Whoops, bit delayed between posts. Like 10 months delay…..blogger fail.
After spending 2 months breezing around the Whitsundays, we had to make an important family decision after 8 months of travelling- do we keep going or do we head home? The positives: the eye-popping scenery is beautiful, time as a family is amazing, living on a yacht is amazing, the marine life is amazing, the people you meet are amazing. The downsides: no other families for the boys to play with (except of course the fab time with team Argos). Do the children really love hanging around on anchor, swimming in the open ocean all day and doing 8 hour passages at 16km an hour ? In reality probably not. Would they like more time in a park, a swimming pool, riding their bikes and interact more with kids their own age. Probably yes. Do they want to give up living on a boat and the freedom and variety it gives. Family conference and we all agree no way! So we decide the best way to manage the immediate future is to balance both worlds. Spend some time each year travelling and have some time living’normally’ to give the boys (and us) some routine.
So with that in mind we head home but before we do that we decide to give ourselves a challenge and surprise Ric’s sister who is having her second baby by getting to Sydney to see her. Problem is it is school holidays and flights from the Whitsundays to Sydney are basically the same cost as a ticket for a round world trip….. hmm, not really in keeping with our sailing budget. So here’s what we do….. It’s 7am and we are in Nara Inlet and within 10 mins we decide we are going to Sydney today as the baby is due tomorrow. So we pull up anchor, sail 2 hours to Port of Airlie, Ric rides his skateboard 30 mins to pick up the hire car and we drive 2 hours to Mackay, fly from Mackay to Brisbane, pick up another hire car and drive to the Gold Coast. Pick up our car which naturally has just run out of registration so we sit in it at 8:55pm until it is re-registered and insured. Drop the other hire car off and drive to Ballina which is 2 hours. Stay overnight in a hotel and then drive 9 hours to Sydney and surprise Gini who is having coffee with her Mum at a cafe. Her tears of joy and seeing her perfect baby boy the next day were WELL worth it!
After a lovely 2 weeks of catching up with family and friends Ric and I decide it is much easier for all concerned if he brings Annie back with crew from Airlie to Yeppoon. He can knock that part of the trip off in 3 days as opposed to ??? if he has me and non sleeping metronome syndrome and the busy boys on board. Whilst he is sailing the open seas with Annie cranked up to 14 knots at stages, I am the lucky winner of a 3 day 1600km road trip with 2 munchkins…… and Sam the wonder Moodle dog as my co-pilot. The boys are actually angels for the trip mostly brought about by the guarantee of swimming pools at each hotel stop.
Although bit weary from driving and sailing half the length of Queensland in two days (Queensland is about the size of 6 UK’s), we are all smiles when reunited on Annie. To celebrate we decide to spend a few days out at the Keppels keeping a much closer eye on the weather than our last visit…. (for those who have read ‘The Great Keppel Rodeo’ entry.)
We all agree that the beaches on Great Keppel Island are the BEST we have ever set foot on in our WHOLE LIVES. We pray that the proposed development and Casino does not ruin the place as the water and beaches are postcard perfect. We anchor at Long Beach and set about our usual exploring with Goats, Coconuts, Stingrays and Sharks keeping us amused. The latter we saw when we were fishing and didn’t have a single bite, only to throw the bait off the back and have a 1m black tip reef shark snatch it as soon as it hit the water. The boys thought it was hilarious.. Mummy was just glad that the hook was not still attached to the bait. Not too keen on wrestling a hook from a shark’s mouth thank you very much!! Photos below of this pristine piece of Australia. (Oh God, commercialism please do not ruin it or I will definitely be up there waving my protest flag.)
After the Keppels, next stop the other favourite Pancake Creek. Again it doesn’t disappoint and it is even better this time as we have Deb and Michael on Stella with us. We walk to the Lighthouse and Annie has had a little Genoa car breakage so Ollie helps Ric repair it. We also have about a billion bait fish swimming around the boat like midget bodyguards and we chase giant purple crabs on the rocks. Love this place……. and even more special is that it is only accessed via boat.
The trip from Pancake to Bundaberg brings our best fishing haul for the trip. We land three 1m Spotted Mackerel in 2 mins which is enough fish to last us 2 weeks. Sashimi anyone?
From Bundaberg to Gold Coast we decide to drive with the boys and Ric sails down with Deb and Michael and his Mum. The children really aren’t enjoying the long days at sea so it makes it more relaxing for all. I told you we would be honest in this blog!!
Back on the fabulous GC we settle for 6 months and Harry gets his first taste of school which he loves. The lingering idea of moving back into a house is providing family meltdowns so we decide to quash that problem and buy a bigger boat – The Annie B. Space problem solved! 🙂
To be 100% honest, travelling on a yacht with children is possibly the hardest thing we have ever done! To be fair to the small ones though, their idea of fun at aged 3 and 5 is probably not quite parallel with ours. The change in their confidence levels however is nothing short of amazing. Especially Harry who was that quiet shy little puppy in the daycare corner. Now I cannot keep him off people’s boats as he is so interested in seeing other people’s ‘houses’ nor keep him quiet for longer than 30 seconds. He is a complete parrot and I couldn’t be prouder of him. Ollie at 3, now knows the names of more marine life than most adults. He can snorkel, swim unassisted and loves helping Dad as his maintenance apprentice. He is also a Lego building Master!!!
So, it is the last night of our 18 month adventure 10th June 2016. Ric is sailing down with crew from the Gold Coast to Pittwater. I have driven with Nanny and the boys as Ollie has been unwell so we didn’t subject him to the trials of the sea. How are we feeling?????? …Like we will bust our bottoms with work to get back out there again!! The non sleeping, dealing with young children in a confined space, rough weather, boat fails, current, wind, cold and general tribulations of sailing FAR OUTWAY the groundhog day of living in a house and going to the same job every day (nothing against our previous employers, they were fab in the scheme of things).
We feel like we are alive and will do it again in a heart beat. We have learned that spending our hard-earned $$ on experiences yields far greater rewards than spending it on ‘stuff’. Just imagine what you could experience with your family with the same money you are probably thinking of spending on a renovation? Just a thought….we’ll leave you with that until the next adventure. See you on Pittwater for the time being. x
An amazing adventure, the start of something wonderful. Your first adventure that will leads to years of playing on boats with your family. Awesome Zoe! Xx
Great read and brought back very fond memories of our time with the beautiful Brooke family. Hope to be a part of creating more fabulous memories on the high seas in 2017. Xxx