Whale of a time
After weeks of waiting for some Northerly breezes to begin our journey south, the forecast finally delivered some positive news our way. On the afternoon of the 23rd, a light northerly breeze was supposed to blow, increasing through the night and all the following day. It was time to prepare Nandji and see how far down the coast we could make it.
After dropping nearly 3 humpty big ones on food to last us for a month, we headed round to the marina that has a public jetty where you can fill up with as much water you can contain in half hour. It only took us 3 and a half months to discover this jetty mind you. But discover we have, so off we went and loaded Nandji to the brim. Packed to the rafters with supplies, off we set in the afternoon of the 23rd.
Planning to sail through the night for the first time, we were excited and nervous. Nervous because there are islands and reef everywhere. Nervous because we really need to invest in a good wind gauge that tells us from in the cock pit, the speed and direction. Nervous, because it is the first time under sail at night. Then we were excited for all the same reasons. The forecast looked sweet so it was just up to us now to do it.
Leaving Airlie under motor as the wind was yet to show its face, we baked in the afternoon rays on the bow. Deciding to head south between the main land and the Molle group of islands, instead of out in the Whitsunday passage, as we had not ventured this way before. A small problem as the gap between the main land and South Molle island is quite skinny compared to the width of the passage. Since we were motoring directly against the movement of the tide, our speed was around 2 knots. Not exactly moving anywhere fast. Normally under motor we move around 4 to 4.5 knots. Quite a strong current flow if you do the maths.
After a couple of hours we finally made our way around the island and out into the passage as the sun was setting. Hanging up the phone after dribbling copious amounts of nothing to my mate Bird. We finally begun to feel a slight breeze on our face and pulled out the headsail for a bit of extra oomph. The tide was not due to change directions for another 2 hours, but we turned off the motor and begun our sail south. The sun disappeared and we waited for the moon to rise. One thing I didn’t think to check was what time the moon was rising. Silly me just thought, the sun goes down then the moon comes up. This is true to some extent, however this evening there was 6 hours of pitch black before the moon appeared on the horizon.
As the wind dropped out and the annoying noise of a sail flapping become to much to bear, we furled up the sail into silence. The tide had since changed direction and in the pitch black of the night, we sat in the middle of the passage slowly drifting south. I didn’t want to motor south all night, as this defeats the purpose of having a sailing vessel. Since it was pitch black I didn’t want to try and anchor somewhere down south at a new location where I had never been before. To many reefs and not enough faith in our navigation equipment, there was no way I wanted to go near land in the pitch black. We have a couple of torches, but none powerful enough to turn the night into day, therefore it was decided that we will just drift in the darkness. I knew of a mooring near Hamilton island where we had previously had a day time stop off, this would be our safe haven to reach and wait the night out. However the mooring is in a skinny channel with a strong current flowing between a little island and a shoal just off the foreshore. Therefore I was not attempting this until Mr moon was high and shining some light on the situation. So for now, there was nothing else to do but enjoy the serenity of darkness and silence of the night.
Laying back relaxing in the cockpit, we were startled by the amazing sound of water exhaling from the blow hole on their giant backs. A couple of migrating whales had decided to swim close by. In the darkness of the night we could not see a thing, let alone a few whales, but their distinct “pffft” of them breathing sounded very close. For the next twenty minutes as we drift 10 nautical miles from the nearest land, we sat in silence listening to these curious creatures. They sounded so close that I was worried we might bump into one. It was a magical moment.
Around midnight the moon had peeped high enough over the horizon for us to attempt the mooring pick up. Slowly motoring into the channel, the tide then grabbed a hold and sucked us in. Studying the navigation chart plotter and Bonita armed with the trusty Dolphin torch on the bow, we steadily located the reflection of the mooring. Turning hard to starboard and facing into the current, we slowly came up behind the mooring. Bonita scooped it up in a jiffy and with in a couple of minutes we were safely swaying in the current.
Tucked in to bed to rise early we were greeted with an increasing Northerly in the morning that sent us cruising down the coast.
After being back in town for a couple days, enough was enough and we needed to go out on an adventure again. We have been waiting for packages to arrive so we can plan our journey down south, however relying on others, we decided that we needed to have some fun.
It is race week in Airlie beach and this means there are a lot of boats. Heaps and heaps of the floating money suckers. It is an impressive sight watching them race around in the bay, however a little peace and quite and escape the rat race is the whole reason we bought Nandji. Therefore we wanted to escape. So we headed out in the 20 knot plus wind and made our way across the passage deciding to find a mooring at Butterfly bay for a day or so and let this bad weather pass. We had not been there yet so we thought it would be perfect for a break.
We prefer a mooring in bad weather as I feel that there is no need to worry about anything then. It can be blowing 30 knots outside and you have the comfort knowing that you are safe and the anchor isn’t dragging.
Butterfly bay on the north side of Hook Island is a beautiful protected anchorage amongst a marine park. A lovely stop off to wait out bad weather. But we were not the only ones with this idea. As we made our way through the narrows between Hook and Hayman islands and begun rounding the point, the masts of 12 other vessels appeared. Opening up the trusty “100 magic miles” guide to cruising the Whitsundays, it told us that there is in fact 12 moorings. Nine in the most western bay and three in the next.
As we were slowly motoring in for a closer inspection, a charter catamaran with a group of rowdy people was approaching the same bay from the north. They were making good speed and a much quicker boat under motor. As the winds were blowing 20 plus knots we were not moving quickly into it. We could see that they were racing to get into the bay first as moorings are first in best dressed.
The following bay over we could see 2 boats moored out of a choice of 3 moorings. Knowing that all the moorings were occupied in the first two bays, we thought that was the only one left. However with this catamaran racing us into the first two bays, we had to play this right.
We continued on path to the most western anchorage, where the nine moorings lay. The catamaran followed and caught up next to us. We waved, but didn’t receive the same greeting back. It is common courtesy to wave back, especially on a boat. Every time you pass another vessel the occupants on both sides are checking out each other’s rigs and you wave. It is not hard to lift your hand in the air and shake it around. Instead when our hands were flapping around above our heads we were greeted with stares and cold shoulders. This is game on we said to each other.
The catamaran over took us and even cut into our line, forcing us to slow down even more or change course. We slowed and let them power off ahead. Once they were roughly 100m in front of us and were close enough to nearly realise there was no more room, we turned sharply and hoisted the head sail, aiming at the third bay with hopefully the remaining mooring.
With the 20 knot breeze now on the beam, full head sail flying, we took off like a drag car out of the gates. So long suckers! Catch us now!!
The short 500m sail was over before you could realize what had just happened and we pulled down the head sail. Sure enough, the one remaining mooring was vacant and waiting for us.
Five minutes later our friends motored into the bay next to us with nothing to find. We waved again, instead this was not a hello wave, it was good bye.
Lucky they say… We have been told by many people how lucky and fortunate we are to be living the way we are. Being able to afford to buy a yacht and sail off into the sunset, so to speak. However, as I sit here typing after just packing my bag to go away for work this week, I am reminded how it is we got to be here.
Money is one word for it, but a quote I seen on a facebook meme of all places, sums it up better I think.
“Possessions we own have not been bought by money, more by sacrificing pieces of time from our life”
This is a very true statement for us. We managed to afford to buy a boat instead of a house. We spent our life savings on Nandji instead of putting ourselves hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt. Personally I worked twelve hour days, 13 days on, 1 day off for 6 months. Only to then begin a roster of 4 weeks on, 1 week off. I did this for over 18 months. Mean while, Bonita was taking care of me, feeding me and washing my clothes whilst also working 40 hours a week in a blue collar accounts job. So the path to living the way we are has been well deserved. We decided there has to be a better way of living, this was no way to live life.
It is Bonita’s birthday today and it is only by luck that we can share this day together. I have been away all last week for work and leave again tomorrow. This is a healthy reminder to us of how hard we worked to buy Nandji.
Rather then sacrificing more time to own some bricks, we chose not to be in debt to the man. We chose life and living over bricks and mortar. Everyone has the option to do what they want with the pieces of time they have sacrificed. Some take different paths than others. We chose sailing.
So when people say we are lucky to be living on a boat, it makes us smile. They don’t know what we have done to get to this stage in our life. We smile and accept the compliment because in a way we are lucky. We are lucky to do what we want and go to where we please… Even though I am off filling the bank account again for future voyages, I can smile in knowing what we have achieved so far and the path we are heading down.
With our goals in mind and our passion to reach the life style we want, hopefully soon there will be no more working away. That is the ultimate goal. To do what we love, have fun and keep our selves floating.
Anything is possible if you are passionate and dedicated to the cause.
Love to live, live to froth.
Its a wash out...
The challenges of living on Nandji can get rather annoying at times. Don’t get me wrong by that statement. I love living on Nandji and the life style we have chosen, but the downside to living on a boat is that the housework basically doubles. For someone who hates washing the clothes, you could see how this might affect me. We spend I reckon an extra 50% more time doing simple household chores then we did before.
Today was a day where we decided to spend the morning, preparing the house to start the week a fresh. A morning I thought… It is now 7:30pm and we have finally hung up the last load of clothes washing. Now I think that is a little outrageous. Normally for example, (I speak for myself here) if your at home in your house, you pick up the small mountain of dirty clothes you have thrown into the laundry during week. A quick 5 minute sort and a load is in the machine while you disappear to do nothing… That is roughly how it went. These days on Nandji, washing the clothes is a little different. If you have read earlier blogs about the washing, then you would know that Bonita normally hand washes the clothes. However, not doing such task for a week, things pile up quickly. So the decision of using the washing machines was the answer.
We had been building that pile of dirty clothes for a while now and putting off the mammoth task that lied ahead to clean the pricks. But today was the day and determination was at an all time standard level of not keen. However unless Airlie beach was happy to see our bare butts walking around town, it was time to clean. The wash basket was jammed full and some how zipped closed ready for the journey. The journey involves…
Getting the clothes basket up the stairs to the cockpit, over the chairs and dragged to the stern. Place the basket on the edge of Nandji and jump into the tender. Start the tender motor and click it into gear so the tender is ramming Nandji. This helps to keep the tender still and close to Nandji, hopefully making life easier. You then stretch out and drag the 20kg jammed pack cloths basket into the tender and hope it lands in the boat and you stay there to. After successfully completing this, it’s a short 5 minute fang to the yacht club. Park and tie up the tender. If the tide is high, this task is simple as the water is deep enough to access the entire length of the floating pontoon jetty. If the tide is low, it becomes a game of pushing along the mud bottom with an oar and then barging and climbing over all the other tenders that are gathered at the end of the jetty. So high tide is best. Once moored, out comes that basket of filth and slammed onto the floating jetty. You scramble out of the tender, say hello to the other yachty that is standing there watching all this unfold, pick up the basket of stink and carry it towards the lonely washing machine and drier. This is a 60m struggle across the front lawn of the club, in clear view of all the patrons on the balcony enjoying the free entertainment. The washing machine is hopefully vacant and you are ready to rumble.
So what takes five minutes in a house, is a good half hour on Nandji and that is only the beginning of this story. As you can now predict, those clothes once washed need to be dried. Unless you stand around at the yacht club for the hour it takes to wash, a guesstamit, (prediction by guessing) of time passed is the answer. You cruise back to the yacht club in the tender to remove the wet and hopefully clean clothes and place them in the drier, then put another load on. Cruise back to Nandji again to go do some other house chore that Bonita has waiting for me. Another guess of completion time and back you go again in the tender.
The journey to collect is always an interesting one. Are the clothes dry from that drier or wet. Of course they are wet. As the machine costs 3 big ones for a certain amount of time that is never long enough, you pile the half wet clothes in one garbage bag and the wet ones in another. Drag them across that lawn, down the floating pontoon, into the tender, across the ocean, up Nandji stern, over the seats and down the stairs. Succesfully negotiating it is now time to hang these pricks all around the house.
It is like a kids cubby house in here!! Anyway, that was part of my Sunday. Hope you were more successful in completing your tasks. By the way, I hate doing the dishes to. At least they can be done on the boat...
Check out our BLOG on www.sailuniverse.com
Gain access to the treasure chest by becoming a Patron!