Xmas finally…

So the holidays are finally here and I’ve been looking forward to having a couple of weeks to get some work done on the island.  I was also looking forward to taking the little Compac out for a sail.

Despite having a list of jobs to get done, I put the boat in the water and took off for a day sail to Peel Island.

So here I am at the tiller.  The quick photo makes me look like I’m not having a great time, but I certainly was.

The weather was ideal.  A little overcast and a decent breeze from the East.  It was a gentle and easy sail straight across the sandbanks over to Peel Island.

After just a couple of hours I had anchored up in about one metre of water.  A shallow draft means there is no need for a tender.

After about an hour in the anchorage and a swim I took off back home to the island.  The wind had turned more Southerly and increased to about 15 knots.  It wasn’t looking pretty.  I took the shot below during a lull in the breeze.

There were storm clouds rolling in across the bay and at one point land was no longer visible.  I put a reef in the sail about half way across the bay and it was a classic case of, “if you are thinking about putting a reef in the sail, then it’s probably too late”.   Fortunately the little Compac is a very sturdy and stiff boat.  At only 16 feet, it sails exceptionally well and is incredibly dry.

The tide had also gone out so there was no sailing across the sandbanks.  The trip home was quite a bit longer but it was great to be out on the water again.

I’ve found a few things that I need to do to improve the Compac.  The helm is extremely loose and I’ve since tightened the rudder bolts.  This should make quite a difference when trying to tend sheets and sails as the little boat wants to immediately run off course.

There was also quite a bit of weather helm.  I’m not sure if adjusting the rake forward will make much improvement since there isn’t much flexibility in the rig.  Perhaps a bigger headsail will improve things.

All in all, I’m loving the little Compac.  It sails at 4-5 knots easily and the shallow draft is a great advantage for sailing on the bay.

Another perfect weekend

Each time I head over to the island I’m always surprised at how beautiful this area is.  I can literally point my camera in any direction and the subject matter is stunning. 


When I sailed my old Westsail I used to spend time at the Northern end of the bay.  I don’t know why I didn’t come down to the Southern end.  It definitely has its own appeal and offers more protection for boaties.

There are all types of watercraft getting around the islands from tinnies to old Moreton Bay cruisers like this one.

There are a few yachts anchored around the islands on weekends. They generally make a stop over at the bigger island grocery store for supplies.  It’s always easy to spot a Yachtie and you can generally tell what kind of boat they sail from their tender.  There are generally two types.  The modern sailors who probably sail a fin keel fibreglass boat like a Beneteau.  They usually have a little zodiac inflatable with an outboard.


Or the more traditional type who row a hard dinghy.



As I was working in the garden today covered in red dirt and sweating I felt my phone buzz in my pocket.  It was a text message and when I opened it up there was no message just this photo.  Well they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

The couple who had bought my Westsail a few months ago were out sailing on the bay today and were kind enough to send me this.  Nice way to make me jealous!  They have done a lot of work to the old boat and made some great improvements.  I’m so glad they are enjoying the old Westsail and the photo was a really nice surprise.  I know I say this regularly, but I need to buy another boat.

Slaying the monster garden

Being the clueless gardner that I am I now realise that I probably didn’t put enough planning into the garden layout. How was I to know that melons and pumpkins take over everything in their path. I’ve been away from the island for a week and came back to a jungle. Underneath that jungle there were about 15 massive melons, enormous eggplants, crazy mutant cucumbers and one of the chilli plants was so laden with giant chillies that it had fallen over.
That was it, the mutant monster garden had to be tamed. I ripped out 6 barrow loads of melon and pumpkin plants. Here is just one of those loads.


Within each barrow load there were melons and pumpkins at various stages from over ripe and rotting to under developed. I gave away some to neighbours, dumped the rest and kept these for myself.


The cucumbers were enormous. The biggest was bent around in the shape of a horseshoe and it was so big that my hand couldn’t close fully around it. It kind of creeped me out and I felt a bit violated. I’m not sure I’ll feel completely comfortable eating it.

Anyway, I hear you saying, “enough with the freakin vegetables”. Ok, ok how about bugs?

I was amazed at the amount of insect life in the garden. Everywhere I looked there were bugs. It’s like it’s own little eco system. The plants feed on the dirt, the bugs feed on the plants, the birds feed on the bugs, the birds crap in the garden and the cycle begins again.




And I noticed that there are several variety of bees. Unlike the normal orange bees, this one is black. There are also lots of tiny native stingless bees but I couldn’t manage to photograph any of them.


After I decimated the garden I pulled out an old canoe project I’ve been working on. I love canoes and had often thought about putting a sailing rig on one. I came across this old canoe for sale a while back. It was in pretty bad shape. I did a bit of work to it and got the rig sorted. It has a detachable rudder and traditional rig. I made up a lee board to give it some directional stability. I put it all together today but haven’t had an opportunity to put it in the water yet. There’s still a bit of work before I launch it but I like the concept. It’s easy to carry, can be efficiently paddled if there is no wind to sail, can be loaded with a bit of gear and it’s cheaper than a boat. I might take it up to the next gaffers regatta for a bit of fun.


Sunshine finally

After days of torrential rain there was finally a break in the weather. I recently bought a little runabout as a temporary boat until I get a new yacht. I miss sailing and the noise of a motor and the pounding of waves on the hull is something I just can’t get used to. But for now this allows me to be on the water.
I dropped the boat in at the ramp this morning and was heading to the wrecks at Moreton Island for a dive.

Cutty is getting excited about being on the water again.


We headed out across the bay, the weather was spectacular and I even managed to get a photo of myself.


Moreton Bay is such a gem of a place. It is wild and beautiful and I’ve been on the bay on days like today and others when it can be a howling mess and treacherous. It’s hard to believe such a pristine paradise can change so quickly.


I’ve never been to the big banks near South passage since the old Westsail needed at least 2.5 metres of water under her. I thought I’d check out the big banks and fortunately this little boat doesn’t need much depth. Traversing the banks I had to trim the motor to avoid hitting the bottom. It was touch and go a few times here.


The banks are a great place to see shovel nose sharks, sting rays and reef fish. They were all there in abundance today.

After a couple of hours, lots of petrol, and a ringing sensation in my ears from the engine noise I made it to the wrecks.

It was the usual holiday crowd and I popped over to the western side of the wrecks, dropped anchor and hooked up the dive tank.


The tide was still coming in and this allowed me to anchor right beside one of the wrecks.


After a dive I headed back toward the island. The weather looked like it was developing into a storm and it was a rough ride back. I popped in behind Peel Island at Horseshoe Bay to get a break from the rough ride. The southern side of the island was completely protected so I pulled into the beach for a break and a swim.
Cutty couldn’t help herself. She is definitely a water dog.


The western end of Horseshoe Bay has a real Australian bush feel to it. There are sandstone cliffs, Pandanus and gum trees and unlike the blue water of Moreton Island the water here is a green hue.


After about an hour of laying about in the crystal green water and exploring the mangroves it was time to head back to the shack.

Today was a good day and I’m feeling pretty relaxed. Cutty was exhausted and after a wash down and dinner she was fast asleep.

Quick decisions

Ok, I know I wrote that I was content with being boatless and that my mug was a perfectly good substitute, but things have changed.
My considerations for a boat now are:
Smaller than 30ft;
Accommodation for a weekend for 2;
Traditional rig either lug sail or gaff;
Shallow draft or retractable keel;
Able to be hauled out on a cradle so I can do my own maintenance on the island;

So I started looking around and came across this.


It’s a trailerable 24ft yacht with 2ft draft.


More to come on this soon….

Fond memories

I went to the island today to unload the truck. On the way over I was reminded of my days sailing on the old Westsail when I saw this yacht making good speed in a gentle breeze.


I’ve unloaded about 3/4 of the gear out of the truck. I’ll get to sorting it out one day. As you can see from the photo below, there was a lot of stuff on that boat. I think I may be a hoarder!


After unloading all of my gear I sat out on the verandah, had a coffee and recalled some great memories from the past 10 years. I may not have a boat anymore but I have a Westsail mug. I mean really, who needs a boat when I can have this perfectly good substitute. It’s a fine mug and all I need to do is give it a scrub. It sits in the kitchen sink and bobs around just like a boat. In fact she has beautiful lines, and that handle is just plain sexy. No varnishing or antifoul, no anodes to replace. It’s awesome. I love this mug. As long as I have this mug I’ll never want another boat.


Another chapter ends

I can’t believe how much gear I had on the boat. It took me an entire day and the truck is full to the brim. I’ll take it over to the island tomorrow to unload.

I left the marina at about 8pm and was driving home when a police car came up beside me. I saw them looking up at me in Big Red then they dropped back behind me and followed for a few kilometres. I was watching them in my rear view mirrors and began to get nervous that they were going to pull me over. I get nervous with police because I’ve had some bad experiences and found if they go to the trouble of pulling you over they generally try their best to find something to book you for.
Anyway, on go the blue lights, high beams flash and I pull over. I jumped down from the truck and went to their car to ask what the problem was.
To my surprise one of the policemen said, “hi, we actually pulled you over out of curiosity, what is your truck designed for?”
I told them that it’s an expedition vehicle and he said that he was telling his partner that I might be a doomsday prepper. I thought that was pretty funny.
They were both really interested in the truck, had a good look over it and that was it then they drove off.

Funny end to my tiring day. I’m off to bed to start dreaming of a smaller boat.

Busy weekend

This weekend was going to be pretty full on. I left work on Friday night and got the late ferry over to the island. A quick dinner and I was in bed just before midnight. I was up at 5am this morning to get ready for the day.
I had a coffee on the verandah and was visited by a kookaburra.


I haven’t been living onboard for a couple of years now and it’s been almost ten years since I bought my Westsail. The beauty of Westsails is that they have massive cargo capacity. That’s great for living onboard and hauling all of your possessions around but I figure that I don’t really need that now. I considered hauling the boat out and emptying it completely and starting from scratch with just the essentials. After 10 years it was full of possessions that weren’t necessary and were just taking up room. If I did that I’d have a big boat to maintain with lots of cargo capacity.
I’ve been thinking about a smaller boat for some time and it just so happened that a friend of a friend was looking for a Westsail. After some discussion on price we had an agreement.

It’s a huge decision for me and this boat has shaped my life for the past decade. I’m very emotionally attached to it but it’s time to downsize.

So after breakfast I grabbed the canoe and paddled out to the boat for the last time. I had a 6 hour sail ahead of me.
About 4 hours into the trip I crossed paths with a friend Peter Kerr who was out sailing on his yacht Pagan. He kindly snapped this photo for me.
This is the last photo of me sailing my old Westsail.


After a long day the old Westsail was tied up to the dock and it was time to start unloading. After 10 years I have accumulated lots of junk. I’ll bring the truck over tomorrow and start unloading the boat.


This morning started off fairly leisurely. I knew I had a big job ahead of me and I needed to get my head around it. I picked up Big Red last night and drove out to the marina this morning. I stopped off for breakfast just down the road at a little cafe opposite the boat ramp.

Not a bad view to start the day and contemplate being boatless.
Big Red is parked over to the left.


Now the work begins.