27 January 2020 | South China Sea
26 January 2020 | South China Sea
24 January 2020 | South China Sea
24 January 2020 | South China Sea
16 January 2020 | South China Sea
09 January 2020 | South China Sea
08 January 2020 | South China Sea
03 January 2020 | South China Sea
31 December 2019 | South China Sea
26 December 2019 | South China Sea
23 December 2019 | South China Sea
21 December 2019 | South China Sea
19 December 2019 | South China Sea
14 December 2019 | South China Sea
13 December 2019 | South China Sea
12 December 2019 | South China Sea
10 December 2019 | South China Sea
At Home - Tasmania, Australia
05 March 2020 | Hobart
Hobart. Today is March 5th, 2020 and we have been back here for just over one month. The time has rushed by because a couple of days after arriving Shonandra went up on the hard standing.
Being back on terra firma seemed a bit surreal at first and it took a couple of weeks for our balance to adjust. It was great to catch up with friends again. We felt as if we hadn't been away, but friends and family noticed that we were missing for a while.
Shonandra wasn't due to be lifted until mid February but a vacancy became available so we didn't argue with the shipyard bosun. To be honest, John and I felt as if we needed to sleep for a month. Shonandra was looking a bit shabby after all her miles but she was wearing the marks with a bit of pride. Never the less we had decided she needed sprucing up. IE a new coat of paint, and anti-fouling.
John started with sanding. I felt very guilty as my back was playing up so I didn't help at all with that bit. John stuck at it and a few days later had the topsides completely sanded off. Next, a couple of coats of undercoat paint were applied with John again doing all the work. Finally, top coat time arrived after Shonandra had been sanded and washed off and sanded and washed off. By this time I my back was ok and I had no more excuses, so I had to start climbing the scaffolding and get to work. What a job. The epoxy paint was pretty sticky and fast work was required to stop it forming a skin and going on in blobs. It did get a bit blobby here and there but we sanded lightly between first and second coats. The end result was a very smart looking Shonandra. A professional painter came and reapplied the top blue stripe and her name. We didn't trust ourselves with that bit, since half the time John and I sounded like an old Laurel and Hardy comedy giving each other uninvited suggestions on what method of paint application was best.
So....what about the future? We have decided to keep cruising but....(Shh..please don't tell Shonandra yet) we are thinking of selling her and buying a boat more suited to the future cruising we have in mind. We really need a true 'off road' vehicle for the sea, preferably with a steel hull. Shonandra handled conditions well, but with more frequent and sometimes more severe storms around, and so much serious and potentially dangerous garbage in the ocean we need to be prepared as best we can. Since I sailed around the world just over ten years ago now, things have become much worse. It was heart rending at times to see the ocean trash, most of it plastic. A number of times I just cried at the sight of it. There is such a huge amount of it you feel tempted to just quit. We all must change our habits. The trash in Asia is unfathomable. Mostly people have nowhere to dump their trash, and their towns don't seem to have much public service in the way of garbage collection, so for the landlubbers it's out of sight and out of mind; the ocean will do! Trouble is, besides over-fishing, the trash is killing our own food source as it washes around the globe on the ocean currents. Besides that, manufactures of plastic trash want money for it! We've all got to stop buying it, so then it wont need to be manufactured. Think, before you buy. In the west we are party to the destruction by our thoughtless buying habits. Sorry for the high horse, but here lies the truth.
Not a great note to end on. Overall the journey was extremely interesting and at times quite challenging, especially for a catamaran sailor! We will keep you posted as you wait for Phase II of the North and South journey. Until next time....keep checking for news.
At Chinaman's Bay, Maria Island, Tasmania
28 January 2020
Chinaman's Bay, Tas. Today is significant. We are now on our last leg. Last night we slept like logs after the rough conditions and snuggled down under a doona together to keep warm. What a change from the last many months. The anchorage has been calm all night, and we have the company of 9 other vessels. There are cormorants drying with their wings spread wide, and a couple of pelicans sitting on high rocks surveying the bay. It's a scene of peace.
I haven't yet shared a very cool experience with the dolphins that have accompanied us for many hours right from the top of Tasmania, almost as far as down to Maria Island. It may well have been a couple of different pods of dolphins, but they were always around our boat, as if to make sure we get home safely! The night before last was very dark, no moon peeped from the clouds, and only a few stars managed to show themselves. The water was dark but there was lots of fluorescent algae in the water. The dolphins' fins cut a sparkling trail through the water. More astounding though, was the fact that even 1-2 metres under the water the dolphins created a trail of light which looked like a meteor with the trail remaining, streaking through the dark sky. The first time I saw it I was astounded as a dolphin swam at top speed at right angles to the boat. It looked like an incoming torpedo. For a moment I thought he was going to collide with us but at the very last moment as he reached the side, he dived under and came up the other side. Cheeky and confident. Occasionally though, you see dolphins with pieces missing from their fins or scars which look like deep gashes from collisions with propellers, so they do occasionally misjudge their trajectory. John says he has also seen fish streaking by underwater, lighting it up as they go. Coolest was watching dolphins swimming side by side and swerving and diving together leaving dual trails of light. Of course there were also a number playing on Shonandra's bow wave, and showing off their water skills.
Enough of dolphins for now. I'm sure we will see lots more today as there are some resident pods in Storm Bay on the way to Hobart.
We may be able to post arrival pics later today if anyone takes any that is! Next from Hobart, we trust! John and Ginni
Naughty Bass Strait
27 January 2020 | South China Sea
Pos 1715, 27/1/2020. 40 57'S,148 48'E. 22nm E of Edistone light, the NE most point of the island of Tasmania. Bass Strait has a mind of her own. All predictions about the great conditions, and no more than about 7 knots of wind etc were rubbish. No one can control
Bass Strait. I've been racking my brains to think of something positive to say about Bass Strait. Here are a couple of things:- 1. The stretch of water separates Tasmania from mainland Australia. That has helped create Tasmania's uniqueness, flora and fauna and
unusual/different people. 2. At least one beautiful specimen of sperm whale has swum through Bass Strait. A good thing. 3. mmmm....there was a third thing but I can't recall what it was...The last 24 hours conditions were slightly above the forecast 7-8 knots of wind and
the sea state slightly above the forecast maximums by a factor of at least 4-5. Our legs are nearly giving way from the stress of trying to walk through the boat and we have aching thighs. Going to the loo is a major test. Putting pants back on is an even bigger test. The
stance of an angry gorilla, bent legs wide apart and small steps and using long arms to grab a firm hold of anything that might hold your weight is the adopted mode of moving around. If you miss one handhold you are in for a bruising of some part of your body somewhere.
Fortunately we are just about in the lee of land, namely the large island of Tasmania, the NE tip. Already since we've started closing the land the sea state has begun to calm down. Shonandra has handled the s**t and b****y awful conditions well. The westerly swells have
tipped her on her port side far enough over for the port side port lights to be underwater, frequently. The water looks very pretty sliding by the portlight. You could even expect a fish to peer in to take a look at us in here. A reverse people aquarium without the water inside.
Just as well it wasn't the starboard side being tipped under the water as one of those leaks. The only thing broken is the boom vang (a block and line arrangement which attaches from under the boom down to the base of the mast to stop it, the boom rising and falling in
the swells) It is an attempt at keeping the mainsail shape and control excess movement of the boom. The vang is attached by a large stainless steel bracket to the mast base and the weld of the bracket just snapped right off in one of the rolls. That was an impressive gust.
Well, amazingly since I started writing this we are now in the lee of the land and the sea state is suddenly about half the last 24 hrs size and it is regualr, not all over the place. We are still getting the occasional smaller thumper but all is well. The daily evening Tas Maritime
radio sched has just happened so we logged ourselves in as headed for Schouten Passage. We were able to log into one in the middle of the Strait. It always helps that someone knows where you are in case of an emergency.
That's it for today. One more night at sea, one more at anchor to rest somewhere and then we will sail straight to Hobart. We do not have our berth back as John told the occupants we were arriving on Feb 4th, so....where will we berth in Hobart? Probably have to anchor
off the Yacht club. Until tomorrow, the ocean going gorillas.
Shades of Grey
26 January 2020 | South China Sea
Pos 1700 on 26/1/2020 38 47'S, 149 15'E, which is the middle of Bass Strait. At day break the sea was pale grey, the heavy fog above it was an even paler grey. Lighter grey still was a completely grey sky. The whale yesterday was a dark grey. The huge bottlenose
dolphins which visited yesterday afternoon were a dark grey. My hair is silver grey, John's is white grey, and even Shonandra is the palest of grey, soot. It's a popular colour around here. This afternoon the sun is attempting to shine through the grey fluffy clouds but the sea
is a dark grey. Visibility this morning was about 300 metres. A couple of very large cargo vessels went by, one at 1.2nm and for only one brief moment did I see his navigation light. Another even bigger vessel which was more than 1000 feet went by at two miles away and I
saw nothing. The fog has burned off now. We have covered just over 76nm from our jumping off point along the Victorian coast. Pretty good going, the last hour. Flinders Island, the eastern point is about 60nm away so we are just over half way across. Thanks goodness,
because if this sea state continues all the way across we will be about the consistency of mild shakes when we get to the other side. What a slop! Progress has gone from wonderful 7.00 knots to about 3 knots and less, and more distance is covered in vertical directions
than horizontal. The wind speed has been a consistent 22-27 knots from the SE causing a bit of a stir. None the less we are quite happy that we have made this progress and trust that this is a very temporary sea state. Once out from Flinders Island at least we hope that
might provide some dampening of this enthusiastic Bass Strait.
Nothing startling or dramatic has happened which might be noteworthy. We've seen quite a few dolphins but only the one small pod of huge bottlenose came to visit. Compared to the most dolphins we have seen they are enormous. Some could be almost 3 metres in
length and they looked very well fed. They enjoyed the bow ride and a few showed off their jumping styles before saying goodbye. An albatross has been circling the boat for most of the day, his wings long and elegant. It seems John may be right in that the albatrosses like
to stay around boats as a reference, so they they know what ocean they have covered and follow the boat along. The other reason may be is that they just want to share their beauty and skills with us.
I am off to try to cook us a hot meal. It will be all steamed in the one pot, sausages, potatoes and a few greens. Steamed sausages aren't bad we've discovered. Bye from us bounced around persons. John and Ginni. Any mistakes can easily be blamed on Bass Strait.
Closing the Circle
24 January 2020 | South China Sea
Pos 36 deg 13' S, 150 deg 34' E. 53nm NE of Eden in NSW. at 1210 on 25/1/2020. The sea is a deep blue, the sky sunny and the sea state uncomfortable after a night of squalls. There are almost no white caps because the wind has departed only leaving a trace of it
at three knots. Spying a white cap in a sea like this attracts your attention. As I looked up from the helm over the bow there was a white cap, but a different type of white cap. It was persistent. The first thought of course is that it is a semi submerged large object or even an
uncharted rock. Oops! The white cap moved to the starboard bow about 200 metres off and as we moved forward it moved forward even faster than us. Indeed it was a semi submerged live object. Finally, as the sun reflected it, a shiny, very dark grey back and a quite
small fine mist rose into the air. A whale! But what kind? I grabbed the binoculars to watch as it swam calmly by. It was about the size of Shonandra, possibly larger and certainly heavier. The top of it's head was a curious almost square shape and the large, slightly flattened
blowhole could be seen blowing frequently and taking in air. I could see the 'nostrils' opening and closing. It had a poor excuse for a fin on its back, so unmistakably, it was a sperm whale! I have sailed on each of the large oceans and seen remarkable things, but never a
sperm whale. I've even seen a blue whale and fin whales, the world's largest. We sailed through Indonesian waters which were known for hosting sperm whales but we never saw one. I kept holding my breath wanting this one to remain swimming on the surface, and I
admit to wiping away tears which blurred my vision. I watched through the binoculars until the image was no longer a whale but just another whitecap. The experience felt like closing another loop. John was sound asleep through all this and I was in a dilemma. Wake him
or not? He had no sleep during the night and neither had I but I went immediately to sleep after my early morning watch today. I didn't have the heart to wake him so I'm willing another sperm whale to come along. :( In pictures, sperm whales I have seen appear ugly, but in
person, not so. This whale was truly beautiful and majestic, and so resolute about his mission to go north. I took no pictures and didn't even think of it. In any case the moment was sacred and I'm glad I got no pictures. It is well imprinted in my brain.
Sperm whale facts. These creatures have the largest brains of any creature that ever lived on the planet and still have. Their primary food source is giant squid and some have been seen with sucker scars and injuries on their bodies. These squid live in the dark deep
ocean and sperm whales dive to approximately 3300 feet (1100 m) to catch them. Giant squid are known to live in waters off Tasmania. At this depth they locate their prey by echolocation and can re main under water for about 90 minutes. They are toothed whales so eat
other prey as well, but each tooth can weigh up to two pounds (almost one kilo) They were valued for oi,l some of which is stored in the bump on their head, and ambergris (the undigested remains of prey) was collected straight from the slaughtered whale but also from
beaches. Two centuries ago they were a valued resource. Huge bull whales can grow to over 65 feet (about 20 m) and weight over 55 tons. Stories of bull sperm whales destroying ships, wooden ones, are likely to be true, as they defended their fellows, their females and
their young from the hunt. Apparently they not only sank ships but killed themselves in their fight for survival. Such terrible and sad stories. Moby Dick was said to be a bull sperm whale and the tale is comprised of many tales told by whalers at that time. I have no doubt that
the whale in that story was as intelligent and cunning as depicted.
Today's blog. I would not have imagined it yesterday. Ginni and sleeping John.
24 January 2020 | South China Sea
Pos 1815 EAT, 34 24'S, 151 09'E, off Woollongong, NSW. The mooring rope was dropped into the waters off Rose Bay, Sydney at 1145 this morning, after a quick trip to the supermarket for a few more provisions. We are headed for Hobart. The weather has been a bit
shifty lately with the last day and a half producing extreme temperatures and wind gusts of 39 knots. The mooring was a bit bouncy as imagined and getting to shore in the dinghy meant getting splashed on the way over. John stayed on the boat while I visited my daughter,
Gabby on one day and then caught up with my sister and her two 17 year olds the next day. Yesterday was so hot in the city that the radiant heat off the pavement dried out your eyes and almost burned your skin. We found a cafe in the Museum of Modern art at Circular
Quay and stayed for a very long lunch. The evening brought red dust and light showers which produced a red paste on the entire boat. This morning in addition to a little left over red dust the sky was so hazy with smoke that the normally very visible Sydney Harbour Bridge
and the Opera House were invisible. On all the moored and anchored boats around us were owners and crew trying to clean up. We swapped the dust and fine ash for a coating of salt, preferable. I could not get the clear plastic around the cockpit clean as much as I
tried. It was quite ok until along came another rain shower bringing down the red dust with it. We can at least see through the clears. Our wonderful crew, Johnny (alias Jack) left us on Thursday and he flew back to Indonesia this morning. He seemed to enjoy his time with
us as much as we enjoyed his company and diligence. So, if you need your yacht delivered, contact us and we'll put you in touch with Johnny Ambon, from Ambon.
The sun is setting in the west over the land, which we can no longer see. There is a smoke haze here too. We've had a couple of visits from some beautiful dolphins. They were particularly healthy looking with lovely skin devoid of scars. They may have been quite young
ones. They were feeding on fish schools as we went past but they took time out to come and play. It always interests me the way one or two of them like to take a good look at you. I was outside on the side deck hanging on to the canopy grab handle when one of the
dolphins would swim alongside the boat, turn on its side and look up at me with one eye. It did this a couple of times. They are very curious about life above water it seems.
Wind is picking up and we have had the motor on as well as sails up since we left. John is just testing that we can actually sail with this wind, because the swells are so high the sails are robbed of the air as we drop down off the wave peaks. It's hard on the gear and sails.
but the decision is, not enough wind in this sea state. We would normally sail even in 7-8 knots, but the present sea state finishes off this idea for now. Maybe later we'll get a strong breeze, as it is forecast and we will turn off the motor It was originally forecast to arrive
around 1600 but it is now 1845 and it still hasn't arrived.
That's it for today. Progress is good despite the rolly polly and rising and falling. John and Ginni