Time Bandit

Gone to the "Dark Side" with an Outremer 51.

16 May 2019 | From Cells To Superyachts
07 May 2019
02 May 2019
20 April 2019
11 April 2019
04 April 2019 | All Action!!
28 March 2019
22 March 2019
16 March 2019
08 March 2019
28 February 2019 | Ann Bay
21 February 2019
19 February 2019 | Bryan's Corner, Schouten Pass
11 February 2019
10 February 2019
03 February 2019
25 January 2019 | Smoke on the Water

The Red Line Does What?

23 May 2019
Stuart Letton
The Red Line Does What?

Thirty four days since squeezing seven point four, five metres of boat into a hoist sling just wide enough to avoid embarrassment and perhaps an insurance claim, we finally hauled up the anchor from the stinking mud.........and unknown metres of somebody's ancient mooring chain in a lovely crochet knot around the anchor.

I've always wondered if bolt cutters actually work. I'd tried giving the offending chain a really hard stare and probably the F word but that didn't help. But the bolt cutters did. I just hope the mooring owner doesn't come looking for it any time soon. So, anchor freed we headed off down river to the metropolis of Southport, some last minute shopping and a dinghy ride back to the boat in the pitch black, Luci light on Anne's head so as to comply with the regulations and dodging party boats.

Up at crack of dawn to start our trip north following in the wake of Captains Cook and Porteus. We headed out the seaway and across its notorious bar into a sloppy sea and no wind. Well, a few knots. Just enough to tempt us to foolishly turn off the engines and hoist the sails. "What's the red line do again?" It was only a month since we'd sailed but at our age, some of these critical things just slip away.

"What's that noise?" It was a new noise and these are always troubling. It was kind of spooky, sounding like a loose lipped cartoon character breathing out through his mouth, lips flapping. Or me contentedly snoozing after a few beers for that matter. It was inconsistent, which made it hard to track down but we finally did. One of my great ideas had been to fit what I'd call transom flaps to the scuppers under the bridge deck. At speed we've been suffering from a backwash of waves under the bridge deck splashing back up through the scuppers and into the cockpit. So, ever resourceful I got some plastic corrugated sheet, cut one layer so that it would fold at right angles and stuck it under the bridge deck so that the flap would allow the scuppers to drain and stop water splashing back up. Damn clever even if I say so myself.

Unfortunately it seems that as the waves get compressed between the hulls the difference in air pressure between above and below causes my new flaps to, well.....flap. Irritatingly.

Anyway, day two sees us en-route to Hervey Bay and it's apparently even more notorious bar.

"Wide Bay Bar has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous on the Queensland coast because of the length of the crossing (over 3nm), its distance offshore, the length of time it takes for our rescue crews to reach the bar (up to 1 hour depending on conditions) and the effects weather conditions have on the seas".

Australia. If the sharks, crocs, spiders and snakes don't get you...........there's always bar crossings.

The Gold Coast

16 May 2019 | From Cells To Superyachts
Stuart Letton
Way back, even before I were a lad, some of the convicts serving their sentence here in Australia really did have rather a grand time. Gruel and slops three times a day, gainfully employed, working in the sunshine rather than Midlands or London smog and learning a trade, albeit unpaid. Some had such a grand time they wrote home advising their siblings to go out and get caught thieving a scarf or maybe a loaf of bread and thus get themselves a free ticket to this land of plenty and promise.

In the time it took the judiciary and the politicians to realise what was going on, a goodly number had, Star Trek like, transported themselves to Sydney, Brisbane and Tasmania, free gratis, courtesy of HM Government.

Fast forward a couple of hundred years and the land of plenty is still coughing up. From recent experience there are many ways to make loads-a-money out here.

Forget banking, developing a wonder app or indeed mining. Get a job working on punters' boats, of which there is an inexhaustible supply, all needing super expensive chandlery, electronics and endless amounts of washing, polishing and antifoul.

"How much to antifoul our wee boat?", says I in all innocence. Fifteen grand!! I'd have fallen about laughing if they hadn't looked so serious. To do some touch ups on the gel coat over maybe all of six feet - five thou just for the tent they'd have to erect around the boat. How much to get the radar down from the mast, a highly technical job requiring the use of both a spanner and a screw driver? $650.

What a lark. What a gold mine. No wonder it's called the Gold Coast.

Great Train Journeys

07 May 2019
Stuart Letton
From what I see on the tele, yes, even tele way over here, that Michael Portillo chap, you know, the muppet with the posh voice and daft coloured jackets seems to have a grand time creeping around the UK on various train journeys, so I thought, "why not?" Missing only Joseph's technicolor dreamcoat I headed off to the local train station, courtesy of John and Sue who are looking after me while Anne's away on her granny pass. John and Sue were having a respite break and handing me off to my new guardians, Johann and Henriette (Scolomanzi) for the weekend as they in turn had to go and look after Travis. Awfully nice people.

Anyway, Australia has two great train journeys. The Indian Pacific which runs from Sydney to Perth, three thousand miles across the Nullafbor desert and the Ghan, which goes north/south across the continent from Adelaide to Darwin. It's named after the Afghan tribesmen who used to run the camel trains around the desert in the days before wheeled transport. The Afghans have gone but both the train and the camels remain. A few grand will get you a cabin, a window and, if you behave and have good table manners you can get access to the dining car at meal times, otherwise, you stay in your eeny weeny living space, where, if by any chance you brought along the family cat, it's quite safe if you're into swinging. Cats that is.

However, to do it in style you really need to chuck in another few grand which gets you into Agatha Christie territory with an Orient Express style lounge, bar and restaurant in which you can sit and chat to your fellow travellers, no doubt sporting safari suits and waxed moustaches. We thought about doing one of these trips but ended up stuffed in the back of the Land Cruiser instead.

And so, knowing of my plight, spinning around at anchor in the Coomera River, Johann and Henriette invited me up to their place, a couple of hours train ride north.

The trip didn't start too well as firstly, the stink boat occupying the dock I was meant to get overstayed his welcome and didn't leave until about an hour before my train. He finally went and I hauled up the anchor, which, after a week of dancing around with the tide every six hours was just one big knot of chain and steel.

Finally with the boat tied up, the chain knot undone, i was ready to go. Right up until my Uber app crashed. To the rescue, my carers John and Sue who whisked me to the airport for what should have been a quick two hour ride north.

But then, Australia has learnt a number of things from the Motherland. Bureaucracy, for one. Bank holiday weekend track maintenance the other.

The planned two hour trip, during which I should have been sitting, relaxed in my smoking jacket, turned into a seven hour marathon with the added enjoyment of a bus trip in the middle.

I suspect the Afghans might have been faster than Trans Link last weekend. But not faster than me on Johann's other Harley.

Oooh.. The Pain

02 May 2019
Stuart Letton
"I've done thousands of these", says bun boy, the first male doctor I've met wearing his hair up in a bun. That and he was even younger than most police officers knocking about these days.

Anyway, a combination of too much winch grinding, morning push ups and starting the outboard conspired to have me at the quack today to get a cortisone injection in my rather painful right arm. As i've said before, it's not all beer and skittles out here.

Over the years, i've heard these injections are quite painful, the needle is about a foot long and there's no one here to hold my hand. And so, as i sit on the bench outside the surgery I'm reflecting on exactly what Doc Trevor said. Or what specifically he didn't say, ......... "and none of them hurt me in the slightest".

Think I might do a runner.

Where Did We Go Wrong!

20 April 2019
Stuart Letton
A very long time ago, really, way way back in the mists of time, every Spring, my dad would head for the overgrown, weed and junk strewn yard that was Willie Boag's boatyard. The old wooden shed where Willie built some of the finest of the Clyde, Loch Long fleet dominated the yard, all black creosote and sawdust. Piles of planks lay around in the weeds in various sizes and shapes beside the cast iron boiler that was the heart of the plank bender.

It was an adventure playground for kids and we'd run around mad for hours. Meanwhile, dad and his pals would be on their hands and knees scraping, sanding and antifouling getting ready for the nip and tuck of one design racing come the start of the season.

Fast forward fifty years and the weed and junk strewn yard is transformed into a small industrial town. Massive sheds, like aircraft hangers line the "streets". Pristine, well, it was before we got here, concrete pads are all set up under canopies to protect you from the blazing sun, or lashing rain and with electricity, running water, seats and work benches.

It's all very fancy but, in the end, it's still a boat yard.

The biggest difference is that while we're cutting a dash in our antifoul splattered white Tyvek boiler suits, rubber gloves and equally splattered safety glasses through which you peer like your bug spattered windscreen during a summer nights drive home when you've run out of windscreen wash, the other boat owners are either conspicuous by their absence, or, standing around chatting, hands on hips while squads of $100 per hour tradies clamber over and under their boats.

Where did we go wrong?

Current Affairs

11 April 2019
Stuart Letton


In or out. That's the question of the moment.

Well, if Mother Theresa and her incompetents in the British government think they've a tough choice, try it here.

In or out? In, there's rocks, fishing boats, lobster pots and assorted other impediments to safe progress. Out, its open sea but........there's the East Australian Current.

Oh, that was great news on the way down to Tassie, whooshing south with two to three knots under you, free gratis. Now the tables are turned and it's an uphill struggle all the way.

We have a mini SSB radio Net going with Colin who left Port Stephens about eighteen hours ahead of us. Colin's strategy was kind of Soft Brexit. In during the day and Out at night, preferring sea room to the clutter of inshore in the dark hours. His Net reports of what happens Out kept us In or, as a local Cruiser said, "keeping one foot on the beach".

We gybed round every headland to follow the surf line of every bay, nimbly dodging rocks and shallows, like we were back in the kayaks rather than a biggish boat but critically staying out the grip of current.

The plan was OK during the day. In the pitch black of sliver moon nights it was a bit nerve wracking. We got little sleep and our nerves are shot.

To compound the problem. Our kettle has lost its whistle and as we followed the coastline keeping in really tight I sat at the chart table for a good ten minutes wondering how there could be stars in the sky yet it was misty...only to realise the kettle boiled dry steaming up all the windows.

Nonetheless, our strategy paid off and we took sixty miles off Colin and had an extra night in our pit.

Timing is critical as we're headed for the Southport bar and sadly, not the kind that sell beer.

Hopefully another blog will follow. How I wish we were going somewhere else this morning!

Don't Need Shoes. Need Beer

09 April 2019
Stuart Letton
The ultimate pre-dinner checklist. These telling words muttered by he who should not be named as he stepped into the dinghy, en route Time Bandit for Sunday dinner.

Previously, while the shoeless wonder and I were guzzling down beer, having gate crashed the Sail Port Stephens Regatta Week party, Anne was back on board doing great things to a Woolworths chicken, parsnips and spuds.

We on the other hand were endeavouring to keep a low profile, trying to blend in amongst the race crews by muttering about uphauls, tacking angles and other such nautical terms. There's upwards of a hundred smart looking, "sharp boats" here, most clad in seductive black carbon or fetching translucent Mylar sails. Unfortunately we got busted fairly quickly as we were pretty much the only ones not wearing branded yachtie gear, Gill, Musto and the like. Instead, we were in cruiser gear; over-worn, T-shirts, faded shorts and Crocs and Decathlon gutties.

We watched the beginning and end of the first two races and delighted ourselves that our tactical knowledge and racing skills were still right there, just under the cruising mantle, as we harshly critiqued the passing boats, "his main needs flattened ". "SHEEEET you muppets", all while sipping down a cold one.

Strangely our skills increased in direct proportion to the number of beers consumed.

AIS Stalkers and Passing Droolers

04 April 2019 | All Action!!
Stuart Letton
Stalkers and Droolers

A month or two back, one of our regular readers, made a comment, "more video please" and a few days ago a passing yacht confessed to "drooling" as he passed and admired Time Bandit.

On the assumption Huw's request meant video of a sailing nature we started taking more footage and even more photos. Consequently, we now have a growing library of material covering our last thousand miles or so, all clogging up my hard drive where more important material awaits my attention, such as Suits and as yet unseen episodes of The Big Bang Theory.

The challenge, as with the Blog, is to make the content riveting, enjoyable and attention grabbing. We thought we had some great Southern Ocean footage from our Port Davey departure when we sailed out into four to six metre seas, climbing way up 'till the bows were pointing skyward then plunging down into the next trough. Skooshing along at ten and eleven knots, cooking Thai curry but somehow, the drama seldom seems to show on screen. So Huw, more video coming but don't expect Spielberg!

There's technical issues as well. Most of the sailing stuff we shoot on my iPhone, some on our Coolpix camera and some on Anne's phone and therein lies the problem. To make up a video I need to get it all transferred into my iPad and whatever bits, bytes and BIOS are required to achieve that are, well.......knackered. That and the iPad's little memory is stuffed full of other rubbish. Like posts like this and Big Bang Theory.

And so, earlier this week I found myself back at school in the Apple Store, Sydney, having lashed out exhorbitant amounts of cash on a Mac thingy and signed up for the Idiots Introduction to Macs class. I had my pens and pencils, a wee sandwich for break time and of course, my lucky and inspiring Gonk for my desk.

Three hours later, suffering from serious information overload, I departed, heading back to the boat, anchored off Manly at Sydney Heads to put into practice what I'd learnt. That didn't take long. Most of what went in one ear seemed to have largely shot out the other, or, slipped away in the ferry ride as I watched the carbon sails of Sydney's racing fleets, including some 505's which had me reminiscing of times gone by.

However, hopefully enough stayed in to let me start populating my largely ignored YouTube channel, SV Time Bandit and those self described Blog and AIS "stalkers" and passing "droolers" will enjoy the forthcoming, all action videos. That is if Big Bang Theory doesn't take up all my time.

Vessel Name: Time Bandit
Vessel Make/Model: Outremer 51
Hailing Port: Largs, Scotland
Crew: Anne and Stuart Letton
About: ex dinghy and keelboat racers now tooled up with a super sleek cat and still cruising around aimlessly, destination Nirvana...
Extra: 2018 New Caledonia to Sydney Oct '18 and on to Tasmania early '19
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/timebandit/profile
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Time Bandit's Photos - Main
No Photos
Created 19 October 2018
1 Photo
Created 20 October 2017
7 Photos
Created 23 June 2017
An interesting perspective on evolution in the Galapagos.
23 Photos
Created 7 March 2016
18 Photos
Created 30 September 2014
Mediterranean Spain to the Arctic Circle
67 Photos
Created 12 August 2013
Scraping and sanding hull back to gel coat for epoxy and Coppercoat treatments.
6 Photos
Created 3 February 2013