Tasmania -Part 1

We arrived in Tasmania on January 23, stopping a night in Babel Island then over to Flinders for three nights waiting for the wind to shift in our favour. These anchorages looked really nice but the swell was breaking on the beach so we didn’t venture to shore. We plan to come back to this area (including Deal Island) at a later date to explore more fully. Then it was on to Wineglass Bay.

Entrance to Wineglass Bay

It is as beautiful as the pictures suggest. Six dolphins came around the boat for a good 10 minutes. It was a very nice surprise. It is definitely on our must return list, as we could only spend one night as the wind was shifting NE.

Wineglass Bay

From there it was an overnight to Hobart. We were able to secure a marina berth, which was lucky for us given that the Australian Wooden Boat Festival was starting the following week. The festival is a bi-annual event, drawing a quarter of a million visitors over the four days. It was great fun, more of a big party vs your typical boat show. Wooden boat owners showing off their vessels, several large traditional sailing ships, demonstrations of wooden boat building techniques, lots of food and music. We are glad we didn’t miss it. We met up with Hillary and Brian (SY Taranui) as well as Norm (a fellow musician we met in Bundaberg ).

Wooden Boat Festival

Tasmanian Devil

While in Hobart when not doing a few boat maintenance tasks, we visited the Bonorong Wildlife Refuge and saw our first Tasmanian Devil, as well as Wombats, Echidna, other exotic creatures and of course kangaroos. We took in the beautiful view from the top of Mt. Wellington which overlooks Hobart. We also did a nice trail walk at Mt Field National Park. Then it was MONA (Museum of Old and New), which was very interesting to say the least.

Then we left for Bruny Island. We anchored in a few places and went hiking whenever we could. Very beautiful scenery and rock formations. A few nights in a row we had strange little visitors coming to our underwater light. We had never seen these kind of creatures before. We finally took a picture of them and sent it to a friend for identification. For now we will call them the “packman ghost”.That’s what they look like.

More Devils

Baby Wombat

From Bruny Island we went to the Tasman Peninsula, more specifically to the Port Arthur Historic Site. Port Arthur is one of the 11 Unesco World Heritage Australian Sites. It was a prison between 1830 and 1877. We also did the Historic Ghost Tour of the site during the late evening. Did we see any ghosts…? The Queen Mary 2 came in while we were there, very impressive.

 

Koala

Echidna

After our visit to Port Arthur, we anchored around the corner at Ladies Bay were we met a few people from the “Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania” CYCT. We spent a couple of evenings on the beach with them. We had our first taste of Abalone. It is very very good. It taste like a creamy refined scallop. We had such a good time with them we decided to joined the club. We are now official members of the CYCT and will soon be flying the club burgie.

From there we left for Cygnet to meet with our potential House Sitting opportunity. The owners were very nice and it will be an interesting change to look after three goats, two dogs, a cat and some choocks. We also meet with a group of local musicians and Liliane was asked to perform a few songs at a local coffee shop.

 

 

Albino Possum

Lili and Kangaroo

Feeding the Emu

We mentioned that we would be doing a bit of house sitting, as we have decided to stay the winter in Tasmania rather than sail north to warmer climates on the mainland. There is a lot to do and see here, and very good cruising. Two or three months is not enough to do it justice. We have a good heater on the boat, but we would like to cover June and July house sitting before we leave for Canada August and September (where it’s still summer!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there will be a Tasmania Part 2 at a later date!

And finally, a new song by Liliane; “I’m on a Bad Road”

Falls -Mt Field

Mt Field National Park

Another Interesting Beach

Top of Mt Wellington

Cape Raoul

Port Arthur

Ghost Tour -Where’s the Ghost?

Prison Wing

Prison Ruins

Port Arthur Prison Cell

Ghost Guides … Liliane (in red) Volunteered

Fluted Cape Bruny Island

Fluted Cape Beach Art

Night Creature -Pacman Ghost?

Cruising Yacht Club Tasmania -Sundowners on the Beach

Beautiful Alien Visitor

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Riding The EAC

We are currently in Eden, NSW. Eden is a former whaling station, now considered the best place in Australia to witness the annual Humpback Whale migration. It is also one of the rare places in the world where you can observe the whales feeding. Besides the Humpback whale, the Orca, Southern Right and sometimes the Blue whale can be seen. Eden is also the departure port for boats like us that are planning to sail further south to Tasmania.

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Killer Whale Musem

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Relaxed at anchor Eden

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Dingo Do’s and Dont’s -Fraiser Island

We arrived here after four big hops down the coast from Bundaberg, a distance of about 800 nm. The EAC by the way is East Australia Current, and man does it move. Sailing down the coast is like riding a conveyor belt. (We were so impressed that Liliane wrote a song about it …recording to come ). We would pickup the southbound current about 15-20 miles off the coast. The other thing to contend with are sand bars at many of the port entrances which must be timed with the incoming tide to transit safely. On our leg from Mooloolaba to Iluka/Yamba, we needed to slow the boat down so as not to arrive to early to cross the bar. First time we ever dropped all the sails and were still doing 4 to 5 kts. We even dragged some lines to slow us a bit. The fun will be when we need sail back up the coast later this year. Hugging the coast on the way up seems to be the strategy.

We stopped at Mooloolaba to visit our friends Sheryl and Ian (formerly on Faraway) who we met in 2010 in Panama, then again in the Marquesas. They have a beautiful home near the beach just north of Mooloolaba. We stayed with them a couple of nights and they showed us the sights in the area.

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With Sheryl & Ian at the Market

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Walking Gizmo and Lucy

Think they have been bitten by the boat bug again, as they are out looking at catamarans. It seems difficult for former cruisers to every truly leave the the sea behind.

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Beach near Sheryl & Ian’s

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Kangaroos on the Golf Course

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Noosa National Park

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Mooloolaba Beach

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Tide Pools

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Button Jelly Fish

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More Kangaroos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

img_1164We spent a week anchored at Iluka in the Clarence River where we met up again with our friends Joanne and Serge on Spirare. We did a lot of great rain forrest and beach walks. From there we did a two day run (Christmas at sea!) down to Broken Bay.

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Xmas morning at sea

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Liliane and Joanne -Fearless

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Our tree this year

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Beach Rules

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Natural Rock Art

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Kayaking Akuna Bay

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Kayaking Akuna Bay

Next was a 36 hour sail to Eden. We purposely skipped Sydney, much to busy this time of year, with the plan to spend time there on the way back up the coast in April.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have been busy playing music and Liliane has just finished another song called “Drinking Rain Water In My Hands”. It is a great song that describes the freedom and wonder of living a life on the water. Have a listen:

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The Artist at Work

Joanne purchased a copy of the song “Friends” (Liliane’s first sale!). Here is the photo to prove it.

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Happy Transaction

Eden is a nice spot to wait for the weather to cross the Bass Strait. The next week outlook does not look promising, so one day at a time. Meanwhile a few small boat projects, fill the boat up with diesel and play more music.

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Sandy Straits, Queensland Australia

After five years sailing in the South Pacific, we have finally made it to Australia. The six day passage from New Caledonia to Bundaberg was a really nice downwind trip. Much more pleasant than the five previous trips to New Zealand! We joined the Sail Down-under  Rally (a first for us) from Noumea. It was a fun week in Bundaberg with the 40 other boats. Many activities, presentations and evening events. One of the first things we did was look for some other musicians.

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Jamming with Norm and Steve

We hit it off with Steve and Norm, playing a few jam sessions together. John, the rally organizer, heard one of the songs Liliane wrote (Friends) and insisted that she play it at the closing event of the rally. Brent and Ana, on Impi, also asked if they could use the song on their YouTube (here is the link)  blog. They raise money to help the volunteer veterinarians in the islands. The song is featured about halfway through and again at the end of the video. The version of the song we used was the one we recorded  with Dave earlier this year in New Zealand (thanks Dave and Margaret!) If you want to hear it, go into the page “Songs By Liliane”.

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Closing the Rally with the song “Friends”

 

Australia is a very different country and huge (hey, not as big as Canada though). Bundaberg is sort of half way down the east coast. That means we still have about 1,200 miles of sailing to do to reach Tasmania, our objective this year. We will do it in a few hops. Lot’s to see and do along the way.

 

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Wish we could have jammed with him

Australia also has a lot of things that can sting, bite or eat you. We got a sense of this at Snakes Downunder, a local zoo that features some of the worlds most venomous snakes, salt water crocs, as well as kangaroos and cute koalas. Here are a few pictures from our day at the zoo:

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Cute when they are little, but still bite

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A “nice” snake

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You don’t mess with Momma

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Is that your tail inside my shorts?

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Big grasshoppers!

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A pet for Cole and Eleanor

 

Also, here are a few pictures from New Caledonia since our last post. We really enjoyed the Southern lagoon and Ouvea in Loyalty Islands. We would have liked to stay longer, but had to rush back to Noumea for medical and chest x-rays for our Australian visas.

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Ouvea

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Liliane Treating

 

 

 

 

 

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View from the top

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Our new pet, a Giant Trevally

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Beachcomber

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Early morning with the mantas

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Our local guide

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Church in the cave

 

 

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Ile des Pins, New Caledonia

We finally left New Zealand. Seemed like we were waiting forever for favourable conditions. We got away early August and arrived after a seven day passage. New Caledonia is a further south than Fiji and Tonga, so it is a little cooler here. Actually our 3mm wetsuits aren’t quite warm enough, but we tough it out. Especially since there is so much to see snorkelling. You will see in a couple of the pictures below,  a cuttlefish  changing appearance in a matter of seconds. First time we saw one of these. Really cool. We also encountered dolphins, whales, sharks, sea snakes and large remoras under the boat waiting to be fed. The sea snakes are amphibian and make there way to land every day. We even encountered them walking to the top of Mato island. They are very passive, neither agressive or shy.

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Cuttltfish in defensive posture

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A second latter more relaxed

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Mount Nga

At Ile des Pins we hiked up Mount Nga with Serge and Joanne (SY Spirare), Lucie and Robert (SY Grace). It is the highest peak on the island at 262 meters. Spectacular view from the top.

Our biggest activity seems to be hunting for fruit and veggies. The supply ship arrived the other day so we are nicely topped up. 50 limes, 20 tomatoes, 20 oranges…………etc etc. The capital Noumea where we checked in has everything. All the delicacies from France. To bad we stopped eating bread.

 

 

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Wildflower on Mt Nga

 

The internet is difficult for us to get. When we leave Ile des Pins we probably won’t have internet until we arrive back in Noumea late October in preparation for our departure to Australia. So it will be trusty old radio e-mail until then.

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Natural Pool Baie D’Oro

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Bathing Beauty in Natural Pool

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Grotto

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Kouaré Island

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Very venomous but docile

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Mouth is to small to bite us

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Dodger and Bimini Complete

The hard dodger is now finished. We are very happy with the result. It took  200 man-hours over three months. As soon as it was completed, I started working on a hard bimini to match. That avoided replacing the current canvas one, as well as giving a stronger structure for the solar panels. That was another 100 hours of my time. I am quite proud of it, as I did this one all by myself. We have now great protection and a fantastic view.

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Day installing Bimini

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Dodger and Bimini Installed

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Solar Panels Re-installed

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Cockpit View

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More Open Area

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Acrylic Roof Panel For Seeing Sails

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Toughened Glass for nice clear view and a few  butterflies made by Cherie

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Vent Hatches On Roof

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LED Lighting

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LED Lighting- Our little night club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems that since we arrived in Opua it has been non-stop work. Beside the Dodger and Bimini we did other projects. We did however get away to Opononi for my birthday, then for a week cruising and playing music with Ted and Karen on Sequester.

 

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Opononi

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West Coast of North Island

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Bay Of Islands Anchorage

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Largest Kauri Tree in NZ

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Sunset at Anchorage

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Still Practising

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Sunset

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Sunrise in Opua

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Liliane ‘s Treatment Room at Opua Community Hall-View on the ocean

In the meantime while Michael was working on the Dodger and Bimini I wrote some songs, taught aerobic classes three times a week,  treated one afternoon a week and made a dozen shelves. I also finished my first children’s book and almost completed the second. You can see below a couple of figurines. These were made for me by Danielle on SV Evenstar. She also makes some awesome Dragons and other creatures. Here is a link to her site  http://www.daniellesdragons.com

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Brandy and Oceana

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Scan 4

Next is our haul-out at the end of the month, then off to Canada the end of May for 5 weeks. Anxious to see our new granddaughter.

 

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A New Hard Dodger…Some Assembly Required!

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This is our major project while we are in New Zealand this season. It is something we have talked about doing the last three years.

Why a hard dodger? When we left on our journey with our new canvas dodger and Bimini, it was something that we never even considered. But after 25,000 miles of ocean sailing, nine passages between the tropics and New Zealand and six and a half years of living aboard, it became very obvious.

The current dodger is at the end of it’s life. Sun, salt and waves have taken their toll. The cost of building a permanent structure was just a bit more than replacing again with canvas. As well, there is something to be said for something more robust when sailing outside of the tropics. The trip to New Zealand is mostly forward of the beam, with waves over the bow that go along with that. Different than mostly downwind sailing following the trade winds. Most boats here in New Zealand are fitted with a hard dodger, so there is a lot of knowledge here on building.

This year it worked out that we had a place to build it (Ted’s extra shed that we rented) and some professional help (Matt Barrie, a boat builder). The construction is 18mm marine plywood, glass and epoxy. Should be strong enough for anywhere we want to sail. I am very cheap labour, so I am relagated to sanding and fairing….sanding and fairing…..and sanding and faring. We are close to painting and ordering the glass for the windows. We should have it installed by the end of February.

Here are some earlier pictures during construction:

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More updates to come. Meanwhile, back to work.

Sanding and fairing and sanding and fairing………..

 

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Time to Head South

This time of year planning departure south to New Zealand is the topic of conversation amongst all us cruisers here. We look at the weather models every day, waiting for that all important “weather window”. Two important things we look for 1: making sure there is no developing system above us that could clobber us on the way down (early tropical storm or cyclone), and 2: making sure we don’t arrive in New Zealand as a front passes over the North Island (which seems to be every 5-7 days).

PWC_rnd_mm_48_18_178.771_-17.685_.3.2015.11.20.03And the weather models are just that, computer generated projections. Which become less reliable the further you look forward. With the passage from Fiji to New Zealand taking approximately 8 days for us, you see why we look at all this closely.

This will be our fifth trip down (ninth passage between NZ and the tropics), and no matter how much planning you do, you just deal with what you get once you set sail. We can of course get weather updates along the way through Pactor modem.

All things considered we are looking at departing tomorrow (Friday Nov 20). That should put us in Opua NZ around Saturday or Sunday (28th or 29th).

A quick update about what we have been up to since our last post. We arrived in Savusavu from Tonga on Oct 2. Music seems to be our focus the last while. Liliane has been busy writing songs (some great ones!) and learning to play the Blues. I have started learning to play guitar. Now we are fighting over her guitar!

We also had hoped to do some diving at Namena, but the weather wasn’t suitable for the long dinghy ride out to the reef. So it was snorkelling near the boat, and of course music. Upon leaving, while pulling up the anchor, we found our chain wrapped around a steel grappling hook (what the fishermen use as anchors). The chain was wrapped every way imaginable around the three prongs and the shank. We could only bring it within two feet of the bow without damaging the boat. And there was still 75 ft of chain hanging in the water (Namena is a deep anchorage). So I get in the dinghy to try and get some of the chain unwound, and the swell is making this a dangerous plan. At one point one of the hooks slice the dinghy (luckily not my head), so there went that idea. We were finally able to get the snubber hook on the chain below the wrapped mess to take the load off. I still had to cut one of the hooks off with a cutoff wheel. We finally freed the chain, after about two hours. Don’t have a picture of all this, we were to busy swearing. And I end up with a sore back, which I further aggravated a week later trying to land a large wahoo (that managed to get away). So to recap all this, a ripped dinghy, a sore back and a lost fish. Such is the cruising life.

Anyway, it’s getting really hot here. Looking forward to the New Zealand climate and seeing our friends.

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