Brisbane - First Week

Category: Ships Log
  brisbane cover  

November 24th - December 5th

Getting settled in our new home, around the marina, storm of the decade, and exploring downtown Brisbane.

 

On Monday, November 24th, we pulled in to our new home at the Dockside Marina in downtown Brisbane. And when I say downtown, I mean downtown. We are surrounded by skyscrapers and fancy condominiums overlooking the river. We have never lived in the middle of a large city before; even when we lived in the Bay area, we were in the suburbs. Luckily there are also plenty of trees and shrubs among the buildings, dozens of parks nearby, and biking and walking paths everywhere. Although I am not much of a city person, Brisbane is surprisingly quite nice.

 

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Motoring up the Brisbane River.

 

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The trip up the river was beautiful; the flame trees or Poinciana are in full bloom.

 

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The city owned moorings by the botanic gardens. These always tend to be filled up, so we are at the marina.

 

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Our new home, the Dockside Marina. It is right next to the Story bridge (a well known bridge in Brisbane).

 

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A celebratory dinner to mark our safe arrival in Brisbane. We saved a bottle of bubbly we got at our bon voyage
party in San Francisco (thank you Errin K-W!) for this occasion. 

 

Upon our arrival at the marina, we received a warm welcome from our new neighbors. Most everyone we’ve met seems to love living in Brisbane and are more than happy to tell us about the city. We’ve been learning about the must see sights, the best pubs and cafes, hiking trails, nearby free rock climbing, where to find free internet, and how to get around by bicycle. On our third day here, we noticed our propane tank was running low and I asked around the dock if there was a place nearby we could refill it. There was, but it was about a 20 minute walk from the marina. The next day one of our neighbors stopped by and said he could take me to the filling station to refill our propane tank, and then he also drove me to the Australian equivalent of Home Depot (called Bunnings), as well as the grocery store so we could restock our heavier items without having to haul it back to the marina by hand. We are just overcome by how kind our neighbors are! We also learned there is a guy on the neighboring dock who works Friday nights at an organic sourdough bakery, and when he returns about 4am Saturday morning, he leaves a large box of fresh baked bread outside his boat for the people living at the marina. I stopped by about 7am last Saturday, and a couple loaves were still left. Wow, what a treat! Fresh baked, free, bread on Saturday mornings without having to walk more than a few steps. Later that week, I met the baker in person when he brought his guinea pigs out to play on the lawn. He and his wife are super active people and mostly get around by bicycle. I mentioned that finding some used bicycles was definitely on Chris and my “to do” list, and immediately he said, “Oh, what luck. I have my sister’s old bike in my car; I was going to drop it off at a shed at my parents where it will likely rust away. You’re welcome to it if you would like.” And so I got a free bicycle! It’s a bit rusty, and the tires are bald, but the shifters and brakes work well and the bike is pretty solid. With some new tires, it will be great. I don’t think we could ask for a nicer community to live in.

 

Christian was supposed to start work on the 24th, but as usual, we didn’t arrive as early as we hoped. So on our 2nd day here, instead of taking a breather and checking out our new surroundings, Chris hopped the ferry and started his new job. It was rather an abrupt ending to spending the last year cruising the South Pacific. I’ll let him talk about his new job in a later blog. As I am still trying to find work, I’ve had the luxury of getting to settle in to our new locale a bit more slowly. Most days I take the free ferry (it stops next to our marina), across the river to the main city blocks. Over the last week I’ve been locating the different stores we tend to need (grocery stores, home stores, electronic stores, etc), as well as finding the easiest route to the library and the city botanic gardens. Although there is no wifi at the marina, there is free wifi at several places throughout town, including the city library and botanic gardens. Both places make pretty nice offices to do some work or catch up on emails. If I don’t feel like going too far, there is also a nice café across from our marina that has wifi (although spending $4/day on a coffee can add up quickly, so I try not to do this very often).

 

Our fourth day here was Thanksgiving. Although Australians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I figured it was a good excuse to make a nice turkey dinner (something we haven’t had in a very long time) so I spent much of Thursday preparing dinner. However, about 3:00pm, our neighbor stopped by and let me know the news stations were warning of a severe thunderstorm storm that was fast approaching. Sure enough, large dark gray thunderheads were looming behind the skyscrapers. I quickly went on deck to take down our spinnaker sail which we had hanging up to dry, and brought in all our cockpit cushions. About 5 minutes after I finished, the first raindrops started falling accompanied by some strong wind gusts. I ducked back inside to close all our portholes and put our acrylic window into the companionway hatch. And wow, for the next 30 – 45 minutes, we had quite the storm! At first it was just wind and rain, no big deal (although later the news said gusts reached up to 140 km/hr). Then the thunder and lightning came, which was impressive, but no worse than what we’d experienced in Bundaberg. However next I heard strange noises on our cabin top. It sounded like some hardware might have come loose from our boom and was hitting the top of the cabin. I was worried the wind might have blown something off and was just about to go outside and investigate, when all of a sudden the sound amplified by about 500% and I realized the noise was actually golf ball sized hail smacking our boat! It was crazy. The noise inside the boat was deafening and the hail kept coming down with greater and greater force. I wasn’t sure our acrylic window would hold against the pounding, but luckily it managed. After the hail finally passed, I tentatively stepped into our cockpit, which was full of ice water (our cockpit drain had clogged). It was a bit strange walking in ice water, since it was still about 80 degrees outside. Anyway, after unclogging the drain, I quickly surveyed our boat and found for the most part, it had survived quite well. Our radio antenna at the top of the mast was bent, we lost a plastic cap from our wind generator, and our solar lights were nowhere to be seen, but that was about it. I joined our neighbors on the dock to see how everyone else had fared and learned that one neighbor lost most of the windows on the upper floor of his powerboat, another neighbor had holes punched into their inflatable dinghy (which was suspended on a davits), and another neighbor (who was at work) had left his windows open so everything inside got completely drenched. But luckily, no one was hurt. Outside the marina, it almost looked like a warzone. Tree branches and leaves were everywhere, and several sign posts had been knocked down. Any car that was outside had gotten completely trashed. What a storm! Besides arriving in Brisbane safely, we could also add surviving the hail storm with almost no damage to our list of things to be thankful for this year.

 

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Our flooded cockpit after the storm.

 

Short video of hail storm from inside the boat:

 

 

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All around the city large trees were downed or even uprooted, along with roofs blown off houses and apartment
complexes, and windows smashed.

 

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After the excitement of the storm, we finally sat down to a late Thanksgiving
dinner. Chris was too hungry to even look up at the camera. :)

 

When we aren’t hunkering down for storms (during the day it is usually nice and sunny), we’ve also been working on transitioning our boat from cruising to land life again. This means washing and packing away things we likely won’t need for a while (foul weather gear, spinnaker sail, jack lines, harnesses) and digging out other things from the depths of our cockpit lockers that we haven’t used in a long time (power cords, a mini shop vac, covers for the binnacle and dodger windows). It also means accumulating a few luxury items; one of our wonderful boat neighbors gave us a toaster and an electric kettle they had in duplicate on their boat. It is so nice to have a toaster again!

 

Anyway, we are slowly settling in to our new life here. We have a lot to explore in our new surroundings, both in the city and outside it (we still need to see a kangaroo!). Although our sea explorations are on hold for now, we’ll continue updating our blog about our land explorations.

 

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One of the many walking/bike paths in Brisbane.

 

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Because there is no beach nearby, Brisbane built one in the middle of the city! This is a free public pool in
South Bank park.

 

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Walking along the river.

 

 

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Comments  

0 #3 Alena 2014-12-25 08:40
Thank you Roy and thanks for reading our blog!

Lewis and Alyssa - that's great you already have work visas for Australia! it would be awesome to see you here next year! Congrats on the safe passage to Hawaii and happy holidays!
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0 #2 Lewis & Alyssa 2014-12-24 18:41
Hey Chris and Alena!
Glad you guys are safe and settling in well! Brisbane sounds like a great place. We sailed to Hawaii and are in a marina on Oahu for the winter. We plan to sail south in April and head towards Oz. We both have work visas and the kitty will be in desperate need of replenishment by the time we moor near you guys next year!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Cheers,
Lewis & Alyssa
sv Eleutheria "Ellie"
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0 #1 Roy Wessbecher 2014-12-15 05:26
Nice place to settle! (I also have fond memories of Brisbane. Was able to moor by the gardens, but there was probably less vessel traffic back in the 90's than now...)

Good luck with everything! Be proud. You crossed the Pacific in a small vessel!
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