Friday, February 28, 2014

Fitting a fuel bladder

The big mission for us in 2014 is to sail to the Louisiade Archipelago off the SE corner of PNG in September and October.

There has been a famous rally of boats that have gone over last few years. Read the brochure and Rally Briefing here. But we have just heard that the leader, Guy Chester, will not be going this year.

We will therefore be going with George's brother Ken, who has an Atlantic 48 cat, somewhat bigger and faster than ours.

Because the Louisiades are very poor, and have few resources, it may be difficult to get reliable supplies of diesel fuel.

So I have been considering alternatives to carrying a number of jerry-cans, which is the default option. They clutter the boat up, break loose in heavy weather and may get stolen.

Nimrod has a couple of secret compartments in the bilge. They were built in for the American market as places where 'grey water' (ie shower and sink water) holding tanks could be fitted. I thought they would be ideal for extra fuel tanks.

This bladder will carry the equivalent of nine jerry-cans.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Resort decay

I think it would be interesting for some economist to review the last few years of Australian history: the mining boom being managed monetarily by high interest rates, leading to a high Aussie dollar, with all sorts of effects. The closing of Holden, Ford, and Toyota. The collapse of manufacturing in Australia. The mass movement of highly paid tradies into FIFO (fly in, fly out) jobs in the mines, pricing many other businesses out of the labour market.

Here we are sailing around on a Seawind 1160, which was built in Wollongong. Seawind went into receivership, and recovered by moving to Vietnam.

We have been visiting several islands. A few years ago, they held expensive resorts, to which people would fly for expensive luxury holidays. Some survive, but many have gone under. Sometimes there is a convenient cover story of a cyclone to help the finances with insurance contributions. But I am sure the real reason is the high Aussie dollar, and cheap flights to resorts in Thailand and Fiji.

 Last train at Brammo

 Deserted resort at Brampton Island

 Luxury beach pool trashed

Wallabies move in on the deserted tennis courts

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Summer sort-out

We left Nimrod in Mackay marina this summer, as an experiment to see whether we could pass on the long slog south and then north from the Gold Coast up to the Whitsundays and our favourite cruising grounds in North Queensland. 

The risk, of course, is that we might get hit by a cyclone in the tropical cyclone season between December and April. One cyclone came a bit close, and a few waves came over the marina wall, but no great harm was done, so far.

But, for reasons that may or may not have been related, the marina circuit breaker flipped, possibly in the heavy rain that occurred when the cyclone was nearby. So the fridges were putrid, and we had a busy time rehabilitating the electrics.

All seems fine now. 

We set off north from Mackay, and stopped off at Goldsmith Island, and then on to Windy Bay on Haslewood Island. 

Weather was patchy, sudden rain and squalls.

Backpacker boat in a squall

We did did some snorkelling at Blue Pearl Bay on Hayman Island.

 Parrot fish


Now we are beating south back to Mackay.