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Anzac Day

Posted in: Non Boaty Bits on Thursday, April 25th, 2013

It is on this day that we all come to remember and appreciate the privileges we have today and more importantly, why we have them. Throughout the world and even in our own country, Australia is largely over looked when it comes to its contributions in history. We forget that the ANZACS have always answered the calls for help from around the world and have set the bar high for the standard of soldiering with their mateship, courage, endurance and sacrifice.

In world War 1 we were thought to be used for nothing but garrison duties and supply line maintence. By the end of the war the Anzacs were the leading force in defeating the Germans and had suffered a casualty rate throughout the war of 65.7%, the highest rate of any nation in the war.

We often come to forget moments in history where Australia and New Zealand have both punched well above their weight and left the competition running away with a bloody nose. We forget such moments in time as the Battle of Kokoda where just 2000 Australian militia had stalled the advance of close to 10 000 Japanese soldiers. We forget the Battle of Dernancourt in France where, in 1918 just 4000 Australian soldiers repelled and counter attacked a German force of 25 000.

“The Anzacs are the bravest things God’s ever created” – Unnamed British Officer after the battle of Lone Pine.

So as we all enjoy some time off today, lets not forget the ever lasting legacy that the Anzacs have left us and will continue to leave us.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Lest We Forget.

This was written by my brother James who’s turning into a fine writer. I thought it fitting to post it here on the day we Australians commemorate the sacrifices and bravery of our ANZACS.

Information sources:

 http://www.frenchdesire.com.au/facts/australians_in_war/

http://www.adoptadigger.org/frequently-asked-questions/ww1-statistics

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Not so far behind after all

Posted in: Uncategorized on Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Well it’s done. It’s booked. It’s on the calender.  We’re getting our recreational boating licences. And it turns out all that fear and doubt I wrote about leaving behind hasn’t been left so far behind after all.  It’s right back beside me again. It’s been waiting just outside my comfort zone for a time like this.

What if i fail? How am I going to remember everything they tell me? I should definitely take notes. Will I have time to make notes? What if I make a mistake and everyone secretly laughs at me or worse, openly laughs at me? What if i’m the dumbest person there and I don’t understand anything they tell me?

So many what ifs. My head is spinning and I feel a little bit sick. I think I might have some underlying anxiety issues.

‘Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage’ – Anais Nin

With my rational brain I know that most of these worries are ridiculous, and having read my fears expressed in black and white they look downright silly.  Yet they still have the power to immobilise and undermine me. They started the second that Ben suggested that I take the licence with him. I wasn’t going to get my licence for a few months, all of this was going to be future Sarah’s problem.

“Look at it this way Sez, won’t it feel better to take the test with me by your side than on your own?” Ben said over the phone.  He has a point rational me thought It would be better to have him with me. Then irrational me piped up ‘what if i’m dumb in front of Ben, or I don’t understand something basic and they have to tell me 5 times and I still don’t understand but stay quiet. I don’t want to fail in front of him’

According to the website, the course will cover the following;

  • General safety obligation
  • Qld marine regulations
  • Collision avoidance regulations
  • Trip planning & vessel preparation
  • Safety & emergency equipment
  • Weather & tides
  • Vessel maintenance
  • Navigation & charts
  • Anchoring
  • Basic knots

For the next two weeks it’s going to be a constant battle to keep things in perspective, to keep the faith in myself, to remind myself that I’m smart, a quick learner and at the end of the day it’s just a licence.  To help with this my personal motto will be Prior Preperation Prevents Poor Performance. So i’m off to go prepare, I think i’ll start by revising some basic knots (which might help undo the ones in my stomach).

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The Boat with no Name

Posted in: Uncategorized on Sunday, April 21st, 2013

…and no chance!

Our neighbour Keith dropped by on Sunday told a frightening tale. Down on T finger is a little boat with no name and two foolhardy souls aboard who intend to sail her down to Sydney with no sailing experience. No GPS. No EPIRB. No life jackets. No compass. No sea anchor. An unreliable outboard motor. No charts. No wind vein. No radio and no hope of making it.

They bought the boat last Wednesday for $2000.00 and no survey or sea trial and took possession on Thursday. They leave tomorrow.

Keith has been chatting to them for a few days, unsuccessfully trying to talk them out of such an irresponsible journey but to no avail.

When asked if they had a sea anchor they pulled out a spinnaker sail which unsurprisingly they didn’t know needed a pole, so they have no pole. When asked about a compass ‘We have one on our phone’. When asked how they will know the direction of the wind, “oh we’ll tell by how it hits our faces”

They intend to sail at night. With no GPS or charts, “oh but we have light” they say. They will be blind in the dark.

They intend to make a Brunswick Heads bar crossing, one of Australia’s most notorious bar crossings, in their little boat with no experience.  Fools.

If I sound scathing and critical it’s because they are stupid. There’s no sugar coating it.  They have absolutely no respect for the ocean and it’s power and mark my words it will punish them for it. Of course we’ll have no way of knowing because they don’t have a radio to call for help.

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An Adorable Pest

Posted in: Marina Wildlife on Thursday, April 18th, 2013
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‘The swallow is come! The swallow is come! O, fair are the seasons, and light Are the days that she brings, With her dusky wings, And her bosom snowy white!’~ Heny Wadsworth Longfellow

Sitting on our anchor most likely contemplating the weather

Swallows are a common sight around the marina and for practical reasons I shouldn’t like them. For starters they’re prodigious poopers and crap all over our deck, and secondly they’re persistent nesters. It’s been a constant battle to get them to stop nesting in our boom, one that we seem to have won for the time being, no thanks to our cheap plastic snake which i’m sure they just laughed at. I had high hopes that the ships cat would be a deterrent but he’s proved useless. On deck he ducks and runs and when held out the hatch and gently shaken in the direction of the birds “Look! A fearsome cat, a natural predator, be afraid!’ they just look at him and he just looks at them. I’d swear given enough time they might even become friends.

But despite swallows pest like qualities I can’t help thinking how cute they are and love seeing them sitting on furling lines…someone else’s furling lines that is.  They’re especially cute during wet weather. They sit on life lines, furling lines and even our rusty anchor all puffed up trying to stay warm and dry, tittering to each other or vying for the best spot.  I can’t help but like them.

We see mainly two species, the Welcome Swallow and the Tree Martin. The Welcome Swallow is easily identifiable by it’s copper coloured head and breast, it’s black almost blue feathers on his back and long forked tail.  The Tree Martin looks a bit different with a dark black/brown head, dirty cream face, throat and under belly and dark brown wings.

You can clearly see his black/blue feathers on his back and he copper head and breast

The Tree Martin has different markings to the Welcome Sparrow, most notably his speckled breast.

Both species have adapted well to urban environments and due to their numbers and nesting habits are usually considered a pest.

Welcome Swallows nests are usually open cups of grass and mud and this matches what we’ve seen in our boom.  They stuff it full of leaves and feathers then build a mud wall near the entrance leaving just enough room to get in and out.  We destroyed over five to six nests, each time simultaneously feeling a bit guilty about doing it and amazed at the amount of leaves removed. Each time they rebuilt. Like I said persistent nesters.

They are insect eaters, and enjoy the satisfying crunch of a wide variety of insects which they catch while in the air in an impressive display of aerobatics. They have short rictal bristles bordering the bill which guide their prey into their mouth. They’ll feed in large flocks if the supply of insects is large enough.  We’ve seen them do this usually in the afternoon. Large groups of over 20 swallows all swooping and diving, flying in large arcs and tight turns. I always thought they were merely delighting in the joy of flight but it turns out they were feeding on insects too small for me to see. I envy them their flight but not their diet.

Due to their frequent visits they make excellent photography subjects.  Below is a gallery of some of my best shots.  Enjoy!

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New Navy

Posted in: Boat Improvements on Sunday, April 14th, 2013
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Tygress is looking great in her new navy cockpit canvas.  We’re so happy with it. We can’t stop looking at it. It’s such a massive improvement on what she had before and the navy blue works so well with the red hull. I’m not usually one to blow my own horn, but I feel it should be noted that the navy colour choice was my idea. Ben would probably call it more of a demand than an idea, but I wouldn’t budge, it had to be navy.

Before she had a badly deteriorating, lifeless grey spray dodger and a moldy lashed on canvas panel that, lets by honest here, was an eyesore. Ben and I hated it, we spent a lot of time looking forward to the day we could get rid of it.  And here is where I’m really proud of myself, who knew I was so talented with screwdrivers and spanners. All that was required was a determined attitude, a small pep talk followed by the unscrewing a few a bolts in the corners and slashing the rope lashing and presto it was gone! With no serious injury to myself or the boat and no tools lost over the side.

Awful, just awful, the window plastic had completely fallen out at this point.

 

The old lashed on canvas set up

The next day Ben and I removed the solar panels in a perfectly coordinated display of teamwork – Go Team! We needed to work together and move carefully because the panels were still wired up and joined together.

With the panels removed everything was ready for the trimmers to get started on our canvas. They started on the Thursday before Easter.

First they took our old spray dodger off for a pattern and by Saturday a new navy spray dodger was in it’s place.  We were so surprised to see it when we returned from visiting friends that I raced down the dock with a fully loaded trolley and almost squealed in delight.  Even that small part of the job made a big difference to Tygress’s appearance.  Because it was Easter the trimmers were having the following week off so no progress could me made until the following Monday.

The next step for the trimmers was taking a pattern for our new Bimini which was a more involved process than the spray dodger as we didn’t have existing canvas to make a pattern from.  Gary instead put a large piece of blue plastic sheeting up over the stainless steel frame and cut it to size.

The bimini pattern being made

Three days later he returned with the Bimini canvas which after a few small adjustments was ready to install. Not an easy task considering how many different things we had attached to our frame; two anntanae, GPS and two protruding fittings from the section of frame holding up the solar panels (more on those later).

The canvas being adjusted and fitted

By Thursday afternoon the canvas was in place and a pattern for the infill panel (the canvas panel connecting the spray dodger and Bimini) was taken. Friday morning saw the infill panel installed and the job completed.

The finished job!

We had gotten quotes from a few different trimmers around the place but decided to go with G&S Marine Trimmers Aust Pty Ltd which are based here at East Coast Marina. The three deciding factors in making the choice to go with G&S were a) the gave the best priced quote b) we’d heard good things about them and c) they are close by.

We are really satisfied with our choice and happily recommend them to anyone in the Brisbane area wanting to have their canvas replaced.  Gary and I had a couple of meetings at the boat to go over what we wanted done, our regular readers will know that I was a little nervous about meeting with contractors, but Gary was great. Very friendly and easy to talk to, I had no problems telling him what we wanted or asking questions.  When the issue of the protruding fittings was brought up, I explained that Ben probably wouldn’t have the time to make the changes himself, so Gary offered to have the old fittings removed and flush fittings installed for us.  We were happy to pay for that little extra service.

It’s designed so that we can remove it if need be. The quality of the stitching and other fittings is great and the work is guaranteed. If we have any problems, which I’m sure we won’t, it’s just a short walk through the marina to the trimmers.

Looking at the canvas now we’re just so happy with it. Having the newer darker canvas makes a big difference to the feel of being out in the cockpit and once the seat cushions are finished it’s going to look amazing and be a much more comfortable place to be.  The only sad thing about this whole process has been that we’ve weren’t able to get the mesh side panels that I really wanted.  They’ll have to wait until we have more money. As it was the work we had done cost just over 3 boat bucks, but it was definitely money well spent. What do you think? She looks great hey?

 

 

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From the Galley: Potato and Pesto Soup

Posted in: From the Galley on Friday, April 12th, 2013
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Here in the southern hemisphere cool weather is coming and it’s becoming perfect weather for soups of all kinds.  Soups are especially great because they rarely use more than one pot, we’ll be eating a lot of them over the coming months.

Ingredients

  • 3 slices rindless bacon
  • 450g floury potatoes 
  • 450g onions
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 625ml chicken stock
  • 625ml milk
  • 100g pasta
  • 150ml double cream
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese shavings (to serve)
  • Basil Pesto

Method

  1. Finely chop bacon, potatoes and onions. Cook the bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat for 4 minutes. Add the olive oil, potatoes and onions and cook for 12 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the stock and milk to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the pasta and simmer for a further 10-12 minutes.
  3. Blend in the cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chopped parsley, salt and pepper and 2 tablespoons of basil pesto. Transfer the soup to individual serving bowls and serve with Parmesan cheese shavings.
Notes
a) The recipe originally contains ingredients and directions for making the basil pesto yourself, but since we think the simpler a recipe the better we just used a jar of ready made pesto. It keeps in the cupboard unopened for a decent amount of time and once opened, if you get a small enough jar, it wont’ take up too much space in the fridge.
b) Floury potatoes…hmmm I don’t know much about the world of potatoes other than I LOVE them! I usually just use which ever ones I grab first or are the best priced.  Although for this post I actually looked up ‘floury potatoes’ and found a good guide to potato varieties, you can check it out here. I think I used Sebago and they worked a treat.
c) The milk used was UHT long life and the stock was dissolved from chicken stock cubes. Both keep well in the cupboard for long periods of time and take up little space. Great boat ingredients.  Eventually we will start trying powdered milk as it takes up even less space than UHT long life milk but i’m a bit worried about how it will taste. Does anyone else use powdered? Does it taste okay? Is it good for cooking?

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March – So far so good

Posted in: End of Month Recap on Thursday, April 4th, 2013

March has been a good month. Lots of sunshine, chocolate and progress with the boat.  The morning and evenings are getting cooler which is lovely, although some days have surprised us with their summer heat. It’s almost as if summer is refusing to let go and give way to autumn. But it’s not bad, it makes night time cozy to snuggle up together and days nice to be outside in the sun.

1. We bought a Kayak. If you haven’t got one I highly recommend getting one! Get two! Get three! I can’t believe I fought Ben for so many months about spending the money! They’re so much fun and it has given me the chance to get out and explore the harbour more, and provided another way for me to get active. Judging by my weight gain since moving aboard that’s something I need.   After an initial ‘whoopsie’ moment (blog post to come) i’m turning into a competent paddler.

2. We’ve tried out a few new recipes which will be featured on the blog soon. We’re always looking for healthy recipes. Ones that are suitable for cooking in a small galley, ones the don’t require a lot of fresh produce, ones using non-refrigerated ingredients. And we’ve found a couple of good ones but Ben was a little disappointed with the lack of meat in the trolley when we went shopping.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

3. Added a some new books to my stash. Have I mentioned how much I love our local book exchange. And books. Real books, not ebooks.

Robinson Crusoe, Fatal Storm, Confessions of a Beachcomber, Jonathon Livingstone Seagull, Commander of the Mists and Reading I've Liked.

4. Brightened up the saloon with some wildflowers picked by the side of the road. Australia has beautiful native flowering trees which it just so happens I can reach if I stand on my toes with a pair of scissors.

Yellow and pink native flowers and my hand painted jar for a vase.

5. Embarked on a chocolate eating odyssey by biting the head off of this cute little fella and am presently working on eating this beautiful, shiny family of rabbits!

Cute, but not too cute to eat! Head first.

Shiny, edible bunnies and the delicious gold eggs they lay.

6. We helped friends move into their wonderful brand new house and what new house would be complete without a trip through IKEA. Oh my poor feet and all those glorious home wares I no longer have space for, but it was still fun getting to hang with friends.  And even though we no longer have a house I could still find some goodies to take home.

A slap chop, bag clips, scented candles, tea towels, clothes hanger and hooks for our pot rack.

7. Celebrated Easter with my family by gathering together, drinking and eating a delicious baked lunch followed by the family classic two tone rum pie dessert (not pictured, eaten too quickly)

A home cooked baked lunch - is there anything better??

8. We got a new spray dodger! The first part of the cockpit canvas replacement was the spray dodger and it got done just before Easter. It’s beautiful, the navy goes so well with the red hull!

Our new navy spray dodger. Ain't she pretty!

At the end of these little wrap ups I try and balance things out by noting some less than positive things that have happened during the month. But March has been a pretty good month so I can only think of two.

1) We found some more rust on the hull. Ben thinks that rust is becoming more of an issue because of electrolysis in the marina.

2) Due to financial constraints we couldn’t order the mesh sides for the cockpit that I so badly wanted.

If (1) is considered a complete cluster-whoopsie of a month and (10) is considered a month full of happiness, sunshine and success then I’d rate March 7/10. New spray dodger WHOOO!

How was your March?

 

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