Housemaid’s knee

Coordinates: 27deg1S, 153deg21E

I reckon these doctors make up the names for ailments as they go along.  A few days ago I mentioned to the good Doctor Starr that I had a sore knee, in a tone intended to convey the excruciating pain, the high levels of uncomplaining stoicism and the full extent of long-suffering martyrdom exercised over the matter on my part. She’s not fooled, of course, but then neither am I now by the “ooh, that must be very sore” response that my complaint elicited, a stock response honed after years of GP clinics. My announcement was carefully timed in a rare and brief pause between resentful home-schooling and screaming children, and I was pleased to see the Doctor taking me seriously enough to take a look. After a few cursory questions and an insistent prodding until she had me gasping in pain, she announced that I had what was known as “housemaid’s knee”, an ailment usually caused by spending too long scrubbing floors on hands and knees (possibly named before the age of suffrage).  This seemed to amuse her no end, arming her with plenty of witty quips about the irony of someone with my housecleaning track record managing to get the ailment.  “It should really be called ‘downtrodden husbands’ knee’” say I, but she’s too quick and in a flash has responded with a “maybe, except that it is caused by repetitive pressure”.  Touche.

We sailed the 60 miles South from Fraser Island down to the small port of Maloolooba, hooning through the narrow breakwater passage and large waves late afternoon into the peace and quiet of its waterways. Neither of us had discussed it, but we’d both approached Maloolooba with the same mental image of an old rustic seafront fishing town, and so were totally thrown to find a massive canal development lined with grand new buildings, each house with its own jetty and gleaming yacht parked outside. The waterways extended in every direction, and from our standpoint it looked like every one of the 7,000 residents had their own pontoon. Incredible. The idea of having your own canal-adjoining house with a pontoon for your yacht at the end of the garden sounds wonderful, but the houses were cheek by jowl, and as well as being able to peer into your neighbours’ affairs across the fence, you could look across the canal and snoop on all of them too!  Wonderful lace curtain-twitching opportunities.  So with the infallible Nolan nose for cheap entertainment, once the sun had set we sat happily in the cockpit peering shamelessly into the houses around us and comparing Christmas decorations. By now you’d imagine that we’d twigged Christmas was coming, but in fact we’ve been so cocooned in our own little watery world that none of the festive build-up had touched us. So it was a timely reminder to find every second canal house adorned with neon mistletoe, twinkling fairy lights and electric Santas with Rudolph’s nose flashing red as a novel (and potentially misleading) maritime beacon.

We used the opportunity of a close proximity Maloolooba town to celebrate the coming of age of our youngest; Jakey now turning 5, the little man, and had a lovely day alternating between boat-based treats and fish and chips on the beach.  A huge thanks for everyone who sent email birthday messages.  But ultimately the shock of anchoring at the end of several people’s gardens proved too much for us, and we elected to move on the following morning, sailing the 40 or so miles down to Moreton Island to get one step closer to Brisbane. Moreton Island is another sand-based affair, stretching parallel to the mainland and enclosing Moreton Bay and the whole Brisbane marine area. We were now in the realm of shipping lanes with huge container ships ploughing back and forth, and we could feel the presence of a major city. But surprisingly Moreton Island, only 15 nautical miles from the urban sprawl, hosts an impressive marine park that holds dolphins, turtles, dugongs and whales, all of which but the last we saw within hours of arriving at the Tangalooma Wrecks.

Tangalooma was the location of an attempt to create an artificial reef and breakwater by dropping a line of large wrecks into the sea 100 metres off the beach. This has since become a tourist attraction, and with it’s own marine eco-system it makes great snorkelling. The wrecks themselves look pretty impressive, and they’ve brought in a diverse range of fishlife that are used to swimmers and amazingly friendly. What it hasn’t achieved, though, is to create a breakwater from persistent Westerly swell, a fact that we discovered first hand on our first night when the wind shifted direction and we sat broadside onto it.

One of the many advantages of a catamaran over a monohull is its ability to handle swell. In situations where monohull owners would be thrown around from side to side, the cat will simply bob up and down peacefully.  This opens up many more viable anchorage options.  But when the swell gets severe enough, even multihulls suffer. Ours has a tendency to creak and groan as the beams connecting the two hulls come under pressure, much like they do when on passage in fact. And so we had two terrible nights’ sleep, and heaved collective sighs when the wind finally swung back behind the island and the swell disappeared. You might wonder why two nights, when surely the first was sufficient to inform us of our mistake? Yes, well you’d think so. But as the eternal optimists, we’d followed someone’s dubious advice and moved down the island a few miles, only to find the wind kicking in with even greater ferocity just before dark, and our options for avoiding the swell pretty much gone. We decided that someone wanted to prepare us for our next passage, and so we accepted our sleep-deprived fate accordingly.  Those who’ve spent much time sailing will know that much of the time it can be likened to hitting your head against a brick wall…because it’s such bliss when you stop!   So it was on the third day that the wind finally shifted, and we could start to enjoy Moreton Island properly.

The preparation for passage-making isn’t lost on us, though. We’re rapidly approaching our departure date and slowly working through lists of final boat jobs. The forecasts have been pretty favourable for the last few weeks giving us hope that our departure wouldn’t be delayed, but unfortunately this pattern disappeared around the time of our intended departure, and it now looks like we’ll be waiting for several days for the South-Easterlies to swing around.  Still, not a bad place to be waiting.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brian & Susan
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 20:26:38

    Oh my goodness,5 and we forgot!!Sorry Jacob but we hope you had a lovely day Love to all. Susan & Brian


    • fredandrebecca
      Dec 11, 2012 @ 13:17:30

      Are your dogs sick at the moment or what are they? I got an awesome lego ambulance on my birthday. It was awesome with a few characters and I have always been hoping for lego characters and now I have got some. My ambulance broke but it’s already fixed. My birthday is over right now so it’s not so fun now that it’s over , but even though, that is quite fun. And I am looking forward to Christmas and Christmas is very close so that is why I am so excited about it. Brian have you had a haircut? and right now we are in an island that we have been two times before. And there are a few wrecks here right next to each other. And there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of fish around the wrecks but the bad news is that Gabriel was standing on the wreck, there was something big down there and he didn’t even catch the big thing. Love to Susan and Brian, from Jacob XX


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