September 2014

Enjoyed a short month in Darwin, exploring the place, its history and Museums. Caught up with my daughter, Annelise who is now living here. Loved Litchfield NP and got the hang of camping after picking up John and Karen's 4wd and camper trailer. I flew home briefly to help Gerry launch his new Schionning Wilderness 1340 and make sure all the electrical systems I'd installed worked.

Met up with Dave and Anne to start our road trip through Kakadu NP, Katherine, Kununara, Gibb River Road, El Questro, Mornington Station, Derby, Broome, Exmouth, Perth, Margaret River, Nullabor Plain, Mildura and home.

The wheels fell off in Kakadu literally when the wheel bearing in the camper trailer collapsed. Recovered it to Katherine then shipped it back to the Melbourne manufacturer all handled by RACV Total Care. Bought a tent, stove, blow up bed with electric pump and continued on our merry way gratefull to be rid of the liability camper. Sorry John and Karen but watch out for “Ezytrailer Campers”, total crap!

Caught up with my son “James” and his partner “Danni” in Perth. They are doing really well with their comic French Bulldog “Pierre” and building a new home at Yanchep. Had a great weekend with them down at Margaret River. Liked it so much down there we stayed an extra couple of days.

West Coast didn't impress us from a sailing point of view. Always seemed to be very windy and a long way between rest stops.

Blast from the past catching up with old family friends, the Emery”s, who moved to Perth over 30 years again. Received a very warm welcome, great hospitality and had a great time catching up.

Stopped in Mildura and met my sons likely future in laws. Peter and Wendy made us very welcome and a quick cuppa turned into a whole morning. These are not just great people to visit but a whole holiday destination on their own.

Finally home after 7 weeks on the road. fabulous trip but give me cruising any day. Much less stress than driving. Big thanks to Dave and Anne who were great company and generously shared the luxuries of their beautiful Motorhome with us tent people.

Started back at work in December. Great to catch up with girls again.

and Lea started triathlon training. I joined in on my off days doing about half to a third the training load Lea was doing. Roped in Aaron from work to reform the Riviera Dental Care ” Tooth Fairies” to enter the Corporate Triathlon in early March. We hadn't competed for about 3 years. Gave us a goal to work for.

Quiet Christmas and New Years with Gerry, Sandy and Vanessa on ” Aquilibrium”. Fabulous fireworks.

Lea and I warmed up in the Eagle Point Tri. I did the short course Lea the longer one. Lea doing really well, went up to Melbourne and competed in one of the Gatorade Sprint Series Triathlons.

I even got a second in the Geriatric Division.
Long weekend in Jan we zoom zoomed in the Audi up to Sydney to check out Greg and Janie's (Skedaddle) new pad in Balmain. Blown away by how green the Monaro Plains were along the way. A great season for the farmers.

Greg and Janie were in fine form as always and their new place is terrific. We enjoyed lots of good food and wine, and world class Choral entertainment. I even let Greg beat me at pool. Great BBQ joined by Ken and Janice (Resolute) who we last saw in New Caledonia 2013. Greg also gave us a couple of swimming lessons. Swimming has always been both Lea's and my weak link in the Tri's. With Greg's help we started that weekend to reteach ourselves to swim. Following on with the Total Immersion Videos we both have since worked hard and made major progress with our swimming technique.


Off to Hobart for the Wooden Boat Festival, staying with Rob and Henma on EasyRider. Show was much the same as always with a great vibe. Explored the walks around Mt Wellington.

No visit to Hobart is complete without a visit to the Cascade Brewery.

Thoroughly enjoyed our 5 days. Rob and Henma made us very welcome. Thanks Guys!

After a 2 week delay due to bad weather the Corporate Tri was held on the 14th March in glorious weather. Team did really well all improving times from 3 years ago. Lea improved the most knocking over 6 minutes off her previous time. We managed a 3rd in our division and 13th overall out of about 60 teams.

The “Tooth Fairies”

Time to start thinking about our return to Darwin and Gemini Lady.

Saturday 28 th March 2015

10 days back in Darwin slowly getting the boat ready for Sea again. Heat is oppressive and the frequent rain very very wet.

The boat has survived its 6 months of neglect quite well. The gelcoat looked a bit dull and streaked with black but a light cut then polish is bringing it up nicely. One more window has come loose but that's ok because I was expecting 2. Inside we had virtually no mould so Lea's experiment with a vinegar wash one hull and a clove oil wash the other is inconclusive unless we agree they both work.

All internal systems fired up ok except for the main Aircon Unit. We suspected a problem a couple of months ago when our marina electricity usage bill was so low. We had left both Aircon units on dehumidify mode while we were away. A quick phone call to Colin at Seabreeze Industries and the problem was diagnosed (blown PCB) an a replacement organised. Had to ring him back a few hours later when we discovered a broken toilet seat hinge. Great knowledge and service re dometic products from Colin.

Next job was to check out everything underwater.

33 degrees C and 80% humidity in a full wetsuit, boots and hood is no fun but better than being stung by a Box Jellyfish. All underwater bits checked out ok. Antifoul still working just a bit of barnacle growth around the waterline. Cleaned up the waterline but will need a session on the Hookah to wipe over the hulls, legs and props. No haul out required! Yeah!

Continued to check all systems and found another toilet issue in Stbd Ensuite. Water leak, initially thought it was the water valve but proved to be just a bowl leak. Dismantled, cleaned, reassembled and all good.

A couple of hours polishing is enough in a morning before the sun gets to high and hot. Then move onto other chores in the shade. Like refitting repaired Clarke Pump for Watermaker. Again very happy with Spectra who fixed it under warranty after 7 years. New lifeline fitted. Cockpit Covers checked, sent off for repair and then refitted. Hired a little Airconditioner with 4 wheels to escape the afternoon heat and run around after bits and pieces. Spent 2.5 hours in Bunnings to keep out of the heat. A useful exercise as we found many things we needed that we hadn't thought of. Funny that! However, Bunnings seems to have become an addiction as we find a need to visit there daily. Have sent the car away to help withdrawl. Didn't help; just called my daughter, Annelise, and begged a ride with her to Bunnings less than 24 hours later.

Up the mast for a rig check. All good but for a blown decklight globe and a wind vane bent and chewed by birds. Another $74.00 repair. Have I mentioned we have become card sharps? Yep, we can draw and lay down a credit card fast as the best of them with all the practice we are getting.

Pulled out the old, Man Overboard system and installed my new solution. I spent a lot of time researching this as the old tag system which activates an alarm and puts a MOB alert on the Chartplotter was failing and no longer supported. Raymarine have also discontinued their similar LifeTag System. Lots of new products are being developed at the moment, most utilising the AIS system but none seemed to have it well sorted at the moment at a reasonable price. I decided the best option was to import 2 of the new Standard Horizon HX870 DSC GPS Handheld VHF radios.

These are compact enough to be attached to our harness which we always wear when on watch alone. They light up in the water. In a full blown Man Overboard emergency just lift the flap and press the red button. An All ships DSC Mayday will be transmitted with a full 6 watts with position information to any vessel within range. The alternative personal AIS locator units only transmit with 2 watts.

Person in the water also has the option of both an individual DSC call or voice call to the mother ship. When DSC call received a loud Alarm goes off and screen displays as below.

Persons remaining onboard hit the “place waypoint” button and navigate back to that position to pick up the MOB crewmember. Position can be updated from further calls and voice can be used for reassurance and final approach. The downside of this system is it doesn't activate automatically in the event of the MOB being unconscious. I evaluate this as an unlikely scenario on our boat as the boom (usual culprit for knocking people out, is so high and out of the way). However, onboard the mother ship it is possible to poll the MOB radio for a position report.

New system works well; just need program Radios to accept and automatically transmit polled position reports and to practice how to make DSC calls.

Dinghy had a fair bit of mould on it so Lea spent a morning painting it with Domestos. Improved it heaps but the poor dinghy will probably be scarred for life although our Marina manager reckons he may have a product that will remove the staining further.

Next job is to tackle the sails. We decided to wait until Tropical Cyclone Nathan finally gave up and died before putting sails back up.

Lea is busy working out food and drink requirements for 8-10 weeks on the Kimberley Coast without a supermarket (and no Bunnings). As an example: Thats 70 Corona's for Lea (3 cartons) She has allowed me 1.5 cans of beer a day. That's 105 cans but let's round that up to 5 Slabs to allow for guests. 20-30 litres of wine and a few bottles of gin and storage becomes a big issue and that's even before the food! Will be an interesting exercise. Clive and Libby you can't come! It's you or the beer! Come to think of it, Clive,with your luggage habits it's either you or the beer, wine and half the food!