Marina life – 5 months on

Being the start of a new year, I thought I’d look back on the past 5 months and capture what its been like living in the marina. It has its own rhythm and quirks that we’ve learnt to adjust to, and does feel like “home”, for the time-being anyway.

Our days generally start early – we are gradually awoken by the shouts / warcries of the very serious outriggers, kayakers and rowers. These sports are extremely popular here – from young to old, men and women, and they really push themselves and train hard – almost like army drilling! They start at 4am and go far out to sea, and we hear them coming back passed our boat around 6am. The outriggers give an abrupt shout (“hup!”) every 6 paddles or so (to signal they need to row on the opposite side), and this pretty much serves as our alarm clock. Noah used to to stick his head out of a hatch every now and then and add his own “hup” into the mix.

If it’s not the outriggers, the recreational fishing boats tend to rock us awake. We are moored right on the corner of the marina, and the boating traffic comes passed us – sometimes too close for comfort! There is a speed limit of 6 knots, and a general rule of not passing within 30m of a boat, but even when the rules are followed the wake still reaches us. Although the traffic is a bit of a disadvantage, we still prefer this berth to any of the others – we have no boat next to us, so less risk of being hit (or hitting others) during mooring, we have more privacy, and we have a great view. The houses directly opposite us must cost millions – and we get to enjoy the same riverfront view as them!

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The Mooloolaba Marina looking upriver – our berth marked in red
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The marina – looking downriver towards the “Spit”

To be honest, we don’t really hear the shouts or feel the boat rocking that much anymore. The steady flow of canal cruises, whale watching boats, canoeists, fishing boats, yachts, jetskis, SUPs, dinghies etc are actually quite interesting to observe. It’s great seeing the river being used and enjoyed by so many people!

Every Tuesday and Friday, a group called “Sailability” take disabled children/adults for a sail on the river, in brightly coloured little dinghies. It’s so sweet to see the expressions on their faces and the whoops of joy when they come passed us.

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Sailability dinghies

There are many canals branching off the Mooloolah river, and its a great place to SUP and explore. When the current is slack (top or bottom of the tide) and wind not too strong, we do enjoy paddling around and exploring the canals.

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Off to SUP

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The river also offers a great way to cool off when the humidity and heat get overwhelming. The water is clean (especially at our berth, where the current flows strongly), and we haven’t spotted too many nasty creatures lurking near the boat.

We have spotted some interesting creatures in the marina. At one stage there was an influx of translucent blue jellyfish – called blubbers. They are not harmful, but can sting (apparently). Noah spent a couple hours paddling around on his SUP trying to catch some. At the moment there are a lot of “brown snotty” jellyfish, which are much bigger and have masses of tentacles. Their sting is a lot more painful, but again not harmful. Luckily we’ve managed to avoid getting stung by one.

We’ve seen a lone dolphin feeding at sunset, and stingrays in the shallows. The most unusual creature to visit was a long brown sea snake that seemed to be lost and trying to find its way out of the marina maze. I had only ever seen one of those black and white stripey sea snakes in the shallows in Fiji, but this one was brown, really long (must have been 2m at least) and was swimming fast on top of the water. It was really interesting learning about sea snakes later on in our boat-ed studies (so great when the boys’ learning coincides with things we experience in everyday life).

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Another tangible learning was the effect of the supermoon. We are very aware of tides, with the jetties floating up and down each day. We decided to mark the high and low tides on the day of the supermoon – a 2m difference!

Boat-ed, in general, has been going well. Marco and I both teach the boys (he says I’m the headmistress though), and vary the location to keep it interesting (and to escape boat maintenance noise). We’re really loving the Footprints curriculum, and our sea creatures studies have been so relevant. Noah has not enjoyed the Maths program we used, as it can be a little demoralising, adding more and more questions to the to-do-list if you get some wrong. I’ve since ordered another Maths program for him, and hope that it’ll be less frustrating and more enjoyable. Josh, on the other hand, just loves his Maths and wants a challenge.

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Cool place for school and work – the yacht club restaurant
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The other attraction at the yacht club – the free vintage arcade game

We’ve met some lovely people here at the marina. There are always new people coming and going, but was great to get to know some that stayed a little longer. Our “neighbours”, Ron and Toni from Cruising Kitty were great fun, and it was sad to say goodbye when they left. We also enjoyed getting to know Rod and Mary from Hout Bay, Cape Town, who had been sailing around the world for 8 years aboard Sheer Tenacity. What’s really amazing is that the vast majority of yachties are over 60 – when many people start thinking about moving to an old age home, these guys are just beginning their adventures! What a great attitude!

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Always laughing with Ron and Toni

The boys, obviously, can’t sit on a boat all day, so we do tend to get out a bit. Marco takes them surfing at one of the nearby breaks, or we all play tennis. We usually go for a walk (me) / skate (boys) to the Spit (rivermouth) each evening. With the beach right across the road from the marina, its easy to go for a swim – and the boys love playing in the dumpy waves.

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Sunset swim at the beach – with the Spit in the distance

We have seen some spectacular sunsets, and some dramatic storms. You really do feel the raw power of the elements when you’re living on a boat – the rain sounds louder, the wind affects your stability and whistles through the ropes overhead, and the waves and currents rock your world.

So in general, life at the marina has been good. There have been hassles and struggles and frustrations, but so many new experiences and learnings too. It’s been a great place to adjust to life on a boat, but is just the stepping stone to bigger sailing adventures …

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