We are nearly through our third month of living aboard in a sub-tropical region in summer. So how have we found it? Well we have to admit that this season has been a bit of a struggle. Where in the south you tend to soak up the rays, in the tropics or subtropics you do everything to protect yourself and your boat from them!
Life afloat in the subtropics
We had not exactly planned to spend summer in South East Queensland, it just happened that way. First there was the scheduled maintenance of Take It Easy, then the purchase of Anui and sale of Take It Easy, followed by upgrade work on our new abode. It all took time, as it turns out three months!
South East Queensland feels especially sticky and humid in the three hottest months of the year: December, January and February! It is particularly hard if you are on a boat, doing physical work inside or outside while the sun is beating down. The worse thing is sitting at a marina. It is not quite as bad if you are anchored with some breeze flowing through the boat, but still pretty unpleasant. Overall we have found the heat stifling, the humidity energy sapping, and getting drenched in sweat from morning to night horribly uncomfortable.
The sun might be good for your soul and your state of mind, but too much of it is not a good thing! So one aspect we have learnt is that we won’t do this again if we can help it! Next summer will be spent in more temperate climates!
Boats and the burning sun
From a boat care point of view, we have also discovered a few things the hard way, so for the yachties amongst you, here are a few pointers that might be helpful. For all our other followers, this may still be of interest, but if it is not, skip to the next section!Anui, the bottom panel of the main was totally rotten, tearing at the smallest provocation, and the first reefing point further up was ripped off when we used it in strong conditions. We decided to not only fit some shade cloth to cover the bottom of the cradle, but also to replace the mainsail – a fair thing after 18 years of service! We have bitten the bullet and have got the best we could afford: our new main is made from Hydranet cloth and has a radial construction. It has just been made by Gold Coast Sailmakers.
Hatches – Once the seals on your hatches become brittle or shrink away from the glass, you will get leaks. In some cases leaky hatches can be made watertight again by changing the gasket, or resealing the glass into the frame, but there are cases when the whole hatch needs to be re-bedded into the deck. The lifespan of the sealant is 8 to 10 years, less if your boat has been baking in the hot sun on the hard! On Anui, all the hatches leaked. We resealed them and that was sufficient on all but one stubborn hatch in our cabin. For that one, we had to re-bed the hatch into the deck and re-bed the glass into the frame – the full treatment!
Shade Cloth – In the subtropics and tropics, when you are at anchor you want a shady, cooler cockpit, and protection from sun and heat on your windows/hatches. So invest in shade cloth around your cockpit that is easy to roll down and back up, and for the large windshield windows around the saloon on a cat, make or have made clip-on exterior shade panels. These block a fair amount of the light (70-90%) but still let you see out. For the smaller deck hatches, get some covers or install some perforated one way vision vinyl film to reduce the sun and heat penetration into the cabin.
Colour – Consider the colour of the shade cloth, particularly where it touches your paint work. When we bought Anui she had black shades with press-studs covering the large side windows – when in full sun, the temperature of the windows and surrounding paint work got 150 hotter than anywhere else and overtime cracked the paint work. We have had the paint work repaired and have replaced the shade cloth with very light grey material. We got ours made by Marine Canvas & Trimming at The Boat Works.
Dinghy Chaps – If your dinghy is an inflatable one, get some chaps made to protect the tubes. Without them over time the PVC or Hypalon will perish. Getting chaps is a lot cheaper than buying a new dinghy! And again, don’t select a dark colour if you want to be able to sit on the edge without burning your bottom! We got ours made by Gold Coast Sailmakers.
What is next?
Having finished our chores and spending spree for a while, we are finally ready to sail away from the Gold Coast. We today are leaving Paradise Point to move up to Moreton Bay, near Brisbane, where on 20 February I am abandoning Wade and flying to France to see my Dad. I expect it will be an emotional three weeks away, but significantly cooler since it is winter in France!
Wade intends to float around between the Gold Coast, Moreton Bay and Fraser Island with a few friends for company. As for Bengie, she is hoping for a few early morning beach walks after being cooped up on board for too long.
We may post while I am away – I am thinking of doing a parallel lives series… Photos and reports from France and updates from Anui if I can convince Wade to take a few photos and email them to me! No promises but we will try to stay in touch. Stay tuned!