Our Diary News from Brisbane (Part 5)

July, 2011

At last we have found time to bring our website up-to-date. And we're doing it on board Poco Andante at Mooloolaba - cruising again!

In November last year, Keith's blood test results were the best they had been for 2 years and we decided that we should go cruising again. It seems an awful waste of time to be sitting around Brisbane waiting for the next set of blood tests. We thought that we'd use this season to determine if we're fit, ready and willing to resume our long term cruising/life goals (ie finish our circumnavigation). In the meantime, we're aiming for Darwin (north end of Australia) by December and intend to cruise the Kimberley Region of Western Australia next May-June-July - it is supposed to be stunning there and Darwin would be a good starting point.

In February this year we had the opportunity to help Mick sail his boat Celia Mary down to Tasmania; Sue had already moved there at the end of December after getting a position in Hobart with the Tax Office. After a bit of a false start, together with Kelly from Laize Faire, we had a good trip south with just a few stops for weather. Luckily one of these was at Port Stephens where Emily (Keith's eldest daughter) and her partner Jon have moved to from the UK. It was great to catch up with them and spend some time ashore. Then to Sydney where we were able to spend a night with Pippa and Xavier - it was great to see them and Pip's new home - and to Cronulla where we caught up Kelly's friend Keith.


Another couple of unplanned stops due to lumpy seas and fresh winds - one being Bomaderry/Shoalhaven where we spotted Brett and Debbie on Interlude IV - cruising friends pop up everywhere!! Eventually we reached Eden, the setting off point for crossing the Bass Straight to Tasmania. Unfortunately we had to get back to Brisbane for work so left them to it - by now Mick and Kelly had learned about boat management and gained in confidence. We waited on the side of the road to catch a bus (at 2am!) to Sydney followed by a flight to Brisbane. On the bright side, Celia Mary successfully reached Tasmania, Keith and I discovered we can still go to sea, and Kelly has now bought her own boat!

Since our last newsletter, we have been busy working on Poco's interior and she looks just like new! Our initial attempts at varnishing the vertical surfaces was so frustrating - kept getting runs in the varnish - that Mick suggested we use a paint sprayer. It turns out Mick was a car painter in a previous life and was able to advise us on what compressor to buy. etc. It turned out to be cheaper to buy a unit than hire one - and just as well, since we ended up taking months to finish the job! The 'wet' season in Brisbane was particularly wet (remember those terrible floods!) - and we kept having to wait for fine weather. Mick and Sue provided huge help with sanding, masking and varnishing. We took all 37 interior doors up to the unit and set up a mini "spray booth" on the balcony to varnish them. And Keith applied at least 5 coats of varnish to the teak and holly floor throughout the boat.

In the meantime, we managed to acquire a new 110v microwave oven and a marine washing machine - courtesy of Debbie & Brett (Interlude IV) when we visited them in NSW to view their new baby (fabulous boat!). Also we imported a new replacement oven and hot water system from the US and UK respectively. Keith wanted to re-furbish the galley with new work tops so we've now evened up our "list to port" by having 6mm composite granite benches installed on the starboard side! Complemented, of course, by new mixer taps in both heads and galley.

During our time in the apartment, we sorted through every item we'd taken off the boat - and gave a lot to charity! It has been therapeutic as well as practical to have such a good sort through. Now we've moved back on board, we actually have spare room in most lockers - ready to accumulate more stuff!

Keith finished his 6 month contract with Optus in April and we hauled the boat out of the water after 3 years. The bottom wasn't too bad considering the last time she had been scrubbed was 2½ years ago in New Caledonia. Unfortunately we discovered that, after all our careful research of antifoul in New Zealand, Australia has since banned the one we chose - so we now had to scrape all the previous type back to the primer - very hard work. However eventually it was done as well as replacing our propeller shaft and installing a new "dripless" stern gland. Keith is delighted with this!

In May Christine finished her job and helped with the haul out before starting the arduous task of cleaning the interior of the boat - 8 months of sawdust had penetrated everywhere. We gave 2 weeks notice on the apartment and immediately had to start cleaning that so it was available for viewing. By this time, Christine was totally fed up with cleaning. We slowly moved all our stuff back on board and stowed it away and planned our departure. Keith discovered the joys of ordering our bulk provisions via the online shopping site - and Coles even the 14 crates of basics to the dock! We went to Woolworths and bought about 18 kilos of chicken, pork and beef, packaged ~300g per bag, and they froze it for us overnight. Ian and Emma of SY Desire kindly lent us their ute so we were able to do even more shopping - and collect the 15hp outboard from servicing.

While the boat was out of the water we met Ruth and Kelvin (Island Sonata) who were just about to set off for New Caledonia and points east on their first season cruising. We introduced them to Jill and James (Hooroo), another catamaran, about to do the same trip. What lovely people they all are - and they have emailed to let us know they met up in New Cal! A small world…

We were delighted that so many friends and colleagues came to visit Poco Andante when she was nice and tidy. They all had very nice things to say… We had a hectic few days catching up with friends before our departure - particularly Adrian and Johanna who promise to come and visit us in the Whitsundays when we get there. And a lovely meal with Ian and Emma to thank them for their help during the floods - without which we may not setting off cruising again!

On 30th June we finally cast off from Dockside Marina in downtown Brisbane - two years and 7 months since we arrived - and two years later than originally planned. Our stay in Brisbane also allowed us to top up the bank account as well as getting the boat up together. In view of everything that has happened, we feel lucky to be setting off at all.