Australia and the selling of Kenobi

It’s been a looong time since we were in Sydney and somehow blogging kept being put off. But here is finally a recap of what happened in Australia.

Australia and the selling of Kenobi photo album

Short version:
We sailed up along the east coast in pretty choppy seas and the sailing itself was mostly dull. Friends from Sweden flew down and we celebrated Christmas together eating pickled herring and gingerbread cookies from IKEA and drinking home made mulled wine. Just before new years we reached the northern tip of our sailing in Australia, Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast. There we spent a few weeks in the marina getting the radar and some other last pieces fixed on the boat. Then we did one last night sail with all our beautiful new Raymarine equipment down to Gold Coast where we put Kenobi on the hard at The Boat Works. First class facilities and Kenobi got a nice makeover, looking almost brand new by the end of it. We left the boat with a broker in a storage area on land at the shipyard and took some vacation after all that scrubbing and polishing before returning to Sweden. From our new home in Currumbin we were in surfer heaven, we could see the surf break from the balcony and we all finally became pro surfers (almost). On Friday the 31st of March Kenobi was sold!

Regular kenobicrossing.com-length version:
Last post me and Hampus were sitting alone on Kenobi mentally preparing for our “short handed” leg of two days sailing up to Yamba. But plans change and by the time we cast off we had five new crew on board! It was friends Lukas and Erik from Sweden and Outspire-Josh (from the last post) and his sister and her friend from Minnesota. Me and Hampus were not entirely sure about taking on this crew since we were going out in pretty rough conditions. It had been blowing from the north for the last week and our only chance to get some southernly wind to make it up to Yamba on time was to jump in after a low-pressure (bad weather) from the Tasman Sea and ride the tail of it. We obviously have no experience sailing here so we really didn’t know what the sea state would be like, along the coast it is under 100m deep and we were afraid that the strong winds would cause choppy and disorganised seas. So I did my absolute worst in “selling in” the trip, explaining what we could expect from the sea and also that we’d have rain and cold. And the coast is probably not even that pretty. Also pointing out that the boat would not turn back to shore because of sea sickness. To my amazement and horror this didn’t scare them at all so early next morning we were off! One hour outside Sydney harbour conditions were unpleasant but manageable. We did have some cases of sea sickness and for the first time some vomit was delivered from Kenobi to the sea. Our crew were fearless however and nobody complained, kudos to you. Next day conditions calmed and everyone was up and about, enjoying the wonder of a sunrise at sea and getting some well needed nutrition and rest.

When we arrived in the little marina in Yamba, located in the entrance of Clearence River, we were greeted by a whole gang of friends. Simon and Karin who had been hanging out in Byron Bay helped catch the lines. Our good friends Adam, Liam and Tim from Lady Amity where there with a big box of beer and a nice bottle of rum for us. First time we met them was in Panama City, they were fuelling up for the crossing, amazing to meet them here now. Rasmus and Jenny from Sweden had just flew over 30 hours but were in good spirits when they moved into Hampus’ suite, which he generously offered in exchange for a berth in the saloon.

Yamba is a quaint little town with really great beaches around. Adam took us surfing at a huge beach which reminded us of Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz in Galapagos, stunning, huge and almost no people. We had a fun evening with Adams folks and some Yamba friends in their pizza-oven equipped garden shack, very cool place. The last day we took a quick tour into the river and I managed to catch a couple flathead fish “flatties” with some frozen sandworms i had bought. Funny looking fish. On the way towards the river entrance, on our way north, I prepared our flathead meal. Linguine with garlic, parley, white wine, cherry tomatoes, flattie fillets and beautiful Yamba prawns…and when it was all done and ready to eat it had gotten dark and we just reached the exit of the river. There the fresh wind was opposing the current from the outgoing tide and driving up standing waves in the entrance! My fancy dinner was ruined as we all had to brace ourselves and sea sickness was again troubling our passengers. All lights had to be turned off to see better so we all just sat there in the darkness, holding on as the engines pushed us through it all. When we got out, at least the ones who could eat said the food was pretty good.

We wanted to go to cool and laid-back surfer town Byron Bay next but there is very little sheltered anchorages to find there. It is, just like most of the east Australian coast line, pretty much just a big sandy beach, open to the wind and the waves. Great for surfing but not for anchoring. So once again we had to creep into a river mouth, this time by Ballina, where we planned to anchor and visit Byron by bus. We’d learnt our lesson from the Yamba exit and stared taking the river entering/exiting more seriously. Before approaching the breakwaters outside we called up Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) to get the current conditions. It’s important to time the tide right and also the sandbanks outside can shift so you can’t always trust the charts. Luckily the friendly and helpful VMR would always advice and they proved to be valuable help for the rest of the cruising in Australia. Sailing into Richmond River the surroundings looked similar to Yamba and other places, low lands, marsh areas, shallow water, twigs ticking up with birds on them, we got an eerie “True Detective” feeling. We anchored to the south of the wide, murky and slow flowing river just outside the town of Ballina.

One day and evening was spent in Byron and the day after, although tired, we dutifully baked gingerbread cookies, lighted the miniature Christmas tree and drank mulled wine as it was December the 24th. Knäckebröd with Kalles kaviar and matjessill, heaven. It’s a Christmas we won’t forget soon, anchored in the swampy river.

Our plan was to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Brisbane, since it’s a big city we figured it would be fun. On the way there we wanted to visit Rob and Pam from Laguz who have a beach house on North Stradbroke island. We sailed out to sea with intention to round the outside of Stradbroke and Moreton island and then sail down through Moreton Bay to the anchorage at Tangalooma. But once again here in Oz the winds were against us and the sea choppy. Our poor visiting friends got seasick again and this time there was an alternative way, go into the protected channels by Surfers Paradise and head up into Moreton Bay from the south. Said and done, we arrived the impressive skyscraper-ridden skyline of Surfers Paradise in the night and got a few hours sleep before continuing into the narrow channels when daylight came. But the ordeal wasn’t over yet. About half way in we sighted a hanging power cable that crossed our path. The charts said it’s at 20 metres height, we’re 21… No good. We conferred over the phone with Rob who had crossed here many times with his old Lightwave 45 cat and he thought there was a large security margin in the measurement. The prospect of motoring all the way back to Surfers Paradise and then spend 24h with headwinds getting seasick was not appetising. Still, chancing an electrocution of the boat didn’t feel okay so I was about to turn the boat around when Simon “No Fear” Littecke volunteered to climb the mast to determine if we could pass by eyesight. “Good idea” was the reaction from the fearless crew and I reluctantly agreed to proceed. We steered close to the pillar where the power line is lifted and Simon gave us the go ahead so we passed under with a couple meters to spare, phew!

First night in Moreton Bay, the large bay outside Brisbane, we spent by Peel Island. Murky water and not much to see here. Next day we continued to Tangalooma which is pretty cool, here some old steel ships have been sunk to create an artificial reef and you could snorkel around and into the wrecks. After a really nice time in Stradbroke Islands with Rob and Pam and their family we decided to skip Brisbane after all and go north in search of more exotic places for our guests.

After New Years’s we said goodby to our friends Rasmus and Jenny and it was time to start taking care of business. We got a spot in Mooloolaba Marina so decided to stay here to get a new radar and other items and contracted John Sterling to install the new Raymarine equipment for us. I seriously cannot recommend this guy enough. Through this year we’ve had many “professionals” working on out boat and in the beginning we treated them just like that. They were trained, had experience and we knew very little so best just to let them do the job the best way they see fit, right? Wrong. Only from the work in Tahiti we now realised the linear drive for the autopilot had randomly been disconnected as well as the exhaust fan for port engine. Oops. Cables were a mess, old components were not removed and cleaned up but left cluttering up the important stuff. All leaving you with the feeling “I should just have done it myself”. In comes John and not only installs the new equipment expertly but fixes, cleans up and de-clutters the previous installations. And he puts labels on things so we’ll know what they are. And he uses cable ties to leave things tidy. Small things like that. He even likes to teach you things, given that you give him your full attention and accept his short and direct style of communicating. All in all a true professional and it was great fun working with him.

The other big thing we did here in Mooloolaba was to get serious with the surfing. We adopted the Queensland lifestyle and started getting up ridiculously early in the morning. It was amazing, we could be up at 5, load the boards into the dinghy to go across to Buddina beach and there would be people everywhere! Walking their dog, paddling canoes or SUPs (sometimes with dog), swimming, running, training in outdoor gyms… They are an active lot, the Queenslanders. When we got to the surf lineup at 5:30 there was already a dozen surfers out there. We had some good days here but most of the time it was tough in the beach break, getting wiped out over and over when paddling out and then again when failing to catch waves that would close-out too quick. Even so, we always came out of the water with a big smile, sun shining and still some coffee left in our thermo mugs on the beach. Breakfast at the boat and work start at 8:00. There is no better way to start a day than this.

Our good marina neighbour Marco was also helping our surfing progress. He is a really good surfer from South Africa who now live with his family onboard their Grainger 42 cat Noah’s Ark, currently getting it prepared to take the family to Indonesia and maybe even all the way to South Africa. We would always see him and his two sons on their skateboards in the marina or going off with the surfboards in the dinghy. Marco shared many tips on surfing spots in the area and he even gave us a longboard! They are a really cool and inspiring family and I look forward to following them on their blog The Big Stoke.

Before selling the boat we still wanted to haul out to do new anti-foul and a complete gelcoat polish among other things. The decision fell on The Boat Works, a newly built ship yard in the Gold Coast. It was a bit up river and away from everything fun, such as surfing, but they seemed to have the best facilities and reasonable prices. The night sail down there with all the electronics finally installed and working was fantastic and annoying at the same time. We could see radar and AIS targets on the new touch-control plotter screen and on the iPad Raymarine app that connected to the plotter by wifi, amazing stuff. Annoying because we only got to use it this once, imagine having had this from the start!! Next time… The sail and the haul out went fine and we stayed three weeks on the hard here cleaning out and polishing every inch of our beloved Kenobi. After all this, a new sprayhood and the new interior canvas made in Fiji brought out, the boat looked amazing. It was time to say goodbye and leave her in the hands of our broker, Kelvin at Multihull Solutions. He found a good spot for us in the display area of the boat yard and we felt happy with our decision to leave the boat here.

See final result of the boat-pimping on the Boat page.

As Kelvin started doing his thing we moved out of Kenobi, what a strange feeling, and into an apartment not too far away in Currumbin. Here we finally found surf nirvana, from our balcony we could see the beautiful Currumbin Alley right-handed point break. We had a great last week all of us together here. Surfing morning and afternoon, cooking pizza in the oven and organising all our belongings. We managed to sell some of the stuff - our two unused and neglected kitesurfing setups, the Splash Drone, the inflatable SUP. Some stuff was given away and a lot shipped back to Sweden, 7 boxes in total.

By the end of that week Simon and Hampus had to fly back to start work and Johan went off backpacking in NZ. I stayed in the area for a couple weeks more, surfing and exploring. It proved to be a good thing - the day before I flew out I got to show the boat to a couple from Port Douglas and they have now bought the boat! We didn’t get as high a price as we had hoped for but we feel happy with the quick sale and at least we broke even on the purchase price, netting $2000. We’re also very happy with the new owners, they were very nice and promised to take good care of Kenobi. They dream of sailing to the Marshall Islands but first do some sailing closer to home to get used to the boat, a great idea especially since they live right by the Great Barrier Reef! They seemed really cool and I’m stoked Kenobi will continue sailing to some amazing places and new adventures.

Last good bye of our shiny boat

So now I’m writing all this from my apartment in Stockholm. Spring is here and the sky has been a clear blue most of the days, temperature still at a crisp 5-10 degrees. Surfing exercise is replaced by running the many tracks along the waters in the city. Work is about to start. People ask me all the time if I am adjusting and will I ever be able to settle down now?? Right now I feel happy where I am. Among friends and family and my slightly introvert and stiff but also humble, considerate and caring Swedish brethren. I can go for a beer here without a drunk ozzie running up to me in the bar, pulling my beard and informing me I look like Jesus. It’s nice. Working a desk job again will be a change for sure but I know from experience you adjust faster than you think. Simon and Hampus are already back and running at full speed. I’m optimistic and looking forward to finding some interesting work to do. Life as a full-time sailing vagabond is not for me, I need some sense of direction and purpose. That said it doesn’t mean I don’t want to ever sail again, judging by my track record I would say it is quite likely that I will. We will see when, how and where. For now my sailing interest is to buy a boat here in Stockholm, hopefully together with Hampus and my father who are also interested. We’re thinking a 30-35 ft monohull that sails well. Something for weekends and getting around the Baltic sea with. Come to think of it, a 35 footer would even be big enough for an expedition up to the ice bergs of Svalbard…

Thank you all who have followed the blog, it’s been great fun to write and share and to get your comments. If you’re thinking of doing a trip like this (do it) and want to ask any questions, please find our emails are at the Crew page.

Until the next time,
Lukas

Australia and the selling of Kenobi photo album

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