Raja Ampat

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Well, here we are in Raja Ampat. Took us a while to get here. After leaving Darwin Oct 9, we stopped at Pulau Molu for a few days before arriving in Tual for check in Oct 22. We did more motoring than we hoped, as the SE winds were fading with the approaching NE Monsoon change. After a very short stay in Tual we were able to squeeze out a two day sail to Misool. Since then, the sails have not been out from there sun covers. Sail boats turn into power boats up here as winds are very light to non existent.

After leaving Australia we have been plagued by a few boat issues. We inadvertently cooked the batteries at the marina in Darwin during our two week stay. Not enough ventilation in the battery compartment combined with 35C ambient air temperature had the batteries reaching 150F with the battery charger. Not good. Fixed the ventilation issue, but the damage was done. We didn’t notice the loss of capacity until we were up here. Also the fridge can’t drop the temperature as it is low on refrigerant, so it is running constantly. Combined with the wind generator being useless up here, the batteries can’t keep up at night. So, we are turning the fridge off at night. Luckily we have enough solar to handle the boat during the day. Also luckily the freezer is ok and we have kept all our meat. Oh yeah, and our generator stopped working. This is the most challenging place we have been. It is very difficult to find what you need. It is the first time we were not been able to get cash out of an ATM machine. Neither our Canadian or Australian bank cards would work at the ATMs in Waisai, which is the gateway into Raja Ampat. All the tourists come through here. I had to take the ferry from Waisai to Sorong to get cash. After trying three different banks there, finally got one to work. Scary feeling when you can’t get your money out. A bit of forced saving, as there is nothing to buy and no cash to buy it!

We have arranged new batteries (at twice the price than in Australia) and they are waiting for us in Sorong. Also I was able to buy a tank of 134A refrigerant, but didn’t realize that I needed a tank adapter to use with my refrigerant hoses. That is waiting in Sorong for us as well. As for the generator, hopefully a few parts I ordered from Australia will fix the problem. If not, we can live without the generator. Although Liliane wants to throw the thing overboard and use the space for storage of her art supplies!

But, when we are not working on boat issues, we really enjoyed Wayag and Uranie. On our way there we crossed the equator for the first time since 2011 (planes don’t count!). From winter in the southern hemisphere to summer in the north. Hard to tell the difference though as it is hot everywhere. We spent two weeks in Wayag, and only saw two or three other cruising boats. Lot of dive liveaboards though. I googled and found 85 dive liveaboards working Raja Ampat. Snorkeling was not the best, but we enjoyed the calm anchorage and beautiful scenery. I think are favourite spot so far is Uranie. We were there close to a week and never saw another boat. We had our own beach which Scupper enjoyed every day. Between finding coconuts, snorkelling, diving, and playing music, we really enjoyed the place. Running out of fresh produce, Liliane became very creative with coconuts (and coconut  shells!)

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But not all is perfect in paradise. Indonesia is the fourth most populated country on earth. And there is a huge plastic issue here. We have never seen so much plastic floating in the water and washed up on beaches. The closer you are to a populated area, the worse it is. And it finds its way into the sea life. We spent some time on this beach seeing what trash washed up, and we made a pile. A lot of single shoes. Are you missing one?

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If we look beyond that and the challenges of cruising this part of the world, there is a lot to see. We are currently anchored at Airborek (snorkelled with the mantas the other day) and are going back to Sorong to renew our visas (we need to do that every month now). And of course install our new batteries. Hopefully we will be out of there by Dec 21. Our plan is to head back up to Uranie for Christmas. There is also another place we want to explore a bit more from a diving perspective.

There are more awesome pictures in the photo gallery section of the blog. Check them out.

Lastly, when we travelled down the coast of Australia last year we were really impressed by the story of Old Tom, the Orca that actually worked with the whalers in the 1920’s to corall and kill Humpback whales during there migration along the coast. This is all at the Eden Whale Museum, along with the skeleton of Old Tom. The museum link is: http://www.killerwhalemuseum.com.au. Check it out, it truly is an amazing story. Liliane was inspired by the story and wrote a song about it. We just recently recorded it on the boat. We sent it to the museum and they are considering adding it to their collection. Have a listen.

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Onwards to Indonesia

Just checked out of Darwin and are sailing to Sorong Indonesia. It’s been a hectic couple of months coming up the coast, with getting the boat and Scupper ready for departure. Not that easy to just take your dog out of Australia. Few hoops you have to jump through first. Anyway, we are now leaving after two years in Australia. The highlight by far is Tasmania. Worth all the cost of entering Australia and all effort to get down there.

More posts once we reach Raja Ampat. Plan to be in that area 5-6 months. Looking forward to be able to jump in the water again (without deadly jellyfish and crocs!)

The Adventures of Brandy the Sailor Dog is now in Amazon in paperback as well as ebook.

Scupper has his own Instagram account: Scupperthesailingdog

We also have an Instagram for the boat: sy_meikyo

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Pancake Creek, Queensland

We’ve been here for a week now. Must say this is one of the most peaceful anchorages we have been in. No sign of civilization other than the lighthouse in the distance. Flat calm, quite and dark at night. The sand flats dry out at mid tide, creating a huge sand island for Scupper to run. The only downside are the sand flies that seem to find us late afternoon. I guess because there has been no wind for the past week to keep them away. Reminds us that we need to get cockpit screening before we head to Indonesia in a few months.

Norm, Bev and Pip on Peggy-Anne arrived mid week, so we had a couple of music nights on our boat. Pip and Scupper got on well, however Scupper would give Norm a bark every once in a while. Scupper is turning into a great little watch dog. While Norm was here at the anchorage he flew his drone one day and gave us a great arial shot of Meikyo.

Before we left Sydney we rented a car and did a road trip to Melbourne to pick up our life raft which we just had serviced. We rented a cottage (dog friendly) near Cape Otway for two nights. Wood stove fireplace, jacuzzi tub, nestled in the woods with lots of parrots. A real change from being on the boat.

When we left Sydney we did overnight stops at Pittwater, Newcastle and Port Stephens as we weren’t keen to sail at night knowing there 83 shipping containers lost between Newcastle and Coffs Harbour. Didn’t see any shipping containers but we did see many Humpback whales migrating north with us. One breached quite close to the boat. We heard a loud bang and thought the mainsail had jibed. But just off our port side there was a very large splash.

We had an enjoyable two week stay in Coffs Harbour. We met John, a fellow Canadian who migrated to Australia many years ago, playing at an open mic. He lent Liliane his guitar and she played four of her songs which were well received by the audience. Especially “Old Tom”, the true story of a killer whale from Eden. We later had John on the boat for a couple jam sessions. Great fun.

From Coffs we sailed straight to Mooloolaba. There we met up again with our very good friends Sheryl and Ian. And of course Lucie and Gizmo. We had a great time at their place and on the Sunday took the dogs to the beach. We are anxiously waiting for them to buy their next boat so they can catch up with us.

 

 

 

 

 

The big news is that Liliane’s first book “The Adventures of Brandy the Sailor Dog” is now on Amazon as an ebook (soon to be in print as well). Check it out.

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Brandy-Sailor-Dog-Magical-ebook/dp/B07FQ933CK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1532836209&sr=1-1&keywords=The+adventures+of+brandy+the+sailor+dog

 

 

 

 

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Sydney Australia

It’s been awhile since our last post, so we have quite a bit to share. After a second great summer in Tasmania, it was time to say goodbye and start the long trek up the east coast of Australia. After stops in Flinders, Eden and Bermagui, we are currently in Sydney. We skipped Sydney on the way down the coast a year and a half ago, so this is the first time for us (other than transiting through the airport a few times on the way back to Canada). We arrived just as Vivid Sydney, a three week festival of light began. Everything is lit up at night in bright colours. Pretty cool.

What else is new? Well we got a new crew member before leaving Tasmania. A four legged one. His name is Scupper, a Havanese puppy. Now five months old and weighing almost three and a half kilograms, we have our own Tasmanian Devil. What where we thinking! After we had to put Brandy down in Panama seven years ago, we said “Never again a dog on the boat”. To be fair, she was to old and to big for the boat, but she adapted well. After house/pet sitting last winter in Tasmania, we got the dog blues when our house sitting was over. So we said, “let’s get a dog”. Crazy thing to do, especially when you travelling around the world on your boat. But you have to live your life every day, not hope for what you may do in the future. So after a bit of research on what type of dog would be best for us we settled on a Havanese. They adapt well to new environments, have a good temperament, and only grow to about 4-7 kg. We contacted a breeder last August and arranged to pick from the litter that was born January 3rd. He joined the boat at nine weeks, and we departed Hobart about a week later. We picked a terrible time to cross Storm Bay (there’s a reason they call it that), one of the most uncomfortable sailing days we have ever had. Poor Scupper threw up and we thought this will not be good going forward. Turns out his baptism by fire turned him into a good little sailor. Since then nothing has bothered him travelling at sea. He probably will be better at this then we are! Anyway we are having lots of fun with him. A bit of extra work but well worth it. One more thing to mention about Scupper. He is “boat trained”. He does his business on some artificial grass on the forward head shower floor. To notify us of his intentions we installed a brass ships bell on the wall next to the door. He rings for us to open it for him. Smart dog. To smart in fact, as he found out is was also a way to get extra reward treats. We are going to get the bell engraved. One side will say Wee Wee, the other Room Service.

Enough about the dog. Here is a recap of our last summer in Tasmania.

Early December we really enjoyed cruising Norfolk Bay. We visited the site of the coal mines that were operated by the prisoners of Port Arthur. While anchored in Murdunna, we met two cruising couples, Tim & Carol (SY Rassimonde) and Chris & Margie (SY Storm Bay). Chis and Margie got us hooked on Japan, as they had spent 18 months cruising there. More on that later. Just before Christmas we sailed back to Hobart and spent time with Joanne and Serge (SY Spirare), our fellow Canadian friends who we keep bumping into over the last seven years. Then it was back down to Cygnet for the big Folk Festival mid January. We had a fantastic time. Next was our haul out where we had the joy of painting the bottom again. Actually I enjoy that time to work on the boat and Kettering was one of the best yards we have been in. Next haul out will be somewhere in Malaysia.

We also spent some time on the east side of Flinders Island, a very special place but also placed smack in the Bass Strait where Mother Nature can really show her stuff. We knew we were going to get some very strong westerlies with a front and following low that was forecast to come through. There are not a lot of great anchorages with protection from the west, and the whole area is notorious for bad holding due to all the sea grass. We anchored on the east side of Prime Seal Island, which we thought would give us adequate protection and waited. There is one mooring ball there but already taken by our friends on Aurielle. The next morning when the front came through we had a gust of 59kts pull up our anchor up but it reset. For the next two days we did not see wind much below 40kts, and that first night we found ourselves dragging and re anchoring multiple times. One of the few times in eight years we couldn’t get the anchor to set. Our Rocna is a great anchor but not the best in weed. The next day Aurielle called and offered us the chance to tie off their mooring as well. We gladly accepted and finally had some rest the following night. Sadly, friends of Aurielle who were anchored a few miles up the coast lost their boat that same weekend, even with two anchors down. Luckily the crew was ok.

Speaking earlier about Japan, we were interested in perhaps doing a trip there then over to Hawaii, and back down to Micronesia. Liliane likes to plan these scenarios out with rough dates and travel times on paper. One afternoon while Scupper was supposedly having a nap in his soft crate while we were on shore, he chewed his way out the crate, jumped up on the sofa in the main salon and shredded the Japan/Hawaii plan to little pieces. He was quite pleased with himself when we arrived back. We figured that he didn’t like that plan, so that is out. In reality, it would have added a year to our travels and bringing a dog into Japan and Hawaii is not that easy. So we will continue our journey up the coast to Darwin, then sail to the Raja Ampat area of Indonesia in November.

Unless Scupper eats that plan.

We have added new pictures in the Photo Gallery section (Tassie to Sydney 2018) as well as changed our Position page since adding Iridium Go. Check it out.

 

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Return to Tassie

We arrived back mid October after a wonderful two month visit to Canada. It was great to see all the family. It was a bit of a road trip, driving between Montreal, Ontario and New Brunswick to see everyone. The grandchildren are growing fast. We were there for Cole’s first day at Kindergarten. Eleanor is a real cutie. She likes unicorns, so Liliane painted one for her room.

We also had a very nice time with Liliane’s family in Quebec. We stayed at her sister Jeannine and her husband Louis’ house. We had Liliane’s book, “The Adventures of Brandy the Sailor Dog” printed while we were in Ontario. Jeannine bought the first copy. Liliane also had the chance to spend her birthday (a little bit early) with her sister.

Jeannine buys 1st copy

Birthday Girl

Fall colours

 

Our Cruising Friends

While in Quebec we had a renunion with cruising friends, most of whom we first met in Grenada seven years ago. Annie and Ghislain (SV Myriam) who have completed their circumnavigation hosted the event. Also attending; Lise and Sylvain (SV Vanilla), Mélanie and Jean Frédéric (SV Dorénavent), Carmelle and Yvon (SV Taima) also circumnavigators, and Joanne and Serge (SV Spirare). Ironically, Joanne and Serge are here in Tasmania as well and were also back visiting in Canada.We hope to host the next reunion in 5 years.

Liliane also contacted her college friends. They reunited after many years. Perhaps 30+

College Friends

During our New Brunswick trip we visited with both my older brothers. At Moose Mountain, Peter put me to work splitting and stacking firewood for the winter. When he gave me some time off, Liliane, Mary and I climbed Moose Mountain. Coming back down the trail we spotted a black bear ahead of us. The Australians always mention the fact that we have bears in Canada, and I have always joked that I have only ever seen them in zoos. Seeing one in the wild was a first for me.

With My Brother Peter (I’m the good looking one)

Moose Mountain Trail

 

 

Now that we are back in Tasmania we are out cruising again. The days are getting longer and the temperature warmer. We plan to be in Tasmania until April at which time we start the long journey up the east Australian coast.

As nice as any beach in the tropics

 

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Tasmania Part 3- Sailors to Farmers

We have just completed six weeks of shore leave, house and animal sitting. The first three weeks were in Lauderdale (not far from Hobart) looking after Ruby the Bernese Mountain dog. She was a little shy of us at first (who are these strangers in my house), but after bribing her with walks every day, lots of brushing and some treats, we were finally accepted. She was even protective in the end. She was a lot of fun, reminded us how much we miss having a dog in our life. The area was nice, we could walk the beach and the canal.

Ruby the Mountain Dog

Beach close by

 

The next three weeks were in Wattle Grove (near Cygnet) looking after two cute dogs, a cat, three geese, six hens, and three pregnant goats. Morning feeding was a lot of fun. Just after sunrise the three geese (Elvis and his two ladies) would knock on the window telling us it’s time for breakfast. When we approached with food there would be plenty of honking and wing flapping. But you had to keep an eye on Elvis because he would like to run over and try and bite. Next the hens were let out to roam and we would check for eggs. We would usually find one every day. But they were tricky. You had to find where they were laying them. Freshest eggs we have ever eaten. Last but not least the goats. Ethel, the herd queen was the boss. She would eat first and push the others away. You had to keep an eye on her as well as she would try and ram you. Enad, the other one with horns was a little more docile. Penny (poor Penny) had no horns so she was pushed around by the other two. We had to feed her separately while the other two were busy eating. We learned a lot about these animals, that we would never have goats and geese! Great fun though for us for a few weeks. Also terrific sun rises most mornings, as well as mist laying down in the valley.

Elvis and his two ladies knocking

Where’s my boat?

 

 

 

 

 

Ethel watching her meal being prepared

Ethel giving me the evil eye

Penny getting special treatment

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magnificent sunrises

Morning mist in the valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the pack

 

During these six weeks Liliane succeeded in her mission of finishing her children’s book as well as painting twelve illustrations. The book will soon be printed and we will have copies to give away to our family and the children in the islands that we will be visiting.

While in Cygnet we also got together to play music with a neighbour, Robin who we had met at an open mic. Ironically our cruising friends Serge and Joanne (SY Spirare) had house sat for her earlier. Small world.

We also went up to the Huonville Mid-Winter Music Festival. A well done event, over seven thousand people the Saturday we were there. The theme was around wassailing. The purpose of wassailing is to awake the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn. That and of course great food and music.

Wassailing

Massive bonfires

 

When will it ever warm up?

We’ll finish with one of the craziest things we have ever done. No, not selling our house and buying a boat. At the end of Dark Mofo (a two week gothic themed winter festival in downtown Hobart) there is the Nude Solstice Swim on June 21. It marks the return of the sun after the longest night (shortest day) of the year. At 7:30 am that morning we were standing on the beach with a thousand other people with only a towel around us in 4 degree C air temperature. Fire poles were a blazing and Tibetan monks were pounding on a drum. Then the starter pistol fired and we all dropped our towels and ran into the 14 degree C water. It is an amazing feeling running naked and screaming with a thousand other people into the water. It is quite emotional actually. We were one the lasts ones out (Liliane was enjoying it!) The trick coming back to the beach was to find your towel, or any towel for that matter. Seems more people showed than were expected. Something we will remember for the rest our our lives. And we got to keep the really cool red cap.

Waiting for the signal

Can you spot us?

Now getting reading for our trip back home to Canada for a couple of months. Can’t wait to  see the the grandkids and all the all the rest of our families. Get to tell all our stories!

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Tasmania -Part 2

It’s warm in the cockpit!

It’ s mid June now. The days are getting shorter and a bit colder. Especially when the southerlies roll through. Then, the sun will come out and we will have nice days where the temperature reaches +15. We are still loving Tasmania. For the past six weeks we have been out cruising. Enjoying many of the anchorages we missed on the way down the east coast in January. This time of year we have most anchorages all to ourselves.

 

Walking the beach and hiking trails fill our days along with painting and music.

Painting by Liliane for her book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of times we tried to leave for Port Davey, but the boat had other ideas. That’s now on next summers plan. Here is a highlight of some of the areas we have explored:

Recherche Bay -One of our favourite anchorages. It is the last stop on the south east coast before heading out into the southern ocean to Port Davey. There are great all-weather anchorages in the bay, as well as a wonderful two hour walk in Southwest National Park to South Cape. Stunning scenery.

South Cape Bay

South Cape Bay

Bruny Island / D’Entrecasteaux Channel -Great sailing in protected waters. Out of the ocean swell. Some of the best protected anchorages. More developed, less of a sense of isolation. Salmon farms.

Looking for phone signal

Old Man of the Sea, South Bruny Is

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huon River / Cygnet – We enjoyed the town of Cygnet. Music there (we played at an open mic at the Red Velvet). Huge Folk Festival in January that we would like to see next year. We will also be doing some house / pet sitting near Cygnet in July.

Eastern Tasman Peninsula -Fortescue and Pirates Bay. We started noticing thousands of leather jacket fish washed up on the beaches. Apparently they get pulled south by the current into colder water and die. We saw them on every beach north of here.

Rounding Cape Raoul

Canoe Bay

Trail walk, Fortescue Bay

Chasing Seagulls, Fortescue Bay

Walk to Cape Hauy

The Lanterns, Cape Hauy

The Lanterns

Cape Hauy

Fortescue Bay

Leather Jackets

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria Island -Our favourite spot. The whole island is a national park. No houses or vehicles (except for the park rangers). Full of wombats, wallabies, kangaroos, birds and of course Tasmanian Devils.

Maria Island

Lili and the Wombat

Mom and baby

Painted Cliffs, Maria Island

Largest shell we’ve seen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Devil tracks?

 

Shouten Island & Freycinet Peninsula. – More wild and beautiful anchorages. Wineglass Bay, the most photographed spot. We stopped there on the way down the coast last January and shared the spot with about 15 other boats. This time we had the place to ourselves. At Shouten Island, there is a walk up to a waterfalls with natural pools on the edge of the cliff. It was cold but inviting!

Shouten Island “au natural”

Wineglass Bay

Wineglass Bay, Meikyo in the distance

Lili and the Wallaby

We didn’t feed him

But he kept trying

Nudibranch in a tide pool, Wineglass Bay

The “Meikyos”, Wineglass Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are now back in Hobart getting ready to do some house & dog sitting for a few weeks. Dark Mofo is on, it is a winter festival celebrating centuries old winter solstice rituals. There are a lot of happenings downtown over the next 10 days. We went to the Winter Feast. It was pretty amazing.

Winter Feast, Dark Mofo

We signed up but are trying to work up the courage to do the nude solstice swim at dawn June 21st, celebrating the return of light after the longest day of the year. If we do it, there won’t be any pictures posted!

Here are a few other interesting pictures in our travels:

Seahorse, dinghy dock RYCT

Interesting mushrooms

Bay of Fires

Interesting Rocks

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