Cairns, Northern Queensland

Cairns, Northern Queensland

Celebrating our Pacific crossing with a bottle of bubbly in our hotel room.

Fourteen days quarantine in the Pacific Hotel in Cairns was compulsory for us after our arrival in Far Northern Queensland. We enjoyed the stay and the meals from the 28th July to the 10th August 2021, but not the cost of $4,130 plus $1,894 for a marina berth while we were in quarantine.

Catching up with emails.

The hotel deserves compliments for their meals which were excellent, albeit a tad too much, considering that we could not exercise to shake off the results. We had fast internet access and a balcony that we could go out on, with a view of the city and the sea. The hotel arranged live music by Craig Phelps on the pool deck with free pizzas delivered to our rooms on Friday nights, which we enjoyed on our balconies.

Music on the pool deck.

Craig Phelps playing Jack Johnson.

Pizzas with Craig singing in the background.

Lunch – salads and chicken mayonnaise sangers.

During our stay we had three PCR swab tests with negative results during the 14 days, before we could leave the hotel. Upon discharge, we met with a Department of Agriculture Biosecurity official to have our boat checked for timber bug infestations. For this we had to pay a charge of $310.

Annie’s morning exercise routine.

Another curved ball was a Customs law dating back to 1901, which required us to re-import our boat after more than a year abroad. We didn’t know that we actually exported the boat in the first instance. The cost of a Customs broker was another $480, to have the boat released from Customs.

Cairns Marina with our neighbours, John and Raewyn Lemberg.

We were haemorrhaging money, as there were also numerous repairs to be done after the long ocean crossing: torn jib sail, torn spray dodger, the forward toilet mounting screws stripped, requiring the replacement of the toilet, etc. We set about doing this as soon as we got back to the boat.

Cairns foreshore.

Two days before our release from 14 days quarantine in the Pacific Hotel and after our third negative Covid PCR test, we were advised that Cairns will go into lockdown for three days because of a new Covid-19 case in Cairns. This meant getting back to our boat, but not being able to go anywhere for a day.

Walk along the foreshore.

We then spent a pleasant week in beautiful Cairns enjoying the tropical Far North Queensland parks and gardens. The council goes to great lengths to make the town tourist friendly with well planned and clean facilities. The tropical trees were different to the ubiquitous eucalyptus trees of NSW.

Tropical trees, not seen in Sydney.

Excellent BBQ facilities in the parks.

Our mobile SIM cards for Australia expired during our absence, so we had to get new ones and I had to get my iPhone repaired due to water ingress. We hired a car and stocked up with food, booze and gas before we departed on the 18th August, after filling Esprit up with diesel.

Statue in front of the RSL.

Waterfront art.

Shallow pool for the kids.

More tropical trees.

We will now motor sail the 17 nm to Fitzroy Island south-east of Cairns, to tie up to a Parks Board mooring and will report on our journey south, as we progress. Cheers for now!


Shake down cruise

Shake down cruise

Performance Boating Sales, the importers of Jeanneau yachts in Sydney organised a Jeanneau rally to Newcastle and Port Stephens from the 9th to 14th April 2016. We saw this as a good opportunity to stretch Esprit’s legs for a shake down cruise before we set off North in May.

Approaching Newcastle

Approaching Newcastle

Our friends Ron & Michelle Watson and Peter & Mandy McLean joined us for the sail up the coast. We departed Saturday at 9:30am from Barrenjoey light house in light Easterlies for the 48 nautical mile sail to Newcastle. We had to motor initially, but the wind freshened from the South-east, allowing us to hoist the asymmetrical spinnaker. We arrived at Newcastle Yacht Club around 5pm and after a few sundowners joined the rest of the Jeanneau sailors for dinner and a party on the floating “The Princess”

Michelle, Ron & Annie

Michelle, Ron & Annie

Sunday dawned with some serious headaches, but our new Aldi coffee machine produced some strong blacks to soothe the nerves. We departed at 10am for Port Stephens on a glassy sea with no wind. The 54 hp Yanmar iron genoa came to the rescue and we watched some dolphins as we motored up the coast. A Southerly breeze allowed us to sail the second half of this leg into Port Stephens where we tied up in the d’Albora marina.

Mandy, Dirk & Annie

Mandy, Dirk & Annie

After some sundowners, Peter and Mandy treated us to dinner at the local pub. We had an early night! The following day Annie and I did extensive walks around Port Stephens, which is a beautiful area just 3 hours North of Sydney. With our sailing companions bussing home, Annie and I sailed out of the heads on Tuesday at 8am, into a freshening South-easter.

Annie & Dirk

Annie & Dirk

The seas were rough and with the wind building to 25knots, we reefed the main and furled the headsail by 50% to make good headway at about 8.5 knots. One long tack out to sea allowed us to clear Newcastle by about 4 miles, to ease out and sail a straight beat into Lake Macquarie. We arrived after 7 hours at about 3pm, with enough depth before low tide to clear the bar at the entrance. We picked up a mooring just outside the draw bridge.

The rising tide meant we could sail out of Lake Macquarie at 9am into a moderate 13-18 knot South-easter. One long beat to Barrenjoey light house and we arrived at Royal Motor Yacht Club at 4pm after 7 hours of sailing. The boat performed very well, making a good and dry passage and promising excellent passage making come May. We look forward to this.