Must Work To Play: March 13 2008
Back from New Zealand and it is time to put our noses to the grindstone and work on Barefeet...well, maybe just one soiree first. Suzi (s/v Barraveigh) swung through spending the night aboard Barefeet on her way to rejoin Bobby in Fiji after spending the holidays in London. It was a festive night with meat and veggies on the grill...also joined by Ellie and Jorn (s/v Silene). Okay, now we really need to focus.
Together we compiled a list of tasks to be done and just...started. Chris fixed the whitlock (steering) system...removing screws, cleaning them, coating them with thread lock and re-screwing. The steering has gotten loose over time and loosened the bolts that hold the steering system together. Never a complete failure because we have tightened in time...hopefully, the thread lock will keep the bolts from loosening in the future. Canvas covers were another outstanding item. With loads of Sunbrella fabric we finally got a complete starboard eyebrow made for the front window and a cover for the salon hatches...in the hopes of getting some fresh air even when it rains...Southeast Asia is expected to be hot and sticky. Oh, and Chris even fashioned a cover for the new grill...quite the beloved appliance.
Chris changed the oil and oil filters in both engines and the generator. After going under the bed in the spare room for parts (removing stored items for access), spilling oil on the deck of both Barefeet and the concrete marina slip the job was done. The super duper oil sucker made the job easier but Erin was told to NEVER let Chris change all three oils at once again...EVER. So far so good making our way through the list...that should have been our first indication to start to worrying. You see, jobs rarely involve exactly what was expected or anticipated and so far we were zipping through our list. The final piece of scheduled engine maintenance was to change the impellors...straight forward enough. Out comes the water pump from the engine, old impellor is removed, new impellor is inserted, water pump is re-installed in the engine and you're there. Hhhmmm...all back together but there is still water dripping from the water pump. Off comes the pump for real dissection...okay, need a new lip seal...don't have one but the Yanmar dealer can order one for delivery in...five days. In the meantime all is apart and waiting...okay...so be it. With part in hand Chris asked the nice Yanmar lady if she knew which way to pound the pump in order to knock out the axle. No luck but she gave a cell phone number of a mechanic who would know. Chris felt too silly to do that and said nah, he wouldn't call. Then a voice from the back said...you really can call him, I'm his mother...followed by another...you can call him, I'm his wife...followed by yet another...you can call him, I'm his daughter. Chris still did not call him...but he did get the water pump apart and back together again...no drips! Final step...wipe the blood from Chris's knuckles off the bottom of the bilge...literally.
Meanwhile, Erin was gopher extraordinaire while doing laundry, writing logs and working through the Indonesian cruising permit (CAIT) and Visa process. The marina cruisers have generated lots of rumors and theories about what is needed, how much it costs, whether extra fees will be charged after arrival and on and on. However, the facts we know are that both CAIT and visas must be in-hand when we arrive in Indonesia...advance work is, therefore, required. Erin sleuthed a possible path...Bali Marina (www.balimarina.com). Just send all paperwork to them, wire money and they will facilitate the process. Okay...two passport photos, copies of boat documentation and our passports, completed forms...now just to send the wire...in a country where we do not have a bank account or an address other than Scarborough Marina...fourth bank was the charm. Erin copied everything, bundled it up and off it went via Australian Post. Estimated time to completion...eight weeks once received. We will keep you posted.
Finally, Erin also got skin doctor appointments for both of us to be sure we do not have any lurking skin issue(s). Despite peddling between raindrops...good news. We both got the healthy skin thumbs up!
This flurry of activity was largely generated by a desire to get to Byron Bay for a 5-day surf school for Chris (a Christmas present from Erin). Lessons were 4 hours each...watch out body! Byron Bay is approx 2.5 hours South of Brisbane...an easy drive in the rental car. Ellie and Jorn (s/v Silene) hitched a ride and with Jorn's surfboard (his Christmas present) strapped to the roof we were off and looking a good bit "surfer-y." Arrival in Byron Bay was initially logistical...located lodging, information center and surf school. Mojo Surf (www.mojosurf.com) was great! Chris was like a kid on Christmas morning...brimming with anticipation. But make no mistake it was hard work...quite the battering and bruising. Chris even mentioned that it was the first time he has felt old...c'mon no giggling, please. The instructors were very individual in their instruction and always had a tip or pointer...when Chris asked instructor Dom when he started surfing, he responded...at eight, mate, I started late...most kids have sponsors by age eight. Yikes! Instructor Wapoo keeps it fun by surfing with his dog on the tip of his board...cool. Erin stopped by for a look on day two...Chris was indeed standing on the board in the waves. Super! Days clicked along and body got tired but did gain surf memory. By the end of day five Chris felt good and had fun...but not yet ready to call himself a surfer. Surf days are in our future.
Byron Bay is a surfer town with a real laid back charm. Surfboards are carried under most arms and summer dresses, board shorts and flip flops reign. Wow - and there was loads of live music...every night of the week. On Friday night we went to the "Rails" (Railway Friendly Bar...that's the real name) with Ellie and Jorn (s/v Silene) who are cruisers we have known since the Marquesas and are spending cyclone season in the same marina as we are....also heading to Thailand, like us, once cyclone season is over. The rails is an old railway station that has outdoor seating with live music and delicious burgers, potato wedges and salads. We saw the Blue Hulas...complete with a eukalalie (sp?). It was a mostly local crowd that spanned the generations. We enjoyed the music but retired before it was too late in order to be ready for surfing the next day.
Instead of surf lessons Erin explored farm stalls inland looking for dinner fixin's...hhhhmmm... but the season seems to be past...unfortunately, stall shelves were empty. No worries, it was great to drive with the windows down and sing with the radio! The towns of Newrybar, Mooball, Coorabell and Mullumbimby were as rural and charming as the rocky Byron headland was spectacular. Plus, the supermarket was just fine for cooking in our accommodations at the Beaches Apartment (www.beachesbyronbay.com.au)...complete with full kitchen, outdoor BBQ and patio. Also, Erin felt a bit left out on the fashion front in her practical cruiser-wear and looked around for something more girlie and summery...luckily there were a few shops in town happy to help.
Chris took a day off between lessons three and four. We walked to the pass and watched the Sunday R&R crowd surfing and sunning. And learned just how seriously they take surfing. We spotted a 2.5 year old on a regular sized surfboard up and riding the waves! No kidding!! Then it was back to The Beach Hotel (www.beachhotel.com.au) for the Duke vs. UNC game...thank heavens for ESPN. Gosh darn it...so many hurdles in order to find US sporting events and we are robbed of victories. First the Patriots and now the Blue Devils...aaagghhh...very disappointing but nothing could tarnish our opinion of Byron Bay.
We became quite comfortable here during our multi-day visit. Morning walks to the lighthouse, evenings watching the surfers until the sun disappeared and afternoons reading with a glass of wine on a patio overlooking the sea. We are rested and rejuvenated!