14 October 2011 | Port Arthur
10 October 2011 | Brisbane
22 September 2011 | Cronalla
18 September 2011 | Bermagui
15 September 2011 | Near Eden
12 September 2011 | East coast Tassie
11 September 2011 | East coast tassie
04 September 2011 | Brisbane
24 August 2011 | Kettering Tas
14 October 2011 | Port Arthur
This our second day sitting at anchor in Port Arthur. The wind is howling and we are very happy to be lying a few hundred meters off a protective beach in a totally landlocked harbour.
The trip from Hobart proved to be more than I bargained for. The seas were bigger, the wind was stronger, and the cold was intense. I made the mistake of going forward to pull down the main without wearing oilskins and suffered hyperthermia as a result. I am very fortunate to have such a competent crew. In fact, we were looking at the chartplotter track of Ian's helmsmanship as we came in through a tight entrance with a following sea at night, and he threaded the needle perfectly.
Unfortunately, we had some water seep through the forehatch which wasn't properly shut, resulting in all Pete's stuff getting wet. It's nearly all dry now and there was a spare doona onboard for him to use.
So, things are settling down onboard. We put out a second anchor this morning, and then settled down to watch some Monty Python after brekky. Martin is talking about baking some scones for afternoon tea.
As you would expect, we have been watching the weather forecasts closely, and we expect about 36 hours of favorable weather starting from about 10 pm tonight. We'll give it some time for the seas to calm and then head off early tomorrow morning (at sparrow's fart) and start making our way north.
Home at last
10 October 2011 | Brisbane
Home at last
Not that the toilet unblocking met with much success. It was too rough and I was too tired. Having opened the pump mechanism it was simply beyond me to put it back together again in a functional state. So, we used the ship's bucket for the remainder of the trip.
But the weather was kind with a fresh westerly to south westerly giving us calm seas (if we tucked in close to shore) and good SOG (Speed Over Ground). Another night at sea and at sunrise we had Byron Bay astern and the Gold Coast ahead. Well, we were like horses with the smell of home in their nostrils, and we happily sailed past the long strip of overpriced real estate until we ducked into the Southport Seaway on the top of the tide just after midday.
Yes, it was calm water, but there was traffic everywhere. MoBos and yachts (big and small), a para-sailor, several flotillas of sailing dinghys, and we had to keep to the channel or risk running aground. But we managed it with me steering, Burney calling instructions from the chart plotter and Ian keeping a sharp lookout.
We made good time until we got near Jumpin Pin and headed west towards Jacobs Well. The tide was racing out and we daren't give the motor too many revs for fear of it over heating. Eventually we crawled round the corner, pulled out the genoa and sailed off at a satisfying 5 knots. The southern end of Moreton Bay, on a falling tide and failing light with 1.8 metres of draft is not to be taken lightly, but the chart plotter again helped us sucessfully navigate our way. And before we knew it we were back near Victoria Point where Jezebelle (a boat I share with Martin) is moored. But on we sailed in a freshening wind. We sailed through the Banana Banks and then on past Peel Island at 6-7 knots.
We made it to the shipping channel at the mouth of the river and then our progress slowed to just half a knot as we punched into a strong Brisbane westerly under reduced power and no sail. So near and yet so far! But eventually we made it in close enough to get shelter from the waves and we picked up a little speed. But the Port of Brisbane is a busy place, and we were all pretty exhausted, and we were not expecting a ship to port of us to swing out just as we were passing (5 blasts of the horn alerted us). And there was a large barge whose lights seemed to merge with all the other lights until we realised it was moving and had to take evasive action once again.
Eventually we found our way to Aquarium Passage and slowly felt our way into this shallow and popular place. Our mooring was on the second row of piles (closer to the bank) and with great relief we had our lines on and motor off just before 2am. It didn't take much to fall into an exhausted sleep before waking up at the normal time on a Monday morning to pack up and go to work. (The unexpected delays on the trip had meant Burney and I took extra time off work, and we simply had to get back).
As I write, we have been back home just over a week. I have managed to fix the toilet, and started on the long list of jobs for the boat. The locals all seem friendly enough and the boat has started to dig a little hole to sit in at low tide. I have invited my Morris dancing side for a good pagan name changing ritual in about a months time. We hate the name Roama and have decided on Brahminy (named after the Brahminy Kite which we see often around SEQ waters). There will be a washing off of the name in sea water, many entreaties to the gods for their understanding and indulgence, a goodly amount of alcohol, and a few dances to clinch the deal.
30 September 2011
Now that I've graduated from Cookie to Cook/Deckhand, I had a quick lesson in raising the mainsail - Ian, our resident educator, gave clear and logical instructions which left me confident to do it myself next time. With 3 onboard we elected to do 2 hours on and 4 hour off shifts as we motor sailed north. Conditions were mild with only a light wind heading us and occasionally assisting when it had a bit of westerly in it. Shortly after midday while Ian was on watch, our first mate took on a ghastly shade of grey to his features and it was all downhill for him. Ok with Hans and I alternating shifts and from then on I really felt I was earning my place onboard.
Fortunately, Hans has fine tuned "Otto" the autopilot so he is doing an excellent job holding our course ever northward. With only the occasional tweak to avoid looming rocks or trim the sail, I'm happily left to enjoy the night watches. And what a night of fairy lights it was! Coming up to Nambucca Heads the shoreline burst into a fantasia of colour with fireworks filling the port bow. Then whilst gazing at the white wake phosphorescence sparkled like gems and all the while a distant electrical storm illuminated the clouds on the far horizon.
It's very easy to stay awake with so much to track. Warning beacons and radio towers wink a red eye, lighthouses blink their identifying beam, trawlers lit up like Christmas trees beat a hasty return with violent headlights, and then there are the constellations steadily moving from east to west. Scorpio dips below the shore as Taurus sits high and Venus so bright that it sends a reflection from the horizon to our vessel and the crescent moon smiles as it warns a hillside.
All too soon dawn breaks and we are rewarded with 2 whales between us and the shore, the super white underside of one dazzling in the morning light.
But all it not poetry and lyrical word smithing. Hans is dealing with a blocked toilet. He's a brave man and all on his own with that one...
29 September 2011
Unfortunately, the motor kept over heating at anything over idle, and with winds heading us from the north we didn't make it to Port Macquarie until 9:30 pm. Not a problem, except by then the tide had started to ebb, causing the seas to build up into surf. I was at the helm on the approach into 'Port', when I heard a thunderous noise behind me and Ian warning everyone to brace. We copped a breaking wave over the stern which drenched the cockpit and pushed the boat side on to the waves. We recovered direction and kept going with the depth sounder wandering between 20 and (gulp) 5 feet as the waves rose and fell beneath us. Sticking as close as we dared to the starboard breakwater we eventually found still water and much to our relief tied up at the public jetty for the night.
Imagine Burney's delight when next morning she popped her head out of the aft cabin hatch to be greeted by the general public starting their day near the middle of town. One little guy asked us if we were real pirates since we were flying the jolly roger. Having organised a mooring at the marina, we set off but took a wrong turn and had a scenic tour of the Hastings river instead. Sadly, Pete, our trusty engineer, decided that there was too much work piling up at home and he had to head home on the night bus. I felt sad to see him go, but was thankful for all his contributions to the trip. The last of these was to test each section of the cooling system to identify the cause of our over heating problem. Eventually, we got to the thermostat, and confirmed with the local diesel expert that it looked stuffed. So, we removed the guts of it and replaced the housing - problem solved. The next day I was able to report to Pete that the motor kept to a moderate temperature even at higher than normal revs .
A crew change is a significant event and always makes a boat feel different. There were a few moments of introspection and discussion on some of the things that could have been done better and the lessons learnt. For me, the big one was "Never under estimate a bar".
We spent two days at the marina waiting for favourable weather, and Alf, the manager looked after us, loaning a drill to fix the rollocks, introducing to the mechanic, and organizing a laundry service. Greatly appreciated. The final evening we were especially glad to be hanging off a secure mooring. A big cold front blew in from the west with winds strong enough to partially unroof a nearby school and uproot a small pine tree. Ian was still ashore and I had to wait for a lull before venturing out to collect him in the dinghy.
What a difference when we woke up to a still morning today (fri) and after taking on fuel and water set off for an uneventful bar crossing. We are now motoring north in calm seas on what we hope will be the final push to get home.
Oysters @ Port Stephens
26 September 2011
Oysters @ Port Stephens:
We intended just an overnight stop in Shoal Bay but a rain is dumping down and the swell rounding the heads is not too comfortable. Further along @ Nelson Bay is a mariner, so we lob up alongside and wait for the staff to open up on a Sunday morn. Ouch! Port Stephens is a tad pricey with $80 a night mooring fees. With another unscheduled rest day we all troop off to have a look around with shops and cafes galore. Ian's pleasure is libraries and bookshops and he has found some little treasures at basement prices which we're enjoying.
Peter, Hans and I armed with bucket and oyster tools and a sense of hunter/gather riding high clamber over rocks by West Pt. Many small ones are buckwheat. "look there's some big ones on that pipe thingy" says Hans. Tracing the line of piping back onshore, a weathered sign warns of sewerage. Rather quickly the bucket is emptied and Salty Pete is lamenting the raw oyster he has just sampled. Oh Dear.
Well, if we paying top price let's get plenty of use from all the facilities. Pete spent an inordinate amount of time showering, shampooing and shaving. I think he even gave himself a blow-dry, I know I did. Top marks for the Personal Care facilities, as they were so signed. A round of cards: up and down the river with happy hour, a belly full of Shepard's Pie and then a DVD comedy with a glass of port is atone way to while away a wet Sunday night...
With a gale warning cancelled, slightly more favorable winds and blue skies appearing, the coffee is on and we getting all things ship shape. Coming out through the twin headlands that guard the entrance our exit was a roller coaster ride as the swell piled up and broke with cresting waves closer to the shoreline. I thought it was absolutely thrilling but it certainly is based on a confidence that the trusty diesel motor just keeps chugging along. Hmmm
A series of small offshore islands lie north and east of the approach/exit creating an added backwash that makes for sloppy passage. Eventually conditions settle and bearing ever northwards we finally raise the genoa. Later as another sailboat starts gaining on us, Ian and Pete hoist the mains'l and the engine has a much needed rest as a rise in temperature to 95• is recorded
I knew I liked being at sea but I didn't anticipate just how much. I truly feel it in my chore as a peaceful yet exhilarating high. Watching the "Mutton Birds" and Storm-petrels swoop over through the troughs, having two-toned offshore dolphins suddenly appear, rolling with the swell undulations and watching the magnificent NSW coastline slowly transform, how could one not luv it!
But stay alert. It appears as that rain depression has left a legacy of rogue "greenies" that randomly slap us giving anyone in the cockpit a rude awakening with a cold shower of saltwater.
Sudden concernation, the bilge has splashed very dark oily water up through the sole in the galley. "Where's the oil coming from?" engineer Pete and the Skipper go into a huddle. Charts are consulted and favorable harbours discussed and a descision is made to head for Cape Hawke and anchor at Forster for a quick inspection.
The twin towns of Tuncurry and Forster lie either side of of the harbor. The entrance is trained by two breakwaters that funnel a large tidal stream of inland waterways. A central sandbankadds an impressive set of rollers. Our timing is good, in that we have an hour or so before the top of the tide. We'd read " the bible according to Alan Lucus and Hans made an effortless entry. Passing the Marine Rescue tower, the radio crackled with a message "I take my cap off to you, the last half hour has been pretty rough coming through there". Hans later confided that he was quietly crapping himself but we never noticed it.
So what's the problem? Oil checked - good, bilge checked - full. Whoops, it should automatically pump out. Ok we can manually pump that out later. Now Pete's digging deep into the engine room looking at pumps and impellers. Decision:it'll need a 2 day layover or we try to watch the temperature and keep the revs down when we have to motor. Neptune please favour us with goods winds so the iron sail can rest.
Cruising cannot be about schedules and strict timekeeping. Decisions change with the next forecast or condition change inspite of the forecast - and there is equipment maintenance. Roama is getting a big shake down and her areas that require attention are being slowly revealed. All par for the course. So it's a hot meal, fruit cake n custard and a good night's sleep.
Next morning the Welcome Swallows danced around the cockpit as the coffee brewed. Time to get out over the bar with a making tide. As we log on, we're warned that there is some big swell so timing our run out will be important. Wow!! A fast flowing stream paints a silvery smooth surface while islands of foam eddy the chop, break and crash left and right on the breakwater. Out we chug at a steady pace and hold our metal up and over a rising wave. Whoopee - and another. Who needs a rodeo bull? We turn around to watch how those waves break behind us. Yup, has this skipper got class or is it just arse?
Off we go to Port Maquarie if things dont work out with the motor or nambucca if we manage an all night sail. Unfortunately there's too much northerly in the wind direction so our progress will be slow...
Cronulla to Port Stephens
24 September 2011
Cronulla to Port Stephens
Perfect weather, main up, warm and sunny...
Passing Sydney and identifying the northern beaches, with a few other small boats in front of the harbour and Pittwater. We could see the coathanger and taller buildings as we passed.
The stacks of Newcastle were in view as we got the forecast that a cold front was about to catch us up. Burney was cooking a gourmet meal, garlic bread and salad with pasta and at 5:45 it caught us. Pandemonium in the kitchen with plates, garlic bread and salad strewn everywhere!
A hurried meal and then to battle stations of one hour on and two hours off through the night with very little let up. There was an interesting encounter with ship in the early morning.
Exhausted, we arrived at Port Stephens at 6am for a full day of recovery. We all felt good by happy hour with beer, wine, nibbles, etc. Burney is a present cooking a leg of lamb for dinner...
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