Owl & Pussycat

The adventures of Jim and Isabel aboard S/V Sonsie of Victoria

Sonsie of Victoria - general information

02 June 2016
Hello and thanks for looking us up.
Sonsie of Victoria is a Canadian-registered Southern Cross 39, hull #12. A cutter by rig, she was designed by Thomas Gilmer and built in Bristol, Rhode Island in 1985.
We are not always as up-to-date as we'd like to be with our blog, but you can usually view our current location and track Sonsie of Victoria at marinetraffic.com using our MMSI number which is 316 014 991.
Or you could try this link:
If you are on Facebook, please feel free to add one or the both of us if you'd like to see more videos and photos as we often post there.
This photo was taken in Clayton's Corner, Bathurst Harbour, in SW Tasmania March 2015.
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A 50 knot welcome to South Island, NZ/Aotearoa

29 February 2016
Land ho!

The wind faltered as we approached the coast. Jim says we are going to have to raise the asymmetrical but first I make an early lunch. As we eat from 11:30-12:00, we round the spit at Cape Farewell. Using the binoculars we spy fabulous rock formations like an island with an arch within it. We start a long turn SE to follow the long sandy spit that hooks around Golden Bay. As we throw our dishes into the sink the wind increases, to 25, 35, 40 knots. We hang on for half an hour before Jim says we must turn into the short, steep waves to reef, from first down to third as Sonsie bucks like a bronco.

Soon we have a steady 48-50 knots and sharp breaking seas slapping us on our starboard beam. To reduce canvas, Isabel released the mainsail clutch and the sail dropped down into the blessed boombag. That left us with staysail only, as we had unfortunately prematurely downed the storm jib some hours before! For 5 hours, all the way across Golden Bay (Hold'on Bay) we barreled along bracing ourselves and grasping the helm as we took one hour tricks at the wheel.

After passing the aptly named Separation Point, the wind dropped from 48 to 8 knots! We motorsailed to Torrent Bay to drop the hook at 19:30. We needed to recover, tidy up the higgledypiggedly cabin, eat and most of all sleep.

Torrent Bay in Abel Tasman park is a safe, quiet, calm, peaceful bay. There were half a dozen motorboats and a few other sailboats already at anchor and enjoying the summer evening. Anchoring here prior to officially checking in was actually a no-no from the point of view of customs and all the rules governing ships at sea! We left our AIS on, informed Customs as best we could via the maritime coastal radio service, and did not go ashore or invite anyone from any other boat over. (As we hadn't showered in awhile that was probably best for all concerned !)

We tucked into camembert/nuts/cranberries baked in maple syrup and a Tasmanian white before collapsing into our berth.

04:30 alarm to raise anchor and get going early as southerlies forecast. We motorsailed as we were bang into more headwinds and chop but just for a few hours. We requested via VHF channel 12 to enter the busy Nelson harbour in between cargo ships, a tug and fishing boats, then chugged up channel to Quarantine berth, yellow Q flag on starboard spreader.

Check in at 09:30 a.m went grand. The two pleasant officials were welcoming, and aware and ok with our overnight. They simply wanted to know if we had been ashore. Lots of paperwork and as usual all the remaining fresh veggies were confiscated but overall very little taken (vs Australia!)

Arranged a temporary berth at the marina, had hot showers, and walked to town for ice creams. Three cheers for terra firma!!

The photo we've picked is of the marvellous sunset in Torrent Bay, a great welcome for our first night in a new land.

A wing and a prayer

27 February 2016 | Tasman Sea
Sometimes the sea felt very very empty, but every day for an hour or two we had albatrosses and petrels for company; no other boats or animals - and we are happy to report no garbage either!

Thank you all for your well wishes and prayers. We (like to think we can) feel them rippling across the waves ....

Star gazing

25 February 2016
After the Sun set each night in a long-lingering array of colourful finery, Jupiter paraded across the sky, followed by Mars and Saturn in quick succession in the great Fishhook. The celestial procession only got better as the night progressed. Just before dawn, Morning Star Venus would rise and below her, Mercury. Never before have we seen Mercury so brightly and clearly !!

Here's a photo of Venus in the rigging to the left of the mast. The iPad could not do justice to Mercury, what with all our movement, swooping along in the swells!

Up to 40S then across the Tasman Sea

22 February 2016
Goodbye beautiful Tasmania!

For the next couple of days we sailed and motorsailed North/NE up to 40S in light airs in order to avoid gales predicted to sweep in south of that latitude. While it was a bit of a slog it was thoroughly good advice from our man on the ground, retired meteorologist MetBob.

On our entire trip over to Nelson NZ/Aotearoa we saw only one other vessel, and that on the second night out: a massive multi-level high rise cruise ship all lit up, huge outdoor movie screen on the uppermost deck. Quite the amazing contrast to our little craft plying the dark waters!

Once we turned East Sonsie was in her element! She plunged and swooshed along happily on a port beam reach. We enjoyed superb NW wind for around 7 days on same tack heading due E using our main second-reeled as well as our new, bright orange (storm) jib in tandem with our staysail - a happy pair of sail horses pulling us along !

Tucking in to our last cosy Tasmanian anchorage

18 February 2016 | Tasmania
Almost a year after we arrived, we checked out of Tasmania today, February 18, 2016. Two friendly Border Force guards came aboard Sonsie at the downtown MAST dock. One in particular endeared us to him by filling out the paperwork for a nice tax rebate for all the sails we bought from Doyle Sails!

We untied the lines at 15h local and motored in light headwinds down the Derwent for two calm hours. As soon as we were past Iron Pot lighthouse we met with horrid washing machine conditions in Storm Bay. Isabel's tummy and the autopilot compass decided they didn't like all the bouncing around. Said tummy over-functioned while the compass ceased functioning. This wasn't good! As we were unable to use the windvane while motoring we had to hand steer which is tiring.

After a rocky 8 hours we sought respite overnight in a quiet anchorage behind the wreck in Canoe Bay. Technically we were not supposed to stop after checking out but we needed to recoup. We arrived at 01:00 just as the moon was setting behind the eucalypt trees on the hill. Never has such green fragrant peacefulness been more appreciated!

Here's a panorama photo taken the next morning from Sonsie's bow. We would have liked to have stayed another quiet night but needed to head North to avoid an incoming gale.
Vessel Name: Sonsie of Victoria
Vessel Make/Model: Southern Cross 39'
Hailing Port: White Rock BC
Crew: Jim Merritt & Isabel Bliss
Retired from the skies, Isabel and Jim are headed to the sea, to first sail the South Pacific then beyond. They are members of the Vancouver BC chapter of the Blue Water Cruising Association. Jim is a former member of the Yellowknife NWT's Great Slave Cruising Club, Isabel of White Rock BC's Lower [...]
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Sonsie of Victoria's Photos -

Who: Jim Merritt & Isabel Bliss
Port: White Rock BC