the things i've learned sailing
27 June 2012 | darwin
10-15 clear skies
This is now the second version of the same set of events from my perspective. For all of you that don’t know me I’m Kelly. I joined Grant and Nicole in Cairns as crew. I knew nothing about sailing till I stepped on the boat. Now a month a month and a half later, I know the basics. I’m sure it takes years to really know what you are doing.
I was nervous and excited to leave Sesia. Nervous for a few reasons; one we had mechanical difficulties a few days earlier on our first attempt to cross the gulf. Two I knew that I would have to step up to the plate with the sailing for this trip to go smoothly. Three I wasn’t sure how I was going to deal with rough seas. Up until then I hadn’t had any sea sickness but all of the sailing had been relatively flat. The first two days were really smooth we motored most of the time. That being said I still had to wake Grant in the middle of the night once or twice for help with one thing or another. Better safe then sorry. At some point in those first two days the transmission started to leak a bit of oil. We were all very happy when the third day picked up and we could turn off the engine. The wind picking up made for a rockier sail but this meant I only had to do engine checks every half hour. I appreciated this because it is small, hot and smelly in the engine room. All went well the last day; the kids were good, calm and well behaved. Still it was nice to see land. I found it hard to sleep in rougher waters. We took a couple of days in Cape Wessel to recover. I think the first night I slept 12hrs. straight. Unfortunately it was too rough to leave the boat. We kept ourselves entertained playing with the kids, with unsuccessful fishing attempts and general relaxing. Our next leg of the trip was only meant to be 200nm but half way through we extended this to 300 plus so that we would miss getting stuck in really strong winds further along. The first night of three was very rolly. Things flew everywhere and I don’t think anyone got very much sleep. Things calmed down from there and by the end we were motoring. Then we had another day or two of rest. At this point I’m confident now having two three day sails under my belt. Our next sail was only SUPPOSED to take 18 hours. No matter how much you plan things, they do not always work out that way. That sail nothing seamed to work out as planned. We ended up in 2.5m swells (big ass waves) with the wind and current against us. For 5 hours all we could do was go back till the tide changed. Needless to say both me and Grant spent all night in the cockpit. It was a long night. At one point we had said if the tide doesn’t change by 3:30 we will turn around. At 3:00 we finally started to make forward progress. It was still very very rolly but at least we now going in the right direction. Sometime through the night an empty champagne bottle got dislodged from somewhere and started rolling across the back deck. I go to get it on one of my checks and fell. I got the bottle but ripped up the top of my foot on the non skid in the process. As morning comes things calm down and I’m able to get an hour or two of rest before we anchored .In the end the whole trip ended up being 24hours. After that we were extra careful coming in to Darwin. Going down the channel we just flew. That was the fastest I have ever seen this boat go. This time we got in before the tide changed, it was close though. Once in to Darwin you would think that I would be safe from injury. No, walking back to the dingy from an outing of ice-cream I tripped on a piece of steel just poking out of the sand on the beach and manage to put a deep hole in my good foot. What are the chances? And that has been my experience as crew on Wandoo.
Some of the things I have learned along the way:
1. It’s really hard to have a shower when it’s rolly
2. The wonderful feeling of being able to look in every direction and not being able to see land
3. It is possible to tack backwards.
4. Beer tastes even better after three days of sailing straight. (even if it is light beer)
5. If you are going for a long sail and you're not on watch try and sleep even if you don’t feel tired. You will be thankful for it later.
6. I-phones are majic. They can sometimes pick up reception in the middle of nowhere.
7. The first and last hour of watches go by the quickest(this might be just me)
8. What to do if we are sinking(I probably should have learned this one sooner)
9. Nuts are a great snack and for some reason taste better in the middle of the night.
10. No matter how much you have secured things, if it is really rolly something always goes flying.
11. I have bad wind karma. I can kill the wind by entering the cockpit. Unless of course we need the wind to die down.
12. There are some things that will get me kicked off the boat. For example chewing gum and playing U2 or REM.