06/07/2010, Middle Percy Island
Turquoise water, palm tree lined white sand beach. Boatie shack with name boards from hundred's of Aussie and world cruising boats and telltale evidence of many parties. Inner lagoon with narrow, shallow entrance, cruising catamaran careened on beach having bottom painted.
The seas settled, the wind backed to well aft of the port beam swinging to South at about 17 knots pushing us along at 9 knots on a sunny and absolutely beautiful day. Middle Percy was our destination.
Diane's French Toast, and ever popular veggie burgers kept us smiling.
We arrived at Percy about 2 PM, anchored, dinghied in to the lagoon then to the beach and the shack where we fashioned a sign board for Convergence made from a piece of sheet metal that fell out of the steering pedestal! The anchorage is an open roadstead with quite a bit of swell so even though Middle Percy Island is a charming place we decided to head 100 miles further North overnight through a series of coastal islands to the Whitsunday Islands for some snorkeling, a break from the passage and a night on the anchor.
06/07/2010, Middle Percy Island
The Hut, see Middle Percy Island Blog.
We are 27 hours out and 315 miles down the course to our first stop, the Percy Islands, on our way from Gold Coast to Darwin.
Wind has been more or less on the beam at 15 to 20 knots for the first day giving us a good 200 mile run but then lightening today causing us to do some motor sailing.
We are all getting used to routines aboard: crew safety, running electronics, standing watches (2 hours on and 6 off), meals aboard and so on. Being away for 6 to 12 months caused most of us to need refreshing on some of the more technical aspects of running the boat. Some of the crew after initial bouts of the common malady effecting a good percentage of sailors for eons: sea sickness,.are feeling much better.
We were visited by two big pods of dolphins that lifted Mara's spirits a lot! She has not been feeling good. The dolphins caused a large school of tuna to leap out of the water around the boat. Too bad we weren't able to catch any! Dolphins are amazing and inquisitive animals rolling onto their sides to look at us standing on the bow looking at them. A Frigate bird and an Albatross also flew by.
After more gentle sailing this afternoon Diane and Randy cooked a big pasta dinner that was enjoyed by all. That is a sign those not feeling well are OK now!
This morning we were overflown by a twin engine Aussie Coastal Patrol plane. A few minutes later passing by at low altitude they called on the VHF "White ketch just overflown". After telling them who we were and where we were headed they wished us a fun trip. The Aussies keep good track of all vessels sailing their waters!
There has been intermittent ship traffic as we are traveling near shipping lanes. We are so happy with our AIS, Automatic Information System that identifies (with ship name, type, length, beam and destination of commercial ships and shows them on our electronic charts and tells us if the ship is on a collision course with us and if so when that will happen) well before radar picks them up. Knowing the name of ships allows us to call them by name making it likely that the ship will reply. AIS provides the same information about Convergence to those AIS equipped vessels within range.
All in all a great trip so far! We expect the wind to come around behind us a bit more, hopefully with enough speed to move us along at over 8 knots so we don't have to run the engine.
06/03/2010, Gold Coast
Englishman navy shipwright and world class sailor turned Aussie Tim Sales, his friend Piet De Voogd, Bay area friends Diane Greene (Co founder of VMware) and 11 year old daughter Mara joined Convergence today for final prep before heading North up the coast around the top of Australia and West to Darwin. About 2,500 miles in all. We will stop at a few fun places along the way. The map shows where we are going as well as where we have been since leaving Santa Cruz in June 2004. Here is the link to the map http://maps.google.com.au/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107222670235901484531.00047db47e852a9f7e809&ll=-13.154376,137.724609&spn=37.356133,55.195313&z=4 . We are delivering Convergence to Darwin for the start of the Indonesia Rally on July 24th. Sally-Christine will be joining me in Darwin in early July for the rally.
Convergence has been resting and getting rejuvenated in Gold Coast since March 2009 following our cruise to Tasmania via Sydney. We had a fantastic time in Sydney and Tassie. The previous fall we spent a month enjoying sailing in the Whitsunday Islands, which are like the BVI's of Australia, 500 miles north.
Since last March Tim has done an excellent job coordinating/completing 70 plus projects for Convergence and taken very good care of her while we were home working. Tim replaced 10 8 D "worn out too soon" Gel batteries, replaced 2 "OEM" quality/high maintenance (not "Blue Water" Quality) heads, a few failed pumps, a bunch of filters, hauled and painted the bottom and many other maintenance related items that it takes to keep a cruising boat as good or better than new.
We are very fortunate to be able to have someone else do all of this work. Most cruisers would be doing this themselves. That can be fun and very informative. I do some work aboard but am happy to have someone else do the majority of it.
We have had work done on Convergence each off cruising season at various stops across the South Pacific (Raiatea/French Polynesia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Gold Coast twice). Most of the work was done at a high level of quality, some not. Some done at reasonable cost, some way too expensive. We sure learned a lot about product and trade people during the process.
Tim has done excellent quality work, very efficiently. In past years, not all items on that years extensive project list were completed. This year Tim got through the whole list!
See note at the end for my thoughts on having work done on your boat.
Convergence is at Southport Yacht Club a couple of miles south of the cut out to the Coral Sea. Tim brought her here from 10 or so miles up river where the biggest boat yard I have ever seen along and where Riviera, Maritimo and several other boat builders are located. Gold Coast is appropriately named looking somewhat like the gold coast of Florida between Palm Beach and Miami. A series of coastal rivers and man made canals surrounded by lots of tall condo buildings and "too large" houses, shopping centers and a casino, etc. The weather here is pretty mild in the winter and hot in the summer. Obviously a lot of people like it but it is not my kind of place. But there is also a lot of boating activity here along with boating services and Tim's home aboard his beautifully crafted 46 ft. cold molded cruising sailboat that he built. That is why we are here. Tim and his wife who he met sailing in Europe several years ago live aboard with their daughter.
Pix of Tim, the crew and Convergence.
I am sure looking forward to getting back aboard, using the recently installed product and doing some sailing!
Note on having work done on your boat.
Key learnings: if one is going to really use their boat (as in blue water cruising for several years), install the highest quality gear you can find with cost being a minor non deciding factor. I sure don't like paying more than I have to but if you take shortcuts by having inadequately designed systems or not great quality product, you will pay later when it is much less convenient and more expensive. Do it right the first time. Easy to say but hard to do as there is no one place that has reliable information on what works and what doesn't.
Secondly if you are not going manage the projects yourself, take the time to find a quality project manager that 1. has hands on first hand experience in the kind of boat you have, 2. is practical and knowledgeable not only with the kind of work you need done but 3. knows the pros and cons of local service providers. 4. The project manager should be able to do some of the jobs himself, not just be a "manager". 5. Will only accept quality work. 6. Is completely trustworthy with your money.
Not an easy job to fill. I have had experiences ranging from excellent to terrible! It is worth really checking out potential project managers. Check references yourself. Ask about other recent projects. Call the owners.
The weather on Wednesday 25 Feb was as predicted 10 to 15 SW swinging to S just after we headed out at 0700. That meant just about on the nose for the first 15 of the 85 mile passage into very confused seas and big swells around SW Cape. It had been blowing W to SW 15 to 40 the previous 36 hours. We motor sailed 15 miles to SW Cape then changed course to ESE into a bit more settled seas and a knot plus of current. We were still close to the wind and needed to motor sail to make 7 knots over the ground and insure that we'd make the fishing village of Dover in Port Esperance by dusk. Due to the confused conditions about half of the crew was wasn't feeling very well.
The coast is littered with small rock islands many of which rise vertically from the sea to sharp points very inhospitable to landing. This coast of main island of Tasmania has a few open bays that are suitable for anchoring in settled weather only. Much of the coast has very dramatic several hundred meter vertical rock cliffs. Kent-Harris pointed out to the crew a 30 foot high man and his dog in one of the cliffs. 65 miles down the course we finally were able to round SE Cape, the southern most point in Tasmania (and hence Australia) and adjacent Whale Head and with plenty of time to get to Dover (pop 570) by sunset we were able to sail in less confused seas and wind aft of the beam.
We dropped anchor at 1745 and dinghied over the the Dover Hotel a small hotel with a good sized pub/restaurant facing the harbor. Arriving at 8:15 PM we were told that it was after 8 and the kitchen was closed. But the waitress said she would ask the chef if he would make dinner for the 6 of us. He obliged. At the entrance to the restaurant there is a gigantic crab mounted in a large plastic case. The body of the crab is over a foot across and the large claw over 8". There is another slightly smaller crab mounted on the wall in the pub. The barman said that they were both caught in the past 5 years outside of the bay!
Port Esperance is a working harbor with a good size public pier where bout 10 crayfish (rock lobster) boats, most in good condition, were tied. Southern Tassie is good crayfish and abalone territory. Both fetch big dollars and are apparently most are exported to japan and the US. These fishers are pretty prosperous due to an apparently well managed fishery! There are about 25 boats moored, about half being fishing boats. Most harbors these days have many more pleasure boats than active fishing boats, a sign of the state of the fishing industry.
Louise, Mollie and Ken, our Kiwi friends who we had a great time with for 13 days, got a ride to Hobart for their flight out the next day.
We left for Cygnet (pop 930) Friday morning. Lonely Planet description: ". . the town has evolved into a dreadlocked, artsy enclave while still functioning as a major fruit producing center. Weathered farmers and banjo carrying hippies chat amicable in the main street and prop up the bars of the towns three pubs." it is located at the end of a several mile long ½ mile wide inlet off the Huon River which is inside Bruny island.
At least 50 sailboats, at least half wood, the Cygnet Sailing Club, and a small slipway are located in the harbor. We got directions into town, about 1.5 Km up the road, from Dale a sailing club member whose father was a well known wood boat builder. He invited us to the club to watch model sailboat racing and enjoy the open bar that evening.
We walked to town and had a great lunch in the Lotus Eaters Cafe. The town is close to a mini Santa Cruz with several good coffee houses and restaurants and a lot of old buildings and character.
About 10 men, 5 with their model sailboats, and their ladies showed up for model sailboat racing. Kent-Harris and Randy got to try their hand with the radio controlled boats. Sally-Christine organized our route to Franklin (how to get there the next day) where there is reputed to be a big antique store. Franklin is on the river but the last 6 miles are too shallow for Convergence so we will take the boat to Port Huon, anchor and dinghy the last few miles.
Still at Port Davey.
The first few days here we dove for rock lobster (crayfish) and for abalone. Ken found several while Randy learned how to be a "gatherer" of both in about 40 min.
Spent a few days at Spain Bay just outside the marine reserve to provision with some lobster, and fish. Then we went inside the reserve (no fishing area) that is basically a estuary/river that extends inland about 10 miles with lots of anchorages and only a few other boats. Have spent several days exploring, kayaking, hiking a bit, reading, and listening to stories of crew members.
The wind has been pretty light. No problems anchoring. Most bottoms are soft mud.
The top several feet of the estuary have very tanic fresh water as a result of the tea trees, peat and other vegetation that the over 2 meters of rain annually strain through. As a result you can't see very deep into the water. And the area is relatively devoid of saltwater marine life.
This is a popular place for hikers to walk into. It is a 4 or 5 day walk from the nearest road or one can fly in on a light plane.
After being here about a week we are waiting for a weather window to head back towards to Hobart. Looks like day after tomorrow (Wednesday here). All is well aboard Convergence.