2 December 2016 - Brisbane Australia
In our last few days while still in New Zealand, Diane and I went to the Parrot Place near Keri-Keri where there were hundreds of different varieties of parrots, many that you could feed.
Back at the marina, we accepted a crew member, Raphael (36 year old from France) who had arrived on another boat sailing from French Polynesia just 10 days earlier. Raphael has been making his way around the world “on other people’s sailboats” for the past 2 years. He was keen to keep moving, and was grateful to have had a bit of time to explore New Zealand. This is our departure photo, just minutes before casting off the lines.
Our 1250nm passage from Opua to Brisbane took just 9 days, a day less than I had predicted. It was a pretty good passage, but - both Diane and Raphael were very sea-sick for the first two days. It was rough and we were sailing hard, broad-reaching, on the back side of one of the constant march of low pressure systems that flow North through the Tasman Sea. Then we had 5 great days of sailing, night and day, and motor-sailed at the end with 36 hours of very light conditions.
Once we were through the lumpy stuff, it was an enjoyable passage.
We hired a professional weather router for this passage, since the Tasman Sea has a reputation for unpleasant conditions and officially, we were crossing several weeks after cyclone season had already started. Bruce Buckley (works out of Perth Australia) routed us clearly North and then West, skillfully navigating us around the edge of a developing low wind high pressure system. The blue line represents my planned route, while the red line indicates the actual track taken.
There were only two real problems that occurred during this passage. Since it was so windy, and I was using our Hamilton-Ferris towed water generator making electricity as well, we never needed to run the generator for the first 3 days. At the end of the third day, Diane had prepped a meal and I started up the generator - and it ran for about 4 minutes and then shut-down - same problem as in Opua. Obviously, the internal cooling system still isn’t repaired. So, I figured, I’ll just run the Volvo 100HP turbo diesel, since it has a 200A alternator attached - and then discovered that it wouldn’t start because the anti-siphon loop failed to “break the siphon”, and water had filled the exhaust hose, exhaust elbow and head! I promptly removed the exhaust hose, removed the 4 dual injectors and used a shop vac to suck out the water in the head. Then, the next step was to reinsert the 4 injectors, bleed the air out of the diesel lines and start it up. But, during reassembly I discovered that 2 of the 4 injectors had a broken “yoke”, poor manufacturing I’d say.
I ended up putting them back in place with crazy glue, epoxy putty around the edges and then holding them tight with two pair of VICE-GRIPS. Much to my surprise, this fix lasted for the next 6 days. Now we’re in our slip and it looks like I’ll I have to buy 4 new injectors.
On the way in through the Brisbane harbour at dawn, we were surprised at how much vessel traffic there was. Our chart and AIS display were constantly in motion with tugs, container ships, tankers and even a cruise ship. At one point, we were passed by the Japanese frigate Takamura.
People have asked me how we communicate when at sea, and for us - the answer is through our HF/SSB radio, an ICOM IC-M802 and Pactor 2usb modem. I connect through the world-wide WINLINK amateur radio system and send/receive emails through the digital modem into Internet gateways. The traffic is slow, but it works - and there is no cost other than the equipment setup and the skill of operation. Here is a screen shot of the Airmail program that I use to send/receive emails.
This is a photo of the Brisbane skyline (not taken by me) that was effectively in front of us while we were entering.
Our arrival at the Quarantine dock at Rivergate Marina was timed well so that we arrived at high slack tide. Several months ago, we had previously arranged 1 year visas, so the Immigration area was covered. Just about everyone visiting Australia has to arrive with a visa in hand. Customs and Immigration went smoothly and there were no charges. The Biosecurity officer arrived a few hours later, and his visit took only about an hour as he hunted around looking for evidence of worms or insect infestation. Since our arrival was on a Sunday, we were in for some overtime charges but we were pleasantly surprised that the total charges came out to only $ 280, including overtime. I suppose it helps to have a neat, tidy, clean boat. The Biosecurity Officer confiscated two packages of frozen chicken, but left us with all our other frozen meats and our New Zealand block of cheese. He did take what was left of our fresh vegetables, but there wasn’t much after 9 days at sea. The next day, Jason from the Rivergate Marina staff took us to a grocery store for resupply.
Our arrival in Australia got me thinking. Obviously, there are many more islands than continents. There are approximately 18,995 islands in the world while there are only 7 recognized continents: Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa, Australia and Antarctica. We had just sailed from the island of New Zealand to the continent of Australia. In considering the difference between an island and a continent, it would appear that:
1. Continents are different from islands in terms of size. Continents are bigger and wider than islands and somewhat arbitrarily designated.
2. Islands are also more in number, approximately 18,995, compared to only 7 continents.
3. Islands can also be man-made with the proper technology and equipment while continents will be a challenge to be made by human hands and technology.
4. Continents can contain unique cultures as well as flora and fauna to other continents in great abundance while an island can only contain features in a smaller scale and scope.
Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. The population of 24 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area. Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland, and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of 2.3 million, and the South East Queensland urban area, centred on Brisbane, encompasses a population of more than 3.4 million
We’re in for significantly warmer weather than what we experienced in New Zealand - and its “about time”.
I’ve found that the Canadian dollar is nearly on par with the Australian dollar, it has been for decades. On the other hand, over the past year the New Zealand dollar has risen about 10% making it now worth more than the Canadian and Australian dollars. Not surprisingly, we’ve found that the cost of groceries is lower in Australia, particularly with meat, fruit and vegetables - all local products. A year ago we were thrilled with the cost of cheese in New Zealand, but here its easy to get a 1kg block of Australian cheddar for under $6 in any grocery store.
Conventional cyclone avoidance strategy for cruisers is “don’t sail North of Brisbane from 1 November to 1 May” so it looks like we’ll be here for a while, particularly with both the Volvo and ONAN needing attention. Diane’s brother Henry will be flying from Canada for a month long visit in February, so we’ll be exploring further afield then. In the meantime, our plan is to make short day trips exploring what’s to be found in our local area.
A few days after arriving, we were visited by Christopher and Christine (C squared) from SV SCINTILLA, who are temporarily berthed at Scarborough Marina and making their way South to Sydney. We first met C2 when we were in Tahiti, about 1.5 years ago.
We spent the day with C2, as they drove around running errands and even dropped in to visit Norm on SV DREAMCATCHER, who has his boat on the hard at “The Boatworks”. Norm will be flying back to Canada in a week to spend the holiday season with family.
To see previous log entries, just use the tabs at the top of this page.
Countries Visited So Far with our boat, and detailed on these pages:
(Departed Canada: May 2009) (31 countries by boat so far)
Antigua: May 2011
Australia: just arrived, 27 November 2016
Bermuda: June - August 2009
Bonaire: February - April 2014
Bahamas: December 2009 - March 2010, December 2010 - February 2011
Barbados: March 2012
British Virgin Islands: May 2011
Colombia: October 2014 - December 2014
Cuba: March - May 2010
Curaçao: May 2014 - September 2014
Dominica: May 2011, April 2013
Dominican Republic: March - April 2011
Fiji: September/October 2015
French Polynesia (Marquesas, Tuamotos, Tahiti and the Society Islands): April-July 2015
Galapagos: March 2015
Grenada: June-November 2011
Guadeloupe: March 2013
Martinique: March 2012, March 2013
New Zealand: November 2015 - November 2016
Niue: July/August 2015
Panama: December 2014 (San Blas Islands), (Portobello and Canal) January/February 2015
Puerto Rico: April 2011
St Lucia: May-June 2011, December 2011 - February 2012, December 2012 - February 2013
St Martin /Netherlands Antilles: May 2011
St Vincent and the Grenadines: June 2011, February 2012, December 2012, April-May 2013
Tobago: March-May 2012
Tonga: August 2015
Trinidad: May - December 2012, June - November 2013
USA: August - November 2009, June - November 2010
US Virgin Islands: May 2011
Venezuela: November 2013 - February 2014
Before we went cruising, we also "had a life" and did our fair share of visiting (or living in) other countries.
We've also been to a few other countries, but just not with our boat. (33 countries so far)
Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia Herzogevinia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, France, Gibraltar,
Hong Kong, Jamaica, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway
Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland), Vatican City.