Went a blasting south to Port Macquarie, Al wanted halp with the boat. Of course the plan changed when I got there, but hey, warm bed, internet, meat raffle twas good.
Meat Raffle? Meat Raffle? Yes its a raffle for meat. I got 10 bucks of tickets, Al and Jack got 10 too, Gavin and Anthea got 20 and we managed to win a trully astonishing quainty of meat.
There H and S might be out of hand, but if the've heard of political correctness there having none of it. In the UK we'd have Tofu alternatives incase of complaints. As Marcus Brigstock put it "Tofu is proof that Nature abhhores a Vegan". Probably a phsicists joke.
Anthea and Gavin. Jacks sister and husband? Remember is siad " you will be tested". Unfortunalty Brenda (see here) saw my little missive about the family, and infoms me, Micheal is with Danny the other brother, chippying for the Summber camp in the US Al's daughter's also at.
This changes blog post "I'M ON A TRAIN" of 17th of July.
I think there all relived that my Wicked Van has been removed from the drive of their house, i think it was having the same effect on house prices as a Daily Mail exposee of pedofiles in the neighbourhood. Foruntalty my website won't recive bad hits or google ratings from the word pedofiles cos I'm pretty sure thats not how you spell it. At least I write "Kangaroo's run the F****ers down" without hte apostrophy.
Up a mountian in Vanuatu, trying to get the Lava out of my hair, being told not to stand near the edge cos it some times collapses into the caldera full of red hot lava, Christian says how we'd never be abole to do this in Austrailia, the volcano would be fenced off a state away. He complained about Ausie H & S, but I though. "It can't be as bad as the UK"
The'res the mising fence.
Half way down a waterfall.
Bollocks it can't. The Ausie's have a near infintite number of national parks. There's litterally hundreds of them. They've got more parks than the rest of the plannet put to gether. I've been through about a dozen allready. Springbrook, Glass House, Lamming ton, Tamborine, and that jsut the ones I can remember of the names of.
Anyway so far the Springbrook is best, unforunatly and fortunalty H & S means you can't miss the attractions, since their signposted to buggery. You also don't need to worry about access. H & S will build paths, warn you of slippery bits and so on. In fact if so much as a pebble appears on the path sings go up . Metal gats slam shut and the whole contenent sinks lower under the sheer weight of hazzard warning tape.
"Eastern path of Puringbrook falls closed due to rock slide", metal gates 6ft high, signs every where I could have steped over the rickslide! Pebble side more like.
"Natural Bridge walk way closed" the massive concreate platform runining hte natural setting had lost its railing. Big heras fence pannel. Hazard warning tap signs. I climed over the fence on bloody principal.
this is NOT me - obviously
Went surfing, well I say surfing, it was more like being beatern up by waves and holding a board. Cool fun. Water conciderably warmer than the air. The photo right is NOT me for one he's standing up, for 2 he's on a short board for 3 a wave like that and I wouldn't be alive to blog.
No I was nearer the shore, on one of those foam tourist proof things. I did stand up for about a second. Some of the waves were big, kerspat.
Bruised knackered and with salt water in every orifice. May have to shoot down to Port and help Al haul Jackal out. However I doubt it, next 2 days v stormy says ausie weather forcast. Great for campervaning, just dried the damn thing out (and fitted an extra rubber band on the accelerater, toped up the water etc. etc. etc.
Waiting for Campbell to get back from Sydney, he's a Kiwi, its the Tri Nations at the moment. He went to All Blacks v Wallabies. The All Blacks lost. Oops. I as the only Pom will probably have to not laugh (at least in Rugby were concidered more than a joke, unlike cricket, football, tennis err pretty much every sport bar sailing and rugby). He'll get enough stick from the ausie's I shouldn't wonder.
In Main Beach, Gold Coast.
And yes I'm back on a yacht already. I'm on "Estoterica" Campbell's yacht. Its much larger than Dreamtime IV his previous boat, which I sailed accross the Atlantic on in 2001.
He's kindly let me stay on board a couple of days while I check out the Gold Coast.
As preomiced just added some picks of the van. WARNING contains Australian (bad) language.
Marina is called "Southport YC", now I thought "Southport" was what posh people said when they didn't want to say "Liverpool". Like "Hove Actually!"
Going out drinking laundry, and ahhhhhh, shower. Thats all folks
Just a piece of glass away
Well I've got my van, its therefore started to rain in biblical proportions. Damn. Even the "save water" signs are soaked through.
I've got "Cow and Chicken", IE thats the graphitti paint job on it, wich is fine by me. Photo to follow when it stops raining. Can't charge me camera battery in the van.
First trip was north to "Australia Zoo", more recogisable as "Irwin's Zoo". I think it may have been started by his dad. In another piece of epic timing it was raining, record breakingly, and for even more bad timing points today was Bindi's 10th brithday, for those not familure with Bindi, its not the zoo's most famous or cutest animal. That would be Steve Irwin himself. No. Its the Irwin brat. You know the baby he used to wave in front of 10 meter salties? Yep the zoo was overrun with wet kids. Though one of them did nearly get eatern by a tiger. Which was kinda funny.
The tiger area has 3 glass screens, one is in the pool. It actually extends bellow the water, the kid was pressed firmly agaist the glass the tiger lept about 8 feet into the pool and ended up nose to nose with the small kid. 75kgs of nearly full grown tiger arriving 1/2 inch from your nose in a hurry would make you jump too.
A wet Wallably, actully its a Roo
Stopped last night in the Glass House mountins, that must look apsolutly spectactular in clear weather. Seen alot of, usually very wet, bush. Did get mildly lost, mildly for Australia, got a road atlas. But some pages are 100 km to the inch - more in NT. Don't mind getting lost, just making sure I've got a bit of fuel and water. The Van (I was told) had oil and water checked before I got it. It hadn't the heater was working intermitantly wich I've seen before, so I poured in 6 mugs of water. Better. Its a proper banger, I love it. Its done 250000km, the gear lever occationally jams completely and can't be pulled in or out of gear. The throttle sticks, its probaly got a leaky radator. Its dented a lot. Roof leaks, fortunatly under a piece of trim so it runs to the wall. The sensor for the door reads door open all the time and it has the cartoon characters of cow and chicken spray painted all over it. Its great. Only one thing worries me, was damn hard to start this morning.
The van's come with helpful stickers, by each door is one that reads "Attention Arsehole, 8th Commandment, thou shalt not steal. God is watching you you theirving bastard. Its a wicked world you will be cursed. Wicked Campers" I manged to beg one of these off the desk. And one of the locks has clearly been fixed, the keys don't match. The dash says "KANGAROO'S (with an apostrophy I'm sure shouldn't be there). Run the f**kers down." Very australian. The hire agreement did state in the middle of the page, capitalsied, in itlaics, underlined... quotated "DO NOT ROLL THE VAN, this is your responciblilty" apparently sweving to avoid roos, kolas, wallabys etc has resulted in this a few times I was told to brake and hit them.
I am parked in a layby halfway up a mountain south of Brisbane Tambone I think. Not entirly sure where and were not you are allowed to stop. No signs, counties too big. Going to drive to the Gold Coast and see Campbell tomorrow.
My 12volt laptop charger was left in port Macquarie. So I'll sign off now and save battery. Cow and Chicken out
Additional: Just submitted this and it said updated where ResID=1024. Hmmm I wonder how big I made the Primary Key field? Find out if my database is full in the next thrilling installment.....
Brisbane by Night from the Backpackers
Still here in Brisbane, but definatly leaving. I'm going to visit Steve Irwins's zoo. Now Spike Millagan, of the goon show fame, when he died had the words "I told you I was Ill" inscribed on his tomb stone. Wich as eptiaphs go was damn fantablulos. I'm not sure what Steve Irwin had iscribed on his. "Some where out there was a wild animal with his name on it" would be my submision, a man who trully loved animals more than his own life. Oh well the bus from here to there and back again about doubles the entry fee. Fortunatly I have just aranged to rent a wicked campervan, as expected it was mor expencive than advatised. I'm old enough and cyical enough to know that.
The idea is to drive arround, visiting Cambell, the skipper of Dreamtime IV, on which I did my second atlantic crossing, pick my stuff up from Jacky's in port Macquarie and return said camper in Sydney in a couple of weeks. Its about 600 miles to Sydney as the crow flies.
If booked the van till the 8th of August. When hopefully I'll be meeting Matt.
Its safe to go to Sydney now, the Pope's gone home. Probably with a speeding ticket on the popemobeel windscreen. It was blatting allong awfull fast. Take a chance on life, you never knwo you could get hit by a Popemobeele tommorow!
Does any one have the faintest idea how you spell "pope mobeelelelelele" or care. If you do please write in to
Licence Fee Wasting Dept,
BBC Bush House,
Or Text in for 5000 dollar pounds a minute to +61448930953
Any way I'm the tempoary owner of transport, would be good if I could find a sharer for said. Notice's in you local backpackers. The Wicked Capmers are aimed at the Backpackers. I've got to park mine outside Campbell's mum's house. Jacky's mums house and what ever posh suburb of Sydney Matt lives in. All of them are graffitti artist decorated. Some with quite rude slogans. "its not cheating if its in a wicked van" is a minor exarmple. So I asked for a non-rude one. Damn I'm getting old...
Next Installment wrestelling Crocodiles, drop kicking Koalas and, probably, a speeding ticket.
Yesterday I wandered, to the Brisbane South Bank. Museam (good [and free]) and art gallery. Not into art, but I've done my token gesture bit of culture for the trip. See left, I'm calling "Humidity Monitor in an artistic setting". I a belated defence of the Art gallery, it was good. There was a small group of musician, piano, oboe*, etc. WIth an increadible singer with an awesome voice. The modern concrete gallery's acoustics where amazing, art is conciderably improved by that haunting voice, which was not so much echoing as swelling through the entire gallery.
* See I have got culture - I know what an oboe looks like**
** Ok it might have been a Clarinet**
*** DEFINATLY not a bassoon, how dumb do you think I am.
Ok I'm not ready to be released into the wild. I'm used to boats. I also suspect I'm the oldest person in the Backpackers, which is cool in way, no guit there. I also appear to be the richest. Which isn't saying much, if I were to put my card in a hole in the wall some money would actually come out, that makes me the exception. Everyone else seems to be scubbing, labouring temping etc. I remember doing that, but don't miss it much. Its not worth my while, I like to think I havn't grown up but the reality is I have, I have no desire to do crappy temp jobs anymore. What I don't understand is why the hell was I temping in a high rent place like brighton? The post office sorting was mostly me sherm and a bunch of spaniard. A comedian I heard once said "Why are there somany homeless in Peckham?", its a very valid question, if your destitute and homeless there are better places to do it than Peckham.
Brisbane is pretty un-exciting. Its clean high rise, modern, and about as intersting as the biography of a trainspotter. I've looked at the land marks, the squares and statues, but town hall archetecture and corporate art aren't worth the wear and tear on the memory card. There statue of Queen Victoria is identical to the one on Third Avenue Hove, which I've never given so much as a passing glance. Gotta apply those standards here too.
So what now. Well the sort of Plan is Matt, boat, Sydney harbour. You can fly inter-big city for peanuts $78 (Brisbane to Sydney), but interesting places like Alice Springs are more. Campervans can be hired these being the obvious choise. At little more than a backpackers hostel price. Which is very tempting. Old vans and cars can be bought for longer trips. Which is more tempting, though the really good places require a proper car and 4x4 skills. Breakdowns in the outback aren't quite like hte home counties. Both options tempt me. The former short term, for starters the Backpackers in the Gold Coast are apparently hard sell all night party places. Not an all night party person. Going elsewhere than the big cities is expencive by air, slow by train, diesel single track, cheapish by bus, but miserble. Distance is the issue here. I hop up too london all the time, 50 miles. I regulaly go to Cov, after work sometimes! I think of a journey to Sedbergh as a slog, but even that's peanuts to Austrailia.
A: rent a camper and go see Campbell in the gold coast and spend a few days in a Rainforest National Park thingy, return to Brisbane fly to Sydney (assuming Matt has talked his employers and more dificult, Mei into comming over yet).
B: Buy a car/van and start driving towards Sydney on the assumption that by the time I get there Matt Mei (bad pun) or may not contain Matt and attept to flog said banger at the end. Giving lifts to packpackers on the way.
C: Blow cash on a posh tour to the outback and go home.
Option B Makes sence, but I'm less interested in NSW than Queensland/NT. Also it will take a long time to get to Sydney. Passing through places like Coffs and Port I've already seen.
Option C is tempting, I'd blow money, but it would be short and sharp and I'd probalby go home earlier.
Option A is the most likely at present, its short term non-bankrupting and fits my preliminary plan. An Plan C can be impimneted as esily form Sydney as Brisbane, possibly easier, busses from Brisbane go via Cairns and Darwin to get to the interior.
Oh bollocks I'll just sit here posting on facebook, tweak the interactive chart page of my website, the trouble with that is my chart page was not invisged when I designed the database that runs this website, requres use of the Google Maps API, wot I don't understand, and now contians more lashed up code than the govenments NHS database system. For god's sake don't let Kieran see it he'll have kittens. Yes I know the blog map looks like I went backwards and forward through norhtern Vanuatu, live with it. I daren't run it in internet explorer....
There's no need to shout the whole train can hear you.
Today's Train, Electric? Nope. Single Track, Yep.
7.5 Hours to Brizy
OK those ferverish awaiting my missives and wondering whether I sunk will be disapointed taht I didn't. If your wondering who so long with no blog....
1: Bed, warm, soft inshort a bed. On a floor not a boat. With springs etc. Not a bit of foam with three car batteries and a kareokee machine under it, strategicly placed to apmlify the primary and halyard winches, whilst gently vibrated by a 50 deisel engine 6 inches away. Bliss.
2: Telly. You've heard of Home and Away and Neighbours? Prisoner (cell block H). With apart from a few cheap game shows thats all they produce the rest is stamped "BBC". Good huh.
3: WiFi. Works in bed. Over night down loads, hell I even ran windows update. Didn't bloody work, but hey when the safter and bugs in you os can only be fixed by internet explorer, you can't expect much.
So no long days at sea, no watches. Insort better things to do.
Jacky has a large family. I was not so much invited as "assumed" into their house. Now if I get this straight. I was in Jacky's room, with a frankly scary number of pictures of Alan. Alan and Jackie where in Jacky's dad's room. After that I am confused. The "Ute", aussie for pickup me and Al used to raise jackals water line belonged to Jacky's brother Mike (who's abroad whereabouts unknown to me). Jacky's other brother is running a summer camp in the US. Alan's daughter is workning for Jacky's brother in the US. All the junk off the boat in in storage owned by Jackiy's other brother (the one with the ute). The cats are called Mischief and Patch (psycotic kitten of super-Nermal cuteness). Brenda, jacky's mum had to go off and look after Blakey Jacky's niece, not of the brothers, of the sister Andrea. Her husband, Gavin, is a locksmith who too about 30 seconds to open the boat when Al? Rember Al? forgot the key to the boat and breeth. Got that? Good there will be a test next period.
We made landfall in Coffs Harbour. Froze for 2 nights, since then is been balmy. Regretted not wearing shorts while working on the boat. Christain flew home from Coffs, leaving me and Al to take the boat 68 miles to Port Mcquarie. We were ordered to arrive at 3 PM, fortuntly that was high tide on the infamous bar. The joureny, begun at night was filled with whale worry. Lots of aussie fishermen in bar telling us about whale incedents. The dangers of the Hastings river (Port Mcquarie) etc. More of a real problem was no wind, we had to motor. We'd left early to leave plenty of time. However the engine controls spring is a bit keen. It sits in gear at idle but you have to push it to about 1500+ RPM or it springs back. idle + east Oz current = 3knts (late) 1500 revs = 5knts (early). Optimal 3pm arrival = 4knots.
My solution was to run at 1500 and chase whales rather than go the right way to compensate for the extra speed, and boy did we see wales. Humpbacks 3 large groups of them. None of them fortunatly dretly to windward. There are bad smells in this world, a fart in a drysuit will make your eyes water when you take it off, but nothing smells quite like a blow hole.......
"There she blows"
So here's me. My mask flippers and snorkel, gps, sailing gear and various bits of junk are in a cardboard box in Jacky's folks house. And I'm on a train to Brisbane. Queensland here I come. Backpackers booking and a copy "the Rough Guide to Austrailia". No I don't have a plan. I'm used to being able to navigate my self, charts lat long etc, share the communal shower gel on the boat. Most of the islands are to small to have to worry about getting back. So I'm out of my depth and on the train to Brisbane. Eta seven and a half hours. Austraila is BIG. I mean woa.
At least this time I've seen a Kangeroo, and a Koala Bear. Port Macuarie has NSW's only Koala hospital. Gotta be a TV series in that. Everybody say "aaaaaaahhhh".
The trouble with being an athiest is that if your wrong the one thing thats really going to get on god's goat (apart of couse from Ant and/or Dec) is Athiests.
Maybe there is a god, and he's punishing me for not beliving him.
More likley I'm right and this is global warming, which means its more George Dubbya Bush is fault. Right? He invaded Iraq and invented global warming right?
The weather's turned rotten again. The planed pleasant last day day of 18 kn norhterly pushing us most of the last 190 miles became 6 hours of screaming 30kn northerly then swiched in the space of about 1/2 an hour to 25 kn westerly. The results of the associated waves of that just caused me to fall over. I was lyng in bed at the time! The waves are large random and distorted. The result is we're doing three knots under engine with the boat bobing around like a rubberduck in a bath full of children high on sugary soft drinks.
Jackal Log probably wednesday the somnthingth
or other of July, position near austrailia:
Weather V stormy, crew V Mutanious, fags V low,
magnetic scabble letters must be stuck to compass
or I am sailing up Droilsden Gully*,
GPS just fell on my head, think an albatos just shot at us.
Obviously we picked up about 10 inches of rain during the change over. Australia's sufferting a drout, all the water is [SLAM boat falls off a wave rattling teeth and crockery], all the water is here, 75 miles East of the Victoria/NSW border. Falling on us.
I don't know why you bother reading this, I'm bored out of my skull, using the laptop in bed with my feet braced on the wall. It fell off the table. I've got nothing better to do than rant about the mid winter weather. I supose I shall have to drag my self out of bed for the daily scrabble game. A game which has become harder since the long lost j apeard a few weeks back in a cockpit locker, and a large and to my mind uncessary pile of vowels tunred up in the bookshelf. I had a feeling somthing wasn't right with yesterdays game, and lo the x was located on the cockpit floor this morning, now I realise what was missing.
* Droilsden Gully is a little know industrial sewer in Manchester somewhere, which our beloved skipper once comapred the Grand Canyon too.
The 2 nights ago we were horribly dispirited. We've gotten used to our main sourse of weather underestimatint the wind strenght. Its been doing that since about Fiji. But we'd had 2 days of strong hard on the wind when it should have been a light beam reach. Not nearly as plesant. The 15 knot easterly which would have been perfect was in fact a 30 kn south easter. The waves were stacking up and sharp horrible confused shapes. To offset this we we inicially steared right for Brisbane. This wasn't enough. The breacking crests started to slam the side of the boat in furious bangs and sickaning lurches.
We turned our stern to them, the bow towards Bunderberg and none of us got much sleep. The gerry cans, sunflower oil lables now faded into invisibility we've had tied to the rail since Panama worked loose, I climbed out to retrieve them. Just as Al took one a huge lurch sent Jackal over on her ear, sending Alan and the gerry can flying across the cockpit, bouncing off the bincale and over the table. He landed on his head on the leward cockpit seat with a badly bruised arm. This sort of thing is to be expected from time to time. It was the future which bothered us. The 10kns of the preceding 2 days forcast had in reality been 25kn. We'd had a standard practice for some time of adding 5kn to the forecast even before that. The forecast was for 30kn northerlies off the Ausie coast early this week. Tommorow and wednesday. Morton Bay, the aproaces to Brisbane is sand bank infested and open to the north. Even if we'd got there we'd never have dared go in. A grib.us forecast of 30 kn was, on current showing, going to be 40 kn in reality. No harbour we could get into before Coffs. No sleep. Chilly by our standards.
The next morning the waves, still confused allowed us to set a more southerly course, but 25 kns of wind was still 10 above we were told, so we texted our weather girl, Jackie, with a request she find some Ausie forcast we might trust.
Eventually Jackie came back with 15 kn easterly for today. Which to our suprise was bang on the money. The wind should swing to north for tommorow and 18kns. With a 15kn south westerly on wednesday. By the time the text came in the waves though still huge were more consitant and the motion more comfortable. We had a pleasant night sail on sunday night. Today has been flat fast and very pleasant. We're hoping the forcast will hold. The south westerly on wednesday is irittating since it ill be right on the nose, but that is tempered by the help of the favourable East Austrailier current and our overly windy passage has left us with a stash of diesel that if sold to british white van men at current road prices would allow us to buy a small island. We've about a tank and 1/2 left. With all the Gerry cans we can take about 2 and 1/2 tank fulls 700 miles at full speed.
All in all we've only 260 nm to go to Coffs. Arrival will be a relief. None of us were looking forward to this passage, plunging south in the middle of winter, a disconcertingly large continent ahead, not the little islands you can nip around and find shelter we've become acustomed to. Its gone from tropical heat to chilly in a week.
It will be good to arrive, odd as those who know me might find this sounding, but I have had enough sailing for a while. I'm seriously looking forward to getting my feet on dry land. I've not sleped on dry land once in 8 months. When we reach Coffs I'll have brought Jackal a staggering 10741 nautical miles in a little over 6 months. If Jackal was a second hand car it would be suspect, at 1000 land miles a year for a typical car its done 12325 miles in just 6 months.
End of this Journey? Yes, definatly. But the flight home will be shorter than the sail here, so I can hold my head up high and apease my eco concience. I know the world is round. I've been arround it completly, admittedly by airoplane for about a 1/4. When I do get home I'll have seen 2 sunsets less than the rest of you, by chasing the sun around the world twice.
I hope I don't run in to some nice Aussie with a yacht, leaving Coffs for euorpe next week and short of crew.......
Its the bleak midwinter here. Well not bleak, sunny but down to only warm now. Didn't wear shorts all day today. I'm now as far south as I've ever been. 21°15' South being a previous record. Temp inside the boat is now 22°c at 22° South Latitude. Though it is the middle of the night.
Mahi Mahi, aka Dolphin Fish, aka Dorado
I pulled my trousers out in Luganville. Boy were they musty. Under a bed in a damp locker in a boat in the tropics for months. Had to wash them. Also had to sew a button on one pair. A result of my weight when I left England, weight gone. May now need belt. If I lose any more I'll be back to stick insect student days again. Just when nice insulating lard would be usefull. We're screaming south, at a degree a day. Coffs is 30 south, a significant distance from the winter sun. Its 12:45 am and my feet our cold. Need to buy socks.
The theory of this passage is to head off as a high pressure sytem detaches from the east coast of oz. winds go anti colckwise round a high in the southern hemisphere. So if you arrive on the auzie coast before it leaves you'll be beating into a southerly, if on the other hand you get it right and clip the top you'll get a bit of south east, then east as you pass the top, and north east and finally north as you approch the New South Wales coast. Acording to our calcs we've got it pretty much right. The wind was nearly southerly yesterday, but we were almost able to hold our course, now as we aproach the top of the high we're on course and begining to ease sheets. All is as it should be. Apart form the slamming. Any yacht sailor will tell you how uncomortable it can be going hard on the wind, and therefore into the waves. Every now and again the bow will ride over a wave into open air and smash down into the trough. The thump as it lands shakes the whole boat. A cruisie light beneteau like this with its wide shallow bottom slams pretty unpleasantly. Poor old Al has the forward, largest, cabin. Which looks like heaven in the brochure. I on the other hand when going to windward the bed plunges up and down, it feels like you being thrown up off the bed.
I have the cabin in the starboard quarter (back right). Since the winds from the port side and ahead, the nose is lifting and slamming down, and the boat is rolling. Since the right hand side is the pivot point for the roll as thats the side in the water and the pitch pivot is towards the back too as the waves are lifting the bow it means I am sleeping best on the boat. I only get the twist not the up and down motion. Lucky me.
Last night we lost the mainsail, just a torn seam, easily repaired. Cluttering up the boat have been all the spare sails. We've got 2 mains and 2 jibs, the shreded remains of a spinnaker and a storm jib and trisail for really bad weather. Trying to re-load in mast roller furling gear with the other main as it got dark motoring into 20 knots and an ocean swell was not fun, reminded me of yacht racing. This main is a tape drive kevlar re-inforced job, nice. Or it would be if the back edge didn't flap cos its battens are missing. Al claims they don't exist I bet somewhere in some forgoton corner they do.