Day 202, Year 2: Down and Dirty in the Bilge

Day 202, Year 2: Down and Dirty in the Bilge
Date: Monday, November 12, 2007
Weather: Partly Cloudy Day, Lots of Wind
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Today was the day to clean the bilge. The only vacuum cleaner I have aboard is a mini wet/dry vac. I use it to sweep the carpet runners we have and to clean out the bilge once a year. We run lots of fresh water in with bilge cleaner or liquid Tide, swish a brush around, and then suck up all of the dirty water with the wet vac. The wet vac is small so we have to empty it several times to empty the water from the bilge. Sounds easy, but basically this took all day because Mark was also installing
a new bilge pump. We have a big bilge pump in case we get water coming in–it pumps a lot of water very rapidly and it sits very high. But this is not a very efficient way of dealing with the small quantities of water that seep in through the packing glands. So then we have the smaller bilge pump to deal with that. The one we have has not been as reliable as we would like, and since we are thinking of leaving the boat in the water while we are visiting in the US, a new bilge pump sounded like
a very good idea. Somehow what seemed like a little job took all day.

During the day, I continued to catalog what we have in all of our cabinets so I’ll know what I need to buy for the next leg of our voyage. Next season we will be traveling through Indonesia, stopping in Singapore, and then heading north through Malaysia on our way to Thailand. We assume we will find that it is difficult to find many of the things we need, just as we have found it difficult throughout the South Pacific. I used to make fun of my mother for liking only certain brands of products,
but I think I am much worse than she was. I miss New Dawn dish detergent. Not because I can’t find an acceptable dish detergent, but because we also used it as a teak deck cleaner and because it would cut grease and oil and when other products wouldn’t. Today I used the last of my liquid Tide laundry detergent in the bilge. I have found an acceptable laundry detergent, but nothing out here seems to work as well as Tide. Tomorrow or the next day I plan to take my list of needs to town and see
what I can find here to replace the depleted cleaning supplies.

I ended the day by sanding the cockpit cap rail. It got rained on last night just after I applied a fresh coat of varnish, so I had to sand off all the little “dimples” in the varnish. Just like yesterday afternoon, as soon as I was ready to apply another coat of varnish, the winds increased and dark clouds floated overhead. I defied nature last night and went ahead with the varnishing, but tonight I didn’t. I’ll apply a coat of varnish in the morning if the weather permits. I’m almost out of
varnish and even though they don’t have my brand here, the chandlery here was able to order some from Brisbane for me. I use Epiphanes Clear Varnish on the outside teak and I really hated to switch varnishes at this point. The Epiphanes has been lasting longer than anything else we have ever used, so it seems wise to stick with the known.

I’ll start tomorrow with the varnishing task and then move on down the list. I think we will take Wednesday off and go to the Botanical Gardens and Hinkler Museum in town. We’ve been working non-stop for a few days now and need to get off the boat and see some of Australia.

Day 201, Year 2: No Turtles Today

Day 201, Year 2: No Turtles Today
Date: Sunday, November 11, 2007
Weather: Windy Day; Sprinkles in the Evening
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

After our explore last night, we were sure we were going to see turtles tonight, but a call to Donna and Gerry on Scot Free II changed that. They had talked to people at the Tourist Information Center in town and found out that there is only one turtle on the beach that has already laid her eggs. Another turtle came in, but went back out to sea. Gerry and Donna were told that the best time to see the turtles is when there is a full moon. That is not until the 24th, so we will wait until later
in the month.

We spent another day chipping away at the “To Do” list. Mark got all of the lines down and stored, so Windbird looks naked. She has no sails or lines, and right now, no dodger or bimini. I worked on cleaning out cabinets, starting with our aft head, and cataloging what we have. That is an on-going job that will continue over the next week. We are working on giving our aft head a “face-lift”, so wooden cabinet doors in the shower were taken out today and sanded. They are in dire need of some
varnish, so that will happen tomorrow. I sanded and varnished the cap rail in the cockpit again today, but about an hour after I finished, we had a dark cloud float by and dump some sprinkles on the wet varnish. We’ll have to see how much damage was done once the water dries and the varnish hardens. I also started my galley cleaning today. I soaked all of our pots and pans in an ammonia solution which loosens any and all dirt and grime, so now we have shiny stainless steel cookware once again.
Even the bottoms of the pots shine!

Tomorrow I will finish updating the spreadsheet of what we have in all of our cabinets, add things to the “To Buy” list that we need, and spend a day in town this week seeing what can be purchased here. If we can’t get want we need here, we will have to buy in the US and bring things back with us. Things like Spray and Wash and Clorox CLean-Up or any suitable substitute just aren’t available in this part of the world, so they have to be brought back with us. I’ve been searching for artichoke hearts
and haven’t found those here, so they might have to be brought back from the states as well. Can’t sail without artichokes!

Day 200, Year 2: Another Busy Day

Day 200, Year 2: Another Busy Day
Date: Saturday, November 10, 2007
Weather: Beautiful Day
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

If ever there were two people who can find endless tasks to keep them busy, Mark and I are those people. I spent much of my morning on the “phone.” “Phone” means putting on a headset and talking on the computer via Skype. We first talked to Heather and she reported that Jed had found flights to Charlotte, North Carolina, for a price that was as low as the original prices we found a few days ago and at acceptable departure and arrival times. So “yea!” for Jed. Heather said the word “yea” while
we were talking and I heard Sam as clear as could be say “yea” in return. I was really startled as I had not heard him say words before. Heather says this is his favorite word and he has learned to clap after he says it. Sam really is growing up! I also talked to my sister and to my nephew Tommy’s wife, Marilou. Marilou and Tommy are hosting the 50th anniversary party for my sister, so I wanted to talk with her about where we would be staying, etc. While I talked Mark re-arranged equipment
at the nav table, moving the Ham radio and re-running all the wires so they were less obtrusive. By the time I finished talking and Mark booked the flights, the morning was almost over. Today was Mark’s day to go up the mast and do a couple of jobs, so after lunch this was the first task. He replaced the burned out bulb in our spreader light and replaced a faulty sheave (pulley) at the top of the mast for the spinnaker halyard. He checked out the rigging and on his way down he brought down the
lazy jacks that hold the mainsail in place when it is being dropped into the sail cover. While he was at it, he started taking down the halyards and the reefing lines to store them while we are gone. The UV here is STRONG, and we are doing everything we can to prolong the life of sails, lines, and canvas while we are away. I sanded and put one more coat of varnish on the cockpit cap rail and by this time the day was almost over.

As we were winding down, Marie on Ranger, our next door neighbor here, came out and asked if we would like to take a ride over to the Mon Repos Conservation Park. It is the time of year that the female loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. Marie had been calling all day trying to find out if the turtles have started coming in, but she could not reach anyone. Therefore, a field trip was in order. So we piled into Ranger’s newly purchased station wagon and drove the ten miles or so
to the park. There was a small information center with some great displays, and eventually we found a ranger who told us that there are some “ladies” on the beach. We will go tomorrow night in hopes of seeing one of the “ladies” lay her eggs. You go out on the beach and sometimes you are there for up to six hours. It is cool at night and always windy on the beach, so we will have to bundle up. It might be a cool evening, but it will most certainly be worth the chill if we get to see one of the
turtles laying her eggs. From the park, we drove to the little town of Bargara. It has a very nice park all along the beach front, so we walked and enjoyed the crashing waves and ocean air. Bundaberg Port Marina is one mile up the river from the bay, but we don’t see the ocean from our marina slip. One would think that we have seen enough ocean, but I think it must be an addiction. There is no such thing as “enough” ocean for us.

Day 199, Year 2: Wonderful Surprise–A Sunny Day

Day 199, Year 2: Wonderful Surprise–A Sunny Day
Date: Friday, November 9, 2007
Weather: Warm and Sunny
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

How do things just disappear on a boat? Mark spent the better part of today looking for a faucet he bought in the Galapagos. It was bought to put in an outside fresh water shower, but we have long since abandoned that idea. We now need it to replace the sea water faucet in our anchor locker as the one there has seen better days. He searched through every cabinet and every storage box, but he came up empty handed. Since boats are so small compared to a house, it seems that things should be easy
to find, but the opposite is true. I know I saw the faucet recently when looking for something else, but I simply cannot recall where. Oh well, tomorrow is another day and the search will begin again.

We made an early morning Skype call to our daughter today. We have wireless internet inside the boat. This works fine for most things, but the strength is low and it doesn’t work for Skype. So I took the computer out in the cockpit where the signal is excellent. It was late in the evening, but that grandbaby was still up and active. It is so much fun to watch him play. He is entering the toddler stage and wants to stand and move by holding on to things. It was a great way to start the day.

When we return home on November 27, we will be home only one day before we fly south to Charlotte, North Carolina for my sister’s 50th wedding anniversary. Heather, Jed, and Sam are planning to go with us and we needed to talk this morning about purchasing the tickets. After the conversation, we got online and found that ticket prices that were reasonable just a few days ago are now about $100 per person more expensive. We searched and searched and every time the price was right, the timing was
terrible. We sent what we found to Heather and Jed for their input. I’m sure we’ll come up with something, but that will be the number one priority for tomorrow.

Boat work continues. Mark installed the new solar panel that we bought at the boat “yard sale” this past weekend and I continued cleaning and organizing inside the boat. The big surprise for the day was the beautiful weather. It came a day or so earlier than predicted and allowed me to sand and get another coat of varnish on the cockpit cap rail. That will be a daily occurrence for the next week, weather permitting.

Paul and Marie of Ranger bought a car today and took us into town this evening to have dinner with Gerry and Donna of Scot Free II. Gerry and Donna moved their boat up the river to the Midtown Marina in Bundaberg yesterday and they leave Tuesday on a train trip across Australia. They won’t be back until sometime in December. Paul and Marie might not be here then, and we certainly won’t, so this was a farewell dinner. We will be sailing with Scot Free in the Sail Indonesia Rally next season, so
we will see them then. But there are many people leaving this week, headed further south to Brisbane and Sydney. Others are cleaning out their boats and putting them up for sale. So in the next couple of weeks there are going to be many farewells.

Day 198, Year 2: Of Leaks and Other Things

Day 198, Year 2: Of Leaks and Other Things
Date: Thursday, November 8, 2007
Weather: Totally Overcast with Some Rain
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Our day started out early and fine. The marine surveyor arrived shortly after 7 AM to do an insurance required survey. Everything was ship shape until we raise the floor board and saw that our center fuel tank had leaked a small amount of fuel out of the gasket on its topside. It was very little fuel, but a little fuel is too much and the surveyor will probably have to note this in this report. After he left, we immediately discovered the problem. The screws holding down the rubber seal on the
top of the tank were totally loose, and with a full tank, that spelled trouble. So now we at least know the source of the problem. Then it was on to the next problem–a very slow, drippy little leak in our aft head and another over the foot of our bed. We haven’t had enough rain this season for these things to be a problem until now. Mark thinks the leaks are coming from improperly installed winches that are letting a little water trickle in above the ceiling for the aft head, so he spent much
of his day removing and then reinstalling winches. I washed our king-sized sheets by hand but then decided to take them up to the laundromat to dry. Bad mistake. Everyone in the marina had clothes to be dried today and the wait look insurmountable. I left the wet clothes and promised to return in two hours to see if things had settled down any. You can really see the ugly side of people in a crowded laundromat, and when I returned two hours later, there was still a huge back-up and people squabbling
over who was up next for a dryer. I brought my computer with me and just sat and worked on naming pictures for a couple of hours while waiting to dry my laundry. The wait wasn’t bad and the people watching was most interesting.

The rain is supposed to last another couple of days, so all sightseeing activities have been brought to a standstill until we have nicer weather once again. I want to see turtles laying their eggs, but I’m not willing to wait on a wet beach all evening with pouring rain. It is very cool here at night right now, so I think I’ll wait until next week and hope the weather change brings warmer, dryer weather our way. In the meantime, I’ll continue to work on getting New Caledonia photos labeled and
posted and Mark will continue to try and find the source of our leaks.

Day 197, Year 2: The Party’s Over

Day 197, Year 2: The Party’s Over
Date: Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Weather: Still Rainy, Rainy, Rainy
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

We have been here in Australia almost ten days now, and we really haven’t had to think or plan our activities during that time. I’ve barely had to cook as that was also done for us. The Port-2-Port Rally team made sure we were busy all the time, and now that the party is over, we are having to deal with reality. And at the same time, we are having to deal with constant rain. So we are approaching reality slowly, but surely, with a little dampness thrown in.

Our first attempt at reality was to go to town to do some shopping today. We first went to the in-town marina store and bought a new line for our spinnaker pole topping lift. The old one was about to fray in half, so this was an overdue purchase. We also bought 500 meters of a light weight line that we can use to “hold the place” of our major halyards. Because the UV problem here is so great, we are going to bring down all of our halyards and wash, dry, and store them out of the sun. Six months
of Australian summer sun could do in some already well-used lines, but by doing this we hope to get at least another year or two out of the lines. We were going to leave our purchases at the marina store and pick them up later in the day, but lucky for us, George of Miami drove in and offered to take our purchases back to the marina for us. Mark and I then walked across town to the Hinkler Shopping Center which houses a K-Mart, a Woolworth’s and a Cole’s grocery store, and number of other little
shops. We weren’t after groceries today, but we were checking to see if the stores here have the supplies we will need to buy before we head north from here next April. I found canned salmon, but no canned artichoke hearts. Windbird really can’t leave port without artichokes, so that is something I might have to buy in the US and bring back with me. We bought new pillows, a stack of CD’s for backing-up photos, and numerous other household items. Once we were totally laden, we started the walk
back across town. We wanted to check-out a hardware store we had seen on our way to the shopping center and then catch the bus back to the marina from the center of town. The hardware store had two things we had not been able to find elsewhere–ammonia to use as part of a cleaning solution and disposble latex gloves that we use when varnishing and painting. In the US we can buy boxes of 100 gloves for under $10, but here they are $1 per pair at the marina. They were slightly cheaper at the hardware,
but this is another item we will have to buy in the US and bring back with us. Over the next two weeks, we will check out all of the major stores here to see which of the items we need are available here and which ones we will have to order or bring back with us. We got a great start on this chore today.

The entire time we were in town, the rain threatened, but the heavens did not open up until we got back to Windbird. Just as we got on the boat, the rain started and it hasn’t stopped since. We’ll probably have about two more days of this and then the sun will shine again and the varnishing can resume. I spent the afternoon writing emails and cataloging the books we have onboard. Some will go home with us, some will go to the used book store, and many will stay. Mark finished the reinstallation
of the aft toilet with its new base. Tomorrow morning we have an in-water survey first thing in the morning. After that, we will continue to chip away at our seemingly never ending list of things to do. And as soon as the weather clears a bit, we hope to do some sightseeing in the area. There is a botanical garden, a zoo, the Hinkler House Memorial Museum, and a sight where loggerhead turtles are just now coming in to lay their eggs. Hinkler is a name that is attached to many places in this
town. Bert Hinkler is Bundaberg’s famous son and one of Australia’s greatest pioneer solo aviators, and we have much to learn about him. There’s plenty to keep us busy.