Thursday, 14 January 2016

Episode 45 New South Wales and returning to Lorelei

Lorelei’s Sailing Adventures

Normally our blog is all about our “sailing” adventures.
This post (like our 2 last post) has no sailing as we have been doing some land based travels.
It’s our last land based blog post before we resume International Sailing again in January 2016.

At the end of Episode 44, is was the first week in December and we were in Brisbane and about to hop on a plane to Sydney, NSW.
A simple flight in comparison to the dozen or so flights we had throughout Asia during the past 8 weeks – or so we thought…….

Our route for this Episode of the Blog.

Even though we are Virgin Velocity Airline Members, we chose to fly Jetstar instead as the times and cost suited us better.
It turned out to be a terrible experience and we will NEVER, EVER fly with Jetstar airlines again.
It’s the only time we have ever had our duty-free alcohol weighed as cabin baggage and subsequently we were forced to pay $50 excess cabin baggage weight to the rudest staff member we have ever come across as we boarded the plane. Ironically our bags in the hold were underweight and combined with the alcohol, it still would have come in under the allowed limited.
It was just one of many terrible experiences that day that left us with mouths-agape.


Our destination was to be to the Central Coast (100km north of Sydney), but our first priority was to go to the Indonesian Embassy in Maroubra (Eastern Sydney) to apply for a new 6 month Indo Visa.
We knew it might take a while and we could possibly hit hurdles so we did it first thing.
Whilst we were in Sydney we caught up with some friends.

First stop was Andrew and Kristyn’s home in North Sydney.
We had an awesome time catching up.
Andy went fishing before we arrived and caught us fish and crabs to have for dinner.

The next morning (slightly dusty….) we set of for a surf mission along Sydney’s Northern Beaches looking for waves. There was swell but no decent banks and in the end we settled for a body surf at Palm Beach with Lisa and Andy getting pretty badly dumped on the shore break.

Kristyn had a great Lego Christmas Advent Calendar that we opened each morning. Big kids at heart…..

On Saturday night we headed out for dinner and then down to the harbour side for Paul to take some time exposure photos of the city skyline. Considering he didn’t have his tripod and set the camera up on a toilet block roof propped up by broken sticks, he was pretty happy with the results.

We were pretty excited when some unexpected fireworks started going off around the Opera House at around 9pm.

We also caught up with our friend Loren who we met in Yap, Micronesia.
Loren lived in yap when we visited there in 2014 and being the only Aussies in Yap, we linked up to have some fun.
In Micronesia, Loren kindly took us to Yap Day (one of our travel highlights – Episode 23) and she also came and visited us in Palau for a week where we had a blast exploring the Rock Islands and Diving (Episode 25).

Loren was now living in Sydney, so we caught up again.
We had a great day out with her and her friends.


Finally we were back on The Central Coast after more than 6 years!
It’s our home where we grew up and still the home of most of our family and friends.

Even though we were there for nearly 4 weeks, we had loads of family to catch up with, friends to visit as well as house maintenance, Christmas, New Years, multiple birthdays and banking, shopping, paperwork, etc…
It made for a very busy time. We must have slept in over a dozen different beds in the 4 weeks.

We used Paul’s parent’s, George and Chez’s house as a base.
The first job there was to set up the Christmas tree.

They live on a river which meant we could go for a kayak, SUP, or boat rides along the river or out into the lake.

The river is packed full of wildlife including lots of bird species, fish and water dragons. Paul was able to take a camera in a Tupperware dish on the kayak and get some shots of the wildlife and river scenes.

The Water Dragons were Paul’s favourite and a real challenge to sneak up to and get close up photos.

There were loads of large Snake Birds nesting in the trees over the river.

A few doors down from George & Chez live family friends Keith and Barb.
Keith spent 6 weeks on board Lorelei back in 2011 and had a wonderful time (Episode 3).
He taught Paul as a child many of the finer points of sailing whilst holidaying together on Myall Lakes.

We went down for dinner one night and “sampled” a few of his wines that he makes at home with his small setup for family and friends called
“Kalua Wines”.
Needless to say we all took our favourite bottle up for dinner and we brought a few home for Christmas celebrations.
We thought his White Verdelho (along with Barb’s cooking) was superb.

The reserve between George and Keith’s house also has loads of wildlife along the river bank.

The water dragons laze around on the outdoor furniture and the ducks happily hang out on the mowed lawn and small timber wharfs.

Note the Cicada wing in the ducks mouth

Currently there is a Tawny Frogmouth Owl that has built a nest just near George’s boat.

There is a small riverboat 3 doors down that looked great as an old sepia photo.

Lisa’s parents Jack and Carol live not far away and also on the water, but their house backs onto a lake and not a river.
Sunset on the first night there was amazing but we found out the next morning that Sydney had experienced a powerful electrical storm from the intense weather system.

Whilst in Terrigal we also visited Terrigal Beach.
Sadly it’s just not the same anymore.
You can’t get close to the beach carpark to go for a swim or surf because of everybody visiting the wall to wall coffee shops or cafés.
The surfshops are gone and replaced by coffee outlets and our favourite family owned bakeries and burger/fish & chip shops have been replaced by multi-national fast food chain stores.
Even the local Pub is now a multi-storey upmarket setup with prices to match.
I guess you cannot stop progress….
Great for real estate prices on our property, terrible for everything else.
Sadly it was the same along most of the coastal fringe of The Central Coast.
What was once a relaxed coastal strip is now a very busy satellite suburb of Sydney.

December 13th was Paul’s brother Rod’s birthday.
Fortunately it fell on a Sunday and we were able to spend the weekend there with his family.

The stinking hot days were creating awesome sunsets from his balcony overlooking the Brisbane Water.

On the Saturday we went Crabbing with Rod to stock up for the Sunday Birthday BBQ.
We took our niece Claire who was chief crab netter and Pelican feeder.

On the Sunday the family all rocked up for a BBQ lunch.

Mid-week we could look after Claire and nephew Dean whilst everyone was at work.
Time down at the park was fun.

We caught up with friends Bruce and Kylie and their 2 kids at their new home which we hadn’t seen yet.
When their daughter Alana was born, Paul was the first of the friends to get in for a cuddle as he had to fly out the next day. The next time he saw her she was nearly 7!!!

One of the best meals we had whilst away from Lorelei -
Bruce's amazing Seafood Paella and homemade Sangria wine. YUM!!!!

We took a trip up to Lake Macquarie to visit friends John and Jenny on their new cruising yacht Tramontana.
We have travelled in company with them in 4 countries whilst they owned Sharkface, but they have sold the racer/cruiser and updated to a stunning round-the-world capable cruiser which is the same length as Lorelei.

Surfing and Surf club is a huge sport in our family and on the last weekend before Christmas, we drove to Newcastle with George & Chez to watch the Australian Nutrigrain Ironman Surf lifesaving Series which was held at Newcastle Beach.

Whilst it was just a normal round for the professional Iron men & Iron women, it was the finals for the juniors.
Only the top 10 competitors from each age group (which was based on qualifying throughout the season) were able to compete in the finals.
The whole family was very proud to have 3 out of 4 of our nieces & nephews who had made it to the finals.
It was a fantastic experience for them to compete which such a large crowd on the same course as their idols.

Our 4 surfclub kids in the middle. 
L-R: Ngaire, Claire, Dean (who didn’t compete) and Bryn
with Lisa, Chez and George.
Paul G in the middle is Ngaire and Bryn’s dad. He was on safety duty for the comp.

Claire competed first and the field copped a flogging as a large set of 7 big waves smashed them on the paddle leg going out and on the way back in.
They were all pretty tired even before the run and swim legs.

Claire second from left at the start.

Claire with her board in the air

Claire getting swamped in the foam coming back into the beach

Bryn was next and conditions were about the same but he had watched the earlier heats and took a safer and faster route out to the turning buoys.

Ngaire competed in the under 15 girls and was the highest placed finalist of all our family, however she was up against many other top competitors from lots of different clubs up and down the coast.

Ngaire on the run leg – the leg she dislikes the most…

None of our 3 competitors achieved podium finishes but it was a huge achievement even to get to the finals.
The whole family and their surf clubs were very proud of them.

With the nice weather continuing, we decided to have a day at the beach with Lisa’s niece Sarah and her family.
The kids swam for hours in the water at the packed beach.

With just days until Christmas, we went back to George and Chez’s house and relaxed before the big day.

We did a couple of boat trips in the nice weather.
One trip was in the bigger boat over to The Entrance.
There was loads of bird life on the lake.

At night we could have dinner outside around the open fire and beside the river.

In true Aussie style, Dad would make Damper (a traditional Aussie bread made in a camp oven) on the open fire.

Dad has some massive staghorn ferns on the property which are very old.
They gets lots of comments from passers by walking along the river’s edge.

We also did loads of exploring up the river, past all the development.
We would take the small tinny, the kayaks or SUP’s.
Paul took his camera on one sortie in the Tinny.

Paul was excited to get a shot of a small Azzure Kingfisher (left) which don’t stay still for very long.

With just days to go we tried to get some Mud Crabs for Christmas.
Dad scored with a few big ones from the traps set in the backyard.

Being in a semi-rural area, the volunteer bush fire brigade do a special fund raising santa run for the kids with the fire trucks, complete with lights and sirens.

With Christmas Day being for the kids, we decided to stay at Claire and Dean’s house on Chrissy Eve and have some fun.
Paul, Dean and Claire made a Gingerbread House which Dean had fun decorating.

Christmas Day turned into a very busy day.
First it was brekky and presents with Claire and Dean.

Then it was off to Lake Macquarie to have lunch at Lisa’s sister Sue’s house.
Sue and Ken put on a big lunch for the whole family and it was the first time all three siblings had been together for a long time as Len (Lisa’s brother) had flown down from QLD.

Lisa’s Family Christmas Photo.

For late arvo and dinner we ended up back at George and Chez’s place and drank & relaxed as the kids played happily in and on the water.

Dean with a Water Dragon on the fallen tree

Christmas Day also coincided with the full moon and that night Paul was able to get some time exposure shots in the street before the rain started.

On Boxing Day we followed the family tradition of watching the Sydney to Hobart start (which was awesome!!!!) before heading back to Sue and Ken’s house as Sue had the time off between Chrissy and New Year.

They took us for a drive to visit one of our good old favourite surfing spots, Catherine Hill Bay.
This is a quiet old sleepy seaside town that has an old pier and some remote beaches and headlands.
The cold overcast day made for some interesting photos of the old pier, some of which Paul turned into Black and White’s or Sepia toned.

A local surfer taking off dangerously close to the rocks

On the way home from Lake Macquarie we stopped off to have lunch at Swansea.

We watched the bridge open to let a few yachts through which was a trip down memory lane as this is where we started from for our first stint of full time cruising back in 2000.

For New Year’s Eve Paul really wanted to go to Sydney to watch the Harbour Fireworks but after seeing the news reports 24 hours earlier of 1000’s of people already camping out and over 1.5 million people expected around the harbour, we decided to abort and look for a quieter and less stressful option.

So we loaded up George and Chez’s boat and the 4 of us took off mid arvo for a trip to The Entrance to see the 9pm fireworks.
We anchored up on a very small (1.5m/5ft x 4m/14ft) sand bank and had drinks and nibbles.

Paul was able to set up his tripod on the sand bank and get photos 360 degrees all around us.
As the sun set behind the boat, he was able to get some nice shots.

Chez and Lisa cooked Pad-See-Ew Prawns on the boat before the fireworks started.

There were loads of people along the foreshore at The Entrance waiting for the 9pm fireworks.

But we were really amazed at the amount of people lining the walkway on the bridge behind us. It was packed!!!

The fireworks were let off from a barge in the channel.

As the last fireworks were shooting into the sky, a cloud of firework smoke was wafting over The Entrance. It glowed blue as the lights of the foreshore shone through it.

Whilst Lisa and George went prawning after the fireworks, Paul took some more photos of the opposite shore.

2016 – Off with a BANG!!!!

2016 started with a bang and continued that way.
The first bang was the fireworks on New Years Eve followed by days of banging thunder and rain banging on the roof.
The rain was so heavy it caused widespread flooding along much of the NSW central section.
The worse hit areas were about 100km north and north-west of The Central Coast around the Western Hunter Region.

The rivers flooded causing huge damage to property and livestock.


The Central Coast had its fair share with roads cut and rising waterways.

George and Chez had to activate water pumps under their house and the river rose considerably making the floating wharf rise up to its limit.

It was so cold with temperatures in the high teens to low twenties which is so low for summer.

For us it wasn’t so bad as we went to see Star Wars in 3D and finalised plans for our traveling adventures for 2016.

However we really did feel sorry for all the holiday makers who were camping and trying to enjoy the outdoors on what is the busiest holiday week of the year in Australia.

 Unfortunately our house didn’t fare too well in the storms with the chimney blowing off in the strong winds and causing water damage to the inside of the house from the rain. 
We didn’t find out until the day after we left Australia.

One big highlight for us in the New Year was to catch with friend
Lex De Bock and meet his wife Kelly and daughters Sarah & Isabel.
Paul and Lex went to school together from kindergarten and stayed friends right through school. They even looked the same!
They had not seen each other for over 20 years so it was a fantastic night.
Ironically Lisa and Lex were also friends as teenagers and would tenpin bowl and roller-skate together.

Bye Bye Australia – Hello Indonesia.

On the 7th Jan we packed up and left The Central Coast to travel to Sydney airport to board a plane back to Lorelei.
We were very thankful to George and Chez who kindly drove us and our 60+ kilos of luggage to Sydney airport in the miserable rain.

8 hours later we touched down at Denpasar International Airport in Bali.
Talk about a stark contrast in weather…..
All the people on the plane were dressed in warm clothing and we arrived in Bali to find it stinking hot with 34 degrees and a high humidity.

Coming out through the main door of the airport was a joke.
Waiting outside were 100’s of jostling Balinese cab drivers desperate to get a cab fare.
It was crazy!!!
One step out the door and they were rushing over and fighting over who would take our trolley full of luggage.
We already had transport sorted so Paul was trying to wrestle the trolley back off them and push through the dense and relentless group.
A few terse comments in the local language and some remarks about having respect and the crowd soon realised we were not the average tourist and they let us through.

We did feel a little sorry for the other holiday makers who were coming though behind us (we got out first as we didn’t have to get a visa).

If this was your first time in Bali, you couldn’t speak the language and you stepped out into that, you’d be pretty shocked!
It’s not a good first impression of the place.

Having said that, Bali is very quiet from a western tourist perspective.
With a difficult 2015 for Bali with the Bali 9 executions, 2 Volcanos erupting causing chaos for the airports, heightened security amongst fears of terrorist attacks over the New Year period and a local gang-land war currently raging, it’s little wonder that holidaymakers have taken notice of the travel warnings and decided to holiday elsewhere.
Sadly it’s reflecting on many of the businesses that rely on the western tourists, including the cab drivers.

We were able to get back to Lorelei (which had been safely moored in Serangan Harbour for the last 3 months) just before the sunset and watch a terrific sunset over the other boats in the harbour.

The next morning we had to put our big boom tent up on Lorelei to try to keep the heat out.
It was so hot during the day with clear skies, little wind and scorching mid-thirties temperatures for at least 18 hours a day.
It was still high twenties in the middle of the night!!!!

When the locals are complaining about the heat, then you know it’s hot!
Even the local fisherman were immersing themselves right up to their chest.

For the next week we set about returning Lorelei to her normal cruising state.
She was pretty dirty on the outside both above and below the waterline.
The volcanic ash and dust had made her pretty dirty topside and the overworked harbour with its less than perfect water quality had given us a living reef on the hull that had fish and crabs living on it big enough that you could eat.

The propeller was one big ball of coral!!!

So we spent 2 hours early each morning scraping and scrubbing to get her back to normal.

The stainless steel was also tarnished and we employed a local man to help us polish the stainless from bow to stern.

Our davits are so high up that Lisa had to haul Paul up in the boson’s chair so he could polish them.

Paul also had to service the engines and we had to call out the local refrigeration mechanics to get the fridge going again after 3 months of no use.

Onshore Serangan had changed heaps during the 3 months we were away.
Some things for the better – some not….

One sad story was from a local couple, Wayan and Deah.
They had a great little business on the water’s edger providing services to the yachts and cooking great local food.
Wayan’s older brother owned the land and fell terminally ill with cancer. He accused Wayan of casting a spell on him to make him sick and out of retribution, demolished Wayan and Deah’s shop.

All that is left of Wayan’s shop – rubble and an old frame

The wharves have also changed.
The old tender wharf is gone and replaced by another and a flash new main wharf has been completed to service the tourist & commercial boats running out of the area.

Wayan (who’s shop was destroyed) with Lisa at the new Wharf.

A big new flash looking building was being constructed before we left.
It looked huge and far surpassed anything else in the area as far as size and quality.
We thought it was going to be government offices or something similar but it turns out it is a Tsunami evacuation centre.
The best looking building in the region and it will hopefully never be needed.

We were able to walk up onto the top platform and take some photos overlooking Serangan and the harbour.

With Wayan’s shop gone, we did manage to find another great local café owned by locals Pima and Depbie.
They are great hosts and their food is cheap and fantastic.

We had a walk around Serangan and Lisa got to have a look at the fighting Cocks.

Now no funny comments about Lisa holding a Cock……

A local lady outside Pima’s café cooking fish

We contacted our friend driver Wayan with whom we did many trips and tours towards the end of 2015.
He took us on a full day shopping mission to find parts for servicing, supplies, and to do a full food re-provision.
With his local knowledge, we managed to do in one day what would have taken us 1 week without his assistance.
His car was packed to the roof by the time we got back to the wharf.
He’s our favourite person in Bali and we can highly recommend him to do any type of tour around Bali.

So now Lorelei is mostly ready to go but we will need to make a final stop in Lombok at Medana Bay Marina to have access to fuel and water so we can wash the boat properly and fill all the tanks.

Plans for 2016

We have some BIG plans for 2016 but a lot will depend on the weather and sadly we are not off to a good start.

The plan is to sail 1200nm east from Bali to West Papua and explore an area called Triton Bay.
Like Raja Ampat further north, it has world class diving with the added bonus of having Whale Shark congregations there early each year.

The issue is we need westerly winds to get there from Bali and that is the normal wind direction for this time of the year.
Unfortunately, for the entire week we have been in Bali it is still winter trade wind style Easterly winds and the long term forecast has no indication that it will switch to the west.
The ocean currents are also all over the place and very inconsistent.
It’s very frustrating and we are not prepared to motor 2500km into the wind, current and swell.
So we will just have to wait and see whether we can even get there.

The upside is the surf is still around and the dive sites around Northern Bali, Lombok and Komodo are all diveable in the current weather patterns.

Later on in the year, we have a 6 week road trip planned taking us from Alice Springs to Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia.

It will be followed by 4+ months onboard Lorelei exploring between Darwin and Broome on Australia’s North West Coast in an area known as
“The Kimberly”.

And from there……well, we just don’t know yet….

However it is nice to have options for the end of 2016/early 2017 and there are lots of them going North, South, East or West.

Look out for Episode 46 in one months’ time.
It could be about anywhere between Bali and Papua New Guinea…..

Have a safe and enjoyable 2016.
Paul and Lisa Hogger
Now back on our clean yacht “Lorelei”.

Sadly just as we were about to press “POST” on this episode, we received news about a series of terrorist attacks in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.
The news is only hours old but the city is in lockdown, 7 are confirmed dead and ISIS linked fanatics are believed responsible.
Speaking to the locals here, they are appalled at the shocking news, which is live on most Indonesian TV networks.

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