Thursday, July 21, 2016

Stormy Pancake Creek & Gladstone

Been a while since the last update of the blog. That was mainly due to power problems. Due to a storm that had pulled over Pancake Creek whilst we where there (it was planned, so we had shelter) we got stuck in there for a couple of days. With the sun none present we had some mayor power issues. S.V. Hyue does have a wind generator, but after talking to a couple of people it seems that for all they do, a lot of power production is not something they are accredited with. It could also be due to Allans set up of the electric system, but I'm not knowledgable in that department. A few blogs on the internet explain pretty well how the electric system can be built up for maximum efficiency. Due to the aformative mentioned power drop, my laptop was of the grid for all the time, on that note all systems on the boat where set back to twelve volt only. Luckily my phone and iPad run on 12V, so I never ran out of books as Pancake Creek has phone service, too.
Apart from the power system the days where spent nearly all indoors in the warmth of the boat. Or so we wished. Both Allan and me have no idea why, but our boat seemed the most unstable of the dozen of boats there. Hyue would line up nice and straight when the current and the wind both had the seem bearing, but on tide changes things got interesting. For roughly six hours every day we where on the tips of our nerves, checking the GPS I had brought along to make sure we where still in the good. Allans GPS Chart-plotter does have an anchor warning which will start blaring an alarm when set up correctly, but it is outside in the cockpit. It is a lot nicer sitting inside whilst the wind howls outside than in the cockpit. Over the course of five days I estimate we had to reset our anchor about ten times. The maximum on a day was five or six times. To the start of the storm we had a relatively good spot, but one of our neighbours upstream started drifting down towards us. As two anchors twisted together is not what we wanted, we pulled ours in and went a bit to the side. It took us a good half an hour to grab their attention in darkening twilight. After that incident we could not find a good spot anymore. It didn't help that the anchor winch stopped working after a few times and from then on it always had to be pulled in by hand. As mentioned before the days where spent with nervous glances at the GPS the whole time and as soon as the weather permitted we left the Creek for Gladstone, the nearest city up north. On that passage I had my first real experience with sea sailing. Motoring out of Pancake Creek was acceptable, but as soon as we where clear, sails up and motor off. We where heading along at a good sped of nearly six knots. Don't know how much of that was due to the sails and how much was thanks to the swell pushing us from behind. Some big ones in them to. On the horizon we could see the large tankers and container ships waiting for entry in to Gladstone, before we got to the pylons marking the way in to the industry port. 
We followed a large tanker in and spotted some dolphins skipping out of the water a few hundred metres away. The journey along the trench was a bit of a battle. Until we got in to the shelter of an island in front of Gladstone we had a wind from behind. It was pushing the boat everywhere and the autopilot on the boat did not like that. As our power was low anyway we turned of the pilot for a while and manually steered it.
Closing in to Gladstone we had to throw the motor on again, as the time was against us for getting to the marina and lodged in. Arrived and one of the first things we did was have a shower. Allan has got a shower on board, but if you can't run a generator (which we couldn't in the weather we had in Pancake Creek) you get a cold shower. Plus it is a bit of a tight squeeze in there for a small person. Someone standing at nearly two metres, close to impossible. Then bed and the next day a ton of washing to do. I hadn't worn any shoes for a few days, too (they where soged thoroughly).
As of the current state we have spent a few days in the marina now. Allan is looking in to getting some more solar panels, so his power is not as problematic. His current ones are rather old. As of the time now we have found out that the problem might be with the alternator.

Oh, and I have tried a bit of Pokemon Go, too.  
Track at GPSies.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

1770 - Pancake Creek

Woke up nice and early to get to Pancake Creek, the original spot we had wanted to stop in before the non-existent wind and early nights forced us in to Bustard Bay. To counter that we have enough time today to get to Pancake Bay, so much even that we can choose what time we want to run in.
Left to get there just after low tide and that meant we could leave when the sun was up. Only a short journey compared to yesterday. Saw rather a lot of jellyfish in the water on the way, but no idea if dangerous and not about to find out in Australia. In the distance we saw a few boats heading somewhere. If they where big container ships most likely Gladstone. Saw some dolphins and a few rocks in the water, which we did our best to avoid.

We reached Pancake Creek without any trouble and got in with a hairs width under the Kiel. Only a couple of centimetres, but as it was low tide it was alright. Allan got his dingy down and whilst he had a nap I went of exploring the coastline in the small boat. Rally nice beaches with the typical tropical look. Saw a goanna which fled up a tree when I got closer for some pictures and some rats in the rocks which shocked me. Means that snakes are most likely around , too. Had a bit of a nap on the beach and then headed back out to the boat. To get the sand of of me I went for a quick dip, but the water was cold for Australian standards and a strong current was pushing me in to the bay, so I only went for a short swim. To good, another boat coming up told us about possible crocs in the water, so I'm not going back in. And to think the largest thing I had been worried about was a hammerhead shark or a box jelly. Ah, Australia.  
Track at GPSies.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Bundaberg - 1770

Woke up nice and early to get to a protected bay near the town of 1770 (yes, that's it's name. Guess what year it was established). We left at first light and used the motor to get out of the Port. Once out we turned the boat in to the wind and put up the sails, after which we turned in to the way we wanted to. We saw fog come over the land, but out at sea we had nice weather, but no wind. So the S.V. Huey had to carry on under motor power. We managed to travel with about four knots most of the time, but that is not nearly as fast as we had hopped to go, under motor no less.
I got a few informations about doing certain things under way, but most of the time it was just the drone of the engine in the background, something I had hopped to avoid. As the land slowly slid past, still no wind appeared and in the end we anchored in Bustard Bay of of 1770. As the area didn't seem to secure we set up an anchor watch until Allan determined that it was save to leave the boat unattended.
So the day was twofold. Longest I have been out at sea, no seasickness, sunshine and clear water, lovely sunset whilst we where heading to our anchor point, but we had to use the motor most of the time.

Sleeping was also a bit weird, with your gravity point constantly shifting thanks to the swell.
Track at GPSies.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Preparing to Sail

Three days with Allan so far. I reached him on Friday and the first few days I spent on board just to get used to things before we would head out. In those three days we could get used to each other with the possibility of me just leaving. As that wasn't about to happen and we both get along we did a few shopping runs in to town to be prepared for days out at sea with no direct chain of supplies. Got a wire up the mast to get the VHF signal as good as possible, meant I got to get right to the top of the mast, something I have wanted to do in a while. Working on the top of a sailing boat whilst it is rocking about. I got all the gear I needed from my car to the boat and then it was pretty much just waiting for Allan to give the go. That happened today evening for tomorrow morning.
Now in bed waiting to set sail tomorrow, can't wait for it.  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Mary Valley National Parks

Back to lounging around Brisbane for now. I gave the ones I wanted to work for in Condamine a call, but got no answer back. No answer is an answer I guess you could say, so I am more focused on getting a trip on a sailing boat up the coast for now.
Chris came back from his Fraser trip and said it was well worth it, so should I ever come up here with a bit more cash to spend I might well do it. Jana and Chris continued up along the coast whilst I stayed behind in Brisbane. We said our good byes after watching some dolphins being fed in Tin Can Bay. I might have headed up with them, but they are doing it a bit to fast for my taste. Their aim is to be in Darwin in two weeks. Quite a feat if you consider that it's around four thousand kilometres they have to do in that time. Plus they are stopping at the Whitsundays for three days, too.
So the next few days were spent taking some walks in National Park when the weather allowed and reading books at night in my swag under star covered skies. I do lover my swag and don't even consider the initial cost it took on my bank account. I hope it serves me well in my lifetime, as that is how long I have insurance on it (or until the firm that made it goes bankrupt). Recently I have found myself really actively searching for camping sites. A, they are cheaper and B, I get to sleep in the swag which is really comfortable. The cold nights (around the one digit area) are no problem due to the sleeping bag. The only thing I have found not so good about it is the dew that accumulates in the morning, but that will happen in any tent if you keep all the entrances closed or you camp near to a foggy river.
The first day I had was a rather wet one, so no walks on that one. Instead I hogged down in to my car with a movie on my laptop which I had downloaded from the free WiFi at the previous camp site. In the evening I found myself a camp site at the bowling club in Kandanga. The next morning it took a long while to get my swag to dry, as the club is right next to a river that had mist come up really early in the evening and continued on through the night. The swag held tight as long as I didn't touch the exterior to much. 
The next day was nice and clear and I took a couple of walks throughout the state forests around Amamoor. Personally I thought that the walks down near Springfield were nicer, due to the more spectacular waterfalls they have along the crater of the extinguished volcano. In the evening I found an absolutely wonderful camp site near to Kenilworth. Really clean (I felt bad for walking in to the shower room in the morning with my shoes), friendly owners and I got to have a go with the free kayaks they supply. Whilst out on the river I spotted an otter and a kingfisher, rather rare occurrences back in Europe and no idea how lucky I am with that in Australia. After some soup for dinner I was back in the swag with a wind blowing around outside. Good for me, more wind means less dew in the morning.
The next morning I woke up pretty much before the rest of the camp and even after a shower and breakfast I left while most of the others where still asleep. The day was spent wondering what to do and contemplating what I should do until mid-August (from where on I have other plans lined up). I drove back to Gympie to refuel and on the way looked at Lake Borumba. I was hoping for some walk around the water, but I couldn't find any so carried on along the road. In Gympie I came to the decision to head back down to the Sunshine coast and do all the National Parks on the way. Whilst heading down I did another check on for any person sailing up the coast and found a fresh one I then proceeded to write to. To my surprise I got a return text back and after calling and talking to him swung my car around and started heading to Bundaberg. As it was getting dark already I pulled over in to a free camp site in one of the town on the way. Rather packed but considering I just have my car and a swag I can fit in nearly every where, compared to most other users of the camp site with their camping trailers. After that to write the blog with a battery depleted laptop which I am currently loading with my car battery.  

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Rainbow Beach

Finally got the tax done today. It wasn't as bad as it sounds, actually, as it means I may get some money back. After breakfast that is what most of the morning was spent with doing, thanks to the internet.
Completing that we went of to the beach near Rainbow Beach. I wanted to have a swim myself, so whilst Jana went shopping I went for a dip in the “cold” ocean. 20°C water, for Aussie standards winter time. After the dip Jana was back and we went for a walk along the beach, four wheel drives passing us constantly. Got back after two hours of walking and went back to the camp, a quick shop for some supplies on the way.  

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Cooloola Park Reserve

Woke up early due to going to bed early the night before. Sun set here about five at the moment. After breakfast we got the dreaded test of driving out. My Forester handled it no problem, but on the last stretch the bottom of the car touched the ground, so a no go for the Outback. In the end we managed to bend it round trees and bushes on a flatter track to the road, but I probably scared Jana off four wheel driving for a long time.
First thing we did after that was get some supplies from Coles in a neighbouring town and then headed to the camp site that Jana had seen the day before. First view not bad. It's a messy sort of farm place, but then again I have lived in “organised” chaos for a long time in Australia now. And we get free WiFI!
Checked in with the owner and then headed to Cooloola Park Reserve. We ended up doing a walk through the bush for 17km to get to a not very impressive waterhole, but it was the walk that we where aiming for. No snakes, fortunately, but we did get to see a Golden Orb Weave Spider.

After that back to the camp for some internet time.  

Friday, July 1, 2016

Brisbane - Rainbow Beach

Next day. 1st of July. In Australia that means the end of the tax year. Good some of us backpackers are the tax return we can get. Normally you pay a couple of hundred dollars for a company to do it, but Christian had the good idea just to do it yourself with the tax office for help. I had tried a couple of days prior after Aaron had mentioned that you can do it yourself, but it failed at a connection between the tax office and the government site. New day, I'll try again.
After some breakfast we took our cars and headed to the train station. We didn't want to drive in to down town Brisbane for fear of horrendous car parking issues, so we took the cheap train instead. In Brisbane Chris guided us to the tax office. On the way we passed a paper sale guy who was producing aerobics at the same time. Interesting to see and it may have put the sales up.
We reached the tax office and it looked like they had just prepared for this situation. With a staff of personnel to help you and a lot of computers to do it on we got help immediately. Due to my try a few days ago I got in faster than the other two and had the tax office connected to my government side near immediately. To get to the point (as tax can be very boring) we half managed it after a few hours and then left as Chris has to be near Fraser Island by four in the afternoon.
Back to the cars and then we split up as I didn't want to trail straight behind them for 250km. I was going to follow the two of them up until to Rainbow Beach as I have nothing to do until Monday. Might as well see a lot of sand. They left before me but I must have somehow gone faster than them because I arrived a bit before them. Once Chris had said goodbye to go on his tour, Jana and me looked for a place to camp for the night. The place she was interested in had a comment that it was closed so we ruled that one out. In the end we got a permit from the petrol station for a camp near to Fraser and set of towards that.
It proved very sandy. Now then, I have a bit of sand driving experience with my car, so I got to a spot no problem. There where some other “proper” four wheel drives close by, so my estimate was that if we do get stuck we can get pulled out. As said, me no problem. Once Jana had a go at it with Chris Subaru Outback, it wasn't that good anymore. Got stuck really bad. No digging helped, so I went to the nearby spotted four wheel drivers (with a Land Rover). They said they had got stuck themselves that day and someone else pulled them out, and that they would help us. In the meantime the ones that had pulled them out had spotted Jana and helped take the car out. So we where surrounded by sand we weren't to sure we would get out of in the morning.

Had some dinner and went down to the beach for some nice view on to the stars before heading back and to bed.