Saturday, April 25, 2015

ANZAC Day 2015

A few photos from our ANZAC Day and a sample of the poems and journal entries from the kids.
Anzac Day
Today I got up at 5.00am to go to the dawn service in Eden. I do not think it was too fancy for being the 100th Anniversary since the brave men and women from New Zealand and Australia fought.
It was a beautiful sun rise and all was silent during speeches, they made me think about wounds on soldiers and gun fire raining down upon the battalions of soldiers fighting for peace.  Thousands of men died this day 100 years ago.
They fell for us
They died for us
 They caused our freedom
Lest we forget



They fought for us
They died for us
We honour them with every breath
And every move
We are free because of them
We are safe because of them
Lest we forget

Descendant of the Lone Pine at Eden, NSW.



All the ANZACs What must they think

When their boat is About to sink

We must stay afloat We must stay alive

We must get back to Our families and wives  

All the ANZACs What must they do

When all their enemies Are shooting at you

We must stay hidden We must stay alive

We must back to Our families and wives

All the ANZACs What must they do

When people are Falling from the flu

We must fight it off We must stay alive

We must get back to Our families and wives

All the ANZACs What must they feel

When they got set up For an unfair deal

We’re coming home We stayed alive

We will get back to Our families and wives!
Memorial Park at Eden, looking out over the Tasman Sea

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Leaving Port Philip Bay to head North – Part 1

The time had come to carrying on with our cruising life.  We had spent a couple of weeks in Williamstown and surrounds and then we headed back for a few days to Portarlington to tie up some loose ends and wait for weather to leave the Bay.
We decided that Tuesday the 13th was a good day to go with the slack tide at the entrance being at 0830 and the weather looking light but from a direction that would help us head east. Originally we were going to leave Portarlington on the Monday afternoon and spend the night in Queenscliff, but with jobs still to be done and only a light breeze, we decided to head to bed early and set the alarm for 0345 for an early start.  The forecast was for light northerlies, but unfortunately these were so light we still ended up motoring to get to “The Rip” at the right time.  We wanted to ensure leaving the bay was in the best possible conditions, remembering our trip in, and I think we got this pretty right.  There was a small patch of turbulence where we just let the boat go where the waters wanted to take her, but there was no swell and over all very calm.  Friends Jan and John were over at Pt Lonsdale seeing us off and we were able to see them through the binoculars.

Pt Lonsdale Pier and Lighthouse

Seals at play at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay
Once out of the entry we set course towards the end of Wilsons Promontory and sat back to enjoy sailing in open water again.  The children organised themselves for watches from 1000 and we had light head winds for the start of the journey.  We kept the cockpit roof cover up and the windward clear side which made it very cosy in the cockpit and we were able to sit out there for most of the day and into the night.

Unfortunately the wind dropped away in the afternoon with the seas quite lumpy and we were struggling to make our way comfortably.  Over night the winds continued to ease and we tried several combinations of sailing and motoring but by first light on Wednesday we were only at Wilsons Promontory and Dan had had enough of the lack of head way so we made the decision not to get frustrated and push on but change course and head into Refuge Cove.

We dropped anchor at Refuge Cove 0930 on the Wednesday morning with two other yachts already anchored there.  Dan needed some more sleep so the kids and I did a bit of a tidy up, not much was needed though so we did quiet activities until lunch then went ashore to explore the bay. 

We discovered wallaby tracks on the sand, snakes and lizards and lots of birds all within the first couple of hours.  We met Craig, from one of the yachts anchored in the cove and learnt that you could get mobile phone coverage by walking approximately an hour in either direction to the top of the surrounding ridges. We studied the track information from the signage around and made a plan of where to explore in the coming days.  The boys went for rock hopping walks and Paige and I enjoyed reading through the boat names written in a designated area in the camp.

For the next couple of days we walked the tracks in either direction from the Cove.  We managed to get enough data coverage to keep an eye on the weather and make plans for the next step.  We saw a couple of other vessels come and go but ultimately enjoyed having the place to ourselves.

I celebrated my birthday while there, and a cake baked by Oliver. Unfortunately it wasn’t until it was finished that I realised we didn’t even get a photo of it!

After a few fantastic days of getting back into boat cruising life, school, chores, exercise, job lists, blog entries and meeting new people the weather was once again good for heading out. 

This time we chose a system with more wind to help us power through any swell and enjoyed a bumpy but quick ride from Refuge Cove to Eden, in southern NSW, in 28hrs from anchor up to anchor down.  The wind was predominately from the SW 25-30 knots with some higher gusts on the Monday morning.  We needed to gybe as we were coming into Twofold Bay so zipped off the forward edge of the cockpit cover roof and rolled it back to the targa bar to do so. This was easy to do as it is what we had worked out in the design process that we would need.

Since arriving in Eden we have only been able to explore our closest beaches and short walks due to a nasty weather system further north that has given us lots of rain, but also a swell that makes it unable for us to anchor over by the township of Eden.  We look forward to the coming days being more settled so that we can explore the town, catch up on laundry and get some fresh supplies as well as check out the must see sights.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hanging out in Williamstown

Leaving Portarlington

As mentioned in our previous entry we spent a couple of weeks in Williamstown getting a cover made for our cockpit.  But it wasn’t all work while we were there and we did enjoy our two weeks hanging out in Williamstown.
We left Portarlington on the Sunday morning and had a lovely sail over to Williamstown to be able to pick up a Victoria Parks courtesy mooring just as the World Cup Cricket Final started.  Unfortunately that didn’t go the way we were hoping, but it was great to be able to see the fire works across the CBD skyline at the end of the game from our perfect vantage point.
And Arriving in Williamstown

Lots to see around us including Navy ship repair...
The Sea Shepards vessel Steve Irwin

Feeding the local Wildlife

and fun and creativity with photography.

We choose Williamstown as this was close to where Custom Yacht Covers was based.  It allowed us to tie up to either Royal Victoria Yacht Club dock, or Ferguson Street Pier for her to be able to get work done.  We spent our nights on the courtesy moorings or side tied on to the Ferguson Street Pier depending on the weather.

One of the many jobs we finally got around to, putting up our sun catcher. Thanks Bourke-Finn Family!

Shipping in the channel can be quite BIG

On the days that the boat wasn’t needed for cover making we ventured up under the West Gate and Bolte Bridges and up into Docklands where there are several marinas that have visitor berths. We went to the Melbourne City Marina where we could stay for up to four hours (often longer) without charge.  These berths seemed very under utilised for their proximity to the city and during our mid week visit we were the only ones there! Within a very easy walk we discovered Harbour Town, a large outlet style mall, the Melbourne Star (a huge Ferris wheel), an Ice skating Rink, Cost Co and free trams into the city.  We also splashed out and played a round of Lazer Tag as a family for our Easter Activity.  I hadn’t done this before so spent a lot of my time being out played by the more seasoned players in the family!

The Westgate Bridge

Dan managed to get several other jobs done as well as helping with the fitting of the cover.  He finished off the generator start panel, which instead of being in a cardboard box sitting under the bed is now situated just inside the saloon door in a flash carbon fibre surround.  He also fitted new LED spreader lights, noise insulation around the generator, new bed base for our berth, new outdoor speakers, an AIS (automatic identification system) and made water tight some damage to our transom.  It was very entertaining on my part to meet him at the Southern Cross Train station to see him and Rylee carrying sheets of noise insulation (1300mmx600mm) among all the mid day commuters after negotiating the buses and trains and turnstiles.  He also had another shopping spree and returned home via bus with back pack and large shopping bags full of exciting boxes of electronics and fittings.

In saying this it probably was nothing compared to him and I returning from the food warehouse Cost Co where we spent over $1000 on bulk food supplies!  It was very entertaining pushing our two trolleys the two blocks, across the tram lines and down the dock to load it all on board.

The kids and I went on a big tidy up spree, and focused on an area a day, and managed to donate several more bags of bits and pieces to the local op-shops. I was dreading tidying up the bathroom as it had been bothering me for some time, but once  I got stuck in I only ended up throwing out about three items, and just by putting things away I managed to get it all to fit neatly and in a usable way.

But it wasn’t all work as the kids and I went to Science Works with friends we met when they sailed into Portarlington, and we also enjoyed a meal at their home during the week as well as farewell drinks and celebrating the new cockpit cover on our last evening in Williamstown.  The boys also discovered the local skate park after asking the Information Centre volunteers where it was and spent a great deal of time there perfecting their tricks on their scooters.  We also enjoyed watching some of the local youth during a competition run by the local council, but it didn’t do my heart much good watching these young men do backwards and forward flips, land them and keep on rolling!!

It was also a pleasant surprise to catch up with friends from Melbourne that we met in Whangarei when Dan did some work for them on their boat.  They joined us for morning tea one day, and they were very generous sharing with us their experiences of sailing around this part of the world. 

Melbourne at sunset

Early morning Hot Air Balloons over Melbourne CBD.

Once the cover was completed it was time to for some decision making.  Unfortunately the weather wasn’t going to allow us to leave the bay and head east for several days, and we had some jobs that we needed to do that required a car and some local knowledge, and as we still hadn’t sold our vehicle we decided to head back to Portarlington to tie up a few loose ends.

Over the weekend we were there we managed to sell the car, pick up a few last minute supplies, including an order from the butcher and last minute mail/packages from Portarlington Post Office as well as a trip into Geelong and I also topped up the cruising kitty by doing one last shift at work.

We had a lovely meal with two other families on the Friday evening and had a revolving group of visitors on the Sunday afternoon.  The kids managed to catch up with friends from school and sailing and it was really great to see many surprised faces around the village when they weren’t expecting to see us!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Outdoor Living Space.

One of the big jobs we wanted to get done before heading away again was a permanent cockpit cover.  For the last 5 or so years we have had a system of Bunning’s tarps to help keep us sheltered from the sun and rain with varying efficiency.  We lost the last one in a howling westerly while trying to stop the boat taking itself to Mornington so it was time to find the right person for the job.



Dan contacted a few canvas workers from around the Geelong area, but none of them were able to complete such a big job.  We finally found Sue from Custom Yacht Covers who came out to Portarlington to see us and was able to give us a quote we were very happy with. 


The cover was probably not the norm for what most boat owners want or need but we had lived with many prototypes so knew what was going to work for us.  Also Dan had built PVC piping into the boat to run the track through so that we didn’t have track screwed and glued into the boat.  This may or may not have made it easier but it a decision that was made way back in 2007 so we had to go with it.

We also wanted a cover that could be zipped forward and aft to allow for the cover to remain up in most sailing conditions, a water collection system and clear sides that could enclose the whole area, but zip in several places to allow access and ventilation.  During the process we also decided we needed a peep hole to be able to see the mast and sails from the centre of the cover.  Phew! What a list, but Sue was very patient with us and listened to our needs, and we soon had a plan.


School and work finished on the 27th of March so on the Sunday with a lovely breeze we headed over to Williams Town, near Melbourne CBD to start work first thing Monday morning.  Dan needed to cut the track in the tubing and make a couple of extra wider areas to feed the cover into and then we threaded through the bolt rope which the zipper would attach too.  This took a couple of goes, with a smaller rope in the end but once this was done the template for the roof portion of the cover could be made.  It then took a couple of days for Sue to make the actual cover and this was fitted on the Thursday morning, which was very quick work we felt.  A couple of days later due to other commitments and weather we were able to pattern up the side panels and work out where zips and bungee buttons were to go.  Another couple of days to make in and around Easter, weather and work and we were all done by 5pm the next Thursday.


Instantly we were amazed at the difference it made.  By stopping the breeze coming through it made the inside of the boat warmer.  We have expanded our entertaining area and we have had a few sails now and only once unzipped the roof cover after the main sail was up so that we could gybe.  The water collection works well and we have caught enough to help with the laundry.

If anyone out there is interested in getting any canvas work done in the greater Melbourne area, check out or check her out on FaceBook

Monday, April 6, 2015

Email Address

Many of you were asking about my email address and I thought it was displayed on the blog site, but I can't seem to find a way to display the one I want, so I have put it in my Blog Profile for those of you that are interested in sending us a message.  If it isn't too personal you can always leave comments at the end of our posts.  Thanks for keeping up with us....

Travel Log from 2013!!

From reading back on the blog entries, I think we left our travel log at New Caledonia, so for those of you that are interested here is how we got to Port Philip Bay.

As previously mentioned we had a fantastic run from Futuna to New Caledonia, and it almost seemed a shame to stop, but we hadn’t given our advanced notice of arrival to Australian Customs, who requires minimum of 96 hours notice, so we needed to find some internet to do so and we had already planned to stop in New Caledonia .

We spent a week in New Caledonia, manly around Noumea, but with a few nights at anchorages just north of the city, to give us a break from the busyness of the city and anchorage. We saw a wild dugong, met up with friends from Nelson, Whangarei and Tonga as well as making some new friends.

I would like to go back and do some more exploring of this area at some time, especially the more remote areas, but in saying this it would be on the way north as we did find the slight drop in temperature noticeable and we weren’t in the water nearly as much as we had been. 
We left New Caledonia on the 31st October passing through the outer reef at midday for a planned 850nm to Coffs Harbour, Australia.  Overall the trip was variable, with light winds, to no winds leaving us motoring for several hours most days or higher winds causing us to reef up and down several times a day.  Thank goodness for the generator and the ability to fill up the diesel tank in Noumea just before the credit card expired!

 We had a few exciting moments on the trip, one being during the day when Paige was on watch.  We were expecting a change in wind direction with a front later in the day, but it came through several hours earlier and stronger than expected. I was in the saloon with Paige, and we were sailing along nicely under autopilot, with wind from the N-NE , 15-20knots,  when all of a sudden it went very quiet and in less than 30 seconds the wind hit from the south, 20-25knots.  We hadn’t had a chance to change the sails, and called out to Dan who was having a nap to come and help us.  It took all of us to get the boat back on track, by turning off the auto pilot, sorting out the sails, which were all back winded and sorting out our heading again.

Another interesting time was just on dark of the same day.  Dan was on watch and I was heading off to bed for some sleep. All of a sudden there was a bang and the boat seemed to lurch and feel off.  Dan hurried outside to investigate and in the fading light quickly worked out something was wrong with the genoa.  With torch light we realised the genoa halyard and broken at the entry to the mast and the genoa was trying to fall down.  We quickly furled the genoa and instantly the boat felt sluggish, but there wasn’t much we could do at time. Over his watch Dan managed to get some of the genoa out so that the boat had better steerage and a bit more forward power but we were not making the speeds we had anticipated, so we contacted Australian Customs via the Satellite phone to let them know we wouldn’t get to Coffs Harbour in the time expected.

Finally on the evening of the 6th of November, Dan once again celebrating his birthday out at sea, we set anchor in the outer harbour of Coffs Harbour. We were advised by the marine radio service there that we would need to wait until the morning to be able to clear customs, so we settled down to a full night’s sleep after another 6 days and 7 hours at sea.  

We had a week in Coffs Harbour, where we enjoyed the Botanical Gardens, the river walkways, the beaches and the pier. We met up with friends that we first met in Tonga and they shouted us a much appreciated coffee at the marina cafe. We spent time on free internet, organising for our mail to be sent to our next stop and sorting out our finances which weren’t looking very healthy, to the point that in the full week at Coffs we didn’t spend any money!

Our next stop was an overnight sail to Port Stephens where we collected our new credit cards, spent some money on re-provisioning the boat, getting Australian sim cards and internet connection. We also met up with the designers of our boat Jeff and Lorraine Schionning and the couple that Dan was to end up working for.  After meeting them, and a very informal job interview we made the decision to head south to Melbourne, Victoria. 

Next stop, Sydney, where we spent a week anchoring for free next to a dog walking park, just around the corner from the Sydney Fish Market where we could leave the boat during the week days for free under the watchful eye of the friendly security guards while we explored Sydney CBD.  We also spent some time with Dan’s brother Andy and on the Sunday morning headed out onto the harbour and up the tributaries.  This was a very nerve racking experience with many vessels out on the water creating lots of wake/wash and not seeming to observe many of the maritime rules for passing other vessels at an appropriate speed or on the right side! We left Sydney early on a Thursday morning after watching the Wednesday night race yachts out on the harbour on our way over to Manley.

We called into Jervis Bay for a few days waiting for the southerly to blow through, and then headed out again to continue south. The plan was to stop in Eden, but the wind was with us and would continue to be so we decided to carry on around the corner into Bass Straight.  I was a bit nervous about this notorious stretch of water, but we had the weather gods on our side and had a very benign passage, even having to motor at times due to no wind. The biggest issue we had was keeping an eye out for all of the shipping on the way down the coast and in the straight, especially at night, not having radar or AIS (automatic identification system). We again thought to stop at Wilsons Promontory, but realised if we stopped it could be up to a week before we could leave again for Port Phillip Bay, so decided to carry on. 

We knew we had to get to the entry for Port Phillip Bay on a slack tide and at the time we made the decision this was looking like what we would have.  Unfortunately the wind dropped away in the night, causing us to motor again, but not fast enough as when the wind came in it was from the South West and building. We didn’t get to the entrance until the tide was flowing out so fast it was causing the waves to stand up through the middle of the channel and at one point we were doing a boat speed of 9 knots, but only making way over ground at 1 knot. In hindsight it was very full on coming into the bay, with breaking waves almost as high as the spreaders, approximately 8.5m high, but at least they were from behind us. We negotiated the entrance by dropping the main sail and coming in with a partly furled genoa, which enabled us to have good steerage of the boat without going too fast.

 At one point I realised Rylee was busy taking photographs out of the side of the cockpit, and realising the conditions suggested he get his lifejacket on.  When he was inside doing so we were hit by a wave from behind with such force that he fell over.  He came out laughing, saying that that hadn’t happened before!  We slowly made our way through, negotiating a route that bypassed the steepest waves through the middle of the channel and avoiding the reef and rocky outcrops that surround the entrance.  We also came across a couple of turbulent areas that we later learned were created from large underwater holes. These were bigger than our boat footprint and when you hit the side of them they took the boat where they wanted, not where you thought you were headed!

After an hour of nervousness an d great skippering from Cpt Dan we came past Queenscliff and headed around the western coast of the bay towards Portarlington.  We made it as far as St Leonards for the first night and were in bed and sound asleep before 8pm after another three nights and days sailing.

The following morning we were up early and made our way around to Portarlington, with wet weather gear on and a wind so cold it was causing our noses to drip!  We were met by Dan’s new employers and had a quick tour of the local area before settling in for our year and a bit in one spot.