Thursday, 8 September 2011

Danish Family Released by Somali Pirates

Even 300 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, private sailing vessels can be hijacked by pirates.  Four US citizens were killed in February 2011 during a failed rescue attempt.  A few days later, a Danish family of five with children under 16 and two crew members on the sailing boat Ing were taken hostage.

When you've shared the same anchorages with people just living the dream of sailing around the world and suddenly they become hostages or are killed by Somali pirates, the horror of piracy comes close to home.  Our family has been anxiously monitoring news of the Danish family, Qvist Johansen from Ing.

Today we are celebrating news of their release after six months.  Link to news.

The Gulf of Aden is a major shipping route.  With the Somali pirates extending their reach 300 nautical miles from their coastline and the fact that the country has not had a functioning government since 1991, it is hard to believe that most people are completely unaware hundreds of people remain hostages in Somalia.  Perhaps some of the millions that go in aid to Somalia could be used to protect the safety of private and commercial ships attempting to enter the Gulf of Aden.  What do you think?

Sunday, 21 August 2011


When we crossed the Pacific last year we found ourselves in the company of yachts from all over the world.   One of those international boats was the Danish yacht Ing.

On board Ing was a family cruising the world.  Tragedy struck when they were captured by Pirates.

News this week is that they maybe released within a week.  I hope so.

See link for news

Update, Crew of ING have been released after 6 months.  See link for news

Saturday, 20 August 2011

messing about in boats

"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,"

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Brisbane Based Bristol Rose

Brisbane River City Cats Signage

 Moving back into the mainstream of life has its challenges.  As well as all kinds of crazy weather in Queensland, we've been confronted with some serious culture shock.  Our experiences are fairly mundane compared with everything we experienced in crossing the Pacific.  
Bristol Rose in her slip at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron
Getting settled in Brisbane, working, enjoying the sunshine, favourite foods.  Unfortunately not a lot of time to keep our blog up to date and friends have been asking if Yasi got us.
Pumpkin in the markets and roast pumpkin on the menu, yum!
A tower of lamingtons!
The stuff of cravings when we lived in the US, far away from an Aussie cake shop.
Buckets of gerberas
Rainbow Lorikeet building a nest
Attitude, contender in the Brisbane to Gladstone multihull race.
Bristol Rose is being hauled out this week to take care of annual maintenance, which is a little overdue.
Manly, Queensland

Monday, 31 January 2011

Yasi knocks on the door of Queensland

As if the recent floods was not enough now mother nature is sending cyclone Yasi to visit north Queensland this week.  With the state still struggling to dry out we are now looking towards more rain and damaging winds.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Australia Day on Moreton Bay

Look Closely, Jack from Anthem joins in with the Aussie Day celebrations
Each Wednesday the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, or simply RQ, has an afternoon race.  Last Wednesday was Australia Day, perfect weather attracted 79 sailboats of all shapes and sizes in the afternoon race.

Here are some of the photos taken on our sail on the bay.

Nice and close

It may be a social outing, buts it's still a race.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Aussie Day! We Love Our Lamb!

On International Australia Day, celebrate with a lamb chop on the barbie.

Check out Sam's latest promotion here.  Happy Australia Day to all our mates near and far.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Old Ways and Wise Building Brisbane

As Bristol Rose made her way up the Brisbane river in October, the crew were shocked to see all the cool new buildings and restorations along the riverfront.  Apartments where industrial sites used to sprawl, the Powerhouse now a fabulous arts space, lots of cool concrete, glass,  miles of boardwalks and cycling paths,  and very "new" uniquely Australian landscaping.

Brisbane was putting on a great show of modernity, class, style and fun for all to see.  That was just two and a half months ago, before the flood of January 2011.  With loads of hard work, even more money, and typical Aussie never-say-die spirit, Brisbane will look great again when all the mud and debris is cleaned away.

Will the developers have to change the way they think, design and build?  There's wisdom in the old ways of building in the Sunshine State.  It's worth taking a seriously close look at how it used to be.

The typical old "Queenslander" was built on stilts - hmmm, no prizes for guessing why!  While the old homes might get their feet (or stilts) wet, the living spaces could sit high above invading waters.  The height allows cooling breezes to circulate, provides a place to park the car out of the burning sun.  And who didn't have a clothesline under the house for hanging the washing on rainy days?

The "Queenslander" has wide verandahs to shade the windows and keep the rain at a distance.  Some covered in their verandahs for extra living space but even left open, they're extremely practical and useful.  The verandahs and "under the house" allowed space for kids and adults to get outdoors, under cover from the elements.  And best of all, those grand old houses are charming and beautiful to look at.  You've gotta love a Queenslander!

Friday, 21 January 2011

King Tide and Long Wait for CityCat Ferry

Bayside at Manly, boats in the marinas certainly saw an increased water level but the King Tide caused no real problems here.  Residents in Albion were affected by some tidal flooding.

The has reported on the state of the Brisbane CityCat ferry service and $100 million rebuild cost estimate.  Follow the link for the news and a great picture of the Sydney Street Ferry terminal.

Over the past eight days transport by bus and train has been free to assist residents and volunteers.  Free public transport stops on Monday when passengers will pay an additional 15% on top of the pre-flood fares.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Brisbane Before and After Flood

NearMap, based in Perth, Western Australia, have mapped the recent Brisbane floods.  Although the before images are reported to be taken January 13, it's obvious many were taken well before then.  Nevermind, you get the general idea.

Here's my photo of the Moggill Ferry, service suspended, tied up to the Ipswich side on December 27.

With all the rain this summer up to Christmas Holidays, there was already flooding in the area around Mt. Crosby and Wivenhoe Dam when we toured the area with friends on Dec 27.  People are asking about the operation of the dam and the ability of the existing dam to cope with all that rain.

The Brisbane River at Colleges Crossing, Dec 27, 2010
Benches and barbecues under water.
Campers hanging in there on the edges of Wivenhoe Dam on Dec 27, 2010.   
As well as all the poor souls who lost loved ones, homes and businesses in floods across 5 states (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania), there are many who were less drastically affected.  How do you count the number of lives disrupted, those whose employment is in doubt, how many holidays ruined?

Click on ABC News, move your mouse over the images to see the difference a day can make.   When you look at the before and after aerial images, (Part 1 and Part 2) you get a glimpse of the magnitude of the devastation we have witnessed in Brisbane.  Brisbanites and visitors alike will miss riding the ferries and cycling (and walking) the miles of river walkways.

Beautiful Bulimba Ferry terminal in October 2010
Most if not all of the Brisbane Ferry docks have been washed away.  The Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Campbell Newman, does not expect the CityCat ferry service to be operating for at least 90 days.

One of a fleet of CityCats leave the Brisbane River for Manly, Tuesday Jan 11, 2011.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Storms Are Not Always the Same.

We are in Cyclone season in Queensland and back to that age old cruiser summer hobby of weather watch.  Our first cyclone, Vania, a category one with 35 knot winds, what?  So I did some research.  The above table shows the rating systems for different tropical storms. Here is a surprise, different countries use different ratings for storms.

In Australia Cyclone ratings are as follows.
Category 1 Cyclones - 34 to 47 knts
Catergory 2 Cyclones - 48 to 63 knts
Category 3 Cyclones - 64 to 85 knts
Catergory 4 Cyclones - 86 knts to 106 knts
Category 5 Cyclones - greater than 107 knts

This contrasts with the US rating system
Category 1 Hurricanes - 56 to 72 knts
Category 2 Hurricanes - 73 to 85 knts
Category 3 Hurricanes - 86 to 99 knts
Category 4 Hurricanes - 100 to 119 knts
Category 5 Hurricanes - greater than 120 knts

So, in summary at the low end of the scale cyclone warnings may scare us prematurely however on the high end all severe storms are best to be avoided if possible.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Rain, Flooding, Move to Manly

Bristol Rose and crew are safe tonight at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Manly.  We have Brisbane's City Cats for company, as well as Merlin, Alexis and Whiskers.

Getting out of our slip at Dockside Marina and over to Manly was windy, wet, bumpy and cold.  At least we zoomed down the river at a brisk pace, dodging debris, and doing well.

One of the deciding factors that convinced us it was time to move was seeing all the ferries and City Cats heading down the Brisbane River, and buildings in the CBD were evacuated.  When Robert measured the distance between the high water mark and the top of the pylon holding our dock,  he measured 7 feet, well short of expected levels.

We're thinking about our neighbours at Dockside Marina.  There were so many boats in their slips when we left today, including some liveaboards.  If the levels rise as suggested, the floating docks will come right over the tops of the pylons.  It's too horrifying to think about.  Images over the last days and weeks have been horrifying.

Aussies have earned the reputation for being tough.  Here's a quote from a woman interviewed on the news, "You gotta be strong and just keep going, that's the Australian way".

Story in the NY Times: Staying Afloat Down Under

Inland Instant Tsunami in Toowoomba

Eight dead, 72 missing.  Families separated, many people stranded and isolated.  Gatton, Qld evacuated overnight.  Flash floods, Toowoomba devastated by a wall of water.  Houses washed away with people in them.  One spokesperson calls the wall of water that swept through Toowoomba yesterday, "An inland instant tsunami".

Queensland government calls an all agencies briefing.  Suburbs at risk today or tomorrow include: Albion,  Auchenflower,  Bowen Hills, Brisbane City, Bulimba, Chelmer, Coorparoo, East Brisbane, Fortitude Valley, Kangaroo Point, New Farm, South Brisbane, Windsor, Wacol.  The equivalent of two Sydney Harbours are flowing into the Wivenhoe Dam.

We are holding tight to our floating dock at Dockside Marina while considering our options.  The marina is protected a little by the curve of the river, with the other side experiencing fast flowing water (we estimate about 10 knots), and our lines not straining at all.

Moving out from our little eddy would present some difficulties with the flow of the water,  and all the debris making its way to the sea, plus our prop is not performing well for us.  We are expecting a three meter tide, which these docks could sustain.  No evacuations have been called for Brisbane city and we're trying to get more information.

Noon.  We are preparing to leave the dock and take our chances getting down the river, out through Moreton Bay and to the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron marina at Manly.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Of Droughts and Flooding Rains, and Runaway Yachts in Bundaberg

Brisbane River looking south from our slip at Dockside Marina, Kangaroo Point
 "I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horions,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!"

Dorothea Mackellar (1885-1968), wrote the poem "Core of My Heart" at age 19, expressing her for Australia.  She captured it all, the uniqueness of Australia, the feelings Aussies have for their country and the poem became known widely as "My Country".   When I was at school, everyone could recite by heart, the refrain, at the very least.

The Brisbane River flooding at Colleges Crossing, 27th Dec 2010
 Since we arrived in Brisbane we have experienced 28 fine days and 49 days of rain.  This all follows 10 years of drought.  At the peak of the drought 70% of Queensland had been in drought conditions for 6 years!  Still living aboard Bristol Rose in Brisbane city, we are xperiencing exceptionally heavy rainfalls, torrential rains.  Today much of southern and central QLD is in flood.

Australia is a land of contrasts and extremes.

"Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die -
But then the grey clouds gather, 
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain."

The flooding is causing problems not just for those on the land, but for yachts both local and international.  In Australia we have the insane situation where the Volunteer Marine Rescue are prevented from "salvaging".

Wivenhoe Dam, 27th Dec.  All five flood gates are now open.
 Red tape has tied the hands of willing VMR volunteers so they must watch from their launches as runaway boats crash towards their destruction and even down the rivers and out to sea.  You can read the story at Sail-World and at ABC.

When looking at news stories about the flooding, we found a story about cruising mates, Jim and Kent of Sea Level, participants in the Port 2 Port Rally from Port Vila to Bundaberg.  Jim is one of Robert's surfing buddies.  It looks like he's also something of a hero!  Their story is at Bundaberg News Mail, 28th Oct 2010.

"An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land -
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand -
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly."

Rain is keeping the ducks happy.

Click here for the poem My Country (Core of My Heart).