Sunday, July 27, 2008

Manatee continues her circumnavigation of the lake

We stayed two nights at Murray's Beach and managed to have a coffee at the nice cafe. Marg continued to fish and we had yummy baked snapper for dinner.

Marg on Murray's Beach jetty modeling her lovely new red crocs

The rain continued to fall so on Friday we decided to continue heading south exploring the lake.

Jack cruises the lake in her lovely purple coat.................and a pelican comes to say hi

Rathmines had a free maritime mooring (there are a number throughout the lake, rated to 20tonne and pink!) as well as a jetty which boats can tie up to-it has a 2hr limit but during winter most don't worry about this limit with many overnighting. We went for the mooring as we feel safer being that little bit more inaccessible. Saved us fiddling with the anchor which was a bonus.

Manatee on the mooring at Rathmines Look! It's Barry's catamaran at the jetty

Rathmines is a lovely part of the lake, the council has done a fantastic job keeping large parcels of the waterfront accesible to the public. Rathmines was a war time aviation facility and has been kept as open space with miles of walking tracks.

AK and the girls walk up the old runway

The mangroves were filled with ducks and pelicans and finches were frequent visitors. Our possie meant it felt we were the only people around this peaceful spot.

Preparing to bake a huge whiting for dinner we managed to strip our kero stove fitting, so ended up using our deck bar-b-que for the first time.

Saturday was a perfect sunny day so after a relaxing morning strolling through the bush we returned to Belmont to seek the assistance of Bruce in fixing the stove. Bruce is a fix-it type who can repair anything with a bit of wire, a rusty nail and a bobbypin! It gave him the opportunity to try out his brand new drill anyway.

On Sunday AK and Margot went to the movies with Denise to see Mamma Mia. Funny film, worth seeing on a rainy Sunday-the fabulous Meryl Streep singing ABBA songs. She sings in tune...Pierce Brosnan struggles! We finished up at Beryl's for afternoon tea before returning to Manatee(urgently as we realised we had left hatches open and it was raining....bugger!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Manatee looks around Lake Macquarie

On Tuesday we awoke to rough weather and were all keen to explore, so we ventured to the other side of the lake in the dinghy to give ourselves and the dogs a run. Green Point has a big grassy slope for the dogs to run up and a pebbly beach and bushy walk for humans to enjoy. AK got very wet on the trip over as she was sitting on the bow to weigh down the front so we didn't tip on the waves. After a thermos of coffee(for Marg & AK) a lots of walking & ball catching (for everyone except Idge), Marg magnanimously suggested that she would sit on the bow for the return trip. The waves broke over the dinghy on the way back and everyone got wet! We finished off the day by shopping, laundry and visiting cousin Greg who is now at home recuperating.

As cousin Denise and Bruce were coming for dinner on Manatee that night we decided to berth alongside the jetty and the yacht club to avoid another soaking and to keep our laundry dry. Idge took advantage of our berth to inspect the other boats

On Wednesday morning Barry from a catamaran we had been admiring came over and introduced himself to apologise for the noise he made tying alongside in the early hours. Jacki, of course, alerted everyone in Belmont that another boat was near us. We toured his beautiful boat which he had built himself over 5 years-demonstrating maths teacher attention to detail.

After our tour we slipped our berth and headed south. Lake Macquarie is reportedly the biggest salt water lake in Australia and has a varied depth range. It doesn't have a big tidal flow, supposedly .2m but our depth sounder showed us mooring in 3m of water which increased to 3.7m in the afternoon. We avoided all the shallow water and sand banks and moored off Murray Beach for lunch. After a walk through the beautiful bushland filled with spectacular blue gums we returned to Manatee for an afternoon of fishing. Vegetarians reading the blog, this would be a good time to shut your eyes. Fish were plentiful, we pulled in about 8, 6 of which we returned to the lake to grow bigger. Marg caught 2 good sized snapper. Dusk was spent listening to cockatoos and kookaburras screeching and laughing.

The weather turned so we decided to stay put....the fact that there is a nice cafe withing walking distance had nothing to do with it!

Thursday dawned to heavy rain. Staying put has given us the opportunity to open our mail which Victoria has sent up and read.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Life aboard at Lake Macquarie

The lake is at times a giant millpond which the girls love after the hurley burley of the harbour. The dogs have been for dinghy rides across the lake and have settled. Jacki has decided she wants to sleep in the wheel house as she slept under our bedroom window at the house - she takes her job of top dog seriously. She has been unsettled at night, constantly coming in to check on us which meant none of us got uninterrupted sleep. The wheel house works well, as with both hatches open she looks down into our aft cabin from one hatch and into the galley and saloon from the other. Idge seems to enjoy the lake, she gets up early to sit in the sun and follows it around the boat all day.

Marg has been spending lots of time with her family...cousin Greg is in hospital after having major surgery so she has been able to visit him and Aunty Beryl has been enjoying lots of Marg's company. Beryl came to the yacht club for lunch and a look at Manatee from the dock. Cousin Denise and Bruce took us touring the district in Bruce's truck on Saturday, the girls had a ball bouncing around the back seat...they miss car rides!Bruce, Denise, AK & Pearl at Swansea Heads with Moon Islet in the background.
AK has been painting above Manatee's waterline, taking advantage of the calm waters. A steel boat is a bit like the opera house, you start at one end and as soon as you get to the other you start again. We've done rough patch jobs up until now so Manatee's sides have been different shades of blue due to fading. She is looking much better with even colouring. Of course with a project like this underway the calm lake has turned into a heaving mass of water with breakers worth surfing. Dinghy rides have become adventures and today was so rough we haven't got off Manatee. Winds have been 30 knots so we have all bunkered downstairs.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Manatee goes to Lake Macquarie

After setting the alarm for an early start we left our mooring at 'The Basin' just before 7am. The weather forecast was for wind N/NW at 10-15knots with a 1-2m swell. We had estimated the trip to take 7 hours and were hoping to get extra speed by combining motoring with sailing.

Unusually the forecast was accurate with Manatee travelling directly into the wind which would have required constant tacking to make headway. Nah, motoring looks good!

At the entrance to Broken Bay (Pittwater) we saw a whale about 300m away on the starboard bow. AK was skippering so slowed down to let the whale pass in front of us....the whale slowed down. Manatee was turned to port as it looked like we were on a collision course and the whale disappeared only to surface about 50m from Manatee on the port side after having dived under us. Gave AK a good fright, Marg grabbed the camera to get a photo but the whale obviously didn't want her photo taken. We heard on the radio later that she hung around this spot for a few hours....waiting for another boat to play with????

spot the whale, not.

It was a fairly bumpy trip with Jacki and Ruby getting seasick. We had decided that the girls would travel downstairs for safety but they decided they needed to sit upstairs, to look at the horizon perhaps? After about 4 hours we decided that sitting upstairs was going to save a lot of dog puke. Container ships lined the horizon for the entire journey and we dodged fishing nets some of the way. These are visible because of the tiny floats that keep the nets close to the surface, the chance of fouling your prop seems pretty high if you miss one. We passed one yacht heading south.

We made pretty good time, arriving at Moon Islet off Swansea Heads at 1330. We were a little worried about crossing the bar (our first) and negotiating the narrow bridge opening and shallow channel but the local coastguard were a great help with fantastic advice. Cousin Mark, a seasoned sailor had told us he always gets stuck in the channel and Pete from the chandellery told us some boats have to heel to negotiate the shallow depths....causing a litle worry.

We picked up a courtesy mooring east of the bridge after safely crossing the bar and negotiating the channel entrance. Marg took the girls for a much needed dinghy ride and walk in the sand dunes while AK started cleaning up the boat. After booking a 1500 bridge opening we passed through the narrow looking opening safely thanks to Marg's good skippering and made our way into the lake. The channel is very narrow and shallow, it is a little disconcerting to see the bottom. This is off Pelican, with the runway piano keys very close.
As it was close to dusk we picked up a mooring outside Lake Macquarie Yacht Club, fed the girls and ventured ashore to have a champagne in the club and toast our first big journey.

Manatee peruses Pittwater

We spent longer than planned at Pittwater due to poor weather and the flu! We found parts of it beautiful but there was certainly a rarefied atmosphere, especially at Newport (perhaps the locals thought we didn't fit the scene in our tracky daks!).

We ventured into the Hawkesbury River and Brisbane Waters for a day and left for Lake Macquarie on Sunday (the 13th) morning.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

turning left outside the heads

On Monday we slipped away from the harbour and turned left. Jacki, Ruby and Pearl donned their life jackets for the start of their big adventure.

Pearl, of course, was down below in comfort!

Marg and AK have agreed (after some anguish), that the woman wearing the "skipper's hat" is in
charge of Manatee. As we are both, some would say, "bossy", this seems a reasonable solution to skippering the boat!

We took turns being "skipper" on our first leg. After 3 hours we reached Pittwater, motoring between 5-6 knots. The current around Mona Vale appeared to be very strong and we had 10 knots of wind on the bow.

We moored the first night off Palm Beach and the dogs (and AK and Marg) enjoyed a walk along the beach.

On Tuesday we started to explore Pittwater and found a dog park near Church Point. On Tuesday night we moored at Newport.

Wednesday AK and Marg woke to flu like conditions so decided to stay put for R&R. Fishing, walking the dogs and sitting in the sun was the agenda.

leaving Sydney

Since moving on board we have had a hectic time releasing the tentacles of Sydney life. We sold our home, took a car up North and re-directed our mail. We tried to spend as much time with our Sydney friends on board as possible. This is Lesley showing us her hunting skils in Middle Harbour. Les and her partner Rod gave us fishing tips.

Tony and Jacki spent a day on board helping us sort out rigging and Tony climbed the mast to release a halyard. Victoria and Phil have been assisting us along the way as has Jacki K. We have really enjoyed friends visiting and hope our friends will continue to visit us on Manatee whilst we cruise!

the fur family

Moving on board meant our fur family moved with us. The dogs Jacki, Ruby and Pearl were already accustomed to Manatee as they had done lots of harbour cruising. Ruby loves the bowsprit and gets excited when dolphins swim in our bow wave. Pearl is an old girl and likes to sleep in any comfortable spot.

Idgie the cat (15 years young) caused a little concern prior to moving onto Manatee. Marg and AK were worried that she would not enjoy the change. Idge however, has loved life aboard, so much so, she has led us to believe that she might have been a ship's cat in another life.

The pictures below show Idge exploring a South Australian training ship "one and all" which was berthed at Noakes for refurbishment.