Spring is sprung The grass is riz I wonder where the birdie is The birdie is upon the wing No, that's absurd The wing is on the little bird
So goes the famous rhyme – and it’s certainly spring here in Australia. We have gone from winter to summer in just a few days, although the ski fields in the Snowy Mountains are still experiencing the best season in over a decade.
Spring is sprung and the grass is riz. Whatever riz is. I wonder where the birdie is – this weekend boat chores includes a wash and a scrub and cleaning all the bird poo off the boat. It’s not too bad at our marina, although whilst the hose is out, we give the jetties a good hose off as the pelicans leave lots of deposits behind on the marina. No, we don’t wonder where the bird is/was – we know quite well! On the wing? Or on the boat, jetty or someone else’s boat. Our marina has lots of ducks but they just make a lot of noise. However, you do have to keep an eye out for them whilst driving around downtown Booker Bay as they stand around in the middle of the road a lot.
Spring brings that last flurry of boat maintenance, getting ready for a summer of navigating the waterways and exploring up the Hawkesbury and always being on the lookout for that perfect anchorage, sheltered without being crowded. Space and moorings at the famous Refuge Bay will be at a premium as the Riverias raft up, blaring their music and totally destroying the beauty that the place is famous for. “Refuse Bay” is the epithet that it is usually known by. However, it’s still a beautiful spot, famous for its waterfall and lovely ambience.
Sometimes we just don’t appreciate the beauty that can be found in our own back yard. We eagerly watch the Youtube sailing channels of the cruisers having their adventures in the Caribbean, South Pacific Islands, Pacific North West or the Mediterranean and gaze in awe at the beauty of these places, and then dutifully write them down on our wish list of places to visit, not realising that there are places just as beautiful and a lot more accessible in our own backyard, just a stone’s throw from Sydney.
We are definitely looking forward to exploring other bays up and down the Hawkesbury and Cowan Creek. It’s also a good time to practice our anchoring skills. One of the attractions with Refuge Bay and the nearby America Bay is that there are quite a few mooring balls, so it’s quite easy to quietly come in, grab the boat hook and grab a mooring ball. It also means you can have a few gin and tonics, as you don’t have to watch your blood alcohol level on moorings like you do at anchor. I think the Americans call it gunkholing. Exploring little bays and inlets. Also another good reason to have a smaller boat, rather than a 50 footer.
With the electrics all sorted, new batteries, rebuilt motor and a freshly varnished tiller (due to be installed this coming weekend) La Mouette is just about ready to leave her berth and go gunkholing, or gung ho sailing or whatever. Just laps up and down Brisbane Water will be good tonic for the soul and then back at the marina, we can enjoy the other sort of tonic, mixed with ice and gin. Docking our boat in its berth is not for the faint hearted. You have to pick the tides and currents as the current in the berth is quite fierce. The usual practice is to go in and have a scout around to see what the current is doing, and if too strong, pick up a mooring ball and wait for it to subside a bit. A gin and tonic is most definitely in order after the docking ordeal is over.
There are still a lot of jobs to get through, some important and some that can wait a bit longer. With summer almost upon us, we only have a short window period in which to do some of them before it’s too hot to apply paint or varnish, or spend extended periods down below doing stuff like replacing the carpeting.
The carpeting on the inside of the hull is old and mouldy and along with replacing the cushions, probably the single biggest improvement that can be made to the boat – getting rid of the remainder of the cigarette smells (which is pretty much gone now) as well as the mouldy, salty, dusty smells. A few of the lockers have been done with two coats of Bilgekote and it’s starting to make a real difference to the smell of the boat already. By the time all the lockers and the bilge have been painted, plus new cushions and carpeting as well as a bit of varnish on the woodwork here and there it, La Mouette will smell almost as new as those plastique fantasique boats that you have to take off your shoes to climb aboard at the boat shows. Although, the Admiral makes everyone take off their shoes to climb aboard La Mouette also.
Hopefully it should be a good summer, with lots of sailing and weekends at anchor before the season changes yet again to Autumn – a cooler time and more of those tricky boat jobs can be dealt with.
But more of that next time