We had sailed to Australia in October 2018 with other Go West Rally participants and left our boat in the dry storage yard in Bundaberg. In November 2019 we returned and began preparing Katie M II for our 2020 cruising season.
Notes from the Bundaberg Boatyard
And here we were, on the hard now at the Marina. We’re Living the Dream! That’s what people often tell us. Well folks, do we look like we are living the dream in these photos? I don’t think so!
The cruising life is mostly filled with wonderful moments, but like all lifestyles there’s the down side. Maintaining the boat, especially the bottom, is one of those down sides. It’s 0930h here in Bundaberg, Australia, and the temperature is already 24 degrees Celsius. We have been working for the last two hours painting Katie M’s bottom. This is the second coat, so a repeat of yesterday morning; the only difference is yesterday was not only hot but a gale was blowing. Yes, that is possible. Two hours of work doesn’t seem long, I know, and I’m usually up for more, but in this heat and fully clothed from head to toe to prevent the nasty, toxic black bottom paint getting onto our skin, I am extremely hot, sweaty, pooped, knackered, and exhausted!
Once the job was finished, I insisted on taking a break for a nice cup of tea. A good English remedy for my current condition and a chance to write this. We have been back in Bundaberg for almost a week now, living on Katie M on the hard. I always thought it was called the “hard” because the boat basically sits in a big boat parking lot on a hard surface, but it also describes life living on a boat out of the water. Fellow cruisers out there will know what I mean and can probably skip reading this part. Generally, whenever the boat is on the hard, unless it’s for storage, work is being performed, which means living in chaos with tools and supplies over most surfaces. My family will understand when I say this drives me almost insane because they know how I hate clutter; living in this condition is a challenge for me.
Boarding and exiting on the hard must be performed via a ladder although, here in Bundaberg, the yard has provided a nice staircase, which is much easier on my old body than hauling myself up a ladder and quite a bit more convenient for loading groceries, etc. The environment is also dusty and dirty, and that dust and dirt tends to make it onboard with us. There’s one other challenge of living on the hard, and all I am going to say is it involves plumbing. You may use your imagination! Luckily we should be back in the water in a few more days and then the real fun begins.
Anyway, on to a more positive and enjoyable subject. Between work, we have managed to attend several informative sessions on how to cruise and navigate the Australian coast safely, and also how to avoid being eaten, bitten or stung! We have also had some fun evenings socializing with fellow cruisers. The first night was a greeting to the Rally cruisers, with cocktails, canapes and cultural dances Aussie and Kiwi style. The night before last was a hootenanny (Aussie term for a good time singing and dancing, I think) and a barbie (another Aussie term meaning a BBQ, not a doll!). Several of the cruisers entertained us at the hootenanny, forming an impromptu band. The youngest member was only 14 years old and very talented. Last night was beer and prawns night, and we were treated to a huge basket of fresh, yummy prawns. Well, my break is over and I must get back to work – my slave driver is calling!
Cruising – Australia
From Bundaberg we sailed 60 NM north to Lady Musgrave Island. We did this to get a taste of the Great Barrier Reef before doing a 180 turn south and working our way inside Fraser Island and then harbour hopping down the Australian east coast to Sydney.
Sydney was great – particularly the start of the Sydney Hobart race and the New Year’s Eve fireworks! We watched the Countdown to 2020 while sitting in Farm Bay, Sydney Harbour.
We decided to head back to New Zealand because the Australian wildfires were seriously affecting visibility and, on some days, leaving a lot of ash on the boat. Thus, after the New Year’s celebrations, it was time for some boat maintenance at anchor! Martin had to clean Katie M’s bottom before leaving Australia for New Zealand. New Zealand is extremely strict about boats arriving with clean hulls. We took this photo to show the New Zealand authorities that Katie M II’s bottom was in fact cleaned before departing Australia.
Cruising – New Zealand
Martin made a single-handed passage across the Tasman Sea from Sydney to Picton from January 15 to 25; Angela flew and met him in Picton. Katie M II then cruised the beautiful Marlborough Sounds on the South Island from January to March 2020.
We watched for about a week and a half to get a suitable weather window before crossing the Cook Strait in March. Southern Ocean westerlies come across the Tasman sea and get compressed and accelerated in the Strait. The wind blows over 20 knots most days and 50 – 60 knot winds are relatively frequent. We had a great sail on the day we chose, starting at about 15 knots and building to 25.
As we sailed across the Cook Strait, we ran into the largest pod of dolphins we have ever encountered and they stayed with us for over an hour, playing in the bow wake and leaping and jumping around Katie M.
We cruised Tasman Bay. There was a narrow passage to get into the Bay and we then explored the lagoon in Abel, Tasman Bay, which was beautiful early in the morning while the sun was still low. Seals posed for us at Adele Island, West Tasman Bay, north of Nelson and we got a little patch of Canada while hiking the fantastic trails in Abel Tasman National Park, South Island, New Zealand.
Unfortunately our season was cut short due to the pandemic so we headed for Mana Marina near Wellington. We wanted to make sure we wouldn’t arrive too early because of tidal depth considerations. It was blowing 30 knots on our entry to the marina and there were very marginal depths going in on the last of the rising tide. Fortunately, Mana Marina itself was well protected and there were many willing hands to receive our dock lines. We hurriedly put Katie M to bed and travelled home.