B-log ~ December 2015

December 2015                                                                    November 2015 >>
Blog of Jack and Jude
explorers, authors, photographers & videographers

Changing Hats  20 December 

Our Yellowbrick has been reactivated!

Gosh we’re in such a mess. The boat’s got stuff on every surface and there are piles in every corner. It’s been so hectic since leaving home base that it feels like we’ve been living out of backpacks for weeks, shoving stuff from one spot to another. Wait. Retract that. It’s been nonstop for what seems months, ever since we booked our flights south back to Banyandah. First there were projects that had to be completed and wouldn’t you know that’s when the thermometer went ballistic. We’re well beyond working in near forty degree heat, but what could we do? Things had to get done, like mixing a cubic meter of concrete in Death Valley heat for the foundations of our new awning. Geez, the way the storms have grown more vicious, we’re praying those heavy footings will be enough to hold the darn thing down. Then of course the house had to be cleaned, the garden sorted, the grounds made neat. And of course we had to pack. Ever try shoving nearly 50 kilos into two rucksacks?

View from our shed - good spot for a cold one!

View from our shed – good spot for a cold one!

Built shed last time and added the awning this time home

Shed last time, added the awning this time

The big day arrived and plan A said we were first to go for a last swim with the Gkids before racing to the airport. Gosh a swim with the Gkids is usually enough to warrant a quiet rest for the remainder of the day, but instead we’re lugging mammoth bags forward in the queue to a nasty man who just wanted to make our day even tougher. “No, you cannot combine weight,” the little man said to us, raising my alarm and my eyebrows. Having flown with Virgin for years we’d never hearing such a thing before. Jude’s bag is smaller so takes less than my monster. But together we always nip in just under max weight, mine’s always over, her’s under. Anyways to humour the fellow we stood aside and ripped into my bag looking for something to chuck or shift and fortunately discovered my big laptop. “We can hand carry laptops, can’t we?” I asked another check in attendant, and her nod instantly solved our problem.

Cape Barron Island. Sea Lion Passage to Clarke and Perservation Islands

Cape Barron Island. Sea Lion Passage to Clarke and Preservation Islands

Changing Hats is never easy. From one life to another in just a few hours always brings hectic hard work and drama. We’ve done it before – many times now. The good news is it’s getting easier. Lots of hugs from family found us boarding the plane to a different life. Sad really to be leaving our large extended family. We love them all. But at the other end we were ever so fortunate to have good friends who made it even easier by picking us up in Hobart, and straightaway the good times began.

View up the Derwent River from Barry's place

View up the Derwent River from Barry’s place

Barry and Wendy have been our mates ever since we first met through a mutual friend who took us up to their rambling bit of paradise with glorious views over Hobart from the side of Mount Wellington. They’re so easy to be with that we feel part of their family, and love mum and their sons who all have interesting lives which we are very fortunate to jump into and out of. This time was no different. Jude and Wendy love to cook for ‘the boys’ and of course we blokes help where we can. This stopover we went for a picnic driving 400 km round trip on a very winding road to Strathgordon to see the mighty Gordon River dam. Tell you what, some may believe that global warming is just a furphy, but wild and usually wet Tasmania is bone dry after hardly any rain last spring. After the driest September on record, the Tamar Valley Power Station is to be fired up again after lying dormant for 18 months. It breaks our hearts to see the forests so stressed and we’re worrying about the real danger of fires in those lovely world heritage forests. Mark our words; this could be the way the destruction of Earth begins. Yep, the small atolls drown while the rich rainforests burn. Meanwhile our politicians are yelling loudly that they’ve reached consensus. Sure, on a plan that doesn’t start until 2020. And you can bet there’ll be a fair bit of hedge mongering before any action is taken.

Scotts Peak is actually an island - tiny orignal Lake Pedder was through the narrow gap left - all this was flooded in the 70's

Scotts Peak is actually an island – tiny orignal Lake Pedder was through the narrow gap left – all this was flooded in the 70’s

Baked veggies a la Wendy

Baked veggies a la Wendy

Views enroute to Strathgordon

Views enroute to Strathgordon

Deep into the mountains we came to the two lakes

Deep into the mountains we came to the two lakes

We both love Earth. I think its God in the real. No human lookalike, just Nature working so marvellously creating life that’s connected by an unfathomable dimension. But does the average Joe give Earth the respect she deserves. Nope. No fault of theirs. They’re too busy heads down trying to stay alive in a world run amuck. In a lot of families both parents are working to help pay the mortgage while they’re paying someone to look after their kids. And the young ones, instead of jumping out the nest with a keen lust for life, are stuck at mum and dad’s because it takes all they earn to afford the latest gizmos. Hmm, I’m starting to sound like an old fart. Maybe I’ve spent too much time in the Never-Never but I believe we need to immediately start discussing family planning and capping human growth. OK enough on that. You’re here to read about adventure and the wonders of life afloat.

After our day zigzagging to Strathgordon, we boarded a bus and had a repeat crazy drive through to Derwent Bridge where we changed busses to sleepy Strahan. That bus also takes the school kids home from the Queenstown high school and after letting them off at their homes, the kindly driver dropped us right on the shore opposite Banyandah.

Wow! She looked great after enduring many winter storms –except where a small leak wrecked havoc at the head of our bed. Our first night on board was heaven. So peaceful and timeless all we wanted to do was sit back and behold the beauty surrounding us. With our minds purring in neutral we stayed up late reacquainting ourselves with the starry heavens while peacefully getting back in sync with our beloved Earth. What a welcome back. This being Tasmania’s west coast, it could have been windy and overcast. How fortunate we are.

Next day we worked reactivating systems shut down six months earlier, almost every moment delighted to see our lady come alive. Sailing boats are living things. Any sailor will tell you that. They endure such punishment while taking us on a magical ride by natural forces to places that are unreachable by any other means. A well equipped floating home has just as many systems as do homes that sit in one spot plus quite a few others; like machinery for propulsion, sails to harness the extraordinary power of the wind, a steering system, navigation equipment, winches and anchoring ground-tackle, which all have to work in an environment that eats most metals and degrades most plastics.

Our two banks of batteries had survived in good nick, our pumps came to life at the flick of a switch, our running gear came out of storage and found their regular spot, and then the sails were bent back onto their spars. Of course, all the while we’re making forays to the local market to replenish our larder, and once the engine was running sweetly we filled up with 700 litres of fresh water at the local dock.

After so much hectic non-stop activity these last few months, now that we’re a going concern ready for anything – guess what – we’re heading off this morning for a bit of R&R in the quietest spot that’s surrounded by majestic mountains. Keep in touch; we’ve another big adventure coming up.

Jude here – my turn :
I couldn’t wait to get away from home and back to the boat. As Jack noted, the weather had turned so hot the last two months at home that to work outdoors, which is what I like to do, the early morning physical activity getting me going, but the rivers of sweat flooding off me was getting a bit much. Climate change! Working in the garden or pulling bindies out the grass to save the Gkids from pricked feet, and digging holes for pipes connecting our two water tanks or foundations for the shed awning is honestly good at my pace.

Getting home for the winter earlier this year meant we had a good veggie patch. The season was warmer than usual, so winter and spring veggies grew well in the tonnes of new organic soil we’d put in the garden before leaving last season. For months tomatoes came in a flood, and the growing season was so good that I started a veggie patch at Jason’s. They’re growing so strong and bushy in their veggie patch’s red volcanic soil that Ally reckons she’ll be making all her own pasta sauce and be eating tomatoes for desert! They were already picking tomatoes as big as apples when we left so I gave her some of my bottling jars.

It’s funny how food is often a topic of conversation. World food shortages. Famines. Crop failures, climate change and the effect of, seed saving programmes, genetic modifications, pesticides, etc, etc. Oh My! I’m not forgetting world population stressing Earth that’s probably the cause of all this.

When I was a kid, my dad had a veggie garden. Not just the one in our back garden in our small suburban English north country backyard which had the equivalent of three small apple trees and a green house saving his tomatoes and next season sensitive plants from winter frosts and snow. But he also had a railway allotment that he rented for years, a pretty big one in a row with maybe twenty-five others sharing a communal water tap. He grew everything from apples to zucchini and potatoes and soft fruits for our family of four, plus enough to give a bit to a few others. He’d begun this garden during the war when food was scarce. I’d pick peas from this garden on my way home from school and cleared a few feet of weeds while I ate raspberries, probably more than he’d jam. But every year he preserved and jammed and pickled and bottled the excess. My mum didn’t work except for the local community and church, and of course for our family – she’d even save the cream off the milk to make butter. Quite a simple life, but we didn’t need much.

During our second day in Hobart I was delighted when Jack and I tripped to Hobart’s Farmer’s Market with Wendy and discovered gooseberries and lush raspberries, locally grown organic produce for sale. Yum! The raspberries were great with ice-cream that night. But next day coming back from Strathgordon we stopped at where the raspberries were grown and found blackcurrants for sale which reminded me of picking blackcurrants in my dad’s garden. I couldn’t resist buying a kilo punnet to jam while cooking dinner that night.

I’ll miss our veggie patch while we’re away but I encouraged our friends to stop in to pick. If they don’t, our good friends the water dragons living in the wood stack will surely enjoy a feast.

In the meanwhile it’s back to sprouting seeds and growing herbs aboard. Nevertheless – I love changing hats.

Banyandah in her original rig - Returning to Australia from Japan and South Pacific 1981

Banyandah in her original rig – Returning to Australia from Japan and South Pacific 1981