Travels of Dream Weaver1

This is the story of 3 years living aboard our yacht Dream Weaver 1, and cruising the coast of Australia from East to West and back again.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dream Weaver 1 sold.

 April 2010 and our beloved yacht, Dream Weaver 1 has sold. She has been berthed at East Coast Marina since August last year, and to sell her was a decision that was hard but had to be done. We will not be sailing for another few years as we have become expats to the Philippines and a steel yacht needs TLC. She has returned to her home waters of Mackay.
We wish the new owner Brendan Douglas the very best and hope he has as many adventures and safe sailing as we did.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Last Dance.

One day we are living almost under the Story Bridge in Brisbane on a boat, and the next we are flying to the Phillipines for a job interview. Life is never dull in our corner. We have really enjoyed our short time in Brisbane where we are berthed at Dockside Marina. This is in Kangaroo Point precient. Location, location, location comes to mind with everything so close.

I have started to sort the city traffic out. My new nokia phone has navigator on it and it is worth its weight in gold. I can't say the same about my virgin mobile phone plan, its nothing but a headache and I would ditch it in a heart beat.
I have been doing Bowen treatments in a clinic at Clayfield as a locum, and today I worked at the MBF health expo in Chemside Shopping Centre. I am having a great time. Life in the big city is more fun then I expected.

We have found all the BBQs along the river front and are
enjoying the relaxed living in the centre of the city. On one occasion, a homeless man was sleeping in the next BBQ shelter. It was starting to get cold and my heart went out to him, to be cold and hungry in such a big city full of life, is sad. I offered him food but he told me his stomach had shrunk so much he couldn't eat more than a bite.

It has started to get a bit cold for us after being northeners for so long and we don't own too many winter clothes. We don't own to many clothes full stop. You can only fit so much on a boat.

We have had terra firma under us for a month now and I haven't missed sailing yet. Probably because everything is still so new and we have been so busy exploring the town on our pushbikes. They were a good investment.
Parking is to expensive in town to use the car so it is only used for emergencies. In the months to come between us we managed to log up fines for parking on a yellow lined curb (only the back wheels were in this marked area and I thought I would get away with it). The second time we pulled into a clear way 20 minutes after the pay and display time expired and I got out. A no no as we were to discover. The third fine almost resulted in us being towed. They had the tray down on the tow truck and were winching us on when we arrived to a very angry man whom let us off with just the fine of $60 dollars and not the $360 towing fine.

We have caught up with our friends and families with many of them visiting and staying with us now we are back on land. How I have missed them.

Cam has applied for a few positions around the place as well as the oppunitunity of an overseas position.
Before we could turn around twice we were flying to the Philippines for a job interview. While Cam was in the office in Manila and General Santos,I was taken care of by the other expats wives and got the chance to explore a litte of Manila. I tried to fit in as much as I could in case we never travelled this way again.
After returning and giving the matter serious thought we accepted the position. Since then my world is turning upside down yet again, which is pretty normal for us.
In 6 weeks time we will be overseas. Cam is to start work on the 20th of July.

I have surgery booked and that is going to put me out of action for about 8 weeks after the operation. We have had to list the boat for sale. Dream Weaver has been a faithful lady and I am having problems coming to terms with leaving her. She is our home. I love adventure but I don't like change. Once I make up my mind I can get on with it but its always a leap of faith.

We made a trip to Mackay to offload surplus I have collected over the years, and Cam had to finilize some work he was doing on contract.
We have taken photoes of the boat and contacted people whom we thought may be interested in buying her. But to no avail. All are broke or are at a different place in their lives at the moment so, what will be will be.
Since starting this blog I have had my surgery and the month following I had a few rough moments with post medical problems. Also my daughter has renal failure and has ended up in hospital as well. Following my recovery I have been completing my organ donor acceptence for Madelyn and this has been filling days in at a time.

I have made a flying visit to Mackay to finalize business and catch up with family and my new nephewwhile and Cam has already started work in the Philippines.

I have been packing the boat and putting our belongings into storage in Mackay with my Mum ,and storing even more belongings with Cams Mum. Is this what mothers do. One day I guess I will do the same for my kids.

Cam arrived back in Australia to move Dream Weaver from Dockside Marina to Manly. Dream Weaver is listed for sale with East Coast Marina and Manly Marina is more convienent for them should a buyer be interested. Also it is safer than leaving her at Dockside. Since we have been berthed at Dockside we have saved boats from damage after they have broken their ropes or busted their fenders from wash from the City Cats. Such is our concern, Cam has started a website Dockside submissions, giving people a chance to voice their concerns on a forum and

allowing them to have a united voice to bring about change instead of standing alone and being swept under the carpet.
We have left Dream Weaver with basic provisions so when we return to Australia for visits we can eat and sleep on her with no trouble.

In the days before leaving I had a media project to finalize. I have had to learn a new program to use for editing, and problem after problem arose. The day before flying to Manila, I finished the project and mailed the DVD. What a relief.
I have sold my purple ford Festiva. I stepped out of my little faithful car and handed over the keys to the next door neighbouring boat at Dockside. It was a sad moment, I have had her for 12 years and she never missed a beat, but time is slowing her down and a little more TLC is needed.
We hired a car for our last day in Brisbane to deliver the items of storage to the family farm and also collect my daughter to spend an few hours with her. I wanted to cuddle her and tuck her safely away. To a 14 year old this is definitely not cool. She is about boys, bebo, fashion and friends. Mums come way down the list. On a positive note this reassures me she is coping with what life throws at her in the best way she can. She is not so different to other 14 year olds.
We rose at 4am to catch our plane and finish our last minute packing. On flying out of Brisbane I was still finalizing things in my mind.
Our next adventure is about to begin.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cairns to Gladstone

We had been ready to sail for at least a week and a half but due to the low pressure system onway, we had to wait …..and wait…. and wait….
We now have cyclone Hamish to contend with. It’s about time they gave a cyclone a male name. The joke at the marina is at least it will be predictable.

Sunday 8th March 09 dawned with blue skies and not a breath of air. We had said our goodbyes to friends around the marina the day before, so all we had to do was throw off the ropes and sail

Negotiating the sand bar at the mouth of Moon Creek, in which Blue Water Marina is built, we exited on high tide and turned starboard into Yorkeys Knob Marina for fuel. Pulling into the fuel pontoon at Yorkeys Knob was the most relaxed and finely executed piece of work in our 3 years of sailing (this was where Dream Weaver1 was purchased 8 years before so maybe she knew her way around).

We had a favourable tide, a long straight run onto the fuel pontoon and for once I could step down, and not have to scramble up to tie the springer rope while Cam manoeuvred Dream Weaver alongside the fuel bowser.

Over the years we have had some questionable wharfs and some terribly rude people to navigate whilst in the pursuit of fuel.

Some wharfs were so high I couldn’t reach the walkway to tie up, while others were so busy with large ships we would breathe in and hold our breath while manoeuvring into the small space allocated for us to gain access to the diesel hose.

Sitting behind the rock wall at Yorkeys Knob on the fuel pontoon, it is hard to imagine that 2 days ago we were all on cyclone alert.

The first 2 rows of boats in Yorkeys Knob had to be moved to another creek, sheltering from the onslaught of the open seas. Today there is only a gentle swell and no breeze and it was quickly becoming quite warm.

We amused ourselves by watching the locals fishing. A small girl was pulling in Grunter to the envy of the more seasoned fisherman while the boat ramp was starting to look like Central railway station. With the beautiful weather and one day left of the weekend, boats were heading out to the reef for fishing and pleasure cruises. Outside the wall a few yachts were attempting to sail but at this point we only had about 2-3 knots of breeze from the east.

After leaving Yorkeys Knob we motor sailed to Fitzroy Island with the intention of diving on the prop to make sure we had no debris growing on it. Whilst we had tide assist, we were making 6.5 knots. Deciding all was well we continued further south with no particular anchorage in mind sailing by the motto of make haste while the sun is shining and the winds are favourable.

We admired the towering green mountains hugging the coastline
with sandy beaches and water falls running off the cliffs straight into the sea and mourned the fact that our time in Cairns had been so short. We had really been looking forward to spending time here exploring the tropical lush bushlands and diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Another adventure put aside for another time.

The water while usually a clear rich green, was slightly milky in colour and we noticed large logs floating just below the surface marked only by a twig or bump. After all the flooding and rain washing the debris out of the creeks into the sea this could be a hazard to us sailing at night.
While the hull is made of steel a large log hit the wrong way could cause damage to the keels or prop. Any thought of hitting the unknown is enough to frighten almost every sailor.

As we passed Flying Fish point a large storm was brewing behind the hills. The hills would light up with sheet and fork lightening, the sky still showed blue with streaks of vivid purple and yellow making spectacular photography opportunities.

During the hours sailing we kept a close eye on the storms surrounding us and as we stayed within eye sight of the coast we had broadband most times. Having internet access was great so we were able to track the storm and cyclone activity down the coast.

We dropped anchor at midnight out the front of Dunk Island and settled into a comfortable night. It was airless and still but we had no trouble dropping off to sleep. Our first day back at sea and it was a 17 hour day.

Our body clock isn’t back into sailing mode yet. We slept in until 6.30 am. Looking over onto the beach at Dunk Island I could see one early morning walker but the resort appeared to be still sleeping. We had a small port side breeze as we motor sailed out of our anchorage.

The day has been uneventful with only a handful of ships spotted on the horizon but no yachts. Even the sea seems devoid of life. For a whole day of sea gazing I saw one large pale coloured sea snake and a school of flying fish. Only one tern flew past. Is this the effect of the cyclone?

We have been out of broadband range for most of today so we are again cut off from the world. Just the way I enjoy it. Today has gone so fast. We poured buckets of warm sea water over each other on the fore deck. Tonight I have taken first watch. I took over at 7.30pm, just as we passed Magnetic Island. We had our 3 sails up but before Cam went to bed we furled the stay sail. I wanted to be able to change sails quickly if something changed in the night.

On arriving in the Whitsundays group of islands we could see Airlie Beach in the distance. We were tired and the wind was on the nose making it a little uncomfortable. The forecast was 15 -20 knots South Easterlies so making the decision to head for Airlie Beach and anchor in Muddy Bay was an easy choice. It would give us time to catch up on sleep and hope the winds would be more in our favour in the next day or so. Unfortunately it was to be nearly 3 weeks before we could make our escape again.

Airlie Beach is a busy tourist town with Saturday morning beach front markets of local crafts and produce. The main street is full of bikini clad 20 something male and female bronzed and toned bodies, browsing the shop fronts. The shops are struggling to get tourists in the door for more than window shopping and part them with their hard saved dollars.

Here rents are expensive with a small street frontage shop paying $5200 a month. When you add wages, stock, power, etc, you can understand many struggling to make ends meet let alone carve out a good living. There are more than one or two empty shop fronts.

I didn’t really enjoy Airlie Beach so every opportunity I had, I would head to Mackay were I own a business and catch up with friends.

Anchored out in the bay in front of the Whitsunday Sailing Club it would become very choppy and it was disconcerting to look out the port doorway and see the yacht next to us sunk with only its mast sticking out of the water.

Looking out of the starboard door one morning, we spied a half sunk tender tied to another yacht. The people were away so we quickly raced across to bale it out. Just as we arrived the tender took a small roll and tried to sink completely. I lay across the bow to level it the best I could holding our tender close, while Cam busily baled.

During the day a small bi plane took tourists for stunt rides over the bay. They would spin, climb, and roll than swoop low over the boats at anchor making quite a bit of noise. Every day I would watch and pray he would pull out of the dive before he hit us.

After 3 weeks of SE 15-25 knots forecasts outside, we have a 10-15 knot forecast for a few days with the afternoons promising NE breezes. We will take the chance and leave while we can.

We motor sailed out of Airlie Beach at 7.30am to a beautiful day. We passed inside Daydream Island where the large cats were dropping day travellers off, Shute harbour is to our starboard with the morning sun reflecting brilliant white off the buildings on the hill and boats at anchor.

Long Island is further forward off to starboard. Today tourists are making the most of the weather change of sunshine and calm seas by visiting the islands that sit so close to the main land.

We would usually take advantage of the conditions and explore the islands and beaches ourselves but we want to get as far south as possible in this weather pattern.

During the day we maintained our course through the islands passing Keswick and St Bees to starboard just as the sun was setting behind them. We have averaged a motor sailing speed of 6.2 knots all day. We caught a good tide out in the morning and in the afternoon had wind assist. At St Bees the tides churned around the islands between Scawfield and St Bees
and we had large swells with erratic currents making us having to manually helm for a few hours.

We called up VMR in Mackay and asked them if there were any closures on Shoal Water Bay. This is an army training bay and sometimes areas are closed due to training. If the weather becomes unfavourable we may have to stop off there for awhile. Other yachties have been ordered out of the bay even in very unfavourable weather and dangerous conditions, we don’t want to be put in that position so are making plans for further anchorages available.

Our conditions are good and we are hitting speeds of 7.2 knots or more. I usually take the first night watch, we usually do 5 or 6 hours each time but tonight we are both tired so we will start with a 2 hour watch each then sleep following out to 3 hour watches. My glass of red wine is making me drowsy and the weather is so comfortable and calm I have to sit on deck to stay awake.
Having passed an uneventful night, dawn saw us passing the group of islands near Allandale Island.

Again this morning we have encountered huge slow moving swells.
We listened to our shortwave radio weather forecast every couple of hours only to find that by Thursday we will have to find shelter. This was as we expected with Gladstone still our destination.

Starting the new day with bacon and cheese on toast, we planned the day. With the chores of bread making, hair washing, reading and studying maps for our journey south, the day was settling into a routine.

Today we passed 2 catamarans heading north but no yachts going in the same direction as ourselves. This is a little late to be travelling south with the South Easterlies blowing.

We will reach ‘The Narrows’ by tonight and shelter until morning before making our way through tomorrow. This is a channel of questionable depths running between the mainland and Curtis Island; if we reach it at the wrong tide we will become stuck. We need a minimum tide of 3.5 metres.

We anchored just inside ‘The Narrows’ in a bay out the front of the old signalling station. The houses on Curtis Island were typical old fashioned government style homes. They look like small boxes on legs but practical for their time.

The mosquitoes almost carried us away.

The next morning we motored almost to the boat ramp across from cattle yards that were built into the water and waited for the rise of tide. While waiting we took our GPS and motored through the worst couple of kilometres in ‘Ethel’ our tinny, checking for a suitable channel through. At the top of the tide we made it through in Dream Weaver with the depth sounder showing zero water underneath us. If we didn’t hurry we would soon be stuck with the tide on its way down.

We passed a few fishing boats and with the amount of white buoys bobbing around I guess the crabbing here is promising.

At the southern end of The Narrows is Gladstone. It was nearing the end of the day and still very pleasant with enough wind to sail the remaining miles. We called up Gladstone Marina and booked a berth for tomorrow morning. It was just too nice to head in yet.

The amount of industry in Gladstone is astounding.
We anchored outside the Tanna coal terminal for the night and watched the large ships being loaded.
Gladstone terminal loaded 45.2 million tons of coal in the 2005/06 year. Queensland Alumina Limited operates one of the world’s largest Alumina refining plants, refining 8 million tons of bauxite a year.

Boyne Smelters Ltd is Australia’s largest aluminium smelter, producing more than 510,000 tonnes of alumina a year. BSL produces 20% of Australia’s aluminium and injects $350 million back into the local community for goods and services.

The next morning we made our way onto our allocated berth. The marina is large, and along the shore it has a huge park with the marina office built in the style of a 1950s school. It blended so well into the park, I though it once was a school. Asking, we were told last year it celebrated its 20th anniversary. There is a wooden walkway along the water front and the park is user friendly with large shade trees and well used BBQs. This is one of the most tranquil marinas I have visited.

This Sunday it is the start of a week of festival and will have all the entertainments associated with a festival. There is a street parade, live bands, fireworks, and boat races not to mention the Russian circus. The highlight will be the finish of the Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race.

After registering at the marina office we walked into town and bought a few supplies for a BBQ tonight. I had invited my cousin and her husband for dinner. I hadn’t seen them for about 5 years so with all our chatter I have no doubt we kept our neighbours awake until midnight. Knowing full well tomorrow night is an all night sail, we should have gone to bed at an early hour but time just got away from us.

That’s to be expected when good food, wine and family all come together plus two cousins trying to catch up on 5 years of news in 5 hours.

Tomorrow is another day and our journey south will continue.

Copyright - J. Williams (9-4-09)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Darwin to Bare Sand Island

Darwin to Bare Sand Island 08.

We had decided to sail to Bare Sand Island for a couple of days for a change of scenery. At this time of the year the turtles will be coming ashore to lay their eggs. These gentle animals come ashore from about April to August to lay their eggs. Moon phases and neap or spring tides don’t seem to have a particular relevance so we might be lucky and see their mighty trek up the beach.
Some nights as many as 50 turtles come ashore during the night to lay their eggs in the safely of the sand banks. The turtles are between 20 and 40 years old before they reach sexual maturity and lay about 15 to 30 eggs. Sometimes it might be up to 7 years before they lay again.
It is not unusual to arrive and find a large group of research students studying and tagging the turtles.

Arriving at Bare Sand Island, we navigated around the sand bars and into the channel on a low tide. This channel is not very wide and while one side of it drops deeply against the beach making a great anchorage, the other side is shallow and surrounded by reef and sea grasses. We were the only yacht here but a small ‘tinny’was anchored onshore and a tent pitched further up in the sand dunes..

We put our tender ‘Ethel’ down and went ashore to stretch our legs. While Cam walked along the front of the beach I struck up a conversation with the couple from Darwin.
Like us, they had come to watch the turtles and have a bottle of wine while enjoying the sunset over the Timor Sea.
At 8.30pm Cam and I headed back to the beach with our cameras, chairs, pillows and doona and set in for the wait. I lay down and searched the stars for constellations I recognized. The sky was fairly clear but the moon was directly over head and half full. This gave us too much light for star gazing but it was perfect for turtle watching.

At about 9.30pm the first turtle came ashore. She was a Flat Back and about 3 feet long and 1 ½ feet across her shell. She lumbered up the beach and into the foot of the sand dunes to dig her nest. At this point we become as still as mice so as not to disturb her. After digging a crater like hole to submerge herself, she dug a chamber with her back flippers about the size of a 2 gallon bucket to lay her eggs. She would reach down with first one flipper and take a scoop of sand out, then lift and flip it to the top of the hole and over the side before repeating it with the other flipper. She had been here before as she had been tagged. The tags were small metal clips attached to her front flippers; some times you would see turtles with 3 or 4 clips attached like the latest fashionable earrings.
We set up our chairs and sat quietly while she settled herself and got busy digging. \
When she started to lay her eggs they seemed to come out in pairs. She lay about 25-30 eggs. It was at this time I was able to get some good photos without disturbing her. After she had finished laying her eggs she threw sand over her nest for about 30 minutes and scuffled around so her nest wasn’t obvious to predators. Not that there would be too many of them on bare Sand Island.
. On this island birds are about the only predators and that is only when the babies are making their way to the water.
Wind and tide erosion sometimes causes nests to be exposed and then eggs or hatchlings are lost.
From leaving the water to returning to the waves took our turtle 1 ½ hours.

It was time for us to return to Dream Weaver1 and our warm bed.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

About Dream Weaver1

This link supplies you with the history of Dream Weaver 1 and other articles written by Cam or Julie for Sailing magazines.