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.
Sat, 16th February 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Well today I was hoping for a better performance than last week, although we did well it was a bit disappointing from the incident point-of-view.
Well Vera was back on board this week, and she called me down to the start very well, and we started about 5 sec's after the gun right on the boat end of the start line. However, we had a BW8 in front of us who could point higher than us so I tacked out onto port to get some clear air.
We then tacked back onto starboard back across towards Applecross to pick up the lift off the point. After we tacked back onto port I had to give way to Kungari by tacking back onto starboard. This was pretty good as we were able to out foot them in speed, although they now have their new genoa working well, and were able to point higher.
We had a couple of twisted spinnaker sets on the downwind runs, which we still need to iron out, and I think after talking to Vera afterwards we have a plan to stop that. Plus, having to use the little 1.5 ounce flat spinnaker doesnt help.
Also, I think the genoa's are starting to get very worn and that is not helping us at all, as I am unable to get the boat doing what it was able to do last year.
Anyway, here and there we had some good battles with the other SS34's. We ended up 6th across the line behind Kungari and in front of Perie Banou III.
All-in-all another average day. I really need to find someway to get some new sails, back there are other more important things first though.
Sat, 09th February 2008, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Today Dad was skippering as Vera (my wife) was unable to sail due, so I needed to do the foredeck with my son (Brett).
We had a reasonable start and made up some time to the first mark rounding at Foam Bouy. As we were putting up the spinnaker our mast collided with another SS34 Perie Banou III. We were in the wrong (Port & Starboard), and although both skippers thought we would miss, Perie Banou III heeled over unexpectedly, and thus their mast made contact with our spinnaker and port side stay. The only damage to them was they last their wind sensors.
We did the obligatory penalty turns to absolve ourselves, and both yacht continued racing.
It just goes to show how tough these boats are when 2 masts collide at 5-6kts each (10-12kts total) without a mast failure or anything else.
Anyway, we both raced on with us having a decent contest with another SS34 Kungari, who just beat us out at the finish.
We ended up getting 6th on handicap at the end of the day, with us all having an enjoyable sail.
Sat, 02nd February 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Back racing today after the long weekend off.
It was supposed to be hot, humid & thunderstorms, but it turned it just to be hot and virtually no wind.
We got out to the start, and there was probably less than 5kts of wind, with the occassional zephyr come through with a wisp.
We started in Melville Water about 5min's behind our start (much like most boats in all divisions) because of being able to make the start line.
It tooks us over an hour to get to the 1st mark of the course (Foam Bouy), and then took us over another hour to get back to approximately where we started on the way to Freshwater Bay (Middle Spit).
I heard the committee boat come around and blow the abandonment whistles, but nobody else on the boat did. So, I called Alysha back to the cockpit, took her sunnies off and threw her in the water. I soon followed, and then Brett. We got back on the boat, stowed the sails and gear while drifting, started the motor and towed 2 boats back to the club.
Then we went upto the bar to cool off.
Fri, 01st February 2008, Royal Perth Yacht Club, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Now that the good weather is back after Xmas; January, February & March is Swagman's traditional Twilight sailing on Thursday evenings from Royal Perth Yacht Club. And, because of the more pleasant weather we like to get our friends out as well.
This week we had Simon Torvaldsen (one of my racing crew & currently building his own SS34 tentatively name "Storm Morning"), his wife Rosemary and youngest daughter Lucy (who sail Optimists). My daughter Alysha also came along, although Brett was working and didnt make it. One of Vera's long time school friend Carol and her friend Paula also came along. Simon also asked if a new prospective SS34 owner (Robin Morritt) could come as well. Robin is planning to build the next new SS34 after Simon's. Although he seems to be a very busy man, and I certainly hope it gets around to it.
RPYC is extending its marina with floating jetties, and so there is a big pile driver barge out off the Start Box, just near the Start Line, so we need to keep clear.
It was a lovely sail out into Melville Water, around Foam Spit, down to Como Bouy, upto Armstrong Buoy, back down around Outer Dolphin, past Inner Dolphin, Knot Spit, and into Matilda Bay around Poplar & Crawley Bouy to the finish.
We had a great little, casual tussle with Colin Sanders on Perie Banou III (another SS34), and Toravean (Farr9.2). Finally pipping Colin on the line by about half a boat length, although the Farr9.2 got away at the end in the light conditions and flat water. SS34's although they like light winds as well as heavy ones, tack a bit slower than the lighter non-displacement boats like the Farr9.2's.
We packed the boat up, and girls headed up to the lawn area in front of the club and got some dinner, while us boys sat down below and talked boats and SS34's.
Hopefully we got Robin hooked and he will get his boat built by the end of the year. Simon's should be in the water in the next couple of months.
We it was a delightful evening. One of those evenings where the temperature is just neutral, with only enough wind to cool you off, but not get you cold.
Anyway, until next time...Racing on Saturday...
Mon, 28th January 2008, Enroute Rottnest Island to Royal Perth Yacht Club, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
We went ashore for breakfast again, and left the mooring at about 11:45am. Put the No.3 blade Jib up again, with a full main.
Vera helmed it out of Thompsons Bay via the channel between Phillip Rock and the Natural Jetty. Most people come in and out of Thompsons Bay north of Phillip Rock, but this cuts about 200-300m off the trip (not much considering the overall distance).
Vera then handed it over to Brett to helm back to Fremantle. We just gave him a bearing and some landmarks to steer for, and he pretty much did it from there himself. With the occassionally re-focussing when he turned to chat and lost his bearing. But, I could see that he is a natural, and with a bit more experience and will become very good. So between Vera and Brett over the next few years, I can see I will slowly lose some of the helming. The 2 of them make a great team; that is why they work so well together on the foredeck when we are racing.
We took about 95mins to get to the Fremantle heads. Sailed inside and once we got into calmer conditions dropped the sails and prepared everything for the mast lowering to get back under the Fremantle bridges. This time of day is a harrowing time for yachts lowering their masts, because of the amount of wash from power boats who have absolutely no idea what they do to yachts and lowered masts. There have been some very serious injuries on yachts because of accidents with masts; primarily caused by excessive wash from power boats.
We got through the bridges reasonably uneventfully, and go the mast back up, and decided to put the sails back up because the following breeze had increased and we would probably end up doing a quicker speed than under motor. Plus it would be quieter without the motor on.
We got back to RPYC just before 4pm, packed the boat away, and put what we could in the back of my car and head back home. I would come back and get the rest over the next couple of days. Swagman needs to get back into racing mode for Saturday.
Sun, 27th January 2008, Mooring RIA30, Thompsons Bay (North), Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Finally got Brett awake so that we could get ashore ready to meet Vera when she comes over on the 8:45am ferry. I left Brett, and his Bacon & Eggs order at the Dome Cafe, and went and met Vera at the ferry.
It was really great to see her after a couple of days, and she was looking pretty tired after a late night (12:30am) helping Simone get ready for a trip, and an early morning (4:30am) to get Simone to the airport.
We went back to the Dome and had breakfast and decided on our events of the day; which was to sail around the island.
After breakfast we nipped over to the General Store & bakery for some provision, and Vera nipped into the gift shop to look at and buyy up some jewellery after seeing it on her last trip to the island with her Rotto girls.
We headed back to the boat, stowed a few things, got the sails up and deck and cast off for a nice trip around the island. We left the dinghy on the mooring, but decided to tow the ski behind us just in case we decided to pull into a bay, and do some exploring.
Vera helmed across the North of the island while I kept watch for craypot floats, and trimmed the boat with Brett.
We headed out past the western edge of the island and, as I hadnt been around here before I decided to give everything a wide birth using the GPS, paper charts and dead reckoning as my guide.
We tacked south as the breeze started to increase a few notes upto 18-20kts. As we got to West End (& the West Patch), I decided to tack back out west for 0.5nm just for safety's sake, and then tack back to the south, slowly bearing away to the east to go across the south side of the island.
By this time the breeze had picked up a couple more know, and the swell was a good 1.5-2.5m. So, with the wind well and truly on the beam, Swagman loved every minute of it.
About half way across we realised that the ski had gone missing, so we tacked back around to the west, and slightly north, to see if we could see it. Mainly white ski, with black speckled on a white-capped sea, we thought it would be hard to see. But, Vera's excellent eyes saw it slightly north of our original track after about 5min's. Then we spent the next 10min's trying to retrieve it, and ended up turning the motor on to get a good position coming into it. Got it back on board and lashed it down. The 2nd time on the weekend it tried to get away. it's trying to tell us something.
We headed back around the east end of the island, with me helming this time (as Vera was a bit tired). The sea & wind was increasing slightly, but nothing to worry about for an SS34.
We came back around to Thompson's Bay and came through between Phillip Rock and the Natural Jetty again. Swagman roared into Thompsons bay and was loving it. We dropped sails and picked up the mooring.
Tucked all the sails away, and sorted everything out ready to go ashore for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
It took us just over 3hrs to go around, and I will have to get a plot of the course, or at least an estimate, as my GPS cant download to the PC anymore.
We went ashore and decided to go to the Governors Bar and the Rottnest Island Lodge. That were planning to show the men's final of the Australian Open Tennis later. But before that started we thought we would head over to the Quokka Arms to see what was happening there, and decided to have pizza and chips for dinner, washed down with a couple of beers.
We then headed back to Gov's Bar, and watched the tennis. It was a good match, but after a couple of sets and many beers we could see what way the result was going to go, so we decided to head back to the boat for the evening.
Chilled for the rest of the evening in preparation for tommorrows trip back home.
Sat, 26th January 2008, Mooring RIA30, Thompsons Bay (North), Rottnest Island, Western Australia
We had a pretty good nights sleep. I only got up a couple of times to tend to some slapping halyards. Bret slept like a log, just as he always does.
Today was a little colder and windier, and it was going to be a nice row ashore, which we did and went to the General Store to get some provisions, and then back to the boat.
The wind stayed in all day, and it was a push to row to shore, so we just chilled on the boat; slept, read and listened to the cricket.
Just after 6pm we decided to make the trip ashore and cook the rest of the BBQ pack for dinner. While Brett was doing that, I quickly nipped to the General Store for some more Fruit Salad for dessert.
After dinner we decided to head back to the boat to get ready to watch the fireworks on the mainland. Initially I thought that due to the sea mist between the island and the mainland we wouldnt be able to see anything. But, as usual come 8:30pm it cleared enough to give us a view of the 3 fireworks locations we could see (Fremantle, Perth City, and Hillarys or Mindarie). We thought Fremantle had a better show than Perth, but obviously Perth's was the primary focus and thus probably went on longer.
During the day more and more boats came over, and by the end I would say only a handful of leased (personal) moorings were empty.
Then we bunked down again for the night.
Fri, 25th January 2008, Mooring RIA30, Thompson Bay (North), Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Well, after a late decision in early January we decided to go to Rotto for the Australia Day Long Weekend. At first I thought we wouldnt have a chance at getting a RIA (rental) mooring so late. But, low-and-behold we got one (RIA30) in North Thompsons Bay (half way between the ferry jetty & Bathurst Point. It was a fair way out just outside the North channel out of Thompson Bay, so there was a little bit of wash from passing boats, but they are generally travelling at a slow enough speed not to put out too much wash.
Given that Australia Day (January 26th) was on the Saturday we decided that we would head over on Friday afternoon, and come back on Monday afternoon.
Vera decided that she wouldnt come over until Sunday as she wanted to drop Simone (her daughter) off at the airport of travel interstate. And, Alysha didnt want to come over as she wanted to go to the South Perth foreshore on Saturday afternoon/evening with her friends to watch the fireworks.
So, Brett (my 15yo son & racing crew mastman) and I decided to head off from RPYC at midday. The previous three evenings I had loaded the boat up with all the cruising stuff (about 200kg's I reckon), as we are normally a racing boat.
It took us a quick 90min's to through the Fremantle bridges, then about another 20-30min's to get rigged for see (after dropping the mast to pass under the bridges), and set out from the Fremantle heads. As soon as we got outside, Swagman just took off. She got the whiff of the sea air in her sails, and felt that beautiful swell and sea water against her belly, and she was back home.
The SS34 belongs in the ocean, and is ultimately at there best for long ocean sailing. Although, they can well and truly hold their own around the bouys on a Saturday afternoon, and short passage races.
We had a beautiful 15-18kt SSW on a 33C afternoon, with the No. 3 blade Jib, and the full main, and she literally trucked along. After looking at the GPS just before Rotto we averaged about 6.2kts, absolutely beautiful. Even with all of the extra weight on board, we had her trimmed just perfectly.
As usual the closer we got to Rotto, and as the afternoon wore on the wind started to come upto about 18-20kts SSW. Anyway it took us about 95min's to get to the edge of Thompsons Bay. I decided that seen as it was such a nice sail, we would enter Thompsons Bay between Phillip Rock and the Natural Jetty, which I had only gone through coming out of the island. So, just a new experience.
We sailed right into Thompsons Bay on the edge of the moorings towards the Ferry jetty, and dropped sails, and motored over to North Thompsons to look for our mooring (5min's). It was out a little further that what I thought from when I booked it, but it was a last minute booking, so you cant complain.
We stowed the sails, and got the boat set up for a nice relaxing weekend. Because Swagman has basically been raced since she was built in 1979, and was never really targetted to do any cruising, her fit out inside is pretty basic, but accommodating. So, a couple of years ago when I took over the boat from Dad and we decided to start cruising a bit in between racing, I built some bunk boards that lies across the settee bunks on each side, and this basically gives us a Queen size bed area (if not King size) to sleep. Although it cramps up the cabin a bit, but it suits us at the moment, and we make do.
Over the last couple of years I have started to collected the required things to make cruising a bit more comfortable, and at the end of 2006 I bought a very 2nd hand Quicksilver 2.7 inflatable for $200 (no outboard though). It isnt in very good condition but it suits us for the moment. So we pumped that up. We also brought over my Spirit X-training surf ski, so we launched that out the back.
Then I quickly went ashore and got our island pass.
I came back and we did a little bit more sorting out, and then we chilled out for a little while and listened to the Australia v's India Cricket Test match on the radio (disappointing).
Around 6pm we went ashore and cooked up half of the big BBQ pack I had bought for dinner, and had a nice fruit salad and yoghurt for dessert.
Then we headed over to the Quokka Arms for a couple of beers. We then headed back to the boat and chilled for the rest of the evening; listening to the radio and reading, before having a reasonably early night.
I had the bunk boards all to myself, as Brett prefers to sleep in the bottom of the cockpit on a cushion because he likes the fresh air, and hasnt quite gotten used to sleeping below with the movement of the boat. he is slightly susceptible to sea sickness, but he will get used to it.
Thu, 24th January 2008, Perth, Western Australia
Well this is the start of Swagman's SailBlog.
I have inherited my boat, a Sparkman & Stephens 34, from my father, Bill Waldby, who built the boat in 1979-1980. He handed it over to me in 2006 after he found it too difficult to sail the boat anymore, mainly because of his mobility and age.
Swagman is generally a racing boat, having competed extensively off the West Australian coast up until the early 90's. Nowadays we pretty much just race her on the Swan River in club events (our club is Royal Perth Yacht Club from America's Cup fame, although we were previously a long term member of South of Perth Yacht Club until 2005). We have also started to cruise the boat off Fremantle and out to Rottnest island (located ~20km WNW from Fremantle). But, over the coming years my wife (Vera) and I plan to start to cruise her a little wider.
Swagman has her own website Swagman Sailing. Although that doesnt have a Blog attached to it and only has general information.