May 7, 2004
MidTown Marina, Bundaberg

Barnacle Bliss
By Lois Joy

Stories in this section... Australia Voyage 4
Back to Bundy and Bliss
Barnacle Bliss
The Town that Wasn't
Messing with Boats, Part V

“I’m a happy man,” said Gunter, as he arrived back at our hotel for lunch in his dirty, greasy work clothes. No, it had nothing to do with the fact that our wedding anniversary is coming up this month. It had everything to do with Gunter’s mistress, Pacific Bliss, looking prettier each passing day

. Our home this week is the Burnett Riverside Quality Motel, where we have booked a kitchenette room. Pacific Bliss is ‘on the hard’ on the Midway Marina Slipway across the Burnett River. During the cyclone season, when her owners were safely in San Diego, an army of barnacles and other sea creatures had attached themselves to her bottom. Even the fenders that had been hanging in the water were sprouting. The port head no longer flushed because a huge oyster had chosen to make the water intake his home! Miss Bliss had suffered without her master long enough.

Last Sunday, we took Bliss ten miles up the Burnett river from her slip in Port Bundaberg to stay overnight at the Mid-Town Marina gas dock. Soon after we arrived, we were invited to a going away party for S/V Harmony; we’d met her owners many times in our Pacific island travels. The party was an Aussie-style ‘barbie’ right there on the dock. We could hardly say no.

Even so, Monday morning at 0700 sharp, we maneuvered Pacific Bliss across the river to the slipway, where the workers hauled her out with a pulley-and-rail system. They immediately began to give her a super shower: a hose-down with their 3000-psi system. The shower worked wonders on her hull and rudders (see photo). But it’s not surprising that our top motoring speed to get her was only three knots. The props were so clogged with barnacles that they had to be removed and cleaned at a machine shop
. Tuesday, workers were all over Pacific Bliss—working on the rudder steering system, the electronics, and organizing labor for Gunter’s long list of repairs. Some repairs will be done at the slipway, and others back at the marina’s dock. By Wednesday, the first coat of anti-fouling paint went on (a black coat) and by Friday morning, the second coat (blue) was applied. Captain Gunter is very pleased and relieved to be supervising these capable and accommodating Aussie workers every day. What a contrast to two seasons in the lackadaisical islands!

This week, we have fallen into a nice and easy urban routine: We begin the day with a continental breakfast at the hotel restaurant—which overlooks the river—and read The Courier-Mail. Then Gunter takes the river bridge to the slipway to meet the workers scheduled for the day. I make entries into my journal, work on my book for a few hours, then run errands in the town of Bundaberg—pleased to be within walking distance of the supermarket, internet, and shops. At noon, we have sandwiches in our room, split a beer, followed by our ‘Aussie pensioners nap.’ To wake up, we walk the promenade for awhile, stop for cappuccinos along one of the many sidewalk cafes, perhaps browse in one of the many bookstores, and purchase parts up in the electrical or marine stores.

By the time we get back from our little excursion, it’s ‘happy hour time,’ so we enjoy a glass of wonderful McGuigans Black Label and watch the local and international news on Cable TV. Darkness falls early here, because in the ‘Land Down Under,’ we are entering the fall season. We walk under the moon—almost full now—to one of the many charming restaurants for dinner.

No complaints—or “no worries,” as they say in Aussieland. We’re content here.

Log and Journal
Back to Bundy and Bliss
Barnacle Bliss