Our Life Afloat

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December 2018                                                     November 2018 >>
Blog of Jack and Jude
explorers, authors, photographers & videographers

Welcome Home Swallows

Across the still quiet lagoon reflecting an azure and quartz white sky, our homecoming suddenly lost its carefree bliss with a call to action warding off attackers.


“Another at two o’clock,” quickly became a whoosh just missing our ears.

Like Star Wars fighters their assault continued, making our first touch of Banyandah very difficult.

“Get out of here,” Jude yelled waving them away. But that only caused them to circle around for another close fly-by. Darting on spitfire wings, this family of Welcome Swallows was definitely not making us feel welcome back on board our craft after her winter facing Southern Ocean storms. But, after finally gaining the deck the invasion was more easily beheld.

Eight or ten of the squeaking avian were calling our aft tower their home, while their relatives numbering another half dozen occupied our open ended boom. Later we discovered another pair happily seconded under our bow rollers where there was height enough to build a mud fortress lined with long narrow leaves and the daintiest of breast feathers.

Tucked away under our bow rollers

Tucked away under our bow rollers

Thank the powers that decide these matters
That pair must have just finished making their nest and hadn’t laid any of their clutch that can range from two to seven eggs with an average of four. In the other two lodgings we only had found large piles of long slender eucalyptus leaves, some mud, thankfully no eggs.

Discovering that made us feel a whole lot better, especially as there was still time for the birdies to find a new site and start again.

Long slender leaves, some mud, thankfully no eggs

Long slender leaves and some mud, thankfully no eggs


Last year, same thing happened
In one way, we were blessed to find upon boarding Banyandah after the previous winter, only one pair had constructed a mud fortress weighing down the canvas under our solar cells. Only one, but early starters and there were several eggs, about 18 mm in length and 13 mm in width, with pinkish colour and brown speckles, seen amongst the soft feathers lining their nest. So, last year we left them in peace and we lived harmoniously for the few weeks before tiny chicks could be heard chirping above our heads morning and night.

Little Chicks - Big Mouths

Little Chicks – Big Mouths

Then came the predicament
We wanted to go down harbor. Wondering whether mummy and daddy bird would be able to follow their nest, we first set off for the dock to take on fuel and water.  But, alas, mummy and daddy didn’t follow. A calamity – Oh, what to do?

Straight away, Jude went off to find baby bird food, and surprisingly returned rather excited with the news that small spiders lived in colonies around the shore lighting, and picking up a pair of tweezers and small container with a lid, she turned about hot in pursuit of baby bird food.

So sad. All for naught. Not for lack of insects. No, no, Jude had collected around fifty that were crawling all over themselves at the bottom of the container, but even though the babies greedily devoured several, they died overnight, perhaps from the cold without mummy and daddy to protect them from the night chill.

Heart broken, we wondered what more could we have done, and felt miserable, promising we’d not go through that again, but feeling we would. So, Karma has smiled upon us all this year.

Our feathered friends still swoop the skies around our vessel

Our feathered friends still swoop the skies around our vessel

Our Children are protesting for a better future

‘Strike 4 Climate Action’ brings thousands of students together in defiance of prime minister’s warning.

Thousands of schoolchildren across Australia walked out of class on Friday to demand action by the federal government on climate change.

The “Strike 4 Climate Action”, inspired by 15-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg, brought together children in capital cities and 20 regional centres such as Ballarat, Newcastle, Townsville and Cairns. A large protest was also held in Hobart on Thursday.

More than a thousand primary and secondary students filled Sydney’s Martin Place and students in Melbourne marched through the streets, bringing traffic to a standstill.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, had earlier this week urged students this week not to take part and told them to be “less activist”.

Our Resources Minister tells the kids –
“Best thing you’ll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue.”

On Friday, the resources minister Matt Canavan said he would prefer students to learn about mining and science. “These are the type of things that excite young children and we should be great at it as a nation,” he told 2GB radio. “The best thing you’ll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue.”

In Sydney, student Jean Hinchliffe, 14, took to the stage and told her fellow students the protest was just getting started. “This is our first strike,” she said. “Our first action. And it is just the beginning. And we’ll keep doing it until something is done.”

Lucie Atkin-Bolton, 11, the school captain of Forest Lodge public school, said she had been let down by politicians.
“I wish I didn’t have to be here today,” she said. “I’m the school captain at my primary school. We’ve been taught what it means to be a leader. You have to think about other people.

“When kids make a mess, adults tell us to clean it up and that’s fair. But when our leaders make a mess, they’re leaving it to us to clean up.”

Yippee! Changing Hats Again

Strong, gusty westerly winds have brought clouds of dust that are obscuring the last light on this last day in our shack, and it’s turned the usual stunning view of farmland and waterway to a yellow stained view of dying. We’re thinking the sunset will be a tortured struggle of flaming colour. Tomorrow is our big day, flying two hops we’ll lose the dust and heat, departing in 33°C and arriving in Hobart with a mild 14°C and falling.

Missed dearly and only once more, then gone in the mere whisk of time, our luxurious rainwater shower heated by the sun,which pours out a Hi-Flow nozzle into a metre square cubicle. OMG ! When I think! The shower floor on our floating home tapers to a few fingers width at the forward end – and down in Tasmania, we only get hot water after we’ve run the engine, or when alongside, which is a fairly rare event. It’s nothing like the leisurely deluge we are leaving behind. Oh, and there’s another sad note. The Chipmunk will be left behind too. That means no transport – except for a bright red tinny with two oars and a Green Machine that can go to a lot of places!

And we’ll still be connected to the World Wide Web but with gaps when we’re sailing somewhere, but you can still come along if you like. But, there will never be TV.   We think that might be a blessing, something of a purification, like a stay in a Tibetan seminary. A good time to let the brain regurgitate past events and look to the future. 

There will also be more reading, aloud at times, more creative things, along with a fair bit more gazing at the larger world and wondering. You know, we’re not getting any younger, and with so much life’s experience bundled up inside us we’re wondering about the direction of mankind just like half the world is doing.

If this year’s voyage comes off as we think, it’ll bring even greater joy than our 50th honeymoon, when we slept surrounded by the natural world 17 of the 20 nights. Ah, but next week, we’ll be living in the wild, in style, aboard the good ship Banyandah.

More show and tell then, Aloha, Ciao, and Cheers   

Hey, we’re looking at the photo below taken long ago and here’s a photo from the other night.  Still mates, going well.

Golden Anniversary Wrap

I'm wearing my butterfly necklace made with two Tiger Shark teeth.

I’m wearing my butterfly necklace made with two Tiger Shark teeth.

When we were young and sailing vast oceans with our little ones, I’d read aloud to them around meal prep times. My story times bonded us even more tightly by taking us on a journey within a journey, with new adventures filled with insights into how things could be. Well, during our journey to the south of the state Jude and I had a taste of story time again.

We’ve returned, and with great appreciation, returned safely from our Golden Honeymoon extravaganza, and let it be further known that it went swimmingly, lovely, amazingly interesting, and lusciously romantic. The Yarrangobilly Caves is where we secluded ourselves within the sumptuous Lyrebird chalet that is surrounded by forests that we explored in the very real sense the awesome magic of multimillion year old formations created by Nature. And we were very moved by the most delicate crystal connections, transparent in ceiling to floor straws. Nor had we ever witnessed such huge caverns coated with crystals. Truly awesome. It proved a perfect destination.

Our little Chimpmuck Suzuki, named for the CM front and back, travelled many kilometres during our three weeks on the prowl, taking the smaller roads, some gravel, some rocky, with plenty of 4WD fording rivers and creeks to take our Red Looney right to the water’s edge, for many enjoyable paddles. What a lucky purchase, a hardly used double kayak that slips silently across waters. To be afloat was core to our time away, silently drifting or playing hard to stay fit.


Dunns Swamp near Mudgee is one of many that proved an outstanding camp and paddle
It was so nice at Dunns, we stopped again on our way back from the Snowys, and enjoyed another paddle between those abrupt sandstone walls, forests and reed beds alive with birds aplenty. Watch the footage. It’s a heavenly spot! And it was especially nice to see that the little ones are getting a chance to witness the same through school programs, so we observed.


Going south and our return crossed varied lands, some dry dusty and sad in drought. Not till reaching the Snowy Mountains did the greens and trees return, except for the standing dead, white ghosts from the 2003 scorching fire reminding us that another such event will alter Earth forever.

  • Red Looney
  • Snowy Mountains standing dead
  • 2003 - dry lightening strikes took out mega acres
  • Sad to witness and worrisome with temps increasing so early
  • Yarrangobilly Creek at the Lobs Hole Ravine camp.
  • Ducks, hens, cormorants and plenty of water dragons
  • Ravine Mining Site- Yarrangobilly River
  • Establishing camp amongst blackberry, ugh.
  • Picturesque Yarrangobilly once saw hundreds living at Ravine
  • Thermal pool in a grand setting
  • Yarrangobilly Cave House, Accommodation, Kosciuszko NP
  • Yarrangobilly Caves
  • Self guided was special, we set the pace.
  • One of our overnight stops
  • Robin
  • A grand spot is O'hares - all camps in this part of Kosciuszko NP are FREE. No ticket booth, drive in pick a spot,
  • We had waterside accommodation and could launch just there!
  • Satin Bower-bird. f.


On the long stretches of road, or just tolling along a by-road, I’d read aloud to my lady of fifty plus years,
Using our handy dandy Ipad Mini2, both guide and Kindle as we drive, and home theater at night hanging up in the tent, it also flies the drone. A very nice piece of kit.


Tarzan, Trazana, and the state of the planet.
By chance, we obtained a copy of John Carter and the name being meaningless, we were astounded by the story as the film became a favourite of ours and played over and again for a feel good feeling. So entranced were we that I read the original book to Judith around the fire while on a wilderness trek. Written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, it was originally published one hundred years ago. A bit before my time on Earth.

The most influential writer in the entire history of the world
Ray Bradbury, author best known for his novels ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ ‘The Illustrated Man’ and ‘The Martian Chronicles.’ once said, “Edgar Rice Burroughs never would have looked upon himself as a social mover and shaker with social obligations. But as it turns out – and I love to say it because it upsets everyone terribly – Burroughs is probably the most influential writer in the entire history of the world. By giving romance and adventure to a whole generation of boys, Burroughs caused them to go out and decide to become special.”

I was in that generation of boys and I was one of many who decided to become special. To thank the man for the wisdom of his thoughts, while on our special journey celebrating so much, we took with us Edgar Rice Burrough’s second great story, Tarzan of the Apes. Not quite knowing what to expect.

During my early teens riding a bicycle around Los Angeles’s fast expanding tract house estates in the Valley, our small community of Pacoima became famous after a four engine aircraft ploughed straight into the school I attended. While not far away was Tarzana, a housing estate built around the great Tarzana Ranch owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, in his mature years and still pumping out pulp fiction dreams. He was immensely prolific.

Burroughs wrote nearly 80 books, including 26 Tarzan stories. Once he got in the groove of his profession, Burroughs shunned rough drafts and rejected any excuse to take time off from writing. As a result, he wrote around 10-12 pages per day in his prime, and even kept track of how much he wrote per year. (1913 was his most active, having penned a staggering 413,000 words.) He recycled his basic plots, and his books sold around 30 million copies in his lifetime. He described his philosophy of quantity best himself: “If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.”

Not far from my teenage house, which was brand new, built along with hundreds of others on what had been orange groves, a dusty road leads off into Kagel Canyon where giant eucalyptus trees abound with wild cougars in my mind and where poisonous snakes threatened a brave lad on a push bike.

I came across this quote from Burroughs and liked him all the more for his genteel view of life, “In all these years I have not learned one single rule for writing fiction. I still write as I did 30 years ago; stories which I feel would entertain me and give me mental relaxation, knowing that there are millions of people just like me who will like the same things I like. Anyway, I have great fun with my imaginings, and I can appreciate–in a small way–the swell time God had in creating the Universe.”

Like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jack and Jude have great fun on journeys inspire by his words and by doing so can also see the swell time God had in creating the Universe. Maybe he also thought human kind were following a dream taking us away from a destiny of living in harmony with the creation. 

“Hundreds of thousands of years ago our ancestors of the dim and distant past faced the same problems which we must face, ……. What they did may we not do? And even better, for are we not armed with ages of superior knowledge, and have we not the means of protection, defense, and sustenance which science has given us. To follow Mr Burroughs advice we should collectively direct our future to a cleaner, greener, less polluting future with much greater focus on Nature.

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Our Life Afloat — 2 Comments

    • Thanks for your congrats, Robyn and Paul, hope to see you later this summer when we sail down the east coast. We’ll raise of our glasses in fond memory of dear Janelle….. Cheers guys

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