21 Dec 2016
After last year’s busy and exciting year, 2016 proved to be equally dramatic, but not for cruising reasons!
The Christmas of 2015 was our first at home for 7 years, and our planned 4 month home visit got stretched by a month, to accommodate Mary’s 2nd Cataract op, which incidentally proved to have been better in all respects than the other eye (done in NZ the previous year)…..better procedure, recovery period, result, and at half the price!
One of our missions in RSA, had been to look at houses/and/or Retirement village options for our return in 2017, at the end of our sailing adventures. Quite frankly, the retirement village option, although sensible, did not excite us. One concept we had considered, was that of a “family compound” in a secure estate. During our stay, Kate introduced us to Sunset Links, an estate, where she had always wanted to live. She arranged for an agent to show us 5 houses which were on the market, so that we could assess the place.
There was NO intention of buying … only of looking! One of the houses we were shown however, struck us all as “perfect”! Now Kate is not one to sit around dreaming! Within the very next week, she put in an offer on the “perfect” place, which was accepted, AND, sold her house in Tamboerskloof. All of a sudden, we had an exciting solution for our return to RSA when we swallowed the anchor, and were able to help Kate make the move just before we left.
We flew back to Bundaberg, a whole heap more relaxed, and could turn our attention back to the last chapter of our cruising adventures. After 5 months on the hard, Sheer’s antifoul looked like crazy paving. We had no option but to have the hull sandblasted back to the gelcoat, to remove the residue of 7 years accumulated antifoul. We then had to spray on 2 new layers of epoxy, a primer, and 2 layers of Altex 5 antifoul. It was a very expensive exercise, but they did a superb job, and Sheer would be good for the next 2 years, which would take us to Indonesia, Malaysia, and back through the Indian Ocean to Richards Bay, and Cape Town.
We had joined the Sail2Indonesia rally, and were en route to Cairns (Rally muster point), when Lord Perkins water pump seized, forcing us to make an unplanned stop in Mackay.
Ghosting in under spinnaker in 5knots of breeze, and fighting 2 knot tidal cross currents, we finally dropped anchor outside the harbour at3.00h!
We spent 2 days having the pump replaced, but a further 13 weeks addressing Mary’s sudden erratic heartbeat. The first visits to doctors achieved nothing, but we managed to get Mary into the Private 24/7 all hours emergency facility at 6.00am during one such episode, and they were able to record it all on the ECG.
At last we had a definitive diagnosis, Atrial Fibrillation, and the Cardiologist on duty could begin the appropriate treatment process… Blood thinners to reduce the risks of clots, and a beta blocker ( various brands and dosages) to regulate the sinus rhythm.
By this time we had missed the Indonesian Rally, and had also made the call NOT to take chances with any further long passages, taking us out of medical reach.
Our first step involved getting an extended Medical visa, as we should have departed by 15th July, and our visa expired 17 August. We applied for 6 months until Jan 2017, to get Mary stabilized, and take the boat 1000nm south, (out of cyclone areas), find a marina/or broker, and return home. We were very grateful to Chris and Steve (Scott Free) , who came up to Mackay to spend a week with us, to cheer us up!
I will say it only once. The Australian Immigration and Border Control Authorities are on the whole, an unhelpful, bureaucratic, insensitive, illogical, money grabbing bunch of extortionists. They are the very reason why so few global cruisers include Australia in their routing plans!
We left Mackay in mid September, with our medical visa’s expiring on 1st December, and our cruising permit expiring 3rd November, nowhere near enough to cover our needs.
Being so close to the Whitsundays, we decided to do a quick trip to explore them, before using any Northerlies on offer to head down south, very aware that this period could very well be our last hurrah on Sheer. We had a good few days of gentle cruising in the Whitsundays, before starting our trek back south.
We stopped at Port Clinton, and spent a few days at Great Keppel Island, before making for Bundabeg, where we hoped to appeal to Customs again, to renew our cruising permit. Fortunately, he agreed!
We then waited for the next bit of northerly, and had a bouncy sail down past Hervey Bay, into the Great Sandy Straights, which separate Fraser Island from the mainland, where we anchored for the night.
We then picked our times and tides as we day hopped down to Pelican Bay, just in front of Wide Bay Bar.
|White dolphins visited regularly|
|Mud crabs given to us by a fellow cruisers|
We spent a couple of days there, plus a few in Tin Can Bay, 7 miles up the creek, avoiding some foul weather. We took the next good window and, leaving Pelican Bay at 6.00am, crossed the bar in ideal conditions
|Crossing the Wide Bay bar|
We made good time, and crossed the Mooloolaba bar 2 hour before low tide, in easy conditions. The shallowest we recorded was 40cm below the keel, inside the canals. We had to ferry glide sideways, using the outgoing tide, for about 400mt to reach the public mooring jetty, where we spent the night.
The following day, we moved into the marina, and made contact with Ian, the Mooloolaba Yacht Broker, who had been recommended to us, by Heidi.
We spent the next week stripping the boat of 7 years accumulated clutter, boxing, packing, and arranging its shipment home. Yet again, our friends Chris and Steve, (who by this time had returned to their boat after their son’s Italian wedding), drove up from Brisbane, to spend a night of catching up, crab eating and another Prawn pig out! The next morning we said our sad good byes, having extracted a promise that they would visit us in Cape Town. This time they left fully laden with much of what we had stocked up for Indonesia!
Mooloolaba is a very nice holiday town, with lovely beaches, beach front restaurants, seafood bars, canals, walking and cycling paths. It would have been one place we could have learned to stay……, and was the ideal place for us as we prepared Sheer Tenacity for the Brokers and the market.
We had hoped to extend our 1st Dec visa deadline to the 15th Jan which we had originally applied for, so that we could coach the Brokers about a boat they knew nothing about, oversee the marketing of her, and then pick up post Christmas fare flights in January.
When we got a reply from Immigration, we were told that we would have to pay a further AUD1080 each (R11000.00 each), for the 6 week extension. When asked why, we were told that it was a penalty because we had already been granted a 3 month medical visa! (which had cost us R4600 each, for visa and chest x-rays)
But that’s not all! When one sells a foreign registered boat in Australia, one has to first import it, by paying a 5% Duty, plus 10% GST on an Australian valuation, BEFORE one can even put it up for sale! Plus one has to pay the Valuation man, and a Customs agent to process the importation! So, we had just paid Australian customs over R100 000.00 4 days earlier, and are now being told to shell out another R22000.00 for the visa extension!
Screw that we said! We booked our flights out on the 1st December (last day of visa), which left us only 2 weeks to get Sheer and ourselves sorted out!
We prepared the pictures and inventory list for the advert on the website, wrote up a Quick Start Guide for the broker, so that they could take clients out on the boat, started writing out an Owners Manual for all the systems and procedures, and then hoped like hell that we could sell our beloved “Sheer “ in the 10 days before we left!
And the Incredible happened! We Did!
The first couple who viewed the boat came back twice! The wanted the boat, but it was a year before they were ready, as they had to sell their farm. The second person was Mark. He drove down 800km to see the boat, and I ended up spending about 4 hours with him. The next morning he put in his offer, and after a bit of renegotiation, we had a sale, subject to survey and sea trials, scheduled for the following Wednesday….the day before we were flying home!
The haul out was scheduled for 10.00am, and the Surveyor was a fellow with a hellish reputation. We were confident in Sheer’s condition, but nevertheless nervous! He spent about an hour asking questions and poking around inside every locker, under floor boards etc, before we headed down for the haul out. He waved his water meter all over the deck, looking for wet spots, and then tap tapped his way all over the hull once out the water. He could find nothing wrong! By 12.00 we were back in the water, and heading out over the bar for the sea trials. By now the wind had picked up to 17-19knots, and the sea was quite lumpy…. Perfect conditions to let Sheer show off! With a single reef, we were soon bombing along at 7.5 knots, slicing through the waves, in dry comfortable ease, with Ian (Broker), and Mark (buyer) wearing huge grins!
Then it was back over the bar, in quite boisterous conditions, and back into the marina. The surveyor spent another painful hour going through everything, and asking questions Ian had never heard asked before in his life! Eventually, he announced that he “could find no reason why Mark should not buy this boat”, eventually leaving the boat around 4.00pm. By 5.00, Mark was back for a beer, and to ask questions about how we should leave the boat etc, as he would be away for the next month.
We had a last supper with Heidi and Wolfgang (Kanaloa) with whom we had shared so much time, and retired to bed happy and sad, and shattered!
|Heidi, Wolfgang and Himba|
The next morning we completed all the paperwork, which because its Australian, is longer and more ridiculous than one can imagine. We barely had time to shower, get changed and catch the airport shuttle! No time for last goodbyes, or photos! We even forgot our toothbrushes on board!
And so, our Journey on Sheer Tenacity has ended. We will stay in touch with Mark, the new owner, and hope that he will continue her Jouney with the same dedication, passion, and faith in her that we have enjoyed.