Thursday, 17 September 2015

We’re ready to go after an unplanned month in the Port of Bundaberg

September 19, 2015

So how was Bundaberg?
Other than the frustration of being dock bound with a broken boat when we should have been sailing amongst Australia’s best tropical islands, Bundaberg has been a very pleasant stop. The Port of Bundaberg marina has proved to be the friendliest and most accommodating we have encountered anywhere in our travels in Australia, Asia or Europe. Gary from Marine Torque here at the port performed the work in our engine room. He came highly recommended by other cruisers and we can only echo their praise. He was helpful, efficient and reasonable with his charges. Best of all, he was very reliable. Our pet hate is tradespeople who don’t turn up when he or she say they will. A more complete review of the marina appears at the end of this blog.

It's a very friendly atmosphere at Port of Bundaberg. Rob with Chris & Sally from Sea Whiskers tucking into a feast of fresh seafood with hosts John & Kathy on Mystic Moon. Karen was behind the camera for a change.

Overall the weather has been good and we’ve made many new friends here. The city of Bundaberg itself offers all the amenities and services you could want while the Shalom Farmers markets held each Sunday is THE place to go for an abundance of fresh, just picked produce direct from the growers at very good prices. Playing tourists, we visited both the turtle information centre at Mon Repos Beach and the Bert Hinkler Aviation Museum and found them both excellent. We never got around to making our planned visit to the Bundaberg Rum distillery for a tour but everyone assured us that it is well worth a look – and taste.
The Hinkler aviation museum in Bundaberg is excellent.
Yep! Bundaberg has been good – but we still can’t wait to get out of here.

Yesterday we warmed the engine, engaged forward, slipped the lines and left berth Purple 13 at Port of Bundaberg Marina for the first time in 25 days. It felt good, very good in fact. We’d love to say that we were finally on our way, continuing on towards the tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef but we are cautious people. This was still to be a small sea trial up the Burnett River. We’d run the motor and transmission at the dock the day before but we wanted to make absolutely sure our repairs were performing properly before we consider heading back to sea.
While in Bundaberg, along with having the transmission reconditioned and the water pump replaced we’d also had to replace the aft head when the electric pump motor on it died. Crazy as it may seem, a replacement electric motor was $280 yet a complete toilet (including the motor) was $219. Go figure. OK. If the old superstition of things always going wrong in threes is correct, at least we’d completed our trio of troubles so hopefully all would be fine now. Karen says she’s not superstitious but still suggested that maybe being moored in berth Purple 13 may have had something to do with our run of misfortune.

It was such a relief to be moving across the water again and we were starting to relax and look forward to a little sightseeing trip up the river. That was until the engine suddenly dropped in revs and stopped just a couple of hundred metres from the marina. Suspecting an airlock in the fuel system, we steered the boat out of the shipping channel while she still had some headway on and dropped anchor. The engine had been moved during the transmission work so we began working along all the fuel lines to find if any may have been loosened or damaged or valves bumped open to create an air leak into the fuel system. After bleeding the air from the system the motor started and ran fine but the temperature rose more quickly than normal. A deeper investigation revealed that the coolant was not circulating through the engine.  We eventually found the culprit was an airlock under the thermostat which caused it to remain closed. That fixed, we refired the engine and all was fine, even after an hour and a half of pottering around in the river to give everything a good test.
Heading back to the marina Rob decided to see if we could move to an outside berth that would be easier to manoeuvre the boat in and out of. The idea of changing berths appealed to Karen however, when we tied up in Black 13, she suggested she wasn’t sure it was an improvement.

We now have an operational boat again and can restart our trek to tropical climes as soon as the current bout of adverse winds abate.  BRING IT ON!!!!!
We’ve said all along that this was to be our shakedown cruise although we never expected to get shaken down this much. Here’s the report card

What worked
The lines that held us to the dock.

What didn’t work.

Transmission, water pump and aft head.

What we did right.

We sought recommendations from local boaters regarding reliable tradespeople and good suppliers which proved invaluable.

We didn’t take any shortcuts with repairs and opted for full overhaul by an old school marine transmission specialist well versed with our era Borg Warner.

We sea-trialled the repairs rather than just running things at the dock and saying ‘She’ll be right.’

How we screwed up.

We thought because a container on board we inherited from the previous owners said it was coolant it would be coolant inside. Imagine our surprise when we opened it to use and found it full of oil. So it was off in the dinghy to get more.

We never made it to the rum distillery. Tragic!

Strange we know but we expected this to contain coolant not oil.

 MARINA REVIEW: Port of Bundaberg Marina  *****

Weekly rate for our yacht (1m) – $260 AUD  (including GST, water, power and car parking)

 The marina is located just inside the mouth of the Burnett River and is very secure in all winds. The berths are very wide and most easily accessible. The marina staff are extremely friendly and helpful and will happily assist with berthing etc.

 There is a self serve fuel dock on sit and during our stay diesel was $1.27 per litre (same price as the service station in Bundaberg), There is a small but reasonably well stocked chandlery located in the marina and extensive marine services are available including sail maker, haul out and dry storage.. Bathroom facilities modern and clean. Coin operated laundry onsite. Myport WIFI available but not included in charges. Other facilities at the marina include a very popular restaurant/bar and  takeaway fish and chip shop. Cruisers Corner is a nice social hub for cruisers provided by the marina with BBQ, fridge, seating and a television.

 Ocean Pacific Seafoods is located next door to the marina offering exceptional fresh seafood and bait. They have a special for marina clients of a fresh platter for two with smoked salmon, two spanner crabs, two Moreton Bay bugs plus prawns for $30. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

 An IGA supermarket, Post Office, Bakery, Café and Hotel are located in the township of Burnett Heads about a kilometre from the marina. The IGA and Hotel both provide a free shuttle bus for customers.

 The marina provides a free shuttle bus into the Bundaberg CBD about 20 minutes away Monday to Saturday and to the Farmers Markets on Sunday Morning.

The facilities and incredibly friendly, helpful nature of the staff sees us give our first ever Five Star ***** rating to this marina.

Cruisers Cove is a great amenity for the  local live aboards and visiting cruisers to meet and socialise.

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