Day 208, Year 2: Marketing, Varnishing, Sewing, and Oiling

Day 208, Year 2: Marketing, Varnishing, Sewing, and Oiling
Date: Sunday, November 18, 2007
Weather: Very Rainy Night Clearing in AM; Mostly Sunny Day
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Tt was another “get it done” day–not too exciting as you can see from the title to this log, but a lot of work got done. I got out of bed and immediately put another coat of varnish on the aft head floor and the teak shower grate. Before I finished the shower grate, Paul and Marie invited us to go to the Sunday Market at the Shalom College (Catholic high school) in Bundaberg. We needed to buy some things for our Thanksgiving dinner, so I finished the varnishing and along we went. The terrain
here looks like Kansas, but instead of wheat fields forever, it is sugar cane fields. There are also huge fields of various vegetables and cantaloupe. The cantaloupe is now ripening, but many crops have just been planted. In another month it will be summer here, and the rain we have been having has brought everything to life. On the way to the market we saw the most beautiful Poinciana trees I have ever seen. This tree originated in Madagascar but has been spread to tropical climates around
the world. We saw these trees in the Caribbean and in various places across the South Pacific. But none were as beautiful as the ones we saw today. These trees have a flat, wide-spreading crown and the flowers are a bright red, although sometimes bright orange or scarlet. The tree is also called a Flamboyant or Flame Tree. We stopped in a residential neighborhood on the way home from the market to take a picture of one particularly beautiful tree.

Back at the marina, it was back to work. I thought I had the handrail on the port side ready to oil, but on closer inspection, I could see that I had much more sanding to do. And then I had to do the the starboard rail. Just when I thought I was finished, I looked back at the hand rail on the other side of the boat and I could all kinds of places that needed more sanding. Mark came to the rescue and helped me. Otherwise, I think I would still be out there sanding away. I had hoped to stop at
4 o’clock and go for a walk to see the neighborhood kangaroos that hang out in the fields around here, but we decided to wait until tomorrow so I could go ahead and get one coat of oil on the handrails. There was still more to do, but it was put on hold until tomorrow. Varnishing after dark just doesn’t work! Paul and Marie did go, however, and they saw one beautiful “roo.” Maybe we’ll finish early tomorrow and get to go for that walk.

Mark spent his afternoon sewing seams on our Dorade box covers. They were made with special thread that is supposed to be UV resistant, but every year some seams have to be resewn. There is a thread that we can buy here that will last forever, but it costs about $250 a spool. I guess it should last forever at that price. Mark also got the new tarp we bought last week put in place over the boom. It is there to protect the cockpit from direct sunlight and it looks like it will do the job.

Just one week from tomorrow we will be headed to Brisbane by train and then on home by plane. There are so many things I still want to see here before we leave, but boat work comes first. Tomorrow will be another busy day.

Day 207, Year 2: Dinner with Good Friends . . . Again

Day 207, Year 2: Dinner with Good Friends . . . Again
Date: Saturday, November 17, 2007
Weather: Partly Cloudy with Periods of Rain; Rainy Evening
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Varnish jobs have had to be transported inside as it seems to sprinkle rain every single time I start to varnish something outside. So we have our Dorade boxes sitting on the main saloon table and the teak shower grate hanging from the main saloon ceiling. I’ve finished the varnishing of teak trim in the shower enclosure, but I am still working on the aft bathroom floor. By the first part of the week, I should have enough coats on these things to call it quits to varnishing, although I will still
be working on oiling the handrails on deck. I start that process tomorrow and hope to have that done by mid-week. This morning Mark sprayed the spinnaker with fresh water, laid it out on the deck to dry, and then raised it in its ATM sleeve to complete the drying process. It had gotten doused with salt water on the passage here, so we needed to clean it before storing it away. With eight days to go, we ticking off the jobs to do, but somehow the list seems to get longer every day.

I had invited Bob and Dianna of White Swan and Paul and Marie of Ranger to come to Windbird for dinner this evening, but the rain caused a change in plans. There was no way we could all fit in our boat with the varnish projects sitting around and no way to put these things outside because of the rain. Marie invited us to come to Ranger, so we transferred food in that direction. But then there was another big change. We were going to have grilled steaks, but Marie had talked to some of the local
fishermen on the dock yesterday and arranged to trade “XXXX Gold” beer for crabs. She thought she would be getting two or three crabs that we could cook and eat as an appetizer, but we ended up with twelve huge Spanner crabs and they took the place of the steaks. We’ll just have to have those on another evening. The crabs took a little more work than we had expected, but they were delicious. After dinner, we did some pre-planning for our Thanksgiving dinner this week. We will all get together
again on Thursday to enjoy turkey (or maybe chicken) with all the trimmings. We aren’t sure that we can get cranberries here, so Mark might not get to make his traditional cranberry salad, but we will have stuffing and pumpkin pie, and all of the other traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

When we got up this morning, we found that we had run out of time on our wireless internet service. It took all day to get that up and running again so I didn’t get to call our daughter Heather to check on baby Sam. He has had a nasty little cold and we wanted to check on how he is doing. We will have to try again in the morning now that we are connected once again. After that, we will get out the Sail Rite sewing machine and Mark will do a few sewing projects. He needs to restitch the Dorade
box Sunbrella covers and make some modifications to a tarp we bought this past week. We are going to hang it over our boom to cover the cockpit area. We will leave the dodger and bimini Sunbrella covers up while we are gone, but we hope the tarp will help protect them from UV damage. So more varnishing and some sewing are on the agenda for tomorrow.

Day 206, Year 2: Dinner with Good Friends

Day 206, Year 2: Dinner with Good Friends
Date: Friday, November 16, 2007
Weather: Partly Sunny Day
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Yesterday while we were in Bundaberg sightseeing, Arnie of Jade came by Windbird and left a note inviting us to come into town for dinner tonight. Arnie and Cam are friends we first met in the Galapagos and they just arrived in town from New Caledonia this week. We didn’t think we would be able to go in to have dinner with them as there is no public transportation back out here at night and the $40 taxi fee is just too much. But to our surprise, Arnie has already bought a car and he came out to
get us and brought us back home. Arnie and Cam have two beautiful daughters, Mollie and Nancy, and it was great to see all of them again. Our last time together was at Reva’s back in Whangarei. Idunne and Runae, and their twin girls Hetta and Marita, joined us for dinner, as well as Jan and Christina of Christina. Arnie and Cam will spend the next few months in Bundaberg and the girls will attend school here. Blue Marlin and Christina are both leaving next week heading slowly to Sydney for Christmas
and New Year’s. Blue Marlin and Christina are probably heading to Indonesia next season, as are we, but Jade is going back to Vanuatu and New Caledonia for another season. We don’t see each other often so we cherish the times when our paths do cross.

The early part of the day was spent varnishing and then I went into town to the grocery store with Paul and Marie while Mark stayed on the boat and made flight reservations for Justin and Jo to join us in North Carolina for my sister’s fiftieth wedding anniversary. We were trying to use our Frequent Flyer miles for one ticket and paying for the second one. This complicated matters and that was the reason for the process taking so long. In the end, Mark was successful and we are so excited that
we will have our entire family with us for the celebration. Justin’s wife, Jo, and our grand baby Sam will get to meet my whole family all at one time. And what a special homecoming for us. Spending a few days with family is the perfect welcome home.

I think I have mentioned that our friends Paul and Marie on Ranger have their Island Packet up for sale. The first prospective buyer came to look today and he obviously loved what he saw. He made an offer and Paul and Marie accepted. Closing will take ten days, but if all goes well, Paul and Marie will be “homeless” by the time we return to the US. Tomorrow Bob and Dianna of White Swan and Paul and Marie are coming to Windbird for dinner. We are going to make plans for our Thanksgiving dinner
next week and celebrate the pending sale of Ranger. I can’t even imagine life after Windbird, so I’m glad that is still a few years in the future.

Day 205, Year 2: Playing Like a Tourist

Day 205, Year 2: Playing Like a Tourist
Date: Thursday, November 15, 2007
Weather: Partly Sunny Day
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Today was our day to “play” like we were tourists. Well, actually we are tourists, but it doesn’t feel that way when you are living on your boat in another country. We’ve just temporarily moved our home. After the requisite amount of varnishing, we took off with Paul and Marie of Ranger in their newly purchased car. We went into Bundaberg and found the Botanical Gardens. On these same grounds are the Bundaberg Historical Museum and the Hinkler House Memorial Museum, the Fairymead House Sugar
Museum, and the Bundaberg Railway Museum. We only made it to the first two today, but hopefully we will have time to return on another day and visit the other museums. Both the Historical Museum and the Hinkler House Memorial Museum are tiny museums with a small town flavor. Things aren’t too fancy here, but the Historical Museum gave a nice overview of the development of this sugar cane town and the Hinkler museum taught us about a person that is very important to the history of this town. Bert
Hinkler was born in 1892 and by 1912 he was building and flying gliders. Actually a fragment from that first glider was carried into space by the Challenger space shuttle. As we all know, the Challenger met with disaster but the small fragment of the Hinkler glider was found floating in the Atlantic and returned to the Hinker House by NASA in 1987. Hinker was revered as Australia’s greatest pioneer solo aviator after flying solo from England to Australia, and then completing a number of other
solo long-distance flights. On a flight from England to Australia in 1933, Hinkler crashed in Italy and was buried in a Florence cemetery. Born in Bundaberg, but living most of his adult life in England, the home he built there was relocated to Bundaberg in 1984. It is now the home of the Hinkler House Memorial Museum, but in another year the Hinkler Aviation Museum will open next to the Hinkler House. Construction is well under way.

The Botanical Gardens were the most pleasant surprise of the day. It is all about the birds. Ibis, Cattle Egrets, Intermediate Egrets, and Pukeko nest here and their numbers abound. There are also many smaller birds like the Pied Butcherbird that made the gardens their home. The walkway through the gardens wind around a series of ponds where we saw lots of large lizards that skitter across the ground and then leap into the water. They were great fun to watch.

On our way back through town, we stopped at the Bundaberg Rail Station and bought our train ticket from here to Brisbane. We will leave here on Monday morning, November 26, around 10 AM and arrive in Bribane around 2 PM. We will stay at the Kookaburra Inn in downtown Brisbane before catching our flight to the US on Tuesday morning, November 27. Although the flight to Boston takes more than 24 hours, we will still arrive at Logan Airport in Boston on Tuesday, November 27 at 10 PM–the same day
we left Brisbane. The wonders of crossing the dateline!

Day 204, Year 2: Work Continues

Day 204, Year 2: Work Continues
Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Weather: Beautiful Day–No Rain
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Yea! I finished varnishing the cap rail today, so tomorrow the dodger can go back on and life can be a little more normal again. We spend so much of our time in the cockpit, but without a cover over it, the sun is just too intense here to allow us to be outside. Mark stripped the aft bathroom floor today and I put two more coats of varnish on the wood in the shower stall. I’ll finish the varnishing in the shower tomorrow but start the varnishing process on the floor and the teak shower grate.
Mark and I both worked on sanding that (the shower grate) today and I also started sanding the handrails on the deck. Mark also installed a new anit-syphon valve on the enine salt water system and installed a new faucet for the anchor wash-down hose. The little jobs just go on and on.

At 4:30 this afternoon I came in from sanding the handrail on the port side and I was exhausted from being out in the hot sun. I told Mark that I needed some good old rock ‘n roll to keep me going, so he got out the Creative Zen (like an Ipod), plugged it into our sound system, and put it on 50’s music. I had a great time dancing and finishing the bathroom varnishing to Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Little Danny and the Juniors.

Dinner was on Ranger tonight. We had some of that fifty-plus pound Wahoo Paul caught on the way in here two weeks ago. Marie was able to fit it all in the freezer and we really enjoyed what we had tonight. We talked about how little time we have before we both leave here. Paul and Marie leave next Friday for a six-week jaunt around Australia and we leave either next Friday or the following Monday for Bisbane. We talked tonight about how much longer it takes to do things on a boat than it does
to do the same thing in a house. If you want to varnish something in a house, you can usually go out on a shelf in the garage or in the basement and get the varnish. On a boat, everything is stored away and you have to move one thing to open another and then move something else to get to what you need. It is a challenge, but one that is well worth it. It just takes time.

Tomorrow really is “tourist” day. We are going to Bundaberg with Paul and Marie to visit the Botanical Gardens and the Hinkler House Memorial Museum. Bert Hinkler is known as Australia’s greatest pioneer solo aviator and we will view the collection of memorabilia in his English home, now museum.

Day 203, Year 2: All Work and No Play

Day 203, Year 2: All Work and No Play
Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Weather: Sunny Day with Two Minutes of Sprinkles
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

You know what they say about all work and no play, but we realized today that we could have only ten more days before we leave here for Brisbane and we have at least that many days of work left to do. So there will be no touring of Bundaberg tomorrow, but maybe the next day if we get lots done tomorrow. I put another coat of varnish on the cockpit cap rail this morning under beautiful, bright blue skies. Then a couple of hours later, it clouded over momentarily, sprinkled a little rain on the
varnish, and then cleared up for the remainder of the day. This time the varnish was dry enough that the sprinkles didn’t do much damage. I’ve decided to do one more coat in the morning (so surely it will rain) and let that be it for the cap rail for now. I sanded and varnished the wood in our shower today and wondered why anyone in their right mind would put wood trim in a shower stall! Looking at the results tonight, I’m really glad we decided to do the shower renovation. As with any refinishing
job, the work is tedious, but the results are usually worth it. In this case, the work was definitely worth it. The bathroom looks sooooo much better already.

After completing the two varnish jobs, it was off to town to search for some essentials for the boat and to look for some cleaning products. As I noted in yesterday’s log, some things just aren’t available here. And after searching in town today, we found that even more things aren’t available. At least we are learning what is here so we know what we have to bring back from the US with us. The one product that we have become “addicted” to is Grunt. This is a New Zealand product that removes
rust from just about any thing from plastic to fiberglass to stainless steel by just brushing it on, waiting, and wiping it off with water. I’ve checked with the chandleries here and they know about the product but can’t get it. They tell me there is no Australian product like it, and that Grunt is only available in New Zealand. Well, Ross and Laura of New Dawn (out of Alaska) are going to New Zealand in a few days for a fishing trip. Ross is an avid fisherman and is meeting a fellow Alaskan
who comes to New Zealand to fish. Anyway, they will buy Grunt for me and bring it back. I loaned Marie on Ranger the last of mine today to remove rust from the base of a toilet. She was sure nothing would remove that rust, but Grunt did the job. I think I’ve mentioned that Paul and Marie are putting Ranger on the market for sale. Australia is the end of the cruising line for them. Ross and Laura are doing the same. They are a young couple in their thirties and they are going to return to Alaska
to hopefully start a family. We have been the recipients of many things that they are getting rid of as they get the boat ready to be viewed by prospective buyers. Mark bought some of Ross’ extensive stainless steel screw, nut, and bolt collection today and yesterday he bought some fishing gear from him. Ross and Laura’s Valiant is going to be a whole lot lighter once Mark is finished transferring goodies from New Dawn to Windbird.

Tomorrow morning I sand and varnish the cockpit cap rail for the last time and put a second coat of varnish on the shower stall trim. Mark is going to strip the bathroom floor and start the varnishing process on that. The last big job we have is sanding and finishing the handrails on the deck and varnishing the six dorade boxes. The dorade boxes provide a base for the cowl vents, letting air flow into the boat while keeping out the water. I’ll start the sanding on that in the morning, but finishing
the hand rails is probably a day or two in the future. It would feel really good to have most of the major jobs done by this weekend, but not sure that can happen. We’ll just keep chipping away, day by day.