Monthly Archives: September 2016

An adventure hangover

Is there such a think as an adventure hangover?

Orbit and the Skipper off to explore the bush at Garry's Anchorage

Orbit and the Skipper off to explore the bush at Garry’s Anchorage

If so, I was suffering from one the day after we came into our new marina. I was crabby, tired and could not shake my bad mood. Although I didn’t have a physical headache, I felt like I had an emotional one and I needed space to come down from the high of the previous two weeks.

To cure my ‘hangover’, I decided to have a ‘hair of the dog’ and have another adventure. Orbit had been asking for some chocolate cake for weeks and I had planned to make one while we were cruising, but never got around to it. So off we went, on an adventure, looking for chocolate cake (and a decent coffee!).

It was only a relatively short walk to the local coffee shop and it did wonders to clear the emotional cobwebs. I am sure the consumption of chocolate cake and caffeine also helped. By lunchtime I was feeling a lot better, so I had a nanna nap!

Orbit exploring the beach at Kingfisher Bay

Orbit exploring the beach at Kingfisher Bay

Fast forward a few days and we are easing into our new ‘normal’. We are working out where things are, developing new routines, enrolling Orbit into day care, swimming lessons and so on. 

Our plan is to stay in Hervey Bay for about six months while we prepare to go further north. This preparation includes ticking jobs off our new to do list. Our new to do list is focused on the things we need to cruise for a lot longer and rely less on marinas during our travels further north.

Although Hervey Bay is only a temporary stop, I can appreciate how people come here and never leave. Everyone has been really friendly and helpful. The beaches, parks and services are fantastic. 

Orbit swimming in the 'day bar' pool at the Kingfisher Bay Resort

Orbit swimming in the ‘day bar’ pool at the Kingfisher Bay Resort

From a sailing perspective, the Great Sandy Straits are absolutely perfect for short cruising adventures. On our journey up the Straits we passed a number of anchorages and identified a number of areas we would like to go an explore while we are here.

We also identified a number of anchorages we will be going back to, as they are perfect for toddlers like Orbit. Kingfisher Bay is one of them. Orbit can play on the beach at high tide and go exploring the sand flats at low tide. Kingfisher Bay Resort has a day bar that welcomes yachtie. It has a pool where Orbit can go for swim and we can grab an early dinner and an ice cream for dessert before the sunset.

One adventure we are hoping to have is a sail out to Lady Elliot Island at the very southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. It will be a great way to see how we go on longer cruises as it is at least a three day trip, if not longer.

So after my ‘hangover’, I am more than ready for our new adventure in Hervey Bay, after all, we only have six months, so let the adventure begin!

“Calling all ships … Calling all ships”

The alarms went off at 3:45am. It was going to be a big day and we needed to get an early start. Our journey would take us north from Mooloolaba to Tin Can Bay at the southern end of the Sandy Straights, via the Wide Bay Bar. The Wide Bay Bar is between Inskip Point (the mainland) and the southern tip of Fraser Island.

Part of the chart for the Wide Bay Bar, note the warning in red [do not use for navigation]

Part of the chart for the Wide Bay Bar, note the warning in red [do not use for navigation]

Not only were we doing our geographically longest journey on Medina, but we were also going to be crossing one of Queensland’s, if not one of Australia’s most dangerous Bars, the Wide Bay Bar.

Like many bars, the Wide Bay Bar can be extremely dangerous and the local coast guard put out regular annoucements over the VHF radio warning mariners to undertake the crossing with caution and to be informed of the conditions when they choose to cross.

The best conditions to cross the Bar are well known and many people cross it on a regular basis, local fishermen in tinnies and large trawlers, plus regular cruisers in power boats and on sailing boats. However, she must be treated with respect and sailing clubs, local pubs and the internet are filled with stories of people who got it wrong.

Orbit listening to music on his iPod

Orbit listening to music on his iPod

Deciding to cross the Wide Bay Bar was a big a decision and to cross it with Orbit on board was even bigger. So we researched and sort advice from people who have crossed the Bar numerous times. We decided that in the right conditions and in Medina we would cross the Bar with Orbit on board.

We were prepared to stay in relative luxury of Mooloolaba for up to two weeks, waiting for the right conditions to cross the Wide Bay Bar (more to come on our stay in Mooloolaba in another post). But we ended up cutting our stay short because the conditions aligned for a good crossing, hence our early 3.45am start for the day.

After a strong coffee, preparations complete and with Orbit still asleep, we motored out of marina at Mooloolaba at 4:45am with the intension of crossing the bar sometime after lunch. With the wind on Medina’s nose, and a light swell from the east, we headed north under motor and raised the mainsail too reduce the rolling effect.

We were lucky to be traveling with another boat, friends of the Skipper who has crossed the Bar many times. Although we were making our own decisions, it was comforting knowing they were there, somewhere ahead of us, just over the horizon.

Orbit watching a movie

Orbit watching a movie

It was a bit rolly, but no where as bad as our first day. Orbit woke at about 6:30am and was quite happy to stay in bed and I checked on him regularly. At one point he was sitting up in bed, talking to his toys. My little heart burst when I heard him say,  “Calling all ships, calling all ships, securIte, securIte, securite”.

This was a regular call we had been hearing over the VHF radio. It was the beginning of the call from local coast guard on Channel 16 letting people know to switch channels to get the latest weather and information on the dredge in a local river. We’ve had to teach Orbit not to talk over the VHF radio and he’s been pretty good at it. He’s obviously been listening to the broadcasts as well, which bought a smile to my face.

Passing Double Island Point on our way to the Wide Bay Bar

Passing Double Island Point on our way to the Wide Bay Bar

When Orbit was ready to get up, he had breakfast and played below decks for most of our journey north. He came up into the cockpit to say hello to the Skipper and have a look around, but was content to play ‘downstairs’.

He kept himself entertained, listening to music on his iPod, playing games on his leap pad, he even watched a movie. We also played together, having car races (we had races to see which car would be the fastest from one side of the table to the other with the movement of Medina), playing games (memory and snap) and read books.

When the time came to cross the bar, we radioed in to the local coast guard, put our lifejackets on, put the wash boards and Orbit sat on my lap with me holding him tight. It took us about about 10 – 15 minutes to cross the bar doing about 6 knots under motor (its quite a long bar). Thankfully nothing exciting happened. What did surprise me was that Orbit was happy to sit on my lap for the whole crossing. Maybe he was tired or he actually listened to the instructions of the Skipper – I am not sure.

Life jackets on, preparing to cross the Wide Bay Bar

Life jackets on, preparing to cross the Wide Bay Bar

Once we were over the bar and safely in the smooth waters of the Sandy Straights, I took out the wash board and opened some hatches open to let in the fresh air. I popped Orbit into bed and let the coast guard know that we were safely across. Orbit was soon fast asleep, he must have been equally relieved to have safely crossed the bar!

In hindsight, did the Skipper and I make too big a deal about crossing the Wide Bay Bar? I don’t think so. It’s not just our lives at risk if something goes wrong, it’s Orbit’s. Plus anyone who comes to rescue us, if we can be rescued.

We have to ensure we do the relevant research and planning for each adventure we have, no matter how big or small. But we also need to manage our fears of what can go wrong by putting the relevant safety strategies in place – whether its in the marina, at anchor or when sailing. After all, the one thing we must teach Orbit about sailing and living on a sailing boat, it’s good seamanship.

Dr Seuss to the rescue

Our first sunrise over the Pacific Ocean

Our first sunrise over the Pacific Ocean

It was 5am and soon we would be having our first adventure out of Moreton Bay and into the coastal waters of Queensland on Medina. Medina’s previous owners had sailed her from the Whitsundays to Tasmania a number of times so I am sure she was looking forward to giving her sails and halyards a good stretch.

I hadn’t done any coastal sailing in a long time, nearly 10 years, and I was excited to get out there again, out into the elements where you feel a little on edge but truely alive.

After a final check that everything was in it’s place; we raised the anchor and were off, out of the lee of Moreton Island and into the ocean swell, motoring through the channel that would take us out into the relative safety of the Pacific Ocean. Oh how I had missed the ocean, I will never forget that sun rise, over first on Medina with no land impeding our view.

Medina heading north

Medina heading north

We were heading north, but the swell and waves were heading east which meant Medina was rolling from side to site with every wave we went up and down on. So I was down below, looking for the stash of extra tea towels and stubbie coolers to pack into the nooks and crannies to stop all the noise of our things rattling or rolling.

The Skipper and I are lucky enough not to get seasick so don’t mind these conditions, however, we were soon to find out that Orbit does get sea sick.

He woke up at about 6am to the unfamiliar sensation of his home rolling from one side to the other. I explained to him that we were ok but he would have to stay in bed for a while, at least until the rolling had decreased. Luckily he was happy to stay in bed, so I went back up on deck to help the Skipper set our headsail to try and reduce some of the rolling.

Tea towels stopping the rattling noise

Tea towels stopping the rattling noise

After the sail was set, I went back down below to check on Orbit. He was not well. He said his tummy felt funny and I started to look for something for him to throw up in. I wasn’t prepared for Orbit to be sea sick, he had never been sick sailing around Moreton Bay. But then again, he had never been in conditions like this before.

Unfortunately I didn’t find a suitable container in time and he vomited all over his pyjamas and bedding. The poor little guy had never thrown up before so the whole experience was quite upsetting for him.

After consoling him, I cleaned him up, changed his pyjamas and replaced the soiled bedding – all while he was still in his bed. After that I found a suitable container, just in case he was sick again.

Thankfully we were out of the channel by this point and the severity of the rolling had decreased – enough for me to make the Skipper a coffee at least. My focus then returned to caring for Orbit, who had thrown up again. He was managing the technique of throwing up in the container so there wasn’t too much mess to clean up. He was quite distressed and although I wanted to get Orbit up into the cockpit and into the fresh air, I couldn’t until it was safe enough to do so. So the only thing I could do was distract him.

Heading into Mooloolaba

Heading into Mooloolaba

I crammed into Orbit’s bed with him (which he thought was quite funny) and we read Dr Seuss books over and over again. As we were reading Cat in the Hat for the umpteenth time I asked him if he was feeling better, and he said he was but wanted Green Eggs and Ham again. So I took this as a sign that his sea sickness was abating.

Once the rolling had subsided enough for Orbit to be safely in the cockpit, I got him up. He almost instantly perked up and enjoyed the roller coaster ride of going up and down and side to side with the waves. He spent ages naming the wave as either ‘big’ or ‘baby’. Was fascinated by the large ships which were anchored just off the shipping channel, enjoyed watching the birds dive for their breakfast and spotting the high rise buildings along the coast.

Orbit recovering from sea sickness

Orbit recovering from sea sickness

After about an hour, he started to fall asleep in my arms, and I popped him back into bed. Thankfully he wasn ‘t sick again and he slept soundly till well after we were tied up in the marina at Mooloolaba. Once he was awake, we got lots of water into him to rehydrate and a jam sandwich for lunch to give him some energy. By mid afternoon he was back to his cheeky self.

We’ll be continuing our journey north tomorrow which will mean heading back out into the ocean. I am hoping Orbit won’t get sea sick again as the conditions will be different (southerly swell and lighter winds), so crossing fingers he should be alright.

But just in case, I will be prepared. I’ll have his container ready, multiple layers of bedding ready to go (so I can just strip off the soiled sheets if need be), and have his Dr Seuss ‘library’ on hand.

We did it!

Our little family

Our little family

In the infamous words of Dora the Explorer “we did it!” (sorry for the ear worm).

Yesterday was an exhausting day but extremely rewarding, one that I will never forget.

After Father’s Day breakfast with Orbit’s grandparents, we were back on Medina doing the final organising and spending time with the grandparents and our marina family. As soon as the wind had turned easterly, it was time to go (we are finally watching the weather instead of a clock).

We had planned to wave ‘see you soon’ to Orbit’s grandparents as we motored past the breakwater out of the marina. So with with the final preparations completed, we left our marina berth and I got Orbit up on deck so he could wave too.

As we went past the breakwater, we realised Orbit’s grandparents were not there. After a few phone calls (thank goodness for mobile phones) we found out they had been delayed trying to find a carpark. So a U-turn it was, we were not missing out on waving to them!

Leaving the marina

Leaving the marina

Heading back into the marina, Orbit got quite upset and said ‘No mummy, no home, stay here’. Bless his little cotton socks. The second time out of the marina, his grandparents were there. We waved as if no one was watching and once they were out of site, some tears and some deep breaths it was time to focus on the adventure ahead.

Remember my plans of having everything sorted, organised, put away … well that did not happen! Everything until yesterday morning had been put away, but our final loads of washing, our permanent mooring lines and last minute bits and pieces just thrown down below, into a spot where they could to do the least amount of damage in the worst case scenario.

I was thankful that the Skipper had decided to motor to our first anchorage – to give the newly serviced engine a good run in. It meant that Medina was relatively ‘flat’ and I could put things away as we went along.

Orbit living his dream - he's finally at 'the beach'!

Orbit living his dream – he’s finally at ‘the beach’!

Orbit feel into a deep sleep after his lunch, he thought he was something pretty special sitting in the cockpit with his dad, munching away on his sandwich. He didn’t even wake up once we had anchored and turned the engine off. A few hours later he was up, the first thing he said was ‘beach’ so it was into the tinnie and off to the beach.

So for the next few days, we are just going to be taking it all in, doing some final provisioning and plan the detail of our next few weeks.

As I sit here with my coffee, watching the sun rise I feel so blessed and thankful. Thank you to everyone for your warm wishes and thank you for coming on the adventure with us.