It’s not all beer and skittles…

…sometimes it’s champagne and cake!

If I think back on the 5 months we’ve spent living aboard Poseidon, we’ve certainly had a great time, but we’ve also done a lot of boat work. And soon, we’ll be cruising north! Being this is mostly likely my last blog from Brooklyn, NSW (for some time!) I thought I’d provide an update on what we’ve been doing.

Preparation for cruising

What price can you put on safety? I recently bought all the charts that cover Brooklyn to Hervey Bay, and some detailed charts of areas such as Port Stephens, Camden Haven, and the Broughton Islands to name a few. This is a backup in the unlikely chance all our technology fails. When they arrived I realised they didn’t make much sense to me. After some research I found an online navigation course estimated to take about 6 hours. I reckon it took me at least twice that long – I wanted value for money – but also I redid some of the learning that I didn’t understand the first time. As a result of this course, I feel better prepared and can now understand much of what is on our charts. So what price can you put on safety? The answer is a very high price – but worth it. Charts are about $40 each and I have 17 of them. The course was another couple of hundred, and reference books aren’t cheap. Some say boat stands for Bring OAnother Thousand. But safety is everything.

Also as part of our preparation, I’ve been working on plotting our passage and waypoints ‘the old fashioned’ way on the charts and then entering into the Garmin. So far we can travel to Crowdy Head in 5 hops! I must say it’s getting easier but I think it’s a time consuming process doing it this way rather than just using the chart on the Garmin. As reference, I also use Rob’s Passage Planner, which has lots of good content and Cruising the NSW Coast, another excellent reference.

We went on a little recce

The NSW coast has a lot of bars (I’m talking sandbars and not the ones you drink at – although I’m sure there are plenty of those too). It’s great if you can get firsthand knowledge of a bar as they can be dangerous to cross, so we went on a little recce to Swansea to view the bar and check out some of the marinas in Lake Macquarie for possible places to stay. It was a great day and we also had a chat with one of the Marine Rescue guys at MR Lake Macquarie, who gave some advice that also supported what I’d read, that is, to cross the bar on an incoming and closer to high tide. The day we were there, the conditions were perfect and attached are some photos I took. Stay tuned for photos from the water instead of the land!

As for the other bars, we’ve researched them, looked at the web cams, read charts, and even got some great info from another cruiser who has a similar boat to ours. It’s great to hear from other people and their experiences. There’s also a valuable resource of web cams up and down the coast showing real time conditions and I think it’s quite interesting viewing.

We went to a few marinas around the lake checking out possible places to stay. Our requirements are that we have access to power and water, and the berths accommodate our boat. And that it’s not to hard to enter/exit the marina!

Rationalising stuff

Over the last few months, we’ve made a few trips to our storage in order to move some stuff around. We realised we didn’t need so many warm clothes with our impending trip north. There’s definitely something liberating about downsizing. It’s great not having so much stuff, although I’m not sure putting it into storage is truly downsizing! But previously we did get rid of a lot of things – about 4 skip bin loads in fact. 

Unfortunately, a tiny Singer sewing machine I bought (also light as a feather) just couldn’t cut it when sewing more than two pieces of cotton. Funny story here…I was sewing blanket ribbon onto our woollen blanket that I adjusted from king-sized to suit our double bed. I had all sorts of issues with the machine, resulting in a lot of blasphemy (who would have thought?). Finally I finished it only to realise I’ve sewn it down the side of the blanket and not across the top. Oh well…I’ll redo this project another time. Anyway, the tiny machine has gone to storage and I have my older/heaving machine on board. It fits and I just use a different cupboard for all my threads and stuff. Plus, I can sew so much more now!

A few more sewing projects

Following on from making boat chaps, I completed few other little sewing projects. I made a cover for our burgee. A burgee is a distinguishing flag and in most cases has the shape of a pennant. Ours has the Ocean Alexander name and logo on it.

I also made a bag for our salt-water tap/hose on the foredeck to help protect it from the UV rays, and replaced our aft window/door cover. The original was one continuous piece, very stained and sun damaged/frayed. I decided to make the door covers separate from window covers. This means we can cover the windows when the sun is glaring and we’re watching TV!

Some new technology

We’ve installed a few new things including AIS, weather station and some gauges to help identify our power usage.

The AIS is an Automatic Identification System, and that displays other vessels in the vicinity. It is a broadcast transponder system which operates in the VHF mobile maritime band. Your own ship also shows on the screens of other vessels in the vicinity, provided your vessel is fitted with AIS. It’s mandatory for commercial shipping. We decided that even though not as good as a radar, it would also be helpful. At the time of writing this blog, there’s nothing appearing on our Garmin so I can’t provide a photo.

The gauges will help us more readily identify power usage. This is something that’s very important. We don’t want to be moored up in some peaceful bay enjoying the serenity only to find out we’ve flattened our batteries and cannot start the engines.  

Updating blog post settings

I’d kept receiving a lot of comments from random people on the post where I talked about why we didn’t change her name. I think it related to some of the content and I was going to delete or change it. Then I decided it was time to learn a bit more about WordPress and I discovered I could stop people commenting on specific posts. (I’m not a web developer but I expect this is probably quite obvious to most!) So I’ve now changed the settings on that specific post and the issue seems to be resolved. It wasn’t the specific comment that is visible to you all, but rather the behind the scenes email details that I could see which were cause for concern!

And we've had a few little issues

Unfortunately, we’ve had problems with our Kohler generator, thus adding to our delays for heading north. After our local marine electricians were unable to determine the problem, we ended up getting someone out who was a Kohler specialist. It took about 10 days to get someone to come out and about 5 hours for him to diagnose problems with the resistor (and secondary issue with fuel pump). Finally, we got a second hand resistor, (no new ones available in Australia), a new fuel pump, and the generator works again. So this means we don’t always have to go to marinas as we can now make our own power again. The resistor helps control the voltage load – don’t ask me for any more technical details.

Our 3-month old clothes dryer also broke! We exchanged a lot of emails with the company we’d bought it from, hoping to get someone out to see what the problem might be. It proved challenging and after several more emails – they don’t take phone calls – they sent a replacement machine from Melbourne! Robert then opened up the non-functioning one, replaced a fuse and the old one worked. He didn’t want to do this and void warranty if they were going to send out a technician. 

With both the generator and the clothes dryer functioning again, the passage planned, and technology installed, I think we’re ready to go – as long as we have the right tides and weather. 

Until then, maybe it is beer and skittles!

11 Responses

  1. I enjoy these posts. Your writing is very easy to read and tech descriptions are pitched at my level. It’s so interesting to learn abt this boating stuff. Cheers! Btw, did you make that gateau? 🍰

    1. Thanks Kate and no, baking something like that gateau is way outside my capabilities! But I can assure you it was delicious 😋

  2. Loved the photos. Belmont is where I grew up. My mother and sisters still live in the area.

  3. I didn’t know you were coming all the way over to Swansea , I’ll drive up to the mumbles to meet you it’s only an hour away from me. When do you think it will be feb 2021. Xx.

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