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.

img_1205

Killer Whale Musem

img_1210

Relaxed at anchor Eden

img_0768

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.

img_4863-2

With Sheryl & Ian at the Market

img_5957

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.

img_0818

Beach near Sheryl & Ian’s

img_0866

Kangaroos on the Golf Course

img_6021

Noosa National Park

img_0933

Mooloolaba Beach

img_0796

Tide Pools

img_0965

Button Jelly Fish

img_0869

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.

img_1172

Xmas morning at sea

img_1099

Liliane and Joanne -Fearless

img_1176

Our tree this year

img_1160

Beach Rules

img_1151

Natural Rock Art

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kayaking Akuna Bay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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:

img_1191

The Artist at Work

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

img_0005

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”.

img_0047

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.

 

img_0010

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:

img_0080

Cute when they are little, but still bite

img_0090

A “nice” snake

img_0718

You don’t mess with Momma

img_0072

Is that your tail inside my shorts?

img_0124

Big grasshoppers!

img_0094

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ouvea

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Liliane Treating

 

 

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View from the top

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our new pet, a Giant Trevally

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beachcomber

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Early morning with the mantas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our local guide

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Church in the cave

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cuttltfish in defensive posture

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A second latter more relaxed

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Natural Pool Baie D’Oro

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bathing Beauty in Natural Pool

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Grotto

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kouaré Island

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Very venomous but docile

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mouth is to small to bite us

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Day installing Bimini

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dodger and Bimini Installed

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Solar Panels Re-installed

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cockpit View

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

More Open Area

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Acrylic Roof Panel For Seeing Sails

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Vent Hatches On Roof

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

LED Lighting

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Opononi

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

West Coast of North Island

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bay Of Islands Anchorage

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Largest Kauri Tree in NZ

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sunset at Anchorage

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Still Practising

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sunset

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sunrise in Opua

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brandy and Oceana

Scan 3

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.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A New Hard Dodger…Some Assembly Required!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

More updates to come. Meanwhile, back to work.

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

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Swimming With Humpback Whales…..Tonga!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Humpback Whale Calf

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe have been in Tonga for three months now and have seen plenty of whales from our boat. Spouts, breaching and tail slaps. But always from a distance. If you want to get up close and personal, the best chance is to do a whale swim with a tour operator. Tonga is one of the very few places in the world where you get in the water with the whales. It is amazing to see pictures, but the experience is beyond description. It is hard to describe the feeling of being so close to these magnificent animals.

In the first video, the mother is sitting near the bottom and the calf comes to the surface every 10 minutes very close to us. Then back down underneath the mother to be nursed.

In this video, mom and calf are near the surface together (that is Liliane in the pink fins!). The final sequence is another mother and calf swimming together directly below me. You will notice that a large male escort is following behind.

You will also notice the the calf has a lot of scratches. This is caused by the barnacles of the male shoving the calf out of the way to mate with the female. It is tough being a kid.

Mom helping calf to surface

Calf under mom for nursing / protection

After swimming with the whales the tour boat took us to Mariners ‘s Cave. You have to swim under a ledge to end up in a nice cave. Our guide took this picture of Liliane.

Mermaid Liliane

Mike & Liliane

One morning we were woken quite early by the sounds of whales singing close to our boat.We can hear the sounds through the hull. So at 6:45am we got into our wetsuits and jumped in the water. We didn’t see the whales underwater, but we must have been close as we could feel the sound vibrations in our chest. Each year Humpback whales come up with a new song that they all sing. Here is 2015’s greatest hit. Turn up the volume!

While we were recording whale sounds, a sailfish swam over to us. A little blurry, but we captured him. That was almost more amazing than the whales.

Other wonders of the sea, this is a cauliflower jelly fish we found while snorkelling close to our anchorage. They are usually found in very deep water. Somehow this little guy found himself in the shallow end of the pool.

Cauliflower Jelly Fish

While in Tonga, we had a few T-Shirts made with our boat name and the logo that is at the bow of the boat. Liliane had one made that advertises her massage skills to other cruisers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

New T-Shirts – Good way to advertise

We have been spending time while we are here with our good friends Josef and Renate who own Reef Resort, and their friend Doris. We had a couple of movie nights, as well as a music night. Lots of fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Anchored in front of Reef Resort

We will be leaving for Fiji in a couple weeks, then back to New Zealand mid November.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment