In the bag

Posted in: Boat Improvements, Featured on Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Our mainsail is now safely tucked away in it’s nice new navy sail bag, safe from water, UV rays and swallow infestations.

The old bag was deteriorating when we bought Tygress but the high winds of ex tropical cyclone Oswald finished it off, completely ripping the canvas away from the zipper and destroying other sections in large chunks. It’s been held together with rope ever since.  Not only did the ratty old bag give Tygress a slightly unloved look it was exposing our main sail to wind, rain and sun.

New Sail Cover

We engaged the services of G & S Marine Trimmers, our local trimmers here at the marina and once again we are extremely happy with the finished work.

Gary taking the old sail canvas off

Gary removing our deteriorating old grey sail bag.

The new sail bag marks the completion of the canvas replacement on Tygress and we love how she looks now. We may be biased, but we think she looks very smart with her red hull and navy canvas.



A clean bottom

Posted in: Featured, Maintenance on Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Tygress has a clean bottom!

It’s been long overdue but we finally hauled Tygress out and had her anti-fouled.

For those who don’t know, anti-fouling is basically a special coat of paint applied to the hull of boats to prevent marine growth i.e. barnacles, algae etc. Once marine growth gets a hold on the hull it can be very hard to remove and not only that but fouling of the hull will affect the boats movement through the water.


Early morning in the channel.

Early morning in the channel.

Getting her from our marina berth to the travel lift was a short trip to the other side of the harbour but as with all trips made in such close confines it was a little stressful. For me anyway.  Ben, as usual, handled Tygress in his calm, competent ‘born-to-do-it’ manner.  We docked her without any major drama and before long she was being poled into the lift cradle.  This is the second time we’ve watched Tygress come out, the first time back in 2011 when she was undergoing her prepurchase survey. I was quite relaxed about it then, after all, she wasn’t yet our boat and if something went wrong we could just walk away. This time though we owned her, she was our boat and home of two years. So we watched like hawks, was she in the slings properly? I kept thinking please don’t drop her.

Being moved into the slings. You can see them hanging down into the water.

Being moved into the slings. You can see them hanging down into the water.

Before the lift reached full height they realised we hadn’t taken down our antennas which are quite high and were at risk of hitting the lift structure.  Ben crossed the large gap back onboard and working at a dizzying height from the water below slowly and surely removed all the bolts and brought the anttenas down. Then Ben jumped back off again and she was rolled over solid ground.

Up and out, Ben onboard taking down the antennas.

Up and out, Ben onboard taking down the antennas.

Watching Tygress slowly come out of the water we were surprised at the level of growth on her hull. It was bad, but we had expected much worse. Something along the lines of the hanging gardens of Babylon.

Pressure spraying the gunk away.

Pressure spraying the gunk away.

We were pleased to see that Tygress still had some her sacrificial anodes left. We had been worried that they’d been completely eaten away and that electrolysis was affecting the hull. Needless to say she now has three brand new ones.

Once out of the water, she had to be pressure sprayed clean. A process that revealed more than a few barnacles and blisters. But otherwise the hull was in good condition.   We were unable to stay onboard while she was on the hard so we stayed with my parents for the week and Fluffy had a holiday with the good people at Coltrandi Pet Specialists. There may have been a few tears when it came time to leave him and more than a few when it was time to bring him home.

Graeme and Karen from Bayside Boat Repairs handled the antifouling for us and did a wonderful job. Tygress is protected and ready for another year or two in the water.

Matt black and ready for another year or two in the water.

Matt black and ready for another year or two in the water.


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?



Striped Eel Catfish

Posted in: Marina Life on Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Amazing Striped Eel Catfish schooling in pursuit of breakfast

Today I can add another wildlife encounter to the list of wondrous sights I’ve seen while living at the marina. Ben and I first spotted these interesting looking fish hanging out near the docks at the marina entrance this morning. I was pretty pleased with that sighting brief as it was, and thought nothing more of it because not long after that I had to say goodbye to Ben which is my least favourite part of the day.  But later while sitting in the boat I heard unusual splashes in the water so popped my head out the hatch to see the school again.  I grabbed my camera, which thankfully had it’s battery and CF card in it and ready to go, and found the school in the berth next to us.  This time I got to watch them for about 10 minutes as they swam from berth the berth, under the dock and around boats.  Obviously intrigued by my mad dash from the boat the ships cat came down for a look too.

I was fortunate to get these shots, as having photos on hand makes the task of identification much easier.  Although today I didn’t have much trouble, I just Google image searched ‘Stripy schooling fish’ and bingo there they were!  Striped Eel Catfish.  I like it when finding a fish or bird is so easy! Here’s what I’ve discovered.

Striped eel catfish are native to the Indian Ocean, the western Pacific ocean and Papua New Guniea.  Predominately a tropical fish it has been recorded down both the eastern and western coastlines of Australia.   It is the only known species of coral reef dwelling catfish which makes it unique among other catfish species.

Adult Striped Eel Catfish can grow up to 35cm in length and will often lose the distinctive stripes that the juveniles are known for. They have a roughly cylindrical body shape which tapers down into a distinctively eel shaped tail.

Juveniles live in schools of hundreds of fish but as they mature those schools will dwindle in size to considerably smaller groups of around 20 fish.  They mainly feed on benthic invertebrates (organisms that live on the bottom of a water body or in the sediment and have no backbone) algae and sometimes small fishes.

The school I observed today were feeding on small fishes. You could see the smaller fish jumping out of the water in panic ahead of the school.  The catfish would herd their prey between boats and the dock cutting off escape, the water erupting into a feeding frenzy.  It was fascinating to watch.

If you catch one of these guys be careful, apparently they are highly venomous with the forward serrate spines of the dorsal and pectoral fins inflicting painful wounds which may even be fatal. Striped Eel Catfish are definitely in the look but don’t touch category of marine life.


Information sources:

Life under the blue water – http://lifeuwater.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/the-striped-eel-catfish-interesting.html

Australian Museum – http://australianmuseum.net.au/Striped-Catfish-Plotosus-lineatus

Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plotosus


Here comes the sun!

Posted in: Marina Life on Friday, March 8th, 2013

It may not have been a full day of sun but i’m overjoyed to say that for the most part we had a sunny day with blue sky and everything! At least I think it was blue sky, it’s been so long  I was sure I had forgotten what it looked like.

Beautiful blue sky

It’s possibly the most sun we’ve had all March.  I spent more time outside than I have in weeks enjoying the warmth and the relative dryness of everything.

I wasn’t the only one, lot’s of people had come out to enjoy the beautiful weather, including one guy who obviously hasn’t grown out of his love of remote controlled toys.

Great weather for boats of any size to head out for a sail.


Small but graceful.


Out enjoying the sun.


Sunny daze are happy daze indeed!


*click on images to see larger versions


Our first time out sailing

Posted in: Learning to sail, Video on Thursday, May 5th, 2011
Where to begin! Well I’ll start with the debilitating hangover I had after a night of watching the Royal Wedding with too much champagne.  I was ill.  It took all my energy and determination to get ready and even then I wasn’t sure I was going to be able go.  I was so annoyed with myself for being in that condition on the day I had been looking forward to for so long. Despite my hangover we left roughly on time.  Naively trusting our GPS for directions we didn’t research the route ourselves. This was of course a mistake. Ten minutes later we were still in the driveway waiting for the GPS to get a fix.  It was eating away at the fat in my carefully planned timeframes, my stress levels (and nausea) were rising.  I quickly raced back inside got a rough idea of the route praying for adequate signage along the way.The GPS finally got a fix before we hit the Story Bridge and guided us there on time.  We actually got somewhere on time and with time to spare.  Although we still manged to be the last to arrive.We met the other students and our instructor Rob.  Sailing with us were Trevor and Karen, a married couple refreshing their sailing skills before bareboat chartering throughout the Whitsundays in June. And Ian who was already very knowledgeable, he was partway through his professional skippering training.

First up was finding the boat in the forest of masts in the marina.  This marked the first time we had been around boats and marinas since the plan was born and for me it was an intensely moving few minutes.  The weather was absolutely perfect. As time slowed, blue skies stretched uninterrupted to the horizon. Bright, warm sun glinted off the water. The gentle rhythm of the boats knocking against their berths. It felt like a wonderland.

My reverie was broken when we arrived at the yacht that was to be ours for the day.  She was a beautiful 40ft Danish built vessel called ‘Foxy Lady’ and she certainly was foxy.  Ten years old and pristine.  Stepping on board was a bittersweet experience for me.  She was large, bigger than what we’ll buy. She was beautiful and still looked new. She was more expensive than we could afford.  It’d be like driving a Ferrari and then having to go back to your battered old Holden (although we love our battered old Holden to bits).

We gathered in the cabin to go over basic safety equipment and where to find it, then we learnt the different sections of the boat i.e. galley, head, saloon.  We were given a demonstration of the radio equipment and how to use the head (toilet). I knew I didn’t really need to listen to that part as there was no way in hell I was going to the toilet that day (and I’m pleased to say I didn’t have to. I’ll save my first marine toilet trip for another time.)

Then it was topside to be shown all the rigging and other parts of the yacht.  Even on a yacht that size with six people on board you’re always in someone’s way.  It was at this stage I started thinking that maybe 32 feet isn’t going to be big enough.

After that it was time to motor out of the marina and get sailing.  This is where specifics of what I was being told start to get fuzzy. I was in sensory overload. I was too busy checking out all the boats in the marina. Looking all around me trying not to miss a second and filming (very poorly) for this blog. On the way out of the marina we were told about the navigation markers that we were passing.

While still under power we were taught about the four points of sail and were given a chance steering into/across each.  From a distance to the casual observer we would’ve been going in slow, large circles.  It was at this point we were involved in our first bit of drama for the day. A marine rescue.

A group of windsurfers were training off to our starboard side when one of the girl’s sail snapped clean off her board and she drifted far from her group. It was a considerable time after that when we spotted her kneeling on top of her board in the recognised distress position (arms behind her head).\

We headed in her direction the radioed the harbour to advise of her presence in the water and our intentions. The harbour master then alerted the windsurfing groups assistance vessels (who weren’t providing much assistance). Ben was instructed to head to the bow, get her attention and offer our assistance. After about five to ten minutes of slowly circling and chatting to her the rescue vessel came and collected her out the water and we motored away.

Not long after that little bit of excitement the sails went up and we were all enlisted to help.  The thing I remember most is the sound of the sails unfurling and the sound they make when the wind catches them.   It was information overload for me. Rob was firing off commands and everyone was scuttling around carrying them out.  I had no idea what I was doing and felt totally out of my comfort zone. It was fantastic!

I think my biggest surprise for the day was realising just how physically demanding sailing is and just how unfit I presently am. My lack of physical strength is concerning me. I want to be a good deck hand who can do everything my skipper asks me to. I’m going to have to get stronger.

We anchored off Green Island for lunch (sadly my hangover combined with the gentle motion of the boat and food gave me my first bout of sea sickness). After eating we were shown how to tie a few basic knots and then went below to learn how to read charts and their symbols.  If you’ve ever seen a nautical chart you’ll know just how much information is shown on them. They’re covered in lines, symbols and notations in a multitude of colours.  Very confusing to the novice sailor.  But we’ll be doing some navigation training later in the year which will teach us what all those lines, symbols and notations mean in greater detail.

After lunch it was time to hoist the sails again and practice our skills at tacking. With the sands of Stradbroke glinting off the bow and the sun on our backs we spent the afternoon tailing and grinding, lazily changing course as we took in the ever changing view. The afternoon was hard work and yet very relaxing.

On our return to harbour, we were treated to a stunning sunset through the clouds which I was too busy piloting to fully appreciate.  It was exciting to get another turn at the helm as we headed back through the channel towards the marina.  My sole focus was the two white lights on shore. I had to have the bow of the yacht lined up with them while steering between the red and green channel markers. All while not hitting any of the oncoming traffic heading out of the marina!  To say I was nervous would be an understatement.

It was sad to have to go back to land after finally getting to be on board a yacht. We didn’t want to leave. But home we went, tired, sore and unbelievably happy.