The Hole In The Wall, Really!

 

Having enjoyed some of the most comfortable sailing I can remember, the Queensland coast will remain in my memory as a glorious place to sail. We had enjoyed the most gorgeous weather, fabulous wind conditions and truly breathtaking scenery.  

On the 11th July we rounded the furthest most Northerly point of Australia, ‘Cape York’, leaving the Coral Sea behind us and entering the Arafura Sea, to cross the Gulf of Carpentaria, .  

This is where things got a little uncomfortable, it was as if the Coral sea and the Arafura sea were in a battle for supremacy, the seas were confused and we were rolling from gunnel to gunnel.  Even with all the sails out, sailing wing on wing, the rolling wouldn’t be stilled.  It meant that any attempt to do anything below was almost impossible, and anything not secured or tied down was sliding around the boat with reckless abandon. ‘Our diet was to be toast and cup-a-soup until the seas behaved themselves again!

For three long days and three Godforsaken nights, we sailed across the Gulf of Carpentaria, rocking and rolling the whole way. There was no land in sight, nothing but water, and the continual rolling…

At 6:30 this morning, Saturday 14th July we approached Wessel Islands, two long narrow Islands off the Northern Territory coast, the Islands are called Guluwuru Island and Raragala Island.  There is a good size pass between the two islands, but there’s also a narrow cut in one of the  Islands just one mile long and approximately 100 meter’s wide, through the island of Raragala, it’s called “the Hole in the Wall”.  

IMG_5848

This was reputed to be “something not to be missed”  (by some air-head) as long as you hit it at exactly the right time, so as to have favorable current.  

Two other Oysters in the fleet had taken the pass in the past couple of days, RedCat and Sea Avenue, they both recommended it. (I may need to have a few words with them when we catch up!)

Bob’s night watch was officially finished at 7am as we approached the Hole in the Wall, but thankfully he stayed on the helm, to take us through.  Don was frantically manning  the GPS and watching our way through on the screens, and passing the info to Bob.

I had just poked my head up through the companionway in time to see us approaching the entrance, (thanks for waking me guys! ) I asked to be woken this morning, so I wouldn’t miss going through.  Unfortunately no one bothered to come and get me, they were all too busy on the fore deck with their phones photographing our approach. Fortunately (or maybe not, as it turned out) I woke just in time to come up on deck and see our approach.  I couldn’t believe we were actually going to attempt to squeeze through this little gap in the Island, had everyone on board lost their marbles? It really didn’t look like a sensible choice to me, but then, what do I know?

As we approached the entrance, it looked really narrow and the water appeared very disturbed with lots of Eddys and strong tide, it was moving towards us, at 3 to 4 knots.  But  then only 10% of the way through the pass, the current started to increase until it reached 9 knots with 18-20 knots of wind behind. The pass was only a mile through, and even though the engine was at 1800 revs the boat came to a complete halt time after time, with still 3/4 of a mile in front of us. Our average speed was 0.01 knots.  Bob had to fight with the helm to keep the boat steady and pointing in the right direction.  Turning around was not an option, the current was so strong and the pass too narrow, our progress (if any) was unbearably slow, coming to a complete halt every few minutes. I kept staring at the sides of the pass for confirmation that we were moving at all. Mostly the speed stayed at 0.01 knots to 0.00 knots.  Glenn and Stuart put the jib out, hoping that this would give us some extra power, it didn’t! The water just seemed to be rushing past us at incredible speed. It felt as though we were attempting to sail up a waterfall. We were basically dead in the water with the engine at almost full revs! My imagination was on it’s spinning wheel going for Gold.

I was praying that the engine didn’t cut out, we would’ve been in such serious trouble had that happened. Was there a back up plan? What was the back up plan?  Which bright spark had this bloody daft idea anyway?  If the engine stalled or overheated we were toast, the boat would spin and crash into the rocky sides and we would all become crocodile buffet

Eventually Bob increased the revs by another 400, we were at maximum revs now with the jib full out and still our progress was barely more than 0.03 frequently dropping down to 0.00 knots. 

It was a fight at the helm the entire passage through; the one mile pass took us one hour and fifteen nerve racking minutes. The depth dropped to just 2.2 meters below the keel at one point, as Bob & Don tried to navigate through avoiding the strongest currents with Don passing on the GPS information.  

This was not fun. We had timed it so wrong for the current and tide, this error could easily have proved disastrous, However, my brilliant husband “Crazy Daisy’s Captain Bob”, and True Blue’s Captain Don navigated True Blue safely through.

OK, so I can now say “I went through the hole in the wall”, whoo hoo, big deal! Most people wouldn’t even know what I was talking about, and even if they did, do I care? No.   If I was to ever do this trip again, would I take Crazy Daisy through this pass? Absolutely Not, Not on your life… But then I wouldn’t attempt to trek across the North pole, sail the Pacific on a breadboard, or jump out of an airplane without a parachute either, but that’s just me…

 

Beautiful Queensland, Shame About the Nasties!

 

Sailing up the coast of Queensland has been an absolute joy, it’s possibly one of the most beautiful coastlines I’ve ever seen, with the exception of New Zealand, of course. 

I haven’t seen that much of Australia so far, but from what I have seen I’ve been surprised at just how much I like it.  I’m not sure what I expected, but I certainly didn’t expect it to be this beautiful, or this tropical. Having said that, I would never want to live here, there are way too many dangerous things with sharp pointy teeth and long hairy legs, and I’m not just talking about the locals.

Australia has possibly the largest collection of “nasties” deadly critters anywhere in the world, the spiders alone are enough to scare the feathers off an Ostrich. I saw my first (and I pray last) Huntsman spider when we were in the rainforest, “Holy crap” it was bigger than my hand, I could never live anywhere that this critter calls home. And that’s without all the crocodiles, sharks, box jelly fish, scorpions and deadly poisonous snakes to name just a few, way too many nasties here calling Australia home, I will not be settling down in their territory, but I’m enjoying visiting it, all be it with caution. 

I’ve deliberately not been in the water much, I’ve only been swimming once or twice,  with my silly suit on; this is referred to as a stinger suit by others.  Bob insisted on buying me this delightful outfit so I wouldn’t miss out on the snorkeling here.  

My silly suit consists of tight fitting, black stirrup pants, with a high neck, long sleeved bright turquoise, zip up top, a navy balaclava, divers socks and gloves, can you even begin to imagine what I look like in this ridiculous get up, especially with the added accessories, snorkel mask and flippers! And all to protect me from the box jellyfish! Really, the outfit alone is enough to scare them away! And no, there will be no photographs posted of me wearing this.  The snorkeling here is just not good enough to tempt me into an outfit where I would look like a bad impersonation of the Penguin, ‘Danny DeVito’ in Batman. Although it would give everyone else a good laugh.  

I did buy myself some seriously thick soled wet shoes, to protect myself from stepping on a ‘Stonefish’ another delightful Australian critter whose sting will cause excruciating pain followed by possible death! My shoes mean that I can at  least safely hunt for seashells in the shallow water without putting my family at risk of Mum’s hospitalization or funeral expenses!

 

Stranded on Stanley  Nautilus Search, Dinghy Drenching & Much Sighing!

 

Monday 9th July 2018

Yesterday Bob, Stuart, Glenn and I undertook a somewhat bumpy dinghy ride across the bay to Stanley island, opposite our anchorage here off Flinders Island.  The beach looked so tempting( the old phrase “the grass is always greener” springs to mind here), and the rocky hillside promised to be an interesting hike for the guys. I was all about shell hunting as usual, looking for that one special ‘Cephalopod’ the beautiful and elusive Nautilus shell. 

This area of the Queensland coast is frequented by crocodiles, so swimming is not advised, and one needs to keep a sharp eye out at all times when on the shore as they could be hidden in the water or the long grass growing at the  back of the beach. 

The beach was fun, the shells were plentiful and there were no croc’s (that I could see) no Nautilus either. However, the guys enjoyed their hike, and I had fun shell searching.  Bob drove the dinghy back taking the return journey at speed, to get the dinghy up on a plane, and avoid us getting a soaking.

fullsizeoutput_129e

The Dinghy on True Blue is no fun to drive, in fact it’s miserable, it has a tiller that’s horribly stiff (in need of a little tlc me thinks). Demanding is an understatement when it comes to the steering, which requires quite some strength to operate. I know Bob really misses “Whops-a-Daisy”(our dinghy on Crazy daisy) with her comfortable seat and easy steering. 

Tuesday 10th July

So, getting back to my story;  Lesley really wanted to visit the little beach on Stanley Island, but had been unable to join us yesterday as she was suffering from the possible start of a cold. Anyway, as we were both up early this morning, Glenn offered to drive us over, drop us off and collect us when we radioed to come back, we were ready to go by 8am, the water was calm and the wind had dropped to a gentle breeze, following a gusty very windy night; we hoped that the storm may have blown more shells up onto the shore, maybe even a Nautilus!  

However, best laid plans and all that, between making everyone tea, coffee and toast as they all slowly emerged from their cabins, it was 9:15 by the time we were actually ready, then Don decided he wanted to come with us, so Glenn said he would stay to help Bob and Stuart work on the traveler.  

I couldn’t help wondering how only Don, Lesley and me (pretty useless in the strength department) were going to drag the heavy dinghy up the beach and out of the water by ourselves! 

Lesley was trying her best to hurry Don along but it was 10 O’clock by the time we were  ready to leave, the wind was starting to build and the waves were increasing in height.  Anyway, not to be put off, we (me, Lesley & Don) headed out. One would normally say “better late than never”,  unfortunately, not in this case!  We really should have escaped earlier while the going was good, Oh well, (sigh). 

 IMG_5606

As soon as ‘yours truly’ had been safely installed in the dinghy we set off. And when I say “installed” Don makes such a fuss about me getting in and out of the dinghy,  he grabs my arm in a vice like grip, “to steady me!” I realize it’s all out of concern for my safety, but mostly it just puts me off balance, I’m actually so much safer without help (sigh) if I was to fall on my own I would simply get wet, if I fell with Don holding my arm as firmly as he does I’d probably break it.   But I know that it’s all out of concern and kindness, so I shouldn’t complain!

We approached the beach to see the waves rolling and crashing onto the shore, the wind had picked up and was blowing much harder than we would have liked, it promised to be a bit of a wet landing.  With the current and waves pushing us forward towards the beach, and crashing over the back into the dinghy, we were committed (or should I say “should have been committed”).  we really had no choice other than to land on the beach.  Lesley jumped over when we were in about two feet of water and took the painter to pull us forward, as Don raised and turned off the outboard, then the three of us, thigh deep in waves, pulled the dinghy up the beach as fast as we could before the waves flipped it over; it was a bit of a struggle for me, I don’t have much upper body strength, so I don’t know how much help I actually was, but with Lesley and Don pulling hard, between us we eventually managed to safely beach the dinghy.  

Turning around we could see the waves rolling in to shore from about 70 feet out, the prospect of a return journey was not a pleasing one, but honestly, as far as I could see it was nothing to get into a state about.  Don was already panicking about the return, mainly he said because of me being such a huge liability (sigh)!  

He  still worries about me as though I just had my surgery, fussing and panicking incase I dislocate again. It’s been eight months since my surgery, and seven since my last dislocation, I feel about as normal as I could be, and while I appreciate people worrying about me, it’s really tiresome to be continually treated as though I’m made of glass, well meant or not. 

Don radioed ‘Raya’ (our friends in the bay), with a request for them to ferry over our crew to help us, what Don didn’t realize was that Raya was having problems with her dinghy outboard, and it was actually dangerous for them to head over, if their outboard had stopped they could easily be swept out to sea, but this didn’t stop them from trying.  Within a few minutes Rick (from Raya) had collected Stuart and was heading out towards us.  Watching their approach, Lesley became concerned for their safety with the building waves, and told Don to radio them to turn back.  

We decided to wait it out and hope for the wind to drop and the tide to turn. That could be a few hours, but it was a far better prospect than putting our friends in danger. Rick turned around and headed back to the boat, while we contemplated a long stay on the island. Don’s worrying and panicking was starting to rub off on me.  My crazy imagination (the hamster on a wheel thing) started mentally going over my  survivor kit,  I had, water, tick, suntan lotion, tick, hat, tick, but no food (sigh) I started to wish I’d made time for breakfast, I may not get sunburnt or thirsty, but I might starve. I really need the hamster to just go to sleep during times of stress, instead of zapping into warp speed on the wheel causing my crazy imagination to do back flips! 

To cut to the chase; Lesley and I spent four and a half hours collecting shells, and watching for crocodiles (well at least I was watching for crocodiles).  Sadly there weren’t many shells worth adding to our collection, but happily no croc’s either.  The storm had done the opposite to what we had thought, and had sucked all the shells out to sea rather than onto the beach.  The few shells we did find were definitely not worth the eventual drenching we got on the return journey to True Blue!

IMG_5626

Having decided that we had waited long enough, with the tide right out, and the wind a little calmer, Don was ready to return. I was given my usual lecture on safety, along with explicit instructions, “to get into the dinghy first, and sit down” (sigh).

We dropped the wheels on the dinghy and dragged her back down the beach into the water, once we had her afloat I was instructed again (being the liability!) to get in and sit down, while Lesley and Don moved us into deeper water, then Don got in and started rowing, Lesley jumped in after him.  I was at the bow watching for bommies (raised coral heads).  The beach dropped away quite quickly and we were soon into deeper water with no bommies visible. But Don insisted on rowing with the outboard raised until we were quite a way out into deep water!  

Eventually, many sweaty, rowing minutes later  the outboard was lowered, (I would have smashed a bottle of champagne on the bow to celebrate if I’d had one) and off we went, well when I say ‘off’ it was at a snail’s pace, with the engine barely on tick-over, bobbing like a cork over the waves and getting absolutely drenched!  Don is extremely cautious driving the dinghy, especially for someone who flies around like a teenager at warp speed on his windsurfer, but let’s not forget he did have  “the liability” aboard, to take care of, one really can’t be too careful (sigh)!  Oh but would he stop worrying about me hurting myself…

Lesley and I were giggling like schoolgirls as we both sat like a couple of drowned rats with the waves continually pounding the dinghy and soaking us through to the skin as we bounced up and down, fortunately the water was warm, although the wind was cold.  OH how I was missing  Whoops-a-Daisy, she would have flown at speed over these waves on a plane, and I’m sure we would have arrived back at the boat with a minimum of splashes.  Ah well, it is what it is,  no harm done, sadly, despite all our discomfort there were no good shells found and still no Nautilus  (sigh)…

 

Kuranda

Monday 2nd July 2018

Really, how can you not love train travel, this has to be my favorite form of transport.  If it was possible I would travel everywhere by train. It was Bob’s and my 40th (Ruby) wedding anniversary yesterday, and Bob had booked us into a lovely rainforest lodge for the night, in the beautiful vibrant, picturesque little village of Kuranda, high up the mountains. We were to travel there by train, and return by Sky-rail, a cable car ride that takes you high over the rainforest canopy.  

DSC_0839

In Kuranda there are multiple  tourist attractions, among them the largest Butterfly sanctuary in Australia, an exotic bird aviary and a wildlife (cuddle the Koala’s) park. This had to be the trip of my dreams, trains, cable cars, birds, butterflies and wildlife, it couldn’t get much better.

DSC_0359

Unfortunately Mother nature had other plans and having throughly drenched Cairns every day since we arrived here (supposed to be dry season!) Bob and I were hoping for a dry, clear day.  And Sunday was one of the wettest days, so we changed our booking in the hotel to Monday which promised to be better, thankfully It was. 

DSC_0337

We left Monday morning in the pouring rain,  but by the time we reached the train station the rain had stopped, and the clouds had started to clear. The train ride up to Kuranda took two hours,  The historic railway carriages meandered their way from Cairns through the World Heritage-listed Rainforest of the Barron George National Park. We climbed higher and higher up the mountain as the views grew more spectacular by the minute. We passed towering waterfalls, deep ravines, went through 15 tunnels, and over 37 bridges,   I loved every minute of it.

DSC_0325

“a little history”

This historic railway line originally opened in 1891 and is a real feat of engineering that’s stood the test of time.  Up to 1500 men at a time armed only with picks, shovels and dynamite carved their way through mountains, rainforest and unforgiving landscape to construct the 37 kilometers of track. Many of the men died during the build.

The train journey up took just two hours. We arrived in brilliant sunshine in the picturesque little station at Kuranda surrounded by vibrant flora and fauna, it was like stepping back in time.

It only took a minute to walk up into the little market town.  I was surprised at just how much there was there. So many stalls, shops and attractions lined the streets.  We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon exploring the shops, before grabbing lunch in “Frogs” (which was fabulous).  Next was the bird aviary, where Bob was immediately targeted by an enormous Macaw. It landed on his shoulder and started to investigate his backpack, it opened the zip and stuck his head inside.  I tried to get it to remove its head from the bag so I could zip it back up, but the Macaw wasn’t having any of it and screeched loudly at me, I wasn’t about to argue with that beak.  Having realized there was nothing of any interest in the backpack it moved to the strap on the front, and in just a few seconds snapped the catch breaking the strap. This time I used a little more gentle force to remove the destroyer from Bob’s shoulders, while there was still something of the backpack left.

DSC_0385

It was amusing seeing Bob with a real Macaw on his shoulder, when just a couple of days ago he had a fake parrot strapped to his shoulder at a pirate party…

IMG_5363

                                                                                                                                           

Vegetarian or What?

 

In a Nutshell: (well, at least my attempt to make this nutshell size )

I tell everyone that I’m a vegetarian, because I get ridiculously excited about fresh, organic vegetables.  This may stem from my having lived on a boat in the Islands for 11 years, where so many of my favorite vegetables and fruits have been unavailable or limited, so I go a little crazy when I find a colorful, well stocked farmers market.  Local farmers markets are just about my favorite hang out.  You can keep your dress, shoe shops and Jewelry stores, just give me a Farmers market and I’m in Heaven.

I also love to grow my own When I have a garden! I also love to grow my own When I have a garden or pots!

The bulk of my diet is vegetarian, although I still eat meat and fish, but only occasionally, and only from humanly reared animals.  Animals that have been allowed to roam freely in fields untreated with pesticides and chemicals,  living in a natural environment, rather than mass produced livestock raised in cramped inhumane cages.  On balance, a stressed, improperly reared animal is not likely to be good for us, or taste good.  The type of feed, use of medications and the space an animal has been allowed to roam on all have an impact on their health and must surely negatively impact ours.  Convincing evidence from years and years of research prove that you can lower your risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer by increasing your fruit and vegetable intake.

A rare find, Organic Vanilla, I bought a bunch of it :) A rare find, Organic Vanilla, I bought a bunch of it :)

While anecdotal evidence is easy to find, the argument for less meat is now heavily backed up by medical research.  Everybody generally knows that vegetables, especially greens, which are abundant in vitamins and minerals, are good for us, but the story goes a lot deeper.

Phytochemical’s found in plants, are another explanation for the incredible health benefits of fruits and vegetables.  These chemical’s are what give plants their pigment, smell and more importantly flavor.

Home grown, Organic, Heirloom tomatoes & peppers Home grown, Organic, Heirloom tomatoes & peppers

A number of research papers look at the effects of Phytochemical’s on bone health, inflammation and even cancer.  We’ve only just scratched the surface when it comes to investigating just how influential these thousands of bioactive compounds are to human health.  Looking at the associations between food and disease, the positive impact of diets largely based on plants and whole foods is indisputable.  This is why they make up the bulk of my diet, and why they should feature heavily on yours, too.  A Simple carrot or apple is  brimming with phytochemical’s such as quercetin and carotene.  These simple, affordable and accessible foods are key to good health.  Eating a plate of colorful plants is the easiest way to guarantee a complete range of essential phytochemical’s.

Animal products are an easy and delicious source of complete protein, key micronutrients such as zinc and vitamin B12 are nutritional qualities that are very hard to obtain in a purely plant-based diet.    You don’t have to give up meat to adopt a healthier lifestyle, simply eat it less, be choosey with what you buy, and you will probably appreciate it more.  I treat meat and animal products as a luxury item, and enjoy them much more as an occassional treat rather than something eaten on a daily basis.

Avoid processed foods as much as possible, and read the ingredients label. My son’s girlfriend Paige, takes ages to shop as she reads the label on everything.  You want to look for more protein (10g or more per serving) and fibre, less sugar and calories. The ingredients list usually lists in order of highest amounts first.  If a food lists sugar or glucose as the first ingredient, it’s best avoided. Paige say’s if she doesn’t recognize the ingredient or can’t pronounce it, the product goes back on the shelf,  not a bad rule to live by.

Additives to avoid:

Epidemiological studies have found that higher intakes of nitrates – which are converted to nitrosamines in the body will increase your risk of cancer.  Think ham, salami, bacon, mince and sausages, where the numbers of the nitrate group  249-252 are used as a preservative to improve shelf life and enhance color.

MSG (no surprise’s here) this switches off the brain’s ability to say “I’m full” causing you to eat more than you need.  It’s associated health concerns are obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are always best avoided, diet drinks and foods are full of them.

Food Coloring

Those to avoid include blue (E133)  red (E124)  yellow (E110) and yellow tartrazine (E102)

Tip’s: 

Always try to buy organic, it’s a little more expensive but the price’s are lowering as their popularity grows.

Phytonutrients are most concentrated in the skins of vegetables, so leave the skins on wherever possible.

Most of our salt consumption comes not from added salt at the dinner table, but from hidden salt within products we buy.  So check the sodium levels, no more than 2.5g of salt or 1000mg of sodium per day.

High fibre foods make you feel full for longer, so for snacks aim for 3g or more per serving, and for main meals 6g or more.

 

 

Heading North, Koala Bears & Spanish Mackerel

 

Wednesday 20th June 2018

We left Hayman Island this morning at 8am, ‘sailing’ not motoring, so all were happy about that.  The weather is lovely, sunny, blue skies, but quite cold;  as usual I’m the only one in a t-shirt, everyone else has fleece’s and long pants.

We’re heading for Magnetic Island, doubtful we’ll make it today, so an overnight stop in Upstart Bay may be on the cards. 

As we left this morning we were graced with a visit from a small pod of  about 12 dolphins, mostly juvenile.  They swam with us for about 10 minutes while Lesley and I stood on the bow watching and cheering as they leapt high into the air;  there can be no doubt that these are fun loving happy creatures.

DSC_0449

Thursday 21st June 2018

So, as it would turn out we didn’t stop overnight, our Captain decided we would slow down, head out a bit and keep going all through the  night so we could arrive at Horseshoe Bay early this morning.  It was a pretty rolly night, no one got much sleep, there were a few issues with wind change, and a few frayed tempers, OH well, all’s well that ends well, and we arrived tired but safely this morning.

After lunch we all headed ashore to explore. Magnetic Island is famous for its wild Koala’s, and we were told if we hiked up to the fort through the forest we would most likely see some.

DSC_0134

The hike was steep (for me) and in total we walked about 3 miles, but the views were spectacular, we saw wild Koala’s sleeping and feeding, along with some pretty spectacular birds.

DSC_0068

We had an ice cream (as you do) on the beach before we headed back to True  Blue for a dinner of coconut breaded Spanish Mackerel, caught by Stuart yesterday. 

IMG_4752

It was quite a magnificent catch, the Mackerel was 57” long and gave us enough fish to fill the freezer and keep us all fed for quite a few meals…

 

Dinghy On The Loose!

 

Friday 15th June 2018

I’m sure this has happened to more cruisers than will ever admit it; it’s certainly happened to us in the past.  You wake up in the morning and your dinghy has gone walk about’s (missing)!

First thought “it’s been stolen” second and much more likely, “someone didn’t tie the painter on properly”.  

While we were mored out at Line reef near the waterfall, in the Great Barrier Reef, one of our buddy boats awoke to find their dinghy missing.  

The likelihood of it being stolen out here, hours from the nearest land, is pretty remote, someone (no names mentioned) more than likely didn’t tie it up and it made its escape.

Oyster people are quite a close group, and when one of us is in trouble there’s no shortage of offers of help. Another Oyster ‘SunSuSea’ came to the rescue and offered their spare dinghy.  

In the meantime, while the dinghy-less vessel sailed back to the mainland, we, or rather Don, Stuart, Glenn & Bob set about doing what they could to locate the missing dinghy. 

Of course it could have broken free after dark and possibly been floating on the current freely for maybe 10 – 12 hours, who knows where it could be by now, it was a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack, but the True Blue crew weren’t to be dissuaded.  

Don called the local security on the SSB to give the details, and request a look out for the dinghy from other vessels in the vicinity.  He also tried calling the other vessels that were showing on the AIS. Stuart went 96′ up the mast with the binoculars, to look further afield. 

fullsizeoutput_11b1

Bob and Glenn shot out in our dinghy to the outer reef where they had spotted something white that appeared to be stuck on the reef, it turned out to be a giant clam. After a couple of hours, our search was deemed hopeless, then we heard a message over the vhf announcing that a fishing vessel had picked up a loose dinghy 8 miles away.  The owner of the fishing vessel, also the owner of the “fish & Rum bar” in town, attached the painter from the dinghy, and towed it all the way back to Line reef where we were waiting. The escapee was caught, and we towed it back to Airlie Beach to return it to it’s very grateful owner.  That night all 10 of us dined at the “fish & Rum Bar”,  a great restaurant, lovely food, and a kind and generous owner.

 

The Great Barrier Reef’  Waterfall.

 

Thursday 14th June 2018

The sea was like glass in the bay this morning. In the absence of wind, we were forced to motor the 90 minutes from our beautiful Butterfly bay out to Line Reef, one of the closest of the outer reefs to the Whitsundays. 

We were only a few minutes out when we received a visit from a pod of about 8 small dolphins, that raced along with us at the bow of the boat. As usual we all gathered on the bow with cameras in hand to try and capture these graceful creatures on film. 

DSC_0449

Shortly after the dolphins departure, Glenn spotted a whale spout on the horizon. And over the next hour we saw half a dozen spouts, splashes, breaches and fin slapping as the whales surfaced splashing about on the water. We followed for a while keeping a respectable distance.  I was really hoping to see one come close to the boat, but that didn’t happen. 

fullsizeoutput_11aa

Anyway we arrived in Line (from Hook, Line & Sinker reefs)at lunchtime, and everyone leapt in the dinghy to go to the “waterfall” I thought they were kidding, here we were in the ocean, hours from the nearest land, the water was flat as a plate of glass, and we were going to see a waterfall! I was confused to say the least, but I was going to go and see what the hell they were all talking about.

IMG_4532

So anyway, it turns out there’s a break in the reef and at low tide the water from the lagoon pours back into the sea with tremendous force, causing a huge rush of water resembling a waterfall, it really was quite spectacular, who would have thought! The ocean is just full of surprises…

 

Boobies in the Bedroom!

 

Friday 16th June 2018

Life’s always full of surprises when you live on a boat, and surprise visitors happen frequently, sometimes uninvited visitors! 

As Lesley and I were preparing dinner tonight, twas to be a delicious fare, consisting of Lesley’s sautéed cabbage with cumin seeds & turmeric, my soufflé potatoes, vegetarian & pork sausages to be served in splendor with  our last bottle of wine, at least until we either provision or break into the customs sealed cupboards, (which most likely won’t happen, as the consequences of this action could be somewhat expensive).

Don arrives back at the  boat with Bob, Glenn & Stuart, after a dive near the waterfall, and announces that he’s invited everyone from ‘Miss Tiggy’ (another Oyster) for sundowners. This would normally not be a problem in fact we would usually be delighted, except that we were an almost dry boat, we had plenty of gin, vodka, scotch etc, all the spirits,  but no beer, one bottle of wine and no mixers.  “Hello, welcome aboard True Blue, can we offer you a glass of NEAT gin or vodka?”  I don’t think so…  

Our solution was to send Stuart across in the dinghy with a  plea for mixers & beer “Hey when you come over to join us for a drink, can you bring the booze with you?”

To compensate, and with dinner put on hold, I decided to make a selection of appetizers, we might not have booze but we did have lots of food, maybe that would work! I managed, delicious little cheese pastry puffs, mini quiches, vegetable samosas with chutney, cream cheese with tomato chili jam and crackers, olives, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes, with the obligatory bowl of nuts. Not a bad spread to have thrown together in an hour.

IMG_4543

So, to cut to the chase; we all had a lovely couple of hours chatting and catching up while the sun set. And between the wine the beer and the tonics that our guests provided, a good time was had by all. 

Once our guests had departed, we were all busy clearing up and Lesley and I were about to restart the dinner when Stuart rushed out of his bedroom with a surprised look on his face and announced “Heather, there’s a Boobie in my bedroom!”  My response was “yes I saw him fly in”.  Stuart looked puzzled, obviously thinking I was joking. “No, I’m not kidding, there really is a Boobie in my bedroom” he said looking anxious.

Earlier in the evening, just as it was getting dark I saw a Boobie flying over the foredeck and then just disappear, I thought that the light had been playing tricks on me in the fading light and he had just swooped low and landed on the water, apparently not, he had dropped through the open hatch and taken up residence in Stuarts bedroom. 

fullsizeoutput_11d6

We all went to look and there he was, ‘a Boobie in the shower’.

Poor thing, having gate crashed the party he was wandering up and down the bedroom into the shower cubicle and back, pooping as he went.  He didn’t seem that stressed, although he didn’t look too happy to meet his landlords.  Stuart was a little stressed about the boobie pooping all over his clothes and towels on the floor in his bedroom, it did all smell a tad fishy!

Then the fun began, as our intrepid team of Boobie Snatchers sprung into action, Bob, Don, Glenn & Stuart didn’t waste any time in devising a cunning plan with which would remove the Boobie safely from the bedroom.  Bob was concerned for everyone’s safety in trying to catch the bird without harming it, and a possible injury from the very large beak of a creature thinking it was fighting for its life, not understanding we were trying to help free it.  

The brain storming continued for some time, with everyone coming up with different suggestions from throwing a towel over it, except the  towels  were too small (it was a large bird with an enormous wing span), or a blanket, but Lesley only has expensive cashmere, so that idea didn’t go down well,  then (my  personal favorite) use a sail bag to create the appearance of a dark cave that it would run into (LOL, LOL, LOL). Lesley filmed this particular discussion on her phone, which provided us with endless entertainment the following morning. 

We went up on deck to retrieve a sail bag from the locker, to find yet another bird had taken up residence on True Blue, this time it was a ‘Black, White-capped Noddy Tern’ sitting on the paddle-boards on the foredeck just dozing and pooping quietly, probably waiting for us to launch the boards so it could just bob around the ocean on its own. He stayed put while the sail bag was retrieved from the locker and shaken out; appearing totally unconcerned as he sat just a couple of feet away watching us, he also had the perfect spot for observing through the open hatch  the comedy of errors taking place below.

Once the sail bag was below, the boys drove the Boobie into the shower cubicle and started to construct ‘the cave’ into which, apparently the Boobie would happily run (LOL). Did any of these bright ideas work? No, but it was fun watching our intrepid team get to grips with the solution. In the end in sheer exasperation “if Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed” Stuart threw “the cave” over the bird, grabbed it, and hastily carried the poor creature up on deck where he unceremoniously dropped the Boobie into the ocean, with me following, screaming “don’t drop it in the ocean”, happily the Boobie came to no harm as it immediately flew off into the night, pooping as it went…

 

Birds Behaving Badly!

Following my excitement and rather pathetic endeavors to photograph a Cockatoo about 70 feet at the top of a tree with my powerful Nikon zoom lens; we arrived at Hamilton Island to find dozens of them everywhere. Common as sparrows here in Australia, the Cockatoo’s are literally everywhere and brazen with it.

DSC_0137

They’re a great tourist attraction ‘initially’,  but people quickly get fed up with their bad behavior.  On the marina front there are cafe’s and restaurants where you can sit and enjoy a drink and something to eat while overlooking the marina.  The birds are there in abundance, and not just the Cockatoo’s, but the seagulls and enormous crows, they crowd around the tables hoping for scraps, many of the people (despite notices everywhere not to feed the birds) throw scraps of food, which bring the birds in flocks,  screeching and squawking  from all directions. If you drop a piece of bread the onslaught is like a scene from Hitchcock’s movie  “The Birds”.

DSC_0187

While sitting at one of the tables, I watched a seagull swoop down and literally steal a french fry from the mouth of a diner. The birds all sit in the surrounding bushes on the rails, cars, umbrellas, anywhere where they can be close to the diners.

fullsizeoutput_1116

I was busy taking photographs and had a paper bag on the table with my half eaten feta and spinach pastry in it, I deliberately left it in the bag while taking photographs thinking it would be safe, “ha” not a chance, I turned around at the sound of paper rustling, to see a cockatoo, brazen as brass, on the table with his head in the bag, as I made a grab for the bag he immediately pulled his head out with my pastry in his beak and took off into a maelstrom of screeching feathers as about 50 other birds attempted to steal his catch.  Not a great place to sit and eat!

I’m usually a culprit of feeding the birds, but in this case it really is not a good idea, and people should absolutely pay attention to the signs and “NOT FEED THE BIRDS”…