Speedbird Noumea Trip
We left Yarra Edge Marina with 3 persons on board on Mar 19 bound for Sydney and the Gold Coast City Marina. After passing through Port Phillip Heads we rounded Wilson’s Promontory at about 23:00 the same evening and headed for Gabo Island passing through the area of the Bass Strait oilfields.
From Gabo Island to Sydney conditions were ideal with a good breeze from the South, arriving in Port Hacking approximately 2 days and 18hrs after leaving Melbourne. Generally, a very comfortable ride. A short stop was made to visit the previous owner who has always taken a keen interest in the boat and has not seen the boat since my purchase in late 2011. Because of tides our visit was only short so we headed out and set a course for the Gold Coast Seaway. The conditions remained the same as we had enjoyed from Gabo Island, a breeze over the stern between 15 and 30 knots. Our average speed for the trip was 9.6 knots. Nights were clear, a nearly full moon and plenty of stars. The Gold Coast Seaway was negotiated at 6:30 am, 1 day and 19hrs after leaving Sydney after fighting approx. 2 knots of current off the northern NSW coast.
On up the Coomera River to the Gold Coast City Marina for maintenance including full service of all the machinery and stabilisers on board, sand blasting of the underwater areas and application of new anti-fouling paint. The marina is a wonderful facility and is a real ‘one stop shop’ with all the trades available on site.
After 6 weeks including Easter the boat went back into the water, provisions were obtained, bunkering was completed. The remainder of the crew joined the boat and we set off for Noumea. We found Border Force Australia to be very co-operative, officers came to the marina and cleared us out and completed formalities with an absolute minimum of complications. A total of 5 on board was at our capacity for travelling but it worked well with the three men looking after the operation of the boat and 2 ladies taking care in turn of meal duties.
The trip to Noumea was absolutely trouble free and if the wind increased to 10 knots it was considered to be ‘blowing’, magnificent conditions for the whole trip which lasted 3.5 days. Lines were trolled for the trip which resulted in two marlin strikes and a mahi-mahi which we got to the boat only to be broken off at the last minute. Our first investment when we arrived was some heavier fishing gear which allowed us to retrieve the fish we caught.
On arrival in Noumea two of the crew departed and my wife who is not keen on sailing out of sight of land joined the boat for some cruising in the waters around Noumea.
To navigate the area it was essential that good charts are carried, care and constant attention are required to navigate the reefs and the anchor needs to be dropped in sand rather than amongst coral which abounds.
Isle of Pines is a spectacular cruising ground with protected anchorages and clear water. Shops are not prolific so careful provisioning is required. Fishing was good, Tuna and a Spanish Mackerel were brought on board, more than likely more fish could have been had but we only fished when we needed more piscatorial supplies.
The original intention was to visit the Loyalty Islands but leisurely cruising exploring the eastern side of New Caledonia was, we decided, preferable to rushing. The prevailing winds were from the south east so with a little care it was always possible to find protected anchorages for comfortable cooking conditions and a good night’s sleep.
Noumea is a popular stopping off point for many of the international yachts with boats from all over the world in residence. In our marina there were two local boats, one from Martha’s Cove and another from Hastings both sailing as husband and wife crews. ‘Athos’ [below] was a truly magnificent yacht, 203 ft long, designed and built in Holland some six years ago, all aluminium hull and available for charter at US$205,000 per week. A boat which would grace any marina!
Currently the ‘Speedbird’ remains in Noumea in safe hands and waiting for the next phase of our cruising program.
Concluding and on reflection we felt that cruising in Tasmania can be just as rewarding without the need to travel long distances. The area from Hobart around the south coast to Strachan offer wonderful scenery and anchorages that are seldom more than a day’s travelling. Closer to Hobart there are many protected anchorages without the need for careful consideration of provisions.
SV Tenacious Melbourne to Adelaide
Melbourne to Adelaide sailing out on Monday 3rd Oct arriving Adelaide Saturday 8th Oct, 2016.Tenacious is a 65m three-masted barque: a wooden hulled, square-rigged sailing ship.
The ship was specially designed and built by the Jubilee Sailing Trust in England, a charity that strives to enable people of all physical abilities to sail. With a permanent crew of nine, the balance (another 34 on our trip) was made up of “voyage” crew: around half having some sort of disability.
Tenacious arrived in Melbourne on Sunday, August 14. We were one of the many boats out on the Bay that day to welcome her into Williamstown. Our first opportunity to sail on board Tenacious was a day trip around Port Phillip Bay on Sunday 28th September.
A few days later, I received an email from the organisers, needing able crew urgently to assist sailing Tenacious to Adelaide. They had a full voyage crew with some form of physical disability but were short handed of able crew. The possibility of cancelling the trip was on the cards unless they could sign on some able crew in the next couple of days. Well this wasn't a hard decision and a mate and I booked the trip within a couple of hours. At the end, enough crew signed on and the voyage was confirmed.
Monday 3rd – Arrived at Seaworks Maritime Precinct in Williamstown on a very gloomy and stormy day. We boarded the ship around 1300hr for official signing on, being advised of our watch teams and designated muster point and shown to our bunks to unpack. The watches and muster points are split into 4 groups, each having a watch leader and a designated muster point ie Forward Port, Aft Port, Forward Starboard and Aft Starboard. We were also issued with a watch list and galley/mess duties.
The rest of the day was spent on fitting up with oil skins, boots (for the ones that did not bring their own gear), safety harnesses and a full ship safety briefing, including an evacuation practice run of all crew (able and with disabilities) from below decks. The crew in wheel chairs (5) and with aids to walk had to be winched up from below decks and all muster at our designated points with life jackets on. We missed out by by 7 seconds. The allocated time is 7 minutes for a full evacuation. The First Mate smiled as she said that we would get more practice on an other day.
Following this, some brief training on setting sails and understanding the ship.
Dinner is served at 1800hr with the bar opening at 1700hr when in port. We were a very excited bunch over dinner, all talking of the up coming voyage, knowing already of the weather conditions in the bay and in Bass Straight (30-40kn NW).
It wasn't long before the Captain came down to the mess area to welcome us all on board and have a briefing on the anticipated weather conditions. He advised that due to extreme conditions in Bass Strait, we would head down to Queenscliff on Tuesday and anchor, leaving Wednesday morning at slack water.
Tuesday 4th - Our first watch duty, midnight to 4am. This was a “dock” watch as we were still tied up at Williamstown! Even when in dock, watch duties are still held as part of Maritime Law, due to the number of crew on board.
During breakfast, the Captain filled us in on the latest weather conditions in Bass Strait: still very rough and not abating till late Wednesday evening. The bad news was that we had to stay another night at the dock in Williamstown, as no Port Phillip pilots were available to pilot Tenacious down to Queenscliff.
So the rest of the day was spent on further sail training, evacuation, rope handling and climbing the yard arms.
The late afternoon's announcement, before we were dismissed of all duties and have some free time, was “Happy Hour” would be held for 1 hour beforehand. Well let me tell you the meaning of happy hour on board a sailing ship: we were split into our watch teams and given cleaning duties. A full scrub down from top to bottom of the interior, including the heads and all deck areas.
I will use this on board our catamaran in future when we have guests staying over, so they can experience the full meaning, ha ha.
Wednesday 5th – Finally, at around 9.30am, the lines are dropped and we left the dock with our pilot on board.
The trip down the bay was motoring as winds were head on and we had to make the heads by early afternoon. Everyone on board was very excited that we were underway, taking lots of photos and chatting about the conditions ahead.
The Rip, as always, showed its turbulent state even for a 65m ship. This would have been the first time for the majority of the crew to experience the Heads. About an hour later, we were well clear and starting to feel the Southern Ocean swell. The wind NW around 30-35kn. A number of pods of dolphins escorted us as we made our way towards Cape Otway.
It wasn't long before the dreaded sea sickness started to kick in. There had been earlier discussions of various “cures”, from ginger tablets to the various tablets on the market which the majority of the crew were taking. Well they slowly went “MIA” or feeling very sorry for themselves. I must admit (touch wood) I'm not prone to sea sickness even in the worst conditions.
I was on mess duty for dinner. We had probably 20 crew seated while the ship was rolling around in the big swells. The meal was pork chops with “greens”. I don't know if this was an intuition by the cook or not! By the time we served up, a further 6 crew disappeared very quickly, looking extremely green.
Thursday 6th - We rounded Cape Otway in the early hours with a big swell, NW 30-35kn wind, motor sailing with forward, inner and royal staysails to counter balance some of the rolling of the ship.
Breakfast showed the true state: only 8 crew showed up - and I was one of them. It was not much better for lunch and dinner, with only 14. The majority of our wheel chair crew were in good spirits and showed little effect to the sea state, although there were some interesting wheelchair manoeuvres on deck! There was a “buddy” system in place, so if a crew member with any disability (including those who were sea sick!), able crew would always be around, looking out if assistance was needed or requested.
Friday 7th – Conditions eased a bit: NW 25-30kn. Heading was for the Back Stair Passage, between Kangaroo Island and Cape Jarvis.
Not much activity on board as the majority of crew were still down for the count. Those that were able to get some air on deck were treated to dry Salada biscuits. This was my idea of sea sickness alleviation from previous voyage experiences. This seemed to work and normally there were requests for more or beverages of tea or coffee.
Our on-coming watch, between 12 noon to 4pm, had lots of excitement and near misses, manoveuring around cray pot buoys! The off-going watch had just entered a cray pot fishing area.
I was designated helmsman. We found ourselves with cray pot buoys being spotted by the lookouts on both port and starboard sides, at one point just missing one set. The engineer would not have been very happy as we were still motor sailing. Ropes and spinning propellers do not go together well!
This brought the Captain out to take command of the ship. We zigzagged for over an hour before finally leaving the area behind. I don't know who was happier: us or the cray pot fishing vessels.
Saturday 8th – Our last day and wouldn't you know it: the weather started to clear, the sea state eased and the sun was shining.
Dolphins were spotted of both sides of the bow. Kangaroo Island was in the distance and Back Stair Passage only a few hours away.
Finally, the motors were turned off and all hands were on deck for sail hoisting. By now, this was pretty much 80 percent of the crew. For even some that were still not feeling fully recovered, this was a particularly majestic time under sail. Sadly, the wind didn't last, dropping off to about 5kn. So all hands were back on deck to put the sails away, with selected crew (one being me), going up to the yard arms to pack and tie them up.
By lunchtime, almost all crew were on deck, talking of their experience: good and bad. Above all, they were smiling and getting their colour back, enjoying the sun and calm, warm conditions.
The afternoon activities, were set aside for all disabled crew to climb up to the crows nest, with assistance. Wheel chair crew were hoisted up in their wheel chairs. This task was performed by all the able crew pulling on the hoisting lines. Those that had a partial disability were escorted by buddies on each side whilst they climbed up the stay steps to the crows nest. Able crew handled the safety lines should one miss or slip off the steps. As each person reached the crows nest, the entire crew would clap to acknowledge their amazing achievement. All of this was taking place as we slowly motored towards the mouth of the Adelaide River, our overnight anchorage.
The anchor was dropped around 9pm.
Sunday 9th - The good weather didn't last. The day was overcast but not raining. A lone power boat came out to say hello.
Around 9am, with the pilot on board, we motored up the channel and into the Adelaide River to our dock.
We didn't get much of a reception: only 2 yachts met Tenacious as we motored up the river. Well, it was Sunday at around 11.30am in the City of Churches. I suppose they had better things to do, than welcome a Tall Ship!!!
We docked around 12 noon. The gangway was lowered and the voyage crew started to disembark. There was a final group photo, good byes and hugs and the crew slowly parted to their home destination.
A few of us stayed on till the next day for our flights back to Melbourne (we were the ones who factored a “worst-case” scenario).
Would I do this again? Yes, in a blink of an eye, should I be asked again. I was asked by the First Mate to sign on as permanent non-paid crew, for ship's maintenance (due to my boat building background). Very tempting, with a girl in each port??
ABOARD DEVILS LAIR 2
R Marine Crawley - Riviera Whitsunday's tag along experience June/July 2016
After much anticipation and excitement the journey north commenced from Southport Marina on 25 June 2016, destination Airlie Beach. Skipper John and 1st mate Jill in the company of deck hands Clint and Heather aboard a 51 Riviera "Devils Lair 2" join a fleet comprising ten Rivs all with varied crew - some boats carrying just two crew and some with a crowd of nine onboard.
The day has dawned sunny and calm but somewhat chilly a great relief considering Friday's weather of exceptionally strong winds.
We muster at the entrance to the Coomera River and head off 15 minutes late due to some tardy skippers. Our lead boat is "Boatman" skippered by Ben Crawley of R Marine Crawley based in Runaway Bay and he will guide us northward.
It's an easy run through the inside passage and we then run smoothly across Moreton Bay hugging the coast from Bribie Island up to Mooloolaba - less than a five hour trip.
A very smooth crossing of The Wide Bay bar brings us into Hervey Bay - stunning!! Sunshine, blue skies, calm water.
Our trip up from Mooloolaba at 21 knots went quickly and we had a great viewing of several whales breaching and lots tail and fin slapping. Such a wonderful sight and how lucky to experience first hand these magnificent creatures.
Cruising through the Great Sandy Straights at 10 knots - lots of fisherman out today and who wouldn't want to be on the water today with such perfect conditions. Anchor down and time to sit down and lap up the sunshine.
Tenders are launched - it's time for a reconnoiter to explore Kingfisher Bay Resort situated near the top end of Fraser Island. The boys tell us that we will have a wet landing and sure thing, that's how it turns out. Very extreme tide changes here and we wade ashore pants rolled up to thighs in the dark but thankfully the water is pretty warm. Later we find out that we could have actually tied up at the jetty but we had a giggle about it anyway. Dinner eaten we head back to the tender worried that the anchor may have shifted but all is OK and we make our way safely back to the mother ship.
HEADING OVER THE WIDE BAY BAR
URANGAN AND BUNDABERG
Slight change of schedule as Ben decides it's going be too windy to head to Bundaberg so overnight berths are hurriedly arranged at Urangan where we enjoy a very nice meal at Cafe Balaena before heading back to the boat and to bed.
Tuesday we head off to Bundaberg and although it's rough the boats handle the seas well and it seems no time till we arrive at the marina. Everyone fuels up here then it's off to the Rum factory
for a tour and tasting. We learn that there is a huge investment in the stored molasses and maturing rum. Marina manager drives us and also goes shopping for extra supplies as we will be well offshore the next few days - great service. Boat well stocked so we won't starve. Group dinner at the Baltimore Cafe. Gradually getting to know fellow travellers and they all seem a pretty nice group. We head back to respective boats but the party continues for some hours, longer amongst the younger of the group.
LADY MUSGRAVE ISLAND
Today we leave for Lady Musgrave. What a fabulous sight 10 Rivs travelling together but we are not long out of Bundaberg when we see Rastus pull up dead in the water and black smoke starts to billow from the engine room - it's obviously engine trouble. With expert advice over the radio temporary repairs are made, enough for them to slowly get underway until RMC expert Nick is sent to help and temporary repairs are made - final diagnosis exhaust outlet blown off. This entails a transfer of said Nick to Rastus - an extremely tricky and dangerous manoeuvre in sloppy seas. Vicki and Greg are left extremely edgy and with a blackened engine room. Rastus arrives about one hour after the other boats and makes it into the lagoon.
The entry to the lagoon is very narrow and it seems like we have to squeeze between the coral fringes. Lovely quiet afternoon and luckily it's warm sitting in the stern cockpit out of the wind. Expected to drop off overnight and hopefully the next few days will bring perfect weather.
What a terrible night in Lady Musgrave - howling winds, boat lurching on the anchor crashing and bashing so loudly that we all have trouble sleeping. Totally unexpected conditions. It's a very tired looking crew emerging from their beds but little do we realise that worse is yet to come. Our hopes of a beautiful day are sadly not realised, it is warm but we can't seem to ditch the wind. Later in the day everyone goes ashore and RMC set up a marquee and BBQ and we mingle with the other boaties over a few drinks and watch the sunset.
Next morning, the beautiful conditions we have been hoping for arrive!! Dead calm, sun and the beautiful turquoise waters of the lagoon. Today is the fishing competition and all the boats leave the lagoon except Devils Lair. We have other plans and soon we're heading off to test out the snorkelling gear and we motor in the tender over to the reef surrounding the lagoon and after much fumbling we are overboard in true scuba style - backwards and head first. The water is lovely and we are greeted by all the beautiful reef fish that we are all so familiar with. The next test for our crew is to actually get back on board the tender - mmmmmm now how are we going to do that?? The result is hilarious with the blokes heaving we girls up over the side, head first and with absolutely no finesse, and we all fall about laughing hysterically. A very funny way to end a very special experience. The day culminates in the return of the other boats all with great catches and we are generously gifted with a big mackerel and a package of reef fish - dinner, fresh out of the sea. Doesn't get much better than that!! The day ends with a couple of wines sitting out in the stern cockpit and enjoying the balmy evening dreaming of a peaceful nights sleep.
Ha!!! And that really was a dream. By 3 am we're all wide awake - that horrific wind is back gusting to 40 knots and thoughts of dragging the anchor fill our minds as we nervously await dawn. We're OK but Vicki and Greg on Rastus had their tender ripped from the stern of their boat - the rope shredded. Brand new tender sporting a 25 hp outboard now bobbing around somewhere in the Coral Sea. Thankfully they are insured but after the troubles with the engine on Rastus both parties are feeling a little battered.
The group parts ways at Musgrave, some returning to the Gold Coast, Rastus waiting on spare parts to be delivered from Bundaberg via a tour boat and the rest heading further north.
KEPPEL BAY MARINA AT ROSLYN BAY
After a pretty short run we are safely in the marina and all looking for a good nights sleep. We have another group dinner organised for tonight which is very enjoyable, the menu specialising in Braham beef from Banana Station
John from Nasty will leave the group here due to issues requiring attention at home and we reluctantly farewell both him and Marty - extremely nice people.
ISLAND HEAD CREEK
We are enjoying the short hops between each destination and once again after a pretty quick run we head into Island Head Creek with much anticipation for the charity auction and Italian night.
The Boatman, Blue Monkey and Halcyon raft up together and this group becomes our base for the planned activities. Although we encounter some shallow spots heading in, the creek opens up to a very sheltered anchorage in deep but calm waters and our first task is to put out the nets for the crabbing competition and the men head off to hopefully find a good spot. We have minimal knowledge of crabbing but do know that we need to be near the muddy shallows and use rather "smelly" bait.
Later we head across to our floating "pontoon" for a couple of bevvies before dinner then return for yet another of our meals that as usual verge on the side of gourmet. Our catering arrangements are working perfectly!!
A visit to the crab pots early the next morning reveals two blue swimmer crabs, neither of which would meet the minimum size requirements but we hold out hope for a big muddie and the following we are duly rewarded. For novices we haven't done too badly!!
The scheduled charity auction is on tonight with each guest providing an item for Ben to auction, all proceeds going to Sands Qld a charity which provides support to to families experiencing the death of a baby, whether from miscarriage, stillbirth, newborn death or other pregnancy related losses, surely a very worthy cause. A range of items are up for grabs and Ben puts on his "auctioneer" hat and commences a hilarious spiel not only about the items but also the bidders as he encourages them to bid higher and higher. It's a great success with some really great auction items and the result is a whopping amount which R Marine Crawley tops up to a total of $7000, a very welcome donation to Sands.
The following day it's not only crab pot checking but a surprise interlude as "Reel Dynamic" has a hit on one of their rods off the stern and as it reels out the guys quickly jump into the tender to commence the hunt. And that's when the fun starts with Pete standing up urging the others to go faster as he tries to reel in the big one. Clearly this a big fish and others quickly follow with offers of gloves and a knife as the tender gets taken on a merry dance with the fish. At this point Ben sends the drone skywards and some very interesting footage is captured. From our vantage point we see a huge splash alongside the tender - this fish is big - and as the reports filter in all is revealed - it's a 4 metre tiger shark and later Andy tells us that once he had hauled the now very angry shark closer he freaked out and quickly let the chase go. Very dangerous as one bite from this monster could have easily sunk the dingy with 3 helpless blokes left to the mercy of said angry shark. In hindsight this could have turned out very badly!!
Later we all gather to hear the fishy tales and as each boat has provided an Italian dish to share we have a lovely meal. It's amazing what can be produced out of our somewhat small galleys. Bellissimo!!!!!!
THE PERCY'S AND SCAWFELL ISLAND
Beach BBQ and a visit to the three level treehouse. The Percy's, a safe haven for Boaties but still subject to windy conditions.
An overnight stay at Hamilton Island to again escape the wind. Commercial as ever and in preparation for race week in August.
9 - 9
Below: Sunset at Scawfell Island