For most humans, Friday is a good day. It means the last day of the working week. It is, the last day of slavery before your two days of freedom. The end of another gruelling slog, dealing with crew you would not normally associate with unless forced to by work. When five o’clock comes around, its tools down and good riddance until Monday… However, we are not your average human…
I did not realise it was Friday today, until it was pointed out to me. Today was just another day with light breezes from the South East, expecting to turn to swing to directly East in the evening. Which basically means, lets go adventure and relish this anchorage.
We set off bright and early, in hunt for the morning fish. It was bright, but I guess not that early since it always takes a bit to get Bonita’s gears engaged. Once she had indulged in her morning coffee, the tender was packed and off we went in search of some fish. We had anchored close to the entrance of the lagoon, so the tender ride was only a short distance to the outside of the reef. The strong breeze from yesterday afternoon had disappeared and only a calm smooth ocean remained. The water was so clear where we were anchored, you could follow the anchor chain along the bottom, off into the abyss. Marley was given a bone and off we went in search for lunch.
The open water outside of the lagoon was just as clear as in the lagoon. The walls of the reef dropped away from only a metre or two below the surface, to the sandy reef bottom 15m down. An amazing spectacle in itself, but I was not here to look at the flowers, so to say. It was spearing time. When the hunt is on, there is nothing else whistling around between my ears but “Come here fishy”….
Still getting used to my new speargun and the way it fires, it was not the most successful spearing attempt I have to say. Shooting two fish; a decent Red throat Emperor and a good ole Coral trout. However, both shots not being good holding shots and both fish wriggling free of the spear. No doubt inside some sharks belly by now. After a few words that only sailor’s use came out of my mouth, we took the time to enjoy the underwater scenery and the breath taking spectacle that is the Great Barrier Reef.
Returning to Nandji for some lunch of left over dinner, it was time to relax and enjoy what was turning out to be a spectacular day, weather wise. On our journey back to the mother ship, Nandji. We crossed paths with a young family we had met the previous day. Having a bit of a chin wag and discussing the days events, they invited us to go Scuba diving in the afternoon. They had all the gear on board their boat and offered to take us along for the ride. This seemed a little to good to be true, so of course we graciously accepted their offer.
Both Bonita and I have our open water dive certifications, however have not put them to use for quite some time. Roughly three years ago in Fiji, was the last time we used them. As you can imagine, we were pretty excited to test out our skills once again. We loaded up our tender ‘la diva’ with our gear and followed the family of four in their tender. Heading out of the lagoon and adventuring around the outside of the reef. Arriving to our destination, we tied ‘la diva’ to the families boat, squeezed into our wetsuits and prepared ourselves for our underwater exploration.
We swam into the current along the outer walls of the reef system and then drifting back with the current. We love free diving and spearfishing, but being able to stay down at that depth for a long period of time is truly something else. Your eyes see so much more when you are slowly cruising along looking at the reef. Usually if I am spearfishing, I don’t notice the reef, I only have eyes for fish. Being on scuba we were able to inspect all the little guys and notice so much more. The reef really is quite amazing.
Once on the surface again, we floated around telling our stories to each other for a while. Then heading back to the island to watch the sunset. Lady Musgrave is only a very small island and takes roughly twenty to thirty minutes to walk around. We found a place on the lee side, protected from the gentle breeze and tucked into a few cheeky ales as we watched the sun disappear on the horizon.
Not a bad day one could say. With the winds looking favourable to leave on Saturday, we have decided to leave Sunday instead so we can spend another day in this paradise. Hopefully this choice doesn’t turn around and bite us in the bum, but only time will tell. If it does, it was a good decision because honestly, I don’t want to leave!!
When we first arrived into the town of 1770, it was a milestone reached for us. Crossing the bar entrance and anchoring in Round hill creek, we felt very satisfied in what we had accomplished. The winds were consistently blowing from the north, perfect for us to continue our trip south. But we had decided that we wanted to spend some time in 1770 and have the option of visiting the outer reef. We did not want to continue past this area with out checking out Fitzroy Reef and the coral cays to the south.
I introduced myself to the people building the new marina here and the very next day started work. So it looked like we were staying put for a little bit. Going to work each day in the tender and working on the water, it looked like 1770 was providing the goods. Each day Bonita would drop me off at the barge and pick me up again in the afternoon. The sun was shining and the wind consistently blowing from the north. Happy we were earning a few bucks, we were not phased and just assumed the weather would remain like this until Christmas…
Notice the key word there… assume…
I finished the project and we have been preparing Nandji to sail south. First wanting to visit Lady Musgrave island as a detour on our trip, but a place we really want to see before departing the area. A quick weather check and of course those northerly winds that we have been relying on to head south, have disappeared.
This is the first time we have had a time restriction on reaching our destination of Brisbane, as we have a plane to catch back home for a week or so to see family for Christmas and to attend our good friends wedding. Allowing us nearly 3 weeks to travel the 300nm journey, you would think we would have plenty of time.
Instead, the first week of the time restriction period, we have been belted with 20+ knot East to South East winds. Not the ideal direction for us to head south or out to Lady Musgrave island. Well, we possibly could have sailed south with the easterlies, but we are not willing to give up hope on our destination just yet. The strong winds have brewed up a choppy rolling sea. With the biggest swell we have seen in the area since we first arrived those weeks ago.
With determination, we have twice attempted the sail out to Lady Musgrave and twice, turned back. The first time attempt, we left Roundhill Creek, which faces directly north. Poked our nose around the headland and got slapped with the big choppy sea and strong wind. Under the leeside of the headland, we set some sails and poked our nose out again. The wind blowing strong from the south east and almost on the beam, we attempted to head out to sea. But the rough weather was too much and decided we did not want to spend the next 8 hours beating into a messy ocean. We like Nandji in one piece and did not want to put all that unnecessary strain on her. Around we went, back to the safety of Roundhill creek.
We waited a day and it appeared in the forecast that the winds were easing. Along came attempt number two. We attacked the situation with similar tactics as last time. Except this time around, we flew the headsail as soon as leaving the entrance and still tucked away on the leeside of the headland. As soon as our nose poked out, we were off. Charging through the messy water rushing around the headland. Once more we rounded the bar and hid behind the headland to set a reefed main sail. With both sails up, we pointed our course out to sea. As the headland begun to offer no more protection, the wind felt lighter than the first attempt. The ocean was slighty easing, but definitely still, a choppy sea to beat through. The wind had turned more to the east, making it difficult to head towards our destination of Lady Musgrave. Only moving at 3 knots. We adjusted course so the we were no longer so close hauled and allowed the wind to hit us more on the beam. We increased speed instantly and had a great course to head to Fitzroy Reef once more. After a quick debate, we wisely decided to turn back to Roundhill Creek once more and wait for a more favourable wind to head to Lady Musgrave.
Trapped once again for a another few days, the forecast looks to be easing in a day or so and our hopes are high once more on reaching our goal destination. For now, not wanting to waste time, we have been enjoying the surf that the weather has brought with it. Then in the evenings, having drinks with our fellow trapped yachtie neighbours. In the end, we are all waiting for the weather to ease and may as well make the most of our time together. In a way I guess, that is the fundamentals of sailing. Waiting for weather, drinking beer and telling tales.
Up shit creek….
Where to begin... So, today I got more shit on me than when I first destroyed my nappies as a child. Yep, I got poo on me.
We have had an ongoing, steadily increasing to bad, situation on board Nandji. A little while back our toilet system seemed to do not quite exactly what it was designed to do. Nothing overly major, like waste leaking out a pipe, or the toilet not flushing your business. But a little problem we could see growing. Literally growing, as our waste tank is a bag instead of a solid tank.
I am not sure what most toilet systems on-board other vessels are like, but I’ll attempt to describe Nandji’s ways of parting with our waste. The toilet flushes with salt water. Therefore there is an inlet/seacock for the ocean to enter the system. Once you have completed your business, you flush and the salt water comes rushing in to the rescue and makes last nights dinner disappear. From here, the tidal flow has two options. It passes through, what you a call a “Y” valve. This delivering the option to either disperse your dinner directly to the fishes, or the choice of holding onto the waste in a tank for a rainy day.
If you choose to hold onto the waste for the rainy day, the tank is only going to get fuller until you cannot carry any more poo. This is when the time arises where you have to find a marina that facilitates for your tank being pumped out. As this is not a feature of any marina we have come across yet, nor have we been looking, but the rainy day had come along.
Usually we have the “Y” valve set so the fishes have something to feed on as soon as we release our food. But over the course of our journey, this valve has decided to let the waste go where it chooses. Some to the fishes and some to the rainy day.
We decided to install a pump with the name of the “Macerator.” Pretty hectic sounding pump, but if it chops the dinner thinner than when it went in. It is the pump we want. Rather then trying to find a facility that caters for waste removal, it was time to install our own removal system from our ‘rainy day’ holding tank.
The tank was not overly full, in fact it was less than a fifth or sixth full, but still had waste stored inside. Over the last couple of weeks, we had noticed the bag slowly expanding and our nostrils felt the toilet, starting to smell like a toilet. No matter how much we cleaned, it was obvious that the contents in the bag, had to go.
Today was that day. I planned my attack thoroughly and had devised a seemingly brilliant plan. But like all plans, they were destined to fail. The plan did not fail horrendously. However, it did fail bad enough, that there remained waste in the line when I cut the pipe… Yep, this is when I got a little spray of brown water. Luckily I had prepared for a possible mishap and had a bucket in the impact zone, ready to catch any stray stragglers. A very good decision in the end, as my afternoon might have been spent cleaning and disinfecting Nandji, instead of feeding the fishes.
After a bit of sweat, tears, thinking and poo particles, we now have a macerator pump installed inline. Allowing us to empty our holding tank out at sea at the flick of a switch. Hopefully this has resolved our issue with the odour. Next job is to flush the system so only water remains and tackle the task of replacing the “Y” valve. Then having total control on where we choose to put last nights dinner.
The joys of living on a yacht. Slowly getting closer to becoming the ‘Jack of all trades’. To all the plumbers out there, today I felt your pain.
Its Spearing time!
The original attraction of visiting Fitzroy reef was the fact that potentially, it has it all. A comfortable protected lagoon anchorage, solitude, the possibility of waves to surf and a heap of tropical ocean to go hunting in. Basically it is my idea of success in life…
After falling to sleep the previous night under the milky way, we rose with first light in the morning and prepared for a day filled with as many activities we could squeeze in. Since there was no swell, the obvious choice was to head out spearfishing for as long as Bonita would allow. Recently receiving our new gear from Adreno, it was time to test out the new gear and the new speargun arsenal.
First though we had to finalise on the names we would call our new guns. I find that if something has a name, you will look after it much better than if it just a speargun or a surfboard. Obviously I have names for all my other toys, but we had not decided on what to call our new guns. The end results were for the 130mm Beuchat Marlin Oceania, I named him Big Blaster. Bonita named her 100mm Beuchat Marlin Oceania, Sally. Now that this issue had been resolved, it was time to take Big Blaster and Sally diving.
We loaded up our 2.6m tender and headed off exploring inside the lagoon to begin with. With plenty of reef and bombies to choose from, we slowly made our way around the lagoon. The calm waters made for excellent visibility. The reef was alive and the corals beautiful to look at. The downside being, not a lot of fish. After forgetting to buy some Pilchards for burley before leaving, we had to hunt around for a bit before shooting our first trout. We swam around for a couple of hours before deciding to head back to Nandji for much needed food and a coffee. Managing to return with a couple of trout, so not a bad start to the morning.
Fish cleaned, dry vacced and in the freezer, off we went for a look at the entrance of the lagoon. Logic has it, that there is only one way in and one way out of the lagoon and that is through the entrance channel. If something big wanted to come in on the rising tide, then we would be there to meet him. It was good to dive around the entrance and see with my own eyes what lied underneath Nandji as we cautiously entered the previous day. The natural channel in the reef was skinny and covered with coral. But there was a definitive deep channel which made me feel good about exiting in the future. Unfortunately, our theory did not work and no fish were spotted.
The day was only getting better, with not a breath of wind. So out the channel we putted in our little tender. Half way through the channel, Bonita spotted a good trout hanging out from his little ledge that he must of called home. She was adamant it was a good fish and worth trying to find. I quickly put on my mask and fins, grabbed Sally. The water was only shallow and not deeper than 3 or 4 metres, which turned out be a good thing. I dived down and sure enough spotted this Coral trout hiding under his ledge. He spotted me though and crept deeper under the ledge. I had loaded both rubbers on Sally and this the first time I had used this speargun, was not expecting the power for its size. Aiming true I shot the trout just behind his eye. A good holding shot as he fought to release the spear. I returned to the surface holding the shooting line and trying to yank him out of his hidey hole. With no success, I dived down once more and investigated under the ledge what was going on. Deep under the ledge I could see the trout. Following the shooting line towards the back of the cave, I got hold of the spear and realised it was buried deep into the coral and rocks. Returning to the surface for another breath I told Bonita that the spear was stuck and to stay close in case I get snagged under the ledge.
Happy that my new wetsuit has a hood, covering all my hair that is usually floating this way and the other, I dived once more to attempt in removing the spear. This is why I was happy that the cave was only in shallow water, so I could get right under the ledge and free this spear and hopefully still have the fish. If it was un retrievable I would have just cut my losses and snipped the shooting line. But the water was shallow and I knew I could wriggle the barb of the spear free eventually.
Bonita patiently waiting on the surface, with only my fins showing out from under the ledge, finally the spear freed up and out I emerged from my cave. Bonita happy I didn’t lose her spear on the first day, I got hold of the trout that was still on the end of the spear. Holding him up to show Bonita and smiling cheek to cheek, this was my new personnel best for east coast trout spearing. Shot with her gun, thanks Sally.
Ever since before owning Nandji, a place we had really wanted to visit was Fitzroy reef. After watching videos and checking it out a thousand times over on google maps, it was one place that I have been itching to go to.
Discovering Wednesday night of last week that I was not needed to work until Monday, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make our maiden voyage out to southern part of the Great Barrier Reef for a long weekend. After a quick weather check, mother nature could not have agreed more with our plan. A good 15-20 knot Easterly breeze on the Thursday to blow us out there, and dropping off that night. A forecast of Gary glass off for the next couple of days and then finally a northerly breeze beginning Sunday and extending through the week for us to return to 1770. Not only were the winds looking perfect for our spontaneous trip, but tides were heading into the neap cycle. Meaning only minor tidal water movement. The visibility for diving should be next level…
With a high tide at 9 in the morning, we rushed around getting a few things in town before crossing the bar and heading out to sea. With the wind as predicted, we should make good time in getting out to our reef lagoon anchorage called Fitzroy Reef. As long as we there after 3:30pm to get the inward tidal flow through the reef channel, but arrive before 5pm so we can still see the reef channel! Everything I have read and all the salties I have spoken to about the entrance into the lagoon, it sounded like we wanted everything on our side.
Setting full sail we began the 40nm trip out to sea. Of course our autopilot had decided it no longer wanted to be an autopilot, therefore we took turns in steering Nandji out to the reef. Not letting this minor problem get in the way of our trip, it was an enjoyable day sailing for such a long distance in a wind chopped sea and strong wind. Nandji rolled over the waves and powered through the white-capped ocean un-phased. The more we sail her, the more I am falling in love with the way she performs. After hours disappeared into the sea mist behind us, the ocean slowly flattened out and the waves dispersed into just minor wind ripples on the surface. With the wind still blowing strong, the outer reefs had started to provide protection. It really is another world out there.
Arriving to the entrance around 4pm, we could not have been happier with our timing. The wind still blowing around 20knots, we dropped sails and motored towards the skinny entrance. All the information I had read about this entrance was there is at least one green marker at the start of the channel but the other markers are often absent. Not really liking what I have read, we continued on with caution. Lucky the books I had been looking at were a few years old and the skinny entrance was well buoyed.
With my new polarised sunnies on, Bonita on the bow and my butt checks tightly clenched, we passed between the red and green entrance buoys. Even with the wind ripple on the surface, the water was crystal clear and it looked scarily shallow. Trusting the depth gauge reading of 5m, we steadily chugged forward. Well, it was to late now to turn back anyways! Clearly seeing the coral reef just breaking the surface on the port side, we stayed close to this edge and followed our nose passing the next two port side markers. A good thing as in the middle of the channel, a bombie protrudes upwards towards the surface. Safely navigating these obstacles, we pass by the inside green and red markers. Yew! We are in! Still cruising at snails pace though, we steadily navigate the onslaught of bombies until we are deep inside the lagoon in our own patch of white sand. Dropping the pick and grabbing a frothy, it was time to marvel at what we had just accomplished.
The wind had finally started to let up as the sun slowly sank on the horizon. Sunsets out on the reef are something else. Dead silence and mother nature putting on a show. The next few days were looking to be some of the best yet.
When we first started checking out boats to buy, of course you start at the top. You slowly inspect all the vessels on the market and start to eliminate the bottom of the pile. You justify every reason why you can afford that yacht that is obviously 200k+ out of your price range. But you check it out, dream a little and picture yourself behind the wheel. You think how you could make it happen and how easy it would be to be able to afford such yacht….
Then reality comes in to play and literally tells you “your dreaming.”
Waking up from the harsh reality that the Lagoon 620, or even the Lagoon 420, is way out of your price range. You quickly close the web page your on and try to forget that luxury vessel you were just looking at photos of. Open a new tab, search ‘monohull’ and check out the boats that are a quarter of the price or less. Upon your new search, you slowly lose train of thought about the previous vision of you on your Lagoon and start to acknowledge your possible reality.
Fast forward to the present and you are X amount of dollars poorer and living on your new boat. You are more than happy and impressed with your purchase. She needs a little work here and there, but that is half the point of the adventure. You bought what you can afford and are living out your dreams. You find yourself at anchor in a little creek anchorage, for example, Roundhill creek, Queensland. You have been enjoying your time here and enjoyed the conversations with other passing yachties. We like to talk to as many yachties as we can, they all have some sort of wisdom and most are willing to share with you. So like sponges, we absorb the information and say our farewells.
Then in this little anchorage I speak of, in rolls that Lagoon 420 that you were checking out so long ago. They decide that the best place to anchor is next door to you… By all means, this is not a bad thing. I could perve on that boat all afternoon. The downside being, the occupants quickly dropped their anchor and decided to head to land. Still there is no issue, I just sit and stare at the beautiful vessel that is anchored next to me.
The issue has now arisen as the wind is blowing over 20 knots and by the way this Lagoon is spinning in the strong tidal flow, I am guessing that they have used the shortest of scopes. I am sure that their anchor is probably the same price as our vessel, but the way it is swinging 360 degrees, with no occupants on board and Nandji in her line of fire, the last thing I want is for a Lagoon 420 to slip anchor and drift in our direction…
So please, owners of the half a million dollar yacht swinging around next to us, please return to your vessel. Not all of us can afford a run in with your beautiful Lagoon.
Sundays, the day to relax…
Usually I am an early riser. When the sun is up, it’s time for me to do the same. There is a little adjustment I am still getting used to in Queensland and that is no day light savings. I understand why, but still I find it hard to comprehend. The sun rises at 5 in the morning, why should there be light when you are trying to sleep. I also understand this is a concept only for Australia, as places like Sweeden have extreme day light hours in the summer and darkness in the winter, but I think if the sun is up, so should I. With the sun rising so early in the morning, means it sets at 6:30pm in the evening. Why wouldn’t you adjust the hours of light to a little later in the day… Anyway, this Sunday I decided I would try and sleep in.
We just uploaded our latest episode and felt that we had earned a little extra sleep and a morning of relaxing. How silly I was…
Of course I woke at 5 in the morning as the sun rose. No matter how hard I tried, I was wide-awake and had to face the fact that it was time to get up. Climbing out of bed to see Marley’s little nose at the end of the bed, I dragged him out of bed aswell. Since Bonita has no problems having a little sleep in, I decided to take Marley over to the sandbar for a run. Maybe I would do some tender maintenance whilst there.
I packed a shifter to loosen the engine clamps and remove the outboard off the transom. A scrubbing scorer, as it was time to flip the tender and remove the slime that had decided to call the bottom of the tender home. Everything packed up; we putted over to the sand bar.
I had scrubbed for an hour or two and the bottom of ‘la diva’ the tender now looked almost newish. Having to walk the tender to the edge of bar, as the tide had dropped considerably. I proceeded to pace back and forth carrying items to put back into ‘la diva.’ With Marley run ragged, a clean tender and loaded up, it was time to return to the mothership for breakfast.
The outboard started with out a worry and I pushed us into the deeper water where the current of the tide runs at an average of 4-5 knots. We started drifting rapidly with the current, as the engine would not click into forward. No matter how hard I struggled, this was not happening. It would go in reverse with no dilemma, but the forward gear. Not a chance. Realising the current was too strong and I was getting sucked towards the mouth of the creek rapidly, I tried to reverse ‘la diva’ into the current. We only managed to stay in the one place… This was not working so I reversed us back to the edge of the sandbar and threw out the anchor.
Pulling the top off the outboard, I began to evaluate the problem. Not knowing much about outboards, I felt that my shifter and I were extremely out gunned. After playing around for ten minutes and being to proud to accept a lift from a passing tinny, it became clear. Unless I had some tools, I could not fix this issue. I tried the forward’s gear again and noticed if I held the gear down, the prop would rotate. This was my solution and I held that gear down and slowly limped ‘la diva’ back to Nandji.
Watching a few YouTube tutorials on outboards, I was now qualified enough to tackle this problem. Removing the outboard off the transom once again, I prepared for the memory tester of pulling apart this bad boy and trying to remember where everything goes. I flicked the gears once more and discovered they were working fine… “What is going on here” I believe I said out loud.
Replacing the outboard onto ‘la diva’s’ transom once again, I accidently left the motor at half trim. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. While it is harder to pull start the engine and make it fire, it turns out this was the problem all along. The gearshift has a piece that was getting snagged on the back of the tender when trimmed all the way down. This was not allowing the engine to click into gear. A simple fix after all. Being happy this was the only obvious reason for my troubles, I tightened up the engine clamps so the motor was firmly positioned into place once more.
Happy with the problem only being minor, I went for a quick fang around in ‘la diva’ to double check everything was fine. During my little fang, I got a little worried that the engine clamps were not tight enough, so once back at Nandji, I grabbed the shifter and gave the bolts a little more turn. Thinking I would give it just more turn… I break it.
Over tightening the cast metal clamp, I snap the clamp in two. So now our outboard is fixed and broken. Fixed as it goes forwards and backwards, but broken as it hangs off the transom with one clamp instead of two.
A great Sunday morning… Guess it is time to fix the toilet, the salt-water pump, the windlass, the port light switch and the saloon fluro light… There is always something to do on a yacht.
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