Big plans…..for small(er) adventures

Having been drawn back inexorably to Wynyard, new home port of the Andante… we have experienced a few zen breakthroughs. The barriers we’ve expended huge amounts of energy to overcome are: TIME FRAME, WIND, HEALTH, MONEY…

so we threw all our ideas, plans, expectations into the air and watched them transform. Thankyou to our friends Arno and Glenda in Albany; and Wayne and Denise in Bunbury who showed us another way.

We are going to sell our beautiful property, “Tiabunna” and buy a smaller, easier, cheaper, “lock-up-and-leave” place to call home…. That way hopefully Col won’t be too exhausted trying to keep the boat and the property going… Tiabunna is advertised on and gumtree for private sale. Check it out at and please help us get it out into the universe.

“Tiabunna” our magic house on the lake with 5ha of bush in Somerset.

We are going to bow to the forces of my health, and do small Tasmanian trips for this summer and autumn while I recover from the gall-bladder operation scheduled for 19th February, and give me breathing space for the fibro myalgia to ease a bit….

If the winds are kind, we’ll head north in April/May and back south in November. If they’re not, we’ll go when and where the winds don’t blow just for small explorations…

So Tasmania it is. Tasmania boasts the extraordinary complement of 374 islands greater than 1 hectare in size and 6,163 islets with a total land area of only about  68,000sq km – just under 1% of the area of Australia! How many could we explore? We’re not promising this – even to ourselves, but the potential is right here.

There are the Hunter group of islands….where we’ve kayaked a bit. We’ve visited beautiful Hunter, Three Hummock, Albatross, The Petrel’s, Walker, Kangaroo, Short, Harbour Islets… but we could go and see The Doughboys, Trefoil and even the Black Pyramid which is a spire of rock reaching out of Bass Straight covered in a gannet colony and will be a sight to behold. And, of course, King Island with the best cheese in the world!

There are the North East coast islands – Flinders Island is wonderful with the added attraction of being the Paper Nautilus capital, surrounded by Cape Barren, Great and Little Dog, The Chappells, Prime Seal – oh they sound so fascinating. Back to the Deal Islands because we simply didn’t get anywhere near enough time to enjoy them.

Further down the East coast there is the wonderful Maria, with such a diverse geology and history. And what a great coast line, so indented we could spend our lives sailing in and out of the bays and inlets. The whole Tasman and Forester Peninsular will need serious exploration as this area is so amazingly rich in pelagic and coastal bird life.

The south of Tasmania boasts Bruny Island, and the D’entrecasteaux channel with another life time there. We’ve always hankered to visit the Maatsuyker group, the Mewstones and Pedra Banca. That promises to be a true adventure.

Possibly back up the west coast, checking in to Port Davey, Bathurst Harbour and Melaleuca… come in over Hell’s Gates to Macquarie Harbour. We could visit Sarah Island where the tormented souls of tormented convicts still wail with the westerly winds .

Wow! Smaller adventures – can’t wait!

Slipyards we have known…

Bunbury slip
Ian standing in the rails waiting for the Andante to come in. Note the discarded Randall.


The Andante with her pilot boat neighbour at Albany.



One of the surprises of boating life has been the other world / underworld of slipyards. There are curious similarities and curiouser differences.

Dogs… slipyards seem to have resident semi owned dogs. Bunbury took the prize with the wonderful dingo (see blog titled “preparing the Andante… or slipping a boat” . Albany came a close second with a three legged mangy bullterrier. (see blog titled Plan 37 b (i))  Devonport comes a slow last with a groomed and clean springer spaniel.

Corpses ….. mainly of the boat variety, but also piles of old machinery.

Here Albany was the clear winner with a whole cemetery of dead boats and accessories. There was a knackers boneyard of outboard motors piled up on the back wall of the shed, some buried deep into the sand of ages with hardly any discernible paint; and further up the pile you climbed, the brands became recognisable … Mercury, Yamaha, Evinrude, Johnson etc. and the blues, blacks, reds distinguishable. Masts and spiders webs of stainless steel rigging marked the perimeter of the yard. Some looked good enough to put straight back on a boat but mostly it was just more rubbish. Piles of ropes, stacks of planks or cut-out steel plates, nests of old caulking, mounds of discarded sails. Nothing useful any more but kept “just in case”. The yard held about 30 boats in varying states of disrepair, some returning to dust; others somewhere along the continuum of boat -dream.

Bunbury comes second here with a couple of totally buggered boats which no-one seems able to remove. One good looking 60′ Randall planing hull cray boat had been deserted complete with 2 brand new Cummins engines. The owner couldn’t pay the bills and had simply walked away leaving the boat in the yard. It had gradually been cannibalised and the only resident when we were there was a very dead swan. Bunbury also had a very unwanted squatter “doing up’ his boat. He had moved an old wooden boat on to land next door to the slip shed, then moved in, then moved a caravan in, then moved his cats in… and three years later no-one can evict him because he managed to put the boat on the boundary between the slipyard land, and council property.


Devonport has a couple of dying boats. Especially sad is the old Rita-K, a sagging, tired rotting old ply motor launch; who is hanging on to her pier with the last of her strength and ropes. It also specialises in a good collection of gangways which are gradually been overtaken by the wild fennel. An interesting collectible.

Operators…. slips definitely attract characters. Devonport is owned by a good-looking bloke with a grey plait, who rides a brand-new Indian motorbike, and who seems capable of doing any and all of the slipyard jobs. He came on to the Andante for a cup of tea, and I was wiring up a 12v fan, so he whipped back to the office and grabbed his electrics bag, and soldered it for us. His staff though, deserve first prize. “Sav” is about 30, with a shaved head apart from a small mowhawk only down the back, and zebra teeth. He drives a loud, big fat ute, with an unbonneted engine and big fat wheels. He is quietly well spoken (apart from when he’s screaming invective at recalcitrant machinery). He is a fantastic sandblaster and spray painter when he’s there, but is rather catholic about punctuality, even attendance. The other main guy epitomises what drink does to a talented working man. Neither of these guys has a mortgage, or a home for that matter!

Bunbury slip was owned by the despised “Dept of Transport” but operated by the wonderful Ian McRae. A big-bellied, chain-smoking, limping, talkative guy who ran “Hav-a-chat Marine” he was generosity itself, offering his car when we were stranded. There were three chairs outside his office. One armchair was sagged almost to the ground and reeked of old cigarettes, with two or three ashtrays balanced on the arms. The other armchair was covered in the off-white hairs of the fairly dusty dingo. The visitors chair was a remnant from the laminex and chrome dining settings of the fifties. The politics of the yard was pervasive, complex and unexplained.

Albany was operated by the civilised Englishman Darren, and his efficient and hardworking off-siders. Scarcely worthy of scandalous comment.

All slipyard operators seem to suffer from boat romanticism. They have “projects” on the go, generally old neglected wooden boats, with classic lines and interesting history but heart and bank breakers.

Intolerance of bureaucracy….. just about a dead heat here. Boating, particularly commercial fishing, seems to attract hard men; and those who operate slipyards are from this mould. Minor details like OHS, residency, pollution etc are given lip service, and generally treated commonsensically, but not necessarily following every stipulation of the law.  I don’t think it would be feasible to expect otherwise.

Facilities….. Devonport has a toilet, shower, washing machine on site!!!!!! This gives it the highest accolades possible. They may be less-than-sparkling-clean; but they are available. Neither Albany nor Bunbury had any facilities at all for clients…. at Albany the nearest toilet (and cold shower) was 100m away with a warm council-operated shower 1km away. Bunbury comes last with a public toilet over 1km from the slipyard.

Grot…all slipyards have an accumulation of the toxins of ages. Sandblasting dust and crystals, paint, rust, fibreglass residue, barnacles. This shifting, blown dust gets into everything, coating sweating bodies with a patina recognisable to other boaties.

Friendship…. perhaps because of all the privations and hard work; friendship is generously offered. We’ve been honoured to have made several great friends from within the confines of the slipyards.



I am now officially… a FUDu

Many people have noticed my interest / obsession in matters toilet. It has been suggested I should use a geriatric incontinence pad – but I thought that may possibly reduce my beloved’s sexual desire…. Carol McD suggested I check out the Female Urination Device or FUD, so I have. A FUD is basically a silicon funnel to enable women to stand up and pee (without splashing their feet). I am now the semi-proud user of a khaki coloured FUD, which does enable me to pee standing up while wearing knickers and shorts (although not trousers) .

I have confessed to considerable penis envy for peeing convenience, but that is envy of at least a reasonable sized adult one. The FUD is endowed with a nozzle similar to a 10 year old boys penis. Now, who, ever (with the exception of a 10 year old boy) would ever covet such a penis. I can’t understand why you’d design such a great device, and not endow it with a bloody great flexible dong? Surely if we need a fake penis, we should at least get the pleasure of a BIG one! The FUD penis is still severely limiting for aiming other than a demure stream a few inches from your toes. But – better than a cold wet arse!

FUDu = Female Urination Device user

Demonstrating the FUD!

2014 and a brand new start

Col and I slept the new year in on the Andante, lulled by the gentle Inglis River, only disturbed at 4 am by some local lads cavorting drunkenly in the river, but that was as short lived as the pleasure of the freezing cold river I imagine.
We are heading north on the 11th January (or as soon after that as the weather gods allow) with Niko, Matt, Jasmine and Huon accompanying us on the first leg to Eden. We are planning on stopping over on Deal Island, and enjoying our last bit of Tasmania for several months to come.
From this point we’ll pick our way north, stopping where and whenever we like the look of a place. We have a Bruce , a plough (SQR) anchors, 2 admiralty picks, and Col is about to make a reef kellick – so we should be able to get good holding whatever the bottom is like.
The Andante has had such a refurbishment that there can’t possibly be much else… (she says crossing her fingers and toes). In the past three months we have:
cleaned all cooling units and replaced the gearbox cooler, renewed cooling system zinc anodes, replaced all rubber tubing in cooling system; replaced all exhaust system piping; replaced all raw water intake tubing and the impellor; modified all below water line plumbing system and replaced it with above water line outlets; made and installed new deck drains and welded up old ones; put new raised tails on the fuel and water fillers, cleaned and flushed the fuel tanks, replaced the stern bearing, replaced the gear box gasket; made and installed a raised railing around the foredeck, installed ply bulwarks; slipped anti-fouled and touched up the paint !
And today Col is in the shed fabricating a framework for us to put a shade awning over the aft deck (our cabin roof) for us to sit and sip sundowners in after a day snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef.
So 2014 – in the sparkling Andante – a year for sailing. A year for enjoying the sights and wonders of our amazing country from the water’s edge. A year for restoration and recovery of health.
Before we leave Tasmania for the second time, we’ll try and get as many friends together as possible and celebrate in a summer / boat / pirate party. Join us if you can. Friday 10th January from 4 pm onwards.

Andante in Wynyard!

She’s here – the Andante has successfully crossed the southern ocean from Albany to Wynyard under the stewardship of Kev Kinnear and Deb.
At 9.30 yesterday morning the red and white boat motored in to the Inglis River and tied up at the wharf. Kev and Deb came home to a well earned shower and snooze after 10 days of 2 hour round the clock watches.
The Andante crossed the Bight in 250 hours, mostly motoring quietly with just the jib up. They had big seas (7+ metres) but only light winds. The new bulwarks took a few slaps across the ear, but held up without problem, as did all our new plumbing. Kev and Deb were rolled around with the steep seas, including a couple of biggies which rolled the boat about 45 degrees – making eating and drinking a real challenge; but the good old boat remained watertight and very buoyant. The fuel efficiency was fantastic – at about 3l per hour, it put paid to Kev’s father’s fear of running out of fuel. Our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Kev and Deb.

Now come our plans… what will we do now?
Our options are: (a) continue with the original plan to go to Cape York and return at the end of 2014. (b) explore the Tasmanian coastline and islands for summer, then head north for a while (c) go to somewhere warm – maybe Magnetic Island, and base ourselves there for most of the year….. and any others which haven’t yet crossed our minds.

We will spend a few weeks here in beautiful, peaceful Tiabunna enjoying friends and family; and weeding, weeding and weeding. We will have a boat/ wharf party sometime soon, so watch this space….

Any Wynyard folk who are reading this, we’d love you to drop down and visit us; and also check the boat as the 3m tides make tying it properly very difficult. Also, its the silly season, so a few extra eyes making sure ratbags don’t do any damage would be great too.

The BIG red and white boat….and penis envy.

I’m writing this on the Spirit, the big red and white boat which is bringing us back to Tasmania, while our little red and white Andante battles the southern ocean with Kevin and Deb. We will only hear by phone call when they’re back in range that they’ve made it to Tasmania, as they have no other channels of communication. Well, they do have but we hope they don’t use the HF radio call in a mayday!

Col and I have had a fantastic week getting from west Australia to Melbourne, we crossed the Nullabor, looked for shells on the Coorong, looked at the magnificent rock forms in the Flinders Ranges, met up with lots of good folks in interesting places… Gordon in Mintaro (????) a tiny town in the Clare valley, SA; Ken and Katrina in Port Macdonnell, Dave and Eleanor in Portland, Loki in Geelong, and Sue just as we were boarding the boat.

We travelled in fine style, in the ford station wagon Emmy-Lou. She doesn’t like sand – at all – we got bogged in Bremer Bay; but apart from that kept us in motoring and camping comfort. We camped just outside Eucla in the scrub, and also outside the Coorong.

Highlights for me were the magnificent Flinders Ranges. We were delighted by the park like setting of scattered river red gums and native pines, followed by gently rolling, rounded foothills, which were immediately shadowed by magnificent purple, red and grey crags and escarpments. We stayed in the Hawker hotel, saw the pathetic cemetery at Cradoc and the ruins of so many settlers dreams doomed by the Goyder line’s accuracy. There is no much amazing beauty in our country.

The wonderful escarpments of the Flinders
Channelling Hans Heysen with Flinders Ranges light

Many people have commented that perhaps we should have done the true grey nomad thing, but we had eschewed it on the grounds that there are always too many other campers in the places we want to see. We want to see bits of this country that aren’t fenced, sign posted or forbidden. So Gordon decided that if we weren’t grey nomads, we were “nay gonads”. Nomination for the spoonerism of the year.

Which brings me to the topic of penis envy. Penis’ are fun things for sure, but I don’t usually wish for one of my own – but men have  a huge advantage in the pissing stakes while at sea. The Andante has railings or bulwarks at a convenient height for most blokes to hang it out, and pee away. Occasionally they might get a bit of their own back if the wind is wrong; but that’s about it. If the conditions are too bad or if they’re in bed – they can easily pee in a bottle.

But women – we can’t pee over railings or bulwarks, and hanging your entire rear end out over the dive board is only suitable in very calm and private conditions. You CAN pee into a bucket and tip it over, but again this is only when the going is good. Otherwise, one needs to develop the fine art of balancing on a moving floor, while holding a bottle with a wide enough, but not too wide neck into your crutch, and then making your bladder release! This is not easy, or fun. And when the going gets really rough, there is always the backwash issue, as well as the constant anxiety about crying over spilt piss.

So I thought I was an accomplished pee-er under trying circumstances. But… the bush camp outside Eucla had me with my first case of real penis envy. We were plagued by thousands of sticky flies as it was thunderstormy and really humid. I squatted to pee (which as you can imagine, exposes a fair amount of white flesh, and opens various orifices) and was immediately crawled onto, into, over by hundred of these little flies. You can’t wave them away because you’ll splash through your own pee, and there are few sensations less pleasant than needing to pee while flies are crawling up your bum!

I won’t complain again (she lies) and I challenge anyone to relate a worse peeing experience.

Tomorrow we’ll be home, soon the Andante will be there – and Col and I will gather ourselves and makes decisions about our boating future. Watch this space.

and hope everyone who has been reading this has a great Christmas.


Romance…vs reality

Not that bad
the reminder – if we need one – that its not THAT bad!

Aaaah – the romance of the high seas… the smell of salt air, the wind in the sails, at one with the natural environment, free from the travails of daily life….versus the reality of a boating existence.

I am and have been a conservationist, anti-fossil fuel waste, organic gardener and farmer. I don’t use chemicals on my body, or much in my food. I spend my free time looking after the ocean and coastal environment.

But I have never been exposed to as many chemicals, toxins and poisons as in this boating life. We’ve spent the last week burning holes in expoxy painted metal often in enclosed cupboards – and absorbing all those beautiful chemicals through our skin and lungs. We then paint the burnt metal with firstly zinc paint, then aluminium paint, then 2 pack epoxy paint. All poisonous, heavy metals we are putting in the sea. The anti-foul under the water is a blend of posions so toxic that marine weed and creatures can’t exist on it. That gradually dissipates in the water over a couple of years, and needs renewing. It is so awful that full body suits, breathing masks and gloves are used to apply it. Even the rust spots on the deck are removed with acid. The Perkins engine scarcely uses oil – great… except that you replace all 17 l every 200 engine hours! Another drum of unusable waste.

All of this is done in a dry, hot, dusty yard where years of accumulated afore-mentioned poisons blow around and through yourself and the boat when the wind blows its customary 25 knots for most of the bloody day. There are old wooden boats with lead on their keels; there are dying fibreglass boats exuding fumes. Everything is dirty and /or toxic.

All surfaces inside the boat are covered with a delightful patina of grease and grit. Here on the hardstand we have to keep a low profile as living aboard is not condoned by any OHS authorities who may be lurking; so all waste water has to be collected in a bucket then surreptitiously dumped in a corner along with bottles of overnight piss.

Col’s stature is a great asset for working inside the cramped spaces of the boat. He reckons he thrives on toxic chemicals, and his pygmy status is perfect for working in awkward places! He has actually climbed inside the fuel tanks to physically wipe them out. He has been upside down in cupboards, teetering on pipes and hoses – armed with welder, grinder or other weapons of mass destruction. He claims a whiff of diesel or polyurethane will resuscitate him. We both spent some time yesterday upside down in the handbasin !!! trying to renew the bathroom plumbing.  I spent an hour this morning getting a hose clamp on a  recalcitrant pipe… one arm in each cupboard door, alternately squinting through the louvres to see the screw or having my nose 3 cm from the manual toilet pump inlet. Developing new skills is admirable but I really didn’t need these on my cv.

And everything takes sooooo much time. Welding plugs in exisiting underwater plumbing outlets sounds straightforward but each one takes several hours… to grind, cut, weld, chip, brush, weld, grind, paint, paint, paint. It IS important that these are perfect welds because holes in boats are not recommended.

Mind you, we have only been here a week, and hope to be out in another. Some boats are likely to remain here for the term of their natural life. Perhaps time is measured differently when restoring some of these beautiful old ladies of the ocean. One of our neighbours, a gregarious, amusing, part-time boat restorer is laboriously manufacturing (cutting, steaming, glueing, clamping) sliver-thin karri laminated ribs for his 50′ ocean racing beauty. She’s been in the yard for 18 months.

But, when we (I) start to lose heart, I only need to look around the yard…..there are reminders everywhere of what might have been.



Life on the boat

Rees on the bed
Writing the blog in comfort

How we would cope (as a couple, and as individuals) living aboard was one of the great unknowns we had considered prior to embarking on this year long adventure. We have lived in loads of space at Tiabunna, with huge rooms and lots of them, so moving aboard was a big change. But it has been surprisingly great. Andante is really well designed with several separate inside rooms and outside spaces (good boating terms :))  It is not a schmicko boat – the only lick of varnish is on the steering wheel but even that has worn off. There is a wheelhouse / galley with all-round windows where we spend most of our time. There’s seating around the chart /eating table for four people (although I confess to some minor claustrophobia when trapped in an inside position). The kitchen is also surprisingly good, with a three burner gas stove with oven, lots of cupboards, and a good 12v fridge. This area has side doors to the deck, and stairs forward and aft to other areas. Down stairs aft to our cabin which has the best bed ever… a square kingsize bed above storage space. The bed is raised to window level – high enough to sit up comfortably and we can see out through side and back portholes. There are book shelves either side and cupboards, even a short wardrobe. This cabin has HF radio, ordinary FM/AM  radio and a TV!!!!! We’ve never had a TV in the bedroom before – but its cool! Because we need to save power (best excuse ever) we often go to bed to watch the news, then something else…. Downstairs forward from the wheelhouse is a saloon area. This has another table and seating for 4 or 5, and the bench seat makes a good bunk. Wayne slept there for the Bunbury to Esperance episodes. Again, loads of storage including the essential wine bottle and glasses rack! And another TV. Good for when we had several people on board watching the motor bike racing. Off the saloon is the tiniest shower/toilet room. This room is 1400mm long and 400mm wide including the toilet. Extreme contortions are required to get to all your bits when showering. More storage in here, and our waeco freezer. Aft from the saloon (under the wheelhouse and aft cabin) is the engine room. This houses the engine (obviously) but also 6 x 600l fuel tanks, and a full workshop including drill press, grinder, vise etc and the essential storage lockers. The engine room has received many positive comments from all the cast of thousands who have worked with Col in it, as it has head space and a (little) bit of foot space. Many yachts require mechanics to stand on their heads with tools in their teeth to work on the engine… or so they say. Forward from the saloon is the guest accommodation. Each room has a 3/4 bunk on top of 2 x 600l huge water tanks. The bunks are big enough for two VERY friendly people, or a parent and child…. These also have storage cupboards and a wardrobe. Forward again of these, but not accessible from under deck is the anchor well. So that’s inside! At the moment I’m writing this in the wheelhouse; but often sit on our bed as the wheelhouse lets in too much light to see the computer screen. Domestic tasks are minimised. I hand wash our clothes each day in a bucket on deck and hang them on a couple of ropes tied between the rigging. I use the thermopot heaps… I’ll cook a stew or whatever in the morning on the gas, then put it in the thermopot till tea time. Lunch is generally toast and cheese. We occasionally vacuum the floor when we have shore power, or not if we don’t. I DO clean the windows often, because they get salt encrusted and I can’t see out. Making our bed is the most difficult as you have to sit on it while making it… The biggest changes to get used to are: having to walk a long way to showers and toilets as we can’t use our own in port not having a garden to get food from and spend time in sharing the living space with strangers not spending time with my favourite family and friends but some of the wonderful changes are: having all the time in the world to read and write watching a completely different life outside – different birds, animals, and boating people really being in new environments meeting fantastic and interesting new people

Blog at

Up ↑