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PostPosted: Nov 6th, '17, 11:36 
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Wednesday 18th - As soon as I woke up I checked the weather and Queensland roads website. It had been raining heavily all night and looked like continuing well into the day. Guessing that the roads would be be closed, I decided to head back to Gladstone. It was 70kms in the wrong direction, but at least it was a larger town with things to do. Before checking out I booked a motel via Wotif so I knew at least we would have somewhere to stay. Given the weather I definitely didn't want to be camping in the boat.

At checkout we received quite a surprise - the road was open! Another one of the guests had left at 7:00am heading south. They had phoned back to report that they had been able to get through!

After a hurried conference with my wife we decided to try and continue our journey and cancel the motel in Gladstone. Unfortunately Wotif doesn't make it quite that easy - I phoned the motel, but they said I needed to cancel through Wotif. I tired the website and app, but there was no option to cancel. In the email confirming our booking there was a number right down the bottom in a tiny font to call. It turned out to be some automated menu system you could navigate through by typing numbers. There was an option to cancel but the system would just respond that since my booking was for today, it couldn't be canceled.

Eventually my wife suggested we just see if we could change the date - perhaps we could push the booking out 12 months, and stay in Gladstone on the way up to the whitsundays next time. To my surprise, pressing the option to change the booking got me through to an actual human being at WotIf. It turns out this person was in fact able to cancel my booking and refund the money after all.

It was only about 10 minutes after finally managing to cancel our booking, that we turned a corner and saw another huge queue of cars stopped on the freeway! I got out to walk ahead and see what was happening, but the line of cars was endless - I walked for almost half an hour, but there was still no end in site. Fortunately there was all kinds of news from people who who had turned around and headed the other way, and truckies with radios.

Apparently a bridge ahead was underwater and the road was closed again. The rumour was that even if the water subsided the council wasn't going to let people across until an engineer had seen the bridge. I spoke to a local who was stuck in the traffic. He said this area often flooded with heavy rains. He also said that the water would subside fairly quickly, and the road would probably open up an hour or two 'after it stopped raining'.

The rain showed no hope of letting up, but I didn't want to turn around too prematurely. I decided to wait things out for a few hours to see if the rain would let up, or we could get any further news. We sat in the car listening to the Lord of the rings audio book and watching the rain. The kids were a bit restless but everything was fine ... until all the power cut out.

In hindsight its very, very obvious that we couldn't sit in the car with the engine off, but the fans and the stereo running. However with so much on my mind the fact that we would run the battery flat just didn't occur to me. I tried waiting for 15 min with everything off to see if the battery could recover enough to start the engine, but had no luck. I considered asking people stuck in the traffic to jump start us, but it would have meant they would have to pull out of the queue and do a U-Turn. They would be blocking the lane going the other way while we got our car going.

Instead I decided to pull the battery out of the boat and use that to start the car. Fortunately the boat battery is a dual purpose starting / cycling battery. I quickly found out 25kg of battery is a lot to carry down from the boat when everything is slick and covered with rain, but I managed to do it all without slipping. My wife kept most of the water off me with an umbrella while I lugged it out and over to the car. I borrowed some jump start leads from a car in front of us, which greatly simplified things - I was worried I would have to replace the car battery with the boat one.

By the time I had the car running again, and the other battery back in the boat, I was absolutely done with waiting in the rain. I pulled out of the queue and started heading back towards Gladstone. The kids at least were happy to be moving again. We stopped just outside Gladstone and booked yet another motel. By the time we had arrived, checked in and unpacked the car, it was already after 3:00. We wandered around in the rain for a bit looking for something to kill time. Gladstone seems to be a pretty quiet town - even though it was a weekday most of the shops were closed. There were quite a few places that looked like they had shut down, and the overall impression is that it isn't doing too well economically.

The Museum was open and was currently hosting an art exhibition. Its obvious that the area has a bunch of very talented artists. The exhibition kept the family amused for a while. After that we went to the local library and read books until they closed.

The one highlight of a very wet and miserable day was dinner. After looking around on google maps I found a small middle eastern place across the road from the Yacht Club, with good reviews. It was a small family run place, but the food was fantastic - probably some of the tastiest we have had the whole trip. We even got to take away some leftovers back to the motel.


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PostPosted: Nov 7th, '17, 22:59 
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Good that the heavy rain didn't start a few days earlier Luke. Great read.

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PostPosted: Nov 10th, '17, 16:30 
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Thursday 19th - Morning - The day started out really well! I checked the Queensland roads website and the weather radar. All the rain had cleared and the Bruce Highway was open. We left Gladstone early. After being stuck with the rain for almost two days it was great to have some good weather; to allow the car to stretch its legs and clock up some serious KMs on our trip south. Everyone was in high spirits.

It all went to **** about 30ks outside of Gin Gin. I was stuck behind a car going 80 in a 110 zone. An overtaking Lane came up so I pulled out to get past. Suddenly the car started making an enormous racket. It was a huge clanking, scraping sound comming from the front. My first thought was that we had hit something large and it was stuck under the front bumper or engine.

I pulled back behind the slow car and started looking for a place to pull over. Unfortunately the road had no shoulder so I needed to drive on for at least another kilometre until I found a short patch of gravel just after a cutting. I managed to pull up in a cloud of smoke and stones with a few metres before I ran out of space.

I went around the front of the car - there was nothing caught under it. I poped the bonnet and started the engine. It made a horrible metallic bangung sound and was actually rocking around a bit in the engine bay. It sounded like there was a large loose bit of metal thrashing around inside the engine. Back in the car I told the family that I suspected we had killed the car, and it sounded like it wasn't going to be an easy fix.

Fortunately we have a very good mechanic in Melbourne, our family has been going to for almost 20 years. I called to to get some advice - perhaps it would be ok to un-hitch the boat and limp into town? After listening to the engine over the phone he told me "DO NOT DRIVE THE CAR. Call for a tow into town!"

I got on the phone to our roadside assist, who were able to organise a tow into the nearest town - Gin Gin. Unfortunately the insurance wouldn't cover the tow for the boat, only the car. The guy who arrived to tow us was actually a mechanic with his own shop outside of Gin Gin. He had me turn the engine on so he could have a look. As soon as it started he immediately yelled "turn it off! Turn it off!". This didn't sound very good. He checked the oil, and it was totally empty. I hadn't been checking the oil levels during the trip. I asked the mechanic what the prognosis was: "you've driven it until it's out of oil and you've destroyed the engine" was the answer. It sounded like the only fix was going to be to replace the whole engine.

We were towed to the mechanics yard. On the way we passed the spot where we had been stopped by the floods the day before. It was only 5 min further from where the car had died.

At the yard we discussed what we could do next. The mechanic said he would make some calls and get a price for a new engine, but he wasn't optimistic that it would be worth it. My wife suggested that perhaps we could buy another car and continue our journey. The mechanic said he did have a friend with a LandCruiser who was considering selling. He said he would even consider buying my broken Subaru outback as scrap. I did get the strong impression he thought me a prize idiot for towing my boat with such a small car. It was hard to argue against the fact that my car was currently sitting wrecked in his yard.

We got a lift into town to get some lunch. It turned out that the mechanics yard was five min out of town - by car. But it would be about a 20min walk at least. We found a cafe where I could plug the phone charger in, and I settled down to start making calls ...


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PostPosted: Nov 13th, '17, 19:58 
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Its funny the oil light didnt come on.

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PostPosted: Nov 13th, '17, 20:18 
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I got no oil pressure warning light when I threw big end bearings in a Nissan Urvan taxi in the 1980s, nor in my Nissan Pulsar about 15 years ago.

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PostPosted: Nov 15th, '17, 00:22 
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Thursday 19th - Afternoon - Pretty much the first call I made was to my mechanic in Melbourne to get some further advice. At this stage I was feeling pretty bad about the whole thing: I thought I had killed the car due to running it out of oil. I mentioned this to my mechanic in Melbourne and he was somewhat incredulous. He immediately replied that he had been changing the oil on my car regularly at each service and it was a very sound vehicle. He had never seen it even come close to running low on oil - it had no leaks and never seemed to burn any oil. Furthermore he had done a complete service just before I left, which included changing the oil. If it was running low the oil warning light would come on well before any damage happened. I did say that I had done almost 4000k's of pretty hard towing, and hadn't been checking the oil levels, to which he responded with a "hmmm ... yeah ... perhaps." - hardly a solid endorsement of the "driving it until it ran out of oil" theory.

Instead based off the noise, he thought the most likely cause of the failure was either a broken con rod (the bit that connects the head of the cylinder to the crankshaft) or a rear engine bearing failure. He said in either case the engine would immediately burn up all the oil, which is why their was none left. Also in either case the only real fix is to replace the engine.

He also said his guess is that replacing the engine would be about $3000. He suggested I get on carsales.com and figure out how much the car was worth. If the cost or replacing the engine was more than 1/3rd the value of the car, there would be no point in doing it.

Lastly he also said that even if the car wasn't worth repairing, we should still be able to get a decent amount of money for it as scrap - He suggested $1000 ~ $1500. Despite the destroyed engine, there were still lots of other good parts on the car which could be used for spares.

After the call I felt a little better - perhaps I hadn't destroyed the car through stupidly failing to check the oil levels. I did some quick searching on carsales.com - my best estimate was the car would be worth about $6500. This meant that the engine replacement needed to come out below $2000 to be worth doing.

I also had a look at toyota land cruisers for sale around the area. There looked to be quite a few available in the $20,000 to $30,000 range around the area. We also got a call from a friend of the mechanic who had towed us. He was selling a landcruiser troop carrier. He came around to the cafe where we had setup shop and took us for a test drive. While on the test drive we managed to drop by the mechanics yard which had my car. We got to pick up some of our bags with clothes for the night. The mechanic had a price to replace the engine - $4500. We both agreed that it wasn't going to be economical.

After discussing the landcruiser troop carrier with my wife we agreed to keep looking at what was around. It had a fair number of K's for the price and the interior wasn't particularly comfortable. We decided to have a look at what other options there were.

After some more thought we decided it was best to move into Bundaberg - the nearest big town to Gin-Gin. There were more cars available there, shops, motels, etc. I booked a motel in town and called a taxi. The dispatcher said it would be expensive - about $150 to travel from Gin-Gin to Bundaberg by taxi - but we didn't really have any options. The dispatcher assured me that my taxi was already on its way, and would be there in 40min.

About 30 min later he called back to let me know that actually there were no taxis that would do a fare from Gin-Gin to Bundaberg. I was pretty upset. It had been a hugely stressful day and 30 min ago he had been promising me that a taxi was driving towards us as we spoke. The dispatcher did say he had a number for a "Gin-Gin taxi service" that might be able to do the job.

When I called the supposed Gin-Gin taxi service, I quickly found out that it was actually a taxi service for Childers - a town 40 min away! They explained that it really wouldn't be worth coming all the way to Gin-Gin, to run me into Bundaberg. All up it would land up being a 2 hour trip for them! At this stage I was starting to get really worried as it was getting late and shops were starting to close. They did manage to give me yet another number for a shuttle bus service that might be able to take us into Bundaberg.

Fortunately the shuttle bus service was up for the job. We sat around for another nervous 40 min, hoping it would arrive. I was very relived when it finally pulled up. It turned out to be a party bus with a huge sound system, interior lights, etc. Unfortunately we really weren't in a partying mood. After arriving at Bundaberg, we checked into our motel and then grabbed some quick dinner. After the dinner I settled down again with my note book, and phone to continue figuring out what to do ...


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PostPosted: Nov 15th, '17, 07:43 
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Bad luck Luke..... atleast its just the car that suffered the damage, and BumbleBee is in safe hands.

Certainly an adventure to remember

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_ ... 0787180548

See you at Easter ;)

Kingy

Edit:
Keels-on-Wheels added another photo on their FB page....
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_ ... 0787180548

Pics for you to save Luke :)

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Last edited by Pirate on Nov 15th, '17, 10:38, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Nov 15th, '17, 08:03 
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Pirate wrote:
Bad luck Luke..... atleast its just the car that suffered the damage, and BumbleBee is in safe hands.

Certainly an adventure to remember

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_ ... 0787180548

See you at Easter ;)

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What's the link? It just says 'faceboook can't display the content right now'

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PostPosted: Nov 15th, '17, 11:17 
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Great that you found Keels on Wheels to tow her home

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PostPosted: Nov 15th, '17, 22:11 
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Thursday 19th - Night - Earlier in the day I had posted the following thread on TSP: viewtopic.php?t=15065

I knew it would be tricky buying a new tow vehicle at such short notice. I had no idea what I should be looking for or what I should avoid beyond 'perhaps a Toyota land cruiser'. Given how difficult the situation was it was great to have a community rely on with expert advice.

Looking around on carsales.com there was a 1999 LandCruiser for $20k for private sale just down the road. I called them up and they were happy to drive around right away so I could inspect it. I posted a link to TSP and got an answer back almost immediately saying it would be pretty sluggish as it was a NA 4.2 diesel.

The car was in great condition for its age, with some really nice extras, like DVD players in the back of the headrests. However it was indeed pretty slow to accelerate. Going from 80 to 100 took an eternity, even with the pedal to the metal. Apart from that it would be a great car for us, but the lack of acceleration really bothered me. Overtaking can be one of the most dangerous times, and it's something you can't avoid. There is inevitably some overloaded caravan or truck going at a ridiculously slow speed, and sitting behind them for the whole trip really isn't an option. Again after talking with my wife we decided to continue to see what other cars we could find.

There were a bunch of other suitable cars on carsales.com but unfortunately many of them were at least half an hour's drive away. I also took a look at what hire 4WD's would be available and even managed to get some quotes from a website to hire a 4WD in brisbane and drive to melbourne - unfortunately it was looking very expensive.

I didn't get to sleep until past one. There were so many different options to compare and things to research. None of the alternatives was looking particularly wonderful. As I tried to fall asleep I was hoping that with a good nights rest I would get some inspiration in the morning.


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PostPosted: Nov 21st, '17, 23:52 
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Friday 20th - Morning - I was hoping to wake up with some inspiration, but unfortunately as morning dawned I had no new ideas. The options facing us were:
* Buy a new tow vehicle and continue
* Hire a tow vehicle and continue
* Pay to get the boat towed home and fly back
* Put the boat in storage and fly back
* Put the boat in storage and buy a small car to drive back in.
On top of this we had the added complication that I needed to figure out what to do with my junked car.

My wife however had woke up with a pretty clear idea of what she wanted to do: Phone up the local yacht club and get some help. Store the boat. Fly back. She pointed out that in her experience sailors everywhere shared a sense of camaraderie. They are always friendly and would help out in a pinch. She suggested our best bet was to contact the Bundaberg Sailing Club explain the situation and see if they could help out. Perhaps we could store the boat at the clubhouse? Perhaps they knew a good storage facility? They might at least have some good local advice on what to do.

She also really wanted to fly out ASAP and get back home. Its easy to sit back here in Melbourne, months after and evaluate the options dispassionately with logic. But on the day, looking at the alternatives there was more at play than just logic and financial sense. You also need to consider our emotional state:

I was extremely stressed. I felt the weight of the responsibility for getting my family out of the predicament. I was under a huge amount of pressure to make a decision in a short time - it was Friday and everything was about to shut down for the weekend. I felt guilty for what had happened and blamed myself for destroying the car. I was upset that our great trip was ending like this. I had been up to 1:00 the night before, and hadn't slept well after that.

My wife was stressed out, worried about what would happen, and exhausted from trying to keep the kids amused. The kids were picking up on all the tension and were upset at what had happened to the car. We were all tired after a long holiday and just wanted to be home.

My wife was particularly worried that if hired or bought another car and continued our journey that we wouldn't have the reserves to deal with anything else going wrong. What happens if we got past Brisbane and the next car broke down, or a wheel fell of the trailer? Would I have the energy to sort that out? Would I even have the energy to safely drive the 2000km back home, even assuming a perfect trip. For my part I just desperately wanted to get back on the road and have the boat back in Melbourne.

I spent the morning madly making calls, taking notes and doing research. Unfortunately I couldn't get in contact with the Yacht club to see if they could offer any help. But by lunchtime I had managed to boiled everything down to two options: A local car dealership had a Mitsubishi Triton for sale that would be suitable. They would also do a trade in on our broken down subaru, which would at least take it off our hands. The second alternative was to put the boat into storage in Bundaberg and come back when I had bought a new car. I would have to get a tow company to transport the boat to the storage facility. The mechanic who had my car said he would give us $300 for it as scrap. We would then fly home.

I spoke to my wife and while she wasn't happy with the idea of buying a new car instead of flying home, she at least agreed to have a look. We went out to grab some quick lunch and to walk to the car yard ...


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PostPosted: Feb 16th, '18, 20:01 
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Sorry for leaving you all hanging. I guess I really should find some time and wrap this up. I guess in my defence, it was a thoroughly unpleasant time and I'm not eager to revisit it. Still, we should finish what we begin; so on with the show:

Friday 20th - Afternoon - We arrived at the car dealership and I had a good look at the Triton we were thinking about buying. It was pretty good! Fairly low KMs, price a little bit high, but in good condition. Interior was nice - no obvious scratches or dings and quite comfortable for a dual cab. It also looked like it could really tow! I crawled underneath and had a good look. There was a small oil leak where the transmission connected to the engine, but apart from that it looked good. I was still quite happy with the car, but my wife had rapidly cooled on it when she heard about the leak. We decided to take it for the test drive.

Once we were away from the dealership in the privacy of the car, my wife said she definitely didn't want to buy : "There is only one thing I know about cars; they shouldn't leak oil!". I was still on the fence. I really liked the idea of trading in the car and being able to tow the boat back. We decided to phone our mechanic in Melbourne and get some advice. He said "hmmm, we definitely don't like them to leak oil" and suggested we wipe the bottom of the transmission clean, then go for a 15 min drive. If the drips reappeared in that time then it probably was a fairly heavy leak. After cleaning the transmission and going for a further drive I crawled under the car for a look. A few fresh drips of oil had appeared on the underside of the transmission. If we could get the salesman to knock an appropriate amount off the price I was still happy to buy, but my wife was a definite no. We drove back to the dealership and told the salesman we weren't interested. He looked even more crestfallen than I was - he had been looking at a very quick and easy sale to a motivated buyer.

With the Triton off the table, the only option was to put the boat into storage and fly home. We hurried back to the motel so I could start making calls - it was well into Friday afternoon and places would soon be closing. The first order of business was to find a storage space. Fortunately Bundaberg is on a well traveled grey nomad route. There are number of options catering to caravans and boats. After some calling around I managed to find a space at a new storage facility - the owner was extremely helpful and even offered to open up to allow me to check-in if we arrived in the evening after they had closed for the day.

I also phoned the mechanic who had our car, to see if I could bargin him up at all on the offer of $300 scrap on the car. Of course he wasn't moving. He also reminded me that I still owed him $200 for towing the boat, so actually I would be receiving $100 cash. I was pretty gutted that $100 was all we would be getting. When the kids found out they both burst into tears - they really loved that Subaru. I did confirm that I could keep the plates - as it turned out they were by far the most valuable thing left on the car.

I also phoned up and organised a tow for the boat, from the mechanics yard to the storage. I was able to catch a lift with the tow car from Bundaberg. The tow driver was a nice guy who voulentered with the coast guard. I'm not sure I was the best company though - as I told him, it was a hell of a day. One of the worst really...

At the mechanics yard I only had a few moments to strip everything out of the car. It was full of all kinds of stuff from the trip. I threw most of it into the boat, on top of the mixed piles of clothes, sailing equipment and random detritus. It was getting to be quite a sight in there. I'm happy to say I had the presence of mind not only to take the garrage door opener from the dash, but also the first aid kit in the back of the car and the toolkit next to the spare. I also collected my $100 and numberplates, which was a sad moment.

The tow to the boat storage facility went without incident. Since by now it was 6:00 and they were shut, the owner had come over to check me in. He was really helpful! There were a number of issues with the boat. The battery was practically flat - I had been using it for days without the solar charger. If you can recall 3 days ago in my story I had also used it to jumpstart my car when we were stuck in the floods. The owner said he had a number of chargers to keep car and caravan batteries topped up - I could just leave the battery out and he would charge it up. The boat was also full of soaking wet stuff - both from the rain with the floods and things that hadn't dried out from the Whitsundays. No problems! Just leave it all in the cockpit to dry and the owner would pack it back in the lockers later!

After I was done getting the boat sorted and had signed everything that needed signing, the owner offered me a lift back to motel. It turns out he had a brand new convertible Mercedes SLK, which he cheerfully called "his mid life crisis". So after selling my car for scrap, I finished up the day by being driven around in a convertible sports car.

Before going to bed I finished up by booking tickets for flights home the next day. I was absolutely exhausted, but at least everthing had finally been sorted out.


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PostPosted: Feb 17th, '18, 10:13 
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Thanks for finishing up the Queensland part of the sage Luke. Is Bumblebee still up there?

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PostPosted: Feb 17th, '18, 10:54 
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Johny wrote:
Thanks for finishing up the Queensland part of the sage Luke. Is Bumblebee still up there?


Nope, Bumblebee is back! Hopefully we will be wrapping up the story completely soon!


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PostPosted: Feb 17th, '18, 11:08 
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Saturday 21st - Our trips last day!

I slept in late. After all the events of the past few days, the pressure and worry, it was a huge relief to just take it easy. All we needed to do was catch our afternoon flight home. Apart from that the only thing I really need to do was relax and have a quiet time.

We wondered into town to get some brunch. We managed to find a cafe with good food and even better coffee. It was a sunny morning, so we lingered for a while and I had a 2nd latte. While we were sitting around I asked my family how they would rate our trip out of 10? My son said 10/10, and my daughter 7/10 - docking 3 points because of what had happened with the car. It was good to see that even one day later they were able to put what had happened into perspective and see the bigger picture. Kids are resilient like that. My wife said 5/10 and I said 2/10 - I was finding it very hard to look past what had just happened...

Apart from a relaxing breakfast there isn't much more to tell. We killed a few hours trolling through a 2nd hand bookstore then made our flight with loads of time to spare. Everyone spent the flight quietly reading the books we had bought. We killed another hour wondering around Brisbane airport waiting for our connecting flight, before flying back to Melbourne. My parents picked us up at the airport and lent us one of their cars for a few days so we could get back on our feet.

It was great to be home after more than a month away and finally be able to fall asleep in our own beds. Such a difference to the quarter berth of an RL24! The whole thing was bittersweet though. I titled this thread "There and back again" when I began it. But Bumblebee and the car hadn't made it back with us. The car was sitting in a wrecking yard, and I still had to find a way to get my boat home to Melbourne...


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PostPosted: Feb 18th, '18, 12:28 
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Epilogue - I had told my boss about the car and had managed to extend my leave a few days, which I was planning to spend very quietly indeed. That lasted half way through the first morning, when my wife announced it was time to buy a car! We had been planning on getting a larger tow vehicle for the boat and a small runaround for my wife for quite a while so we had already done some thinking about what to buy. We had decided to get a low KMs used Toyota Carolla hatch. It turns out that buying a city runabout in Melbourne is a lot easier that a buying a tow vehicle in Bundaberg. It particularly helped that we had our family and friends to support us, so we could borrow a car to get us to an inspection or go pick up the new car. Within two days of arriving back we had a Carolla with 8000kms on the clock sitting in our driveway. We got a very nice deal, and my wife was very happy with the new car.

Getting Bumblebee back proved to be a bit more complex. I was originally planning to buy a tow vehicle and go pick it up. However I managed to get a relatively cheap deal on backhaul to get Bumblebee towed to Melbourne. What clinched it was doing the maths on my petrol costs to drive up to Bundaberg and back. It was only marginally more expensive to get the boat towed - money which I was happy to pay to avoid 6 solid days driving! Once I got the boat back it took me a complete day just to take out all the stuff inside. It looked like a bomb had exploded in there. Getting the boat clean took even longer.

Finding a new tow vehicle was quite a journey. During the trip there had been some serious talk of buying a bigger boat, so we were after something with a large tow capacity. I had been originally been thinking of a used LandCruiser, but it turns out the prices were eye watering. We looked at pretty much every car under the sun, from the BT-50 dual cab ute to the Porsche Cayenne. Every car had some kind of large compromise in either capability, cost, or reliability. We came very close to settling on the 3 series Land Rover Discovery. However in the end worries about its reliability put me off. We landed up settling on getting a Mitsubishi Pajero. The downside is they can 'only' tow 3t, which rules out the very heaviest maxi TS's. It took a huge search, but after looking at 14 used Pajero's I finally found one that ticked all the boxes. It tows bumblebee pretty easily :-)

All up, it's been an unforgettable trip! Now some time has past I don't feel quite so bad about destroying the car and I've started to remember all the amazing things we did and saw. It really was the trip of a lifetime! Would I do it again? Absolutely! It would be nice to have a larger boat, but the kids are small enough that another trip in bumbbee wouldn't be out of the question.

When I get some time I'll try and post a final wrap up going through what worked well and what didn't. In addition 5o having loads of fun we definitely learnt a lot on the trip.


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PostPosted: Feb 18th, '18, 13:29 
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luke.sleeman wrote:
Saturday 21st - Our trips last day!

It was a sunny morning, so we lingered for a while and I had a 2nd latte. While we were sitting around I asked my family how they would rate our trip out of 10? My son said 10/10, and my daughter 7/10 - docking 3 points because of what had happened with the car. It was good to see that even one day later they were able to put what had happened into perspective and see the bigger picture. Kids are resilient like that. My wife said 5/10 and I said 2/10 - I was finding it very hard to look past what had just happened...




That's 24 out of 40 or a 60% rating for the family as a whole - so not a total disaster and the kids enjoyed most of it so they will remember it fondly in 20 years time. And look how much you have all learned!

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PostPosted: Feb 18th, '18, 14:37 
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Peter Yates wrote:
That's 24 out of 40 or a 60% rating for the family as a whole - so not a total disaster and the kids enjoyed most of it so they will remember it fondly in 20 years time. And look how much you have all learned!


I just asked them again:. My son is 7.5 / 10, daughter 8/10 , my wife is 9/10 and I would rate it 9/10. My reason for 9/10 is it was such a good trip , I would haven given it something like 12/10. So if we dock 3 points for the car that comes out at 9/10 :D


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PostPosted: Feb 18th, '18, 14:56 
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They are great scores Luke. The experiences and lessons for all concerned will raise those scores in the future. And don't forget that your telling of the story helps the rest of us too. I checked under the bonnet of my just serviced tow vehicle prior to our last caravan trip - due to your story.

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PostPosted: Feb 23rd, '18, 02:18 
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Despite the car problems we had a fantastic trip! It really was the experience of a lifetime! We also learnt a lot as well. So that everyone can learn from our experiences and also so I can organise my own thoughts, I'm going to post a wrap up. We will look at what went well and what needs improving for next time!

What worked well:

The overall idea for the trip - To be honest, I wasn't even sure if the overall plan was a sane one - drive the boat, kids, etc all the way to the Whitsunday, live on an RL 24 and sail around the islands for a month. What pushed me to try it was INMA pointing out that in the 70s and 80s people used to do this all the time. Thankfully it worked out really well! While it was difficult and tricky in bits we never hit a stage where we thought "this just isn't working"

Audio books during the car ride - My son gets a touch car sick, so reading books or watching TV during the trip is out. Instead we listened to the unabridged audiobook of lord of the rings. It was definitely long enough for the trip and keept the kids quite and amused during the 4 day drive.

The places we visited - the Whitsundays was definitely the right place to visit. There were so many great things to see go and amazing anchorages to stay in.

100 magic miles & Navionics on a tablet - I was tossing up buying some actual paper charts and tide tables. As it turned out 100 magic miles and a Navionics subscription for my tablet was more than enough. As everything is within sight we could even have made do without navonics.

Bimini - I fitted a Bimini before the trip. Having shade to sit under was invaluable. Definitely one of the best additions we have made to the boat.

Tender & outboard holder - A tender is not something you really need in Port Phillip bay. I was rather dubious about bringing one. As it turned out you can't live in the Whitsunday without one! It towed fine behind the boat and only had a minimal impact on our sailing performance. I tied up a rope outboard hoist and it worked great for getting the outboard on and off the bracket I had added to the rear rail.

New rigging - I replaced a bunch of rigging, stays, sheets, etc before the trip. I'm really glad I did and all the new stuff worked well.

New anchor - We replaced our overweight Danforth (which somehow still managed to drag!) with a Rocna 6. It worked flawlessly every night, never got stuck, never dragged and always set immediately. Suddenly we were anchoring like pros! It's amazing what a difference the right equipment makes. It also fit the bow rollers perfectly, cliped in place for fast deployment and stowed in the well nicely. My wife (who has to pull it up!) said it's the best thing I've bought for the boat.

Taking small videos with my phone - rather than lugging around my DSLR I decide to just use my phone. I landed up taking a bunch of short 10 - 15 second video clips. This worked really well and people loved looking at them.

Vietnamese coffee - We HAVE TO have coffee. This is often troublesome on a boat. A moka pot has worked well, bit it still a pain to clean. I've recently got into making Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk. This worked well and the condensed milk keeps well without refrigeration. You can even buy a tube of it that you squeeze out like toothpaste.


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PostPosted: Feb 23rd, '18, 02:22 
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What needs improving:

The car - well, obviously my car died, quite possibly due to towing too much, too far. So that wasn't ideal. Fortunately with out new car this shouldn't be a problem anymore!

The Fridge - We spent the 1st morning of our holiday queuing outside Aldi to buy a electric camp fridge! Having used it on the trip I can see it has so much potential. The the simple things, like being able to have a cold drink of water are amazing. Sadly it proved to be very tempremental. I landed up doing some ad-hoc re-wiring of the boat half way through the trip. Then somehow my solar stoped charging and the battery ran flat. It will be great - once I get it going reliably.

Showers - We have a camp shower which allowed us to have one quick shower every 4 days. This isnt enough! I need to buy another shower or two! Having more water storage and an actual shower in the boat would be great, but it's not going to fit!

Emptying the Toilet - We have a thetford camp toilet. I did a lot of work modifying the boat to ensure there was a proper nook to store it in, with quick and easy access. Sadly with 4 people it fills up very quickly. And I haven't found a way of emptying it that isn't a huge pain and utterly gross. We emptied it overboard - which involved sailing for ages to get to the edge of the marine park. Then a badly timed wave almost send me overboard with it. Then the tender drifted right through the cloud! The next time I put it in the tender and lugged it all the way to drop toilets on shore - a huge amount of work. Even emptying it into the toilets at Hamilton island was gross, with lots of splashing and slop happening. Eughhhhh! A proper toilet and holding tank would be ideal, but there is no room for it!

Ear protection - Both my daughter and I got ear infections. Earplugs and ear drops helped out a lot. It's something we should have been doing from the beginning.

Underwater video - I had this kind of zip lock bag phone protector thing. I used it to get some underwater video, but it was very inconvenient. Then the bag got condensation inside it, which broke my phone. Next time I'll bring something like a GoPro.

Roll prevention - I jury rigged a stabiliser to stop the boat swaying while at anchor. It was good, but a proper flopper stopper would be even better. We were quite limited in our choice of anchorages due to sway, so better roll prevention would open up a bunch of new places for us.

Anchor light - I have a battery one, which I raised up the main halyard. This ment un-hanking the main. At the end of the trip I started launching it up the forestay instead, but it still need more work to stop it flopping about.

Bigger boat - we were absolutely packed to the gills, with stuff in every locker and shelf. You couldn't stand up inside the boat. If somebody wanted to get to the kitchen you had to climb over my bed. Getting in and out of the cabin was a complex production that needed 4 people to co-ordinate their movements. A bigger boat where we aren't always on top of each other would be great!


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PostPosted: Feb 23rd, '18, 02:25 
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There are a few things that we should have brought:

Selfie stick - it sounds funny, but there were a bunch of photos I wanted to get of us as a family. For the 1st time in my life I found myself actually wanting a selfie stick.

Bathescope - I almost landed up buying one, but decided against it. I ended up regretting not having it - my wife is a weak swimmer and didn't always want to be in the water. Having a bathescope would have allowed her to see much more coral. We also found it difficult to pick good spots to snorkel. Having a bathescope would have allowed us to motor around in the tender looking under the water until we found the ideal location.

Reef anchor for the tender - I asked my son what we should have brought and much to my surprise he suggested a reef anchor for the tender! He pointed out there were several time we had trouble finding a spot to anchor the tender so we could go snorkeling. A reef anchor would have allowed us to anchor right on the coral. Personaly I would still be worried about damaging the coral. Also I would be wary carting a reef anchor around in an inflatable boat!

UV light - There were several nights we saw bioluminescent things in the water. We tried to see what they were with a torch, but it didn't work. My son suggested we would have been able to see squid glowing with a UV light. Apparently he saw it in a documentary. No idea if he is right or not, but it would be interesting to try.

More books. Perhaps a kindle - We brought a bunch of books to keep the kids amused. Unfortunately they burnt through them in a few days. Perhaps a kindle would help us bring more books, and also save on storage space?

There are a few things we probably should have left at home as well

My wetsuit - I lugged it all the way and then never once used it. Turns out the water the plenty warm.

Seasickness medicine - I brought a bunch of different sea sickness cures - as it turns out we didn't need any of them!


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PostPosted: Feb 23rd, '18, 09:22 
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luke.sleeman wrote:
There are a few things that we should have brought:

Selfie stick - it sounds funny, but there were a bunch of photos I wanted to get of us as a family. For the 1st time in my life I found myself actually wanting a selfie stick.

Bathescope - I almost landed up buying one, but decided against it. I ended up regretting not having it - my wife is a weak swimmer and didn't always want to be in the water. Having a bathescope would have allowed her to see much more coral. We also found it difficult to pick good spots to snorkel. Having a bathescope would have allowed us to motor around in the tender looking under the water until we found the ideal location.

Reef anchor for the tender - I asked my son what we should have brought and much to my surprise he suggested a reef anchor for the tender! He pointed out there were several time we had trouble finding a spot to anchor the tender so we could go snorkeling. A reef anchor would have allowed us to anchor right on the coral. Personaly I would still be worried about damaging the coral. Also I would be wary carting a reef anchor around in an inflatable boat!

UV light - There were several nights we saw bioluminescent things in the water. We tried to see what they were with a torch, but it didn't work. My son suggested we would have been able to see squid glowing with a UV light. Apparently he saw it in a documentary. No idea if he is right or not, but it would be interesting to try.

More books. Perhaps a kindle - We brought a bunch of books to keep the kids amused. Unfortunately they burnt through them in a few days. Perhaps a kindle would help us bring more books, and also save on storage space?

There are a few things we probably should have left at home as well

My wetsuit - I lugged it all the way and then never once used it. Turns out the water the plenty warm.

Seasickness medicine - I brought a bunch of different sea sickness cures - as it turns out we didn't need any of them!
Good rap-up Luke. Have really enjoyed following your progress. We saw you on the road before your car problems, your boat is easy to identify ! Look forward to the next episode.
Peter

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PostPosted: Feb 23rd, '18, 12:25 
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Really enjoyed read . Thanks

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PostPosted: Feb 23rd, '18, 14:05 
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Luke, thanks for the final analysis . Having been there/ done that and suffered the consequences, do you think you'd do it the same again or would you consider chartering next time?

I suspect I'm in a similar situation to you- a yacht that is JUST up to what the family needs but really not ideal. I'm still trying to decide between upgrading all the running gear on the noelex trailer vs sucking up the expense of a charter holiday (which would be significant because we have 3 kids, and to be honest I think I'd rather go with 2 families - so we're looking at a big cat...during school holidays....)

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