Friday, 6 September 2019

Final Blog For 2019 Sailing Season

Townsville  2nd - 7th September

Morning tea at Tom and Viviens. What a wonderful view of Castle Hill from their front balcony.

We motored into Townsville early on Monday as we wanted to arrive in there before any wind kicked in. A windy marina causes all sorts of stress, particularly in the crew, as we endeavour to berth without causing damage to ourselves or any other boat. We are getting pretty good at it now. However like Pavlov and his salivating dogs, learned behaviour, arising from one bingle with the marina in Albany, has seared itself on my brain and ever since gives me the cold sweats if the wind gets up. It didn't. So, all was well and Olivia was settled in to her marina berth without incident.

The folding bikes have come into their own here and we have ridden to Pallarenda several times. Having a bike track the whole way encourages me as well as taking a look at Peter's old family home. Peter had one problem when he picked up a thumb tack in the front tyre - puncture of course! Luckily it was near some shady trees and after half an hour or so we were on the way again.

Townsville Orchid Show

Amanda suggested that I might like to go with her to see the Townsville Orchid Society Annual Show.She is interested in growing these beautiful, exotic plants and although I have never been game to try them in Albany, I must say that I am tempted. I might have to take a trip to Bunnings and try one in the patio at home. The blooms were amazing and I and I thoroughly enjoyed the outing


It has been great to catch up with Clive, Virginia and Ross as well and we have had some lovely meals together. Peter will have plenty of time to see more of them as he will be spending more time here when Clarkeii leaves in a couple of weeks. He has to organise a new mainsail, boom bag and lazy jacks and also do something with the gen-set which has a burnt out alternator. Also one of the engine mounts broke when we had the rough weather going to New Caledonia. The gen-set will be a big job so I'm glad I will be in WA as I can only imagine the 'state of the air' in Olivia as he works on getting that out.

Cheeky Little Archer Fish

The Breakwater Marina is full of fish. One of the most common types are the Archer Fish. On the fourth morning here Peter informed me that they were lined up at the stern waiting for their daily breakfast of porridge scraps. I went to have a look. The fish are slightly smaller than a ruler length long and sure enough were lined up waiting. As I watched they all zoomed in ready for a snack and I was leaning over admiring their little spotty bodies. Suddenly, thwa-dack! A gob full of salty water hit me in the left eye! Luckily I was wearing my glasses. I am not talking a bit of salt spray, but a face full. The shock!! How dare they!! I swear the whole lot fell about laughing as I staggered down stairs to let Peter know what I thought of his cute little archer fish. Apparently they have caught others out in the marina because as we related the story they  knowingly nodded and laughed.

Cheeky Little Archer Fish!! (Turds!!)

My sailing season has come to an end and it has been an interesting one. Olivia will sit here for the summer and swelter in the heat, hopefully not in a cyclone, and wait for us to come back again in 2020.

More Orchids

Saturday, 31 August 2019

A Quick Voyage North, Keppel Bay to Magnetic Island 17th - 31st August

Keppel Bay to Airlie Beach

Exiting the Keppel Bay Marina was somewhat problematic as spring tides were in place at the time and that meant that we would be kicking up the dust if we left too early, so to make sure we waited until the tide was right we decided to have breakfast at the marina restaurant. That was a great idea as the breakfast was excellent and set us up for a mid morning start for a motor sailing trip to Pearl Bay. The weather forecast was for little wind over the next three days and we ended up motor sailing most of the way to Scawfell Island in the southern end of the Whitsunday Islands. Here we anchored up for two nights as a strong southerly blustered through and made the idea of tackling the wind and seas very unappealing. We didn't even go ashore at Scawfell as the blustery, bullety, wind blown sea would have had us wet through by the time we made the beach.

Pearl Bay

Pearl Bay
Pearl Bay was gorgeous. We arrived from Keppel Bay Marina at about 3pm and the anchorage was absolutely flat. Usually, at this anchorage, there has been a rolly swell constantly marching across the bay catching us side on and sending the contents of the cupboards rattling their way through the night. Not this time. It was paradise. The jewel colours of the ocean, deep greens of the steep hillsides and the rosy glow of the setting sun had us in awe as we sat out in the cockpit toasting our luck at seeing this place in such magnificent weather.

Sunrise, Pearl Bay

The Best Whale Experience Ever

Sunday saw us out on the water at 4am for a long motor sail to Middle Percy Island. There was nearly all motor and very little sail. A quick glance of the fuel gauge a testament to the fact that there was no wind to be had. As we motored past Cape Townsend the Northumberland Islands began to present themselves across the ocean in a glassy, azure sea. The islands are everywhere and some of them are decent anchorages in this weather. We decided that we'd try for Middle Percy as that is halfway to Scawfell Island where we planned to sit out a blow forecast for two days time.

We were just driving along, adjacent to Hexham and Shields Islands, when Peter interrupted my novel with the news that there was a whale up in front. We could see it clapping its huge flippers from the distance and it kept this up, lying on its back and clapping its flippers, for 15 minutes or so until we came quite close. I couldn't believe how huge those flippers were. As we watched, from a safe distance, we realised that it was a mother and baby and she was probably feeding it. We could see a tiny tail slapping the water next to her. It was a very moving experience seeing this huge creature in the water nursing her little baby as we motored slowly past. She kept up this behaviour for as long as we could see her and until she disappeared in the distance behind us.

Look at that teeny, tiny, tail!! Wow!!

Another interesting feature of our trip that day was the rafts of algae collecting on the surface of the ocean. Some people say it is coral spawn, but Peter's mate, 'Clarkeii', told him it was algae and that it collects in great swathes on the ocean when there is no wind to disperse it. I go with 'Clarkeii' as he is a biologist.  Anyway, whatever it is, it made colourful, interesting patterns as we motored through it.

Colourful algae rafts on a glassy sea

One thing we have noticed this year on our trip up the coast is that the Queensland Government has put courtesy moorings in some of the popular anchorages along the coast. Pancake outer creek has a couple now (Don't know about the inner creek as we didn't go in!) and there are four at Scawfell Island, two in each bay.

South Molle Island to Magnetic Island

Having spent two nights cowering from the wind at Scawfell we decided to use the strong tidal streams in this area to get as far as South Molle Island in one day. There are many islands that we could have stopped at on the way if we ran out of daylight. We also had a great day of sailing, with the tide, especially when we got to Whitsunday Passage where the tide roars through between Long Island and the mainland on the west side and Dent and Whitsunday Islands to the east. We made South Molle just on dark and noticed that the old jetty has been demolished, and no longer exists, since it was devastated by Cyclone Debbie.

Two nights at Airlie Beach had us stocked up with fresh food and we were ready to make the final push to Magnetic Island. We do this stretch in three days. First night Gloucester Passage, second night Cape Upstart and with an early (4am) start we manage to anchor in Horseshoe Bay well before dark on the third day.

Coffee at one of our favourite venues. Tamarind Tea House, Arcadia Magnetic Island

So here we are in one of our very favourite anchorages, Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island. We are having a week here and then a week in the Breakwater Marina in Townsville where we can catch up with Peter's family before I go home to Albany. We will leave Olivia in the Breakwater this summer for the off season. Before that though Mike and Yvonne are coming for a visit, from Geraldton, and Peter is going to do some work on the boat before he comes home later in October.

$10 jugs at the Horseshoe Bay Pub. Incentive for the yachties to come ashore for evening sundowners and dinner.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Fraser Island to Kepple Bay Marina, Yeppoon 10th - 16th August 2019

Fun on Fraser Island 

Peter bathes the leg in Lake McKenzie, inland fresh water lake.

The northerly wind persists and we are still hunkered down in the Susan River at River Heads. The wind is not really that bad' but still no fun sailing into it, something like banging your head against the brick wall. We have never seen anything of Fraser Island apart from several short walks along the beaches and into the forest nearby, so we decided to take a day tour with Fraser Explorer. Large four wheel drive buses take you on a tour of some of the scenic spots on the island. Our bus had 40 or so passengers. The cost of this day trip was $239 each. For this sum we had a trip to Fraser island from River Heads on the ferry, a full-day guided 4WD tour, buffet lunch at Eurong Beach Resort on the east coast and national park fees, and it was a long day - 8am until 6pm. The 'iconic' sights we saw were Lake McKenzie, Central Station (rainforest walk), Wanggoolba Creek, Eli Creek, The Pinnacles
Coloured Sands, 75 Mile Beach and the Maheno Shipwreck.

Maheno Shipwreck, 75 Mile Beach

It was a packed day and we can recommend it to anyone who is interested. The buses take the rough, sandy tracks in style. Luckily the seats are well sprung and the constant pitching and lurching along the forest tracks is achieved with comfort. I could not believe the size of the forest trees, especially since they were growing in sand. There must have been at least six of these buses touring that day so plenty of people about.

Our Bus

Eurong Beach Resort catered for lunch for all these people. Our bus driver said they were expecting 300 people for lunch and we enjoyed our meal and went back for seconds. After lunch we drove along the 75 Mile Beach for about 25kms. (not sure about that but that's what I thought!) The one thing I would have like to seen was a dingo. However I guess these things cannot be ordered. Peter had his sore leg so we didn't do much walking, but there wasn't time anyway. Fraser Island is an interesting and unusual place with its fresh water lakes, glorious beaches and beautiful forests.

Central Station rainforest. This is a stream. It is so clear you can't see the water.

Off to Keppel Bay

The northerlies have petered out and we left for the Burnett River the next day. Calm, sunny weather greeted us in the morning and we set off early in expectation of it being a long day. It was. About 10nm from the Burnett the wind turned north again, not strong, but enough to cause a sloppy sea and turn things rather uncomfortable. It also slowed us down so that we arrived in the dark, something I hate doing. With more light northerlies predicted for Monday we decided to stay put and explore the small town of Burnett River. It is a really lovely spot, not so much for scenery, but the people in the little town and shops were so friendly. The caravan park looks like a good one for those caravaners looking for a place to spend a day or two.

Old lighthouse at Burnett Heads

Tuesday saw us motoring most of the way to Pancake Creek along with about six other boats. We left early and arrived there before dark and anchored in the outer creek with seven others. We have not seen many whales yet. They must be up north by now. We decided to make a break for Great Keppel Island as the wind forecast was good - 10-15kts and later up to 20kts SE. We sailed all day. Keppel Island is one of our favourite anchorages. However as we motored across the northern face of the island we noticed that the swell was rolling alarmingly around the island. The twenty or so boats anchored in the northern bay were all rolling about in the constant swells, not dangerous but uncomfortable and noisy as contents of cupboards are flung about. We had just anchored when the wind piped up with the arrival of squalls. Luckily this was relatively short lived and things settled back to the rolly swells that continued catching Olivia side on for the rest of the night.

Relaxing after a day motor sail to Pancake Creek

We both slept amazingly well, but decided to sail over to the Keppel Bay Marina near Yeppoon so that we could fill up with water and fuel and take a trip to the shops for some stores. The laundry is done, hair washed with no thoughts of saving the water and Olivia has been cleaned, bow to stern.
Tomorrow we are heading north to Pearl Bay or Island Head Creek, then on to the Percy Islands or another nearby island and then we will be in the southern end of the Whitsunday Islands.

More Lake McKenzie, Fraser Island

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Manly, Brisbane - River Heads, Hervey Bay 2nd to 8th August 2019

Bad Luck at Manly

We were ready for an early start north to Mooloolaba, hopefully some sailing in light southerly winds and fair weather. It was all shaping up perfectly until Peter pulled/snapped a tendon in his left calf jumping a puddle. Obviously 66 year olds should not jump puddles!! He arrived back at Olivia hobbling and as grey as the colour of the marina deck he was crawling on. After some discussion we thought we had better stay for another night and he should visit the doctor a short stroll up the street. Diagnosis - a snapped Monkey Tendon, painful and likely to take some time to heal. Anti inflammatories have taken some of the pain away, but he has to rest it up as much as possible and we are going short distances each day at present.

One bruised foot. I thought it was the calf!! From knee down is a lovely colour!!


Mooloolaba Anchorage

After fuelling up we left Manly and motor sailed, mostly motored, our way in delightful weather up to Mooloolaba arriving at the entrance to the Mooloolah River at dead low tide. This was not normal low tide, but one short of the lowest astronomical tide, which was the day before. (Cautious, silly me did wonder if it was a good idea to enter the river just yet??!!) With 20 mins to low tide, 0.10m, we slowly motored up the river. Just around the first corner the tell tale shudder of keel scraping the bottom could be felt, then more serious bumps and finally we were pulled up, stuck fast to the  bottom.

How embarrassing! Everyone who could went past. A cruise ship was in and there was a constant flow of passenger ship ferries passing by. Luckily we were slightly to one side of the channel. The Coast Guard seemed to be executing some exercise near us at one stage and numerous private boats slid past offering advice on the best place to avoid our situation. Thanks guys, but we already know we are in the wrong spot. Even the paragliders cruised overhead for a viewing. An hour later Olivia began to relinquish her grip on the bottom and we motored off and outside to view the cruise ship for a couple of hours and then successfully re-entered the river and anchored in our usual spot up river amongst all the other visitors. We stayed an extra day here to change the engine oil and give Peter's leg a break.

Double Island Point and the Wide Bay Bar

Wide Bay, Double Island Point

Again we motored all day and arrived at Double Island Point at about 4pm. We decided to stay there as it was not a good time to take on the Wide Bay Bar as the ebb tide was in full swing. Three other yachts were anchored in the bay and we anchored nearby as Lucas advises. He is right. It is the most uncomfortable anchorage as the swell surges into the bay even though we had had several days of calm weather and little wind. We rocked and rolled all night and a couple of times came close to being pitched out of bed. Bring on the morning! When it arrived we had a beautiful view of the sand cliffs that lined the long sandy beach ashore. As soon as daylight arrived 4 wheel drive tour buses began to make their appearance ashore and drive the length of the beach.

Departing Double Island Point, Wide Bay 

We left at 7.15am to arrive at the bar 2 hours after low tide. One of the other boats accompanied us and the bar was perfectly tame. We entered without incident. As we still had several hours of incoming tide we decided to keep going and with perfect timing negotiated the shallows at Sheridan Flats at high tide. The anchorage at White Cliffs beckoned so we stopped there as Peter's leg was beginning to throb. Before nightfall 8 other boats had joined us in this delightfully calm, scenic place. The thing that strikes you in Aus is the birdsong. New Caledonia has almost none.

Hooray For River Heads

Our usual morning peruse of the weather forecast showed that northerly winds were on the way, so we decided to motor 10nm to River Heads to wait out two days of northerly winds under the lee of North Head in the Susan River. Others have the same idea.

Olivia 111 at anchor, Susan River at River Heads. View from the café.

This morning we launched Lily and motored down river to the boat ramp on the point. From memory it seemed to be the only place to get ashore here. What a pleasant surprise! A floating pontoon has been erected beside the boat ramp for the use of small boats. As the shore here is very rocky, tide affected and slimy we were thrilled to be able to tie up behind the pontoon and go ashore without and dramas. Congratulations whichever authority was responsible for this service. We love itThere are very few places where dingy docks are offered and it is often hard to find a suitable place to leave the dinghy and go ashore to spend some money. Dinghies are heavy and I can no longer lift ours onto the beach to tether it while we explore. At times we find her being ground across sharp rocks, or awash with surf when we come back from a sojourn ashore. (The tide often changes the demeanour of shore breaks as it ebbs and flows.)

River Heads, Great Sandy Strait. Welcome boaties.
(Other locations should take notice)

Peter and I were very impressed with River Heads altogether. The SACAS (Self Appointed Café Appreciation Society), us, decided to award the local café here 10/10. (The only other place that has gained that score from us has been the café at Rosslyn Bay Marina.) The view from the outside deck this morning was superb, the birdsong incredible and the service excellent. We were even given a small squirty bottle of water to discourage birds who became over ambitious in their scrounging of our cake. The café is located in a little shopping village a kilometre or so up the hill from the ferry terminal. While sitting there we spotted Butcher Birds, Minors, several species of Parrot, including
Rosellas, Magpies and others we can't name. On the way back to Olivia, in Lily, we were privileged to see a Sea Eagle fly overhead into the trees nearby.

A Community Garden is located not far from the shopping village and we detoured to walk around it. A sign informed us that it was run by the Progress Association. There is a hall and gazebo area that is available to hire for events, an edible vege garden that supplies vegetables to the local café, playground for kids, toilets and a forest garden to explore. All this is located on the side of a steep hill with tall natural trees sheltering the site. We were very impressed with this delightful location. Well done River Heads community. Your town is a credit to you.

Just an idea for your septic tank lid. River Heads Community Garden. Ooops! Didn't realise the feet were there.

River Heads Community Garden


Thursday, 1 August 2019

Back to Olivia at Manly 29th July to 1st August 2019

A Three Week Break in WA

We have retired in a very beautiful place - Albany in July

This year Peter decided he would join me in the usual mid season break that I take to check out what is happening at home. I think he wanted to remind himself what Albany is like in winter. In fact the weather was amazingly fine most of the time and he was able to unhook both of the BMs from the battery chargers, and out of their winter hibernation, for some enjoyable rides. Meanwhile I pruned the roses, caught up with the friends and reles and organised for a new linen cupboard to be built for the space in the laundry where the old water heater had been removed. I was able to contact the carpenter who had built the original laundry cupboard and he had the new cupboard in place the day before we departed for Perth. It looks great and is now home to my sewing material stash and other sewing paraphernalia.

BMW R80 1982 at Frenchman's Bay, Albany

We spent eight days in Perth, firstly with Karin's family, babysitting while she worked in Geraldton supervising chiropractic prac students for five days. That was hectic, but very enjoyable. Then we moved over to Greg and his family for the weekend to catch up with them. Greg and Leisha took us for a motor around Fremantle Boat Harbour and the main shipping harbour, on Ocean Street, which was interesting. A massive container ship rumbled in behind us and we watched as the tugs guided it to its berth.

Fremantle Harbour

We also met up with Judy and John, Chris and Matthew and Viv Read while we were in Perth - all old friends and it was good to find out what they are up to.

Heading North to Townsville

Here at Manly the weather has been cool and fine, perfect for trudging around shops for stores and beer etc, for our trip north. We booked another day here as the forecast was for rain today, but that has not eventuated, until late this afternoon, so we dragged out the folding bikes and took them for a decent ride south towards Raby Bay. Most of the bike path took us through parkland and mangrove lined waterfront and was most enjoyable. This time the bikes couldn't be faulted and we are very pleased with the ground we can cover on them. This opens up an opportunity for us to explore further than we were able to previously.

Enjoying those bikes at last!

Tomorrow we are relinquishing the ties to the shore and are beginning our journey north. I am looking forward to a leisurely trip up the coast to Townsville where we will leave Olivia for the summer.

More beautiful Albany.  Town Marina and Mt Melville in the background. (Our house is on the Mt to the right up past the trees.)

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Back to Noumea  15th - 18th June

South Coast . Walk to Cap Ndoua lighthouse.

We spent a week exploring the Baie De Prony and enjoying this wonderful place. However, the food supplies were becoming uninspiring, so we needed to sail back to Noumea to restock and have a general clean up. There was almost no wind so we motored all the way, but the mountainous scenery slid past slowly on a beautiful sunny day and there wasn't many of those.

After spending our first night back anchored in the Baie de L'Orphelinat we organised to spend four nights in the Port Moselle Marina so that we could re-fuel, fill up the water tanks, do some food shopping and get rid of the mouldering pile of laundry skulking in the back cabin.

Olivia was accommodated on the visitors pontoon along with all the other visiting sailors. Most were Aussies and that night we went with 12 others to a Vietnamese Restaurant where we had our best sociable time since arriving in New Caledonia. The marina is in the centre of Noumea and very close to the fresh food markets, so we spent some time perusing the fruit and veges that were a huge improvement on the quality of produce in the supermarket. Much of the fresh produce in the supermarket I would not feed to my chooks (that is if I had any!)

We were beginning to consider a trip back to Aus and contacted Bob in NZ, but he advised that it would be at least a week until the weather was suitable. That worked out well as we wanted to do a trip to the north of Noumea and out to some of the sand cays in the lagoon.

North of Noumea  19th - 23rd June

Enjoying Baie Maa

In the distance, north of Noumea, are some very high, rugged looking mountains and the further we went north the more impressive they became. Our first night was spent in Baie Maa, a picturesque bay surrounded by hilly, cleared farm land complete with beef cattle.

Across the bay we could see several villages dotted along the shore and bays, so the next day we motored across to Tiare, anchored off and took the dinghy to explore the canal development there. By the time we arrived back at Olivia the wind had piped up so we thought it a good idea to find a more sheltered anchorage in Baie Papaye for the night. Several other boats had the same idea.

Liz and friends at Timbia. More of those community dogs.

On Friday the weather was calm and sunny so we motored further north to Ile Moro where we anchored for lunch and dinghied ashore to explore the reef and some interesting weathered limestone outcrops along the shore. This island seemed a little too exposed for a night anchorage so we decided to motor across the bay to Timbia, a settlement along the south side of the same bay. Watch out for the  coral bombies here. The water is silty and it is hard to see where they are. We anchored twice as one of the locals informed us we were probably a little too close to a bombie for comfort.

Ile Moro

Having sailed up the coast via the mainland we thought it would be a good idea to visit some of the coral cays in the lagoon on the way back to Noumea. We picked Ilot Ronde for lunch and Ilot Signal  the next day. Ilot Ronde was typical of everyone's idea of a coral sand cay - beautiful white sand beach, crystal clear water and stunning coral. Ilot Signal was similar, but was covered in prickles like you would not believe - Gallon's Curse and Caltrop. It was a bit disappointing. While we were at Ilot Signal Met Bob contacted us to inform us that there was a weather window opening for passage back to Aus, so we motored back to Noumea for an early start for checking out and a quick shop for some more fresh food before a lunchtime start on Monday.

A bunch of flowers for Liz

Checking Out 24th June

The day dawned dull and showery, no wind! Checking out is quite a process which includes a 5-6km walk to three different offices, those being Immigration, Customs and the Port Authority. They must be visited in this order. Most of the time we walked in the rain, not heavy, but enough to wet you through. Once all the documents had been stamped and handed over we made a quick trip to Johnston's Supermarket to get a few last minute stores. Lastly we stowed the dinghy on board, deflated and packed in her bag and tied down to the cockpit table. We were ready to go and it was still drizzling. A quick check informed us that the weather was OK for our trip.
Goodbye Noumea.

Sunrise, Baie De Prony

The Trip Back To Australia  24th - 30th June

I will never do that again!!

We motored out of Baie De L'Ophelinat in the drizzling rain towards the Passe Dumbea. We continued to motor all afternoon and into the evening. During the night the wind blew up and soon became quite strong. By the morning the wind had really picked up and we had to put a third reef in the main sail and from then on until day 5 we sailed with the three reefs in the main and no other sail and with this configuration she maintained 5-6kts. From day 2-4 inclusive we had very strong winds which Peter estimated at 25kts at best and up to 35 - 40kts in strong gusts. The only saving  grace here was that it was from behind the beam. By day 5 the wind had abated to 25kts, which was a huge relief and on the last day with Australia in sight the wind gradually died and for the last few hours we motored.

Day two. Things are starting to get lumpy!

This was not the storm conditions you read about in various sailing tales, but it was horrible. Firstly, I think I gave Peter and I food poisoning with some meat stew (I don't really know what it was - hard to tell by the packaging!!) that I had cooked two days before and we ate on the first night. I didn't particularly like the look of the meat but thought that cooking it well with heaps of veges would be OK. Both of us spent day 2-4 intermittently throwing up over the side. We could not eat anything. Even the tiniest bit of food provoked another bout of vomiting. Peter has not been seasick for over 20 years and I have occasionally felt queasy, but never actually sick for much the same time. I think it was the meat.

It was relentless! The wind!! Day three dawned squally and raining with big swells and water continually dumping in the cockpit. The tops were being blown off the waves and whitecaps. We put  the lee boards in the companionway and poked our head out every 20mins to keep watch. We made sure we had the ship alarm on the chart plotter activated and no-one would be coming from Australia in this, so that left fishing boats. Peter used the radar seriously for the first time and it was useful in these conditions. Visibility was poor, but it appeared no-one was out there with us. The only ships we saw were on the last day just off the Queensland coast.

When we felt able to eat again it was a matter of just grabbing anything from the cupboard that came to hand, usually biscuits and cheese. There was no way it was safe to prepare food. We had no hot drinks for most of the trip - too dangerous to boil water. Even drinking water had to be done from a bottle, or wear it. At one stage, when we were able to eat again we decided a cup of soup would go down well. Peter opted to make it and opened the overhead cupboard to get out the sachets. The sugar container had dislodged itself from it's spot and as he opened the door it fell out, hit the floor and deposited all of it's one kilo of sugar all over the galley floor. Try cleaning that up in those conditions!!!!

Olivia is a great little sea boat and we had no breakages. She sails so well on just a reefed main or a headsail alone. Her counter stern enables her to flip her bum up over those nasty following waves that are determined to poop her. Waves constantly whacked into her side making a sickening jolt and pouring a waterfall into the cockpit. For three days we sat, propped in the cabin or lying down. You can't do anything and I had too much time to think about things that might go wrong. Have I mentioned - I will never do that again!!

We opted not to go further on to Vanuatu, although Peter would have liked to, because I chickened out after our trip over. I did not want to get even further away from Aus when it was only Peter and I to bring Olivia home. Having Audrey with us on the way over made things very much easier. Having to front up for a watch every three hours in those conditions was hard.

Just to finish off our trip to Southport, we arrived at 1am and as we approached the Gold Coast Seaway entrance we noticed another boat entering just in front of us. It turned out to be Moor R & R. Lucas tells us in his anchorage guide that the Seaway readily breaks with the tide ebbing into a developed swell. We thought our arrival was timed quite well for slack low tide. Just as we steamed over the shallow part at the entrance a breaker picked us up and helped us in. Hairy to say the least!! We anchored in Bums Bay at 1.30am and fell into bed for a well earned, still, peaceful sleep.

Endless wilderness New Caledonia South

Re-Entry  1st June

Sunday. Not a good day to ask officials to check us in. We waited in Bums Bay with the yellow Q flag hoisted and at 8am Peter rang Border Force to alert them to the fact that we had arrived. We had expected it to be Monday, but strong wind has the advantage of providing a quick trip. We were advised to make our way to Southport Marina when we had organised a berth on the Super Yacht pontoon which is also used for vessels in quarantine. Border Force turned up as we docked and proceeded to ask lots of questions and fill in all the relevant forms. No charge there! They then arranged for the Bio Security mob to come and do their bit. We were told it 'might not be today'.

Meanwhile we were unable to go ashore until Bio Security had done their thing. Luckily they dredged up an official who was able to come on a Sunday and he came and asked a lot more questions and inspected the boat. He took some food, but not much. We had in fact not stocked up too much in Noumea as we knew the drill here. He took a few eggs, vegetables and the rubbish. In all half a rubbish bag full. That cost $150 charged by the marina to dispose of it correctly. He took some photos and told us we were cleared to go, but that we would need an inspection as Olivia has a lot of internal wood fittings.

It was arranged that the boat would be inspected at Manly asap. That man duly arrived two days later and there was more questions and form filling. Then he inspected the boat, took photos and presented us with a bill of $230. We had only been to one country and were away for 8 weeks, so the whole process was not too onerous. Beware those who come from Asia, America, Africa etc, maybe over $1000 and a long wait while red tape, unlimited form filling, inspections etc which require approvals from more than one authority are processed. He was very chatty.

Olivia has been passed.

In Conclusion

I'm glad we went to New Caledonia. It was on the 'To Do' list and it was certainly an adventure. I loved Baie De Prony, the sand cays and exploring Noumea. The scenery is stunning. We found everyone helpful, especially the marina staff at Port Moselle, but, I will never do that again!

Tipplers on the way to Moreton Bay. Bliss!

We are now berthed at Manly in the Moreton Bay Trailer Boat Club for a month. Both Peter and I are going back to WA for a months holiday. We will be back here on 29th July to ready ourselves for the trip up the Queensland coast to Townsville where we'll probably keep Olivia for the summer.

Moreton Bay Trailer Boat Club Marina

Sunday, 30 June 2019

New Caledonia, Ile des Pins and Baie De Prony

Noumea to Ile des Pins   27th May – 5th June

Welcome To Ile Des Pins, Kuto Baie Anchorage
We have explored the centre of Noumea very well, along with the resort areas in the Baie des Citrons, Anse Vata and Ilot Maitre. We again visited the Ilot Maitre, but this time we took Olivia and surrendered our convenient spot in the Baie de l’Orphelinat to one of the many other yachts that are visiting at the moment. So far, the day at Ilot Maitre, has been one of the only sunny days we have had here. The weather has been overcast, light winds and occasional rain showers – not what we envisaged when we planned our trip to the South Pacific.

We had an interesting pizza dinner out in a Mediterranean Restaurant near Audrey’s hotel. (The waiter was lovely and we met up with some friends from a couple of years ago. Ric and Val might remember Leonie and Paul from the Moody, Spirit Chaser, which they anchored very close to in Cooktown, and Barefoot Bowls!) We farewelled Audrey early on Wednesday morning and made our way back to Olivia for a quiet motoring day down the coast to the Baie de Prony. This bay is on the southern tip of New Caledonia and is a huge waterway made up of many small bays and a couple of islands. There are plenty of anchorages and two are known as cyclone bolt holes, so protection can be found for any winds there. We spent the night in a tiny bay in Bonne Anse Rade de L’est, with another motor boat. The night was quiet and still and as the bay was close to our course for Ile des Pins (Isle of Pines) it was convenient for an early start.
Convict Ruins, Kuto Baie

Ile des Pins

As we approached Kuto Baie we could see a huge cruise ship anchored off for a day stop over at the Ile des Pins. It was massive, like a block of flats in the ocean. Several small motor boats were ferrying passengers to and from the ship and the markets and other attractions in the bay. We anchored opposite the hotel/resort along with about fifteen other yachts. The beach looked beautiful, white sand with a line of gentle surf breaking on the shore, coconut palms lining the beach and the resort perched at the water’s edge. After we had Olivia settled we took Lily ashore and pulled her up the beach after dodging the line of breakers that were just negotiable with the dinghy. There were lots of tourists from the cruise ship and we explored the immediate area.

There is another bay, Baie de Kanumera which is just across a low section of the beach on the opposite side of the point. This bay is very picturesque as it has two sections that are separated by a huge limestone rock in the centre. At low tide you can easily walk to the rock, however a sign nearby asks that you do not climb the rock as it is culturally important to the natives of this area. It is guarded by two totem poles.
Just Looking

guardians Of The Rock
This part of the island is dotted with the ruins of a penal colony that was set up here by the French in the mid 1800s. It reminds me a little of Rottnest, although it was obviously much larger. The ruins are spread out through the bush and some are several kms away.

We have discovered two general stores up the road from Kuto Bay. The nearest one is quite well stocked and has fresh baguettes every day, which we purchase for our lunch. The second one is further along the road and is much more a local affair. We brought some apples, oranges and milk there. We like the baguettes at the first store best.

Yellow Dog
Up we go!
On Sunday we decided to walk up the highest mountain on the island which is not far from Kuto Bay. At 262m we thought it would be a good Sunday exercise. As we walked past the resort a yellow coloured kelpie type dog joined us. There are many dogs here that appear to belong to nobody, although they are healthy and well cared for by somebody. Anyway this dog attached itself to us and would not be put off. He walked with us to the top of the mount even though we tried to palm him off to anyone who we met. Yellow dog accompanied us to the top and we shared our morning tea with him, even some water. He sat like a sphinx on command and ate his biscuit delicately. Someone has taught him manners. Once morning tea was over he heard another party of climbers coming up and decided that nothing more would be forthcoming from us and he disloyally went to join them. We haven’t seen him again. He was a beautiful dog – coming from me that is big praise

The Climb

The view from the top was stunning and for once the sun nearly appeared. It is the only time we have seen a hint of sun during our week here.

Liz and Yellow Dog make it to the top
Liz Gets Dumped!

Monday was overcast – again! We decided to walk around the headland between Kuto Bay and Kanumera Bay. It is a pretty walk through the pine trees and pandanas palms and gives a great view of the reef in Kanumera Bay. Arriving back at the dinghy we realised that the tide had gone out and Lily was now anchored in the breakers rolling in along the beach. It is hard to find a spot to leave the dinghy when going ashore as even in the calmest corner there is a decent surf breaking on the beach. At this stage we weren’t game to leave Lily tied behind the floating jetty as we didn’t know when next the cruise ship would arrive or even if it was acceptable to do so.

Lily was by now half full of water so Peter had me holding her while he bailed some of it out. All of a sudden some bigger waves began breaking on us and the naughty dinghy flipped up, broached and completely flattened me. So much for my clean shorts! Both shorts and I were totally full of sand. It was even in my ears. The moral of that story is that ‘stuff what anyone says we are now tying the dinghy behind the floating pontoon’!

Folding Bikes
Nice bike riding, Not many cars!
Yesterday was raining most of the day so we stayed on board reading. The highlight was watching a huge ferry dock at the old jetty. It has arrived here twice this week bringing tourists for the resorts.

Following our day on board we decided to take the folding bikes ashore, assemble them on the floating dock and ride to the capital, Vao. There is little traffic on the roads and the day was cool and clear. We had only gone a couple of kms when I noticed my bike had a funny swaying motion. Peter discovered that the pin in the main hinge had dropped out. #$!!*! He rode back to the jetty to see if it was in the bike bags and I walked back along the road pushing my bike looking for the pin. Luckily Peter found the pin on the jetty, but the circlip that held it in place had gone. While I sat on the beach Peter rode to the fuel station, a bike rental place and eventually Vao, to try to get a circlip to fit, but no luck. Sooo! Peter got to see Vao and I did not!! So much for new bikes! Apparently there is not much at Vao but a few houses, a huge church and general store.

Finally on Friday 7th we gave up on the weather and sailed in a gentle SE breeze back to the Baie de Prony. The weather had been disappointing but the L’Ile Des Pins is a lovely place to visit. We enjoyed our seven days there.

More of the Rock in Kanumera Baie

Baie De Prony  7th – 14th June
On the way to Baie de Prony
We had a pleasant sail back north to the Baie De Prony and anchored in Bonne Anse Rade De L’est, the south eastern most bay. There are six small bays to anchor in in this natural harbour. We chose anchorage C and spent two nights in peaceful, calm conditions apart from the anchor chain rumbling over the coral bottom as the tide swung Olivia around in the night. I learned to ignore it.

There are many walking tracks around the whole bay and the scenery is stunning - mountains and wilderness as far as the eye can see. The landscape is slashed by huge, orange eroded patches, some natural (we think) and some the results of made roads and mining.  On the first day we found a track leading to the lighthouse at Cape Ndoua. The view from here over the southern lagoon was superb. The red/orange soil here sticks to your shoes, feet and any other clothing or body part that touches it. We thought pindan pink in Derby WA was bad when we lived there – this earth stains everything it touches so care needs to be taken to wash feet before climbing back on board.
Walking The Wilderness. You can just see Olivia in the bay. All by ourselves.
Following this we motored over to the Rade du Nord and anchored in the eastern bay so we could look for the convict ruins. The forest is so thick that any ruins have long been overgrown, but we did find a delightful little spring near the beach that had been walled and the water was crystal clear and tasted very fresh. We left this bay after lunch and motored to Ilot Casy where we spent two nights on a mooring on the northern side. The mooring was close to the beach, but tucked in out of the SE wind.

Ilot Casy once had a small resort on it, but that has now gone. There is still a functional jetty and pretty camp area under the trees. A ferry runs from Noumea and drops campers off periodically. The walks around and over the island are numerous and interesting.
Ilot Casey

Cycad Forest, Ilot Casy

New Caledonia has very few wild animals except pigs and deer. There are no snakes - only sea snakes, a few lizards and some birds, but we heard very little bird song in the anchorages. None of those squawking parrots that we have, except a few in a tree in Noumea. The plant life is more interesting and it is quite different to Aus. The only plant we have seen that is similar to Aus is a wattle. There is a Grevillia type flower that has leaves like a Bay Tree. There are lots of Cordyline type plants and other large leaved plants that I do not know. The hills are covered in sparse bush and some of the valleys and lower lying areas are covered in thick rain forest. We came across a Pitcher Plant on the walk on Ilot Casy and in the Baie Du Carenage which was very exciting. Ilot Casy had the most amazing Cycad forest. My Cycad at home is still a baby!
Autographs Ilot Casy. We didn't do it!
Our last three nights in Baie De Prony were spent in Baie Du Carenage East Anchorage. Our first night we were alone and everyone else anchored in the West Anchorage. We wondered what was wrong with our patch, but there was nothing and on the following two nights six boats anchored with us. It is such a beautiful, wild place. At the end of our bay is a wide waterfall and near this is a hot spring that has been planked in and is decked around. However, the deck planks are rotting and care is needed so that you don’t go through them. The spring is warm and you can see it bubbling in through a hole in the rocks. We sat in the spring enjoying the warm water and our first bath for a while. The spring is just a short walk up from a jetty near the waterfall.

Anyone for a warm bath?

There are walking tracks everywhere here and we climbed some steep hills, found waterfalls, springs and ruins of old mines. There is no shortage of beautiful clean water which runs in creeks all over the hills. It would be interesting to know if this happens all year round. This is supposed to be the dry season so maybe it does.

On our last night in Baie De Prony we invited some Melbournites on board for drinks. Fred made us coffee in the morning as we’d complained about the lack of coffee shops here. He came over with a natty little coffee maker, something like a pressure cooker, and made us a cup each. Thanks Fred! Best coffee in the Baie! Anyway we enjoyed the company of Fred and his crew for nibbles, drinks and storytelling that evening.
A majestic landscape. The bare maountains of south New Caledonia

We are now back in Noumea in Port Moselle Marina for a stock up, clean up and a bit of R&R.
Pitcher Plants Baie du Prony