Our first year afloat
14 December 2008 | Townsville
Dave , hot and humid
This week (10th December) was the first anniversary of our leaving Melbourne. I always thought that the passing of time would slow down when I left work but this year has gone very quickly. I must concur with the standard phrase that retirees spout, "How did I ever have time to go to work".
We have both learnt lots of new skills such as diesel mechanic, carpenter, cabinet maker, electrician, plumber, refrigeration tech, to name but a few (not forgetting patience). We both agree that this lifestyle suits us (for the next few years at least) as we find the constant change invigorating. The move towards self sufficiency is rewarding, even though we are attached to the umbilical mainland electricity grid whilst here at the marina.
The cruising community is a close knit group with wide ranging skills and backgrounds, there is always someone in the group willing offer help and advice. Jean has the job of marina seamstress, she had 2 requests for sewing hems on trousers after someone had notice the awning she had sown for the boat. For us the enjoyable part of the lifestyle has been meeting with fellow cruisers as much as the places we visit.
As I wrote in my previous report we have chosen to spend the cyclone season in Townsville. We spent a few days getting the feel for the place, the city centre is under re development and will not be completed until 2010. We will be long gone by then. There are some attractive parts to the city especially the Strand area which is close to the marina and has safe swimming enclosures with protection from box jelly fish which are dangerous at this time of year and the Ross River cycle paths, I'm sure there are many others but this is all we have found so far..
It is certainly a different way of life in the tropics, people tend to stay in air conditioned comfort during the day and venture out and exercise in the evenings when the sun has gone but the air temp is still warm. Its also the only place I have been where I choose to have a cold shower.
We had been in Townsville about a week when we received a mail from our eldest son Matt saying that he was leaving the UK where he had been for a 18 months and coming back to Oz. We hired a car and picked him up from Cairns airport. He seemed to cope well with the difference in temperature from Scotland to Cairns. After he had spent a few days getting over jet lag we left the marina and sailed across to Magnetic Island for a few days. Magnetic Island is a major tourist destination about 8 kms from Townsville, however the tourist trade was taking a huge downturn as a 4 mtr crocodile that had be relocated by the parks and wildlife authorities had made the island its home, scaring off the visitors and affecting the diving schools etc. Due to the uproar from local businesses the croc was eventually recaptured and taken elsewhere.
Matt stayed with us for a couple of very pleasant weeks before heading down to Melbourne to start the next phase in his adventure.
One of the things I have been planning to do over the last 6 months is build into the boat a new fridge. We have been using the small front opening fridge that came with the boat when we bought it. Up until now we have coped quite well with this even though the fridge is small and not that easy to access. The crunch came when the fridge was filled with the fish we caught and didn't have any space for the beer. Even though as an Englishman I like my beer warmer than most it still needs to be cooled in the tropics. Jean and I have spent the past three weeks building a new fridge under what used to be a single bunk bed. As you can imagine there are few straight lines or right angles on a boat and to build the cabinet and fit a refrigeration unit was very time consuming especially when we have to cycle for 30 - 40 mins to the hardware stores. I suppose we could have caught the bus but what the hell. As I write this I have the fridge turned on for testing. Definitely cool beers at Christmas.
To escape the worst of the tropical heat we will be leaving the boat and travelling to New Zealand for 6 -7 weeks in January - March for some hiking. We will be swapping our palatial 40 foot living space for a 2 man tent. Are we sane?
Help required from any mountain bike riders out there, I have spent a fortune on replacing inner tubes on my bike over the last few months, (6 in 2 days was the worst). The trouble is the tyre moves around in the rim and causes the valve to rip out. I currently have the tyre over inflated to stop this happening. Any clues. (Bolts can you ask your cycling mates.)
Merry Christmas to all and please accept this as your Christmas card as we are too late to send any.
Dave and Jean