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Robbie and Tess around Australia

a travel blog by Nightmoves

After some 58 years on this planet it was time to start a new adventure rather than working like a mongrel sheep dog, The adventure starts from Townsville and ends in Townsville, in between is the great brown land we live in, we have no plans to where we will be going to or what we will see, we are hoping we are prepared enough to go to some of the most remote areas in the Gulf of Carpentaria and beyond, so sit back and share this experiance with us.
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Getting started

Townsville, Australia

Getting started was and is the most time consuming and money burning activity, for one you have to have a capable vessel that can handle the rigors of the ocean also comfortable enough to spend hours dozing and relaxing.
With Nightmoves she fulfills all the criteria needed for a safe and comfotable voyage, the storage onboard is huge there is enough room for a years supply of tucker, we made up a list of must haves for the trip, The first thing that was installed was the kick arse air-conditioner this is a must in the tropics when anchored in a mosquito infested river or when it's just hot and humid, of course a generator is then required to run the thing.
Next up is power requirements to run the 12 volt electronics and gadjets without using the generator, 4 solar panels were installed on the roof and combined they produce up to 200 amps a day, this is more than we need and there are the days when the sun doesn't shine, refridgeration is a big thing so we have backed up the standard fridge which runs on LPG. with a 70 litre 12 volt fridge /freezer which runs off the solar panel battery bank, this bank has 380 amp hours of power even on overcast days there is sufficient backup to run the fridge.
The next thing on the agenda was sail/rigging condition the headsail is fine but the mainsail had a bit missing in the middle so $1,900.00 later the new main was fitted and all is good, the rigging was inspected by a fellow from Airlie and despite the age (11 years) all's good there as well.
Next consideration is fuel/LPG/fresh water, at the moment there is 500 litres of fresh water and 380 litres of fuel, a tank was purchased for 400 litres of fuel but working out that each motor burns 3.8 litres an hour thats 50 hours running both engines @ a boat speed of 8 knots gives a range of 400 nautical miles, running 1 motor will give a range of 600 nautical miles, the decision was made to carry 40 litres of diesel as back up if needed. The 400 litre tank will now be used for fresh water this will last a month at least. LPG for refridgeration, cooking and water heating is covered by 6/20 litre bottles these will last 10 weeks if required to.
A new GPS, EPIREB, VHF Marine Radio, Flares, Electronic Charts are now on board, the bank account suffered but all the gear bought was necessary to ensure a safe trip.
On the food front we have found many things that do not require refridgeration, the best thing was pre-cooked beef and lamb in food grade bags which you store in the cupboard for up to 18 months, tinned butter which has a shelf life of 12 months, you can get long life cheese but it is very salty and bland. Yogurt comes in a bag and is made as required, ice cream comes in a bag as well. Fresh bread we will make along the way, I think that we are well prepared all we have to do now is Go !!!!

permalink written by  Nightmoves on January 30, 2010 from Townsville, Australia
from the travel blog: Robbie and Tess around Australia
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Cyclone ULUIE

Airlie Beach, Austria

Cyclone ULUIE (you loo eee) decided to visit the marina on her way to Proserpine, at catorgery 3 she delivered wind gusts upwards of 180klms an hour, we were told to evacuate the marina by 6pm as ULUIE was crossing directly over us at 1am Sunday morning.
Tess and I took shelter in a motel on the side of a hill in Airlie Beach which was a smart move as we were basically only getting half of the wind strength, the power dropped out at about 10pm and then ULUIE let rip, at about 2am the eye of ULUIE was sitting dead centre of Airlie Beach, it was very eerie as the wind had dropped to zero and the torretial rain had stopped.
I went down to the marina expecting to see carnage everywere the marina had survived the first half of ULUIE, the only thing on Nightmoves damaged was the headsail it had unfurled itself about halfway and was ripped in a few places, the eye of ULUIE took 2 hours to pass then all hell broke loose again, at about 8am it was all over and we went back to Nightmoves and were surprised that nothing had moved inside or outside.
We were lucky over 60 boats from Shute Harbour to Cannonvale Beach had been damaged, of those at least 20 were now guests of Davey Jones Locker, the waves outside the marina at the height of ULUIE were 3 meters no wonder heaps of boats broke thier moorings and were tossed onto the rocks.
The cleanup started on Sunday and will take a couple of weeks to complete, huge cranes are setup at Cannonvale boat ramp to lift all the beyond repair hulks out of the water for their final voyage to the dump.
A few tales are going around about insurance ripoffs why would anyone leave multi million dollar boats on moorings when there is plenty of room in the marina ???
So time marches on,Tess has only 8 shifts to go and thats it for a year I am stuck trying to finish my current project as the weather is being unkind, I only need 5 days without rain and I can finish the landscaping then off to Townsville for a couple of weeks to victual the boat and away we go...

permalink written by  Nightmoves on March 24, 2010 from Airlie Beach, Austria
from the travel blog: Robbie and Tess around Australia
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Time to leave Airlie Beach

Townsville, Australia

It's been a week since Nightmoves landed me safely in Townsville, the trip up from Airlie Beach was fairly sedate, I had an escort to the eco resort at the bottom of Glousester Island in the form of the Ardvarkians (Pete and Merralyn on thier Gulfstar 46). We both anchored up and headed for the bar on the shore for a sesson but the place was closed so we headed back to Ardvaark for an on board drink.
The Ardvarkians were heading back to the Whitsundays so I set sail for Cape Upstart, Tess was waiting for me in Townsville as she was working nightshifts so for the second time I am solo sailing back to Townsville, after a pleasant night at the Cape I set sail for Cape Bowling Green and was going to stay there for the night but the south easterly was pushing me along nicely so Townsville was my destination, I pulled into the Breakwater Marina and for the last week Tess and I have been going through the endless lists of things to do and buy.
Our departure date from Townsville is Sunday 18th. by then if there is any thing left on the lists so be it, our destination is Cairns via all the islands we come across on the way we are not on any set time limit so it could take 3 weeks,
Cheers R&T.

permalink written by  Nightmoves on April 11, 2010 from Townsville, Australia
from the travel blog: Robbie and Tess around Australia
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Townsville, Australia

2 days of travelling completed but not without a few things going wrong, we left Townsville at 9.00am heading for Rattlesnake Island which is only 18 Nautical miles,
Upon recieving the weather forcast earlier that day once we were halfway out Coastguard gave out a strong wind warning for the Townsville area, it was not too much of a worry as we only had a couple of hours to go.
We anchored at Rattlesnake for the night on the northan point which was uncomfortable as the waves worked their way round the point, we upped anchor early to get as far as possible before the wind reached the 30 knots predicted, this is when the trouble started, I noticed some water in the port engine room so after pumping that out I looked for the source but could not find it, we set sail and after a couple of minits I checked the engine room again to find water gushing in from the rear shaft seal, by this time we were sailing along at 7 knots and had to drag the sails in and head back to shallow water to anchor and fix the problem.
So after a short time the problem was fixed and away we went again, we were cruising along and decided to have a cup of tea to settle down and the gas ran out... of course the fridge works on gas, so the bottle had to be changed and squeezing Robbies frame into the gas locker is a task in itself in calm waters let alone under sail with 2 metre waves pushing us along.
After much grunting, pushing and cursing the new gas bottle was going and it was indeed time for a cuppa, alas by this stage Tess had changed colour and was praying head down into the yellow bucket, she was making some strange noises and by the look on her face I tried to make myself invisable but that did not work, next plan was to try and convince her that those white cap waves were not higher than the boat, she replied by praying into the yellow bucket again.
The best thing now was to find some calmer water so we passed close to islands for some respite for Tess, but once away into the roughness the yellow bucket was given another prayer.
Calm water was close at hand after an hour and the greeness disappeared from the skin of my beloved, so here we are tucked away nicely in Little Pioneer Bay waiting for a break in the weather to continue on, at this stage we will go through the Hinchinbrook Channel as this is not affected by foul weather,
Cheers R&T.

permalink written by  Nightmoves on April 19, 2010 from Townsville, Australia
from the travel blog: Robbie and Tess around Australia
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Hinchinbrook to Mourilyan Harbour via Dunk Island,

Cardwell, Australia

Upon arriving at Little Pioneer Bay we picked up a Marine Park Mooring and attached was a notice that pest control was taking place (Shooting wild goats from a helicopter) in the area so don't stay here, well that was never going to happen I rang the number on the notice expecting a confrontation as there was a strong wind warning and there was no way we would be leaving this safe haven....
To my relief the notice had been cancelled due to the bad weather so we were able to settle back and enjoy the serenity, we went for a walk on the beach and a swim on the coral, the water was not very clear but just the right temperature.
The next day we headed for Lucinda even though I had sworn I would never cross the bar again after my last experiance, then again it was my decision to cross the bar previously on a low outgoing tide one of my closest encounters to losing Nightmoves.
We had a rising tide which made the bar crossing easy, once behind Hinchinbrook Island it was like a mill pond it could blow a hundred knots here and it would still be smooth, we travelled to Scraggy Point and anchored for the night, quite apt I thought we fitted in well as the Scraggs on Nightmoves at Scraggy Point.
From Scraggy Point we sailed to Dunk Island and I suppose we became Dunks then again after an afternoon session at the Plantation Bar at the resort the captain was drunk and buggered his arm getting in the dingy to retreat to Nightmoves, the wench was in her glory telling the drunk at Dunk the perils of alcohol, of course this was like a gust of wind, heard, felt and thanks for coming.....
Before leaving Dunk a swim was in order the water again was not very clear but very nice to cool off, we upped anchor and motor sailed to Mourilyan Harbour the wind was erratic from 5 to 15 knots anywhere between Southwest to Northeast we went inside the South and North Barnard Islands, quite a few surprises lay beneath when transvering these waters, we made many course changes to avoid the crunching sound of boat on reef.
Once inside Mourilyan Harbour we have settled in very calm waters, the weather has been unfavourable overnight so we are staying put until the worst passes. Apparently a 30ft. sloop with one person onboard dragged anchor at Fitzroy island overnight then was dismasted and drifting somewhere towards the reef, a search is underway we hope they find him.

permalink written by  Nightmoves on April 22, 2010 from Cardwell, Australia
from the travel blog: Robbie and Tess around Australia
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Mouralyan Harbour to Cairns via Fitzroy and Green Island

Cairns, Australia

The weather is still crap but it's time to move on, we stick our nose out of the harbour to see how the sea is and surprisingly it's not too bad so off we go. Fitzroy Island is some 30 miles away and Tess is still a bit fragile so post haste is on the cards, after 5 hours of motor sailing we arrive at Fitzroy Island and what a beautifull anchorage it is, we anchor up outside a disused resort which as we found out later was due to open in 3 weeks.
There were 6-7 boats here which was nice we both concluded that when the resort opens the place would become a shit fight with jet ski's and 200 bodys snorkelling and fishing and generally raping the place.
A stink boat came in and moored next to us, I knew after 5 mins. the people on board suffered from stink boat fever, they had the sterio cranked to the max, chuffing on ciggies and tossing the butts into the water, guzzelling booze and the blokes walking around with a boner when the engines were running.
Lucky for us they only stayed for a couple of hours but they returned at 3am in the morning as noisy as ever, Tess got the spotlight out to gain their attention to have some respect for others all she got was the finger and abuse, Tess can now understand why stink boats are not a yachties cup of tea.
We stayed for a couple of days and went snorkelling and swimming, then decided to go to Green Island which was a stones throw away, the beach on the front of the island was chockers with people, they even have lifeguards on duty, the island has been overrun by money, the Japs are brought over in droves and yens are yanked out of their wallets at an amazing rate, we went for a swim but were not impressed, they have all these glass bottomed boats showing the nips the coral which is shit compared to other parts of the reef.
Enough of Green Island for us off to Cairns we go, we anchor outside the marina for the night, we decide to go over to the shore by dingy and have a few drinks at Salty's Bar overlooking the water, today (Tues.) we are going into the marina for the night so we can stock up on a few things that we use regullary and to fuel up, we will leave here tomorrow heading towards Cooktown, the weather has been dismal for the last 2 days it just keeps raining but the adventure of what we are doing keeps our spirits up,
Cheers R&T

permalink written by  Nightmoves on April 26, 2010 from Cairns, Australia
from the travel blog: Robbie and Tess around Australia
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Cairns to Port Douglas Via Double Island.

Port Douglas, Australia

After 3 days in Cairns waiting for the strong wind warnings to go away we are ready to leave again, while we were in Cairns it was great, this town is a boaties dream, the marina is in the centre of town and there must be a zillion eateries to try.
Everything is so close, the night markets are great we did not get to see the farmers market but apparently it is cheap and good quality produce, Tess had a massage $15 bucks for 50 mins. she came back to the boat with a glow on her face and feeling great.
My excitement was to catch a movie in 3D AVITAR it was fantastic, so off we go to Double Island for the first part of our leg to Port Douglas, the night before we leave their was a bit on Getaway on the telly about Double Island, we were looking forward to getting there, it was a very sedate trip with just a headsail up cruising at 4-5 knots.
Once we arrived it only took a short while to find that this Island is a shit hole, the water is affected by the tidal flow from Cairns and you would be lucky to see 10 feet, we anchored off this beach which is supposed to be fantastic what a load of fish guts... there was this giant dog on the beach wanting to maul anything that moved so we decided to up anchor and go around the corner, it was a lot more comfortable than the beach and the dog was nowhere to be seen, we dropped the dingy for a sogern (discovery trip) of the island, we managed to get to shore over some rocks and we wanted to have a swim but the water was filled with weeds and oysters, Someone must have bribed Getaway this island sucks..
After a pleasant night we set sail for Port Douglas it only took a few hundred mertres and the headsail was up and poled out, naturally one should have learnt by now that the wind behind islands has a mind of it's own and the subsequent gust in the opposite direction was a bit too much strain for the pole so it decided to do the limbo but never straightend up....
So with bent pole removed we cruised up to Port Douglas, we went up the river to find an anchorage but it was a long way from town so we anchored across from the centre of town, after a visit to the yacht club which was an open air affair and Tess had devoured a bowl of hot chips we went to the marina to see what it was like and found it very subdued, beer was needed so we summond a taxi to find a grog outlet and then back aboard for a pleasant evening.

permalink written by  Nightmoves on April 30, 2010 from Port Douglas, Australia
from the travel blog: Robbie and Tess around Australia
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Port Douglas to Low Islands and back again.

Port Douglas, Australia

Murfeys Law lives again !!!! After a pleasant night anchored in the entrance of Port Douglas we decide to go to Low Islands for the next part of our trip, from Low islands the pearls of the barreir reef are more accessable.
As we started to move off our anchorage we picked up a submerged mooring line which wrapped itself around the port side propeller this stalled the motor and we were stuck on this mooring line, we tried to use the starboard motor to pull ourselves free but that was to no avail, the only course of action was to cut the rope free and seeing that the water was a beautifull coffee colour and crocadiles swim here one was somewhat wondering who was going overboard to cut the rope from the propeller.
Tess had misteriuosly disapeared into the bilges of the boat so it was no second guessing that I was going into the murk.. I said twenty thousand hail mary's as I decended under the water, never have I tucked my legs up so tight and been worried about getting attacked by some green pehistoric maneating reptile, the rope was cut free but still wrapped around the propeller I was not staying in this water any longer, I made the call to motor out to Low island with just the starboard motor and to cut the remainder of the rope off the propeller once out there where the water was clear and no reptillians lived.
We arrived at Low island and it was quite beautifull after after getting the boat settled it was time to remove the rope, I geared up and just as I hit the water Tess let out a scream yelling at me to get out of the water, she reckons she's never seen me move so fast, as soon as I was on the boat she started laughing, I went ballistic that she had cried wolf but apparently she laughs when she' scared, so if ever a reptillian decides to munch me up I can expect Tess to be laughing at me....
What Tess had seen was 2 black shapes swimming straight for me from a depth of some 6 metres, as it turned out it was 2 GTs (giant trevally) they were just coming to see if there was a feed on offer which there was not, so back into the water to complete the job.
One thing about getting further north is the amount of wildlife that appears, while I was cutting away at the rope I was joined by some reef sharks the usual bat fish and the GTs. we went over to the lighthouse which is sitting on a sandy island, Tess went to check it out while I went snorkelling and was joined by a nice 5ft. reef shark they are very inquizative and sleek swimmers.
It would have been more enjoyable on the island if the wind was not so strong, overnight it blew up and was coming through at 32 knots, we were safe but it was a little uncomfortable.
The next morning we decided to head back to Port Douglas as the wind was hanging around 25knots and the forcast for the week was not that crash hot with a strong wind warning forcasted for Thursday 5th May.
So up the creek we went far away from that mooring line which caused us grief, so here we will stay untill the weather settles,
Cheers R&T

permalink written by  Nightmoves on May 2, 2010 from Port Douglas, Australia
from the travel blog: Robbie and Tess around Australia
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A week in Port Douglas

Port Douglas, Australia

Well nothing much has happened this week with the strong wind warnings and rough seas,
we are going to Low island again on Monday 10th then into the Daintree for a look.
As you stay in a place you get to know the finer things that happen around town, for instance the marina has a sidewalk caf'e bar which starts a happy hour at 4 o'clock thru till 6 o'clock, schooners are three bucks fifty and thats full strength grog, the Courthouse Hotel just a short stroll away starts their swill at 5 o'clock and schooners are just three bucks a pop...
One can take on board enough grog in that time to fall off one's bike while trying to make it to the dingy, which is parked at the bottom of the beach, it was funny and Tess of course bore witness to the embaracing flop onto the sand.
Tess has been window shopping heaps and I just ride off into the distance looking at boaty stuff and the sunken neglected hulks along the river banks, we went to the local market today which was good, most of the stuff was hand made and vege's,fruit grown locally.
Being mums day today all my best wishes to all you mums out there, where we are anchored now there is a club just across from us, fairdinkum they have this sheila playing a guitar and making banshee noises, even the crocs have left the area...
We are looking forward to travelling on to more new adventures,
Cheers R&T.

permalink written by  Nightmoves on May 8, 2010 from Port Douglas, Australia
from the travel blog: Robbie and Tess around Australia
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Port Douglas to Cooktown via Low island,Daintree River and Hope island

Cooktown, Australia

At last we could get going again with the weather being kind. over to Low island for a swim and snorkle around before heading off to the 'The Daintree', this brings to mind the sixties and seventies when it was make love not war, get stoned out of your head and tie yourself to a tree so the bulldozers could not wreck the forest.
Of course there was an alterior motive for this behavior, as the crops of dope the hippies had, were hidden over the next hill and the Dali Lama heaven forbid could not see his stoned deciples being straight, alas there is one who had first hand experiance with this hippiness and it is no less than Tess... yes the Captains wench was there tied to a tree and lived off brown rice, dope and love...
Getting back to the sailing it was easy to cross into The Daintree which would be very attractive if you were of reptilian nature, but being a human one magrove bush looks the same as the other to me..
We left the next morning for Cape Tribulation and anchored off Snapper island 2 clicks from The Daintree for brekkie, once underway again the day was a cracker, a 15 knot wind, calm sea and not too many miles to travel, as we got closer to The Trib, (as Tess called it,) a strange look came over Tess.. Hmm after giving up some of the adventures of Tess in this area, the brown rice, dope and love were in great demand at The Trib as well... there was no tying up to the trees here, the bulldozers couldn't get within a cooee, so it was off with the gear and live naked, I suppose we all have a past, crikey imagine if Tess and I did that in this day and age at our age, even tha paparatzi would have put their lens covers back on...
Onward we go, after the revelations of the Trib, I can't really say I was impressed with the place, the anchorage was very rocky rolley, we were sleeping out the front decx as the mozzie/sandfly population was near zero, alas it blew up in the night and Tess left the wind blown front deck for the comfort of the cabin.
In the morning while having brekkie, the untied down mattress which is usually tied down, decided to take flying lessons followed by diving lessons making a perfect double pike forward backwards belly flop into the Coral Sea, bugger me the bastard of a thing was too far away to grab off the boat, so I had to follow suit the only thing wrong with that was the bow wake I made, forcing the mattress to be further out of reach, Tess wasn't laughing so at least no preditors were on my case.
After the usual dressing down for not captaining properly in the steadfastness of the mattress to the deck, we set sail for the Hope islands some 20 miles away, the conditions were good and we made the islands in 4 1/2 hours, the approach to the anchorage was littered with small reefs and coral bommies, I decided to put Tess up on the mainsail boom where she turned into the semi crows nest monster, all she had to do was spot the reefs and bommies and relay to me which course to steer, so here I was steering the boat at a startelling rate from port to starboard, the now puff chested semi crows nest power over the captain monster did not realise that the shadow of the clouds on the water were indeed shadows not reefs...
We picked up a mooring in the lagoon and set upon discovering what the islands had to offer, the first thing we noticed were the Albatrosses diving for fish, these birds are magnificent in flight, they hit the water without leaving a spalsh to emerge with fish in beak ready for eating.
I was hanging for a swim and Tess wanted to circumnavigate the island by foot, so we jumped in the dingy and landed on the shore, not a footprint in sight on the sand we had the place to ourselves, Tess took off and by the size of the island I did not expect to see her for at least 10mins. (yes it is a small island).
I went for a snorkell where the Albatrosses were feeding some hundred metres offshore, the amount of fish that were being fed on was imense, I seemed to get in the middle of the fish school, they were so prolithic I could not see the coral below me, it was time to hightail it out of there, sharks love to cruise through these schools with mouth open eating their fill, if you get in the way they could eat you by mistake.
I swam back to the beach where Tess had completed her circumnavigation, with hands on hips she informed me that the sign just down the beach warned of crocadiles frequenting the island and to not go swimming !!!
I think it's about time to take a bit more care where one swims, you don't think of crocs being out on the islands, the wind came up overnight so we headed for Cooktown the next morning.
After an uneventfull sail we made Cooktown easily, there is something about Cooktown that is weird we can't quite fiquire what it is as yet, from Cooktown we will be out of contact for quite a while, the internet is still sent by drums up this way until we get to Thursday island. Then we will be able to blog on again,
Cheers R&T.

permalink written by  Nightmoves on May 13, 2010 from Cooktown, Australia
from the travel blog: Robbie and Tess around Australia
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