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SEAKA. Solo on a Top Hat Yacht.
Some Repairs Done, Some To Do.
Heat Haze and Hot.
12/01/13, Croudace Bay, Lake Macquarie.

Over the last three days I have been organizing repairs for the cutlass bearing and the engine re-alignment. This will involve being lifted onto the hardstand at Marmong Point Marina at 1300 hours on Monday. On Tuesday I hope the work above will be completed. During the liftout I will apply this years antifouling.

The cost here are below that at home and there are marine mechanics avaliable, which we don't have in the Camden Haven.

I can now confirm that we have solved the oil light issue as we replaced the pressure switch in the engine.

During the last three days I have been looked after by Greg and Bear. I can only say that without these two blokes I would not have been able to get done what I have. Greg did the original run around to get the info required and Bear has looked after me as well as helping today to get the gear necessary to apply the anti-fouling.

May not be any posts now untill Wednesday night while I am working on Seaka.


Awaiting Repairs in Lake Macquarie.
Very Hot, 35 c plus.
10/01/13, Croudace Bay, Lake Macquarie.

Photo is of Nelson Bay moorings.

Towards Tasmania.

These posts have been delayed by computer charging problems, now solved.

Saturday 5th January 2013.

What a day! 90.2 nautical miles over 18.5 hours. Average speed 4.7 knots, but for long periods during the day we were sailing at 7 to 8 knots and even 9 knots at times. I was shattered when we finally anchored.

On Saturday the 6th January Shaun on Blue Moon and I set off from the Camden Haven towards Tasmania.

I and Seaka were moored at the Laurieton Service Club's wharf along with Little Sister, a fellow Camden Haven yacht. Little Sister went at 0300 and I heard later that they arrived in Pittwater some twenty four hours later, a little bit better than we were to do. I was up and almost ready when family and friends arrived to see me off at 0500 hours. As I passed the moorings at Dunbogan, Shaun called up and said he would be another twenty minutes. I decided not to wait in the river but to quickly get over the bar and sail slowly until Shaun caught up with me.

I successfully got across the bar at 0545 hours but Shaun, some thirty minutes later, took a wave completely over Blue Moon. Turns out that he didn't know that the bar leads are completely wrong [they direct you over the worst part of the bar] and I hadn't mentioned it as all the locals know this fact.

The sea as we motor sailed out to the East Australian Current was very calm and there were only light winds. Around 0630 hours we turned south and by 0900 hours we were off Crowdy Head. Our course due to the wind direction, a light north east'er, and current was east of south and this was taking us off shore as we proceeded south. The wind was slowly increasing so that at 1045 we were under sail alone and doing around 5 knots.

As the coast receded to the west the wind increased and by 1500 hours when we were abeam of Forster and 15 nm off, the wind was over 15 knots and continuing to increase. This was not what we were expecting from the weather forecast! Both Shaun and I sailed on until about 1840 when we talked by radio and called it off for Pittwater and agreed to divert to Port Stephens for a day's rest and to await better weather.

At this time I removed the Genoa and put in two reefs on the main sail. I then discovered what they mean that the Top Hat is a yacht driven by its foresails. There was no way that I could get Seaka round to sail for Port Stephens so for the first time I hauled out my storm Jib and once that was up we were away and moving at 4 knots in a very disturbed sea and 20 plus knots of wind.

As we closed the coast we started to hear Marine Rescue [MR] Forster calling us and a couple of yachts that hadn't reported in as they went past. We called and called MR Forster but got no reply. Then at 1800 hours when we were closer inshore the phone went and on answering a gruff voice said,

"Port Stephens Water Police here is that the Skipper of Seaka and where are you?"

As we had been around 15 nm off shore we had heard MR Forster calling other us and other yachts but we had received no replies to our calls. We had not tried to phone as there was no signal out there. Not long after the Police call off Seal Rocks I made contact with MR Port Stephens. My radio signal from my small aerial was not strong enough for them to receive clearly but we made ourselves understood and they monitored my progress until I anchored at Nelson Bay in Port Stephens around 1145 hours.

Lat. 32 42.955'S Long. 152 8.919'E

Sunday 6th January 2013.

I slept through the phone alarm for the first time this morning to rise around 1000 hours. Spent the day resting after cleaning up, refuelling and replacing the Genoa with the Yankee foresail. Later in the day went for a swim then had a cockpit shower. Shaun brought pasta over for tea with sausages from me we had a great meal. Both of us went to bed early.

Lat. 32 42.955'S Long. 152 8.919'E

Monday 7th January 2013.

Up at 0530 hours and moving out at 0615 hours. Shaun still getting ready and followed half an hour or more later, but did not catch up all day. Just after 0700 hours we rounded Shark Island and motor sailed for the Swansea Bar. It was after some discussion last night that we decided to halve the voyage to Pittwater by going into Lake Macquarie for a rest and to meet the other Top Hat owners in the lake.

During the morning the seas were flat and shiny as we motor sailed south. The highlight of the morning was the visit of a pod of about thirty dolphins that played around Seaka's bow. Listening to the VHF radio I discovered that we needed to make a booking for the Swansea Bridge and this I did for 1500 hours after contacting MR Lake Macquarie. Around 1330 hours it was becoming evident that we were not going to make the 1500 bridge so changed to the 1700 hour opening and stopped the motor. We were now sailing at about 3 knots.

Just before 1600 hours we were approaching the leads to cross the Swansea Bar using the chart plotter as I could not pick out the leads in the western sun. As we approached closer the leads became evident and following them in we picked up the second set of leads to the buoyed channel up to the Swansea Bridge. On arrival at the bridge I found one of the buoys for waiting vessels, but it had no rope. Clipping on I finally manage to get a mooring rope attached to the buoy that could be released when the bridge opened.

Duly at 1700 hours the bridge opened and on the other side was Greg in Felicity to meet and guide me through the Swansea Channel up to the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club in Belmont Bay where we would spend the night on the marina wall with Felicity and Blue Moon who arrived around 1900 hours. After chips, a beer or two and a lot of talking we all retired for the night.

Today we did 53 nautical miles over 11¾ hours at between 3 and 5 knots for an average of 4.5 knots.

Lat. 33 2.412'S Long. 151 30.29'E

Tuesday 8th January 2013.

Today we sailed across to Kilaben Bay at Rathmines at 0600 hours. Started ahead of Shaun in Blue Moon but he beat me to Skye Point, so I have lost my first and only yacht race. I had to beat up to Kilaben Bay and eventually tied up to the F wharf at 0845 hours. We did 2.7 nm. Shaun had anchored offshore but the reason I had tied up to the wharf is that the oil warning light had been on and off since leaving the Camden Haven. I suspected it was either a switch board problem, the oil pressure switch or the oil pump. The other reason we are here is that tonight we are expecting 40 knot winds from the north east and this is one of the best places to be during such events. Oh, and it's going to be HOT!

Shaun and I were picked up by Greg of Felicity who took us round the area to purchase some required items. I got a charger for the computer and spoke to the mechanic at the Marmong Point Marina about the oil light and the stern cutlass bearing. After that discussion I spoke to Terry back at JTS who did the Nanni service a couple of weeks ago. We went back to Seaka and removed the pressure switch and tried to replace it without success. I ordered a new one from Nanni in Sydney.

Given what Terry told us decided we needed to go ahead with the re-alignment anyway and with the possibility we may have to deal with a new oil pump as well. So we have booked to come out onto the hard at 1300 hours on Monday, the mechanic will deal with the re-alignment and stern cutlass bearing on Tuesday. Hopefully we will go back in on Wednesday. While all this is happening I will anti-foul Seaka. The cost here for the haul out and hard stand is less than at the Camden Haven so may be back here on an annual basis if the costs at home do not drop.

The temperatures topped out at 42.5º today and was still at 36º at midnight.

Lat. 33 2.275'S Long. 151 35.616'E

Wednesday 9th January 2013.

Shaun came over at 0900 hours and helped me get off the wharf. On Bear's advice we are moving the 5.6 nm over to Croudace Bay to shelter from this southerly and future north east'ers. Seaka could only motor at 2 knots against the swell and wind to Skye Point and then we had a clear run up to Croudace Bay where I found Bear and Egret up in the northern corner. We rafted up and I spent the afternoon talking. Moving away from Egret I anchored Seaka inshore and near the wharf.

Later I went with Bear to his house for a shower before Bear, Greg and I went the 85 km around the lake to the Wangi Workers Club to meet Mike of Dulcama, Mark of Storm Petrel and Shaun for an evening meal. It was at the club that we found out that Blue Moon was defeated by the southerly wind and swell so Shaun had waited till the afternoon to move around to the Wangi Workers Club wharf.

Lat. 33 0.25'S Long. 151 38.383'E

Thursday 10th January 2013.

Bear came onboard this morning and we tested the oil pump on the Nanni. The result was that the oil pump was OK! So rang Nanni and organised the oil pressure switch to be delivered to Bear's house. Spent the rest of the morning talking.

Later Bear picked me up and we went to the "Wind Warriors" at the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club. This was race meeting and it was educational to see the radio controlled model yachts racing around a 20 metre course. The instant protests and immediate rulings had everybody going. Did some food shopping on the way back.

Shaun and Blue Moon were coming over to Croudace Bay today but late in the day we found out he had headed south to Pittwater with the other Top Hats where he arrived at Refuge Bay around 1900 hours and will stay there until Saturday morning.

Daily posts should continue form today. You can track Seaka on

For those who have been following the Top Hat site at the site is being upgraded and will back online sometime on the 12/01/2013.

Lat. 33 0.25'S Long. 151 38.383'E


Going Tomorrow
Fine with light NEers
04/01/13, Camden Haven

Just a quick post.
All ready for a 0500 hour departure tomorrow. Winds are light NE till late Sunday afternoon so may make Pittwater in one sail.

Almost Ready
Very light NE'ers
03/01/13, Camden Haven River

Things were going well over the last couple of days.

We now have the raw sea water pump up and working and today we had the mechanic on board who discovered that we were only running on one cylinder. After two hours that was sorted and the engine is now running beautifully!

So onto the next thing which was a quick motor out into the river and back to check all was OK.

Which it is NOT!

During the trail motor the oil pressure gauge indicated that there was no oil pressure. I am hoping that this is not the case and that it is in fact a faulty pressure gauge.

So tomorrow I load the rest of my gear as well as getting the oil pressure gauge sorted.

We [Seaka and I] and the other two local boats heading for Sydney hope to get out of here around 0500 hours on Saturday.


One Week from Deparure.

Well the Nanni diesel engine is back in, but we have two issues.
First one is easy to fix and that will happen on the 2nd January when I get a new seal for the raw sea water pump and a couple of new washers for the fuel lines. We will also install the new Garmin GPS on Friday 28th December and rectify a few minor electrical problems.
The major problem is that we cannot get the engine to go under load. I am hoping that this is only a fuel supply problem but we will not be able to sort this out until late on the 2nd January when we get the above mentioned parts.
I have completed installing the new 100w Solar panel and it works very well in keeping the batteries fully charged. Hopefully that's the end of my power supply problems.
We now have everything on hand except for food and moving the dinghy and associated items onboard, so we are close to setting off which will happen as soon as the engine is working OK.
This weekend I will have to complete all the around the house jobs such as lawns etc.

Prepartation For Tasmanian Voyage.
06/12/12, Camden Haven River on home mooring.

Over the last nine months I have been steadily repairing Seaka and upgrading several systems.
With the help of my mate Don we have replaced the switch board as we found that the old board was consuming more power than anything else on board. I have also added another house battery and next week I will install a 100W solar panel and associated frame on the rear of Seaka.
I have had the engine out [goes back in tomorrow]. We found that there was a broken valve spring which wasn't helping the engine to run. I have replaced the engine mounts, had the injectors serviced and repainted the engine. All hoses and filters have been replaced. Also removed an old timber engine mount and repainted the bilge area.
I have relined the ice box with 2" high density foam, all fibreglassed in and flow coated. We fitted 4 mast steps earlier in the year so that I can now get to the top of the mast. When we came out to antifoul Seaka I manage to repair the loose rudder and of course the propellor shaft was replaced, but I failed to replaced the cutless bearing, thinking it was Ok, so I will have a replacement on board in case we have to slip during the voyage.
Have opted to fit a Garmin chartplotter instead of buying charts, works out the same but I will have electronic charts for all of Australia. I have purchased a second hand Jib [in very good condition] and had it serviced by the sailmaker next door.
Hopefully by the end of next week I should have all the require items finished.
On this voyage we will have another Top Hat with us to start with. Shaun in Blue Moon [see site on SailBlogs] will be with us until Eden at least. Others may be joining along the way. It is intended that we will be in Hobart for the Timber Boat Show on the 9th February 2013.

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