Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back in Victoria!

Toketie is safely tucked away in the Townsville Slipways lot and the crew have landed back in sunny Victoria, British Columbia, a long way from Ross Creek!!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Toketie on the hard!

All went well, first night spent on the water in the cradle and next morning at low tide the crane showed up to remove the power boat and put Toketie into position.  Quite a production really!!

Friday, September 02, 2011

enough 'whingeing' already....

Australia's national passtime....'whingeing'....better known as 'whining' where we come from.....sorry about that little scratch on the elbow stuff.....truth is the cure was almost worse than the disease...would not wish a week in hospital on I checked myself out....declined the followup with the doctors and we have been busy getting Toketie in shape to store her for the next cyclone season!  Townsville Slipways, where we will haul her up on the rail and have a crane lift her into position, is an institution in Australia.  The world has evolved around the site but the old slipways remain much as they have been for many years.  Townsville goes back to 1770 and Captain James Cook but the slipways have been there since 1903.  Coordinating an exact time for when we will be lifted out of the water is turning into an interesting process.  The logistics of juggling the boats on the rails, the tides, the crane etc.....well lets hope it happens this week!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

tropical infections!

The skipper has had a bit of a run in with the Aussie medical system.....a scratch on the elbow from working on the engine developed into an infection that saw it swell up till it looked like Popeye's arm.....heavy duty i/v antibiotics as well as oral antibiotics were not stopping it so they cut it open and drained it....that did the trick!  Well, till my body exploded in a reaction, likely to the antibiotics....oy vey.....anyway I'm off everything but anti-inflammatories and steroids for the rash and seem to be improving....very interesting country....if it doesn't kill you, it definitely makes you stronger....

.......moral of the infection story matter how small the scratch in the tropics....disinfect it 'immediately'...sterilize it constantly and treat it like your life might depend on it....last time I had one of these we were at sea half way to the marquesas and I cut it open, drained it and went on antibiotics while linda handled the boat as I could not put weight on my foot....scary stuff.....but all in a days work for us cruisers  :)

expect to lift Toketie this week and fly back soon to the 'other'..... 'real' world  !!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Townsville Cultural Fest!

The first night of the Cultural Festival was interesting. Local aborigines and groups from Pacific Islands performed traditional dances and songs. The Nuie group was particularly energetic. It is said that Captain Cook attempted to land on Nuie four times but was repelled each time by the natives....he left, naming it the Savage Island! They lived up to their reputation on stage. The Papua New Guinea 'Home Decorators' entertained us with songs from the mountains and songs from the seacoast. Tokelau also had a huge group on stage and put on a good show.

We did not make it back last night for the 'Bollywood' show as neighbors in the yacht club came by for sundowners. The Lake MacQuarie boat 'Ingeberg of Capri' brought us a mudcrab they caught in the creek. It was delicious!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

a walk along the strand....

Townsville is very friendly....we are living in the heart of it at the old Motor Boat Club, now called the Townsville Yacht Club.  A short walk crossing a bridge over Ross Creek and we find a promenade along the seafront called 'The Strand'!  Nice to see local people out running, walking, bar b qing or playing with their kids.  It is warming up now with daytime temps reaching 28, fortunately still cooling off enough at night to be comfortable.  Just our luck, a jazz festival this weekend and next week five days of multi-cultural festival.  Looks like we have a space to store Toketie at the old Slipway in the center of town.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


Had some great sailing and lots of motor-sailing.....but made 75nm to crawl up the Ross Creek in Townsville, dodging the dredger working on the big ships channel!  Seems like a funky little town!


First light leaving Cape Upstart....long leg to Townsville!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Cape Upstart!

Toketie underway from Airlie Beach and headed for Townsville!  First night, tucked behind Gloucester Island, was flat calm and so quiet you could hear a welcome silence after the party boat next to us in Airlie the night before!

A mere 45nm today, motor-sailing with very little wind.  But Linda counted 9 humpback whales through the day putting on a display of breaching and sounding and spouting!  Dolphins appeared and played as well!

We have tucked behind Cape Upstart and the wind has died down to a breeze.  The swell seems to have followed us in, however, and Toketie hobby-horses over them as a bright red sun sinks into the sea.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

and they are off... a herd of turtles....

sitting out 25-30 knots of wind in Airlie Beach....heavy rain now....should start to clear tomorrow.....decisions decisions....not sure whether we are coming or going....have decided to park Toketie for cyclone season and return to now the question is where to park her!  Not many options on the '100 Magic Miles' coast here.....prospect of smashing our way back to Bundaberg against strong tradewinds is becoming less appealing as the sands run out on our visas and the weather does not give us a break.....looking ahead to Townsville and think we might sail up that way, about 130 nm N, and hope one of two tentative options there work out.....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Toketie back in Airlie Beach

We had our Canberra friends, John & Masumi, on board for a week of cruising around the Whitsunday Islands!  Fortunately the weather gods were kind and we managed beach time at the famous Whitehaven, found some decent coral to snorkel, saw whales, dugongs, turtles, stingrays, lots of birds, big goannas (monitor lizards), made several good hikes...the last of which was back to the top of Whitsunday peak giving us all a good workout.  We even got some good sailing in!

Back in Airlie now to refill water, fuel, provisions and service the new engine after its initial breaking in period.

Monday, July 18, 2011

sunken boat in Airlie Beach!

Woke up the other morning and looked out the cockpit to see two sticks showing above the waterline!  Does not seem to have been anyone on board the vessel, no idea who it belongs to.  Seems to be sitting comfortably in about 10 ft of water.....the water police went around and put the float on it!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

hiking Whitsunday Peak! hour and a half up....good cardio workout....lunch at the top with a view...and an hour down to stretch the leg muscles....who says we sit around drinking beer!


...had a good feed of fresh oysters off the rocks in Nara Inlet....marinated in lemon juice with a dash of tabasco....yummmmm

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Whitehaven Beach viewed from Tongue Bay lookout!


a good view of Whitehaven Beach in the background....taken a short hike from Tongue Bay!

Chance Bay!


We got into the water for the first time in Aus! Whitehaven Beach is one of the famous stops in the Whitsundays....not as crowded as expected either. This is Chance Bay, a 2 hour hike over the hill from Whitehaven and we had it to ourselves!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Cockatoo perch and Canada Day eh!

Well, the cockatoos were beginning to perch in our rigging....not that we mind them but they don't seem to be housetrained and although we love their raucous language, we have no idea what they are saying....undoubtedly they just saw the Canadian flag and were visiting to remind us of the special day!

But when the birds start thinking you are part of the landscape, it is a subtle hint that it is time to move move on we did...after coffee of course and yoghurt!

Exiting the inlet was interesting, if only to remind us how sheltered we were while hiding in it....the seas were running on the beam...that's the side of the boat for you laypersons....and big enough that every now and then one would break all over us!  Fortunately we were sheltering in our canvas covered cockpit and just had to hang on!  Anyone without sealegs would likely have been 'tossing their cookies'!!

But we smashed our way back to Airlie Beach, civilization of sorts, and enjoyed a long walk down tourist strip, filled our jerry cans with water and picked up 2 liters of drinkable wine!

Conclusion:  Toketie needs an autopilot (to steer the boat when there is no wind or too much from the wrong direction) and we have to make reefing a simpler and safer exercise.....

Happy Canada Day eh!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

chatter boats!

Toketie has been 'relaxing', code for pinned down by strong winds and heavy rains!!  The sun is out today, the 8th day here and that is always a relief.  We do have NZ friends anchored nearby and we have made our way over for a visit and had them onboard for scrabble.  The nights are tiring though as the wind gets up and though we are in a safe and sheltered inlet, the gusts come barreling down between the hills and Toketie's bow slews off to leeward till the slack on the anchor chain pays out and then she slews off in the other direction, followed by a calm period where the tide turns her beam on to the bit of swell that has found its way to the head of the bay.

For entertainment, we have taken to listening to the morning and afternoon 'scheds' the charter boats hold.  There are three bareboat charter companies operating out of the area and as this is prime cruising season, they are all busy.  The charter boats are required to report back to the company by VHF radio with their location and their plans for the day.  Most boats are families with young kids on board.  In fact yesterday, Linda looked out the porthole during a lull in the rain and wind gusts to report a young fellow in a dinghy having trouble starting the outboard.  He could not have been more than five years old and had been having a great time entertaining himself racing around the inlet...but at the moment he was standing and tugging at the cord on the outboard.  He managed to put a small anchor down on the reef so he was not drifting away and he was wearing a lifejacket!  After watching for a while, we decided to put our dinghy in and go to the rescue.  We had lifted ours on a harness and it was hanging off the side of the boat so not much drama dropping it in the water.  The young fellow had been calling to his dad on the deck of their anchored charter boat behind us so I decided to head over there first to ask the dad if he wanted to ride over to his son.  He accepted gratefully and after correcting him on our Maple Leaf being a Canadian, not American flag, I took him over where he proceeded to start the outboard with one pull....seems the young fellow wasn't quite strong enough.  He thanked me, saying "that's twice he's done that now"....I'm sure when they get back to Melbourne they will have stories to tell.  Meanwhile we have been here so long now, some of the boats are starting to look familiar.  I guess for the thousands of dollars they are paying to charter, they feel they need to make an effort to get out during the day and see more of the islands in the area...I'm sure when they get around the corner from the inlet, they realize just how sheltered it was where they came from.  But many of them bravely make it out and undoubtedly find another little bay, probably with more swell, to snorkel or explore the trails off of sandy beaches.  And by late afternoon, most of them are crawling back into Nara Inlet or Cid Harbour to shelter for the night.  The VHF radio scheds are quite comical, often young kids coming on to reply when their boat name is called.  They report their location, sometimes with a long pause while they check with the parents, and haltingly as children do describe their plan of action for the day.  It might go something like, "after breakfast, we might try to get to Butterfly Bay and see what it's like there"....  One small catamaran, "Lulu", did not seem to be having such a good time....when their name came up on the rollcall, the husband came on to announce they were heading back to the marina and "getting off this boat"....they had two very young kids on board, I hope it didn't turn them off of sailing as it is an entirely different experience when the weather is calm....

Linda made sushi last night and there is lots left over for lunch today...and carrot cake the day before so we are not suffering....we have lots of books, some beer, no wine and some rum for when we really get restless....but the wind generator is humming and the batteries are happy...wish we had more movies that we haven't seen several times over....but the cockatoos still put on their show every evening and a pair of very large sea eagles have been circling in the updrafts.

Canada Day coming up!  Might have to break out the bigger flag!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nara Inlet, Hook Island

It was nice to get out of Airlie Beach! Though we were enjoying the town, we decided to explore some of the famous Whitsunday Islands area. After a night in Nara Inlet, the weather forecast is calling for 30 knot winds by the weekend so, as this is a reasonably sheltered inlet with good holding, we decided to sit tight here and ride it out....from two boats this morning, the inlet has filled with over a dozen by nightfall....a hike on a short steep trail takes you to a cave with aboriginal paintings on the walls....and at sunset hundreds of cockatoos squawk as they find their perch for the night.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Airlie Beach!

We were on our way North but a headwind came up and that was all it took to divert us into Airlie Beach.  It is a very touristy place, jumping off point for charter and dive boats to the Great Barrier Reef.  But it is a large sheltered bay and tomorrow we are going to shore to have a look around.

Whitsunday Passage!

The new engine performed quite well up the passage....of course there was a bit of tide running!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Finally....6 years and the whole Pacific Ocean and we are in the bl*^&%dy least we are out of Mackay!  New engine running great, new shaft bearing hit 70C first day but ran a bit cooler second day, of course we sailed some of it....breaking in the engine...running high revs etc in postcard picture anchorage of Cid Harbour (almost as good as Desolation Sound).....beautiful rosy sky, barB swell (thank Odin)...and can almost hear the bats chewing the mossies....plan is to plod our way N to Cairns and see how much season we have left!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Persimmon Tree

The problem with reading Bryce Courtenay is that it makes you want to give up even attempting to write anything meaningful.....I started with 'Power of One' (thanx Y) followed by the sequel, Tandia and have now just finished The Persimmon's criminal how this guy strings words together...well, ideas actually, and teaches you so much in the process while entertaining the heck out of you.....but then...recommending anything to anyone is always a dangerous this is just about what we are up the moment....and if anyone is interested, the shaft bearing was fitted today and we ran the engine under load at the dock....still warm but the walrus has spoken and it's time to 'blow this popcorn joint' as soon as the 30 kt winds and heavy rains ease...we are moving North again....who knows how far....

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

And they're off....almost...

We did cash our shower keys in and head out the breakwater....only to turn back an hour or so later with an overheating shaft support we have been back at the marina for four days now and think we have identified the problem and expect a newer, heavy duty, shaft support bearing to arrive today!!! Hopefully not too big a job to put it in and it should solve the problem!! Stay tuned!

Friday, June 03, 2011

New Engine - Day 10 and Done!

Morning dragged by with still no had been sited in Mackay just down the road but the delivery company would not guarantee when it would be at the marina so by 11AM, one of the mechanics drove to town and picked it up!  A couple of hours of final fitting and it was all over but the crying....that would be paying the bill part...which was way more than they said it would be but gave us no choice but to pay it or find ourselves in the yard till we did!!  The good news is that no corners were cut in doing the job.  The best of materials were used and everything was done to a high standard.  I am very happy with the result!

Mark, the master mechanic came along for a sea trial.  We motored out of the harbour and after tightening a hose clamp on the muffler to stop a small trickle of raw water, he asked my to give it full throttle!  That took us up over 7 knots which we had never been able to do before under power.  Settling back down to 2000 RPM, we moved comfortably over the water at more than 6 knots so the engine is putting out more power and maybe the new pitch on the prop is more efficient as well.  On the return, Mark noted a slight wobble to the shaft so will drop by in the morning to adjust the coupling.

It was a sad day for the old Nissan that served us well for so many years!

Its off to the yacht club for dinner and hope to head to an island about 20 miles from here tomorrow, relax for the weekend and return to have Mark check everything after running it in.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

New Engine - Day 9

Getting down to the short strokes here....well except for the new shaft which seemed to have gone missing while being shipped from Brisbane!  A lot of details depend on having that shaft in levelling the engine and hooking up the exhaust....but by late afternoon we managed to locate it at least and it is apparently physically in Mackay.  Unfortunately they would not deliver it to the marina so we expect to have it first thing in the mid-morning...this being Australia after all!  But Mark is doing a phenomenal job getting the details sorted and with a bit of the luck of the Irish, we could be in the water by mid-day tomorrow!  We did start her up today and what a treat that was....not for long as no cooling water...but enought to hear her purr.....very exciting!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

New Engine - Day 8

Well, I'm sure all you faithfull blog followers (who put up with the technical detail and secretly want more adventure and lots of pictures)...ah the vicarious life is a hard one!  If you guessed we are in a good mood, you are right!  The new engine was crane lifted in today and lowered onto the mounting beds in the newly painted bilge.  After a minimum amount of wood butchery (no challenges there), we are sitting on the settee with a new Yanmar beneath!!  I can't tell you how great that feels!  We are not quite out of the woods but definitely over the hump (as opposed to over the hill) this kind of experience will either make you younger or return you from whence you came....

The shaft and prop have apparently arrived in the town of Mackay and will make their way to the marina tomorrow morning....shaft is critical now to align the engine, then lots of details to complete the install.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Engine - Day 7

Big day today again!  Welder on board...made up new engine beds...then grinding away the paint so he could weld them to the hull....very strong supports for the new engine which with any luck will be lowered in tomorrow morning.  Also today worked out the PSS dripless seal for the shaft.  This was a bit more complicated than expected as it did not quite fit behind the shaft support block.  But another plate going in to move the support block forward and all should be well....expecting the shaft and prop tomorrow as well....

Monday, May 30, 2011

New Engine - Day 6

Oh happy day!  Feels like Christmas around engine arrived about 10AM....old worn cutless bearing has been removed (where the shaft exits the hull) metal plates will be fabricated and welded inside the bilge (hopefully tomorrow) for the motor mounts to rest on.  The shaft, prop and PSS dripless seal are due to arrive tomorrow as well.

It seems the timing of the engine replacement was impeccable....closer examination of the old engine showed broken metal bits where the gearbox was attached to the would have failed suddenly, usually in the worst possible location, so it is good we are tackling this now!

Scraping , sanding and varnishing continue on the hatches and the sun is still shining!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Engine - Day 5

Sunday here!  Lots of locals launching their fishing boats for the day and live music in the pub at night.  Sanding the big hatch took most of the day.  More varnishing.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

New Engine - Day 4

Not much to report today!  As it is the weekend here, no one else is working...but that did not slow us down.  The bilge in the engine area received its second coat of two part epoxy base and the bilge sections, going back to where the new PSS dripless stuffing box will go, also got scrubbed out, scraped out, de-greased, washed and epoxied!  Although we don't have the new engine, they gave us a panel and wiring harness so I made a mounting plate for it and ran the harness down through the closet, under the drawers and across to the engine compartment...that's always fun!  Linda is making good progress sanding and varnishing hatches and handrails.  The cockpit table finally got sanded and coated as did the new engine instrument panel.  The weather is wonderful, about 23C during the day and down to 12C at night...very comfortable for working and sleeping.  It is hard to look out to sea however, as it is also ideal for cruising with steady tradewinds and blue skies....

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Engine - Day 3

Friday here....the day when all the workers disappear by 4 o'clock....probably looking for that cold brew...not a bad idea! I spent the day cleaning out the bilge area. After de-greasing and scrubbing it, I applied a coat of two part base expoxy to all exposed metal parts. These are areas that were below the old engine and couldn't be reached in Fiji when we re-painted the bilge. The new engine did not arrive, disappointing, but we are told it is in Mackay just a few miles away....not sure why it would be there and not here but ours is not to reason why, just to do and have a rum punch! I also cut a board to mount the new engine control panel and will run the wiring harness through to the bilge tomorrow. Linda went to town and picked up more sandpaper and beer, our staples lately! So tonight we will stumble down to the yacht club and see what the special is. The old engine and transmission sit forelorn on the concrete...maybe painting it Volvo green before we left was an omen! They call them 'green anchors'...though I'm sure the Swedes would disapprove!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Engine - Day 2

Another busy day! Mark, the Yanmar dealer and chief mechanic came by to inspect my prep work. Ready to go and the crane is ordered! A half hour from when it arrived till the old engine was sitting on the tarmac! A bit of juggling as it came out of the bilge when the support brackets for the feet had to be removed to clear the hatch. The transmission was quick to follow along with the shaft and heavy stainless muffler which will be replaced with a plastic Vetus. The hole in the floor is filthy from leaking oil, coolant and raw water from the stuffing box. Weather is cooperatiing with clear sunny skies and light winds, cool in the morning which is very comfortable. A parallel project sees the exterior woodwork getting a much needed facelift by the first mate!