Australia, Blog, Uncategorized

Like a fish out of water


We woke with a start. What was that?


Nothing had startled us. No bobbing, no rolling, no slapping, no gurgling. It’s well over a year since we spent a night on solid ground and the lack of motion is startling.

Our floating home is still our home, yet she is no longer floating. The turquoise waters that usually surround us are now concrete. Dusty, grey concrete. Our toilet and fridge are rendered un-usable. The relentless trade winds blow a layer of dirt over the decks. Getting aboard means climbing a long rusty ladder. Life on the hard is..well…hard. Florence is literally out of her element and we are feeling well out of ours.

There aren’t many things that feel as unnatural to a sailor as having their boat on solid ground, propped up with metal supports. We are grateful that the time here is limited, that we will soon be returning to our more natural state.


Why are we even here? Despite this batch of antifoul faring much better than the last, we had promised ourselves we would never let the antifoul paint get so low again. Nearly a week spent removing barnacle bases in NZ caused some very solemn promises to be made. Florence’s hull has started to grow weed that needs regular removal with a swim and scrub; not so appealing in crocodile infested waters. A few more scrubs and there would be no paint left. Thoughts of this, teamed with the lack of haul out facilities in Indonesia are what brought us to be sat on the dusty hard instead of enjoying the beautiful tropical island neighbouring the boatyard.


With the koala covered Magnetic Island just a few miles away, motivation to get out of the yard was sky high, dramatically spurred on by the fact that each extra day spent on the hard would be another $70 AUD. We ran at the yard, armed with a plan and an hourly schedule of jobs; sanding the hull, applying 4 coats of antifoul, servicing the seacocks, polishing and greasing the prop, changing the anodes, sanding and painting the underside of the dinghy, a major provision for Indonesia, stocking up with food, fuel, cooking gas and water for the next 3 weeks plus applying for and posting the application for our Indonesian visas. With some sanding and painting by spotlight the aim was to be out in 3 days. For a life of wild abandon, we still seem to do an awful lot of work and forward planning.


Less than 72 hours after being plucked from our element, we were on target, Matt scrubbing the decks, Amy peddling as fast as her folding bike could carry her, arms full of provisions, eager to make the rapidly falling tide.

Our tight schedule did not take into account a possible delay in the travel lift getting to us and it was with heavy hearts that we watched the tide flow out and resigned ourselves to another night in the yard. The yard manager softened the blow by offering to operate the lift himself at dawn the next day, not charging us for the night and giving us use of a fridge for our rapidly wilting provisions.

Squeeky clean after one last unlimited hot shower, we hopped aboard and shot across to Magnetic Island. With new paint and a polished prop, Florence gained nearly 1 knot in speed.


Florence is now back at anchor, bobbing around in her element. We are home. A gust hits her side, momentarily heeling her over and spinning her sideways before she is sent back to a gentle roll, wavelets lapping at the hull. “Ahhh” we sigh before drifting into a deep and satisfying sleep.

Magnetic Island

Our time on Magnetic Island was short but sweet, not only due to the excellent ice-cream. Hiking from the anchorage to the popular Forts walk, we found so many wild koalas we actually lost count. Koala’s so close to the path we could see them breathing. Healthy looking males, females and babies. The poor nutritional content of their diet, means they sleep for over 18 hours per day. It’s estimated that there are around 800 koalas on Magnetic Island. One was so close that listening carefully, you could hear him snoring. Watching him, then finding a mother trying to snooze as her baby climbed all over her was one of those special moments that will stay with us forever. Australia’s wildlife has provided us with so many of those magical moments.


Following signs for Florence Bay; (how could we miss that?) we made our way round the eastern side of the island back to our anchorage in Horseshoe Bay.


Heading ashore the following day for a walk on the beach and to sample another flavour of the excellent icecream, we discussed whether we should carry the camera. “no let’s not bother” “okay but now something awesome will happen, like one of those parakeets landing on my head”. A few hours later…..

Thanks to the lovely Dutch couple watching who sent us the photos!


6 thoughts on “Like a fish out of water”

  1. As usual another very nice report of the challenging events. I like the way you both composed this update..Enjoy and Godspeed..


  2. I am smitten. Joseph Conrad shivered my timbers about 45 years ago. How did someone who was only introduced to the English language in his twenties {?} become a master of English prose? I love your vid’s, your voice, and, your style. Carry on as you are, please. Just, do lots more for my personal, selfish, need to read something composed with aplomb. The teamwork rocks my boat. I’m trying to be ‘nautical’ – from my comfortable couch. It’s art, and, science getting {‘setting’?} the sails correctly. If I was religious I would say ‘Godspeed’. Just, be safe, please.


  3. Indonesia? What? Wow! When? That’s awesome! New round of adventures! I can picture myself sailing the South Pacific, but I have a mental image that Australia is the end of the world 🙂 Keep it up, following your blog is the best thing I’ve done since I got bitten by the sailing bug !


  4. Yet another lovely blog entry. Australia’s wildlife is really putting on a show for you. So look, if Indonesia doesn’t work out or you would like to spend some more time in Oz enjoying some great sailing and wildlife, think about crossing the “Top End” and cruising the Kimberly before you head off. You won’t be disappointed your did!


  5. Had the privilege of cruising the south pacific aboard the U.S. Navy vessel, USS Oklahoma City, in 1977,78,79. Loved Australia, Indonesia was, well. I’m sure some things have changed in the last 40 years. I cruised from northern Japan to southern Australia and it seemed, every country in between and would love to do it again. Best wishes from an old salt.


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