Friday, 22 June 2012

Who shall dare the bosun's chair?

17 metres up replacing protective covers on the spar ends.
It's not the most sought after job on Sea Piper but this morning provided perfect conditions for being winched up the mast in the bosun's chair in order to replace the protective caps on the spar ends.
I'd like to say we tossed for who would go up the mast and who would work the winch - but I'd be lying.
Royden's made the new ends from a soft leather so hopefully they will last better than the previous `fabric tape' ones which deteriorated badly over the past two years.
Down at the next level - and still smiling.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Conquering Earl

From the top of Earl Hill looking south towards Yorkeys Knob, Trinity Park and Bluewater marina

We viewed our floating holiday home Sea Piper from a great height yesterday after climbing the almost vertical track up Earl Hill. It was a spectacular view and worth the effort.

It must be the Cairns' equivalent of Castle Hill when it comes to a popular venue for a fitness workout, judging from the number of people going up and down in the middle of the day on a Wednesday. However the difference lies in the standard of the track. Castle Hill is accessed via a made road while Earl Hill boasts a goat track of rocks and tree roots - and it goes almost straight up.
Today we decided to take it a bit easier and caught the bus to Kuranda (after baulking at the $74 for the train trip which we last went on 12 years ago). It was $6 on the bus!
It's such a pretty place surrounded by thick rainforest and we were happy to be there relatively early (9.30am-ish) to wander around before the crowds (which never really arrived - maybe because it's mid-week or maybe the generally quiet tourism throughout Queensland).
Of course, morning tea was the first thing on our agenda and we couldn't resist sharing a wholesome (?) pancake with our coffee at the quirky and very colourful original markets before wandering down to the railway station for a walk around the beautifully kept gardens.
Sugary sustenance.
Kuranda station

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A stitch in time ...

After farewelling Andy and Donna to Darwin and the V8s, we caught up with ex-Rochy-ites Wendy and Onn in Trinity Beach.
They not only welcomed us with a delicious lunch at their beachfront house but also gave us an extensive tour by foot and by car of all the local beaches from Trinity to Kewarra to Clifton and on to Palm Cove. It was a great day and their hospitality was much appreciated. We were also very impressed with Onn's fishing photos and the fact that he has only to walk out his front gate to catch barramundi!
The wind has lifted several knots off, and north of, Cairns so we've decided to stay in the marina and have some repairs done to the sailbag which started to come apart on the way up. With the constant exposure to the tropical sun it is hardly suprising that the top stitiching holding the zip in place is disintegrating.
Getting the bag off the boom was another learning curve, requiring the removal of the lazy jacks (fibreglass rods threaded through the sailbag to which light ropes are attached to act as a guide for the mainsail to drop into the bag) then the edging forward of the sailbag's runners which slot into `tram tracks' along the boom. And of course the wind kept gusting at crucial moments requiring gripping the sail in a bear hug to prevent it spilling across the deck - and beyond as the protection of the saibag was removed.
A very naked looking mainsail, trussed like a chicken.
In the interests of having a smooth reinstallation of the sailbag, we took photos of every rope attachment and fitting. This worked a treat when we did the trampolines - and we wished we'd done it the first time we took the headsail off then tried to put it back on a few months later!
We borrowed the marina's courtesy car this afternoon (best marina idea ever) and dropped the sailbag to the sailmaker for a re-stitch of all the stitching which should alleviate the need for us to take it off again in the near future.
Chilling out at Yorkey's. The lunch crowd had left and the dinner crowd was yet to arrive. But the band played on.
Our pushbikes have come out again and a bike trip around to Yorkey's Knob marina and boat club was our first port of call. What a popular spot as well as a beautiful outlook. The music was pretty good too!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Oyiv Yoaf

Olive sourdough loaf - baked on board and eaten while it was still warm. Mmmmm!

Sunset and a picnic tea on the beach at Turtle Bay

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

What a life!

Just a few snaps from Turtle Bay

We found a `George' (of the jungle) rope. The landing wasn't pretty!

Turtle Bay

Coming into Turtle Bay
We thought Fitzroy Island was beautiful but we have just landed in Turtle Bay and it is even more spectacular - as well as secluded and sheltered.
Thought I'd update the blog while we do our customary anchor check hour. then it's off to shore in the dinghy for an exploration of the long stretches of sand, rocky outcrops and hidden waterfalls (maybe).
Yesterday we walked the tracks of Fitzroy Island.
The walk to the lighthouse, mainly through rainforest, and then onto the summit of the island were pretty steep - reminiscent of that last kilometre to the Wilsons Prom lighthouse, but the views were breathtaking.
Not so the lighthouse itself. It looked like something designed in the 70s - fully white-tiled all the way up and with a strange looking arrangement at the bottom that contained information about the place - however the door was locked.
Fitzroy Island lighthouse

A hard slog - but worth the effort
Unfortunately my camera ran out of battery as I reached the summit so - no photos to prove we made it. Maybe next time ...
We also walked through the Secret Garden (Wow!) and to Nudeys Beach and beyond. There were no nudies and our presence didn't alter that situation.
On the way to the summit.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Calm seas - Fitzroy Island here we come

Heading off to Fitzroy Island with enough breeze for the Code Zero
We arrived at beautiful Fitzroy Island after an early morning start from Trinity Inlet in Cairns this morning.
It's a picture perfect setting. Crystal clear blue, blue water, palm trees on the beach and a resort and bar tucked away discreetly amongst the trees.
We ventured out from the Moon River with Andy and Donna last Thursday, intending to go to Fitzroy Is but the swell was so uncomfortable we decided to anchor in Trinity until the weather improved.
Donna and I figured that Myer Cairns stocktake sale was of more interest than the ocean in its cranky mood, so into town we went on Friday, investigating the specials as well as having a look at Cairns itself. The city was impressive. Clean, lots of people, lots of variety in the shops and a fabulous fresh food market.
While we were in the inlet, Donna added to our supplies with some fresh fish and is presently out the back of the boat catching some rosy jobfish.
Fish for tea - again!
There's quite a few boats here, probably because it's a long weekend. We'll stay for a couple of days and probably tackle the walk to the lighthouse and maybe the summit of the island tomorrow with the end reward of a meal at the beach restaurant.
In the meantime we'll just chill out and wait for Donna to catch dinner!
Chillin' after a swim.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Rain, pain, driving insane - then sunshine again

It took 11 days but we finally made it to Cairns and Sea Piper is anchored in Trinity Inlet. Tomorrow we'll head up to Yorkey's Knob and the Moon River (just like the song).
Things to do with bottoms having been a recurring feature of the past week.
In the blog before last where we had arrrived in Innisfail, we were having toilet problems - again. Rather than buy another $100 worth of parts, we ordered a new toilet which includes the pump, macerator and all the other intricate pieces that make a marine toilet work. However we could not have this fine machine until we hit Cairns.
I won't go into details about the machinations in making a less-than-functional toilet do its job but let's just say it introduced a whole lot of new challenges and mechanics.
Back to our stay in Innisfail. We dinghied to land on the Tuesday to wander the town and pick up some filters and odds and ends.
It's a lovely town with a number of well-kept art deco buildings along the hills of the riverfront. People were very friendly (I think the small day packs are a giveaway that you're a tourist) but I was amazed that the town had four chemists (that's just my count from one street corner). Either the place is thriving or the people are incredibly sick.
Innisfail - out there somewhere
Thank goodness we went to town when we did because for the next four days and nights it poured, and poured, and poured. It is next door to Tully, the wettest place in Australia. The cloud mass reminded me of a great big bottom that hovered overhead then settled itself into a nice soft cushion, from where it was reluctant to move.
Apart from the Wednesday (when it blew like crazy and twirled us around on anchor like a cork on a string), Thursday, Friday and Saturday were just solid rain. For us, no sun plus no wind equals no power. We would run the motors for a while twice a day to keep the fridges going and to check to weather over the Net but we had to be miserly with everything else. No internet, no TV (well, just a little bit), minimal lighting.
Thank God for knitting and ukelele!
Royden, of course, found things to fix but we were both feeling a little stir crazy by Saturday. We donned coats and dinghied over to get the weekend papers.
A welcome break
Finally on Saturday evening there was a break in the clouds and the setting sun's pink rays shone through.
Throughout these days, the volume of water coming down the Johnson River increased dramatically and brought with it logs and debris. Every few hours we would go out the front of the boat with boat hooks and dislodged these from the anchor bridle ropes and anchor chain, with the knowledge that when the tide changed they would all come back again.

With an early high tide and a perfect forecast we lifted anchor at 6.30am Sunday and made our way out over the bar, heading for Cairns. The sky was clear, the sea was smooth - and there wasn't a breath of wind. So we motored the whole way, stopping for morning tea at Russell Island and lunch at Mission Bay. The breeze was just getting up as we entered Trinity Inlet at Cairns. How perverse this weather!
It's quite lovely here. There are hundreds of boats anchored or moored along the inlet and creeks.
This morning we went to collect our new toilet, leaving the dinghy (floating in deep water, we thought, and anchored back and front) off the public boat ramp and walking to Whitworths. We caught a taxi back but unfortunately the tide had beaten us and our dinghy was high and dry. An attempt to push it off the mud ended in a mud bath so there we were in the middle of the industrial estate, destined to wait about six hours for enough water to float our boat - and only the one toilet to sit on between us! Oh how I wish I'd taken my camera.
Help came in the form of a fisherman arriving at the boat ramp. Royden threw him a rope, he backed his boat up and, Bingo, our dinghy went sliding off the mudbank into the water. We hastily brought it into the boat ramp, loaded the toilet on (another photo moment missed) as well as ourselves and set off back to Sea Piper, leaving a mark down the mud that the next people at the boat ramp might mistake for a crocodile slide! Oh dear, poor things.
The new toilet is now installed and we now realise how crook the old one was. Past visitors will be happy to hear this news I'm sure. Future visitors won't know any different.