving us even further away, so we decided to stay in place, given that we might have even more problems with the windlass if we tried to move.

The park was crowded with picnickers and people seemed to watch us with great interest but nobody hailed us or came over in their jet-skis or ski-boats to talk to us. Although the area was busy with both of these types of small craft, we knew that it would be quiet overnight. After a couple of hours, however, just before the tide would have changed and swung us further away from the boat ramp, a local character arrived on his bike and after talking with various people on the shore he started shouting abuse at us and threatening to call the police. Randall exchanged a few words with him, knowing that there was no legal or navigation reason that we could not be anchored there.

I beckoned a jet-skier and boat operator over to chat and they both confirmed that our abuser was a well-known “character”. Suggesting that we should just stay where we were, one of them explained that the complaint was that we were in the way of where the water-skiers liked to turn around in front of the crowd. Big boats usually anchored a little further downstream where mangrove trees lined the river and park-users were not as concerned about the view. Technically, all boats and jet-skis were also supposed to slow down around anchored and moored boats, so it was possible that they were concerned about getting into trouble for going fast around us even though they had been doing this for the last two hours.

Emboldened by the man on his bike, who apparently had no personal stake in the activities on the water, a women whose family was water-skiing started shouting about how inconsiderate we were. From her perspective, this was probably not an unreasonable accusation, so I decided that we should leave. The sad part was that we would have left or moved sooner if someone had thought to tell us that we were in the way of their view of the water-skiers. I had been sitting reading in the cockpit the whole time but the water-skiers had continued around us and not said a word so we assumed that all was fine. There are not many places on the river that do not have speed limits because of docks for big boats outside expensive waterfront homes. What we had not realized was that this severely limits the options of places for water-skiers to go.

While I felt sorry that we might have unknowingly caused irritation to a few of park users, it was pity that it had to descend so suddenly into verbal abuse and threats. Some boaters in our situation, knowing that they were perfectly in their rights to anchor there would have felt compelled to stay and not be cowed by a couple of rude people, but I had no desire to stay where we felt so unwelcome. We raised the anchor and moved a mile upriver to anchor off The Boat Works. It was much quieter and we had a peaceful pleasant night there.

On Monday morning, we moved into our booked berth and thus started a busy 24 hours. With periodic heavy rain, there was no need to rinse the decks but I did hose-down the cockpit which had dust from when Randall had done some sanding while at Tangalooma. While I undertook a couple of loads of laundry between downpours, Randall took the windlass apart and worked out that the problem was where the chain had worn away part of the deck fiberglass and windlass mounting-plate. Careful application of some resin allowed him to fill the worn gap which fixed the problem...at least, for now.

Phil from Everything Marine came to look at the cove-stripe. We had a discussion about what it would take to assess why the paint keeps cracking (we had assumed that it was from the boat flexing but maybe not...) It would be necessary either to remove the mast and put Tregoning in a shed (as SV Mischief did in March) or to build a containment tent around the boat outside. With all of that in addition to preparing the cove-stripe and spraying the paint, it would likely cost around A$15,000. We decided that this was not worth the expense at the moment, especially as we do not know how much the rudder work will cost. I’ll just keep cleaning and polishing the cove-stripe’s burgundy paint.

We had booked a courtesy car from TBW for the evening, so at 4 pm we set-off to fill a propane tank, get fabric from the Spotlight store, eat dinner at the mall, and do a mammoth grocery shop while we had access to a car. The next day, soon after we returned from our early-morning walk or run, Caedrick and Ash from Evolution Sails came over to take measurements and talk about the sail-bag. It was a very useful discussion but we realized that we need to talk to a few other owners of sail-bags (such as Andrew and Lynne) to see what details would work best for us. The general idea is that the bag’s fabric stays attached to the boom all of the time and the sail is raised and lowered into it, guided by the lazy-jacks which we already have. The top of the bag is then sealed with a long zipper that runs the length of the boom. The details of how the ends of the bag are attached and wrapped around the boom and mast are the features that we need to decide before we place the order.

After we had showered, dropped off keys and paid for our night’s stay, we left the marina at 10:30 am to catch the last of the ebb tide. I packed away all of the groceries as we made our way down the Coomera River. We returned to Tipplers Landing to find just a few vacation house-boats, so it was very easy to find a space in which to anchor. By this time, after 24 hours of running a full speed, we were both exhausted and the fact that it was overcast and rained for the rest of the day was just fine with us.

Do not disturb!

19 November 2021 | Tangalooma Wrecks, Moreton Island, QLD, Australia
Alison Stocker | Photo: Highfin coralfish (to 20 cm or 8 inches) at the Tangalooma Wrecks
Well, the water clarity was not any better than on our previous visit to the Tangalooma Wrecks but the tides were suitable and it was not crowded. So, of my wishes for our visit there, two out of three ain’t bad.

We left Peel Island Tuesday (16th November) hoping for southerly to easterly breezes in which we could use the asymmetrical spinnaker to sail to Tangalooma. There was not enough wind to make much progress that way until we had motored to within about one hour of the anchorage. We could veer out into the open bay to sail or continue motoring at low rpm with the assisting tidal current along the west coast of Moreton Island. If we arrived at the anchorage just before the low-tide slack, we could go for a snorkel. Not entirely surprisingly, the latter option won, especially as there were few people at the wrecks.



Relatively few boats anchored near the Tangalooma Wrecks during mid-week

We quickly prepared the dinghy with its outboard and our snorkel gear and got in water soon after the 1:30 pm low tide. We spent about an hour in the middle part of the wrecks with a steadily increasing flood current. I recorded about 70 species of fish including two species that were new to us: threadfin hawkfish and a spotted wobbegong that Randall had seen as it swam away from the wrecks. We saw it (or another) on another day fairly well-hidden inside the wrecks, so they probably like to spend the days there unless disturbed, and hunt at twilight or dark.



Malabar grouper (a.k.a. blackspotted rockcod)

I also had a good view of a Malabar grouper hiding under some coral at the base of one of the hulls. About 90 cm (or 35 inches long), it was relatively young. We had previously seen a much older specimen at Lodestone Reef, which was so big that I could not get it all in one picture before it hid. At maturity, they can reach 2.3 m or 7.5 feet in length. Thankfully, no spearfishing is allowed on the wrecks but I wondered how much bigger this grouper would get before one of the many sport-fishers in the area caught it on their hook.

Only about 12 boats spent the night near the wrecks and by the early morning it appeared that the ones that had left had made a good decision. With a strong south-southeasterly wind blowing over Moreton Island against a flooding tide, nasty little waves were noisily slapping at Tregoning’s hull, and an unpleasant swell from southern Moreton Bay was rolling us at frequent intervals. Neither of us got much sleep after 2 am. We debated about leaving but the forecast was for the winds to calm down and become more easterly, from which we would be somewhat protected by Moreton Island. So, we decided to tough it out until the afternoon’s low tide to snorkel again, and then we would reevaluate the anchorage. Fortunately, the forecasts were correct, and even though there were periods of overcast skies and showers, it was perfectly comfortable to stay at Tangalooma for two more nights. As an added convenience, there was even a little sunshine each afternoon around the time we snorkeled at low-tide slack.



A navigation mark near the Tangalooma Wrecks with the shallow Sholl Bank beyond and ominous clouds above

Wednesday’s snorkel at the north end of the wrecks included some flat sections that were thickly covered in coral and so had many species of smaller fish. It amazes me how much coral grows on the wrecks and I wonder how well it will support itself and survive as the rusting hulks continue to disintegrate. As water temperatures rise on the Great Barrier Reef, this site may ultimately become an important coral-reef refuge.



Clumps of coral cling to railings and the edge of the deck on one of the deeper wrecks

On our second snorkel, I recorded almost 80 species in an hour including a couple more that were new to us; a false scorpionfish that Randall spotted in a crevice, and a mangrove red snapper (a.k.a. mangrove jack). I usually keep our small underwater-camera’s lens set to maximum zoom to try to get the best pictures of small and/or distant fish. This means that in close-quarters, such as looking into an enclosed section of a wreck, sometimes the magnified pictures of fish look as though they are right in my face, until I can widen the lens angle. This happened with the mangrove red snapper...



A mangrove red snapper (not as large as maximum possible size of 1.2 m or 4 feet) appearing to get very close to me: fortuitously, the faint blue line below the eye helped to identify the species

In addition to small fish that live around the coral, and larger species that lurk under, or within enclosed areas of, the wrecks, we also saw a few fish that prefer open areas of sand. One of these was a giant shovelnose ray (a.k.a. giant guitarfish) which was fairly well-buried in the sand beside one of the wrecks. Randall noticed it first (he really is an excellent fish- and bird-spotter) and I tried to take pictures that would allow us to identify the species. Other than it’s dorsal and tail fins, it was so well-covered in sand that we hated to disturb it just for the sake of trying to get a better photograph. So we let it be.



Giant shovelnose ray with dorsal and tail fins to left, nose just out of bottom right corner, and its right eye about two arrow-lengths above the arrow

Back in Tregoning I started to regret our kind-heartedness because it was difficult to distinguish between giant- and long-snout- shovelnose rays. To be sure, I needed to see the coloration of the body and snout. Luckily, I had swam over the ray such that we could estimate its length as being between 120 and 150 cm (4 to 5 feet) which is longer than the long-snout shovelnose ray (maximum size 120 cm or 4 feet) but well within the range of the giant shovelnose ray (to 270 cm or 8.7 feet). Posting my photos and estimate of size on iNaturalist, two people confirmed it as a giant shovelnose ray. This species is on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List as “Critically endangered”. The next worst category is “Extinct in the wild” so these are species in serious trouble. We had seen a giant shovelnose ray once before when standing on the jetty at St Helena Island, so although it was not a first observation of this rare species for us, it was the first time that we met one underwater. Now knowing its critically endangered status, I am really glad that we did not disturb it.

After a much better night’s sleep, on Thursday morning we went ashore and I ran while Randall fast-walked along the beach. We noticed that the car ferry from the mainland was bringing more 4WD vehicles over as the weekend approached. Some visitors went straight to the huge nearby resort, some stayed on the local beach and at the nearby campground, while others dispersed north along the beach or east on the middle road over Moreton Island to the ocean. The anchorage did not get quite as busy as we expected and we had a surprisingly undisturbed snorkel at the south end of the wrecks that afternoon, recording 75 species in just over an hour. A couple of species were probably new to us but my pictures were not adequate for confident identification. However, we did find a barnacle-encrusted hawksbill turtle lurking in the bottom of one of the wrecks. We did our best not disturb it.



A hawksbill turtle lurking inside a wreck (to 90 cm or 35 inches)

Even when we managed to catch the slack tide, the water clarity was pretty poor for most of our snorkeling at the wrecks. Still, we enjoyed the opportunity to explore the site again without the weekend crowds. The total count of 106 fish species identified over three days was not much shy of what we might have observed on a similar-sized section of reef further north. Not knowing when we may leave Australia, we have no idea whether we will have a chance to snorkel in this country again. With 35 REEF fish surveys in 2021, I think that we made the most of our snorkeling opportunities this year. Now we need to focus on making sure that we, and Tregoning, will be ready, if/when we do leave this snorkels’ and divers’ paradise.

What is a lazaret?

15 November 2021 | Horseshoe Bay, Peel Island, Moreton Bay, QLD, Australia
Alison Stocker | Photo: Rain showers and a faint rainbow over Horseshoe Bay, Peel Island
Of the many islands in the main part of Moreton Bay, a few at the southern end, Russell-, Karragarra-, Lamb-, Macleay-, and the delightfully named, Coochiemudlo Island are currently inhabited. To the east, North Stradbroke Island has several communities and a few National Parks, while Moreton Island is mostly National Park. Bribie Island at the north end of the Bay is a mix of urban and park like North Stradbroke. Most of the remaining islands, south to The Broadwater and Gold Coast, are either mangrove-covered, uninhabited "Habitat protection zones" or National Parks. In the open Bay, one of the National Parks is St Helena, and the other is Peel Island, just west of Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island. It was time for us to explore Peel Island.

Leaving St Helena on a sunny Saturday morning (6th November), we had no illusions about having Moreton Bay to ourselves. What we did not realize was that we would have to dodge around yacht races in the large open-water area west of Manly. However, it took so many tacks into the wind for us to get through the passage between the shallows south of St Helena and north of Green Island, that by the time we reached the most easterly part of the racing area, even the trailing boats had left and we could cut the corner across the race-course. It had been a delightful three hours of sailing but we cheated at the end by motorsailing the last part of our passage around the north and east sides of Peel Island. It was no great surprise to find more than 40 other boats already anchored, so we picked an open area at the east end of Horseshoe Bay, knowing that we could probably move on Monday if we needed to get more protection in the middle of the Bay.



With shallows extending far from the beach at Peel Island, only jet-skis, dinghies, and small boats can anchor close to the shore (Tregoning was left of the area in the picture)

Horseshoe Bay is reasonably protected from the west to north-northeast, so it was the ideal destination with northerly winds forecast. We had not visited it before because, as our cruising guide explained, it "has a beach and clear water and is loved to death in summer." Being springtime and not school holidays, we decided that this was as good a time as any to see what the fuss was about. And, indeed, there is a 2.5-km-long (1.6 miles) beach with a wide shelf of shallow sand and sea-grasses that provides a clear, warm swimming/wading area at high tide. Many of the other boats were weekend visitors, and during the week, there were usually about 20 other boats, depending up on the wind strength and direction. We liked it so much that we stayed for 10 nights, including one night with southerly breezes which reduced the number of neighbors significantly.



Our 10-night stay at Peel Island included several days of weather with passing thunderstorms and showers which reduced the density of boats but provided some spectacular cloud formations

Like St Helena Island, Peel Island is a National Park where only a small area is open to the public, the rest can only be visited with a permit or on a tour. Also like St Helena, Peel Island was home to an imprisoned colony although not as a jail for punishment but as a quarantine facility.



Peel Island is 519 ha (almost 1,300 acres) and this National Park map shows that only the unhatched areas around Horseshoe Bay are open to the public; the yellow star is the approximate position in which Tregoning was anchored

Indigenous people call the Island Teerk Roo Ra "Place of many shells", and evidence from several middens suggests that, for a long time before European colonization, the Island was used as a feasting and ceremonial site. By the mid-19th century, the southwest corner of the Island was used as a quarantine station for Brisbane. Arriving passengers disembarked for the quarantine period, while the sailing ship was fumigated and scrubbed down with carbolic until it was time to take the passengers into Brisbane.

By the start of the 20th century, the island was being used as an asylum for vagrants, mostly "inebriates" or drunkards, from Brisbane and the inmates had to farm sisal and make it into rope which was sold to help fund the asylum. Sisal plants can still be found around the coastal parts of the Island. Soon, however, conditions were considered too harsh and the inmates were moved across the Rainbow Channel to Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island.

Despite the harshness, this was not the end of the quarantine role of Peel Island, for in 1907 a lazaret was established there. A lazaret was a leper colony (a.k.a. leprosaria or lazaretto - the latter word probably gave rise to "lazarette" which is a locker at the stern of a recreational boat used to store equipment or "the rear of a ship's hold, used for stores"). Leprosy (a.k.a. Hansen's disease) arrived in Queensland as free settlement attracted large numbers of immigrants. Fear of contagion and inevitable death led to Queensland's Leprosy Act of 1892 which required leprosy patients to be isolated from the mainland. Although intended for medical treatment as well as quarantine, lazarets were usually more like places of incarceration to which patients were forcibly removed. The first medical treatment facility was not built on the Island until 20 years after the lazaret opened, and it took almost another 20 years before any doctor actually became a resident in the colony.

Initially, lazarets in Queensland had been established at Friday Island in the Torres Strait and at Dunwich, with the former site for Indigenous Australians and South Seas Islanders, and the latter for white Europeans. Both were closed due to criticisms about the conditions and treatment of patients, to be replaced by the Peel Island lazaret which was Queensland's first multicultural facility.

Despite having both white and non-white patients on Peel Island, they were segregated and dramatic disparities in living conditions and levels of treatment continued for many years. More than 500 patients passed through the lazaret during the 52 years of its operation, of which almost 200 died, and most of whom were buried on the Island. It was not until 1947, with the arrival of the first of several sulfone-derivative drugs from the USA, that effective treatment of leprosy was possible on Peel Island. Successful treatment reduced the need for isolation and the lazaret closed in 1959 with its 10 remaining patients moved to Brisbane to complete their treatments. Ironically, it was only after the lazaret was closed that it was discovered that the strain of leprosy which infected its inhabitants was non-contagious.

The stigma of leprosy remained long after the facility was closed and the Island was left relatively untouched until Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service took responsibility for it in 1992. In 2007, the island was declared as Teerk Roo Ra National Park and Conservation Park. Some of the lazaret buildings are being restored, possibly for school camps, but the presence of asbestos in some of the housing used for Indigenous patients is part of the reason that access to much of the Island is currently restricted. For more details about the lazaret see: https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks/teerk-roo-ra/about/culture

We went ashore to walk, run, or look for birds several times and soon got to know the beach and limited sections of sandy roads quite well. The inland open eucalypt forest was very attractive and parts have clearly been burned fairly recently. Around the beach, and especially at the base of The Bluff at the east end of Horseshoe Bay, many non-native plants have survived since the Island was occupied.



Randall on one of the sand roads on Peel Island

At least, 74 bird species have been documented on the Island but we were not very successful at finding most of them. The most notable that we saw were a few rufous whistlers which sang most melodiously overhead, and both beach and bush thick-knees (a.k.a. stone curlews). Since beach thick-knees do not penetrate inland from the sand more than a few meters, we wondered how they cope with the influx of visitors and dogs at weekends. We hope that they fly around to the beaches that are not open to the public. Although domestic pets are not allowed in Australian National Parks and are not permitted inland of the beach at Horseshoe Bay, with so many visitors arriving by boat, there is no attempt to enforce this rule on the beach. Instead, several signs warn of the dangers of not cleaning-up after your pet. We wondered how well that regulation is obeyed.



National Park sign related to dogs

We could not go to shore every day, however, because there was unsettled weather for much of our stay. Several days of rain and thunderstorms were followed by sunshine with strong westerly winds as a high pressure system followed the cold front. Luckily, none of the lightning came very close to us, and the rain has certainly been appreciated by farmers and wildfire-fighters across Queensland. By the time calmer sunny weather returned on Sunday, Horseshoe Bay quickly filled with more than 90 boats, mostly trailer boats and jet-skis with day-visitors. It was impressive to see so many people arrive, enjoy the beach and bay, and leave so quickly.



Strange fingers of cloud (left) after a thunderstorm had passed just to the south of us

The previous Tuesday, we were delighted to receive a text from Sue on SV Symphony II, saying that they were at the other side of Horseshoe Bay. They were just about to go to Dunwich with Tracy and Julian on SV Indigo IV but would be back soon to explore Peel Island. We did not get to see Tracy and Julian as they had to return to work on the mainland, but the following evening Sue, Graeme, and Jamie came over for the evening. It was great fun to catch-up on each other's news since we last saw them in Cairns. They will be continuing south, hoping to get home to Sydney by early December. Of course, we played some music, including no less than three renditions of Jamie's favorite, "These Boots Are Made for Walking", one of which we left on Lynne and Andrew's cellphone voice-mail. The following morning, we met on the beach and enjoyed a walk around The Bluff to see the wreck of the Platypus, off the ruined rock jetty in the small bay. The Platypus was a dredger that was sunk in 1926 to provide a breakwater that protected the jetty. Not much of the rusting hulk remains above water now.



Jamie rubbing-on insect repellant while leading the way on our hike on Peel Island (L to R: Graeme, Sue, Jamie, Randall)

It was great fun to see our friends again, so we were very glad that they had found us before moving through Moreton Bay. For the rest of our stay at Peel Island, however, we kept ourselves busy and entertained with various projects and amusements. I spent several days identifying fish from my underwater photos and organizing all the data from my 32 REEF fish surveys. It felt like a major accomplishment and I am almost ready to submit them online. I would then be finished with my 2021 surveys, except that tomorrow (Tuesday 16th November) we are planning to sail north to return to the Tangalooma Wrecks on the west side of Moreton Island. Here we hope that we can squeak-in a couple more snorkels and fish surveys before we go into the RQYS Marina, and before the school-holiday crowds really start to fill Moreton Bay. The easterly winds should be suitable for a few days, so I hope that the tides, water clarity, and reduced crowds will make for even better snorkels than the ones we enjoyed there over a weekend in late February. Here's hoping!

A recalcitrant furler and cooperative birds

06 November 2021 | Northwest side of St Helena Island, Moreton Bay, QLD, Australia
Alison Stocker | Photo: Rainbow bee-eater on a fence-wire on St Helena
Hoping that we will able to continue with our blue-water sailing in 2022, and increasingly guilt-ridden with each use of the engine, one of our goals while in Moreton Bay is to sail as much as possible. This is not only to reduce our fuel consumption, but to make sure that we, and our equipment, are ready for ocean sailing. So when the furler got stuck as we tried to haul in the jib, we were thankful to be in benign bay conditions and not far out to sea.

We had left the Brisbane River at 9 am on Thursday (4th November) and after topping up with dinghy fuel and drinking water at the Rivergate Marina fuel-dock, we let the ebbing tide carry us out into Moreton Bay. We did not have far to go to our destination of St Helena Island, but it was into the wind so we were going to get some tacking practice. To confuse matters further, there are shallow sand banks that we had to weave around and so, after about an hour, we were ready to furl the jib to motor-sail the final section into the anchorage on the west side of the Island.

Unfortunately, the furler jammed with only half of the jib doused. We think that the line that turns the furler to roll-up the jib had somehow developed a loop on the drum that was trapped under other layers of the line. It took us a while to decide how to deal with this and, eventually, we carefully pulled the line in on a winch which, luckily, pulled the loop out without appearing to damage anything. Usually using a winch to tighten a stuck line is a bad idea as it is likely to break the line or the equipment to which it is connected, so we were relieved that we did not make matters worse. Sadly, while we had been dealing with this, we had drifted/sailed downwind away from our destination, so we ended-up motor-sailing almost as far as if we had not sailed at all. So much for our good intentions about reducing fuel-use. The next morning we rolled the furler line all the way out and, after re-threading it, we were able to test it satisfactorily. We were glad to have eliminated this problem. We will have to keep a closer watch on how the line rolls on and off the furler-drum to prevent a reoccurrence.

Arriving at St Helena Island in the mid-afternoon, we had only one neighbor in the anchorage and just a couple of other boats arrived after us. By the time we rowed ashore the next morning, we were the only boat left and we thought that we might have the Island to ourselves. Leaving our dinghy tied to the wooden pier (pulled away from where tour- or rangers' boats might dock), we started our Ebird survey with the shorebirds that appeared to be awaiting our arrival on the rails and walking ahead of us as if leading us in a parade.



Following the pied oystercatchers down the pier at St Helena Island, with crested terns, a silver gull, and little pied cormorants, and pied cormorants on the rails

We enjoyed a very pleasant morning with me documenting the birds, while Randall accomplished his 1-hour of heart-healthy fast walking by going back and forth behind me. The parts of this National Park that are open without a tour, only allow about 2 km (just over a mile) of walking in a V with the pier in the middle. We recorded 20 species of birds, including the shorebirds, many rainbow bee-eaters, mangrove honeyeaters, and Australasian pipits. I struggled with the many swallows and martins that were swooping overhead so swiftly that it was hard to see if they had forked tails, white rumps, or red-heads. Fortunately, as the day warmed-up, some of these birds rested on the wire fences that delineate the open and restricted areas, providing us with a good opportunity to distinguish and identify them.



A sampler of cooperative birds: Top - left welcome swallow, right tree martin; Bottom - a pair of fairy martins

Although no tours of the old prison arrived while we were on the Island, we were not there alone. A group of contractors came to work on some of the prison ruins, inside the restricted area. Their arrival apparently disturbed a mob of jumparoos that were in the tall grass in the distance. Soon we counted more than 25 jumparoos bounding across the former pasture towards the main prison complex. We were wondering what species they were, when the park ranger pulled-up alongside us in his truck. He was very friendly and happy to see that we were interested in the birds. He would have liked to have stayed to chat but he had to go to supervise the contractors, so I forgot to ask if he knew what the species of quail was we had just seen. I did, at least, remember to ask about the jumparoos. He explained that they were red-necked wallabies. They are not native to the island but were introduced many years ago and a healthy population has remained.



Red-necked wallabies on St Helena Island

We heard several loud, harsh calls from the restricted prison area, which might have disturbed anyone fearful of the ghosts of prisoners who died on the Island (there are 57 graves). We, however, thought they sounded like domestic peacocks. Although we never saw them, their introduction to the Island was confirmed by the park ranger.



By the time we had finished our V-shaped hike, we were quite glad of the shade provided in the picnic and interpretive area.

It had been a lovely morning ashore and we were excited to see a dugong when we returned to Tregoning. We would not be able to stay at the Island for long, however, without having to move anchorages because northerly winds were forecast for the next day. That was fine with us. We had enjoyed revisiting this beautiful area, but now we were ready to explore somewhere that was new to us...

Werewolf with jetpack and Van Gogh Alive!

03 November 2021 | Scarborough Marina & Brisbane River, QLD, Australia
Alison Stocker | Photo: Looking upstream in the Brisbane River at water jetpack riders
As much as we love being in remote anchorages and surrounded by nature, when we find ourselves in urban areas, we try to make the most of what is on offer there. Over the last few weeks, this has ranged from being reunited with old friends, joining Parkruns, and making use of fast internet connections, to attending seasonal events and temporary exhibits.

After spending a week in the Brisbane River, on Wednesday (13th October), we motored back into Moreton Bay and sailed north to Scarborough Marina, where we had booked a berth for a week. We found ourselves directly across the fairway from Al's boat, Irie II, and it was good to catch-up with him for the first time in about 18 months. He seemed to have enjoyed life in Scarborough during the pandemic, but like many of us, he was ready to move on. While we were there, he made the commitment to have Irie II shipped to the British Virgin Islands, leaving in January. It is an expensive venture but for a single-hander, the prospect of crossing the Indian Ocean and going around South Africa or through the Suez Canal, must be quite daunting.



Al's boat, Irie II, in the berth directly behind us has benefitted from months of equipment upgrades and varnish work during the pandemic

In addition to necessary activities such as laundry and grocery shopping, we appreciated the ease of walking or running without the need to ride the dinghy to shore first. I participated in a Parkrun at Nathan Road sports complex which was only their 3rd event, so it was relatively small and I came in 48/133 participants. We also enjoyed meeting some of Al's many local friends including Wendy and Dave on SV Elysium who also left Florida 13 years ago! They departed from Tampa and spent much longer in the Caribbean than we did. We also met friends of theirs, who returned to Scarborough just before we left, John and Stella on SV Exocet Strike. This British couple were on their second global circumnavigation, so they had interesting and useful stories from the Indian Ocean. John was from Newquay in Cornwall so it was fun to trade stories about the county where I had spent my childhood.



A soirée at the Scarborough Marina with Al left, Stella center, and Randall talking to John out of the picture

Having washed, shopped, and filled the water tanks, we left the marina at the end of a week and motored into a steadily increasing southeasterly wind to get back to the Brisbane River. With some unsettled weather forecast for the week ahead, this seemed a sensible place to be if the wind was going to keep changing direction. It took two efforts to set the anchor as it caught on some plastic and its own chain, and so would not set the first time.



After the anchor would not set, we pulled it up again and it was not difficult to see what the problem had been...

Rather predictably, the bottom in the River is fairly soft mud so the anchor does not always set immediately. Given that we were trying to position ourselves between several other boats and the edge of the official anchorage, we had to move the anchor by a boat-length or so a couple of times before we found the perfect spot. It would not have been necessary in calm conditions or where there was no tidal flow. But when the wind opposed, or was lateral to, the water current, the assorted collection of boats sailed around on their anchors so differently that much more room is needed between them than might be expected.

This was perfectly illustrated one weekend, when a rally of a particular make of powerboats anchored between the longer-term boats. Luckily, it was a calm night so after several had to reposition with the first tide change, nothing awkward happened. As the wind increased the next morning, however, our new neighbor started swinging too close to Tregoning as we sailed around on our anchor. I was working on deck so I could keep an eye on the situation but once the crew returned from shore, we had to ask them to move. They were fairly pleasant about it, saying that their rally was leaving soon. That actually left about an hour of having to watch them be too close, so I was very thankful when their group finally left.

Angst about our position in the anchorage and whether everyone's anchors would hold was maximized on Friday morning (22nd October), when a very nasty thunderstorm passed over us. There was torrential rain and some very close lightning strikes with no delay before the crack of thunder. I was glad that it was daytime so we could watch all the boats in the bursts of around 30 knots of wind. We later heard on the news that during that storm cell, a small tornado touched down briefly at the International Terminal of the Brisbane Airport, which was only about 3 or 4 km from us...yikes!



Our nearest neighbors in the anchorage during the heavy rain of a thunderstorm

Although we had quite a few days with rain and lively breezes, there were enough sunny days to allow me to hand-sand the two wooden toe-rails that run along either side of the coach-roof. Randall has started varnishing them (they will take 10 coats) and they look so much better than when the old varnish was peeling off. He has also spent many hours developing a spreadsheet of all the possible routes we could take when we leave Australia.

Ideally, we would like to sail to Indonesia after cyclone season with the Sail2Indonesia Rally and go from there to Thailand. However, with talk of the Australian international border being reopened before the end of the year, we do not know if that will affect how long we will be allowed to stay in the country on our current visas. We are still on bridging visas after our application in July for new Covid visas, so we do not yet know when these will be due to expire or whether we could apply for extensions or new visas without leaving the country. We certainly hope that we can stay in Australia until April, when our insurance will allow us to move north after the end of the cyclone season, but if we have to leave before then, we would need to consider going to New Zealand...if their border is open. If Indonesia does not look safe by the time we have to leave, then Randall has been studying the timing for making a straight passage across the Indian Ocean from Darwin. It is a lot of research of global cruising routes and cruisers' blogs, but it has reinvigorated our enthusiasm for visiting new countries. This was important because after three years in Australia, it is easy to become too used to life in an English-speaking country without the need for blue-water sailing.

While Randall was mentally making his way to the Atlantic, I have been working on identifying the mystery fish from my REEF surveys. This is a rather slow process of examining the photos of the fish I am not sure about, comparing them to various online resources, and posting my pictures to iNaturalist, hoping that someone can confirm my tentative identifications. Not all of these mysteries are solved because the pictures are not always good enough for others to feel as confident as I do because, unlike me, they did not also observe the fish in its habitat. Still, it is a useful process to help me learn uncommon species, and occasionally have the satisfaction of adding a new species to my life-list.

We have not done many bird surveys lately as the communities seem so dominated by common species such as noisy miners, rainbow lorikeets, silver gulls, crows, etc. But we did one birding walk around the small park across the River from our anchorage, Colmslie Beach Park. Randall had not been there before and I had only run through on the road and main footpaths. We were pleasantly surprised to find that in addition to the fish-themed playgrounds, extensive lawns, picnic areas, and many jacaranda trees in full bloom, there was an old remnant of road that cut through some fairly untamed scrub.



Randall peering through his binoculars under some blossom-covered jacaranda trees

The tall grass seemed like a perfect habitat for fairy wrens but we did not see any. This surprised us since we have seen many superb fairy wrens in pockets of vegetation between the residential developments on the north side of the River. We were, however, gratified to see a sacred kingfisher and three channel-billed cuckoos. We had seen and heard the latter fly over the boat several times. Unlike the gentle "cuckoo" call that is so evocative of springtime in Britain, these cuckoos have a raucous "Kork, ork, ork..." call, and with their long tails and large curved bills are described in our book as looking like a flying walking stick.



A channel-billed cuckoo (to 70 cm or 28 inches long)

Native to Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia, channel-billed cuckoos are the largest brood parasite in the world, and the largest cuckoo. Pairs work together to lay eggs in host nests. For example, the male will fly over the nest in order to provoke the nest occupants into a mobbing response, while the female slips into the nest to lay an egg. Alternatively the pair may work together by attacking an incubating bird and driving it off the nest to allow the female cuckoo to lay her egg. The most common hosts are ravens, currawongs, butcherbirds and Australian magpies. Unlike many other cuckoos, the chicks of the channel-billed cuckoo do not eject the other host eggs upon hatching, nor do they kill the host's chicks. However, the latter rarely survive because the bigger cuckoo chick is able to monopolize the supply of food.

In addition to local walks or runs, we took advantage of the nearby terminal to take ferries upriver to join a couple of Parkrun events. When I decided to go to the South Bank event which crosses the Goodwill Bridge and around Botanic Gardens, Randall thought that this sounded pretty cool, so he registered and did his first Parkrun, walking fast. It was a big event, so I came in 289/591 with a fairly slow time for me (the start was very slow) but now I'm 60, I'm young for the women's 60 - 64 age group so I came 1st in that age-group. The following week, we both did the New Farm Park Parkrun which was not quite as crowded, I was 149/287, and Randall was the first, and only, person in his age group. After both events, we stopped at the large Farmer's Market at New Farm Park for breakfast!

Halloween is not embraced in Australia with quite the enthusiasm that is common in the US, but we bought some candy just in case we ran across any trick-or-treaters...or so we told ourselves anchored out in the River on our boat. It was lucky that we bought two bags of candy because we ate half of it the day before Halloween. We did this because our friend Rob-in-Vancouver told us it was National Chocolate Day (although to be honest, I'm not sure what nation he was referring to, Canada, US, or Australia) and we did not want to ignore this important occasion.

On the evening of Halloween itself, we walked a short distance upriver to Eat Street where there were Halloween-themed entertainers, and contests between the street-food vendors for the best decorations and costumes. Some of the other patrons came in costume too, especially many of the children.



A water jetpack performer doing a 360 degree flip

One of the entertainments was three performances by the Water Jetpack Entertainment crew. We had first seen these jetpacks in Mazatlan, Mexico, and it looks great fun as the powerful jets of water coming out of the riders' boots are powered by jet-skis. I am sure that it is much more difficult to control than these performers make it appear. The first show we could see from Tregoning as we looked upstream (see opening photo), while we watched the second show at sunset from Eat Street.



Two jetpack riders dressed in werewolf and devil costumes with the hoses to their accompanying jet-skis and downtown Brisbane beyond

The final performance was after dark and was touted as having fireworks. Being fans of fireworks, we stayed to watch and were amazed to see that the jetpack riders not only had suits covered in red or white lights but fireworks periodically erupted from wands they were carrying, or packs on their backs. It was quite impressive.



A jetpack performer with fireworks from his wand and smoke from his backpack

Continuing our series of local events, we had tickets the following day to see "Van Gogh Alive!" which was being held in huge semi-permanent tent by Eat Street. We had seen the eye-catching outer walls of the structure during our morning perambulations, and had found out more about it online.



Outside the Van Gogh Alive structure

Groups of tickets were issued for entrance at 30-minute intervals, and cost A$35 each. The "show" lasted 30 minutes but, once inside, you could stay as long as you wanted. From the foyer, we entered through the "Starry Night" room which was surrounded by mirrors, had hanging chains of small white lights, and images of his famous painting on the ceiling and floor.



Entering through the Starry Night room

From there, one entered the huge main hall which had several sections, each containing many screens of different shapes and sizes. On to these were projected sequences of Van Gogh's painting and a few contemporary photos (e.g., of streets in Paris). There were a few benches but most people stood or wandered around.



People dwarfed by some of the huge screens onto which the art was projected

Van Gogh's work was shown in chronological periods, with paintings grouped according to his various styles and locations. It was amazing to realize that he produced around 930 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches in just 10 years, from the age of 27 to his suicide at age 37. The dark room with the brightly lit images, many of which were greatly enlarged extracts from the paintings, allowed one to see the brush-work and fine details of the art that are seldom possible when viewing the originals.

In addition to the wall panels, there were projections on sections of floor of his art, related photographs, or time-lapse films, such as flowers opening. The Van Gogh Alive website encouraged parents to bring children and there were quite a few youngsters sitting on the floor with their parents. One little boy was allowed to crawl all over the floor projection area while his mother moved around the edge to stay close to him. I couldn't quite decide whether this was annoyingly distracting or cute. People were certainly watching them at times rather than being absorbed in the artwork, but I tried to make myself relax about it, to see it as charming and inoffensive...at least for the first five minutes. After that, it seemed that a little sensitivity and respect for the show and to the rest of the crowd might have been appropriate.



Some of the Van Gogh irises with the wandering little boy sitting in the middle of one of the floor projections

The varying moods of the art were reflected in an excellent selection of classical music and, according to one of the signs but not something that either of us consciously noticed, certain aromas, such as nutmeg, were added to the room. The other innovation, which especially appealed to me, was that parts of the images had movement, such as the shimmering sea and rocking boats, swirls rotating in the starry night sky, and crows flying across a landscape.

Van Gogh loved the color yellow and his sunflower pictures were among his favorites so it was appropriate that the exit from the main hall was through a room filled with banks of artificial sunflowers. The only problem was that people wanted to stop and take pictures so it became congested and made the exit very slow, which did not seem like brilliant planning.



Exit from the main hall was through the sunflower room

Back in the foyer, there were many panels of text about his life, specific paintings, and the development of the exhibition. There was also a re-creation of a room that looked like his paintings of his bedroom, and a café designed to look like his night café paintings.



Van Gogh's night café painting from the show, left, and the imitation café in the foyer

Inevitably, there were many souvenirs items on sale including some facemasks with Van Gogh's iris and cherry blossom images. I was tempted by these but there was a huge slow line to pay for purchases (another example of poor planning), so I skipped this. For the art connoisseurs who like to study the original work hanging on a wall, this may or may not be an appealing event. For those of us who just want to appreciate the art in a novel and fully immersive way, it was very worthwhile.

The following day was Randall's birthday so we took a ferry into the city. Randall had set himself a weight-reduction goal to be met by his birthday and he accomplished it a couple of weeks early. Now that he is looking and feeling much trimmer, the challenge, as always, is to maintain this reduced size...after the all of the birthday treats are finished...



Randall on the City Cat ferry on his birthday

The main objective for our trip to the city was to attend a free lunch-time concert at the Town Hall. Unlike our visit earlier in the year when the audience had to maintain social-distancing, this time there was full seating but masks were required. Billed as a jazz/pop concert by The Session Band, they were five excellent musicians. Unfortunately, the sound for one of the lead vocalists was not very clear, making it hard to understand his patter between songs, and the song selection was rather lame. They were obviously trying to cater to the main demographic of the audience, elderly retirees, but there were so many much better songs that they could have chosen. Still, the price was right and it was a pleasure to hear the instrumental solos.

After the concert, we had a late lunch at our favorite pizza place, Corbett and Claude's. We were surprised to find that the restaurant appeared quite full at 2 pm, but realized that it was merry groups watching the Melbourne Cup, which is the biggest horse race in Australia. It is a public holiday in Victoria but plenty of people appear to take the day off in Brisbane too. By chance, we caught the end of the race with the favorite being overtaken by the winner in the final stretch. As we walked to the Riverside ferry terminal, we passed many parties in the riverfront restaurants, distinguishable as Melbourne Cup fans by the exotic hats worn by many of the women. Back on Tregoning, we completed Randall's celebrations with a homemade lemon birthday cake filled with lemon cream-cheese frosting and a layer of black cherry preserves. YUM!

To try to work off some of our overindulgence, on Wednesday morning we made an expedition upstream along the riverfront with me running and Randall on his bike. From Northshore Hamilton to the Sydney Street ferry terminal was about 10 km, with a stop at Bunnings hardware store on the way. We then added an extra 1 km to get a few supplies at the grocery store before returning by ferry from New Farm Park. Maybe next time we are in the River, we will take the ferry to Sydney Street and continue running and biking upriver for another 10 km or more.

Tomorrow, Thursday, we plan to leave the River and go to St Helena Island for a couple of nights before crossing Moreton Bay to Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island. We expect to spend most of November anchored in Moreton Bay. On 1st December, we hae a berth booked at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Manly for six weeks. Lynne and Andrew on SV Mischief plan to join us for a month in mid-December. The RQYS was not our first choice, being rather expensive, but we were keen to return to Manly. The other marinas there, such as the Morton Bay Trailer Boat Club where we spent part of last summer, were either fully booked or would not accept our US insurance limits. It will be fun to explore a new marina, but, as Canadian-Rob suggested, for the Yacht Squadron we had better unpack our blazers...and shake out the moths!
Vessel Name: Tregoning
Vessel Make/Model: Morgan Classic 41
Hailing Port: Gainesville, FL
Crew: Alison and Randall
About: We cast-off from Fernandina Beach in north Florida on 1st June 2008 and we have been cruising on Tregoning ever since. Before buying Tregoning, both of us had been sailing on smaller boats for many years and had worked around boats and water throughout our careers.
Extra: “Tregoning” (rhymes with “belonging”) and is a Cornish word (meaning “homestead of Cohnan” or “farm by the ash trees”) and was Alison's mother’s middle name. Cornwall is in southwest England and is where Alison grew-up.
Tregoning's Photos - Main
52 Photos
Created 12 October 2021
307 Photos
Created 15 May 2021
181 Photos
Created 13 December 2020
295 Photos
Created 25 July 2020
100 Photos
Created 30 June 2020
The Sailblogs Prequel: Adding old posts from expired blog
166 Photos
Created 26 May 2020
252 Photos
Created 6 January 2020
172 Photos
Created 17 August 2019
294 Photos
Created 29 April 2019
277 Photos
Created 5 November 2018
334 Photos
Created 3 July 2018
213 Photos
Created 29 January 2018
94 Photos
Created 15 October 2017
190 Photos
Created 21 June 2017
73 Photos
Created 12 February 2017
116 Photos
Created 12 February 2017
132 Photos
Created 24 January 2017
Extra photographs from our three-week campervan tour of the South Island from November 15th to December 5th 2015
217 Photos
Created 4 January 2016
Random pictures from our month spent on the islands of Hiva Oa, Tahuata, Ua Pou, and Nuku Hiva
45 Photos
Created 18 July 2015
Random pictures from our month spent in 4 Tuamotu Atolls; Ahe, Fakarava, Tahanea, and Toau
32 Photos
Created 1 July 2015
Some of the birds, fish, reptiles, and mammals (and others) that we have seen in Mexico
74 Photos
Created 5 May 2014
18 Photos
Created 18 November 2013