26 November 2007

coming to a port near you...

Yeehaa. Yeehaaah. Yeeeehaaaaaaaooooowwwwww!

* tucks shirt in and composes self *

Now I've got that over with, here is the schedule for Two Bays.

(If you knew how long it took me to place and format this data manually after giving up trying to create a legible image by importing from both Word and Excel into Photoshop, you'd feel better about the long drive and just come.)

And, if you're like me and dying to know how tall Andrew Denton really is, come along to the launch on Sunday 2 December at 11am at Boatman's Wharf, New Quay, Docklands (off Docklands Drive - mel ref 2E, C5).

Sun 2
Leg: Docklands to Queenscliff
Berth: Queenscliff
Activities: Launch

Mon 3
Leg: PPB entrance
Berth: Mud Island/Rye/Queenscliff
Activities: PPB exchange transects

Tue 4
Leg: PPB to Flinders
Berth: Flinders

Wed 5
Berth: Flinders
Activities: Pier Engagement*

Thu 6
Berth: Flinders
Activities: Citizen Science Day

Fri 7
Leg: Flinders to Hastings
Berth: Hastings
Activities: Ocean dialogues & CMA led discussion about Western Port study

Sat 8
Berth: Hastings
Activities: Citizen Science / Pier Engagement*

Sun 9
Rest day, Hastings

Mon 10
Leg: Hastings to Hastings
Berth: Hastings
Activities: CMA Pelican catchment tour

Tue 11
Leg: Hastings to Rhyll
Berth: Rhyll
Activities: Ecosystem Indicators, Research Partner & Pier Engagement*

Wed 12
Leg: Rhyll to Queenscliff
Berth: Queenscliff
Activities: Pier Engagement*

Thu 13
Leg: Queenscliff to Rye
Berth: Rye
Activities: Pier Engagement*

Fri 14
Rest day, Rye

Sat 15
Leg: Frankston to Ricketts
Berth: Mordialloc
Activities: Citizen Science, Sunset Tour led by Kingston Council (Topsy Petchey)

Sun 16
Leg: Ricketts
Berth: Patterson R (?)
Activities: Habitat mapping-Ricketts

Mon 17
Leg: Rickets to Williamstown
Berth: Williamstown
Activities: Habitat mapping – Jawbone & Pier Engagement*

Tue 18
Leg: Williamstown to Werribee South
Berth: Werribee South
Activities: Habitat mapping – Pt Cook & Pier Engagement*

Wed 19
Leg: Altona to Geelong
Berth: Geelong
Activities: Pier Engagement*

Thu 20
Leg: Geelong to Portsea around the coast
Berth: Portsea
Activities: Sea country

Fri 21
Rest day, Portsea

*All pier engagements are between 5pm and 6.30 pm.

I'd love to see you somewhere along the way :)

24 November 2007

'b' is for...

big blog
I’ve been without internet for three plus days. This one’s gonna hurt. But there are chapters, see?

being on the tv
Set thy VCRs. It happens on Monday night. Message Stick, 6pm. ABC (as if you had to ask). Repeated at 1.30pm on the following Sunday.

big eye tuna
Three full days of motor-sailing got us from Southport to Sydney. On the way, FM snared a big eye tuna, which the Japanese deem the best-eating of all sashimi. Within an hour we were ogling an empty plate around a table of spilled soy, pickled ginger and wasabi. (I hereby renounce my affiliation with tubed wasabi in favour of the powdered stuff, it rocks.) We had the rest lightly seared on the barbie after a day's rest in the fridge. The Japanese are on to a good thing.

brekky in Bondi + a boatshed party
Despite my innate repulsion towards Sydney and all its glam, I must admit it is a spectacular place to arrive at by sea. Even the plastic mansions and Tupperware boats can’t mar its spectacle. I won’t mention the candy-striped lighthouse on South Head, since I’ve only just stopped laughing a week later. After waiting for a bridge opening (not the bridge - we’re big but not that big), we motored to our anchorage in Sugarloaf Bay, a quiet, forest-fringed arm north of Middle Harbour and home to L’s brother. ‘Home’ being the black sheep sibling of Sydney waterfront property. Think rattling wooden shack with curtains for interior doors, nestled in the bush, affording an eyeful of water. Who needs air con when the glass slides out of the window frame?

Between the shack and the boat, it was a rather hard way to spend a couple of days in Sydney. Notable events included a blitz on the local St Vinnies; Sculpture by the Sea along the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk, followed by brekky in Bondi; and a party at L’s brother’s boatshed (a short walk down the 'front yard'). Morning visits from the Vittoria boat had us in raptures. (My new vocation?)

baby vacuum
Skip’s bub was onboard between Brisbane and Sydney and I dutifully witnessed big wads of time just vanish. His favourite things seem to be walking (which he can do on his own but insists you hold his hands while he perfects it), eating bananas and trying to handle unattended glasses of adult-only beverage. His vocab is miserly but he can sign a few words such as ‘more’ and ‘food’ which is quite cool. Mysteriously, he insists on referring to me as ‘aaayyyy’. Some take this literally, as in the letter ‘a’ but I’m convinced it’s a Fonzie greeting. I was unable to embellish the greeting with a thumbs-up, but did teach him to pinch his nose and say ‘pee-yew’ during nappy changes. I’ll make a great aunty one day.

bermagui to bega and back or, the labour of casting a vote while at sea
As a very motivated voter, I’ve been the onboard electoral conscience, analysing our early voting options and recommending voting methods and locations. Which is not terribly straightforward when you don’t know where or when you will make landfall, let alone in which state.

It appeared that Sydney would be our only opportunity to cast an early vote and we were unlikely to make Melbourne by election day. Postal voting was out of the question as we had nowhere to have the ballot papers sent.
Our first attempt at an early vote – in Sydney – didn’t even get off the ground. On our way to shore, FM cut his foot on oysters. Skip spent a good hour digging shards out of the wound, by which time the early voting centre had closed. I tried really hard not to sulk.

At about this time, I learned that when I put my life into storage and moved in with C, I also acquired the distinction of being enrolled in Queensland’s most marginal Liberal seat. (Inward shudder.) When I shared this news, skip’s feelings toward voting appeared to crank up somewhat. The usual grumpy commentary about the difficulties of voting at sea morphed into a personal quest to part the Pacific and speed me overland via golden chariot to a polling place.

Alas, there were no early voting centres in Bermagui, our next landfall and designated pit-stop to pick up L’s dad. So, after a day’s wait for the nearest early voting centre to open (early and nearest being horrible misnomers), we traipsed off in L’s dad’s car to Bega – home of middle-of-the-road cheese and a two-hour return trip from Bermi. We were first in line when the old hall opened. When we came out, we were so amped we had to go for coffee. (In Bega, mind you.)

(In case you’re wondering why we couldn’t have had the ballot papers posted to L’s parents’ place, the Australian Electoral Commission requires that applications for a postal vote be made by mail. Which of course excludes those at sea for long periods.)

L’s mum sent us off with a garbage bag full of herbs and vegies from the garden, a tub of anzac bickies, a fruit cake and a chocolate cake. Yum.

We’ve been hiding from a nasty south-westerly in Bittangabee Bay for a few days now. It’s devastatingly beautiful – a narrow white beach laced with giant honey myrtle melaleuca. It’s also devastatingly cold and devastatingly out of mobile and internet range. This has led to lots of reading, eating and tea-drinking. And stupid jokes about our penchant for greens at mealtimes (still coming down from the vote). Deep glossy zucchinis and broccoli florets went into a linguine with toasted pine nuts, tomato oil, thyme and pecorino. They also turned up on our tomato, ricotta and oregano pizzas and again last night with a garlicky roast lamb.

After much cocooning, it was time to explore. I counted 10km after setting out late one rainy afternoon; the next day FM and I walked north towards Hegarty’s Bay and then backtracked south to Green Cape Lighthouse (a beautiful omen?), clocking about 18km. Wildlife sightings in Bittangabee: a whale, dolphins, a pair of lyrebirds, throngs of wallabies, an eastern grey 'roo, king parrots, one brown snake (which tried to share our fruit cake) and loads of stingrays.

bloody exciting
I’m taking a jag to south east Asia in late January. Actually it’s more like a stint, leaving late January and returning mid-April. Or earlier if the heat and wet get too much. At $500 return to KL, I felt a sort of responsibility to tight-arse travellers everywhere to snag it.

16 November 2007

i love the nightlife, baby

Two nights ago…

Both genoas out, surfing at 16 knots on a following sea. In the galley, we hear water whooshing down the hull and dolphins chirruping. We go to the bow and there’s at least 10 of them, maybe more, zooming through the surf, streaming phosphorescence. Giggling as the water displaced by our bow tickles their backs. One jumps high out of a wave, the big show-off. You can almost touch their gleaming backs. All five of us are up on the bow, laughing, howling, riding the waves, egging them on. This is as cool as it gets.

The night before…

Midnight. Everyone’s in slumber-licious rock-a-bye. The swell rocks me in my seat at the helm. The sea gently swooshes against the hulls. Skip snores next to me in the wheelhouse bunk. No other boats around. Nothing on radar. I pray for beacons and ships with lights I can’t work out, something to focus on. Try not to think about chocolate. Creep to galley and make cup of tea. Return to wheelhouse. Finish tea, still hungry so return to galley for nuts. Back to wheelhouse. Still not thinking about chocolate. Get out planisphere which arrived with current issue of Australian Geographic. Strain neck looking at stars. Shine head torch on planisphere and succumb to temporary blindness and total loss of night vision. Abandon attempt at scientific appreciation of stars. Amuse self by spelling out different words using radiotelephony alphabet:

Lima, India, November, delta, tango.

Go to fridge and get chocolate out. Feel more awake now but still nothing happening. There's a game I've got going, it's pretty much the maritime equivalent of I-spy - the last resort when all possible forms of night watch entertainment (stars, chocolate, tea) have been exhausted. You play it by listing nautical terms which have transitioned to common useage. Here’s where I’m up to:

ship shape
all hands on deck
telltale sign
down the hatch / batten the hatches
keep watch
cut of your jib

set sail
three sheets to the wind
learn the ropes
at the helm
plot a course
dead reckoning
even keel
toe the line
give leeway
give a wide berth

I'm sure there are more. And plenty of uneventful night watches...

10 November 2007

The Birthday Week

Left Brissie yesterday after a great week in town. We were berthed at Dockside, under the Story Bridge – where K had his boat (note relief at use of past tense). Our arrival was happily heralded with a butterfly escort up the river. They and crew braved my strains of ‘Viva Bris-vegas’ and excited commentary: “look, that’s the road to the airport” and “ooh, the old wool stores, they’ve been converted into fancy-pants apartments”. Clearly, I’ve been away from city life too long.

The week we were in Brissie was also The Birthday Week. Which included a small gathering for birthday jazz and wine and tapas and comedy. Followed by more birthday wine, followed by birthday chocolate (why does Brisbane’s only dessert bar close so early on a Sunday night?). Which was inevitably followed next morning by a brain fuzz. Followed by self-talk in the vein of “oh dear, I’m either terribly out of practice or really getting old”. Followed by the realisation that this must also mean I’m not a real sailor, because everyone knows sailors are all old lushes. The birthday carousing was followed by a post-birthday cook-up of home-made baked beans. Followed by… (I think this is where I should stop).

Also used the week to stock up on wine and books (my cabin is now the boat’s unofficial wine bar with library). And had a haircut and went to the markets and ate out lots. Also went into my former work and talked lots about life after desk to people stuck behind desks. (It’s hard not to feel guilty, sometimes.) Then my old boss asked me back and laughed, knowing my answer which was left unsaid. (More awkward guilt.) Also found out I've accrued more leave while I've been on leave, so got paid some more. There are some good things about government.

Also diagnosed the severity of my disconnection from cultural life. I looked up what movies were on. And realised I had not heard of any of them. Repeat: any of them. I went online to see what Margaret and David had to say. Then made a really ordinary choice and saw that Jesse James movie which, though beautifully shot, is really long and s-l-o-o-o-w. And sort of sleep-inducing after two months of nil moving images and lots of night watches. Naturally, this led to more self-talk about being old.

Caught up with friends. Most of the conversations started with “I didn’t recognise you, you’re so brown”. (A great antidote to previous self-talk.) Jewellery designer friend Ren and I hatched a plan for a collaborative exhibition next year. Which will involve further purposeful wandering – to collect found objects. I’m being cagey on purpose, in case we don't do it. Still in the craft realm, I’ve squirrelled my fabric stash aboard for use over xmas.

Article in map magazine came out yesterday so am celebrating being published travel writer. Raced around town on first mate’s bike (after returning my car to its minder) to hunt down copies of the mag. Happily, the editors snipped very little, making just style changes to text but using only one (the least favoured) of the six photos I submitted. Which I guess is okay since the pay-per-word doesn’t even get close to AJA recommended, let alone cover images. Ah well, must start somewhere.

Other news is I got paperwork to start logging time towards my coxswain’s. Not that I could fathom skippering a commercial vessel but it’s a great way to learn skills for my own boat… one day.

Have also spent wads of time with skip's 15-month-old… which has lead to finding myself of late morning still unshowered, making paper planes out of The Australian and talking in a funny voice (badly). Bound to continue until Sydney, where bub and mum get off.

Also had camera diagnosed… the good news is it’s a manufacturing fault with the lens and not a result of anything I've inflicted on it during two months at sea. The bad news is it will cost a current week’s wages to get fixed. Which can only be done in Melbourne. And it will take as long to send it down as to sail it down. Managing to force a smile through all this with the new compact digital, acquired in Cairns. Have just posted the first pics – including me with the toona and me (above) in perfect balance (camera in one hand, G&T in the other). A theme emerging? Well, it was Birthday Week.

Tonight we’re anchored in the Gold Coast seaway, waiting for the wind to ease before heading south. We've had the guy who painted the boat and his partner sail with us from Brisbane. He told loads of stories about his life as a private investigator. She reckoned the galley was an awful colour. Funnily, they live in Cheltenham. It's a small world.