Thursday, May 31, 2007

When are we gonna leave Brisbane?

You thought this was a travel blog, not a relocate and do a bunch of work blog?

OK. The current scheme is to leave heading north along the Australian coast around Thursday of next week. We hear it is fantastic up there. Our list of things we are waiting for looks like this;

x Main Sail (received today - and it looks fantastic! see the photos)
Bimini and skirts (for shade) - due tomorrow
EPIRB (safety device that let's the authorities know if we have trouble) - due on Tuesday
This is Andrew from Ultimate Sails fitting our new Main Sail.

When we have finished with the last two items on this list - we will start sailing off beyond the docks. There are more repairs, more work that can be done. It is a boat. For all of you land lovers a boat takes a lot of love. Imagine a fixer-upper house and an old car, floating in salt water. We will do many projects as we travel. Really, we haven't been waiting on anything other than the essentials. Though we have kept busy while at the dock.

We have conquered much of the little rust spots around the boat. We cleaned out the water system today and are quickly figuring out the best place for all objects, making our life aboard a small boat with three people much easier.

Although we are anxious to leave, we are having a great time in Brisbane with our new friends. We were lucky to find a bunch of great folks at Moreton Bay Trailer Yacht Club (it's funny to see "trailer" and "yacht" together, but you can say it with a smirk - so it's OK). There is a BBQ every Wednesday and Friday, almost enough to fill a social calendar of three yanks doing boat work. Thanks to Frank, who lent us charts (water maps) and has generally acted as ambassador to Australia, we have met a bunch of sailors that have cruised all over this region of the globe. We get advice about fixing the boat, commiseration on the bureaucratic hurdles, and great stories about traveling, Australia, and anything else that might come up.

This is Craig demonstrating our "vang" (the thingy that pulls the sail down and helps us sail better). It isn't usually made out of old car parts, but it is plenty strong enough.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sailing Maia

Things have come together this week. Today we just returned from a sail with all the needed parts working, and it was outstanding! We are impressed with how she sailed, making a wonderful tour of Moreton Bay for a few hours. Everything was in place, so we got to try out the self steering wind vane which came back to the boat just a few days ago and we just yesterday got the last pieces to make operational. After another full day of boat chores, we got set for a sunset sail. As we left the harbor, we knew we were really cruisers because it is Sunday evening here and everyone else was heading home as we put out for an evening cruise. It was with much anticipation as Craig swung down the small rudder for the self steering vane and Evvy put on the little sail that makes it go. Once we had the sails up, we made the adjustments, and watched Maia sail on her own, with the self-steering vane doing its job, and the boat making good speed. Smiles were wide all around. We are tempted to go get some food and water and take off now!

The the functioning of the self steering wind vane is very important to make Maia sail properly, so we were happy to have it delivered by the former owner this week. The best way to see it work is through a moving picture, but here's a shot where you can see the little metal fish that works as a counterweight, balancing against the vertical piece also in the middle of the picture. OK, it won't make much sense unless you've used one, but take it from Dave's expression, we were quite pleased. As we sailed on, Evvy cooked stuffed bell peppers, pasta, salad with fresh squeezed lemons and spices from from the marina garden (no kidding!) and we had our first fabulous dinner under way while figuring this all out.

We're now back in our "pen" or berth in the marina, just ahead of the rain that swept in behind us, pour outside as I type. The other things we ticked off our to do list this week include selection and installation of fresh batteries, new LED running lights and wiring for them, a couple trips up the mast to pad the spreaders, and a new solar panel. We still have important pieces on order: a new main sail, custom tarps for shade and cockpit protection, return of our EPIRB (safety beacon) which we sent off in the mail to change from New Zealand to Australia registration, and some smaller but important parts like a foot pump and other plumbing materials for the water systems. In another week or two, we should have all of this here and can leave our temporary home here in Manly. In the mean time, we're looking forward to planning a few over night trips around Moreton Bay.

Our plans are looking like we are going to stay on the Australian coast for next few weeks. We were planning to soon leave Australia for New Caledonia and Vanuatu, but we are getting slowed down by bureaucratic hurdles here in Australia. The path looked pretty clear up until Tuesday of this week when we visited Customs to pick up a form and Evvy spoke to a different officer there who told us we didn't have all the documents we needed, so our plans are still changing. We may be able to move things faster, so nothing is set yet, we're still working our way through the options. So the day we can roam the seas is drawing nearer. Stay tuned to this channel.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Picture Show

The collection of photos that you have been waiting for...

Welcome Dave!

We spent a day in Lamington National Park outside of Brisbane. The pictures below were taken at the top of a tree with a ladder propped and secured so everyone can safely enjoy the view.

After Lamington we got down to work on the boat. Dave is completely covered in blue dust from sanding the bottom of the boat.

Notice the fancy primer paint.

Our new friend Frank loaned us this pretty chart. I tried not to damage it as I walked our "fancy" new to us folding bike back to the boat. Thanks Frank!

Our first sail on Maia. It was a calm evening and we had a wonderful sail with great speed (bottom jobs are worth the effort).

Fortnight with Maia

After two weeks in our new home, much has happened, unfortunately it isn't very interesting. The first couple days we did a complete inventory of everything on the boat, started organizing how we would live in our new space, bought bedding, utensils, food and generally set up house. We also had to select some power tools (grinder, sander, drill), buy supplies for the haul out and make a reasonable effort to get a decent price on all of these items among the seven different sources we found. Needless to say we didn't really complete everything. Two days later I started the engine for the first time and we motored over to the travel lift. The haul out proved to be the long(7 days) expensive and stressful. We had to get some welding done on the deck, the bow needed re-fairing, we needed to deal with the rust on the deck, and this on top of the regular job of scraping and re-painting the bottom. We ended up hiring some help for the welding and the fairing on the bow. Even with that, we had pressure from the yard to complete the job. We were worried about the drying time for the paint, and rains were coming in. At the end of every day, we were back shopping for more items to complete the work. The whole job was not too bad in the boating world, but each of the jobs turned out to go deeper than expected, and cost more in labor and materials. Ouch. Anyway, we are glad it is over.

It was the first haul out for Kavika (David), who dove right in, getting thoroughly covered in blue bottom paint, and working long hours to get the job done. Evvy put a lot of sand paper to steel, and Craig was trying to keep all the balls in the in the air to finish on time.

It was an experience living in the boat suspended in the air. We did not have water, nor could we dump water from the boat, so we were more like camping out. We breathed a large sigh of relief when we completed the jobs on time and the boat splashed down in the water again.

There is quite a list remaining to get Maia sailing out to sea. The first is getting all the documents to get a New Zealand built boat registered in Australia to United States citizens. We are involving bureaucracies from all three countries, it looks like it is working. We are still figuring out how all the systems work from the engine to electrical, plumbing, and lines. We have obtained second hand chain for the anchor, and traded for charts both physical and electrical, ordered a new main sail, new batteries, we have roughed out a bimini structure and tomorrow we will order a bimini top. It has been busy days and nights we have found a great group of cruisers here in the marina next door whose advice and assistance has been truly invaluable.

Needless to say, the blog has suffered, but we hear the cries for more. Evvy is about to post a whole raft of pictures, which we will annotate as we are able. Look forward to catching up with everyone. Keep the comments coming!

Maia crew

Thursday, May 17, 2007


We're back in the water, float at our dock as of Tuesday, and have been focused on leaving the dock ever since. We have registered the boat, found charting software, gathered cruiser lore, worked on the plumbing and electrical systems, done more painting and rust crunching, and continue to fill in gaps like getting hose for water in the boat, finding a $.30 juicer in the thrift store, and planning for solar power and a bimini for shade. Dave is crew extradinaire, working hard to get the boat on the move. In all this though, we still haven't been out sailing, after a week and half of work. We're going to fix that soon, as we're anxious to spend some time exploring other parts of the coast other than this marina that we're in. We have pics to post, and they are cued up to post, but we're still dialing in this computer, new operating system, to make the process go a little faster. Once we get moving, this story should become more lively!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hauled Out

We are hauled out at the Moreton Bay Trailer Boat Club. The work has been compressed, starting work at dawn, work past dark, then shop for more boat items to work the next day. Until we splash the boat on Tuesday (here), we will probably remain flat out, without getting pics or details up here. Dave, Evvy and the skipper are all working hard to get through this part. We will be able to give you the whole story when we are happily floating again. The word I have learned is that when you make progress, you're having a win. Here's to our win. Cheers!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A Great Walking City

Brisbane is a great place to take long walks. These pictures were taken on a few of our wanderings. The three with the city in the background were on a pedestrian bridge that links a huge botanical garden and river front walk on one side to a climbing park and another river walk on the other.

We saw climbers traversing the rocks well after dark, but with the lighting provided by the city it doesn't seem as crazy as it sounds. At this same park, there are numerous clean public restrooms - open at night - well lit - (I know it's shocking but it's true) - AND public "cookers"(gas stoves), free.

We saw this beautiful pelican (huge) down on the sea shore, in a town not far from the boat.
Where we also ran into the lawn bowlers.

In other news,
Dave flapped his wings hard and arrived at the airport early this morning, bearing great cruiser gifts: a second dinghy, a whole spool of rope, and little things we left such as a waterproof laptop bag. In turn we treated Dave to a bicycle ride on the left hand side of the road and his first Australian beer.

We're still in a holding pattern about the boat, waiting for funds to clear, so we are land bound for a few more days. Maia is getting closer to being ours.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tawoomba Cancelled

Toowoomba is a little town a couple hours drive inland, that we thought we might visit to see a bit more of the area around Brisbane. We had planned to go there and explore a little while there were some delays in the boat transaction - but they have worked out - we bought Maia! We transferred the funds and are starting to process the paperwork today. We should be able to move aboard by Friday. We haul the boat out Tuesday next week, May 8th (happy birthday mom), and there's so much to do to get ready. Our side trip has been trimmed down to maybe a bush walk in Lamington National Park. We are back on the constant quest to outfit the boat, now finally made concrete after years of thinking about our cruising boat.

We now know that we will be on Queensland coast at least until the end of June. We're not sure whether we will have time to leave Australia or not, but are trying to keep our options open for now. Our dreams of places to sail will become real options after the dirty work of our haul out to come. Dave arrives in the morning, then we will be three. Things are moving along here.