> Sorry for a very big gap in our blog entries. ATM we are actually in Kupang, but I thought I would fill in a bit of the last month.
We were anchored in Fannie Bay for a few days before grant had any luck in getting a hold of a mechanic... apparently there aren't many and we discovered that "NT -Northern Territory) actually means Not Today, Not Tomorrow, Not Tuesday, Not Thursday. So you have an idea of what we were up against to try to get someone to look at and work on the engine and gear box leaks that occurred on the trip to Darwin from Seisia.
We finally got a guy to come out and then organised to get into a marina on the Saturday (we arrived on Tuesday) so he could work on it.
Getting the boat into the lock to get into the marina was another nail biting experience we don't wish to repeat-EVER! It was like trying to thread a needle getting our 27 tonnes, 50 ft of boat into a narrow entrance with rocks on either side and with a lock wall right in front of us! Thankfully we had Kelly and another friend to give us a hand, and the lock master was very helpful too. We got ourselves safely tucked into what would become a bustling, busy marina packed with yachties frantically working through their "To Do Lists" before the rally start.
When we found out how much the marina stay was going to cost, we were really hoping that it wouldn't be a long stay.
In the meantime, Grant emailed about 40 resumes out to companies in the Darwin area. Basically, he had resigned himself to the fact that the rally dream 2012 was slipping away and we might as well try to find work. As nice as Darwin is in the "winter/dry season" with lots of activities for kids etc, I was NOT really keen on the idea of spending a year in a city where + 30C is average temp rain or shine, you cant swim at the beautiful beaches cause the crocs and jellyfish AND we had no friends or family anywhere nearby, not to mention the astronomical marina fees!
We talked about many other options, but I was close to giving up the rally dream too. After a week in the marina, the gear box leak was "fixed" (although it leaked again on the way to Kupang!!) and the engine leak remained a mystery that wouldn't be able to be looked at until after the rally left anyway. Finally the decision to join the rally was reached about 2 weeks before the departure date, I was actually VERY surprised that grant was in favour after shelling out way more $$ than expected and our savings dwindling. But we decided that we could live quite cheaply for the next 4 months in Indo, and we would go back to work in Oz for the summer. As of this moment, we still don't have a set in stone plan about work, or whether we sail or fly back, but we will have to sort that soon. The only solace in this was that it is NOT just us facing these boat obstacles, trust me, everyone we met has had some sort of problem(s) that they were trying to fix in Darwin!
Our next hurdle, once we decided to go was getting our crew organised. Unfortunately, our terrific crew Kelly had to go back to Canada too early to be on the whole rally, so we were looking at the people who answered our post on the sail indo wall about crew. We got a few responses and were able to meet an experienced young, American couple who seemed really keen (although I had my reservations that old clunky Wandoo wasn't quite up to speed for their liking) and we needed to make a decision before the 20th so visas could be organised. Meanwhile, our other 2 crew options fell flat... but then I got a call from another American guy on the 17th. We brought him out to the boat to have a chat but told him that thew other couple did have "dibs" but had to make that decision soon. That guy was Meetal.
On the 18th, the American couple told us that they were still really interested, but then on the 19th, they ditched us...damn. I called Meetal immediately and told him the spot was his. He had some limited sailing experience, but we weren't getting picky about experience now! So we started to put all the late crew visa procedures into motion. On the Sunday night, Meetal told us there was a girl he met in Darwin that was going to crew on a boat not in the rally, but that fell through. We decided to tell them that if they wanted to share a cabin and bed, she was welcome to hop on IF sail indo and the consulate. That was Becky. As it happened, the visas went through and all crew was good to go.
So we started excited about actually leaving Australian waters for kupang which is 470nm, about 4 + days sail for us. Grant gave Meetal and Becky a crash course in the boat, but it must have been daunting for them heading to the open ocean on a strange boat with no experience! We are not sure how long they are staying on - or if we WANT crew for longer, that will be decided later.
So the 2012 rally was happening... despite the stress of not knowing what we were doing, I was able to enjoy the kiddie part of Darwin with the girls. We were regulars at story time at the library and the school holiday "fun Bus" each week. We also met a little yachtie playmate for Elora, A 10 month old little American girl name Dylan. Her mom, Liz is a new mom and grant was glad that I finally had someone else to baby talk with. We actually have a bit of a baby club; there is also a 6 month old American boy too. I was beginning to feel bad for Ameliana cause the closest yachties kid in age to her was a 6 year old girl with 3 older brothers, and all the other kids were over 8 yrs... BUT at the big organised BBQ, we found Maya, a 3.5 yr old little girl sailing with her parents and grandparents! Needless to say, they became fast friends and we parents are very happy too!
We were able to get to Litchfield National Park for the day with Kelly when we hired a car. Kelly had only just been there, so she told us exactly where to go. It was sooo nice to swim under the fresh water waterfalls! And no crocs either! The girls had a great time swimming too. We also took in the free water park in Darwin, which was excellent, but a bit of a long bus ride out into the burbs, so we only went once.
The last week was a whirlwind of last minute preparation and jobs. We were back out an anchor so we had to coordinate dinghy rides.
We said goodbye to Kelly on the 20th, we were all sad. She became a good friend to all of us and we will miss her. Who knows, she may just resume her crew position on wandoo next year!
Stay tuned for the account of the crossing
> The Wandoo crew!
So Darwin was nice. A bit expensive but nice. So this is written after we left Darwin on the way to Kupang. Here's what we did to prepare & what it cost just in Darwin for a middling sized passage. I got both oil coolers serviced on advice that maybe the o-ring didn't last very long because the gearbox gets overheated. So they got stripped down, including, remove 5 snapped bolts on one and all 6 on the other, acid wash all parts, new o-rings, new anodes, pressure test both then repaint. $810. (new oil cooler if I had to replace one $1500each). Glad I did, because even though I had hosed them out 12mths ago, the outer tubes were quite blocked up. I was told that we were probably losing 30% of cooling. We got 2 of the engine leaks fixed, the coolant leak and the gearbox leak, $235. The big issue was the 1st mechanic, NT Marine, was very busy & couldn't come back & the 2nd guy stuffed around not showing up when he said, taking days to get back to me. Once he'd been to look it over initially, I removed the 54kg gearbox for him then he kept us waiting for 3 days just to tell us it was 'too hard' in the boat & he couldn't do it this week & maybe not next but maybe the week after. Not good enough western diesel dude. So I put the gearbox back together with engine and ran it for 2hrs in the berth. No leak. Still no leak after a further 4hrs of motoring. So I planned to buy another spare 20lt oil. But because it didn't get fixed, I ordered & received very quickly a gasket kit from Engines Australia $283. We got the number of a stainless steel welder from the first mechanic & he turned up & completed the stanchion repair as he said. Thanks Mick Ally $350. Tipperary Marina was extremely helpful, even though fees in wet season were a bit high $595 for 12 day stay. The scariest thing i have ever done on a boat was drive into the marina lock. Drive up a very narrow channel that was filled with moored yachts, then cross out across the river & edge towards this, what looks like a slot in the rock wall with very fast current running across it. The slot is not much longer than our boat, so trying to go slow & aiming for the lock which is 1.5mt wider than us. Very nervous. But all turned out well. Much easier coming out. The Fannie Bay anchorage is a bit average. We had to anchor out very far, we had about 2 meters under our keel at the lowest tide so we could've moved a little closer but if it blows much above 10kts the waves pick up fairly quickly so happy to be out there. It did mean long rides to cart water and fuel $714 oil, coolant, grease, I.R. Thermometer $814. various sundries like water filters & some wire, as well as a new emergency vhf antenna $629 new raw water pump service kit $561 new hoses for toilet
system which has started to really smell bad when used $426 car hire for 4 days $224 charts for Indonesia Malaysia & Phillipines, $1100 plus the rally fee of $525 and the visas $240 total $7505 that's just stuff for the boat. And the only thing I didn't really need for the safety of us and wandoo was the thermometer which was $132 not much of a splurge when comparing. Ah the joys of sailing for free with the wind .
Seisia to Darwin- Nicole's Version, Finally!
We departed Seisia for our 2nd attempt to cross the Gulf of Carpenteria on Wed June 13th at around 6:15am, just as the sun and tide were rising. Unfortunately there wasn't a breath of wind, which summed up the next 40 -odd hours of motoring, despite the hopeful 10-15 knot wind forecast.
Things were fairly uneventful because it was so flat. I was able to comfortably take the girls onto the foredeck for our daily sing song time and to blow some bubbles, which killed about and hour or so. Otherwise, we spent our time reading, doing arts and craft, dancing, exercising and if Ameliana was lucky, watching a half hour of one of her kids DVDs.
Grant and Kelly kept to their 4 hourly watches and I tried to keep the girls out of their way - although they were available to do some reading / entertaining if I needed a hand.
Late on the 2nd day, we caught a breeze and the Spinnaker was hoisted. We pretty much sailed the last 38 hours of our 78.5nm/345nm journey.
Land Ho! We saw the Wessel Islands early in the morning on Saturday June 16, our first sight of land in almost 3 days! I know this wasn't a big crossing for many cruisers, but it was the furthest I had ever been from land on a boat!
Grant was on his watch as we approached the anchorage at Cape Wessel and he seemed a bit on edge. I went to see if he needed some help. It seemed that our depth sounder decided to go berserk about 1 nm from the anchorage. It was jumping from 20 metres to 10m, to 1.4 m and back up, needless to say, with our recent history of running aground, we were nervous. Grant brought out our "manual" depth sounder, which proved useless while moving. Finally he put in the 5.5m spinnaker pole and couldn't touch bottom. We kept turning the sounder on and off, but it didn't read correct depths until we turned further south into the wind and waves, so who knows!
We safely anchored in about 10m off a very pretty, remote and barren landscape. Grant and Kelly happily toasted our arrival with a cold beer.
We had no plan besides resting for a couple of days. We were very pleased with our crossing despite discovering a small leak in the water pump, grrrr- always something! At least we had a spare that Grant could replace in Darwin.
We relaxed until Tuesday, just chilling on the boat because it was too choppy and windy (and we were too lazy) to put the dinghy in for a soaking wet trip to shore through croc-infested waters!
We made the decision, based on weather forecasts to do 200nm to Goulburn Island. We got ready and left on Tuesday evening around 5:30pm. I would say that I considered that night to be the most rolly we had ever experienced.. Based on how many things went flying, the amount of waves landing in the cockpit and the fact that I had to brace myself in bed so I wouldn't roll out (we don't have the lee cloth set up yet). No one got a proper rest between cleaning up the projectiles and the girls were up often as well. Finally the rolling and wind eased off in the early hours to something more comfortable. We sailed easily until 2pm, when the wind died ands we had to motor until 10pm.
The wind was variable all night and poor Grant had to get up a few times to change sails. The girls and I had a much better rest though. On Wednesday, we made the decision, also based on the forecast, to continue sailing to the more sheltered Trepang Bay. This would mean sailing until Friday. Also, Grant discovered a small leak from the gearbox AND some slow leaking coolant on the motor, so we needed to find a mechanic ASAP in Darwin.
Thursday was very much like Wednesday and the wind dropped off at 2pm. The weird thing was we would randomly go through areas that I would all of a sudden have 1 bar of reception on my phone! I was able to send off a few texts to reassure our nearest and dearest.
Grant's anxiety levels were increasing, mainly due to lack of sleep, but also the engine issues AND we found a tear in the Genoa sail that we always use!
Kelly was also feeling the fatigue, but she kept soldiering on. I think that first night really took it out of everyone. I hope that Trepang Bay was going to be a good anchorage, because we all needed a good rest. It was only a 2 day sail to Darwin from there, but I wanted to be anchored somewhere to relax and enjoy our 12 year anniversary. We arrived in Trepang Bay in late morning, very happy, but tired. We put the tarp up, Kelly and I blew up the girl's pool and Grant did the laundry while we all sipped on cold beers.
We spontaneously got two bars of internet reception that night and I quickly sent out emails, texts, got the weather report and checked out face book. We talked about leaving on Saturday morning because the weather was supposed to blow up on Sunday or Monday. Kelly and I didn't want to leave that soon cause we really needed a rest, but we also had tides and currents to consider for the next leg. We decided to delay our departure and on our anniversary morning, I let grant sleep in a bit and we all enjoyed bacon and eggs for breakfast. We had a leisurely morning, but decided to try to catch the tides in the early afternoon to go the 78nm through the strait to Cape Hotham.
We left around 2pm and the conditions were VERY sloppy! In addition, we were punching into the wind. Unfortunately, we discovered that we didn't leave quite early enough to make it the distance we hoped. So, once the tide changed that night, we were against the tide, current and wind for 6 hours, we had to keep tacking and were actually going backwards! Those conditions were even worse than our last experience! Kelly and Grant decided to stay awake together to do the watches and engine checks, and amazingly enough; even MORE items went flying around in the main cabin. The girls were up from time to time and Elora was rolling around so much in her bunk that I brought her into bed with me while I braced myself on the bunk bed all night so we wouldn't get thrown out!
Once the tide changed again, we were able to make up more ground but we were still heading in to the wind. At 1:30pm, we pulled in to the anchorage at Cape Hotham, 23hours after we left on a trip that should have only taken 14 hours! Once again we were very thankful to have a rest and relax. We decided to leave at 1am on Tuesday morning to do the last 40nm, which left enough time to negotiate the rest of the strait and arrive in Darwin at high tide. That journey went much smoother and we could see the welcoming Darwin skyline in the early morning. There was a bit of panic that we wouldn't make it to the anchorage before the tide turned cause we were motor tacking the last 3 nm-sooo close yet so far! Fortunately we dropped anchor with 30 minutes to spare! We toasted our morning arrival with a cold beer- WE MADE IT!! Now to sort out the engine issues....
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.
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
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 !