Time Bandit

20 May 2018
12 May 2018
07 May 2018
24 April 2018 | Loch Longs pre-start. 63 owned my m'uncle Jimmy
20 April 2018 | Kristiane Well Reefed
08 April 2018 | Chinaman'S Bay, Maria Island
04 April 2018 | Canoe Cove, Fortesque Bay, Tas
24 March 2018 | Mount Misery (?? - Best not go there)
17 March 2018 | Dover, Tasmania
09 March 2018
09 March 2018
04 March 2018 | Shackleton in Bronze
24 February 2018 | Approaching the Hole in the Wall
17 February 2018
14 February 2018
10 February 2018
07 February 2018 | Chain Bay, Bateman's Bay
05 February 2018 | Port Hacking, Jibbon Beach
30 January 2018

A Hard Days Night

20 May 2018
As a kid I never really knew what that Beatles song was about. And I guess I still don't know.

But I think we're about to find out.

We've stocked up with a giant, pre-flight, carb loading breakfast at the airport hotel. Well, carbs....and protein and fibre and sugar and caffeine and assorted fats. Mostly the bad type.

Outta here in half an hour. Queue, no doubt for two hours to check in our equally giant bags, sit around for another hour or so then 15 hours to Doha, wherever that is, hang around for another three hours then another 12 hours to Barcelona where we get to sleep...........on a boat in Badelona Marina. Apparently that's just north of Barcelona Marina but much less expensive. I just hope we don't get a taxi driver with a speech impediment or we'll end up in the wrong place.

Can't get enough of this boat action.

Me and My Big Mouth

12 May 2018
"Do you want to come for a sail? A quick delivery to Brisbane. It's only 450 miles. You'll be back on Tuesday night."

This from my new best friend Justin, owner of a Crowther 50 cat and one whose tyres we'd been kicking the week before.

Initial, impetuous thought, "brilliant, finally a chance to try one out".

"Sure" says I. "Count me in"

Then I checked the forecast.

20-30 southerly. Surf warning.

The last time we saw that forecast was just before we got our hair do's ruined in what in reality wax 30-40 gusting 45.

Me and my big mouth. Here we go again!

Writers' Block

07 May 2018
Writers Block

Absolutely hee-haw happening down here in Aussie land and just simply can't come up with anything nautically oriented to report.

We did go to the theatre the other night. Is it just me? Whenever I go to the theatre or cinema, I can sit quite happily through the twenty minutes of local advertising exhorting me to visit the Taj Mahal exotically spicy diner or put my mind at ease by pre-paying for my funeral and all the time with a perfect view of the screen.

And then, two minutes before the Big Picture, some seven foot giant sits right I'm front of me and I spend the next two hours craning my neck to see around his.

Traumatised in Baggy Pants

24 April 2018 | Loch Longs pre-start. 63 owned my m'uncle Jimmy
"What the heck is that?", or indeed, ......Cluuunkk....."What the **** was that" is sometimes what I hear when, as in Triabunna our over size 66lb Spade protrudes over the marina pontoon, nutting (a Glaswegian expression) small children as they pass and near disembowelling pursuing adults.

Over sized? Well, actually is the right size. I bought 66lb and it is. By oversized I mean 45lb is what the Spade website says is correct for Time Bandit. However, the guys that wrote the Spade specs didn't have a traumatic upbringing like wot I did.

When I were a lad, you know, back when a bacon butty cost just a ha'penny, during the summer, usually the second weekend in July, for a special treat, my dear old dad used to take the family out on "the yacht" on a Sunday. The yacht was Whisper, his twenty one foot racing day boat, which in these days, and certainly to my young eyes, was a yacht.

I was probably about five or six at the time and as we sailed on our fantastic offshore voyage around the top of the island of Great Cumbrae, (as opposed to Wee Cumbrae), I used to tow my model boat behind 'the yacht". Unfortunately, for some inexplicable function of hydrodynamics, my wee boat would reach a critical hull speed, submerge and disappear underwater while the tow string cut into my baby soft wee palms reducing me to tears. Dad to the rescue. He would dump the main, slow the boat, haul in my toy, empty it out and we'd start again. I probably got a kiss on the palm from my mum to make it better.

Man, those were the days. Now it's just, "MAN UP!"

Anyway, after an hour or two we'd reach Nirvana, aka Fintry Bay where there was a fab beach, rocks, pools with crabs and other creepy crawlies and an ice cream shop. As we approached the beach, Dad would wriggle under the cuddy to retrieve the yacht's anchor and warp. Now, as we were on a racing yacht, the ground tackle was optimised to meet the rules, as opposed to achieving its primary goal.

We would pitch up at the sandy beach and dad would pitch the anchor off the bow, chuck us all in the dinghy and row us ashore.

Us nippers would immediately change into our fetching and rather fashionable seersucker knitted swimming trunks and plunge into the briny. Not far away, grown men, being transported to work offshore were being squeezed into neoprene survival suits in the remote chance they fell into the same water. We were well 'ard us nippers.

While fashionable, the knitted dookers were just fine on the way in. However, on the way out you looked like you had been out trawling and coming ashore with the net half out. On occasion, you might be lucky enough to find a mackerel in the crotch.

And so, as I lay awake the other night listening to the howling wind swish us around at anchor back in Jervis Bay, (probably named after a posh Englishman, as in, "I say Jervis, coming aboard for Tiffin?"), I was thinking, "Is the giant Spade going to hold or is this a Fred at Fintry night?

And that's the problem. As that impressionable child in the knitted knickers I was traumatised at the sight of "the yacht", our only way home, drifting off over the horizon and dad sprinting down the beach like Roger Bannister on yet another rescue mission. Consequently, despite the fact we have NEVER dragged, there's always that nagging image burned into the back of my mind, troubling me on dark windy nights of dad leaping to his feet with a curse - we were always learning new words from dad - and sprinting away, chasing down the beach after the boat, flailing his arms as if its going to say, "sorry" and turn around and re-anchor.

It's a memory almost as troubling as the knitted knickers. Why would you do that to a child?

Pass Revoked

20 April 2018 | Kristiane Well Reefed
Did you ever see the HBO Mini-Series, Band of Brother?

There's this guy, Lieutenant Sobel, a petty tyrant who torments his trainees during inspections with "chicken shit" nit picking. "PASS REVOKED!!" he screams at a soldier after spotting an imaginary piece of fluff.

Tas Maritime was our Lieutenant Sobel as we waited for a weather window to get us back to mainland Australia across the notorious Bass Strait. Each morning we'd struggle and fight our way out from under the duvets and tune into Tas Maritime. And every day, "North to northwest twenty five to thirty. Forty later. Seas, three to four metres."

Time Bandit! PASS REVOKED.

We didn't waste our time though. There was a tidy little marina at Triabunna. Gary the Harbour Master said he could squeeze us in but only for two nights. A week or more later as contrary winds blew, every second day we pleaded for just another couple of nights. And so, while it blew we enjoyed full on electric, hot running water, a pub with a colour tele showing how well Australia was doing in the Commonwealth Games and, when the sun was out, long walks, hand in hand from one end of the peninsula to the other. Hand in hand, not because we're so deeply in love but just to keep Anne out the coffee shops.

Finally a window looked like opening, and anyway, Gary needed to chuck us out, so we headed out to Wineglass Bay, the last stepping stone before leaving to await the coming breeze.

And it was another case of "Huv ye no looked oot the windae?"

Forecast: 20 to 30 south to south west.

Actual: make sure yer hat's tied on really tight, fresh pants and hang on.

Windy! Jings. It blew like stink. It was blowing thirty before we got the anchor up at seven o'clock. On the whole, that was fine in the lee of the island. Kristiane who we'd been cruising with were ahead broaching in every gust. We just did our normal. Heeled over a bit and powered on. Offshore a few hours later it was a bit breezy and big, big breaking waves made things a bit exciting. We just stormed along, surfing down the big rollers or getting a good drenching when we hit one side on. For most of the crossing we looked like the Pope Mobile in a car wash as we'd left the "clears" up. And didn't they serve us well. Two reefs in the main, genoa half furled, occasional staysail but full on plastics, bulging into the cockpit like a balloon about to burst in the gusts. Good to forty five knots! And we stayed dry.

Door to door over the three hundred or so miles we averaged 7.7 knots. And we deserved that average. Genoa in. Genoa out. Pole up, pole down. Reef in, reef out. We weren't just sittin' aboot in the Popemobile, such was the motivation to avoid another night at sea in these big scary waves. We made Eden just after midnight. A quick Pussers Rum to soothe the nerves and back for another fight with the duvet.

Wake to calm and sunshine. Ashore for lunch at noon. Beers at one. Massage at three.

Nights Are Fair Drawin' In

08 April 2018 | Chinaman'S Bay, Maria Island
We went to Maria Island the other day. In the mid 1800's it was of course a kind of early day Butlins where about four hundred convicts appear to have been employed to move stones from one pile to another pile a few hundred metres away and next day they moved them back.

Maria is one of Tasmania's many protected wildlife national parks. We were keen to go as we were promised all kinds of interesting indigenous wildlife and, as the only wildlife we'd seen in the last five months has been doing a fair impression of a furry hearth rug, strewn along the road side, the prospect of wildLIFE as opposed to wildDEAD was quite appealing.

Chinaman's Bay, or, in another example of politically correction gone nuts, now called Shoal Bay. Although, shoal was certainly more accurate than Chinaman. The bay was all of two to three metres for a long way out but, trusting the echo sounder we nosed in fairly close, through out a bunch of chain, launched the dink and headed ashore.

Four soggy sea kayakers greeted us, their tiny one man tents surrounding the fire pit where presumably they planned to keep warm that night. While the days are chust sublime with not a cloud in the sky, blazing sun and air so clear you could put it in a nice wee gin, the flip side is that the nights are getting a bit chilly. While we are still getting into the twenties during the day, overnight, there's a chill and we wake to a fresh eight, maybe nine degrees. That's when the fighting starts. First, like Mongolian goat herders living in a yurt out on the steppe, we have to fight our way out from under two duvets, two fleece blankets and the pillow you've had over your head all night to stop from catching your death. The next fight is who is going to make the five yard dash to switch on the Webasto. The flip side of this scenario is that after lights out, we climb under our pile of bedclothes having forgotten to switch off the heating and wake at one o'clock like we're in a sauna.

Back ashore, we headed over the hill, and far away, to have a look at the convict settlement, or at least, the remains of it. We were a bit disappointed that the only wildlife so far had been the kayakers when, we all but tripped over our first wombat. And then, like waiting hours for a bus then three come at once, a Jumparoo went by. And then another, and another. The place was teeming with mangy marsupials. The wombats didn't really care. They were grazing, as thick as sheep. Meaning lots of them. Not to imply they're stupid. You could get right up close for a selfie and they'd just keep scratching and munching away. Maybe they are stupid.

Wombats are bigger than I expected. When my pal Arthur took his wombat to the Scottish Series many years ago and, for a week took it for walks, into the pubs and even on board for drinks, we never realised they are the size of badgers. But that's another era and another story. (Arthur has since had treatment for his condition and is doing quite well these days).

The Shipping Forecast

04 April 2018 | Canoe Cove, Fortesque Bay, Tas
Down here in Tassie, as the Aussies call it, it's prudent to keep a weather eye open.

Ours had been half shut for the last few days as we had been continuing our exploration and circumnavigation of Tasmania by Mercedes Benz. When you've got 180 horsepower under your right foot and boutique hotels booked ahead, who cares how windy it might get.

And so, back in our reality on board Time Bandit this morning after an early start to return "the motor", we tuned into Tas Maritime for the PM forecast.

"North to north west fifteen to twenty. Swell two metres and sunny."

"Wait a minute" methinks. That would do for us. So, cast off the lines, and whoosh, we slipped from 180 bhp to our modest 62bhp.........because.......not a sign of fifteen to twenty, in fact, hardly a breath and what wind there was was from the south. On the nose. Where else?

It all reminded me of a time in that land far, far away, and indeed, a long, long time ago when we were out on the west coast of Scotland, with m'aunt and m'uncle, doing the Tobermory race. It was early morning and the fleet diligently had its ear to the VHF for the shipping forecast. It wandered around the sea areas finally reaching us and said something like, "Malin Head to Stornoway, southerly force 5 to 6, veering south west later. Rain. Visibility poor."

Like startled rabbits, pretty much the whole fleet stuck their heads outside to see flat calm and blazing sunshine.

At that point, a broad Glaswegian accent comes over the VHF saying, "Ho...Hen. Huv ye no looked oot the windae?

That about sums up weather forecasting and it's amazing how little it's changed in thirty years.

( OK. Maybe longer).

Deep South Tassie -March 2018

25 March 2018
Vessel Name: Time Bandit
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet 45
Hailing Port: Largs, Scotland
Crew: Anne and Stuart Letton
About: ex dinghy and keelboat racers now tooled up with an ocean going boat and cruising around aimlessly, destination Nirvana...
Extra: 2018 Cruising Australia by land and sea in blazing sunshine.
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/timebandit/profile
Time Bandit's Photos - Morocco Sept 2014
Photos 1 to 18 of 18 | Main
Ships of the desert at sunset
Heading down the souk in Fes
Inside of the worlds most expensive Mosque
Anne outside the mausoleum at Hassan Tower, Rabat
Following Purrrfect into Rabat
Amanda, Richard, Philppa, Dave and Linda somewhere in the Atlas Mountains
The Kasbah
The walls of an old Kasbah....as seen in Gladiator and a dozen other movies
Our Riad hotel in the Atlas Mountains
Heading down into the centuries old water system
Look at me!!!
How cute
Anne getting ready to mount up. I told her the BMW would be much safer.
Accusuck dispensed by Toureg guide...much to amusement of all except Anne
The camel trip Kasbah