Different Survey, Different Day

Posted in: Buying, Featured on Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

and a different boat!

If you’ve never bought a boat before then an important thing to do before signing on the dotted line is to have a pre-purchase survey done. It’s a comprehensive examination of all areas of the boat, both above the waterline and below and is undertaken by qualified surveyor. For our survey on Runaway Moon we used Barry Colson, we had been very happy with his service during Tygress’s insurance survey last year and we felt we could trust his assessment of the vessel.

We woke at our version of ‘early’ which is a very civilised 8 o’clock and had some coffee while waiting for our broker Detlef and Barry to arrive.

It gave us time to think on the differences this survey day compared with our survey day for Tygress.

For a start we woke only two berths down on our own boat that we’ve lived happily on for over three years, last time we traveled across Brisbane to be here. Secondly, with Tygress, we went through the whole sale and survey process without ever meeting the owner.  This time with Runaway Moon we were very lucky to have Alan with us and available to answer any questions Barry had about onboard systems.

But I think the most important difference this time is that we’re boaties, boats are our thing and it’s second nature to be around them. We know a bit more about them and what it’s like to live on one. Last survey day we knew hardly anything about them except that we wanted one. And we got one.

Then we got another one.

Detlef and Barry arrived and spent about 1 1/2 hours going over Runaway in her berth, then she was moved to the marina’s travel lift so she could be hauled out. While Detlef and Alan moved the boat we walked back with Barry and were so heartened when he gave a glowing opinion of Runaway. We learnt that her fiberglass hull had been hand laid and as a result was incredibly strong and well made. A big relief to know as moving away from the strength steel was causing mild anxiety.  We learnt that Barry thought she was an exceptionally good little boat for her age and price, one of the best boats he’d inspected.

Watching a boat being hauled out and rolled back over land is always a bit nerve wracking but under Alan’s watchful eye the marina crew did a great job and got her lifted safely. Then comes the next uncomfortable bit, watching Barry bash all over the hull with his hammer checking it’s integrity and listening for any change in sound his thumps produce.

Barry inspecting hull

There was some small blister repairs but other than that she was in really good condition.  Back in the water and off for a sea trial in conditions that could be best described as flat.

We didn’t care though, this was our first experience with Runaway in motion and it was lovely. She has a full keel and hydraulic steering so she handles differently to Tygress but she handles well. There wasn’t much wind but we got the sails up which is always a magical experience and we floated very slowly around the bay. Too soon our time was up and we headed back in and the survey day was over. The day had left us buoyed and excited and ready to sign on the dotted line.


Don't we look happy?

Don’t we look happy?


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.


Fill ‘er up

Posted in: Living aboard on Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Every now and then I get asked what we do for water on board. For most people water comes unlimited out of the tap and I guess it’s easy to assume because we live on a boat that we don’t have the basic luxury of running water. And to be fair to that assumption not all boaties do have running water but for us though it was a must. When we were looking at boats a good sized water tank was an important requirement because we didn’t want to be filling it all the time and the bigger the tank the greater cruising range we’ll have.  On a side note, the dream, the if-we-had-lots-of-money-and-more-space dream would be to have a water maker installed on board so that we can turn the unlimited amount of sea water below us into safe drinking water. Sadly not with our current budget and not with our current boat.

Tygress has a 200 litre tank in her keel with a pump to loudly pump water to our two taps, one in the head and one in the galley, and so far for us 200ltrs has been a  good amount. We get about two weeks out of one tank refill and since we’re currently living in a marina with shower and toilet facilities this 200ltr amount does not include water for showers.  As it is Tygress’s on board shower was disconnected before we bought her and we won’t be reconnecting it since discovering that the plumbing for it runs behind the switch board. Is anyone else thinking disaster waiting to happen? So it’ll be solar showers for us in the cockpit.

Filling the tank while living dockside is a relatively easy job and one i’m proud to say I can do on my own now. At first we’d only fill it when Ben was home. He would be inside to monitor the tank while I manned the tap outside. It was a good system and one with very little room for error on my part. Then one fateful day Ben asked if I would like to have a go at monitoring the tank while he manned the tap. My initial response “Hell no! I’ll flood the boat! I won’t know when it’s full! I can’t do it! I WON”T do it!”  But then I calmed down and remembered why I was on this journey, to grow, to try new things, to challenge myself.  So I manned up and took position inside.

For whatever reason there is no level indicator on our tank so telling how empty she is a case of listening to the changing sounds of the pump and telling how full it is is a case of peering into the tank with a torch trying to see the water level and how far from the top it is. It’s something that takes a bit of practice.  My first time I was constantly turning the hose off to peer inside “Ben I think it’s full, is it full?” I’d shriek “It won’t be full yet, it’s a big tank” Ben would calmly respond from outside. Not even a minute later “Ben Ben Ben!! It’s full, I can see water OMG i’m going to flood the boat!” followed by “Calm down Sez, it takes at least five minutes for it to fill.”

This continued until the water was close to the top at which point I completely I forgot which way to turn the hose nozzle to shut off the water. The shrieking became incoherent. We laugh about it now, but it was stressful for me at the time. But it was all worth it when Ben said he was proud of me for having a go and the sense of achievement I got when it was done was fantastic.

It probably doesn’t sound that much or that hard to you dear reader but sometimes it’s the smallest victories that feel the most empowering.  Now  that I can fill up the tank on my own, It’s one more thing I can contribute, one more thing Ben doesn’t have to be responsible for.

First we need to remove the carpet to reveal the water tank flooring panel.


Then remove the panel, please excuse our dirty bilge.


Then you open the tank using the age old lefty loosy - righty tighty method.


Then put the hose in, turn it on and wait. It's easier to stand using my foot to hold the hose in place.



Posted in: Photography on Monday, June 17th, 2013

Today was a beautiful winter’s day, clear blue skies and calm waters…perfect weather for sitting by the foreshore with a coffee and reflecting on how absolutely messed up our window replacement is going.

The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection ~ Thomas Paine



Through the porthole

Posted in: Daily Life Aboard on Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Blissful sleep broken by the distinctive crunching coming from the litter box. Scratch, scratch, scratch and the tinkle of a bell as the cat shoots to the other end of the boat.  Tense waiting, pee or poo? The smell, Oh Lord the smell! Can’t sleep through it.  It’s still dark as up I get with all the grace of the elderly. It’s a few freezing seconds before I reach the snugness of my dressing gown.

No light or it will wake Ben, grab the lantern, hold breath, scoop poop. Hand sanitiser, two squirts just to be safe.

I look out the windows to see that dawn is just about to break, the first light of day reflects off all the stainless I can see. Despite tiredness and the cold I consider staying up and watching the sun rise. But the promise of warmth and sleep win out. Grab the cat, hang him upside down to check butt, all clear, he can return to bed. I do too. Ben waits, arm outstretched, big spoon waiting for little spoon.

Dawn breaking across the harbour

Just about asleep. Cat out of bed, wide awake and scratching madly at cupboard doors, clawing the carpet, running laps of the boat at surprisingly high speeds.  Sigh. “Fluffy, here boy” I call in a sing song voice, like a siren luring a sailor. The cat comes, got you! Suppress him in a cuddle, which Fluff won’t have a bar of, squirms and squirms, whiskers in my face, lick lick lick. I just about pass out from his unholy cat breath. Somewhere in the back of my head a little voice says “you know he’s licked his butt with that tongue”. Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! I make a mental note to sanitise my face.

Have got the cat settled, three crew in the bed. Big, medium, small and furry all cuddled up. “BLURGH! BLURGH! BLURGH!” the alarm goes off. Dammit! Hit snooze. Twice.

Get up, back in my dressing gown. Flick on the gas detector and open the valve behind the stove. Avoid looking in the mirror above the galley sink. Fumble around for the parts of our coffee maker, assemble parts, adding coffee and water in appropriate places. Use puzzle solving skills to fish the milk out of the fridge, pour it into pot. Light the stove taking care not to set my bed-head hair on fire, stand a few seconds and glory in it’s warmth. Put the coffee and milk on the stove.

Mmmm freshly brewed coffee!

Feed the cat so he’ll shut up and stop climbing my leg. Consider going back to bed for another precious 10mins. Couch is closer, curl up there instead. Tygress’s couches aren’t really made for curling up but I persist all the same.

Can hear the coffee starting to peculate, mmm what a beautiful smell, I hope it’s wafting out the boat and making someone jealous. It’s definitely wafting to the main berth. Ben smells it, and rises slowly like a zombie rising to the call of brains. We drink coffee together and chat as much as any two half asleep people can in monosyllables and complex mumbles and grunts.

Ben gets ready and has to leave for work, group hug and a long goodbye. It takes a while to adjust to the solitude. The cat promptly curls up and sleeps peacefully, the adorable little s**t. “Now you sleep!” I feel like yelling but he’s a cat so he won’t understand. I spend a few minutes thinking up ways to annoy him before moving on starting my morning boat jobs.


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


A land of drought and flooding rains..

Posted in: Uncategorized on Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

My Country

Dorothea MacKellar

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold –
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

A land of flooding rains indeed!   While we didn’t face the wild destructive winds and storm surges of Oswald we received just as much rain, if not more over the past 24-48 hours.  Dams have been releasing water, rivers are on flood alert, over 77 roads have been flooded throughout the south east,  and people who lost everything only a few weeks ago were again bracing for another deluge.  (Read more here)

Radar Image as at 25 February 2013



Not to mention the severe tropical cyclone Rusty bearing down on the coast of Western Australia as I type this.


Western Australia Radar Image as at 27 February 2013 showing TC Rusty


Here on Tygress we’ve had consistent rain for almost two days. The weather caught us with a line full of washing which is now soaking wet and hanging heavy on the lines, that tricksy sun lulled us into a false sense of security. A new window leak has developed on the starboard side – yay! Everything inside is starting to feel damp as it does after a lot of rain, wet towels, shoes and clothes are piling up. Soon the boat will start to smell – double yay!. The cat and I are going slightly stir crazy from constant incarceration in this tiny space, forgetting what it’s like to feel the sun on our skin and fur.

I love this ancient land, most Australian do, but boy does it push us to the limits of our courage and strength, both richly rewarding us and punishing us, testing our faith, determination and love with every season.

Right now she’s testing my love with all this bloody rain and the forecast provides little hope of sun with clouds, showers and possible storms predicted over the coming week.  I love you Australia but geez if I wanted weather like this i’d be living in sunny ol’ England!


Boat Envy

Posted in: Marina Life on Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Living at a marina makes boat envy a daily experience, reading other sailing blogs online makes it almost inevitable.

Don’t get me wrong, we love Tygress and think she makes a good home and from all accounts she will sail beautifully too.  But when you live next to pristine 47′ Beneteaus and shiny new Bavaria’s it’s hard not to lament the comparatively tiny budget we had when buying our boat.

Reading other sailing blogs online and seeing pictures of spacious, well laid out interiors, with well equipped galleys that have actual bench space with ovens and big sinks, not to mention lovely civilised heads and oodles of storage space can make me a little jealous. Albeit in a light hearted, quickly forgotten way, well most days that is, other days when the realities of living on a boat get me a bit down in the dumps then the jealousy can make me a bit whiny and bitter. Never attractive emotions on a lady.

We were lucky to have the finances that we did when we purchased Tygress, but a small budget doesn’t go a very long way when looking for a boat that meets a long list of requirements for permanent live-aboard life, especially in the Australian boat market.

Tygress sitting in her marina berth, we love her but she could be classed as a 'fixer-upper'

So how do I deal with boat envy? Well when all thoughts of grand larceny have been subdued I do the following;

First I try not to get too focussed on it, I try to keep it a passing thought, I focus on it washing away with the next tide along with all the other gunk and pollutants in the marina water.

Second I tell myself to be thankful for what we do have, which at the end of the day is a decent size boat with good living space and a light airy cabin. A big, if not completely irregular shaped main berth that will sleep skippers 6.2ft frame in comfort (that is if I don’t hog all the space, steal the sheets or knee him in the back all night – “Not guilty your Honour!”). And a head, that unlike some of the boats we saw for sale is not smack bang next to that main berth, and I mean so close you could reach out and accidentally put your hand in it while you slept (more on our head in another post).

But mainly I’m thankful to have a home, no matter how old or unrefined her interior may be, that we can take anywhere in the world the wind blows…or doesn’t blow as the case may be but that’s what diesel engines are for. Although our appears to be leaking water when we run it, I sense expensively fun times ahead on that front.

Thirdly I tell myself with all the deluded certainty I can muster that when we win lotto (which will be some time after we actually start buying lotto tickets) we’ll buy ourselves one of these babies and be the envy of all! The video is really worth a watch, but I’d recommend having a rag handy to mop up the drool.