Sailing Yacht SEA BUNNY

Christmas 2006 newsletter

Our activities from November 2005 to November 2006 - news from Australia

Land touring, medical issues for Susan and expensive bits of boat to replace


Synopsis

Uluru dawn

Have we actually done what we said we would do a year ago? Of course not! Are we still enjoying what we do - the resounding answer is yes!

The year, in the land of extremes and very friendly people, was passed sailing down to Sydney and back, land touring, being marina bound while Susan received treatment after being visited by the 'Breast Cancer Fairy' and visiting the UK after two years.

We will not dwell on the land touring (photos can be viewed on our web site) as this can be read about or is done on a round the world ticket, but on some of the aspects that fascinate us as cruisers.


Photo: Dawn at Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Arrival and welcome to Australia

This is how we came into the country. After the easiest eight day ocean passage so far, on Monday 31 October 2005 at 2200 hours Sea Bunny arrived in the Burnett River, where the search light from catamaran This Way Up saves us from dropping the anchor too close to the sand bank.


Next morning we are alongside one of the new pontoons in Bundaberg and within an hour; customs, immigration and quarantine have cleared the boat. It was the first time that sniffer dogs, wearing little booties, looking for drugs that smell like marmite (vegemite to Australians) have been on board. All fiber mats were vigorously shaken by the thorough quarantine lady. The dyed hens feathers along the edges of a large bright pink pandanus mat given to by Helen on Efate Island, had to go. So, three pairs of hands quickly pulled these out. Alas no photo of this colourful sight! The hosts of the Port 2 Port rally had laid on a week of activities held within an enormous marquee to which were invited the cruisers and the local people. Ashore we went straight into a champagne and chicken luncheon for an Australian celebration - Melbourne Cup Day. What an entrance to a new country and what a way to encourage business to this flat sugar cane growing area.

Land based cruisers

Land based cruisers

Elspeth and StJohn, who circumnavigated in a 28-footer have swallowed the hook and now farm in Gin Gin (lovely name). They farm olives, squash and pawpaw and have resident koalas and kangaroos. Our visit gave an insight into the problems of farming in a country where, if there isn't a drought, there's probably a flood! They were seriously thinking about doing something else - and have indeed now bought a new boat in New Zealand! At dusk the air was filled with the croaks of very ugly cane toads, which are now the number one pest.

For five years before we left the UK we avidly followed the sailing adventures of Pam and Len, from our Channel Sailing Club in Epsom. Six years ago they put the hook down in Tin Can Bay (up toward Fraser Island). Now we have finally caught up with them and they came to stay on Sea Bunny.


Photo: With Pam & Len, August 2006

Sailing

A visit to the largest sand dune in the world - Fraser Island - is in order. So, having taken countless local advice and purchased the requisite pilot books and charts, we anchored inside the island for several days. Despite dire warnings about the shallowness of the central part of the Great Sandy Strait, we never saw depths of less than 4 metres, just before a spring high tide.

Moving south, we enter Sydney harbour on the morning of 23 December and head up past the Opera House and under the fantastic structure of the harbour bridge. Christmas Eve sees us with a crowd of thousands at Darling Harbour for a carol service then on to the cathedral for midnight service. Our planned quiet Christmas day on Sea Bunny was a huge success.

Being one of the thousands of boats out for the New Year fireworks is not recommended for the timid cruiser! It was a memorable, continually moving, vibrant experience.

The sheltered sailing and trekking in Middle Harbour, Broken Bay and the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park was superb. Shark fear prevented us from swimming however hot.

Weather

On days when a squally southerly is forecast and the temperature is unbearable then the change will be prolonged and gusty. Our experience was when the forecast was for 30 knots of wind and there was 45-50 when the change came through with a clear sky. A 50 foot metal boat dragged through the anchorage towards the shore. While Tarzan helmed away from that vessel and the shore, Amazon woman let go all 65 metres of chain and anchor so Sea Bunny was free to go else where. We retrieved the tackle later. The weather prohibited us from making Tasmania and is a deciding factor for Sea Bunny to go up and round to Darwin next year ready for the crossing to Timor.

Boat Bits

This has been an expensive year. All Richard's hours of TLC could not save the generator and a new one was installed in Scarborough. The best bit is however that for the past five years the engine had been running in reverse because the propeller rotation had been wrongly specified. No wonder we hadn't been going as well as we thought we should! As a result in Sydney we had a new gearbox, shaft and propeller - this must be the most expensive place in the world to haul out (twice). On a less fraught note we have just taken delivery of new sails ready for next season.

Family

After the medical all clear we are UK bound. We rented so that all our children could be together for a week. It was hard organisation just after our arrival back but magical and we celebrated Richard's belated 60th birthday. It is good to see our grandsons aged 7 and 4 are developing so well. Catharine and Steve now have Archibald (born August 2006) and are making great first timers. Edinburgh (where we would live - if it wasn't for the weather) is where Susan's sister and mother (97) are. Richard's father and Sybil are in Bath fortunately not too far from family. There is never enough time and we could have doubled ours by staying with friends. Perhaps this is why our visits are always so sweet!

 


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