Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Aaaah, succumbed and bought a boat

Finally lived up to the Halfwit name and bought a boat. Yup, no income at all but decided it was a good idea to sell some of our shares at half price and invest in a money pit called "Bonnington". Who knows when the world economy will pick up and we're not getting any younger.
We actually went to the mainland with Mike to view a 30' Diamond he was thinking of buying. Great boat, very fast and at a good price. So there we were outside the yacht broker's office while Mike signed the papers. What did we do? We looked in the window! Aaaah, look at that one!!

Well, why not? We went and had a look and no, it wasn't a good boat. Very tired and had seen better days. But the yacht broker got our details and next day emailed us photos of "Bonnington" which is a delightful boat and just what we would have wanted ... had we been truly thinking of buying a boat.

Went over ... just to have a look ... and yup, we bought it!

So here we are, Guy Onassis and Alene O ... sorta!

"Bonnington" (odd name, isn't it?) is a 30' sloop, with a wooden hull overlaid with fibreglass. She is 10 years old and has had one owner since new.
He is selling her because at 83, he is finding it a little hard to leap around pulling sails up and down.

She has a retractable keel, which is extremely useful in Moreton Bay. There are a lot of sand bars and mud banks around and it's all too easy to get stuck at low tide ... "That wasn't there last time we were here ..." So all we have to do is pull up the keel a little, stick the engine in reverse and pull ourselves off and sail away. Magic!!

Plenty of room in the cockpit for friends to sit and sip a GnT or a Mango Daiquiri. Inside there is a very roomy cabin which sleeps four comfortably and six if you are desperate.
There is a shower and a head (ooh, I'm so nautical!!!) and a gas cooker in the galley (more nautical terms!!)

We weren't totally halfwitted! We did sign up subject to a trial sail and a survey, so last Friday saw us on the mainland at Raby Bay, motoring up to Manly (no wind) and getting the boat up on the hard for the surveyor to check it all out.

He was very impressed with it and gave it his full recommendation. After lunch we sailed it back to Raby Bay with a fresh south-easterly giving us a wonderful opportunity to try out the boat. It sails beautifully and the tiller is very responsive.

So all we had to do then was pay for it. That has now been done and we hope to be able to pick it up this Friday and sail it back to Macleay.

In the meantime, we have to spend more money on boat insurance, a tender, a motor for the tender, etc, etc. Luckily, we don't have to organise a mooring yet. A friend, Mike Stephens, whose boat is currently out of the water, has allowed us to use his mooring for a month or so until "Sirius" is back in the deep blue.
The funniest thing is that when we were telling Mike about the boat, he actually knew the owner and the boat itself. It had raced at the Tingira Boat Club often and had actually won the Brian Calvert Memorial Trophy (the big one here on the island) in 2006. So we have a winning boat! (Shame about the crew!!)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Near Enough is Not Good Enough

I don't seem to be able to get this blog really going ... I'd like to see at least weekly updates but somehow there is never any time. Amazing to think I once had to work full-time and still managed to fit in a busy social life.

On the island, we have standard bookings for our week ... Tuesday night is Firies. We have joined the Macleay Island Volunteer Fire Brigade and turn up every Tuesday night at 6pm to do our training. Guy and I have the sexy bright yellow uniforms, the white hats and the white gloves ... yet to acquire the big black Taipan boots. We are almost fully inducted but have yet to attend a real fire. The closest we have done is a "controlled burn" at the Primary School, where they had cut down some huge trees that needed burning off. Great fun! Like Guy Fawkes Night! So, OK, that's Tuesday nights.

Wednesdays I have an art class with Faye, a neighbour up the road. She was once a very well-known artist but has come to the island to live a hermetic lifestyle, as so many do. It doesn't do to enquire too closely into many islanders' past lives. Faye has been in the Army, played softball for Australia and Athletics also, has lived and painted in many communities on the mainland and has paintings in the National Gallery and at Parliament House in Canberra. But now she grows lavender in her garden, goes to bingo and garage sales and teaches me once a week. In return, I listen to her chatter about her past (a secret) and her friends/enemies on the island (changing weekly). My painting is spasmodic, like my writing ... she also urges me to join the Writers Group, of which she is a member. (Can I fit in one more thing in my schedule?)

Thursday nights are Trivia Nights at the Bowls Club every second week. We have a team of 6. Mike J is our leader, a single father of 3 in his 40s. Ex bikie, large bloke with tatts who looks a bit like Santa with long hair. He's big on music and engineering facts. His girlfried Allie is the guru on TV shows, pop music and current movies. Graham is our sports and maths genius. A retired high school maths teacher, he lives in a tiny house on Kestrel Street facing into the bush. He grows all his own herbs and vegies, makes his own pizza and roasts in his home-built mud oven and makes most of his furniture. Busy man! He used to coach hockey at schools where he taught, so when I was training for the Nationals in 2008 he helped me a great deal. Our third member is Margaret, a librarian in her 80s. Smart as a whip with a caustic tongue. God help us if she gave us the correct answer and we didn't use it! Brian doesn't contribute too much but is helpful with footy. Guy does all the science stuff and I do the really, really weird totally useless facts. (Yes, I know who wrote Frankenstein and I know who her husband was but did you know he drowned in Lake Geneva?) So with that lot, we usually win the night or come second. Prizes are $$$ vouchers to spend at the Bowls Club. We save them up for a twice yearly feast at the Bowls Club Chinese Restaurant, complete with drinks. Yay! Christmas in July coming up!!

Once a month, there is Boat Club Thursday morning Tea ... coffee and yummy home-made nibblies for all. We take it in turns to host this event and each bring a plate. I try frantically each month to bake something edible but so far nothing has been even remotely edible. Frantic trip to the shops for another packet of chocolate biscuits. Sigh!

Once a month also at the end of the month is the Thursday Beautiful People's Lunch. Ho ho!! We were pretty chuffed when we got an invite to this one! Unfortunately, the beautiful people formed the Club in the 60s. Enough said! But whilst most of them are far from beautiful on the outside, they certainly know how to enjoy life. A day in Marg's garden sipping chards and trying out Barry's new recipe for corn puffs can't be all bad.

Now we get into the busy part of the week!!!

Friday night is Club Night. The Boat Club is our life here on the island. Guy is Sailing Master and I am Secretary/Bar Person/Nominee/blah lah lah. Friday Nights see us down at the Club from 6pm to open the bar and sit down for a $6 meal provided by a volunteer cook. Yes, Guy takes his turn (remember, I can't cook!!) He usually does one of his fantastic Malaysian curries. It's a good night, even if I do have to work the bar most of the time.

Saturdays usually finds us entertaining or being entertained. Always a lunch and/or a dinner somewhere. And if not, there is always music and dinner/dancing at the Golf Club or a Chinese meal at the Bowls Club.

Sunday is our big sailing day. We do small boat sailing in Vagabonds every week when the tide is in. And yes, I can now sail! I can even capsize and I am an expert at recovering from the "death spiral". Mainly because I get into this precarious position more often than the instructors thought humanly possible!!

Once a month we have a picnic day where the big boats pile people on board and take off for Stradbroke, Peel Island or Coochimudlo. Once there, we unload our portable bbq onto the beach, open the eskies and ... surprise ... eat, drink and be merry. We also have overnight camping trips in much the same vein ... see an earlier post for a night at Tulleenderley.

This week we started Vagabond Racing! Wow! Small boats with two people sailing round a tight 3 buoy course. I was crew on Don's boat. We did amazingly well, coming last and 2nd last in the two heats we were in. Hopefully, next time we will improve. Don shows promise as a death spiraller too! He has a habit of dropping his ciggy in the bottom on the boat and bending to retrieve it. This often means relinquishing the tiller. Aaaaagh! Death Spiral!!!

Sunday finishes with a bbq at the Club and a post mortem of the race.

So that's our standard bookings for the week. Plus meetings for the Boat Club Committee, Racing Committee, meetings with the Lions Club for their Canoe Race in April, visits to the mainland to replenish our larder/wine cellar and to keep Bunnings in business. I'd like to learn to play golf but when??

And Near Enough etc? That was my latest effort. I decided to cover the sofa bed because it looked out of place with our new furniture. New stuff is wicker and white cushions. Sofa bed is blue. So I measured carefully, drew up the plan and purchased the fabric. All good. But when it came to making it up, I fell into my usual trap. Near Enough is Good Enough. Surely it would be fine if I draped it over the couch, tacked two sides on and then sewed it all up.

NO, IT WOULDN'T! It looks pretty dodgy.

See pics. Have covered up part of it with an Indian tablecloth from Goa, cushions from Marrakesh and Vietnam and hidden the very, very badly made side piece with a table.

Will I ever learn?