Monday, September 15, 2014

Finally A Job I Enjoy!

I have been working at Noakes Boatyard for the past four months. I have finally found an Australian job that fits me and I am finally doing something I enjoy! After working construction and doing odd jobs for over two years, I am very happy to take pay cut to do something more challenging and rewarding.

Noakes is a boatyard that caters to sailing yachts and wooden boats. The owner is a collector of wooden boats, and several of the shipwrights on staff have years of experience with timber yachts. My job is simple, I am starting at the bottom, of the yacht that is, sanding and painting the underbelly of boats with anti-fouling and prop-speeding.  This is the bottom paint on a boat that keeps marine growth from accumulating when it's in the water. I have been doing a lot of  polishing, and the odd engine service. I also look after the boatyard's old mobile crane and it's 80 ton travel lift. The travel lift can take boats up to 80 foot out of the water to be put onto hardstands so they could be worked on. Supposedly we are getting a new travel lift in December so we are attempting to keep the one we have running for a few more months. We also have an old travel lift from the 1970's that is about to fall apart and the plan is to scrap it soon.  I did get the chance to be part of a massive project removing a straight eight cylinder Gardner diesel engine from one of our ferry's so it could be rebuilt. It took four of us over a couple days to remove the engine, which is the largest engine I have ever worked on. We had to cut holes on the roof of the ferry to use the crane so we could move it, It was a massive project.  The other day I took a few pictures of the yard. The timber yacht in the slings is in the old travel lift that rarely gets used,behind it under the tarps, is the ferry which weremoved the engine from.

Everyone I work is very nice and most of the guys are involved in sailing of some sort. About half of the staff goes on the Sydney Hobart race every year. Emily and I have booked tickets to Hobart for Christmas to see the finish of the race, but we have a very special trip coming up next week. We will be staying in Port Stephens for a few days celebrating our third anniversary of meeting each other,and Emily's birthday is on the 24th.  We cant wait to get out of the big smoke(Sydney) and see some of the countryside!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

City To Surf

The 14km City to Surf run is only a few days away, and I am not sure I am ready. I have been running several times a week for the past month and a half. The run has 80,000 people in it, and from what I have read and seen about it, it is crazy. Apparently hundreds of people dress up in costumes, and there are a few bands playing along the route.  The route goes from downtown Sydney to Bondi Beach. Halfway through the course there is 'heartbreak hill," which separates the contenders from the pretenders. 

I have been running over the harbour bridge which is close to our home as part of my regular route. Work has been busy too, making time for training sometimes tough. Hopefully the times I have training will pay off when I splash into the water at Bondi on Sunday! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dry July, and it's a struggle!

Emily and I have decided to have Dry July. Dry July is a online fundraiser where people volunteer to abstain from drinking alcohol, raising money for cancer research. July is the middle of winter in Australia with not many outdoor events to attend to which makes it a little easier. As simple as it sounds, its very hard to not do partake in one drink. The weekends are especially hard. Most Fridays at work, a box of beer is easily polish off between 15 people within a matter of minutes.  When I have gone sailing on weekends the beer flows like water over the keel. Its hard not to get caught up in the flow of things and have one drink.

The month is half over and its been a struggle. I also have been training for the 14km  City 2 Surf run on August 10th.  Running and drinking rarely go together, and I don't think I need to start, so dry July comes at a good time.

I can have "Golden Tickets' donated to me, which gives me a free day. My dad bought a free day for my birthday later this month. Does anyone else out there want to help me with a Golden Ticket? Click on the link above!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Noakes and North Sydney

So much has happened in the last month!  We have a new apartment and I have a new job!

Emily and I moved from sleepy, leafy Darling Point to the more vibrant North Sydney at the beginning of May. We had grown tired of our old place. We had lived there for 14 months.( 14! a long time for us!) It was at a beautiful location, overlooking Double Bay, however it became more and more apparent, we were paying for the location and not the amenities of the apartment.  Our carpeting was very worn out,the kitchen and bathroom cabinets were falling apart and needed constant repairing, the shower taps leaked all the time, and because we do not have a car this year, the 15 minute walk to the train station was seemed longer and longer every day. Darling Point is one of Sydney's upscale neighabourhods, but unfourtnally for us everyone who lived there seemed to be very well established and it was hard for us to make friends.

We found an one bedroom apartment that fit most of our needs in North Sydney.  It was just remodeled, sporting a new carpet, stove, water heater,  bathroom vanity and was just painted. It is only 200 meters from the North Sydney train station, which is only two stops from the CBD. I thought we had a good view at our old place, however, we not are on the third floor and have a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge! We are surrounded by cafes and bars. The bars close at midnight so the noise is not bad at all. Although last night because of the State of Origin Rugby League Game(all star rugby game), many people were celebrating each score with screams coming through our windows. This is not the norm and our place is actually very quiet.

What makes our new place special is that we are located close to our workplaces. Emily's employer's home office is within walking distance and I have just started  a new job at a boat yard that is only 10 minutes walk away.  Its called Noakes, and its one of the best known yards on Sydney Harbour.  Most of my days at work have been spent sanding and painting the bottom of boats, called anti-fouling. Its not the best job and its pretty dirty, but its a start and I enjoy it. Most of the guys that work there go sailing on the weekends and have their own boats. The boat yard is more like a playground for big kids.

When my day is done, I am home by 5pm and Emily and I get to have dinner and look over the Harbour Bridge. The Vivid Light Festival has started and we can see the lights from out apartment. The picture below is the view from our bedroom.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sydney Royal Easter Show

 I have found myself working at the 6th largest event of any kind in the world, the Sydney Royal Easter Show. It’s just about the same as a state fair back home, minus the country music and demolition derby. There is a arcade of rides, livestock judging, domestic animal judging, a rodeo, daily laser light stadium show, and of course heaps of food and fireworks.

I am working for a stand owned by We actually have a few stands, which make life difficult for the stockpersons like me. We have to constantly run stock to the stand in the crowded isles of the hall. Inside the stand, we assemble "showbags." A showbag is a bag that included many items such as stir fry sauce, curry paste, cake mix and instant coffees. We sell each bag for $10 each. I recently learned that each item in the bag in within one month of expiring so the manufactures were just going to throw the stock away anyway, so I guess they are making a little money by selling all the stuff in a showbag. When we pack a showbag behind the stand, we are constantly busy trying to keep up with demand. It gets especially busy during the afternoon hours, leaving little time for breaks. I have been working 14 hour days all week. My self and a few other stock persons have been arriving at 7am to unload trucks for cold items, and then we spend the rest of the morning organizing the stand before the show starts. We then have been staying past 9 pm re-stocking the stand with showbag stock to be ready for the next day.  Tomorrow the Royal family of William, Kate, and baby George will be visiting the show, so I'm expecting absolute pandemonium. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sitting on the platform, watching the Trams pass all day

Today is the final day of what has been quite possibly the easiest job I have ever had. One of Emily's companies, Quickstrike was looking for extra staff to promote Sydney's light rail line. The light rail is very similar to Melbourne's tram's, however, Sydney only has one line. The line travles between Sydney Central Station and Dulwitch Hill. Half of the tram stops are new, nine new stations opened last Thursday. The New South Wales Government decided that they wanted two people to assist customers at each station, and this task fell to Quickstrike, who did not have enough staff. Last week I was doing landscaping work in western Sydney at a government housing project. I would have to wake up at 4:30 am to make to work by 6:30am. We usually ended work around 4pm, so it took me another 2 hours to get home during peak hour. Saturday two weeks ago I waited for one hour to get a bus to connect to a train to get home, a three hour commute. I was definitely keen for another job. Luckily for me Quickstriek let me on shifts without doing any training. they has a too small t-shirt for me, and a bunch of leaflets to pass out and I was ready to go. My first shift I ended up riding the rails for an hour before I found a shop with only one person, and thankfully my next shifts were properly assigned so I could go directly to the stop.

The job has been extremely easy. Emily and I go to our assigned stop at 7-9am and 4-7pm, but we are paid for six hours. most of the patrons are regular customers and have no questions, just complaints. Most of the time we just stand at the station watching trams pass as customers get on.

Thankfully I will be starting work tomorrow at the Sydney Royal Easter show at the Sydney Olympic park. It appears that I will be working every single day until April 24th.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Working on Boats

The past six weeks I have been working as a boat detailer on Sydney Harbour. I really enjoyed the work, It was outside, on the water, and best of all,  I was actually learning something while I was working! The days went by quickly and I was always very busy. The downside to working on boats is the weather. If there is bad weather, especially rain, there is no point to wash a boat. My job had been going very well until yesterday when my boss gave me his runabout with a list of eight boats that needed to be washed. I was finished with four boats and I had to dash across the harbour to finish the afternoon in a timely manner. I was travelling from the Mossman area to Walsh Bay, which can take up to 30 minutes to drive a boat to. When I was in calm water, I decided to open the throttle and speed across there as fast as I could to save time. After only a few minutes, The engine started to lose speed and started making noises that did not sound welcoming. I slowed down only to have the engine die and a plume of smoke come out of the cowling. I should have known better.

After multiple attempts to re-start the motor, I thought the battery was dead. I was in the middle of the harbour drifting dangerously close to rocks. I had to call marine rescue, and luckily I was found by a police boat just in time. The Police towed my back to the boat ramp we use and I waited for an hour for my boss to  pick me up. Of course he was not pleased, but it was not the end of the world. We finished another boat before heading back to his house to take a look at the motor. After looking for a few minutes, I easily found a hole in the side of the engine block the side of a $1 Australian coin. The motor was worth $4000-$5000 easily but more importantly, it was the business' link to washing boats on the harbour. Without the boat and motor, most of the customer's boats cannot be washed.

Unfortunately I will not be working for my boss anymore. He still wanted me to work for him,but now I just don't feel comfortable anymore. My goal is to still work on boats in the future and I plan on taking a General Purpose Hand course in the coming months. This class is required for anyone who wants to work as a deckhand in Australia. I already have half of the requirements completed with my STCW certificate from the US, so I will only have to take half of the course. I hope to secure new work soon, it had been a stressful time since Christmas when we arrived back in Sydney.