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Watt sailing adventure
Family sailing adventure - circumnavigation of Australia with two children aged 16 and 14.
Plodding on
Sue Watt
03/20/2013, Near Kangaroo Island SA

Today is day 8 since leaving Esperance and I am pretty sure the boys are a little weary and wondering what it is exactly that they are doing out there! Not that they are struggling but it does seem to be a long journey across the Bight and longer than anticipated. At the rate they are progressing, over the last couple of days at least, they should be in Robe early Saturday morning.
The wind today has swung around to the west and with a following sea they are at last getting conditions that are more favourable.

Today the boys were able to spend some time working on the issues they have had with the fuel tanks feeding into the engine and the inner parts of a ballpoint pen have made some major contribution to things working at last! Ah improvisation! When out at sea the ability to think outside the square is indispensable and to be able to find some everyday item and make it work - well that's priceless!

I think that when the boys get in to Robe they might be a little weary but they will be feeling very happy with their endurance.

Hopefully they will upload some pics then too so that I can brighten this record with something new!

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Fantastic Progress
Sue Watt
03/19/2013, Approaching Kangaroo Island

Well the good news is that I didn't make a mistake when I wrote down the co-ordinates yesterday! I am not at all sure where I did make a mistake or if the boys have simply had some epically good sailing days but they are approaching Kangaroo Island as I type and the tricky slow days seem to be over.

They should hit land in the next 36 hours, if the current conditions continue which will put them tying up at Robe harbour sometime on Thursday morning.

We are so excited!

Once they arrive in Robe and have rested it won't be straight back out but time to do some repairs and sort out some engine issues. The problems they had when leaving Esperance have pursued them the whole way and once they get into Robe they will need to address the problem properly. A couple of days of rest and repairs and then they will be sailing around the corner and into Queenscliffe in Port Philip bay before setting off for the final leg across the Tasman!

Every sailing journey is full of fascinating stories, our phone calls are necessarily brief and we will without a doubt have a great deal to catch up on when we see them again!

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03/19/2013 | Karen Parker
Fantastic to hear their progress
Remember slack water at Port Phillip heads is high tide at Williamstown at the top end of the. bay. Also noted when we came through there the other day that the Navionics chart for iPad doesn't have the Lonsdale lighthouse marked on it. It nshows up on the phone app but not the iPad. Fair winds to the crew , K
03/22/2013 | Sue Watt
Thanks for that Karen - will pass it on when they get closer - winds have improved today amd the boys are doing a little better!
cheers, Sue
Remarkable Progress!
Sue Watt
03/18/2013, Some where in The Bight

In my phone call today I was very happy to record the co-ordinates of where Peter and Mark position. I was very surprised and after plotting their position on google maps I would have to conclude that either:
1. I heard wrong and they are not at this point;
2. I wrote down the wrong co-ordinates yesterday or
3.They truly have had an amazingly good day!
I really hope that it is number 3!
After plotting their position I tried to call back to see if I had misheard but the sat phone was no longer available and so we will all have to wait until tomorrow to find out which it is!
They did have a good day today though, sea-sickness seems to have departed for a while and Peter was in great spirits, telling me that they were going great and had a good sailing day. Stay tuned for tomorrows thrilling update!

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Hove To!
Sue Watt
03/17/2013, Some where in The Bight

The last twenty four hours have seen the boys' face some pretty unpleasant weather, with unexpected strong wind and storm activity. Sitting in the middle of a high pressure system this was not quite what we expected!

The weather information I have been able to provide for them has been erratic and not consistent with what they have actually experienced which is frustrating, whether that is a function of the chaos that is part of all weather predicting or simply a fault in the particular sources I have been relying, on I am not sure, but it certainly is frustrating to tell them that they can expect light winds from the south east and find they have faced strong nor'easterlies.

Last night they decided to heave to rather than battle on. Today with some renewed energy and a meal inside them they are feeling the benefits and sound more relaxed than when I spoke to them yesterday.

We read about heaving to when we were thinking of living on board a boat and cruising around, we read and watched a video - several times actually - it sounded like a wonderful thing to do to deal with unpleasant weather, though I hoped it was something I'd never have to face!

Once again I am reminded what a wonderful opportunity this is for Peter, to learn skills hands on that we have only read about, to be with such a capable and competent sailor and to be able to practice all these amazing skills. Doing the Master Mariner 5 course and the Coxswains provides a great knowledge base for him, but nothing is ever a match for the practical hands on training that this kind of sailing journey can provide.

They have made little 'progress' over the last 24 hours according to the map but it is such an integral part of sailing that you can't control the outcome! Progress must be measured in remaining attitude not miles, in being undaunted by the conditions and not focusing on the distance attained.

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Sue Watt
03/15/2013, In the Bight

From the Collins Compact English Dictionary - Becalmed adj (of a sailing ship) motionless through lack of wind.

Sailing at its heart is dependant. In order to make any kind of progress, or to make the kind of progress desired, there needs to be something happening - the wind needs to be in your favour. If it isn't, there is nothing you can do, nothing at your disposal to correct it - it is an activity which at its very core identifies that there are forces out of our control. And it is an activity which is a respecter of that which is out of our control - to a Sailor, weather is everything and I don't just mean in terms of trying to avoid or counter bad weather - I mean that for sailors there is a dance of connection with the weather that others simply don't get. The ups and downs, the very highs and lows - for are sailor become as important as the air we breathe.

When your life is lived out in a house with walls on a road that doesn't move the weather is there as a kind of backdrop if you like for your days - touching you in small ways - can the washing be hung on the line? Can the grass be mowed? Can I walk to the shops? But in big ways only occasionally - like when a storm or flood or worse is present - then suddenly the weather intrudes and makes its presence more felt. Reminds people, often with a juddering shock that there are forces over which they or anyone has no control. But for the sailor this is a daily, moment-by-moment appreciation. Whether the winds be high and dangerous or low and unstable, their presence is felt intimately. Day and night, 24 hours a day the weather gently or strongly reminds us of the order in the universe!
We don't go out afraid though - we go out informed.

Still sometimes that is easier said than done!

As the boys have been travelling where internet is an idea not a reality and where even access to radio support is scant it has been great to be able to provide them with updates from the more connected world! If only there could be something truly accurate to rely on! I check on the official government meteorology site - BOM and find there is a strong wind warning. When I receive the regular phone call I pass along this information only to hear that today there has been no wind - in fact they have been becalmed for much of the day and had to deal with the frustration of too little wind! Well it may be something that's headed your way, I say, hoping that they are not impacted by anything too robust but at the same time wondering how accurate any of the information I am feeding them is.

I check other sites and can find no other strong wind warnings but depending on where I look I can inform them that over the next 24 hours they can expect increasing wind from the North East, the South East and the East or, if another site is more accurate, wind from the South East, tending Easterly and then North Easterly swinging round by mid-week to the South. None of which is predicted to be above twenty five knots.

Confused? Yes, so are we! Often!

I am reminded that the best predictor of weather a sailor can rely on is the barometer. Sudden rises or falls in barometric pressure are a better warning system than any other thing, reliable and accurate on the spot every time. I'm so glad that we learned this from Mark early on and that on board an awareness of the barometer will guide any and all activity. Getting some weather information for them as they sail is never going to be a match for the simple accuracy of this tool, though of course I will continue to provide them with what information I have in the hopes that some of it will be reliable!

Despite their sense of being becalmed for much of yesterday the boys have made some good progress, albeit slower than they would like. Peter is finding that anxiety feeds sea-sickness so he's working on maintaining a positive mental outlook, not focussing on things that are sources of frustration - speed for example. Good on him I say! And overall things seem to be going well and comfortably for them both.

Even here at home awareness of the weather is my constant companion. Everything is affected by weather even in port! Last night's heavy swells that left strong surges pushing their way around the marina tossing boats about as if they were little more than corks bobbing in their pens, kept me up for half the night, checking on lines, making adjustments, ensuring that we sat comfortably amidst the bumping and thudding of other boats not cared for so thoroughly. Today I'll add some extra lines to help stabilize us before the next high tide and accompanying swell and perhaps get more sleep tonight! One of the sources of weather information we use a lot predicts a period of strong wind will affect us tomorrow so the children and I will pull down our awning this afternoon to ensure we suffer no damage - it will be the first time we have done this on our own so it's sure to be fun!

I think back sometimes to the life we used to live where weather rarely touched us and where we felt more in control and I feel glad that we have formed this greater awareness. Checking aspects of the weather daily leaves us with a more firm awareness I think of what is going on all around us all the time and we are rarely surprised by a seemingly sudden downpour or searingly hot day as we once might have been. And the knowledge that it is out of our control is not a bad one thing - but reminds us that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves.

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In the Bight!
Sue Watt
03/14/2013, Near Middle Island WA

At 5pm this evening the phone rang. 'Sat phone' appeared on the display and I grabbed it happily.

We bought a satellite phone last year and although we have not used it when sailing yet as a family it has proven to be a huge asset. Peter has been able to use it to call me every day and has given me some details about how things are going and where they are. On some of the days we have spoken it has been a little tricky - especially while he was so sick but despite these difficulties, to have access to such a thing is a huge blessing. The other fantastic thing is that I can provide weather information on a daily basis.

Today has been a good one. There has been only light winds and not quite perfect direction, but they have done well and got quite some distance. The best thing is that the sea is not so lumpy and happily Peter is not feeling horrible - he has tablets, acupressure wrist bands and a positive mental outlook! The latter he says is the most important element.

At the moment they are past almost all the islands in the Archipelago of the Recherche. One day we promise ourselves a week or two sailing just around these islands and actually stopping and looking at them! When we did this journey last year we just sailed past, ensuring that we crossed the Bight before a difficult weather system came our way. Then when Peter went the other way late last year he again was needing to simply get there. And its the same now! One day we will travel these picturesque and magnificent islands slowly and explore!

It looks like it will take about 7 days to cross the Bight. They are crossing high, looking to avoid a strong current that prevails at this time of year, closer to land than we did ourselves and they hope to be in Robe SA this time next week.

Watch this space for updates!

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