May was a month of sad goodbyes and new adventures …with lot of repairs along the way.
We kicked off the month with a continuation of a brief visit from my mother and sister who arrived in Sydney on April 28. It was a bit of a whirlwind, but a really good visit and one that was far too short.
While I seem to be developing a knack for capturing images of random strangers, the ability to take decent photos of people I know and love continues to elude me. So instead, I share a shot that I took when visiting Bondi Beach with my mother and sister.
It was anchors up for the crew of Amandla on May 2nd, this time with our friend Ray onboard for the first leg of our journey to Newcastle via Pittwater.
It was difficult to say farewell to Sydney as it had been our home for six months, the longest time we have stayed in one place since starting our Pacific crossing in 2013. But when we saw dolphins jumping as we exited the Sydney Heads, I began looking forward.
And my time in Sydney was not over yet. Our weather window was delayed, keeping Amandla in Newcastle longer than expected. Only a three-hour train ride away from Sydney, I decided to return on May 6 and spend 24 hours in Sydney with my mom and sister who had just returned there after a visit to Ayers Rock. My friend Marion joined us for lunch in Hyde Park.
It was even harder to leave Sydney the second time and I look forward to returning someday.
The Captain took ill on 7 May with a bad virus but he recovered quickly and just in time to use the weather window that presented itself on 10 May. It was a blustery first day out with Gale Force winds, but it was great to be underway again. On 12 May, we made our first stop off for an evening in beautiful Byron Bay.
We had initially planned to sail directly from Byron Bay to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world, but our internal freezer gave out so we headed to Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast, bypassing the bustle of The Gold Coast, for repairs.
An earlier investment in an external fridge/freezer (Dometic) allowed us to save our provisions. While it was disappointing have to stop for repairs, it was nice to have a bit of time in this cute coastal town.
We were also delighted to spend time there with our friends Bev and Robbie from SY Mersoleil who had oddly enough had also stopped in Mooloolaba to repair their internal freezer.
We were able to secure a repairman through Mark (Sparky) McKee who runs Coastal Yacht Services just outside of the Mooloolaba Yacht Club. It took a few days, but with our freezer successfully repaired, it was anchors up for Amandla again on 18 May. SY Mersoleil stayed behind to wait for delivery of a Dometic external freezer .
We sailed onward to Double Point and waited there until early the next morning to ride the tide into the inner passage at Fraser Island. Unfortunately as we were entering the pass at Wide Bay, Amandla’s engine gave out. It always seems to happen at a pass. Luckily, this pass gave The Captain plenty of room to react.
When I was in Yachtmaster school in 2011, the tuition included a week long diesel engine repair course. As an introduction on day 1, we were asked to share our experience with engines. I responded that ‘I’ve dated a few mechanics and will always be smart enough to have a good one on-board’. That still holds true for me today.
I barely squeaked by in the course with a passing grade, but clearly lack the smarts of a good mechanic. The Captain on the other hand is a natural with engine. His process goes something like this:
- Stage 1 – Problem arises. The Captain remains incredibly calm (and when he is calm, I know there is a problem). He puts the boat in a secure position (e.g. sails away from danger, drops the anchor, or puts the dinghy in the water as a precautionary measure if we require emergency propulsion in lieu of wind)
- Stage 2 – The Captain throws almost all hope overboard ‘we are doomed, this can not be fixed, the dream is over’. I have learned not to get on board in this phase as I have enough experience with his process by now to know he will get the problem sorted.
- Stage 3 – With a glimmer of hope remaining, The Captain faces the problem head on. ‘Let me see what I can do’ he says as moves into trouble shooting mode. I either stay on deck keeping a look out, perhaps distracting myself with a good e-book or, if my services are required, I fetch water to drink, hold the flash light, and pump out oil, coolant, or water as directed.
- Stage 4 – Success! The Captain has once again fixed the problem. We get underway and he happily recounts how he solved the puzzle. Life is good again. The dream continues.
Of course, The Captain was able to trouble shoot the issue at Wide Bay (paper in the fuel line…don’t ask) and we made our way to Garry’s Anchorage at Fraser Island without further incident.
Next Leg: Fraser Island to The Whitsundays
Submitted For Cardinal Guzman’s ‘The Changing Seasons’