Tue, 22nd May 2012, Paris, France, 2 x Lufthansa flights, Munich International Airport & Dubrovnik
Well today we were up early to catch the shuttle bus to Charles de Gaul International Airport for our flights to Dubrovnik, Croatia via a 2hr stopover at Munich International Airport.
But, before that we got the Charles de Gaul okay and with plenty of time, and then we were overweight on our luggage; which we were concerned about. But, 60Euro later, and leaving the remaining 2 bottle of Burgundy Cremante sparkling wine with the Lufthansa check-in girl we were on our way; although we were concerned about the amount of onboard luggage we had, but all was good.
Lufthansa are very good, and Munich & Dubrovnik airport's are very clean.
After a very scenic approach to Dubrovnik International Airport (make sure you get the left hand side when approaching - very beautiful Dubrovnik coast line), we were picked up by Antonio, the son of Tonka Bura who is the owner of Apartment Peppino where we are staying in Old Town Dubrovnik for the next few days. He turned up in a Renault Twingo to take us and all of our luggage to Dubrovnik - we just got it all in there.
The drive from the airport to Dubrovnik is sensational. Antonio dropped us off at the gates to Old Town, as no vehicles are allowed inside the Old Town walls, and you have to lug your luggage (suitably named) to your accommodations. In this particular case up a tiny street with 80 steps to our apartment. Antonio did an amazing job in assisting us by carrying our over weight suitcase, while we carried the remainder of our things - great job.
Once we got settled into the beautiful apartment which has a great view over the remainder of Old Town (see photo), Vera & I went out and explored just beyond the Old Town walls. We wandered through some old parks over looking cliffs to the ocean - absolutely beautiful & breathtaking.
After a good walk we had dinner at Dubrovka Restaurant which is apparently 180 years old and is just outside the Old Town walls and over looks a tiny inlet with the Old Town fortress on one side and another smaller fort on the other side. Sensationally beautiful and so romantic.
This part of Croatia is so beautiful and we are really looking forward to doing as much exploring as we can over the next few days. This is definitely a part of the world that you have to come back to at least once to bath in the beauty of this country.
Now that we are in Croatia we are starting to get excited about our charter boat sailing cruise that starts on Saturday for a week.
Mon, 21st May 2012, Paris
We spent a wonderful three full days in Paris! Saturday we went for a walk to the Lourvre and then followed the Grand Boulevard all the way into the Champs Elysees. It was busy at the Arc de Triomphe with a queue a mile long so we decided to leave it for another day. We then walked down Haussman and came across the fantastic Galleries Lafayette, the most amazing mega-uber department store with floors and floors of incredible things. I walked and looked & Andrew sat and played with his gadgets :). It was the most amazing building with a beautiful arched roof with beautiful stained glass throughout. Quite an unexpected surprise for an up-market shopping mall. If there was a designer label not at Galleries Lafayette, then it wasn't worth looking for! Wow - quite incredible and a little overwhelming. This is the sort of place you could spend a whole day in - hmmm, maybe next time!
Then we walked on all the way to Saint Germain des Pres and bought food at a boulangerie & patisserie, fromagerie and a fruit shop (which French name escapes me at the moment). We were quite tired so went back and had dinner in our room - fresh baguette with a lovely variety of cheeses and yoghurt and fruit (including cherries).
Next day we hit the road with our two-day Metro rail pass and went to Montmarte and visited Sacre Cour - it was lovely to see Paris from such a high vantage point. At the Tour Eiffel we walked 680 stairs up to the second level which was beautiful. The weather was fantastic at this stage so we had a good view of all round Paris. We did the daggy laser engraving of our photo into a glass block as a memento of our Eiffel Tower experience - it was quite amazing watching the laser do the etching. We decided to go back to the Champs Elysees to wait and go up the Arc de Triomphe later in the day, when hopefully, there would be less people, but also to be there at night to watch the Eiffel Tower go through its laser show. In between all of that we did a Bateaux Boat cruise up and around the main parts of the Siene River near Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Louvre etc. We had dinner on the Champs at a cafe called George V which was very nice and then we made our way to the Arc while it was still daylight (about 7.30pm), and went up many more steps to get to the top. Andrew stood out in the light rain (Vera sensibly stood under a shelter) on the top deck of the Arc de Triomphe and waited and waited. Eventually the Tower lit up and then after a while started sparkling which was the most beautiful effect. Like Christmas lights twinkling on this huge Tower which looked like stars going on and off for a whole 15 minutes. It was so beautiful and well worth the wait. We then caught the Metro and walked through the rain back to our hotel (NB:it will always rain when you leave your brollie at home. It's called Mutrphy's Law and we know it well). Vera was on a caffeine & sugar low by the time we got back to our hotel, so Andrew made a late-night dash to find us some pastries and coffees, again in the rain. What a man!
Monday rained all day so it was a good choice to spend all day at the Louvre. We visited Mona (with 10 million other people, I'm sure) but the crowd was not bad in the other sections of the museum. We saw some beautiful paintings by the great Masters; Da Vnci, Raphael, Michelangelo to name a few, and some sculptures such as the Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, the Dying Slave, which were equally as captivating. I love that part of the Louvre and could visit it again and again and never tire of it. Our visit was made more interesting because of the Audio Logues that we hired which included interactive visuals supplied on a Nintendo DS 3D. These gave us recorded commentaries on many of the items at the Louvre and explained the architecture and other features of the historic building. The commentaries were very informative and gave additional background on the displays as well as being able to locate you anywhere in the Louvre via an inbuilt GPS. We would recommend hiring these as it makes your visit much more interesting and at only 5 Euros, they were well worth it. We were also both intrigued about the foundations of the ancient fort that the Louvre had been built on which you see on the lower level and the history of the Louvre itself was very interesting. When they were excavating the forecourt of the Louvre to make some improvements and undertake underground construction in 1984, they discovered old structures and deep constructions which had been forgotten about in recent history. The French have seamlessly incorporated the underground remains of the ancient fortress and moat as another display at the Louvre. What they have built underground is amazing - car parks, shops, research laboratories, lecture theatres & lots more. We were astounded at what facilities they incorporated on the lower level of the Louvre. I guess the French had no choice but to go down as there was no addiitional land to expand into. We in Australia just go outwards because we can! We spent most of the day at the Louvre and both agreed that you need at least two full days to fully appreciate what the Louvre has to offer. Next time, we will stay longer in Paris. We stopped off at Notre Dame in the early evening and were lucky enough to be there during a service. We heard lovely singing and the church organ in all its glory and it was lovely and made the Notre Dame come alive. It was great to see the Notre Dame again and I never cease to be amazed by all the stained glass windows in the church, no two of which are alike. The scale of the building and the windows was breathtaking. I lit a candle and said a silent prayer for my family's good health and wellbeing. Andrew and I finished off the day with dinner and a bottle of wine at the Cafe on the corner which was lovely and said a thank you to France for a truly wonderful 8 days. We did so much and covered so much ground! Thank you again Elizabeth & Chris Pye for hosting us at Hotel Cascarot at Le Chatelet in Burgundy. It was an amazing experience which we loved so much and we feel so lucky to have given this wonderful opportunity to share in your piece of paradise in France. You were the most wonderful and kind hosts and we are so grateful to you - thank you so much.
Fri, 18th May 2012, Lechatelet, Burgundy & enroute Paris, France
Today we travelled from Burgundy to Paris. We wanted to get off the motorway to see what else there was to see. So, initially we set the TomTom for Paris via the motorway, but then used the France road atlas to get off the main roads and travel up through some more scenic roads. Using the TomTom and the road atlas made it so much easier and enjoyable. It was fantastic driving through all the little villages and seeing the amazing scenery. We had lunch in a village up in the highlands, where we bought some home made chocolates. Then while we were making our way back to the motorway we continued to take little roads through little villages, and making the TomTom work over time to find our way, in the meanwhile see some very beautiful countryside.
We made our way into Paris at about peak hour on a Friday afternoon, using the TomTom to plan the route for us to the Hotel D'Angleterre in St. Germaine De Pres. We all did a really good job making our way along the north bank of the Siene River, and then switching over to the south bank from the east side of the city. We finally made our way to 44, Rue Jacob where the hotel is, and then had to find parking close by. We found the hotel on the first lap on a small one-way street, but no parking nearby. So, around we went on the next lap with the TomTom guiding our way really well, and then 100m before the hotel on Rue Jacob we found a tiny spot half on a cross walk. So, on went the hazard lights, out we jumped, pulled out as much of the luggage as possible to take to the hotel. I went back for the remainder while Vera checked us in. We got up to the room, and quickly sorted everything out and then went back to the car (all okay).
We werent supposed to take the hire car back until tomorrow, and even though the hotel had some underground parking somewhere close by we decided to take it back straight away. Again we entered the Avis rent a car address in the TomTom (the one we were supposed to take it back to, and later found out not the closest) and found it quite quickly. It was now about 1830, and the streets were surprisingly quiet. Then we walked back to the hotel, using the TomTom to guide us.
We got back to the hotel and decided to pop out to a cafe (Cafe de Flores) for some dinner.
Thu, 17th May 2012, Lechatelet & Nuits-Saint-Georges, Burgundy
Today we were taken to the L'Imaginarium. This is where they show you how sparkling wine (Cremante) is made. Very, very interactive and something that many, many Australian attractions could learn from the way they present the history of a subject.
We tasted a number of Cremante's; and of course bought a few as well.
We learnt the different methods of making, cooking with, serving Cremante.
Later in the afternoon, Vera & I went for a lovely walk around Lechatelet to stretch our legs, as we had spent quite a bit of time in the car over the last few days and it was great to walk around the old town and look at all the different buildings of varying ages.
Later Chris & Liz took us to a lovely little restaurant call Simon. We all shared a great dinner together for our last night. The picture is of the table ornament from Restaurant Simon - rooster (coq) being the French national symbol - although this one looks like something out of the movie "Chicken Run".
Wed, 16th May 2012, Beaune & Dijon Burgundy
Today we headed off to Musee de l'Hotel Dieu, Hospices de Beaune. This is an old hospital that started operation in the 1400's, and progressively developed until it closed as a hospital in the early 1900's. Very interesting in how it was developed; including where the money came from to build it, etc.
We had a quick lunch in Beaune, and then headed up to Dijon and a wander around the city centre. We went into a mustard store and you can virtually get every colour and flavour. We went into a Notre Dame church, and then headed to Chris Pye's favourite restaurant in Dijon.
The central plaza of Beaune near Hotel Dieu was absolutely beautiful, with the old buildings around the outside, and a pretty little central square. While there we also went into a typical French patisserie.
What we noticed was both of the central square's/plaza's had cute little carousel's, and it was great to see so many people of all ages riding around on bicycles.
The photo is of the lovely coloured and patterned roofing tiles of the Hotel Dieu (its not actually a hotel; thats just what they called hospices where patients paid to stay).
Tue, 15th May 2012, Hotel Cascarot, Lechatelet, Burgundy & Suerre, Burgundy
Today we just spent some relaxing time around Lechatelet and Suerre. We went into Suerre to the Metro bulk grocery store to get some provisions. On the way back we stopped into a local restaurant (see photo) for some late lunch. In France like a lot of European countries most businesses close up shop between 1400'ish-1500'ish. We got there at about 1330, and the Maitre De didnt like it; however the kitchen said go ahead. The Maitre De ended up leaving at about 1400, after we had been served, leaving the waitress to deal with us. It was a good lunch, and our first real test of French using menu's, etc. We did okay!
We really spent most of the day just relaxing.
Lechatelet is a beautiful little village - the mornings are a little crisp, but it is quiet and very beautiful - including the region surrounding the village.
Mon, 14th May 2012, London, England, Paris, France & enroute Lechatelet, Burgundy, France
Today was an early start at Hyde Park House to get to St. Pancras International Train station to catch the Eurostar to Paris at 0831. We shared a taxi with Chris & Liz Pye, and suprisingly got all of our luggage and four of us all in the taxi. We got to St. Pancras very quickly and in plenty of time - even before our train check-in opened. But, we finally got to go through customs until they picked up the sailing knives that I bought for the boat in my luggage. I knew there would possibly be a problem on the train as you have access to your luggage while aboard. However, I explained what they were for and showed them my RPYC membership, Yachting Australia membership & Restricited Skippers Ticket; and after the supervisor came down and asked questions and checked everything he let me proceed with the knives in my luggage. It shouldnt be a problem on the Lufthansa flights as they will be in my luggage stowed away below.
So, we boarded the train in Premium Economy, got served breakfast and had a look at the route that we wanted to take in the hire car from Paris to Burgundy.
We arrived in Paris just before lunchtime, and headed downstairs to get the hire car. As the Pye's and another couple are also heading to Burgundy to stay at the Pye's Hotel Cascarot in Lechatelet; and they were catching trains we offered to take the majority of the luggage. So, with all the luggage loaded in the car and Ken (TomTom) giving us good directions we set off. Although, we didnt have any Euro's yet and we also wanted a real map, so we got off the ring road and found somewhere to get some cash and off we set again.
We found our way back onto the motorway and headed south again; however soon realised we were on a tollway so we decided to get off and get intentionally lost to see what we could see. We went via a couple small towns/villages in the rural part of Paris. the photo for this entry is a village called Lechamp and is of our first old French church that we have visited. I think it was built in the 1500's, and has had some significant damage done to it, and it is obvious that there has been some restoration done to it over the years; as well as some happening now. We then decided that to just jump back onto the tollway and head to the Burgundy region and just see what we could see on the way; plus it was starting to get late.
We finally got to the Hotel Cascarot in the village of Lechatelet at about 1915, just before the others. This is where we are basing ourselves until Friday thanks to Liz & Chris Pye who are currently renovating the hotel.
Sun, 13th May 2012, Queen Mary Sailing Club, Queen Mary Reservoir, Ashford, Middlesex, England
Well today is the last day of racing with another early morning. We were hoping that we were going to get 4 races in today with the RPYC team, however with the delays from Day 1 & 2 we only got 2 races in. Although, we were out for the final Round Robin race of the day between Seawanhka & Royal Thames which was absolutely fantastic and lsted 25mins (normally about 15mins) because of the backwards and forwards, and closeness of the teams racing. It was a perfect race to watch from a teams racing training point of view. In the coming week i will get a video of it up on the Swagman Sailing YouTube channel.
The 3 race final was between NYYC & Seawanahka; although it only lasted 2 races, with NYYC taking it in a clean sweep. The racing was very good.
We then went back to the Queen Mary Sailing Clubhouse and had the presentations. Following presentations and with drinks there was the normal swapping of team gear.
We then headed back to Hyde Park House, had a few drinks at the bar, and then got showered & changed and headed out for a final dinner down the road in Knightsbridge. We decided on a curry a a Pakistani Curry House which was decorated very heavily.
After that we had to head back to Hyde Park House and started packing ready for the early start in the morning to get to St. Pancras International Train Station to catch the Eurostar to Paris.
The attached photo is from just up the road from the Pakistani Curry House, and is typical of the sort of vehicles you see in Knightsbridge
Sat, 12th May 2012, Queen Mary Sailing Club, Queen Mary Reservoir, Ashford, Middlesex, England
Well another early start with another day of racing - hopefully with some success - but alas we still didnt come up with any success. Today Andrew (me) did some sailing. I was shared between the two RPYC boats to give some of the others a break. I did mainsheet on both boats. Even thought we didnt a win, we still got very very close and had some good racing against the top teams.
After the days racing we had the regatta dinner back at Hyde Park House. Each team had to do a little skit (typical British entertainment), and was very entertaining. The RPYC team did a ditty about the sailing to the tune (although a bit off key) Advance Australia Fair. We didnt win that either, although tied for runner-up.
Fri, 11th May 2012, Queen Mary Sailing Club, Queen Mary Reservoir, Ashford, Middlesex, England
Up early this morning for the first day of racing in the Cumberland Cup Teams Racing event. Today I (Andrew) am just acting as reserve/support. I was able to get out on one of the supprt rib's for most of the day. This was great! I was able to get some good photo's and some reasonable GoPro video (which I will put up on the Swagman Sailing YouTube channel soon). The team had some good close racing, however weren't able to convert it into any wins.
The RTYC write up of the days events and results are here.
After the sailing we had a free night and we wandered down the road into Knightsbridge to have a dinner at one of the restaurants on Montepelier Road. Vera then went onto the casino across the road from Hyde Park House with a couple of the others.
The photo is of the RPYC team in boats 1 & 2.
Thu, 10th May 2012, Hyde Park House, Royal Thames Yacht Club, Knightsbridge, London, & Queen Mary Sailing Club, Queen Mary Reservoir, Ashford, Middlesex, England
Today was to be the official practice day of the Cumberland Cup. We arrived at Queen Mary Reservior to find the wind blowing very strongly, with some big gusts in it. The event organisers decided to delay any practice, and review at midday; however there was no change and so all practice was cancelled for the day. Lucky that we had organised the pre-training day yesterday - something that we definitely need to undertake in any future teams racing events we attend anyway.
We all returned to Hyde Park House and relaxed and got ready for the official reception at St. James Palace with HRH Prince Andrew (not me!) - The Duke of York. We departed RTYC on an old double decker London bus (our official transport for the whole event), and made our way across the centre of London to St. James Palace where we waited outside until it was time for us to move inside. We were not allowed cameras or mobile phones, so I am afraid there are no pictures. We mingled inside until HRH arrived - he is the honourary Commodore of RTYC. A couple of speeches were made, with HRH apologising for the London weather causing the cancellation of the practice day. Andrew (me) then commented that "The Australians got out yesterday in 20kts plus". Once the speeches were over HRH approached Andrew, probably because of his interjection, and discussed sailing in Australia. Great conversation!
Once finished there we all had to make our own way back to Hyde Park House, and we sat down for a team dinner in the restaurant.
A good night was had by all, and we are ready for the first days racing tomorrow.
Wed, 09th May 2012, Hyde Park House, Royal Thames Yacht Club, Knightsbridge, London, & Queen Mary Sailing Club, Queen Mary Reservoir, Ashford, Middlesex, England
Well today was our first activities for the Royal Perth Yacht Club (RPYC) team for the Cumberland Cup. Due to the high possibility of very little wind at this event, the team decided to get an extra days practice in - just in case. So we booked ourselves a mini-bus and a J80 (the boat we are sailing on for this event) for 3hrs to get a feel of the boat and 'bed-in' how we will work on these boats as they are set-up a little bit different to the BW8's that we trained on at RPYC.
There was some good wind out there; although it looks like the forecast for the event is light winds. But, we got comfortable with the boats and figured out what we needed to do. We tested some spinnaker sets; although in these winds they would not normally use spinnakers for this event - but we needed to train with them anyway. We got some good processes in place and should be right for the regatta. The official training/familiarisation day is tomorrow (Thursday) and the races run Friday-Sunday with the finals on Sunday.
There is a webcam of the venue; although I am not sure it is working, but here is the link just in case - Queen Mary Sailing Club Webcam & Weather link.
I think this is the link to the Royal Thames Yacht Club (RTYC) Cumberland Cup website and hopefully it will show the results - but I will try to upload them each day RTYC Cumberland Cup link.
This is the link to the GoPro video on the Swagman Sailing YouTube channel, of the our pre-training day.
When we got back to RTYC after the training session we did the official registration for the event. We have a 'meet & greet' tonight in the RTYC Quarterdeck Room (Jacket & Tie....grrrr - but you have to do it).
Tue, 08th May 2012, Hyde Park House, Royal Thames Yacht Club, Knightsbridge, London, England
Well today we woke up to a nice and fine day, although it got cold later in the afternoon - but that is probably expected.
Today we decided to take the Underground over to Lords Cricket Ground and on the way take a wander around Sherlock Holmes territory along Baker Street and take a leisurely stroll through Regents Park.
We didn't go into the Sherlock Homes Museum at 221b Baker Street, but went into the gift shop and looked around at the souvenirs. We then wandered over to Regents Park and had a light lunch, and then walked over to Lords.
At Lords we went into the Museum while waiting for our tour. Lots of English cricketing memorabilia and of course the Ashes urn (or old perfume jar which we later found out on the tour). Of course you are not allowed to use Mobile Phones (cameras) or cameras because most of the items are on loan from private collectors. Attempt to take a photo of the Ashes urn during the tour but didnt work.
We went into the Pavillion and the visitors dressing room. They are currently getting ready for the England v West Indies test match on Thursday; so we werent allowed on to the ground, but got close enough. We went through the stands and then up to the UFO shaped media center. Great tour - just under 2hrs - but very informatiive. Interesting the tour guide had a two-way radio and they dont number the for identification - they use famous cricketers names. Our tour guide had Truman (I think?).
Went and bought a few things at the Lords Cricket store.
We then caught the Underground back towards Knightsbridge and got off at Bond Street to do a quick bit of shopping along Oxford Street. Bloody packed with plenty of people spending lots of money; even though everything is very cheaply priced. Saw a security guard pick up a pair of pants somebody had dropped. He said they were old ones that somebody had swapped with new ones and had walked out with the new ones - no security tags on anything.
We came back and then wandered down Brompton Road for a light dinner at a local Tea Room - very nice and very reasonably priced.
Mon, 07th May 2012, Hyde Park House, Royal Thames Yach Club, Knightsbridge, London, England
Monday was a Bank Holiday in the UK; although there was plenty of stuff open. In the morning we hired the public bikes in Hyde Park and had a short ride around before breakfast. We rode over to Kensington Palace which is at the end of Hyde Park, and rode up embassy rode. Vera said that I must have put all the security guards on high alert because I had my black beanie and sunnies on and looked like an international THUG! It is the first time in our lives that we had to watch out for horses as they are everywhere in Hyde Park.
We then came back and headed out to the British Museum in Bloomsbury. On the way we stopped off at the Disney store, which is where the photo is from with me standing with Woody from Toy Story.
We started out walking and then it started raining (funny that); so we head down to the Underground to get the rest of the way. The British Museum has had a real re-vamp over last decade and is very good. We hired the electronic guides and did the Britain & Europe History section, and then because we are going to Athens we decided to do the Parthenon section. This section was very good and very very interactive, and we spent about 2-3hrs in that section alone. The freizes that made up part of the Parthenon we display very well and current interpretation explained very explicitly. Really enjoyed that bit.
In the British & European History section they had some amazing jewellery that had been recovered from English dig sites; as well as Bog Man who is an extremely well preserved specimen over 2000 yrs old, we think!
Sun, 06th May 2012, Hyde Park House, Royal Thames Yach Club, Knightsbridge, London, England
On Sunday we did a Big Bus Tour of the city. It was great; although it took most of the day. It also included a tour boat trip in the main part of the Thames. Around lunch we hopped off the tour down on the Embankment and went to OceanLeisure Chandlery and picked up some sailing gear including my new watch. The Big Bus Tour Company is very good; although at the end of the day we got caught in traffic and we didnt get to see much. After Ocean Leisure we went to The Sherlock Holmes Pub in Embankment. Vera tried the Sherlock Holmes ale - which was warm.
Sat, 05th May 2012, Hyde Park House, Royal Thames Yacht Club, Knightsbridge, London, England
This is a photo of the daily exercising of one of the Queens Regiments.
Sitting having breakfast at Hyde Park House overlooking Hyde Park the view is wonderful. We are here in London from 05/05/2012 until Monday 14/05/2012 to compete in the Cumberland Cup Teams Racing event. This is an invitation only event to all Royal (or equivalent) yacht clubs using two team boats (J80's) and we compete against 7 other teams. We arrived yesterday (midday'ish) from Perth via Dubai on Emirates Airways. Great flight, and flying the A380 was magnificent; such a magnificent aircraft. Walked around Knightsbridge yesterday afternoon. Had to go into Harrods and have a look around, which was great - damn busy with all sorts of people. Had coffee just outside Harrods watching all the luxury cars (with & without chauffeurs) pull up and park outside.
We then wandered down Knightsbridge and did some window shopping, and Vera bought her first item of clothing (leather jacket) for an extremely good price. Vera is very happy with me as she said I was the one that made her decide on buying the jacket; otherwise she would have just left it - good parchase. We and had an early meal and pint at a corner pub just on Knightsbridge.
We then went for a late afternoon walk around Hyde Park - magificent park, and came back and wandered through the eastern end of Knightsbridge looking at all the luxury cars, little terrace houses that have been turned into luxury residences - very, very high priced. One note is that their are a huge amount of Balkan's (Russian, Ukrainian, etc), and a hell of a lot of money.
Today we are going for a Big Bus Tour of London, and make our way to Ocean Leisure Chandlery to pick up a couple of things and have a look at what boating items I would like but probably wont get. We will then probably hire a bike in Hyde Park and have a ride around the area.
When we finish here we will be head over to France via Eurostar for a week; with a few days in the SE of France (Burgundy) at our fellow RPYC club members hotel that is being renovated (Lechatelet), and then back to Paris for a few days. Then we are off to Croatia; Dubrovnik for a couple of days and then off to Split where we pick up a Junneau Sun Odyssey 36i charter boat for a week. Then back to Split and Dubrovnik for a night each before we head off to Greece for a week and a half. We arrive in Thessaloniki, Greece, and then head west over to the Prespes region to see Vera's Mum's village for 2 nights. Then we drive down to the island of Lefkada in the SW for 2 nights, and drive over to Athens for about a week. Then back home via Dubai again.
I will attempt to Blog as often as possible while we are away to keep family and friends updated.
Today was also the annual SS34 Association Commodores Race at Fremantle Sailing Club. Because we are away I had Phil Somerville-Ryan and Murray Gardiner sail the boat down for the race. They should be finished soon, so I will message them shortly to see how they went.
Sat, 31st March 2012, West of Port Bouvard - Western Australia
Tim Browning steering just off Port Bouvard 25kts west wind - down to a smaller jib - apparently Yellowbrick tracker stop working down at Bunker Bay
Sat, 31st March 2012, Off Bunbury
Koombana Bay, Bunbury rounding mark
Sat, 31st March 2012, Bunker Bay heading to Koombana Bay, Western Sustralia
Photo just before rounding the Bunker Bay rounding mark 22hrs 40mins after the start
Fri, 30th March 2012, Approx 20nm North of Cape Naturaliste
It's been a long slow trip so far - very little - max so far about 15kts at the start last nite - opposing lumpy sea to the wind - but doing well I think
Sun, 29th May 2011, Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue Group
Well, Vera & I just got back home after being at Fremantle while attending our Marine Radio Operator Certificate of Proficiency course with the Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue Group (FVSRG).
As the weather forecast for the weekend looked pleasant (even though it is supposed to be approaching winter), so we decided to motor Swagman down to Fremantle from RPYC on Friday evening, go to the course on Saturday and return on Sunday.
Friday evening was absolutely beautiful. The river was like glass, and there were barely no other boats around, and it wasnt cold either.
We go to RPYC Annex at Fremantle about 8pm, and were all moored up by about 8:30pm. We then quickly headed into Fremantle for a late dinner at Portorosa Cafe - very nice.
Got up early the next morning to make our way just down the road to FVSRG HQ for the 8am-5pm course. We were doing the HF/MF part of the course which also covers VHF & 27MHZ.
As we were going through the course, all the communications stuff I learnt while in the Royal Australian Navy in the 80's starting coming back, so it was a bit of a refresher for me, plus bringing me up to speed on stuff I had forgotten as well as new stuff. Vera really enjoyed it as well, although she was concerned about the technical nature of it, but did really well. We finished the afternoon off with the 50 question test (multiple choice....phew!!!), which has a 70% pass mark, but about a 99.999999% pass rate for FVSRG. We both think we did well, but wont find out for about a month as they have to get marked by the national body in Tasmania. But we should be right.
We then went for a bit of a walk before through Fremantle, before ending up at the Norfolk Hotel for some drinks and some dinner.
Wandered back through Fremantle on the way back to the boat, and pretty much crashed for the night.
We had a bit of a sleep in on Sunday, and headed into Fremantle to the Merchant Tea & Coffee shop for some breakfast. Finished up and went back to the boat to get it ready to head back up the river. The wind was starting to pick up slightly from the NE but it was a pleasant trip back up the river.
Until some idiot in a 50ft powerboat (Boatname "iPlay" - will get reported on Monday morning to DPI) proceeded to do a big loop around us, the yellow catamaran ferry boat, another powerboat and another yacht at about 20kts. He crossed our bow at about 50ft putting up a huge wake. I had absolutely no regard for the affect on any other boats, and the two people that were on his bow just waved, they had absolutely no idea. I wish I had my camera close enough by to video the whole episode.
Anyway, apart from that, Vera & I had a really enjoyable weekend hopefully passing our MROCP. Thanks to the weather gods for providing beautiful weather, with no rain, and not cold, before an apparent front and associated storm warning comes through on Monday morning.
Sun, 24th April 2011, Fremantle, Western Australia
Well this morning was decision time. We either stayed in Port Bouvard for another day & night or head back, perhaps stopping at Warnbro Sound on the way through. We checked the weather and it looked as if the winds were not going to be in our favour. Sunday morning was forecasted 20kts NW/SW and Monday & Tuesday was forecasted to be virtually nothing from anywhere from the NW to the SE and any where in between. So, we had a meeting a decided that we would head out at about 1100 and head back north, as there was going to be too much of a risk of being becalmed, and most of us needing to get back on Tuesday at the latest. And, if things looked okay perhaps we would overnight in Warnbro Sound again, but this time in the NW corner so that we would be protected from the weather.
Anyway, we set off, with Sulphur leading out quite quickly, followed by Grey Goose II who struggled to clear the Dawesvill Cut opening under just mainsail and motor, then us on Swagman, and Blondie & Miss Cath following 10-15mins later. Swell was about 2-3m's, wind wave about 1m, & the wind 20kts from the W.
We made good time out to Murray Reef's beacon and turned N to come inside Coventry Reef and the entrance to Warnbro Sound. At that point the weather started to come in with a good sized rain squall, although not very strong, so we decided to continue on to either the NE corner of Garden Island or go straight through to Fremantle, as it would have been a bit hazardous to try and enter Warnbro Sound with the risks of squalls around and reducing the visibility.
We continued up to Challenger Passage at the N end of Garden Island, and just as Sulphur, Swagman & following at about 10-15mins were Blondie & Miss Cath, reached the passage another brief squall hit, with good sized following sea coming through the passage. Sulphur got inside and decided to drop all sails and motor the rest of the way, and Brett & I on Swagman continued on under full sail straight towards Royal Perth Yacht Club Annex at Fremantle. The rain squall passed after about 15mins, and we tied up at the annex at about 1600, with the others following. Brett and I decided that we would leave Swagman there overnight and come back up river early tomorrow morning. Apparently just as we were leaving the annex at 1830, Grey Goose II was just making their way through Challenger Passage.
It was a great weekend, although cut short by the weather, but we knew that was going to be a risk at this time of year. But we had a great time, and learnt lots about ourselves, the boat and cruising.
Thanks to Dick Newnham from Sulphur for being the guide and organising the cruise.
The photo is of Brett & I just after we came through Challenger Passage after the last rain squall had passed.
See the Photo Gallery for all the photos of the SS34 Easter Cruise 2011.
Sat, 23rd April 2011, Port Bouvard Canals, Dawesville Cut, Western Australia
Had a nice quiet night at anchor in Warnbro Sound last night, and then had a light breakfast & headed back out at about 8am, the way we came before turning South and heading towards Mandurah. Winds were NW @ 15kts, which made for a very pleats broad reach down the coast. We decided to bypass Mandurah and head for the canals @ Port Bouvard. We got in there about 1230. The tide was running in pretty quickly and had to crab our way into the entrance of one of the side canals. About 3m of water in here, and very pleasant. We all tied up, and squared the boats away, and great hamburgers cooked by Rosemary Torvaldsen on Blondie. Brett went for a swim, and 5mins after he got out 2 long tailed Bluebottles floated by, very lucky to say the least. Spoke to Vera in Phuket on the way down. Surprisingly she slept in, and she was just getting ready to go to breakfast with Seb. Spoke to Dad as well to let him know of our progress and all was going well. Plan to go to dinner tonight at the Port Bouvard Restaurant, and maybe get a shower (otherwise the might kick us out).
The photo is of the 5 SS34's moored in one of the Port Bouvard Canals (L-R: Swagman, Blondie, Miss Cath, Grey Goose II, then right up in the corner is Sulphur).
Fri, 22nd April 2011, Warnbro Sound, Western Australia
Well Brett & I set off from Royal Perth Yacht Club at about 0830 Friday morning to motor down the river (2hrs) to meet the other SS34 cruisers at Royal Perth Yacht Club Annex in Fremantle.
We had a couple of dramas when we lowered the mast to go through the bridges. We had just lowered the mast in to the cradle, when a group of power boats caught up to us. Most slowed down and took care with our mast lowered. One 10m cabin cruiser (DPI Reg# 2030) powered in between the other boats and passed within 10m's of us. Way too close even without our mast down. I tried to get him to slow down, but he didnt care less and even had the nerve to tell me to move over to the other side of the river, and he was the over taking boat who has to keep clear. Another 8m centre console (DPI Reg'n DP050) passed us at about 10kts between the two bridges and just gave us the 'finger' as he went passed. Subsequently, both of those boats will be reported to the DPI on Wednesday when I get back to work.
Anyway, we got around to the annex, and discussed thje weather and our possible destinations. We were originally going to head north to Two Rocks & Lanceling, however it looked as if the winds there and back would be against us, which doesnt make for very good cruising weather. So we collectively decided to head south to Warnbro Sound, Mandurah & Port Bouvard (Dawesville).
We headed off into absolutely no wind at about 1130, SW towards the northern end of Garden Island to exit out through Challenger Pass. Sulphur (Dick Newnham), who was to be our guide for the weekend took the lead, with Blondie (Simon, Rosemary & Lucy Torvaldsent), Grey Goose (Peter Tait & wife), Swagman (myself & Brett), and we met Miss Cath (Phil Michelides) who had come down from Mindarie, on the way.
We got outside Challenger Passage motoring all the way, and the wind started to pick up to a WSW @ 5-10kts. We stopped the motor and sailed the rest of the way down to Warnbro Sound. We went through the channel, following the leads into Warnbro Sound, and headed down to the SE corner near Bridgeport?, and anchor just off shore in the lee of Long Point. By this time the wind a swung around to the SW, so it would be good for the night. We were expected a light NW the following morning & building into the afternoon.
Great sail down with Brett & I sharing the steering.
The photo is off Brett steering 185 on the compass.
Sat, 10th October 2009, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
My apologies firstly of not updating for over 1yr. First excuse was that I was extremely busy at work, and then last years Summer Sailing season was interrupted for me by blowing my knee up playing Indoor Cricket, and thus having to miss 90% of the season while undergoing a Knee Reconstruction and the inevitable Rehabilitation, and I was just too down about it to do much on this blog. But, they are my excuses and that is all they are, and forward we move.
Secondly to answer a blog comment from last year, we did actually get to try the new spinnaker. ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC - 14% bigger and fast. I have a great photo of us under the spinnaker coming into the finish of the Govenors Cup at RPYC November 2008 which I will put up here very soon. Absolutely great racing shot, and will be getting it blown up on printed on canvas soon.
Anyway, onto the news of this year:
Well I did a little bit of maintenance work on the boat of the winter, and had it out of the water for the usual under the waterline maintenance in September. I had Phil Somerville re-pack the stern gland on the prop shaft, as I hadnt done it before and I wanted his experience to show me for future reference. Pretty easy, and the old packing probably had a bit of life left in it, but good to put the mind at rest by putting new stuff in.
I was able to pick up a 3yr 3DL North Sails mainsail from Mike Finn on Constellation, who is getting a new one under a sponsorship deal from North Sails. We are used to the old Dacron, and it's a slightly different configuration, and will have a little bit more life in it than the old one, and it was very cheap as well. Thanks Mike Finn & North Sails. Only need a slight alteration on the turning blocks at the aft end of the boom to accommodate the longer foot for the foot out haul and the 1st reefing line.
Anyway, onto the 1st race of the season at RPYC Opening Day. A short race so that they can get everybody back to the club for the Opening Day Festivities. Reasonable start, but slow as I was a little early. Need some trim changes on the main. Whether blustery, and wind all over the place which made it difficult to fine tune the new trim for the main, but overall a reasonable day. 12th across the line and 8th on handicap. Crew did a fantastic job, just the skipper needs another breezy day to blow the cobwebs out.
Tue, 01st July 2008, Perth, Western Australia
Brett & I picked up our new spinnaker from Doyle Fraser Sails today. Will Hammond (SailMaker) layed it out in the loft to give us a look at it.
IT LOOKS BIG!!!!
Plus, the design looks good as well. I was originally a little concerned about the size of the stars that they would end up doing, but the size looks just right. Layout seems to look okay, but wont really know that until we get it up.
We wont be able to try it out for a few weeks, as we go away up north next week for a week. But, hopefully towards the end of July we will get out and try it, and see what it looks like. I will see if I can get Dad out there as well.
Leaving it for a while suits the 3M glue they have used on the stars, to ensure they stay stuck.
Also, they have included a proper deck launching bay, that Vera will be happy about, although it is still an unknown to Brett (but he will have to learn to use it). I never liked the one that came with the last spinnaker, and I ended up never using it. But, Vera has insisted on using it, plus it will look after the spinnaker as well.
Wed, 25th June 2008, Perth, Western Australia
Received a phone call from Will Hammond, at Doyle Fraser Sails in North Fremantle, today telling me that our new spinnaker was ready. I told him that I wouldnt been able to make it in to pick it up this week, but would come over early next week.
Hopefully the design they have done has worked out well, but the cut is the important bit.
I cant wait to get it out on the boat to test it and get a good look at it. Although that wont be until the later part of July, as we are due to drive upto to Monkey Mia and Exmouth in the north west of Western Australia for a short holiday.
But, the first fine weekend we have we will be out there to have a look at it. Cant wait.....
Fri, 13th June 2008, Royal Perth Yacht Club, Perth, Western Australia
Tonight we welcomed one of my newest crew members into RPYC as a Senior Member. Robin Morritt has only been sailing with us since early in the new year, and he has decided to hopefully built his own SS34 yacht. He and his wife Catherine, daughter Jesse (and boyfriend Gavin) Simon Tovaldson (Robin's membership nominator) and Vera and I (Robin's membership seconder) attended the gathering (and pomp & ceremony) of new members, followed by the usual Friday night Seafood Extravaganza at the club.
Of course we discussed all things yachting, and not much else. It was a great evening, and I would like to welcome Robin into the club.
Sat, 07th June 2008, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
A former crew member (Simon Aspinall) of Swagman phoned me this week asking if he could use the boat to take out another friend (Andrew Gardner - (Gard's)) and his family. I have always considered that our long-term crew have always been welcome to take Swagman out for social sails whenever they like.
At the last minute I found some time, and decided to go along as well. I arrived at the boat around 1030, and checked things over, as I hadnt been down to it for a number of days. Simon arrived a little later, and Gard's and his family (wife - Michelle & 3 children), and another friend Louisa arrived a little after Simon. After getting everybody settled, we backed out of the pen at RPYC and headed out into Matilda Bay and put the mainsail, and No. 3 jib up. Even though it was light, we didnt want to make the cruise too strenuous or uncomfortable.
We then slowly made our way out into the middle of the river (Melville Water), heading towards Point Walter, which we went around and in towards Meads Restaurant in Mosman Bay. Then we headed back up the river, and over towards SoPYC and Canning Bridge, and then back over towards Matilda Bay and down towards the city at The Narrows Bridge.
We then turned around and headed back to RPYC, took the sails down and put the boat back in its pen.
We had a few drinks and nibblies for an absolutely delightful 4hr sail.
It gave the boat and nice outing, as well as us.
Fri, 23rd May 2008, Royal Perth Yacht Club, Perth, Western Australia
Tonight was our annual Senior Prize Night for the yacht club. Overall we had a pretty average season, with the incident with a J24 early in the season putting us out for what turned out to be 3 weeks, and us blowing up our big spinnaker that was beyond repair. Plus, there were a couple of races that were abandoned due to too much, or no wind.
But, through all of that Swagman and it's mighty crew prevailed to win the Division 2 Consistency Trophy. The 3rd time in 5 years, and 2nd time for me. I was really proud of the crew, some of which I will lose next season, but especially Brett who learned so much on the forward thanks to Vera, and Vera as well who struggled through some tough times, and taught Brett so very well.
Thanks to everybody who sailed with me this season, it was a great season and a very enjoyable one.
Next season will be interesting with new crew to find and train, a new spinnaker to get used to, and a Division 2 will have a different make up of boats.
Thu, 15th May 2008, Doyle Fraser Sails, North Fremantle, Western Australia
Well today I went down to Doyle Fraser Sails in North Fremantle and ordered our new (thanks to the insurance company, and chipped in from me) spinnaker. It should take 4-6 weeks for delivery. I had a good talk to Will Hammond the sailmaker, who has made a number of our sails over the years. We decided on a 0.9oz Tri-Radial, white, with the design as seen in the post down a little. No extra cost for the extra work and size, and I am very appreciative a Will being able to give it to us at the same cost as originally quoted, plus a bit of a further discount.
Thats why we keep going back to him.
Tue, 06th May 2008, Fremantle to Rottnest Island, Western Australia
This weekend was RPYC's annual end of season social sail to Rottnest Island from Fremantle. As Vera and I had been away all week, I had to rush to get the boat ready on Friday night. So, I loaded up the car with everything we needed, and Brett & I loaded everything onto the boat.
As Swagman doesnt have very much in the way of good sleeping arrangements, a few years ago I built some bunk boards that lay across to main cabin settee providing a Queen size bed. This is great even if it does take up quite a bit of room in the cabin. But for the great weather we have this doesnt cause us any problem. Vera & I, Alysha & Brett went with Brett sleeping in the navigation berth, Alysha up the front in the 'V' berth, and Vera & I on the bunk boards, and it works really well.
So, we were all up at 6am on Saturday morning, and after the busy week that Vera & I had on her junket, that was quite difficult. The race started from outside the RPYC Annex of Fremantle at about 0930, so we need to be down to the boat at RPYC on the Swan River by 0715 at the latest, to get away by 0730, and it takes about 1hr 45min's to get down the river. We had a really good run down the river, and through the bridges, and we arrived with about 15min's to spare. No boats were out yet, so we motored into the annex to see if any of the smaller boats need a tow, which the didnt, and we ended up starting the spinnakers up at about 0945 in about 8-12kts of wind.
It was a disappointing turn out this year, with 2 Endeavour 24's (Mistral - last years winner and another), us & a Farr9.2 (Toravean), plus one of Alysha's friends (Ryan Bindell) sailing by himself on his boat a S97 (Low Flying Duck).
With the superior sail area we quickly got away from the others and had a delightful shy spinnaker sail (right to 50deg's off the bow) until about 1nm from the Natural Jetty at Rottnest. The wind dropped then and was drifting from all the North directions so we dropped the spinnaker, and floundered with the main and jib up, until we started to drift toward the Natural Jetty, so we turned the motor on and motor sailed into Thompsons Bay.
I had been contacted earlier in the week to say that the mooring I had booked was unserviceable, and they had allocated me another one. This one turned out to be a little further away from the Rottnest settlement area, but was close to the old Army Jetty, and closer to shore. Which meant we would have a short row into shore. I am going to remember this one in the future because I think it is in a great spot.
We got in just after midday, and we sorted the boat out, and then we went ashore to have some lunch, get our landing & mooring permit, and then went back to the boat to relax.
In the evening we had the social part of the weekend at the Rottnest Tea Rooms. As there are smaller boats that come over, and they dont have the necessary safety gear on board, they are escorted by a couple of Power Boats, so we a few more people at the social gathering. The winner of the day is not necessarily the 1st to the island, but as it is always a themed event (this year it was Hollywood Glitz & Glamour), the Power Boats that come with us decide on the overall winner. Who has to arrange the social gathering and theme next year. This year is was Tony Finch and his crew onboard the other Endeavour 24, who had done the event for 18 years and had never won. So, it was a worthy winner, and should make for an exciting and great event next year (with his reputation).
We headed back to the boat without going on to party, as both Vera & I were still tired from the week.
We arose on Sunday morning at about 8am, and went ashore ans showered, and then went to Dome for Brekky. When we finished we went back to the boat and cleared everything to make ready for the trip back to the mainland.
The wind was much the same strength as Saturday, but from the SE-S, and we were initially heading a little away from our destination of Fremantle Harbour heads, but I knew it would slowly swing around to the S bringing us closer to where we needed to be.
It was a lovely sail back, taking a little longer than planned due to lack of wind. We dropped the sails coming into the harbour to prepare to lower the mast to go throught the bridges. We had some observant power boat owners who slowed down for us to reduce their wash, however after getting the mast back up, and going through a channel a little further up the river, one boat came past at about 10-15kts creating quite some wake and knocking us about a bit. So, I took his details and he will be report to the Department of Planning & Infrastructure - Marine using the Marine Incident form I have on the main page of this blog. I will post his details later.
We had a pretty uneventful motor back to RPYC, except just coming out of Blackwall Reach in Bicton/Point Walter 2 big power boats roared past at in excess of 25kts, causing a huge amount of wake. We werent close enough to them to get their details but I think they were from SoPYC, and of the same design and new twin decked boats.
It was a very enjoyable weekend, if not a little tiring after last week.
The photo is of Alysha, who was dressed as Paris Hilton, and Vera, who was dressed as Jessica Simpson.
Sat, 26th April 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Vera & I had to go away this week for a junket with Vera's work, and so we couldnt sail the final race of the season, plus Simon T & Robin were unavailable and Craig was still out after surgery on his shoulder. So, to fill the empty spots I contacted one of old long standing crew Simon Aspinall, and 2 of his friends John & Lisa Costello who had sailed socially on Swagman before, and had raced on other boats a few years ago. And, I got Grant to do the skippering as he had been part owner/skipper of a boat a few years ago.
According to all reports they had a really good race, with no problems at all, and ended up 3rd on handicap. This keeps us in good sted for overall Consistency for the season and will have to wait until Senior Prize Night in a couple of weeks time to find out the results, as my calculations show that it is too close to call.
Mon, 21st April 2008, Perth, Western Australia
Here is a draft of our new spinnaker design. Hopefully the sailmaker (Will Hammond, Doyle Fraser Sailmakers, North Fremantle, Western Australia) will be able to do this without too much more expense. The Southern Cross will be on a white sail cloth, with probably a green starboard luff tape, a yellow (or gold) port luff tape, and white foot tape.
The panel pattern is not necessarily the way it will be, as this was the only appropriate template I could find.
Hopefully it will look good.
Sat, 19th April 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Today is mine & Vera's last Saturday race for the season, as we will be in Broome, Western Australia next weekend, but hopefully with crew Swagman will be out next Saturday.
The has finally returned this week, and it looked like a good day for us. I initially decided upon using the No. 3 Blade Jib, but when the Start Line was set, and I looked at the wind direction, it looked as if it was going to be reach just off the wind, so we did a quick sail change upto the No. 1 Genoa just before the start. That was a good decision.
We started on the favoured pin end with a whole bunch of the BW8's, with Prim8's just in front of us who could have pushed outside the start line, but just let us in (Thank Tony Carter). The bigger sail, and sheets eased slightly gave us some good headway, with a loose cover over most of the fleet, and amongst the BW8's. We got to the 1st mark about 4th or 5th, and a beautiful spinnaker set kept our momentum.
We maintained our position most of the day, with a good loose tussle with Elusive (Richard Brisbane-Cohen), The Black Smoke (Kevin Schroeder), and one of the BW8's. We had one slow spinnaker drop, and one small twist that lost us a little bit of time, but we were able to pull that back.
It was pretty much a soldiers course with that wind direction, but one that we enjoyed, especially with more wind that we have had over the previous 2 weeks.
We were 6th across the line behind 5 BW8's, and 9th on handicap, with 22sec's covering 6th-10th. Prim8's and Pieces of 8, which are our main rivals for Consistency this season, finished 1st & 2nd, which has really hurt our chances. But, we are still in there for the hunt, and will hopefully get enough crew to get the boat out next weekend to keep us in the game, and then we will just have to see what happens.
Since we had the Backstay Adjuster failure a couple of weeks ago, the back-up system means that the rig is possibly a little looser than what it has been for a while, which obviously is good.
We will see how it goes into the new season at the end of the year, and decide what to do with it then.
In the meantime we have had the verbal go ahead from the insurance company (Club Marine) who are covering 80% of the cost for the replacement of the destroyed No. 1 spinnaker. So, I need to come up with about another $1000, but we have a bit of time, and I have a plan up my sleeve to get that together. I have done a design for the colours of the new spinnaker (see post later), which hopefully wont cost too much more, but the spinnaker panel design Dad & I will sit down and sort out when I return from Broome.
As this is mine & Vera's last competitive sail for the season, I thank all of the crew: Vera, Alysha, Brett, Simon T, Robin, Grant, as well as all of my fellow RPYC Division 2 competitors. It was a pretty enjoyable season even if we did miss some races due to damage and no wind. But, it was a good season, and we will see how the overall consistency places turn out at Prize Night on 20th May.
Vera, myself and the kids will hopefully be doing the RPYC Billy Can run to Rottnest Island in 2 weeks when we return from Broome. Hopefully we wont be too tired. This is just a social race to round out the end of the season.
Attached here is a picture of Simon T and Grant trimming the spinnaker on one of our downwind runs from Saturday. Looking up watch the set of the kite, and paying attention to detail - just the way I like it. There is Elusive behind us, riding our big stern wave, and a BW8 behind them.
Thu, 17th April 2008, Royal Perth Yacht Club, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
This evening we did our 1st Thursday night social Twilight sail (although it was completely dark) that we had done for sometime. Mainly to give Grant Cullen experience sailing the boat, as he will be skippering in 2 weekends time when I am away. It was a real drifter, and we only went as far as the middle of the river and then came back.
Before the start, I quickly got haulled to the top of the mast, as I noticed before leaving the pen that the masthead navigation lights were incorrectly indicating.
I got up there and realised the cap of the unit had come off, and the lenses inside had moved around. I put them in their correct place, and will have to get a new lenses set soon, or make do with something else to seal it from the weather.
Then once we got back into the pen, the same navigation lights went out, probably from action from the halyards in the mast.
It looks as though I might have to run new electrical cables up the mast, possibly with some sort of extra protective coating.
Anyway, it was a lovely evening, if not a little cold.
Sun, 13th April 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Now here comes my WHINGE!!!
I know everybody has their right to use the waterways, but why should they disrupt it & make life difficult for others because of their totally inconsiderate actions.
During our race on Saturday when we were in very light winds, and just floating along; 8 out of 10 power boats took no care for other boats. They powered along there way without any care that their wash was causing discomfort and annoyance to other boaters, especially yachts that are trying to compete in a club event.
In the past I have put in Department of Planning & Infrastructure - Marine Incident Reports. Well after, Saturday afternoon I am going to more diligent than ever about this.
Power boaters, and probably some yachties should be aware what their wash/speed/closeness is doing to other water users. There have been many occassions when power boats have passed close to yachts, and their wash has caused damage and sometimes injury.
I had brought this up last time a while ago when I spoke about the Recreational Skippers Ticket. This license (for a better word) is supposed to provide some sort of education to owners & skippers on how to act on the water for their safety and the safety of others.
The West Australian Department for Planning & Infrastructure - Marine now have a couple of forms for reporting accidents & incidents.
The Marine Incident Report Form is used for:
When an accident results in serious injury or death, or the vessel has been damaged enough to make it unseaworthy or unsafe, the owner or skipper must report full particulars of the accident or fire to the Department within seven days.
And, the Marine Safety Complaint Form is used for:
Marine safety complaints (speeding, skiing etc) may be made to the State Marine Operations Centre on telephone 9431 1000. The Centre is available between 8.30am and 4.00 pm Monday to Sunday. Where required, a written complaint may be forwarded to the Marine Safety Investigations Unit by downloading the Marine Safety Complaint Report.
As I said before I had lodged a couple of these before, and had never heard anything more about it, but at that time I dont think the Complaint Form was available, so I could only lodge it on the Incident Report, which doesnt quite apply.
But now, watch out those inconsiderate boat owners you are now put on notice, come anywhere near me and my boat and carry on without due respect for other water users, and you will be reported!!!!
I am not sure what will happen about my reports, but it has got to be a start, and somebody needs to make these people accountable.
I implore any other boat user who reads this to do the same if they have trouble. I have provided a link to the West Australian information but I suggest you get in contact with your local waterway authority and start getting some action done.
Thank you for listening to my WHINGE!!!!
Any comments welcome, because I would really like to start a dialog about this.
Sat, 12th April 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Well today was much like last week - NO WIND. Although it started out looking promising 2.5hrs into the race we hadnt gotten much further than we did last week, and by the time they had called the race off we had only gotten a little further than last time.
I have checked through the consistency results, and with 2 races remaining we are definitely in the hunt for the overall consistency win, but we will have to see how it all pans out.
Anyway, see my next blog entry about my WHINGE about inconsiderate power boat owners!!!
Tue, 08th April 2008, Perth, Western Australia
This morning I went and took the backstay adjuster to see if it can be fixed. In the past we have used Ernie Redford of Redford Engineering in Osborne Park for work like this. Parts for this equipment are not available anymore, and so any parts that are required need to be fabricated. Ernie had a quick look at it, and I helped him pull it apart to find the problem, and it looks as though the gear that threads onto the stainless steel shaft coming off the actual backstay itself is worn/stripped. We attempted to get it off, but ran out of time as I needed to get to work. Ernie said he would look at it to see what he could do. If he has to make a new cog for it, it will be expensive time consuming and thus expensive, however if he is able to retrofit a new thread into it then it might be "easier".
In the meantime I will do a little bit more research to see how much a new one will cost. Looks like the best/cheapest option is getting it in from the US.
Sun, 06th April 2008, Inshore Fremantle - Fremantle Sailing Club - Fremantle - Western Australia
Today is our annual SS34 Association Commodores Race at Fremantle Sailing Club. This is where the owners of SS34's volunteer their boat, themselves and their crew to the Fremantle Sailing Club for Commodores of some (mainly metropolitan) yacht clubs to skipper in a friendly Jib & Main race. This year is the 28th running of this event.
Brett and I got down to the boat about 8am, as I need to give the bottom a clean before racing. The water was a little cold after the recent rains that we have had. We left RPYC at about 9am for the 1:45-2hr trip down to Fremantle. There was just myself, Brett and Simon for the day. We went through the bridges without any incident. However, after we got the mast back up and were packing things away before getting outside the Fremantle Harbour heads the backstay went slack very quickly. I called for Brett to bring back a halyard to provide extra protection, just in case the backstay failed completely. What had happened was either the thread, or the gearing in the mechanical backstay adjuster had slipped (due to age and wear), and all that saved us from the mast coming down was the pin at the bottom of the threaded rod in the adjuster (thats what its there for). Before getting outside the harbour we attempted to fix it, but we werent having any luck while the boat was moving, so we put another halyard on the stern for safety while we made the trip between the heads and FSC (about 10-15mins).
Once alongside at FSC, we pulled the adjuster off and tried the get the gearing the catch the thread rod, but obviously the wear & tear on it all was too much and it needs a full refurbishment.
By this time it was about 1130am, and we were expected up at the club for the drawing of Commodores and boats, with lunch followed at midday. Dad was coming down to watch the race from the VIP boat, and he reminded me that we have a couple of backup bits of equipment down below for just such an emergency. We put that on, and got every tensioned back up, and were able to make it up to the club for lunch just in time. The back up equipment doesnt allow the same adjustment as the original, but I set it up for what the winds were going to do today (light stuff).
Anyway, once at the luncheon we found out that we had Rick Rehgenzani from The Cruising Yacht Club of WA as our designated Commodore. Commodore Rick is a yachtie, although not too much sailing since taking on his current office, but he is experienced which is good. Obviously not all yacht club Commodores are yachties, some are power boaties, and dont have much idea or experience skippering yachts. We have been pretty lucky over the years in drawing mostly yachties.
Anyway, Rick brought his daughter Zoe along, who had just come back from delivering the new Marten 49 (Optimus Prime) from Sydney, New South Wales to Rockingham, Western Australia.
We had a delightful lunch provided by FSC while the crews and Commodores got to know each other.
We then headed down to the boats to head out to the start line, and for the Commodore skippers to get a feel for their chargers (and owners to start to worry with somebody else skippering their boat). For me I had full faith in Rick. Dad headed out on the Precision 50 VIP boat to follow the fleet around.
Our main rivals for the day would be Constellation (Mike Finn) with Commodore Mark Fitzhardinge from RPYC (yachtie), and Huckleberry.
We got out there with a bit of time, so Rick was able to get a good feel for the boat, and we headed for the start. We started out 10-15 seconds behind the start gun, but right on the boat end (good position). The winds were perfect for our old sails and the temporary rig settings we had. We powered away windward to all other boats, and started to pull out a bit of a lead, while Brett was topsides looking for the first mark. We made the first mark ahead of everybody with Arwen, Huckleberry & Constellation 45secs to 1min 30secs behind.
It was a tight reach across to the next mark and we maintained our lead. The next leg was a run downwind, and as we have banned spinnakers for these races to make it more competitive, the SS34 is pretty slow. But, again we maintained our lead at the 3rd mark, with Huckleberry and Constellation closing in on us. We headed to the 4th mark, which was a small beat to windward, and still maintained our lead, and to windward of our pursuers. Rick was doing a great job of skippering, and was getting a real feel for Swagman under our guidance. That was the 1st lap of the course, and there was supposed to be another the same, but time was getting on and the Race Committee decided to call a shortened course for the next mark after a traditional beat to windward.
We were able to maintain a lead over the faster Constellation all the way up, except for the last 10-15 boat lengths, where there superior performance & better sails beat us across the finish line by about 2 boat lengths and 4sec's.
But, we were extremely happy with our performance, and Rick was thrilled. It meant we were in line for a reasonable placing on handicap. We headed back to FSC for drinks and results.
FSC put on afternoon tea, and drinks, and results were announced. Because of the half seriousness/half fun type of race this is they award the 'Two Knot' Trophy to the last place getting Commodore. They then announce the remaining places upto 1st place. Each Commodore and owner receives a special bottle of FSC wine for competing. Anyway we were the last to be announced, which meant we won on handicap. We were absolutely thrilled, and Rick was ecstatic, considering our difficulties with the backstay adjuster and almost not being able to race. So we picked up the Perpetual Commodores Race Trophy that goes back to the winning Commodores yacht club, and the winning owner gets the boats name on the David & Kathleen Walters Memorial Trophy (introduced in the 25th year which we inaugurally won).
This is the 4th time (equal top with Delphis) Swagman was won the Commodores race (2 with Dad running the boat & 2 for me), and now the 2nd time we have won the Walter trophy.
We then had the normal celebrations, and a few more drinks before hopping back on the boat for the trip back up the river to RPYC. We go back just before 8pm, so its a long day, and then headed home.
Sat, 05th April 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Today started out looking as though it was going to be a very wet day. It was raining heavily all morning, with no wind. So, on the way down to the club I went via Work Clobber to get some white trousers for the kids, and Ranger Camping to get some cheap wet weather pants, also for the kids.
We got down to the boat a little late, and rig the boat while it was still raining, but it was clearing. Some wind started to come in from the NW, but by the time we got to the start line the clouds had cleared and the wind had dropped to virtually nothing.
The SS34 doesnt like this sort of weather, and the trick is to just keep it moving, and it's weight will get it there. We had a reasonable start, for this type of day, and covered Kungari (another SS34) for a few hundred metres until they snuck past us, basically with better sails. We tacked away looking for wind, and found some, and then tacked back along the rhumb line. We then tacked again looking for more wind, and Kungari continued on towards the first mark. We found a bit of wind, but a petered our really quickly and we ended up being left in absolutely nothing for a long time. Kungari round the Foam Bouy well in front of us, whil we drifted along in absolutely no wind. We finally made it, and got the spinnaker up, but this small, heavy spinnaker doesnt do much for us in these conditions.
We kept the boat moving up towards Freshwater Bay, which everybody had entered a good 20-60 minutes earlier and nobody had come out yet. So, I guessed that there was no wind in there. Which once we got to Point Resolution we realised that was the case, and obviously they had entered the extremely slow move transition zone between the NE'er & NW'er. We got through the transition zone very quickly and continued on upto Middle Spit. This whole time we were making better speed through Freshwater Bay than all of the others.
We rounded Middle spit and put the spinnaker up again, but the wind dropped out again. By this time it was closing in on 4pm, and I saw the Committee boat coming round signalling Abandoned Race. So, we go the sails down, started the engine and went back to the club.
We were actually hoping for a result today, as our main competition for Consistency didnt sail, and a result today would have been some better point over them. But thats life.
Sat, 29th March 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Well we had everybody aboard except Vera.
Brett did the foredeck by himself again today, and did a great job, and we only had one twist in the last spinnaker set, because we didnt pull the sheet on quick enough.
We had a great start on the pin end which was favoured, and were lucky there we didnt end up being covered by one of the BW8's, as he broke the line, and had to go back and re-start.
We ended up being 4th to the 1st mark, and popped the spinnaker for the long leg upto Middle Spit in Claremont Bay. On the following windward beat back up the course we had a nice dual with Kungari, finally edging them out at Dee Road with a nice cover, and then a shy spinnaker across to Dolphin East, and then another beat upto Como Buoy.
Then the spinaker run to Armstrong with Kungari right on our stern with a bigger spinnaker compared to our small one, so we played luffing tactics most of the leg, with us pretty much winning out because we could hold our flatter/smaller spinnaker longer. However, once we squared off to run to Armstrong they over took us with the bigger sail area. Upon coming into Armstrong we gybed over to Starboard, giving us right away over Kungari, and got our bow just in front of the stern to be able to call them Port & Starboard, however they didnt give way. I called a penalty but the did nothing. Not really sure what happened on Kungari, whether they decided to ignore us or they didnt hear us. So, they didnt end up doing any penalty turns, and thus I put up the protest flag.
We continued on with them just in front of us at the spinnaker set at Outer Dolphin, and then the leg from Knot Spit to Poplar I thought was too shy, and so wee dropped the spinnaker. Which turned out we called have held, as a couple of other boats held theirs including Kungari and they got away from us. We set another spinnaker from Poplar to Crawley, with a twist, and then the short beat to the finish.
We ended the day 4th on handicap, which gives us a little more space on the top of the consistency table.
I went and spoke to Geoff Connor on Kungari about the protest, and he said he didnt see anything, and said he would retire from the race. I went to put the protest in anyway, and then found out the Kungari had crossed the start line early and was already disqualified.
A good day in all, with me able to concentrate on some tactics and able to rely on the crew during some interesting situations. With Brett gaining experience on the foredeck, thanks to Vera, I am able to worry about one thing less. And, having Grant Cullen on board is of great help too, as I know he is always looking for things that need doing.
Sat, 15th March 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Today we were just down to myself and 2 crew (my son Brett and Grant). This meant it would be touch-n-go whether we flew a spinnaker or not. But, the winds were perfect for it, and Brett's ever increasing confidence & experience on the foredeck help make it work well. Also, Grant's ability to see things happening and take action was of great assistance too.
We had a good start, and with the wind towards the West again took a similar northerly position on the river like last week. Although I suspect it wont work on the next race day. This meant that we were able maintain a good position towards the front of the fleet.
This time all of the spinnaker work went perfectly, even being so short of crew, and we were able to maintain a good lead over the other SS34's.
We picked most of the wind shifts well, and Brett & Grant worked well on the genoa during tacks.
We ended up about 6th or 7th across the line, with only the faster BW8's in front of us, but with quite a break on the rest of the fleet.
We ended up 2nd on handicap, which was a bit of a surprise considering our handicap.
Overall, it was well done by us all especially Brett & Grant.
A week off for Easter and then back into, hopefully with a full strength crew.
Wed, 12th March 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Brett and I stopped off at the boat this afternoon on the way home to fit the new Genoa halyard. After whipping the ends, we re-threaded it easily by going end-to-end with the old one. Just have to go down early on Saturday, before the race, and whip the snap shackle/knot end to make it more secure. Now that we have a smaller diameter, 12mm Spectra v's 14mm double-braid, it runs through the new halyard clutches and it will make life that little bit easier.
Sat, 08th March 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Back to racing today. On the way down to the boat I picked up some new 12mm Spectra rope to replace the Starboard Genoa halyard, as the old one is just old 14mm double-braid that is too tight to run through the new halyard clutches. However, I didnt get enough time to run it through as I needed to the clean the bottom of the boat.
Anyway we got out there racing with a couple crew shot, so Brett had to do the foredeck by himself. Even though he complained that he couldnt remember what to do, apart from a bad spinnaker set (and having to pull it down), which was partly my fault anyway, he did a fantastic job. He did 3 out of 4 successful spinnaker sets, all drops were great, and 2 gybes by himself, as well as coming back and manning the the genoa winch when he wasnt sorting the foredeck out. He ended up buggered, but I have to take my hat off to him, he took the challenge on and completely succeeded. It has got to be a huge confidence boost to him for working on the foredeck. And, Vera said she has probably done herself out of a job.
Anyway, we had a good start about 5sec's off the gun right on the boat end. Today the wind was in the west, and that normally means you take the Northern shore on the windward beats. The S80's started 10mins before us, and I watched one (Bluebird - Tony Johnston) go to the north and end up well up the fleet at the top of the beat. So, I was pretty sure that was a winning tack, and it was because the BW8's normally would beat us up to the 1st top mark (especially in these conditions), but I crossed the whole fleet 80% of the way up before getting caught in some lighter stuff at the end of the beat and dropping back slightly.
Then, the spinnaker set was a mess because of a confusion provided by me, and Brett second guessing himself. But, we got it down and continued the short downwind league under poled out No1 Genoa, and didnt loose too much time.
I went up a reassured Brett about what happened, and got him straight in his head, and all of the rest of the spinnaker sets, drops & gybes were absolutely perfect.
We finished the race about mid-fleet, and with our heavy handicap were about 11th on handicap.
As I have said before our historic heavy handicap, and deteriorating sails are really hitting us at the moment, but we will soldier on.
All in all we had a great day, and very positive.
Excellent work Brett.....
Thu, 06th March 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
This afternoon I quickly popped down to the boat to check it out. I checked the bilge and found the normal amount of water in it, although I think it is time for me to clean the automatic bilge pump as I dont think it is starting automatically at the correct setting.
I also noticed that there was a bit of a layer of oil on top of the water. This is pretty normal for our old Italian Arona motor after a long journey under motor like what I did on Monday evening.
So, Saturday I will go down early to the boat before the race and clean the bilge out (quite an easy, but messy job), and clean the bilge pump as well. The bottom is starting to get a bit of slime on it (which is not good for racing) so Brett and I will give it a quick clean at the same time.
Tue, 04th March 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
I mentioned yesterday the RPYC are re-developing the marina. They are replacing 3 of the 5 hard jetties with floating jetties, as they have been around for many a long year and are desparately I need of replacement. Unfortunately our jetty (B) is not getting replaced, because it is pretty good condition.
So, as they are floating jetties there is no need for weights on the pile end of the mooring lines, and there are many spare just sitting on the club lawn waiting to be disposed of. I had noticed last week that we had lost a couple of our weights. The chain had probably rusted through and they dropped off. So, I went and checked with the Club Manager to see if I could take a couple of the ones from the old jetties.
Brett and I then only spent a couple of minutes hooking them on to the mooring line. Now the boat will move less in the pen when a bit o wave comes through.
Mon, 03rd March 2008, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
This afternoon I decided to take Swagman out by myself to give the motor a good run, and get some real charge in the batteries. So, initially decided to head out from RPYC and head down the river to the Point Walter/Claremont area (about 30 min motor away at 5.5kts). The weather was really nice so I decided to continue down river around Point Walter, through Blackwall Reach, past East Fremantle and to the Fremantle bridges. Which I either turn around, drop the mast and continue on to sea (but I didnt have the gear on board to do), or smash into the bridge. So, I just turn around, although the temptation was to drop the mast and continue out into the ocean, and just go....but.....
There were quite a few boats out returning up the riverfrom Rottnest Island, but it was a very pleasant outing.
Got back about 7pm, and this was the first time I put the boat into it's pen at RPYC by myself. But the wind was kind and it was simple. The boat basically faces WSW in the pen, and we are will protected by the shore, but it is a shocker in anything north of east. Although the redevelopment of the marina will improve this with jetties being built further out to accommodate new pens and more boats, and this will protect us a lot more. Plus they are putting on wave attentuation devices to reduce the slop in the marina from NW'ers and passing boat traffic.
Thu, 28th February 2008, Fishing Boat Harbour, Fremantle, Western Australia
Well, this evening Vera completed the practical assessment for her RST, and passed with flying colours. Last week she finished 3 evenings of theory with 100% in the theory test.
The Recreational Skippers Ticket (RST) was introduced by the West Australian government a couple of years ago in an attempt to regulate the operation of recreational craft within Western Australia. Previously it wasnt required to hold a license, and a lot of people would go out and buy a boat (power or sail), never having owned a boat before, and not have any idea about the Rules of the Sea, how to maintain the boat, basic understanding of boating, and using waterway (both inshore and offshore). Ultimately the would have accidents hurting themselves or others. The RST was set-up hopefully to make life safer on the water by educating people.
I'm afraid it is a bit of a money raising exercise by the government, as well as the numerous 'so-called' qualified instructors and assessors.
Anyway Vera did hers wtih the Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue Group, and she said they were great.
I did mine a few years ago through Royal Perth Yacht Club, and because I had owned boats before, I just had to sit the theory test - easy.....
Congratulations Babes.....well done.....
Mon, 25th February 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Another average day today. It was the Bricklanding Trophy today. Brett was sick and Vera has finally decided to give her shoulder a break for the season, so we were able to pick up an Etchell skipper to crew for us, and he was very good at trimming.
Grant did the foredeck and did it well.
As I have said before the No 1 genoa is definitely getting tired and I cant get the pull out of it that I used to, and that is certainly not helping. Finished across the line behind Kungari, and 5th on handicap.
Now a week off for Labour Day long weekend.