16 November: Bob is finally released from the hospital. Diagnosis is suspected to be a Rikettsia, but the blood tests do not come back positive for anything, so … who knows.
17 November: Went to visit the Reef HQ aquarium. This is quite interesting and the very large tank with all the corals and fish is great just to look at for hours. It is used to study how to keep the corals alive and healthy as well and they have a turtle hospital. Was a good air-conditioned, slow walk for Bob whilst recovering.
18 November: Did some more Townsville touring, with a drive up Castle Hill and some walks in the heat. Not too strenuous for Bob. Also visited Rowes Bay and Pallarenda Park.
19 November: Bob has an appointment back at the Hospital to take some follow-up blood samples. It is hot again, so we also hide out in the shopping centre.
20 November: Bob has a follow-up appointment with the infections diseases doctor at the hospital. We have been looking into portable air conditioning units that we can use on the boat, as we are due to move out of the air-conditioned unit. We decide on a Delonghi unit from The Good Guys – it is not the cheapest, but a pretty good price and has good reviews for being not too noisy. It has 2.5kW cooling capacity (12,000 Btu) and uses 800-850 Watts continuously (I checked with the power meter I have to plug in between the power point and the unit). Here it is, after we also went to the air conditioning shop and bought a properly insulated outlet duct. It dumps a lot of heat through the outlet and also the evaporated moisture from the dehumidifying function.
Saw a set of antique aeroplane stairs at the local radiator repair shop while driving round Townsville. Emily had to get a photo.
We had a dinner at the casino as a late birthday dinner.
The unit also has Netflix! This is good and bad, as we started watching a TV series “frequency” and king of got hooked on it. Over three nights Emily watched the entire 13 episodes of the series!
21 November: We were due to move out of the unit, but Bob’s headaches returned quite strongly and we had to have a ‘go-slow’ day. So just relaxed at the pool and did some recovering.
22 November: We really did move out of the unit and back on to the boat today. The air-con is working pretty hard and keeping it about 10 degrees cooler inside than out. This means 30 degrees in the day and 23 at night. We use the small 12V fans to blow the cool air into the bedroom door at night and this keeps us sleeping with a sheet and light blanket in the early morning as it cools down. Also picked up some tarps from the hardware store to use as shade. The boat is starting to look like a shanty town, but most boats up here do the same!
23 November: Went to the movies to escape the heat. It is 40 degrees and due to remain this hot for the rest of the week. The locals all reckon it is quite unusual to be this hot. Well, that’s global warming for you….. Saw ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and quite enjoyed it. There was only one other couple in the entire cinema.
In the afternoon we went round to see Karen, a WWSA local Townsvillean that had friended and helped Emily while Bob was in the Hospital. Had a relaxed chat for a couple of hours.
24 November (Saturday): We still have the hire car – it’s only $30/day – so we decided that to escape the 40 degree heat (again), we’d take a drive to Cairns and stay overnight.
Stopped at Port Hinchinbrook on the way up. Bob remembers this being a popular harbour full of boats back in c. 2007, but now it is sad to see it full of mud (not even at low tide) and pretty much empty. The cyclone in 2011 trashed the place and Nature has reclaimed what was originally mangrove swamp.
Had a nice walk around the waterfront after checking into the hotel room in Cairns. Decided to have dinner at the Turkish restaurant, although we had Barramundi and prawns – not very Turkish!
25 November: Met up with Tim, an ex airline colleague of Emily’s for brunch.
After which, we took the rental car up to the tablelands to really test it out in the 40 degree heat. Didn’t do too bad a job actually, only had to turn the air con off a couple of times to get decent power up the hill. We visited lake Barrine and saw quite a few people snorkeling in the lake. It was still bloody hot, 39 degrees up at the higher elevation and it was quite amazing to see one guy put on a full wet suit, with hood, and take to the water snorkeling. I guess it must be a lot colder at deeper parts of the lake.
Went to the Milla Milla falls for a look and was a bit disappointed – the water over the falls was not flowing very much and the place was full of tourists and people splashing in the pool in front of the falls.
A much better attraction was the Mamu Tropical Skywalk. It was still unbelievably hot but we suffered in the heat and the walk was not too steep. We quite enjoyed the views and walking through the different levels of the rain forest canopy. Didn’t see any Cassowaries though.
Passed many bush fires ablaze on the way back down South to Townsville. It was quite smokey. Arrived at the boat after dark, but had a good day.
26 November: We had booked in an engine service for CD∞ today and left the service guy to it. I think he was glad that he didn’t have to work in 40 degree heat (yes it is still oppressively hot up here), only 30 degrees inside the boat with the air-con going. We went to hide in the shopping centre again. Drove past the Air Force base and took some pics of the planes on display out the front.
27 November: Last day with the rental car! Did a big shop to resupply the boat in readiness for our proposed departure tomorrow. Bob joined the COVA AGM via skype in the afternoon (we have the technology!) and Emily went to return the car and get some Christmas decorations for the silver snake on the boat (air-con outlet duct).
We invited the local marina residents around for some drinks and nibbles on CD∞ in the evening as a bit of a thank-you and a farewell. The night was enjoyed by all and we went through 5 bottles of Bangor wine (even the Pinot Nior that Emily put in the fridge thinking it was bubbly – actually when it warmed back up a bit it was just the right temperature, still being below 30 degree ambient).
28 November: Was supposed to be our departure from Townsville, but Bob might have had a bit of a hangover and slept in till 10:30. There were severe thunderstorms forecast anyway and as it happened we had a ripper of a storm later in the day, with strong gusty winds, pouring rain and lightning. Was a good thing that we did not to go sailing after all. We visited the museum in the middle of the day and we hid there when the storm hit.
The temperature actually cooled down from 40 degrees (again) to be rather more reasonable 27 after the storm. This gave Bob a chance to check the repairs in the forward locker (all good) and make a replacement bracket for the one that had fatigued off (holds the bow thruster control panel and cabling), without dying of heat exhaustion while in the front locker. Everything is set for a departure tomorrow (Thursday) and catch the NW winds down the coast. We have decided to take CD∞ to Gladstone and leave her there for a month or so over Christmas / January while we fly back to Tassie for a break from the sailing and to see family and friends.