It was like one of those dreams where you have to be somewhere and although you are running as fast as you can towards your destination, your legs feel like dead weights and you don’t get any closer to your goal. Is it always so complicated getting a boat ready for a voyage such as we have planned?
Finally, on Tuesday 26 May at 11.30 am we dropped our lines at Scarborough Marina and slid quietly out into Morton Bay.
It is 28 years since we went off shore and since then the thought of more sailing adventures and a wandering life on a boat has been a distant dream that carried us through the ups and downs of every day life.
Over the past five years in particular, our dream was held close. We were able to purchase our boat Bali Hai, a sleek Jeanneau 44i, through an international yacht charter company based in Australia in the Whitsunday Islands.
The good part of the arrangement was that we were able to partly finance the purchase of the brand new Bali Hai through the rentals we received. In theory, her marina fees and maintenance were also at least partially covered but with the onset of the GFC and the high Aus$, it meant that we had to put our hands in our pockets far more than anticipated.
However, the arrangement made it possible to have the boat in the first place so that was the big positive!
We also had some great trips away with family and friends around the beautiful Whitsunday Islands and were able to do a ‘boat swap’ in Thailand which was amazing.
For the most part, she looked very clean and tidy when we had breaks aboard. However, the disadvantages were that often, the people who chartered her didn’t have a clue how to sail her and she had ‘more hits than Elvis’ on her poor keel. There were groundings that people didn’t ‘fess up to (one where the skipper, when challenged, claimed she ‘lightly touched’ the bottom but in reality she had such a bashing that it caused thousands of dollars worth of damage.)
And then there was the maintenance. Hmmm better not start on that but suffice to say, the charter company wanted the boats in the water making money and there weren’t enough staff to keep up with everything (hard to keep good staff in the Whitsundays and probably the American parent company pared staff costs to the bone during the GFC) .
Let’s just leave it that when we took her out of the water in Brisbane the already replaced gear box needed replacing, some of the oil filters in the engine appear to have never been replaced, the prop shaft was just about hanging on, etc etc
Enough! We finally replaced, refurbished and renovated everything you can think of, and we were “ready” to go ( nobody is ever ready – you just have to go and finish things on the way.)
As we edged past the dredger boat at the entrance to Scarborough marina we felt triumphant but also nervous, excited but anxious, happy but sad at leaving our friends and family behind.