December 2016 November 2016 >>
Blog of Jack and Jude
explorers, authors, photographers & videographers
Here comes Santa Claus!
Right down Santa Claus Lane!
A magical time of year, kiddies joyful with anticipation, most getting a great serving of fun. But of course, there are the lonely ones and some old ones, and lots that just don’t have family or whatever. We’re with the lot that thinks Christmas has become another tired tradition that has lost its meaning. But NO, we’re not cave-dwelling grinchs with hearts “two sizes too small.” (Dr. Suess) In fact we enjoyed a massive Christmas lunch with the Samaritans as you can read below.
Remember the three wise men who were guided by a star, bringing gifts to the son of God. Peace of Earth – Goodwill towards mankind. Nice thoughts hey? That’s how it began – Giving gifts to a child.
But in my earliest childhood it grew beyond all bounds when plenty returned after years of war. Jobs and growth had skyrocketed, and parents lavished their young with piles of gifts. The Christians still told their story, but for the first time the masses were subjected to clever marketing. Store displays became hugely more enticing as Peace on Earth gave way to gift giving as the new Christmas theme.
Seldom has there been Peace of Earth and not enough Goodwill. We, as a civilization, have been diverted. We damage Earth, we pollute and kill species. And many lust for riches without considering or caring about the consequences.
The 21st century has brought an avalanche of evidence of religion’s moral lapses. Extreme ideologues and fanatical true believers continue to tarnish the religious brand, and where educational levels are on the rise, religion is in decline. This wouldn’t matter if religion had succeeded in imparting its most important teachings, but the Golden Rule is still widely flouted, and “peace on Earth, goodwill toward men” remains a distant dream.
These are grim times to be sure, but within reach is the capacity to do more simple good than you can possibly imagine. It has been written that with a few changes, religion could stand up to the criticisms of non-believers, regain the respect of its critics, and be the transformation force its founders and prophets had envisioned. In this re-visioning, the parts of religion that are counterfactual or unproven could either be dropped — as science jettisons theories that don’t hold up to scrutiny — or retained as speculation, metaphor or personal preference. After all, anyone is free to believe anything, and most of us, including scientists, discreetly exercise that right in one area or another.
I choose to believe Earth is God. For me, it is the most tangible evidence of a Creator, and one that links all mankind to a common root, and makes our disagreements over historical events that divide us into sects, no longer an issue. We are one. Able to be tolerant of other views because we hold a common love for Earth, the creation.
Unique World, Unique Specie
It is important to acknowledge that we are unique on a planet that is unique in the universe. What does that tell us? Well, if we chose to believe in a creator that made us uniquely different than other creatures then there must be a purpose.
What purpose? Conquer and control all? No, that’s not working. Or, lets consider that all creatures have extraordinary skills, and the creator has set us a paradigm where instead of making ourselves king of the pile, we have the choice to work in harmony with the creation to learn and become closer to the creator.
This never ending circle of death, hate, revenge need not continue when we accept that Earth is the tangible evidence of a Creator who is asking us to learn and attain a higher consciousness of the creation.
Putting Earth First will join us together on a higher level than whether we believe that God gave Moses a tablet of commandments, or whether Three wise men followed a star to a new King, or whether God inspired a man named Mohammed.
I am just a man, a mere spark of life, one that has been privileged to have wandered Earth observing its beauty, intricacies and wonders that reach far beyond our knowledge. And through these experiences, I have come to believe that there is a greater dream than attaining riches and domination. Love Earth, cherish her creatures, and work towards harmony and balance. Then Peace on Earth will come.
Water and air – gigantic elements of Earth connected to each other so that one continuously influences the other. “Miracles happen, not in opposition to nature, but in opposition to what we know of nature.“ That’s from St Augstine. Conventional prayer, or supplication, fits one paradigm. But there’s another paradigm – one where we’re not imploring God ‘up there’, but rather, one utilizing powers that the Creator already placed within us. After all, we now understand the human mind plays a central role in determining which version of all those potential realities comes to be.
Let me propose a different paradigm, one that is perhaps just as valid. Maybe God is like the ocean, and maybe we are like the fish that have been given existence in that ocean. Maybe there is not that chasm between the creator and us, and maybe we are much closer to God than we have understood. Maybe God is not sitting ‘up there’ watching us act out our lives ‘down here.’ Maybe we are swimming within the Creation, and maybe the Creator is in us as the sea is in the fish. Perhaps the way it works is that certain of the Creator’s powers of mind permeate us as the sea water permeates the fish.
Put Earth First and become one with the creation. That’s got a better chance of bringing us closer to the miracle of life than squabbling over historic events or being perverted by hype.
Simply said, it was one of our nicest Christmases. With such a diverse range of folk coming to Newcastle’s Foreshore Park for the Samaritans annual Christmas Lunch, we were over whelmed with good spirit and superb entertaining and informative conversations while a bevy of helpers made all our wishes come true. From those living on the street and itinerant folk without family, to ordinary folk and families and then spiced up by multiple groups of new migrants from places like Afghanistan, Macedonian and Iraqi, we found a wonderful array of conversations. Geez, it was uplifting. We’re such complex creatures, most with generous heartwarming souls.
What a gas! Plan executed perfectly
Sailaway start, always a treat when there’s no drama, then we held the wind around the headland, past the shallow bar. and onward easy-like towards the last point before open water. Rounding that and engaging Sir Aries mellowed our mood while one of the world’s rare happenings, miles and miles of pure blonde sand all the way to the outskirts of Newcastle twenty five miles along the coast. It was glorious to scoot along wing n’ wing, making sixes when fives would do.
We handed the mainsail a couple of miles before the break-wall just to ease any complication. We were going fast enough for entering a major port that always has multiple crafts and big scary steel giants jetting about – especially when virtually engine-less.
Troubles in Threes!
Still afloat and coping
After building up hope that our engine maladies had been fixed by replacing the seized freshwater pump, we were sent to the depths of despair when the silly old engine continued to overheat. Damn! We must have done further damage in that explosive boil-over.
When safely anchored off Dutchmans Beach near Nelson in Port Stephens, I removed the sensor for the water temperature gauge after finding it a bit corroded. It had had a hard life, and I was hopeful that its poor condition was responsible for the fluctuating readings on the gauge. I was right. After cleaning it and re-attaching the probe, it actually gave a more steady reading. Unfortunately not for the better.
Then when evidence of water mixed with oil was found near the head/block joint, and that was added to the ragged running immediately after start-up, we became convinced that we’d compromised the head/gasket/block integrity. Hopefully just a blown head gasket. But hey, even that’s bad news when far from home, especially on the cusp of the year’s biggest holiday.
Bad luck two and three are my little extra burden. Seems I’ve gotten someone’s snotty nose, and it’s become a chesty croup cough. Plus, I’ve a toothache. Poor Jude. Normally mild mannered Cap’n Jack has morphed into the dreaded Jack the Terrible.
Okay, moving ahead, plans have been formulated and action taken to tackle the problem and get us back on an even keel. We’ve booked ourselves into a marina berth for the Christmas Holiday, sort of a special treat. It’s there we’ll do the work needed to get us back up to 100% . Jude’s elated! Telling all back home in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, that she’s going to celebrate Christmas in Newcastle!
Tomorrow we’ll be sailing out the heads and heading to Newcastle, where, if the wind forecast rings true, we’ll sail in under headsail, and use engine power to lay alongside the marina tee. Then, early the following morning in still conditions, we’ll slip into our assigned berth. After securing Banyandah, off we’ll go, straight to those lovely hot showers, which beats a stand-up douche, followed by changing into holiday clobber to celebrate surviving another year.
Any of our friends or followers in the Newcastle area, please stop by to say hello. We’ll be at the NCYC for a couple of weeks. Email or phone to make sure we’re not out gallivanting around the city sights.
Beating the Blow
Everything to plan
I have a notebook where I record day to day stuff – Lists of things to do – Prices – Contacts – Job priorities – Any detail that I may need or want to remember. I’ve been doing this for years, so there’s a bookshelf bursting with exercise notebooks dating back to 1969 when Jude and I drove overland from the UK to South Africa. It’s amazing to read notes on the Sahara, Congo and our troubles in East Africa.
But that’s not what I want to share with you this morning. We have had a fantastic start to our latest adventure after a catastrophic departure created by our normally reliable Perkins engine exploding like Mt. Vesuvius. For the longest time she convulsed, shooting boiling hot water out the reservoir onto our fridge compressor and veggie locker. Obviously we shut down immediately and then got stuck into sailing our lady offshore, out of harm’s way.
I’ve already written about our engineless voyage to Coffs, sailing in, and putting our anchor down under sail. Next day, after recovering from our first sail in six months, an overnight passage where little if any sleep was found, I squeezed into the engine space and lay atop the now cool engine, then began to remove the raw water pump. Straightaway noticing that the pulley could move in and out. Hmm, could that be the problem? Encouraged I then tried to rotate the freshwater pump, only to find it totally seized!
Wow! That very essential pump had suffered bearing failure and had caused a catastrophic event. Damn good thing it didn’t go belly up thirty minutes earlier when crossing Ballina’s infamous river bar, windless but with seas crashing against stone walls. That has played havoc in my head ever since because we rely on that engine to get us out of tight spots. No warning – just failure!
Fortunately we carry a substantial list of spares, and in a locker sat a replacement pump. While hunched over with grease up to my elbows, I also changed the impeller in the Jabsco raw water pump because whilst the impeller itself was in good nick, the nib that stops the shaft from shifting in and out was gone.
Finishing up late, Jude had very nicely heated a bucket of water for a shower in our cockpit, then she feed me and I went to bed with a big grin thinking problem solved.
Next day we test ran the donk. High revs while still on the hook rose the temp higher than normal, but let’s see what she’ll do under load. So we picked up our hook and started a run around the harbour. Crikey! The damn needle started to rise past 200 F. Killing the engine before it vomited more boiling water again, we quickly drop our hook where we came to rest.
What the? Thought we’d solved the problem – so, what’s up? Tracing the cooling system in my mind’s eye, it soon came to rest on our heat-exchanger. It’s got history. We have cleaned its small tubes a couple of times and recently had the whole thing de-scaled and re-soldered. Theoretically it should be good. This prompted a call to a knowledgeable friend who suggested we may have blown a head gasket. Oh my that’s not something we wanted to hear.
We have a spare top end gasket set on board, but removing the weighty six cylinder head in an exposed anchorage didn’t seem wise. And taking a berth in the marina was not available because it got hit earlier in the year by an east coast low that damaged the breakwall and berths.
Next morning at 4 AM we’re up preparing to try our luck using the engine to escape and move on. In windless conditions we slowly motored towards the opening, watching the temp gauge intently. Beauty, we got out without much movement on the dial and thus encouraged kept going towards the safety of open sea. As we increased revs, so the needle began to climb, slowly at first, then rapidly till it hit that danger mark at 200 F. Oh No! I pulled the throttle back to idle, and in a few minutes happily watched the needle start to go down. Wow, well that was unexpected. Up and down went the needle as we adjusted power, and here came the next clue. The temperature gauge dropped extraordinarily rapid – like losing 40 F in a minute! No engine can cool down that quickly. So now we’re thinking that the sensor is stuffed.
Moving on, we had a cold front forecast to run up the coast in 36 hours, bringing near gale force headwinds, while preceding it were good sailable north winds. Even though we do not have a clean bottom I had worked out that we could manage the distance to Port Stephens, another port that can be sailed into, given the south going current would give us a free lift of at least a mile an hour. The sail down the coast with the wind right behind us produced a rather rocky rolly motion that continued on into a dark showery night with plenty of big ships and the usual mob of fishing boats to dodge. When we changed watch at midnight, Jude was griping about no sleep, and I found much the same in the rolly motion. Nevertheless we made good speed and by daybreak had a little more than forty miles to our destination.
Daybreak cleared away the clouds, taking our wind with them, and leaving us looking for an alternative secure anchorage. But, although light, the breeze kept us moving at 3 NM/hr, which would put us in Port Stephens with time to spare.
You know, it turned out to be one of those memorable sails, not super fast, but we navigated through the islands just before the entrance, doing all sorts of corrections for current and out going tide. Lots of overfalls and whirlpools. Luck was with us. The light breeze became a steady onshore sea breeze right up our bottom, which allowed us to buck the outgoing tide, and ever so slowly inched our way past the headlands, past the breaking entrance bar and into Port Stephens main basin. Jeez, this is work we really enjoy. Watching all the elements, making corrections to use Nature’s forces to win the day. Which we did, sailing right past Shoal Bay near the opening, past the harbour at Nelson to once again drop our anchor under sail in a quiet little bay with a nice sandy beach.
Wow! Were we whacked! A couple of celebratory sundowners and a curry from the tuna we had caught, we hit the bed exhausted. When the front stuck at midnight, vaguely in the depths of slumber I heard the roar, but as our ship wasn’t being knocked about, turned over to wait for dawn.
Well, a day’s rest is in order. Write up a blog (sorry if it’s a bit limpid, but that’s how I feel) and we’ll either move on to Pittwater tomorrow or the next day, where we’ll tackle our engine problem. Safe anchorage till next time, Ciao
Successful First Voyage
Easy and Sweet
When the engine overheated we had to sail in very light onshore conditions while the cause was sought. Ouch! Only so much could be checked in the rosy hot engine space, and after checking the raw water filter for obstructions and then increasing the vee belt tension, we decided to wait for the space to cool down before continuing the search.
The light land breeze slowly swing to the north and increased ever so slightly, making our journey rather slow but easy and comfortable. Perfect for a first day. Realizing we’d not make Iluka by dark and knowing we’d not get in without an engine, we decided to sail on overnight. Best decision because the wind increased as the sun set, and the night sail under a bright full moon was heavenly. Taking six hour watches, Jack till midnight, Jude till dawn, both of us managed a good night’s rest, and daybreak found us just a few hours from Coffs Harbour.
About 11 AM we flew past the breakwall under full sail to drop our hook just off the old timber jetty. Perfect! Now let’s clean some growth off and go faster. And find the engine problem. First though, a few beers to celebrate, and a good nights rest swinging on the anchor.
Life Afloat – We’re away!
Drama within minutes
Crossing the notorious Ballina River Bar was easy pezy – quiet morning, easy motion, until – the engine overheated!
Crikey we’re so full, every locker is chockerblock with stuff, so getting to things is, you got it, out it all came while we slowly took the land breeze a bit further to sea. The next three hours we’re hot and dirty.
Really slow morning, 2 knots, calm sea and now that we’ve found a bit more wind, we’re going to sail through the night.
Life Afloat – Another Chapter Begins
Like a twister, finishing those thousand maintenance items unleashed a whirlwind two days. The first, a beautiful farewell party with the family and special arrivals. Must have been a dozen kids climbing trees and on expeditions in the fields.
Next morning, after several loads, we started un-docking Banyandah – took barge boards home, left shore lines and bower anchor to sort. While doing that we motored faster than we thought we would towards the trawler harbour to take on water.
Truth is we haven’t slipped since Albany, WA. When was that? Thank you Darren, you’re a good true friend.
Presto-chango. In the blink of an eye suddenly it’s smaller spaces, less walking, more precise steps, like going through a changing mirror. Suddenly we’re a tighter team and loving it. Credit to dear Banyandah – gives us space and we can communicate easily.
Wahoo! Let’s go sailing. The next three days look real good. And we’ll have current with –
There’s going to be a gathering of the clan this weekend and from that Jude and I will take on final supplies of water and fresh, ready for a Monday morning start. A few days of northerly winds should see us at least as far as Coffs Harbour.
Follow our Yellowbrick because we’ll be making waypoints at all the turning points.
Meanwhile, it’s almost the calm before the storm because most of the work is done. The “B” feels really strong with a lot of improvements and ready for another jaunt.
Enough of this land life with the same views, nice though they be, and the same interactions, nice that they are, we’re ready for a bit of rapid change and lasting moments of fulfillment.
An Update on “Mobilert – The Things We Do”
Okay I coaxed two of our old pods back to life by giving them a transplant- yeah, cut them in two then replaced the three batteries after cleaning up the PC boards. Two are alive, all sealed up again, so we’re sailing off using those. Keep you posted.