Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tao goes Aussie, Part 1

We had set a date (definitely a cruising faux pas), 2 March 2013, that we agreed to be back on the other side of the Pacific (obviously not via sailboat). Our excuse to setting a date seemed reasonable to us: to get married, in Mexico, nearly a year and a half after getting engaged. So, after landing 15 November 2012, time was tight and we knew we were not going to be able to even scratch the surface of exploring Australia as we would like to. After a quick two weeks up the Brisbane River recovering, we set to work. To test the waters, we invited a highly recommended boat broker to visit Tao before leaving the pile moorings and decided on the spot to have her do a “Valuation.” Throughout December and early January we struggled through the Australian Import process, getting Tao more beautiful than ever, and figuring out what to do with all of the gear we have accumulated over the years. The downside of our big plan to cruise across the Pacific this past year was that we knew at the other end we might have to look for new owners for Tao. We have (at least Shawn) mostly avoided even thinking about the possibility since it was (and still is) too painful to bear. Chris, though, has been instrumental at pragmatically moving us forward. To this day we have not fully processed the emotional side of this whirlwind. Instead, together, we determined what needed to happen to keep our options open, making Tao both legal and as attractive as possible to find a new owner in Australia if necessary, and proceeded to move forward on the massive amount of tasks.

Australian Importation. Chris spearheaded getting Tao imported into Australia. It took perseverance, but with patience, was manageable. First we lodged an import declaration with Australian Customs and AQIS (Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service) which included: filling out a ton of paperwork including a five year history of every country Tao has visited- with dates, providing proof that Tao was built in the USA (a letter from Chuck Burns, her naval architect) to satisfy requirements for the Free Trade between Oz and US, and determining Tao’s GST goods and services tax (10% on the valuation minus several elements of costs regarding “shipping” the boat to Australia). For Biosecurity clearance, a timber inspection of our “highly suspect” (i.e. very wood based) interior was required. We thought we would have to hire the one, very expensive dog in Australia that is trained to sniff out such bugs, but after research, we found that we were able instead to have a licensed pest controller with a Termatrac device ( using radar, thermal, and moisture sensors for motion detection), supervised by DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) staff for the inspection. It was quite a process to organize around the New Year holiday the licensed pest controller with two DAFF staff in bright yellow shirts required to carefully observe him and to get all the gear out of the interior so the pest controller could test all wood. Of course Tao passed with flying colors, and was cleared from any quarantine hold. Finally, not to be forgotten, we had to pay for all inspections and the GST to obtain “Authority to Deal.”

Tao upgrades. Over the years, there have been projects that have continually been shuffled to the bottom of the list as being form versus function. Since Tao was basically in the best functional shape of our tenure when we got to Australia, we chose to finally put time into some form projects that would make her look even hotter. Of course we still did all routine maintenance including one more Yannie oil change and bottom clean. But mainly, our work included triaging the well-worn varnish-work, sanding and painting the aluminum portholes (shout of thanks to Britannia for helping), polishing stainless parts around the deck (with acid), getting our gear out of every nook and cranny inside Tao, and making maintenance lists of Tao’s history for others to follow. We even *finally* made a mast boot cover in terracotta, so the shift from blue to red, started with our big bottom job in 2010 was finally complete. When these projects were done we took pictures of Tao looking spectacular inside and out and wrote up detailed information for our brokers website:

Our stuff. As anyone that ever visited us aboard Tao knows, we have a ton of stuff. Our excuse is that we never want to get caught in the middle of nowhere without the right toy or tool or food. Rarely did we want for anything. However, a deep cleanse was necessary for Tao to look her best. So, we started the painful process of determining what needed to be sold with Tao, what we could sell separately, what could be given away, and what we wanted to keep for the future. We (okay Chris) bought a bicycle and pet trailer and rented a storage unit a few miles from our slip to move gear off the boat. Days were spent pulling gear out of Tao, taking pictures, putting valuable items for sale on GumTree (the Australian equivalent of Craig’s List) and Ebay-Australia, and trip after trip were made between Tao and storage unit with chosen items that brought together made our cubic meter of gear that we decided to have shipped (via cargo ship) back to the States (tons of tools and boat paraphernalia that will indeed be used in the future as well as memorabilia).

Our Australian phones turned out to be invaluable to take calls from Aussie parties interested in viewing/buying our GumTree items (unlike in the States, if someone was interested enough to call on an item in Oz, they were likely to buy it). We put together a flyer of all of our amazing gear, set a “Marine Yard Sale” date, and many of the bigger ticket items (sextant, dive gear, desalinating hand pump, Fortress anchor, Gale Rider, 2 sweet surf boards, Elna 5000 sewing machine) found new homes long before the date. Saturday 5 January and our yard sale came too quickly. A brief spit of rain just after we’d mostly set up discouraged us but did not slow the selling of items. Before we were able to completely set up most valuable gear had been claimed; flopper stopper, anchor rhode, hyside pump, 9X9-ft Kelty tarp, dry bag back packs x3, and just like the last painful garage sale we had in Berkeley, someone offered Shawn a pittance for her entire art supply box. Luckily fellow cruisers Brittania, Convivia, Celiydah and their kids came by, bought up all sorts of left over canned goods and tequila, and made the yard sale a pizza party. It was a sad day as we transferred Fatty to Convivia. We hope to sail her next in Maine after she makes it the rest of the way around the world. On a happier note, after this boat cleanse, Tao’s water line was a good 7-inches (yes seven!) higher in the water!

So much less traumatic with friends...
Love that you can see the yard sale reflected in Amanda's sunnies.
Although we've now opened the option of selling Tao, on several levels we hope that she will await our return to continue our journey together...


  1. Hey Shawn and Chris
    I put Sapphire on the market in July, in Raiatea and just as someone made me an offer I decided I couldnt sell.(Thank goodness because then I sailed west and ran into you in Tonga) Its very hard to sell the home thats provded the best adventures and memories youve ever had. Its ridiculous that such a fabulous vessel should be so cheap - and to describe her as a coastal cruiser thats "offshore capable" - well shes much more than "Offshore capable" - shes an offshore legend! I will definitely reccommend her to anyone looking for a fantastic bargain and a chance to have some amazing sailing adventures.
    I'm heading back to Vuda Point in May.
    Best wishes and Congratulations

  2. More changes! But, know that all will work out for you two. Best of luck in whatever adventures head your way.

    Carla and Doug

    PS: Thanks for the wonderful tips on Fanning. We will stock up appropriately!

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