Wednesday June 18

The sun returned this morning with a beautiful day. Ran the “Strand”. This is a relatively new development along the foreshore of Townsville. A 2.5 km strip of water parks, picnic areas with wide walkways, public pools and restaurants. At the end is Kissing Point the site of old gun emplacements and barracks. It has been redeveloped as a war memorial, come lookout, come educational site and has been done very well.

On the way back Lea tore her Achilles' tendon slightly and had to limp back to the boat for drugs and an ice pack.

We spent the rest of the morning giving the boat a scrub, checking all the motors, flushing them out with fresh water and Salt X to remove internal salt deposits.

Lea had a quiet afternoon resting her leg while I went off to explore the town and hopefully find some more Salt X.

Greg and Janie our long time cruising friends picked us up at 17.30 to take us back to their place for dinner. We did a quick detour up Castle Hill to catch the sunset and the view out over Magnetic Island.

Then back to Greg and Janie's “Treehouse”, a lovely elevated home at the base of Castle Hill, for a great catch up with them, “Buster” the cat and home cooked meal.

Thursday June 19

Breakfast on the “Treehouse” balcony

Greg had a busy day planned so we dropped him off at work and had the use of his car for the day. First stop was to pick up a new Raymarine GPS unit. We had tried to find a direct replacement for our old model Raystar 125+, but no one had the old model anymore. So we bought the new Raystar 130 but this would not talk to our system without the additional purchase and installation of a Seatalk NG to Seatalk 1 converter. Second problem is that NG products have fat plugs on the end of the cables and we didn't know if we would get the cable with plug down through the cockpit roof into and down the roof support arm and from there to the electronics cupboard. Anyway, we had no choice, we had to make it happen.

Had look around town doing a bit of other shopping. We are still considering some folding bikes. Picked up my birthday present from Lea at JB HiFi (a set of wireless Bose headphones) so that I can listen to Jethro Tull on night watch without annoying her.

We found Townsville a very fragmented and sprawling town. The CBD looks a bit sad with many vacant heritage style buildings in the commercial areas. Apparently there were, in the past, 2 shire councils in the area competing for development in different areas. Now there is only one but it will take many years before infill development can rectify the mess left behind. Apart from that, on the foreshore there is a nice atmosphere and it has been beautifully done.

Back at the boat Lea polished the port hull to remove black streaks and engine soot while I tackled the new GPS installation. Overall it went well. Only lost a bit of skin forcing my arm into impossibly tight places trying to pull through the new cable. Lost the mouse line a couple of times to accompanying appropriate swear words but with Lea's help we got it through without damaging the fat plug. Then it was just a matter of wiring it all up in the electronics cupboard under the Nav Station. Moment of truth arrived and it all powered up ok with the new GPS showing us in our pen at the marina on the chart.

Greg and Janie joined us for drinks and dinner aboard.

Friday 20th June

Greg still busy so Janie was to be our tour guide for the day. We still had Greg's car so we loaded up everthing that needed washing and drove around to the house. After getting the first load of washing on it was off to Janie's favourite coffee shop in downtown Townsville.

Suitably perked up by the caffiene hit we headed for the Museum. This is a stunning building featuring a great display of the Pandora, the ship sent out from England to bring the Bounty mutineers to justice. On our trip in 2010 on Christmas Beetle we met TC and Martha who were both dive masters and involved with the discovery of the wreck in the early 1980's. They had told us many stories about the wreck so it was great to see the display and artefacts.

We all tried out the ” Bed of Nails” in the “human body” section. The nails were seriously sharp too.

The museum also has a fantastic coral display. We wandered around in there until hunger and the volunteer museum guide drove us out. We decided there should be an “FOV” badge that you can wear in museums and art gallery's. Translation “Fuck off Volunteers”. This guy drove us nuts. We probably could have sued for harassment. But his heart was in the right place, he was just bored and desperate for an audience for all his knowledge.

Lunch at the Palmeum ( don't ask me! I think they breed palms there) Good food though! Then off again to scale Mt Stuart (by car for once). The views were spectacular but just a little hazy.

Back to the Treehouse for a drink with Mt Stuart in the background hidden by the tree that Greg will chop down soon, won't you Greg!
Then off to the yacht club for dinner where we were joined by Larry, Cath, Daniel and Toni from the yacht “Dot” who are friends of Greg and Janie's also cruising north. Left the car at the yacht club to walk off dinner and the drinks back to the Treehouse.

Saturday 21st June

Off to the pub. The old Railway Hotel at Ravenswood. One of 2 pubs left out of the 38 in the gold rush days. Population used to be 4000 in its heyday. Now it has 191 residents.

Lots of old artefacts from the mining past.

The mine was reopened in 1995 and while the open pit mining has finished, underground mining continues today.

It was a great day out and Townsville weather has definitely redeemed itself now.

Lea had been excited all day as after a 4 month build up she was going to have KFC for dinner. Yes, this was a major event. Nearly ruined by overindulgence in the large hamburger for lunch, but nevertheless all present acquitted themselves well, managing to decimate a substantial table full of KFC with accompanying potatoes and gravy, coleslaw, chips and Pepsi.

Sunday 22nd June

My birthday so I'm king for the day

Lea and I went down to the Sunday market to stock the boat with fresh vegies. They last so much longer from the market that they do from the supermarket. Then back to the Treehouse where Janie had prepared a feast of bacon and eggs for brunch, with big, fresh croissants from the market.

Great friends, great fun.

To work off both the KFC and the B&E Greg, Lea and I headed down to the pool to do some laps. Greg decided the appropriate metaphor for my swimming style was a “Riviera Motor Cruiser”. Translation; ass heavy, bow up, using lots of horsepower to push a big bow wave. Fairly accurate I have to say.

A quiet afternoon where Greg allowed me to beat him a Scrabble while the girls made pesto with all the fresh basil we had bought at the market. Then we resumed the party back at the marina aboard “Dot”. A fun night with an impromptu meal and lively debate on a whole range of issues as us ” oldies” tried to impart some wisdom in the 3 youngsters onboard.

Monday 23rd June

Toilet Day! I had been putting this off for a while but the day had come. I had the new parts, it was time to rebuild the port dunny. All started well as I pulled it apart and gave Lea all the detachable bits to clean while I worked on cleaning up the base unit. Gross job! Started putting it all back together with the new parts I'd ordered and had delivered. However, when it was all back together and gleaming like new it wouldn't flush. The pedal just slipped down and didn't actuate the mechanism. Pulled the pedal unit apart again and investigated the spring cartridge and realised there was no way it could work. They must have changed the pedal design as well as the spring cartridge design.

Rang the supplier only to find that the boss was on holiday for a week and that the only other person who knew anything about the products was off sick( and this was the guy I spoke to when ordering the parts). The receptionist after hearing my difficulties eventually gave me the mobile number of the sick guy. He didn't answer, but too his credit he did ring back promptly. He quickly got to the bottom of the problem. He asked if the original spring cartridge was black or white. The answer was black and of course the new one supplied was white. Now at this point I did drop the “F***” word which didn't go down too well. There had been no mention of a choice in cartridge when I ordered the parts and to me it would seem a sensible, reasonable thing for a supplier, knowing there are 2 options, to ask the customer which one is required. I really hate incompetence. Anyway, back to the receptionist who agreed to send out the correct cartridge express. This will delay us a couple of days.

Just finish with this saga and the sailmaker rings to say that the material he ordered for the spinnaker repair has ended up at Cairns instead of Townsville. He won't have it ready until the end of the week. Sure Micheal, no worries, whatever! We're in Queensland, certified inefficient, second only to Northern Territory by all accounts.

Pissed off and determined to win on at least one front today, I started to try to rebuild the old toilet spring cartridge. After many aborted attempts Lea and I with the help of my trusty Zyliss Vice (now saving the day for the second time in 15 years) managed to re torque the spring and hold it in position while we locked it back together with the retaining screws. (Double satisfaction here as Greg had assured me he had tried this and it was impossible) Put the toilet back together again and it works like a new one. Success!

Will head out tomorrow to explore Magnetic Island for few days then come back to Townsville to pick up the sail and replacement toilet spring cartridge. Hopefully!