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Doing laundry in exotic locations
the things i've learned sailing
10-15 clear skies
27/06/2012, darwin

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.

27/06/2012 | Scott Ford
No U2?? Mutiny!
29/07/2012 | Craig
Kelly - you were unfortunatley stuck wth the brother with no musical appreciation. If it had been my boat, he would have been kicked off for not liking either band...which is why we've kicked the whiole family all out of the country until they come to their sense!! It's the girls I worry about - what chance do they stand to hear good music?
DARWIN AT LAST
5 to 10 clear skies
26/06/2012, Darwin

We left seisia late saturday afternoon had terrific fast comfortable motor sail til
24nm when tension pulley fell off kelly looked in engine room but did not see i found 12mins later tried to use snatch block to fix but it started to catch on fire. Bolted to engine block above engine mount using existing holes. Decided to turn back as wasn't sure this was adequate. Tacked an extra 16nm to get back to seisia. Took photos after dismantling it to clean and sent them to roosta and simon both said yes simon said it is stronger than the way it was originally. Left seisia again on wednesday winds weren't as strong so motored for 48 hours out of a 80hr trip. On the trip the gearbox started to leak transmission fluid from the gear selector arm, not much, about a teaspoon every 7hrs or so but enough to start freaking me out. We anchored in two island bay close to auster point. When we were about 3nm away from anchorage the depth sounder started acting up, not giving correct reading, changing from 20meters to 3meters gradually. But giving me the willies something shocking about running aground for the 3rd time. It stopped doing it eventually about a mile from where we anchored. At the second last engine check about half an hour from turning it off the water pump started leaking salt water. Just a couple of drips per minute but enough to really put a damper on the achievement. We stayed there for 2.5days to rest. While there we did a bunch of laundry, changed all the oils, all the air oil and diesel filters. We left 2island bay tuesday night at 6pm winds slightly stronger to start them it died off early wed morning got weather from roosta wed evening saying sunday supposed to be 25to30 so changed direction to sail to cape don. Winds varying a bit spinnaker up spinnaker down genoa, main, and inner staysail up. then down, engine on, engine off. While changing sails on wednesday found a tear on the luff of the genoa about a foot long. Also found chafe holes in the spinnaker sock, at the top where it sometimes rubs on the yankee's furler. Have not slept much on my offwatch during night time i tend to get woken up to deal with sail changes or daytime i can only sleep for 1-1 1/2hrs. Have not made final decision but nicole and i have talked and i will look for work while go darwin for the 4wks before we go and if i can we'll stay 12 months so i will feel better about it otherwise we'll leave wandoo either in indo or malaysia after rally and come back to aus to work for 6months. Thursday sail was quite nice sailed all day from wed till 2pm thurs when started motorsailing, by 3 the wind had died off completely. The gearbox seems to leak where the gearbox joins onto the small bellhousing at the rear as well now. Motored all night no wind at all until 2ish when started 5to10 way far forward. At 450am friday the rear welshplug started seeping coolant. I'm getting very disheartend. We arrived at trepang bay at 10.45 nice place we were a bit far off cos of big reef extending out from shore we could've gone north of it & anchored on the inside of it but winds were calm enough not to worry plus we didn't have to worry about running aground again. I spoke to roosta about issues he explained that the motor has done about 350 hours since new any truck engine that had done the same would be getting the same small problems. The welsh plug prob went in just slightly off or there was a scratch in it and 1 drop every few hours is not much. But if i was worried loosen the heatexchanger cap so there is no pressure in system (which i did). He also said the oil leak is most likely just a o ring or similar & try to relax a little. I also talked weather and we decided to leave to go to cape hotham saturday afternoon to catch the incoming tide through Dundas strait. We left at 2pm low tide was at 307pm. It to narrowest part at 6pm tide & wind working with us doing high 6 low 7 til about 9pm when both started going against us by 10pm tacking thru the wind & tide doing 2knots. Ah well. Started going with tide again at 3am sunday. Ended up being 23 hrs for 86nm. Got to cape hotham at exact time for us to go thru last bit of straits. But unfortunately nicole talked me out of going on. Anchored by 2pm stayed til 1am tuesday to make tide through Clarence Straits and Darwin in daylight. Had super fast trip through clarence strait but unfortunately had to motorsail tacking the last few miles into Fannie Bay. But we are here! I've contacted a few mechanics and am waiting for return calls as well as all the marina's have had calls or emails about a short stay if we can get it all sorted in a month or long stay if we can't. So goodbye for now i'm off to look for a job

Back in Seisia
Barely a whisper of wind , sunny , hot
12/06/2012

So , our attempt to cross the Gulf of Carpenteria came to an end about 21nm on Saturday night. We were just about to eat dinner when we heard a loud bang. We checked things and Kelly looked in the engine room , but no luck. But 12 min later when grant did an engine checked , he discovered that the bang happened when the welded bracket for the tensioning belt for our water pump , alternator AND anchor winch had snapped clean off !!
Needless to say , we stopped the engine and made the decision to turn back. Turning around proved to be a challenge against the current and tide, but we slowly got turned around and managed to begin tacking while grant spent the next 3.5 hrs trying to jury rig something up because we needed the engine to get into the Seisia anchorage. After a couple of trial and errors , grant had success. Kelly & I went to bed after midnight and grant stayed on watch. At 2:30 am the tide changed again and we had to start the engine again. We made it into Seisia on Sunday morn with the hight tide at 6:45am. We did 36nm with the tacking on the return journey.
We contacted a couple of welders that day but getting a mobile welder put to the boat was proving to be difficult and pricey !
In the end , grant went back in the engine room to clean things up and after consulting a couple of friends and family with superior welding experience , it was decided that the job he did was probably going to be stronger than welding it in the end !
So after a weather check , we have decided to leave tomorrow morning in quite light winds , but the wind is supposed to slowly increase over the next 2 days. So fingers crossed that it all works out well.
We will likely not have reception until Darwin , about 10 days , give or take a day or 2... What are we going to do without our Internet fix!?!
Oh ! And we have finally paid our entry fee to the indonesian sailing rally, no backing out now !

possession island to Seisia
10-15knots clear sunny sky
08/06/2012

We had a relaxed mroning the day after running aground at the Cape. OUr goal was to rest and catch up on sleep and decide what to do next with a clearer head.
There was another boat anchored near us who we contacted by radio, and the skipper seemed to have a bit of local knowledge. Grant decided to go over in the dinghy and pick his brain a bit. He found out that the skipper used to be a fisherman up here 25 yrs ago and is now just mainly solo sailing the very big boat he built in california. He was planning to head to seisia- about 7 nm away on the mainland- to provision and then take advantage of the weather window and sail across the Gulf of Carpenteria to the Wessel Islands in a couple of days. We were a bit gun shy about going into the shallower and smaller Seisa anchorage, but this other boat had a deeper draught then us so he said he would let us know how he goes getting in. Meanwhile, we saw the american boat, whom we have been leap frogging with, sail past toward Seisia as well.
So the descision was made to go as well,albet cautiously!
The other 2 boats radioed that they both go safely in and anchored and there was room for us. So we slowly made our way following the leads and channel markers. we got into position and dropped the anchor, but i thought that we were much to close to a catamaran. we decided to re anchor. Second position attempt didn't work so i had to bring the boat around again ( the tide/ current were running pretty swift and we didn;t have much room to manoeuver) as i was about to round a mooring buoy, the depth sounder went from 1.7m to 1.2m ( thats the depth we hit ground) and we drove into a sand bar! Much swearing ensued and i yelled for grant to jump in the dinghy ( which we towed thank goodness) he quickly got in and started pushing the nose of the boat while i reved it in reverse. meanwhile, our helpful neighbour came out in his dinghy and kelly threw him a stern line. But we weren't moving... once again at least it was a rising tide.
Finally another helpful yachtie came in his dinghy and after about 45 min, we got Wandoo off the sand and anchored. JEEPERS!
Once again, Elora was sound asleep in the carrier the whole time ( even through the yelling instructions and swearing) and Ameliana sat quietly next to me just taking in the action.
After Ameliana's nap, we decided to go to shore to explore and check out the grocery store in search of ice cream. it is a small town mainly made up of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders and Tour operators for fishing and trips to Thursday Island. It also has a couple of caravan parks for the people making the 4WD pilgrimage to cape york. It is also quite pretty and has a lovely beach, but once again those darn crocs spoil any chance of swimming.
The grocery store seemed adequate enough ( it had ice cream!), although the prices reflected the remotness of the area. We found the petrol station that would refill out LPG bottles and top up the disel and fuel drums. And there was access to drinking water to top up the water tanks.
So the decision was made to make the most of the weather window to cross the Gulf to the Wessel Islands, bypassing Gove ( where we were going to provision).
With the plan set, we treated ourselves to a gorging of fish and chips at the cafe at the caravan park. It was Elora's first time eating out and she thouroughly enjoyed the grilled fish, some salad and even managed to grab a chip- sneaky little thing!
we were going to try to leave Friday afternoon so the morning was spent grocery shopping for the girls and grant made the numerous dinghy trips to fill the water and then took the trolley with the petrol cans upto the station. the friendly guys gave grant a lift back down to the dinghy.
Once we got home, had lunch and packed everything away, it was almost 2 pm.i didn't think we were rested enough to start the 70+ hour sail, so we decided to leave after the tide turned on saturday afternoon.
Ameliana decided to negate her nap, so we all went to shore in the afternoon. kelly, elora and i were going to walk upto the butcher shop and grant and Ameliana were going to play on the beach.
As luck would have it, a guy named Greg who runs the local fishing charter business was there when we pulled up in the dinghy and insisted on driving us to the butchers, the post box, and the bottle shop! He has been up here for 22 years and loves it. He gave us a bit of a tour and some local history. Ah! small towns- gotta love the people in them.
We tried to have an early night to get as much rest as possible. This morning, the weather conditions to cross the gulf remain the same ( light to moderate SSE winds for next 3 days), although grant is very nervous about getting out of this anchorage without hitting anything!
We are doing the final preparations to leave in about 45 minutes. We won't have any reception except the satellite phone for at least the next few days and possible until we get to Darwin in about 2 weeks, so this maybe the last blog for awhile.
We are getting nervous/excited about this crossing as it will be a very good indicator on how we cope with the passage to indo from Darwin ( which is only about 20 nm longer than the 380nm we are about to do).
Anyway , until next time...


Portland roads to cape york
15-20 knots SE In morning 0-5knots west afternoon
06/06/2012, Possession island

We left Portland roads at about 5:45am on Tuesday morn. We motor sailed for about a hour until the wind picked up. We were ticking along nicely and at midday we made the decision to sail through the night to cape York. It worked out with the tides to go through Albany passage in the morning. There is very strong currents running through there so it's strongly advisable to go with the tide.
We came in sight of the passage entrance about 1 hour after the tide turned. It is quite the pretty channel , although we second guessed our tide reading cause we were only going about 3-3.5 knots WITH the tide! We made it through fine and came into sight of mainland Australia's most northerly point, cape York.
We planned to anchor on the west side of the cape so we could go ashore and do the walk to the tip.
We came around York island slowly and we could see the anchorage. The depth was getting shallower, but as it was just after tide change , we only needed 2m to get through. Kelly was at the helm and I was beside her while grant prepared the anchor. The depth then dropped below 2m and quickly descended. Too late to do anything and we hit mud/ sand bottom. Thank goodness we were not gong fast. But nevertheless , for the better part of the next hour we desperately tried to get our 27 tonne boat into deeper water as the strong current and tide was pushing us toward the island
Finally grant lowered the dinghy , put the 9.5hp outboard on and we tried to pushing the nose around. It took a while but we finally made it.
But wait there's more....
We started heading back toward the anchorage at the mouth of Albany passage , but the current was too strong so we decided to head to possession island. We approached the anchorage slowly trying to get out of the current but a safe depth, grant started to drop the anchor in 10 m when he called to me to turn on the anchor winch do we could pull it back up. Seems we were still in current heading for the rocks . We got out of there and finally anchored further around the corner on possession island. Needless to say that after 31 hours of sailing and 145 nm coupled with coming down from the adrenaline surge of the anchoring escapades , we had had it !
On the bright side , the sail up was great , the girls behaved exceptionally well through the grounding and thankfully it was a rising tide. Not sure of next move, but going into seisia doesn't look good cause there are sand bars like the ones we experienced today all around ... And we are. It willing to press our luck. Possibly goto Thursday island on a ferry or go 100 nm to weipa to provision a bit more cheaply.
Time for a drink and relax

06/06/2012 | Scott Ford
My boss is a sailor. I'm going to read this entry to him and then we're going to have a drink in your honour on a patio somewhere. Sounds exhausting.
06/06/2012 | andrew
Hi guys, Andrew off utopia II here. We had the same nasty experience as you running aground at cape York. We too were hesitant to go onto seisia after this but the channel into seisia has port and stbd marks for the shallowness parts. We went in on 3/4 tide and had a min depth of 4m. It was a good anchorage and had a good supermarket.
morris to portland roads
0-15 knot in morning, increased to 15-20 SE - sunny and warm
04/06/2012, portland roads

We woke up at 4am so that we could get a good start on the 60.05nm to Portland Roads. However , there was barely a whisper of wind and we ended up motoring for the first 2 hours. But the winds picked up, spinnaker went up, engine off and we had a very comfortable sail. We arrived at a very picturesque anchorage at 3:45pm. There are 8 other boats anchored here. W e have been sharing anchorages with about 4 of those boats since Lizard Island, they are also headed to Darwin for the rally.
We haven't been to a mainland anchorage since Airlie Beach. We started to get some phone and internet coverage today while sailing so we googled Portland Roads and discovered that they had a very nice cafe here, but no other facilities were mentioned ( we would really like to get another LPG bottle). Seeing as we pulled in later inthe afternoon, i didn't have high hopes that the cafe would be open.... however the want/need for ice cream made grant lower the dinghy, put the outboard on and check it out.
We said a quick hello to an american couple who we met at Lizard Island, they are very taken with Elora who obediently smiles on cue, and then we motored toward shore. Unfortunatley , the tide wasn't in enough and it seemed that coral and rock obstructed any beach landing ( the ruins of an old jetty were there)... but Grant is not one to quit when ice cream is on the line. We drove a bit further around and managed to weaved our way carefully to land on sandy mud flats.
We pulled up the dinghy and we all trooped down the road in search of the cafe. There were a couple of vacant holiday houses around. I think it is a fishing getaway place, cause there isn't much else to do thanks to the crocs and its about 60-70km from the nearest town- Lockhart River . They do have a post outpost , a phone box , the cafe and each sunday night the Mother ships come in and yachties can pre arrange to have groceries/ supplies delivered. But they DO NOT have ICE CREAM!! In fact the cafe closed at 2 pm but the woman was still there and was nice enough to give us some info. They were also fully booked for dinner tonight?!? and tomorrow is their day off... so we will be heading to Shelburne Bay tomorrow at first light. It about 55nm and the winds are suppoed to be perfect until thursday so far so we thought we would make the most of it before it blows up again.
It would be nice to have an earlier night ( especially with Elora continuing to wake about 3x between 10pm-4am!) but, i am here updating!! Time for bed. After Shelburne Bay it is about 80 nm to Cape York , where we will hopefully have internet again and take a couple of days to check out the tip of the mainland.

04/06/2012 | Craig
There's no stopping a man on a mission for ice-cream...except for a shop-keeper who doesn't have any I s'pose.

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