Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Manatee visits Australia's own Venice

We spent a few days been knocked by tide against wind in Deception Bay with constant pitching and rolling. Getting to shore was uncomfortable and wet and, as we had things to do in the area we were hesitant to move to another corner of the bay to seek shelter. So we decided to up anchor and head into the 'duck pond' in the Newport canals, which is a suburb of the Redcliffe Peninsular. The pond is in a cul-de-sac in the estate which appears to be waiting further developement. The very assertive ducks checked us out first thing and the huge crows marked their new territory by crapping all over the deck. The fur family seemed very busy with other things.
On the pond
We had just dropped anchor when Ginny and Cath, sailors from further north stopped by on their planned visit. It's always nice to have a cuppa with women sailors!
During our visits to shore from Deception Bay we decided that we really did need a bigger tender, especially in winter as whoever wasn't driving Ini our wonderful tender got very wet and cold weighing down her bow. We decided on a 'tinnie' to be safer from coral and crocodile teeth when we headed further north. Lots of time spent on ebay and searching papers saw us driving many miles in the search for our new tender. None were right for us...too big, too small, crappy motor, poorly patched holes. So our search continued.
Steph our dear friend from Sydney emailed us to say she had a work conference at the Gold Coast, so we jumped in the car with the girls and drove down for a visit before her conference started. It was great to see her (the first time since we had left Sydney) as we had missed her (and Elle's) holidays in Lake Macquarie and Noosa by a matter of days. Her stories about work in the public sector and Sydney made us feel glad we are no longer in that space, even though we miss our friends.
Steph looking very Sydney and Marg very Gold Coast!
On our way back up the coast we dropped into a marina and got chatting to a guy who took us to meet his boss who had a tinnie for sale. She was the marina manager and her tinnie was a much cared for allycraft with a yamaha motor. Sold! Even though she was bigger than we intended, she has a solid wooden sole which makes her very stable. Her name is June and even Idgi seems impressed.
We have remained in the duck pond for longer than we had intended as we both are laid low with a shocking bout of the flu.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Manatee mooches round Moreton Bay

On our first evening at anchor a few dolphins came by to check us out, a different 'type', quite small with white edging to their dorsal fins. As usual, everybody on Manatee was excited, especially when the dolphins began leaping and "flippering".

Spot the dolphins....not!

So enjoy the sunset instead
We will probably hang around Moreton Bay until we can get into Monty's (up the Caboolture River) for Manatee's lift and scrub. We are hoping to get a mooring up the Brisbane River after Monty's as apparently anchoring is a bit dicey in the silt and mud of the river. It's probably good timing for us as lots of boaties are heading north for the season, leaving some moorings free. If we manage to get work we need to feel Manatee is secure and not dragging.

After a day and a bit in Deception Bay we up anchored and headed across the bay for a change of scenery and to give the engine a good test under load.

Sailing with the Glasshouse Mountains as a backdrop

We anchored in Pumicestone Passage, Bribie Island, for the night and enjoyed it so much we stayed for 3. It was very tempting to swim in the crystal clear water, but Ruby was the only one who ventured in. We all enjoyed our walks along the beach and the nightly visit by dolphins.

The jetty at Bongaree on Bribie Island
On our last morning as we were tidying up to leave, Marg called out "there is a really large yacht
heading straight at us". It turned out to be Lee Roper who recognised Manatee from Laurieton. Lee had stopped in Laurieton last year on his way to Brisbane delivering his late father's yacht, a spray. He anchored, and came aboard for a cuppa and a catch up.
We then up anchored and headed out. We got as far as the first markers when AK noticed the engine overheating. A quick check showed the sea water pump leaking. One of the ordered parts that didn't turn up was a brass screw so we were given alternate stainless screws - not a successful alternative! So back to our anchorage and hours spent pulling the pump apart. The original screw was utilised and engine tested OK. The good part of the saga was that we spent the evening chatting to Lee, drinking wine and having a great time. Lee has been sailing since he was a toddler so has lots of sailing stories and has designed and built his yacht, a Roper 43. It is the ultimate cruising yacht, beamy like a spray, a retractable keel which means he can beach her and a cockpit and saloon similar to a catamaran, but in a mono. Affinity also has the same perkins model as Manatee, so Lee was eager to discuss problem solving a perkins.
We dinghied back to Manatee just in time to avoid the strong SW that hit the anchorage. It was a rough night which we weren't prepared for, so things went bump all night.
Manatee in the anchorage on a calmer day
We headed out the next morning and anchored in Deception Bay.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Manatees introduction to the Slocum Spray Society

We headed into Moreton Bay with a planned stop at Manly Harbour. We stayed at the lovely East Coast Marina for a few days to dry everything out and let Idgi stretch her legs. Highly recommended spot.

Manly Harbour. A small harbour with 3 marinas.

We left the dock at Manly, on Tuesday just after lunch, with our plan being to anchor in the northern part of Moreton Bay for an overnighter before heading to Maryborough the following morning.

Moreton Bay is delightful, a wide expanse of water which appears even bigger than Sydney Harbour due to its low mangrove coastline. Instead of Sydney’s 15-25M depths, Moreton Bay is very shallow, we experienced less than 1M in sections. Thankfully, Manatee is a shallow drafted spray.

Negotiating the Brisbane shipping channel was a tense period, so Margot, who was helming, kept the speed slow. We had to wait for a few massive container ships to pass so Manatee could continue her path behind them. We realised not long after the shipping channel, that if we were to make a calm anchorage before night fell, Manatee’s speed would need to be increased. As usual, we carefully monitored temps and pressures. As the light faded, we knew we could not reach Deception Bay before dark, so anchored off Redcliffe. As she turned the anchor power off, AK noticed that the engine temperature was extreme, much higher than the normal operating temperature. After quickly turning off the donk we settled in for an uncomfortable night, with Manatee pitching in the rough conditions. Margot set the alarm for watches throughout the night, but thankfully Manatee’s anchor held firm.

Wednesday morning brought calmer conditions, so a check of the oil and coolant (which we always check before starting the donk) revealed good levels of both. We cranked over Manatee’s usually reliable Perkins 4236 and let her reach operating temperature (about 85C) whilst still at anchor. Damn, the temperature went through the roof. We did a quick check whilst she was running to make sure she hadn’t sprung a hose and that the water pump was operating. AK noticed that the thermostat housing was too hot to touch. Oh no. Not again. We let the donk cool down and then pulled the thermostat housing. Checked the thermostat and it tested as working. Lesson learnt – don’t jump to conclusions too quickly! The next step was to remove the plate for the coolant header tank (the feeder tank which we check runs in to the header tank)…..empty. Damn – looks like the dreaded air bubble.

So….out with the gasket goo and seal the thermostat housing. Let it set and test – leaks. Remove and repeat – leaks. Two days later and on our last bit of gasket goo we thought more about plan B – a tow to a wharf with a mechanic close at hand. Reminiscing on our experiences with mechanics in Sydney, we realised that a tradesperson who understood the Perkins workhorse was required. After a check of the internet (what would Joshua Slocum think of that?) AK called the President of the Slocum Spray Society, Barry Moore for a recommendation. Barry then generously took the matter in hand and arranged the coast guard for a tow and a berth at the Moreton Bay Boat Club.

Our tow to Scarborough Harbour by the Coast Guard

Thursday at dusk saw Manatee embarrassingly towed to the breakdown berth at the club with a visit later to the bistro for dinner with Barry and his wife Jacki. Barry was very pleased as it just so happened the annual spray regatta was on the following weekend! The lovely Jacki very kindly allowed Barry time off from preparing for their upcoming cruise preparations to assist us. Further discussions with Barry around the need to get the thermostat housing machined resulted in the very kind offer of his assistance in sorting out the problem. “They call me McIver”, he said.

Friday at 8am Barry presented himself, so he and AK further investigated the engine problem. Meanwhile Margot took the dogs for a long walk and dinghy ride. Barry suggested pulling a few more bits apart to rule out sea water problems after our recent groundings. Barry said, “my fee is $40” – which is the cost of membership of the association! Barry then drove Margot around the area sourcing parts and talking to machinists. So we joined the association and attended some of the regatta events ( Marg crewed on the beautiful Florrisant), saw some gorgeous sprays and met some lovely people. What an introduction – what a welcome!
We waited for a week for the ordered parts, meanwhile AK hired a cheap car and drove to Maryborough to pick up some urgent mail and then returned to pick up everyone (except Idge who stayed and looked after Manatee) for a trip to pick up our car at Pete at Michael's at Murwillumbah. After an overnighter where the girls got to meet their cousin Topsy (another jack russell) we returned to Manatee.
After putting the engine cooling system back together we left the breakdown berth and headed outside the harbour to anchor in Deception Bay.