26 April 2008

Sailing - April/May 2008

Hello everybody,
So now the adventure has begun in earnest. I was minding my own business in the Melalueca Backpackers at 1-Mile Beach (everybody who reads this should definitely go there it is absolutely awesome!!!!) when the owners came in and asked if anybody wanted to be crew on a yacht sailing north. Since this was the way I was heading in any case I thought I could give it a go. Next thing you know I have the job!!!
I left my car and a bunch of my gear at the backpackers and started sailing on Monday, 21 April from Port Stephens.

As an inexperienced sailor I was pretty apprehensive to start with, but can you imagine my feeling when we started to hit 3-4 meter swells after leaving the shelter of the inlet!! Fortunately I managed not to get sea sick and slowly but surely figured out how the whole thing works.
From the word go it rained, and rained and RAINED. We were steering on 3 hour shifts (ie 3 hours steering, 3 hours on back-up and 3 hours sleeping). In this way we sailed for about 36 hours to get to Coff's Harbour.

I had a pretty hairy incident on my watch when the wind had blown me too far inshore... believe it or not it is pretty difficult to keep a 54" yacht going in a straight line if you have gusty winds and it is raining cats, dogs, cows, horses and everything else! Next thing I know the lighhts are really close AND there is a freighter coming up behind me.... SHIT, PANIC!!! I quickly called the skipper who is on back-up and he helped me get out to sea again.

The people who I am sailing with are really cool and have years of sailing experience which I can learn from. Graeme is the owner (skipper) of the boat and Vicky is a good friend of his. We are sailing up to Hervey Bay, at Fraser Island, where we will be joined by Graeme's family. If all goes well this should be in the next 6-7 days.

What happens then???? Who knows...... keep checking this site to find out!!!

I hope you are all doing as well as I am!!!


Leaving Port Stephens on a rather miserable morning, but excited none the less!!!
The "Heads" sheltering the entrance to Port Stephens
This was what the cabin looked like for the next 36 hours, wet WET, WET!!!
Can you believe they let me steer the boat... GREAT FUN!!

Me alone at the helm

A brief opening in the clouds as we were heading into Coff's Harbour

The rest of the crew
Owner - Graeme and friend Vicky

...and our mascot MARS

Our trusty yacht...

"Annagram" - 54' steel hull (I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference a couple of days ago!!!)

Finally some sun!!! View from Muttonbird Island onto the Marina

Sunset over Coff's Harbour (fishing harbour) Marina


After a week waiting in Coff's Harbour we were able to continue, ironically we were only able to set sails on more day, therafter the wind became non-existant and we were forced to motor the rest of the way to our destination.

Some more excitement...

1) ...crossing the sandbar to get behind Fraser Island in "calm seas" we all of a sudden had a breaking wave behind us which in fact swept onto the boat and carried us with it for some time. The wave also bent the swim platform attached to the stern of the yacht!

2) ...entering our destination was not possible due to a low tide, consequently we had to anchor in deeper water for a number of hours. Having put out the anchor we realised that the motor had just failed!!! Ever tried lifting 30 meters of anchor chain by hand?

It was a real eye-opener to see how quickly things can go wrong on a yacht, and if you are not well prepared for such situations, the end could be a disaster (which of course my crew mates told me all about)!

We did finally make it into the harbour though which unfortunately ended my brief but excellent first sailing experience!

Now some more (sunny) pictures....

Graeme looking very snazzy with my sunglasses...

Vicky at the wheel

Somewhere off Coff's Harbour...

South Solitary Island

Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast... This is the Maimi Beach of Australia

Proof that we actually did sail!

Sunrise over the Pacific

At Garry's Anchorage, in the background is Fraser Island

Fraser Island

Graeme and Vicky concentrating on the channels in Sandy Straits

Sand cliffs on Fraser Island

Mars looking every so pleased at being let out of his cage!

This is more like it!

The whole family (l-r: Mariah, Connor, Ben, Anne and Graeme)

17 April 2008

Post Stephens and more... - April 2008

Hi Guys,

The latest update consists of pictures taken since I left Sydney.....

First night in the car was spent near Newcastle...not much to report about that since Newcastle is a industrial town. Had a nice surf at Bar Beach though...

At the moment I am at a beautiful backpackers at a place called "1-Mile Beach" near Anna Bay and Port Stephens. This is a really amazing bay with an incredible beach and super surf! Port Stephens is a natural harbour about 2x the size of Sydney harbour. Anna Bay is reknowned for the worlds largest moving sand dunes!!

This is also an account for the first wildlife I have seen... please note I have also seen koalas and possums (difficult to take fotos of these guys...but I will keep trying)

I hope this latest update finds you all well, healthy and happy!!!

Bar Beach - Near Newcastle

View over the entrance to Port Stephens from the Nelson Bay lighthouse

Shoal Bay in Port Stephens from Tomaree Head

View to Boondelbah Nature Reserve from Tomaree Head

View to Shark Island from Tomaree Head

Sunset over 1-Mile Beach

Sulphur Crested Cockatoos (Cacatua Galerita)

Owl..... no idea what type :)

Kangaroo baby "Josie" at Melalueca Backpackers 1-Mile Beach
.... definitely come here if you are visiting Oz

05 April 2008

Car ,Surfboard and Stuff - April 2008

Hi there, me again....
Just a few pictures of my latest accessories....
Have a great weekend.
So here it is.....
a 1991 Mitsubishi Magna 2,6 liter station wagon!!!
Colour... something between gold and puke!
You decide and let me know....

...please also help me think of a name.... I was considering "THE TANK"? Anyway, it has roofracks, a towbar, alloy wheels (wow) and goes like a bomb (viz. "THE TANK")
What's that?

A Kangaroo Whistle!!

Supposed to emit high frequency whistle whilst driving to avoid the dents (as can be seen behind the whistle) by roos jumping into cars :-)

My "new" surfboard!

Board goes well, surfer is not so successful, YET!

Some goodies that I got with the board....

All that is really still missing is a tent.

But for now I don't need a tent because I am sure there is still space for me in there with all my new toys!

Some more Sydney- April 2008

Hi everybody,

This is the first of 2 postings today... You are probably getting bored with all the fotos of Sydney, and I wouldn't be surprised if this is the last set that I will be sharing. So if you are very bored, don't give up... my adventures will start in earnest shortly....more later....

Love you lots


St Andrew's Cathedral...central Sydney
Sydney Town Hall
Quaint Victorian Houses near Miller's Point...
this area reminded me a lot of Stellenbosch
Harbour Bridge...from Miller's Point
Sydney Opera from the Overseas Terminal at the harbour
I had to take this picture so you would believe me that I am not just bumming around (I actually even went in!!). Excellent exhibition by a Aussie lady called Fiona Hall...very provocative!!!

03 April 2008

Sydney - April 2008

Howdy MATES!!! Just a quick update....

These foties were taken whilst I was cruising around looking for a car. I think I have found my future vehicle and will post some pictures as soon as I have it in my posession!

I hope you are all well

Lots of love


Suburban Sydney at the harbour.... Suburb called Mossman....very expensive!!!

Mossman Bay... Nice though since even though you are in the middle of a city there is a lot of natural vegetation around and beatiful bush walks around the bays.
View over central Sydney from Cremorne Point with skyline, opera and bridge...
Some or other pretty flower...no idea what they are called!!!
Wildlife... The spider was about 10cm long!!! Its web had a diameter of about 1meter. You don't necessarily want to walk into one of these webs!! ...Also no idea what they are called...
More wildlife.... bird in flower.... guess what, I have no idea what the bird is called. The flower is a strelitzia! WOW :-)