Cairns - work stop! Up the mast again...

Saturday 21 July

Trip up mast today to take off tricolour/anchor light fitting - couldn't undo top to change tricolour bulb so brought whole unit down after managing (with difficulty!) to unclip base from mast top. Unit was eventually opened by using water to dissolve salt in dirty join - no broken plastic!! Cousin Susie suggested replacing BOTH bulbs since 10 yrs old - sensible idea... So back up mast on Sunday to replace unit. Most of Sunday will be spent finishing domestic battery connections (job started on

Saturday) - all cable terminals being cleaned/sanded to bright metal before being replaced onto new batteries (slow going!), along with completion of windlass servicing and dealing with deck cable fitting.

Has been very windy (& cold) for last few days & forecast to remain so over next week. Regularly using my warm Musto fleeces & jacket - never expected to need those onshore in tropical Cairns!! They're getting unusually cold weather just now, they tell me.

Last week was very busy - hauled out on Monday at Norship Marine & pressure-washed keel ready for antifouling. Jotun (Australia) kindly donated self-polishing bottom paint ("Nereida" has always had Jotun antifouling applied & I've found it very good) & the prop was cleaned and coated with a 3-part system. Local OCC Port Officer John Cornelius has very kindly been giving me a lot of time & help with a variety of jobs, taking me around in his car to chandlers/shops etc & making use of his local knowledge

- all very useful & much appreciated. My cousin Mandy and husband Chris have continued to be really supportive & helpful in so many ways. Various people at Norship have also been very kind & helpful - of several of them, I must especially thank Rex & Stef for their help in sorting out shaft seal & seacock access problems and battery bank replacement (I hope Rex's back recovers!) & Hermann in the paint shop (& also Bill) has gone out of his way to chase up various people for me. By Thursday afternoon,

"Nereida" was back in Marlin Marina - who I must sincerely thank for their unexpected generosity in waiving their berthing charges during my stay in Cairns. The staff there (Sandy & Joe especially) have been very friendly & helpful.

Items dealt with so far here have been:

* Icom SSB radio repaired by Brian Swinton - many problems found, but now working beautifully...

* Laptop repaired by Steven at TJ Microsystems - coming to the end of its life, but now useable again (for the time being!)....

* Evinrude outboard repaired - will be a back-up now to the new 2hp Yamaha outboard purchased here (can't afford to be without a reliable outboard motor!)

* Mast/vang connection re-made after I found previous one 'eating' into Al vang end-fitting on my way here- Georgina at Blackwood's was very kind & helpful...

* Prop anode replaced & keel antifouled

* Engine oil & filter changed

* 1st reefing line replaced

* Ants (from Fiji) eradicated... I hope!!!

* Incorrect Zodiac rowlock/oar parts replaced - hopefully, I'll be able to row it now without oar 'popping out' all the time!

* All pillows/cushions/carpets cleaned

* Updated Nobeltec world charts 'dongle' received & activated - especially useful for passage-planning (very 'user-friendly' software, I find, & GPS positioning is pretty accurate) - latest Australian charts included so will be immediately useful for passage north to Cape York/Torres Strait & across Gulf of Carpentaria to Darwin.

Jobs outstanding, & to be done before moving on, are (in addition to replacing tricolour fitting at mast top & finishing battery connections):

* Servicing of Anderson winches (usually a job I enjoy, but well overdue). Good thing they're so well engineered that they survive long service intervals!!

* Re-bedding of fitting to deck where electric cables come down below from beside mast foot (hoping to prevent major seawater leakage I've been getting in big seas)

* Generator oil change (& cleaning away old oil from under engine)

* Wrongly-sized new double clutch for reefing lines replaced with correct one

* Freeing up of 'frozen' removable inner forestay fitting

* Tidying up of present chaos onboard....!!!

* Provisioning with Indonesia & Indian Ocean passage in mind.

I've thoroughly enjoyed being massaged twice by Alison, at the local fitness centre. After an active, rough sail here from Vanuatu, my upper body felt it needed some sympathetic treatment! She definitely made me feel pampered!

An unexpected coincidence was the arrival in Cairns of the Latymer Rugby Tour group from the school in London where I used to teach Mathematics - I spent a pleasant evening with them on Friday - and the weekend has seen my aunt Sheila and cousin Susie flying in to spend time together - I've not seen them for quite a few years so we've had a good reunion.

Written by : Mike

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