19 February 2019 | Bryan's Corner, Schouten Pass
25 January 2019 | Smoke on the Water
04 January 2019 | Down to my last "veil" in HK airport
15 November 2018 | Illuka. NSW
08 November 2018 | Somewhere in the Coral Sea
21 February 2019
So. There we were. Ben Afleck had just been exposed. Exposed in the conspiracy way, not the ooh la la way. Russel Crowe, all long hair and unshaven, investigative reporter had done the exposing and was about to walk into the gunsights of the hired killer when, BANG. No, not Russel getting his just desserts for Les Miserables, but a wave whacking the cabin sole from below. In minutes, our pleasant little anchorage at Bryan's Corner had turned into a wild, thirty knot, big waves, lee shore.
Time to go. We hit "Pause" and, as these things always happen when it's dark, we switched on all the deck lights, scurrying around in the luxury of bright lights like moths. This was our first "emergency" anchor lift / lee shore exit on the new boat so there was a lot of quick learning went on.
First. It's a lot safer on a foredeck the size of half a tennis court compared to the pointy end of a monohull.
Second. It's safer right up until you open the metre square trap door on the deck. Then it's just a gaping black hole and two metres down to the sea. Or in fact, no metres when the sea comes up to meet you. The bridle system on the catamaran anchor chain means that whoever is doing the anchor work has to lay down on the trampoline, reach down through the trap door, cause right now the chain hook won't fit through the bow roller, and unhook the bridle from the chain. So, when it's blowing like it was, you can be assured of getting your belly button well rinsed in salt water. Drama over, we headed out for a moonlit sail around to the lee, east side of the Freycinet peninsula arriving at midnight and anchoring just off the crescent shaped beach. But wait! The drama wasn't over.
In coming round the headland we lost the phone signal. Did Ben get his comeuppance? Did the paper go out on time? Did Russel get whacked? Did he learn to sing?
Who knows. I guess we'll have to wait for the next strong signal and there's not much of them in wild and woolly north east Tassie.
Knackered of Taswegia
19 February 2019 | Bryan's Corner, Schouten Pass
For a bit of a larf we signed up for the Round Tasmania Rally. Seven hundred miles dodging weather, tides and rocks. Now, we've enjoyed our fair share of rallies, at least the parts I can remember, however, to a degree, we've outgrown them, preferring and able to find our own routes, anchorages and social life. However, our plan with the new boat was to use the tougher weather of Taswegia to build our knowledge of what ropes did what, what buttons to press and generally build confidence in the new steed. Joining the rally seemed like a good way of getting in some hard miles.
So, we've replaced ropes, the buttons, at least on the computers are all goosed and latest, an engine battery went up in smoke. Literally. We haven't actually done much sailing. Just fix things.
On the second down smoke leg of the rally from Port Arthur to Maria Island, I couldn't fathom out where all the amps were going. It wasn't that sunny so there wasn't much input from the solar but we did have the hydro generator down and at six or seven knots that usually puts out amps in the teens, yet we were negative that amount. When we finally anchored in Chinaman's Bay I opened up the engine compartment lid to have a poke around only to smell the stink of rotten eggs and see smoke coming from the battery. Now, I'd both experienced and read about runaway batteries and I guessed this is what we had. The boiling sulphuric acid was the clue. Battery swiftly out then hours of fault finding with the multi meter, kidding on I knew what I was doing, showed everything else was cool, literally. So, divert from the rally and off early to Triabunna, so named as it was the location of Tasmania's first Indian restaurant where Aussie diners, out for their first eastern culinary experience would ask what was best. "What would I recommend?" says the chef. "Either the chicken korma or, perhaps, Try a Bhunna". Hence the village name. Or so I've imagined. Next morning, new battery, and half a dozen Triabunna oysters inside me, off we headed to catch up with the rally and have a barbie on the beach at Schouten Pass. Twenty four miles dead upwind in about ten to fifteen knots and we were the only boat that sailed. Reefs in. Reefs out. Solent in. Code Zero out. Code Zero in. Solent out. And repeat.....all day. By the time we got in we felt we'd done a full Scottish Series race two up and were ready for the barbie on the beach. But horror of horrors. No prawns on the barbie. Instead, trendy hand made, coconut encrusted veggie burgers. No stubbies. Fine vintage red wines.
Whatever happened to stereotypes?
Remember Who's Boss
11 February 2019
We've been wafting around in shorts and T-shirts with the temperature in the balmy mid-twenties for the last couple of weeks here in Tasmania, just fiddling about on the boat. Well, for "fiddling", read upgrading parts of the rigging, standing and running. Trying and failing to replace the computer that was "fixed" before we bought the boat and finally, inspired by the gleaming brightwork at the Wooden Boat Show, sanding and varnishing the cockpit table, pretty much the only bit of visible wood on the boat. Goodness knows how many heart attacks we might have been induced if we'd motored round and made a guest appearance at the show. The things the French can do with plastic.
Anyway, we, along with about thirty other boats are poised to head off for a wee sail around the island. And it was all looking rather grand.......right up until last night.
Wham! Thirty knots across the deck and bucketing rain and it's been blowing like stink ever since.
It's the weather's way of reminding you that while, sure it's shiny bright some days, you're still in the Southern Ocean. Maybe just the first few degrees but you're over the threshold, on its territory, so best keep a look out or you'll get whacked.
Which we are getting right now. Real happy to be in the marina.
10 February 2019
It's the Wooden Boat Show here in Tassie. For the last two weeks you couldn't move in the marina without a waft of paint or varnish making its way up your hooter. It's not quite the Fyfe Regatta or the Voiles de St Tropez but it's cute. Aussie built classics are filling Constitution Dock and crusty, white bearded, tan panted gents are lovingly adding the finishing touches to their babies. Finishing touches they will be finishing for generations to come. Never thought I'd be so happy to see the back of real wood.
A Matter of Inches
03 February 2019
As you can probably tell by the dearth of commentary over the last month, there's hee-haw happening here in sunny, smoke-filled Tassie right now.
We crossed from Eden in company with Sahula who we first met in the Galapagos and Georgia from Seattle/Vanuatu, had a few beers and a walk up the hill in Wineglass Bay then an uneventful transit of the shallows at Dunalley. Nerve wracking but uneventful.
You see, the thing with shallow draft boats is that you really don't gain that much. You just go into shallower places. The nerves get whacked whether you draw two metres or one metre. Like falling off a cliff, it's the last few inches that really hurt. However, we did save thirty miles and a day so we could rent a clunker, play tourist and drive back to where we should have just sailed to anyway.
Port Arthur revisited we treated ourselves to a night at the movies. How things have changed. Not only is the price if entry the best part of a deposit on a small car, but you can enjoy listening to people slurp beer and chomp on nachos, all delivered to their seat throughout the movie, right in front of you. As for snogging? You're going to need very long arms.
Do You Smell Burning?
25 January 2019 | Smoke on the Water
That's a question I've heard for decades. In the car. In hotel rooms, usually about 3am. In the boat. But strangely, never in the kitchen.
Most times it's a definite no, "it's your imagination" but, these last few days, it's hard to miss. Red sky at night and red sky in the morning is because Tasmania is alight.
Smoke covers the horizon, lying on the water like an early morning sea mist. Fruit bats are falling from the skies like so many Stukas on a bad day out over Kent in 1940 and the cockpit this morning was layered with dead flies.
I'll bet my brother and sister-in-law are really chuffed I talked them into coming down here on Wednesday.
Big Mouth Billy Bass
21 January 2019
We didn't much like the Bass Strait last year. It may well have been a lovely short cut for the square riggers that used the Strait as a quick route round the bottom of Australia, at least those that made it. For the hundreds of wrecks that litter the coasts around here it was just a quick route to the bottom.
The Bass Strait has a scary reputation and crossing from the Mainland to Tasmania is all a matter of good timing to make the dash between weather windows. There's the northern window which will blow you down there nicely. Then there's the switch. Every few days a depression rushes in from the Southern Ocean, all poised to give those that didn't quite plan their window right, a good pasting.
Speed is of the essence and as we're only puttering along at a few knots in not many more knots of wind in a sea that's all over the shop, if we don't get our skates on, the next "Southerly Buster" is going to whack us.
It's a Sine
14 January 2019
Look out! I'm back, although as you might have guessed, I've had a bit of writer's block. It may even be PTSD. Post Typing Stress Disorder - acquired after one of my readers said that she liked the blog, as long as I "didn't go on".
All that effort.....
Anyway, today, we're casting our minds back to school days and trigonometry lessons and believe me, that's a seriously long cast. The thing is, in my opinion, getting dead downwind on a cat really needs either a spinnaker which I'm not that fussed about when it's blowing twenty plus knots or poles and goosewinged genoas which I fancy, but don't have. So, we're in the sailing the angles business just like when I was a kid. Whooshing out left, gybe, whoosh back right, gybe and whoosh back again. Meanwhile, the monohulls we're with are heading straight down the track, a bit slower but heading the right direction and at each whoosh, we only seem to cross their wake.
So, the question is, does whooshing at an angle get you there quicker than just sitting back and doddering down the line like we used to? Not that we've really much choice. Anyway, it was a question worth testing the grey matter so we set out to do the math. If we've a direct fifty miles to run and the monohulls are doing seven knots how fast do we have to whoosh to cover the extra miles of our zig-zag course to get there at least at the same time but preferably, hours earlier. And, over and above that, what is the optimum angle for optimum speed?
We mapped it all out on graph paper, measured it all off and, taking a stab, we thought it might be the cosine of the primary angle times the average speed. Or perhaps just a sine or even a tangent? Which is where we seem to be heading right now, albeit at ten knots whooshing at sixteen.