21 January 2011 | Laurieton
This large "Outdoor umbrella" that we had no use for at home, does make very good shade for the cockpit, although it is heavy & quite cumbersome to put up, it covers most of the cockpit. I just need to fabricate a stainless steel socket for it (similar to a fishing rod holder), that can be clamped to the pushpit. Obviously it can only be used on calm days at anchor, & (as someone pointed out) it does look like a giant "cocktail umbrella"! :)
My first solo coastal passage
16 January 2011 | Laurieton to Broken Bay
Laurieton To Broken Bay
Departured Laurieton 0730 Thur 18th Mar 2010,
Arrived Broken Bay 1630 hrs Fri 19th Mar.
Time taken to do trip = 33hrs
Avg speed = 4.85 kts
Max speed (that I noticed on GPS) 6.8 kts
Fuel taken onboard = 67 lts
Fuel used = 13 lts
Engine hrs = 6.5 hrs
Lts fuel per hr = 2 lph
Breakages = $99 for new traveller car
Two personal goals where achieved with this trip..
1) To attempt a solo coastal passage
2) To get my own yacht to a Top Hat event.
Departed Laurieton only 1 & a half hrs after I'd planned to leave(I thought this was pretty good! for me!) still had an outgoing tide, we can have upto 2 & a half hrs over-run here at Laurieton. Motored for the first 5 hrs, luckily Phillip(Seaka) had dropped by the night before & suggested I take a pair of ear muffs, in case of many hrs of motoring, this proved to be a fantastic idea & did save me a big headache from the noise of the outboard in the cockpit well.
I was fortunate enough to meet with Peter(Marinka) a few miles off Diamond Hd, we had been keeping in phone/email contact for the previous few weeks, as we were both planning to leave around the same date, but Marinka going Nth & Night Cap going Sth. We chatted for about 10 mins then we both headed off in different directions & within minutes Marinka was a small dot behind me. (The attached photo is of Marinka, with Skipper Peter & crew Glen).
The NE'rs slowly started to come in just before midday, so I hoisted the main & #1 genoa & motor-sailed for a further 1.5hrs just to use up the remaining litre or so of fuel in that fuel tank.
We were making good time averaging 4.6 - 5.4 kts.
A little motor sailing video:
After the fuel ran out of that tank, I pulled the motor out of the well & put it on the pushpit, also didn't notice any reduction in speed as the NE'rs had strengthened.
Saw many pods of Dolphins, some of them very large, amazing to watch from the bow as they come into the bow pressure wave from the sides. Saw one Dolphin showing off doing backflips only 15mts away, & another with his /her baby jumping together in perfect formation, very cute, pity didnt get that on film.
Made Seal Rocks just as the last of the days light made it possible to (only just) see the offlying rocks & I passed to their E.
The wind was starting to back to be more NNE, remaining on this port tack I was getting pushed slightly further out to sea, but considered this a better option than gybing & risking passing too close to the (unlit) Broughton Is's.
Just before sunset the winds really dropped off & I was fooled into leaving the full set of sails up. This broke one of my golden rules which is to reduce canvas over-night, but I was rewarded with making good ground during the day & didn't want to slow up now, classic school-boy error .
Naturally the Nth'erlys really started to punch in around 2200, I was overpowered but didn't fancy the reefing procedure solo at night, was making very good time still so decided to carry-on, personally ive found it easy to do nothing & just soldier-on(especially when feeling a little queasy), than to make the initial effort to improve the sails or any task that happens to arise, a mindset that hopefully I can recognise and address on future passages.
I feel in love with my new ST2000+ autopilot during the trip, Peter had named his "George", mine seemed to have a beautiful feminine quality to her & she was named "Jade". Jade didn't fancy steering an overpowered yacht at around midnight, so I was relegated to hand steering, ive forgiven Jade as I was reasponable.
Knowing from my regular chart plotting that I was well offshore(at least 30nm), this would explain why I never saw any onshore lights, no lighthouse lights, not even the loom from the lighthouse lights, however I could see a faint loom of light in the sky, I picked to be Newcastle.
I forced Jade back to duty around 0200, & while I was downstairs doing some Nav we gybed(I'd been using a preventer earlier, but for some reason it wasn't on now), I was back in the cockpit in a flash, & grabbed the tiller & the mainsheet, by the time I'd checked the compass we were gybing back...I held the mainsheet to try & cushion the shockload but it was too much...the saddle on the traveller car broke & I was left holding the mainsheet connected to the end of the boom, also during the gybe the genoa got tangled around itself & the forestay...thinking bugger what do I do now...I tied the mainsheet to the spare jib sheet winch, & thought I'm going to lose the headsail here for sure, but managed to free it. While still making 5.5-6 kts I wondered how long I could keep going like this??
She really wanted to round up & shortly after she did, at which point I lowered the main & the boom onto the cabin roof & continued under headsail until daylight to make repairs.
Just before sunrise at 0545, I was downstairs doing some nav in prep for my 0600 VMR log-in, I popped my head up to have a look around ....LAND 300m on my port side!!!! Instantly I looked at my compass, my track was right, but I grabbed the tiller anyway & steered away from this mystery land, a silhouette of tall trees with large white rocks on a gravely beach from horizon to horizon on my E. At one stage I thought about going ashore & falling asleep under one of those 'trees'.
Anyway, at 0600, my brain was still trying to convince my eyes they were not seeing what they were seeing, for a good 20 mins until the sun rose up behind the "land"/cloud formation...wish I'd taken a photo.
(I tried to radio for my 0600 sched but was well out of VHF (& mobile phone)range, I heard them calling me just after 0600 but my replies went unheard, until 0730 when I managed to make contact with VMR Norah Head. What a great job the Marine Rescue Radio volunteers do, we are very lucky to have such a great free service).
Fri morning saw a temporary repair to the traveller, along with the Bulk Carriers & land come into sight, once I saw Lion Is' my tiredness faded & I practised heaving-to.
The lumpiest, most confused seas I experienced on the whole trip was between Lion Is, West Hd & Palm Beach Headland where I put the motor back in the well, almost shredding my shoulder on the backstay in the process.
Moored in America's Bay for the night.
I was so tired on fri night I wondered if I'd even catch my plane flight back home on Wednesday, let-alone participate in the Top Hat Regatta, but woke up sat morning feeling ok.
Night Cap, "Jade" & myself thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
(Got my charts off Night Cap last weekend & after reviewing them...the farthest offshore i got was 35nm at 33deg S (a few mile Sth of Newcastle), so i went a bit off the rhumbline & travelled a bit over 170nm(measured by dividers, as i went through 2 sets(8 AA) of batterys on the old GPS, so lost the distance covered info half way through trip.
That meant my avg speed was about 5.3kts, that im very happy with .
Normally the NE'rs ease at night & motoring is called for, but that night they continued through-out the night, enabling me to make good time.
As well as the http://www.bom.gov.au 4 day marine weather forecast, i also found their wind forecast map very handy, http://www.seabreeze.com.au was also helpful.
When the headsail wrapped around the forestay, one of the bowlines tied to the clew failed...so that made the resetting of it a bit more trickier.
Also 50% of the time the bowlines get caught on the shroud when tacking.)
My first coastal passage
16 January 2011 | Gosford to Newcastle
This is about the Top Hat, that I owned before Blue Moon.
After buying "Night Cap" TH 25 MkIII, in November the task was to get her from Gosford to her new home port, Laurieton on the mid north coast of NSW.
This task proved to be both a longer process than i thought & to cost more than i anticipated.
Gosford to Newcastle
This passage was a big learning experience, we under-estimated the time it would take to do it, estimated the nav calculation at 4kts, but the predicted SW never arrived, in its place we had a 18-23kt NE to beat against!, this threw the schedule out the window!.
I made a lot of mistakes, eg - didn't take any precautions to avoid seasickness (since found "Kwells" work well for me), neglected to Log on with the VMR (seasickness played a part here, not wanting to talk on the radio, now log-on before pulling anchor), didn't organise proper food/lunch , (snacks all day arent good).
We were forced to do an unplanned night sail, making Newcastle at 3am, with only a few litres of fuel left (now carry enough fuel to motor the entire way).
Newcastle to Laurieton approx 106nm.
Had to leave the boat at Newcastle marina (that was the expensive part) over xmas & NY, until having
some spare time coincided with favourable weather.
Organised a mate as crew, not a sailor but an ex-soldier in an eastern
block army, he said he was used to suffering, so i thought he's the
Logged On with the VMR!
Left Newcastle early on fri 16th Jan, just after a weak southerly had
come through, S/SW winds fairly light so motor sailed to keep to the
schedule!, arrived Shoal Bay Port Stephens, early afternoon well
before the predicted stronger S change that nite, btw great place &
plenty of courtesy moorings. No petrol station in Shoal Bay, so caught the bus to Nelson Bay to replenish the fuel.
Was a fairly strong S change that came in about 10PM & was still very
strong on sat morning so hung around & prep'ing boat till 1300, then
set off (again obviously logging on etc),
had an excellent sail !!, doing around 5 - 5.5kts(on gps) , i estimated
in 20-25kts of SE, 2-3m swell, careful Nav was required around Seal
Rocks, with frequent plotting position on chart, glad we cleared them
with some daylight!, they are a surprising distance offshore, we were
a good distance to their E. Wind died around 2200, so motored thru the
night, then sailed again when a light SE arrived in the morning, we
had timed the arrival at Laurieton bar to be there at the slack tide,
which made the bar benign, easily crossed, most of my family was on
the breakwall to greet us!,
& we had an escort of Dolphins 3 times during the trip, fantastic!
a short video we made:
Trying to connect the mainsail to the mast.
10 January 2011 | Home Port
I'm having trouble trying to connect the along the "luff" front of the mainsail to the mast, this is one attempt, where I diagonally laced the eyelets of the sail around the mast but upon raising the mainsail, it continually snagged, forcing a trip to the mast to un-tangle(the lacing) & it caused a lot of friction & drag, so im looking for a better method of attachment.