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Archive for March, 2005

BALLINA … BYRON BAY, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA: 30th MARCH 2005

 BALLINA, NEW SOUTH WALES:

When approaching Ballina where I had intended to anchor, the Coast Guard Radio operator at Ballina advised not to attempt a crossing of the sandbar into Ballina Harbour.  Given he was a local and the radio station overlooked the Bar, one was inclined to take his advice.  I still sailed close into the Bar to see for myself what a bad bar looks like … and wasn’t disappointed with the experience.  It was just a boiling cauldron of white, foamy water and would have put the yacht into an uncontrollable spin!

* The `can-be-very-hairy entrance to Ballina! (Photo compilments of Wikapedia) *

Not being able to enter Ballina for the night meant an additional 15 miles sail to Byron Bay.  Well I thought a dinner with `Hoges’ (Crocodile Dundee, who has a house there) and his wife wouldn’t be out of order.  Luckily I had plotted my course along the coast to Byron Bay and around Cape Byron, after passing Ballina. 

BYRON BAY, NEW SOUTH WALES:

Byron Bay is a beachside town located in the NE corner of the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is located 417 nmiles north of Sydney and 90 nmiles south of Brisbane.  Byron Bay, a headland adjacent to the town, is the easternmost point of mainland Australia

* Byron Bay ... Mostly populated by young unemployed because of the great surfing! *

This was a strange day weather wise with very heavy rain clouds coming in from the SE. These clouds mess dramatically with the true wind direction and speed, making it necessary to change sail settings etc regularly.  At times the rain fall was so heavy you felt as though you were sailing through heavy fog.  One very pretty side effect of the heavy rain is its effect on the waves … the rain has the strength to flatten the small waves out … but not the swell.  The result is a smooth undulating ocean surface resembling sand dunes … very unusual. 

The reason I say `lucky’ was that on my approach to the Cape the heaviest rain squalls of the day came down.  Approaching the Cape I made radio contact with Cape Byron Coast Guard to ask for advice on where to anchor. 

The radio operator came back to me saying; “Right, can you see Julian Rocks?” 

Lloyd;    “My friend, I’m 300 metres off the CAPE and I cannot see IT… let alone any rocks”.  And it was true. 

What got me around the Cape safely were the waypoints I had plugged in 3 hours before … I just love the Chart Plotter even more! 

Byron Bay isn’t recognised as a popular anchorage, as it is very susceptible to ocean swell … in fact one couldn’t consider it in anything but an offshore breeze/southerly, or east-sou’ easterly … and I had an E/SE so it was just possible … (An `off-share’ breeze will create a flat sea because the wind hasn’t enough mileage (fetch) to build up a big wave pattern!) … but it still proved to be the roughest night I have spent at anchor yet!

Next day on to Southport, on the Gold Coast.

Somewhere along this coast I sailed from the Tasman Sea into the Coral Sea (South Pacific Ocean) … I need to do a little research on where the change takes place!

6-8

ooOoo

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A GREAT LEARNING CURVE! 25TH MARCH 2005

The location of this incident was four nmiles south of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia.

Coffs Harbour is a coastal city located on the north coast of New South Wales about 291 nmiles north of Sydney … 240 nmiles south of Brisbane.

Apart from this incident it was a great sail … until the breeze picked up to 35 knots.  Despite 3 reefs in the main and the jib 50% furled, Tsunami was topping 13.8 knots at times and that was too, too fast! In fact, it is my top speed recorded so far in my sailing experience.

* Tsunami/Deja vu with 4 reefs in the Main ... and small jib! *

 I sense readers thinking; “What does 3 reefs in the main mean?”?  Well, a yacht’s primary `engine’ (source of power) are the sails … and as with a car the bigger the sails/engine the faster the boat will go as the breeze increases in strength. To reduce power one must reduce the area of the sails. The `main’ (meaning mainsail, being the largest sail on the boat) can be reduced in area by folding it up onto the boom, at the base of the mainsail. This action is called reefing. My yacht has 4 reefs and the reefing lines are rigged to allow me to reef the 2nd and 3rd reefs without much fuss. (Q)  “What about the 1st and 4th reefs, you are going to ask?”  (A) “A yacht needs one line per reefing point and Tsunami only has two reefing lines. Therefore, I can only instigate two reefs”. (I did something about this and explain what, later! )

I usually reef-the-main before I leave the mooring for a day’s sailing, as it can be quite difficult at sea. 

* The colourful `Spinnaker' ... seldom used as it requires the `Screecher' to be removed! *

About three miles from Coffs Harbour I radioed Coastal Patrol to advise of my arrival … giving an E.T.A. (Estimated Time of Arrival) of about 20 minutes.

When Tsunami topped 13.8 knots I felt it was time to seriously slow down. But … with a 35 knot wind (gale force), steeply peaking waves and Tsunami travelling at such a fierce rate, my common-sence told me it was unsafe to try to turn around into the wind! To steer across the wind to turn Tsunami towards the harbour seemed an invitation to disaster and possible capsize … the worst possible scenario!

* Tsunami/Dejavu with 4 reefs in the main ... and full jib! *

 My Plan #2 … was to sail close to a small island adjacent to the entrance to the harbour and turn into the lee of it, hoping for calmer waters in which to turn into the wind to drop the Main? 

I was perched on the starboard bench alongside the barbecue, holding on with fingers bleached white from over-stressing.

Tsunami had had enough of this treatment … and took the situation in hand.  She dug her port bow under a wave and buried it … I was looking through the forward windows at neat, deep, Tasman Sea ocean water … only God knows how deep down the bow went.  In a split-second, Tsunami pivoted on this sunken hull and spun the entire yacht around 180˚… heading her back in the direction we had come from.  And I was still clamped to the bench seat, later wondering why I wasn’t catapulted over the side during the pirouette.  It only took a few seconds to appreciate our new position, which was facing into the wind, just right for dropping the mainsail … and this was done without hesitation.  With both engines already fired-up, it was a short drive to Coffs Harbour.

 
 

* Schreecher, Jib and full Main ... *

A humorous ending to this extraordinary experience was on entering the harbour, I radioed to finally sign off with Coastal Patrol.  “Congratulation Tsunami that was the most spectacular turn I have ever witnessed”.  The radio operator had been following our approach to Coffs through binoculars, knowing it had the potential to be something special … and seriously thought I had engineered this manoeuvre purposely.  I didn’t spoil his belief with the truth!

 A great ride … and what a remarkable little ship Tsunami proved herself to be … despite the massive stresses incurred by the pirouette, nothing bent or broke … and I developed a great feeling of confidence in the build of the yacht to carry me through anything that may come our way in the future.

 

What did you learn from this experience Lloyd?  

(1) Take more notice of SWW (Strong Wind Warnings)

(2)  Re-rig the mainsail to be able to take in a 4th reef.  This was done shortly after!

(3)  Reef the mainsail earlier … although I had three reefs in the mainsail … if there’s still too much power one must drop the mainsail all together.  Very, very difficult to do in the situation I found myself!

6-6

ooOoo

 

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AGGRAVATING BASTARDS!

A few miles south of Coffs Harbour!  Late in March, 2005.

One thing I enjoy about sailing is the space you have away from the many aggravating, coarse, loud and obnoxious bastards you can come across whilst on land.  Well, one day, despite being 3 miles out to sea, I still managed to run across one.

I was sailing along nicely, enjoying a 15 knot offshore breeze, meaning smooth lake-like waters … chart plotter/auto pilot doing a wonderful job … when I spot three fishing boats, each about 5 metres in length, similar to a ski-boat,  about a mile ahead.  This was the perfect demonstration of why one must always be on the lookout whilst using auto control.  One of the boats proved to be exactly on the course I had plotted several hours earlier and if I hadn’t been on the lookout it is very possible Tsunami would have run clean over it. 

* Great photo Aye? *

Anyhow , about 400 metres from the boat, I changed course 20˚ and passed the fishermen with about 30 metres to spare, close enough to give  me the chance to ask how the fishing was going.  His only response was to call me a fucking arsehole and ask me why I couldn’t have come closer.  My simple answer was; “Mate, I could have come a LOT, LOT closer!”   The most disturbing part, apart from the language, was his action in making to pelt a large lead sinker at Tsunami … it would have got very nasty if he had!!

6-5

ooOoo

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COFFS HARBOUR, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA: 25th MARCH 2005

Coffs Harbour is a coastal city located on the east coast of New South Wales about 291 nmiles north of Sydney … 240 nmiles south of Brisbane.

Took one of the batteries weighing 158 pounds out of Tsunami for charging and testing; man that is one heavy sucker. I was lucky to have made good friends with a couple sailing another Cat (Bill and Barbara of  `SV Bilbara’) and Bill was happy to help me lift it out.  I paid to have the battery people help me put it back in. Marina berth cost $33.00 per night, but necessary to pay for a berth to be able to get the battery off the yacht.

* Coffs Harbour Marina … quality … 6 out of 10! (Photo compliments of Wikipedia!) *

From Coffs I sailed to Yamba/Illuka and the most perfectly protected harbour you could wish for.  Yamba marks the entrance to the Clarence River up which you can sail 60 miles inland.  I will come back one day when I have more time (I was rushing to met Arianne in Brisbane) and spend a couple of weeks exploring this region.

6-7

ooOoo

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`ELECTRONIC CHARTING’ SYSTEM (CHART PLOTTER): As at 20th March 2005

 

* The Raymarine `Chart-Plotter' that came with SV Tsunami ... 2004 *

This is my most valuable piece of equipment aboard, just eclipsing the `Auto Pilot’. The system links to a Global Positioning System (GPS), which has the amazing capacity to pick up electronic signals from 8/10 satellites overhead … and the machine on board then calculates to within about 3-6 meters, the exact location of your craft anywhere it may be on the face of this planet!  How about that?  (Like a sat-nav in a car only better?)

The attributes of the system are many and I don’t mind admitting at this time I’ve only learnt about 15% of what the system is capable of.  For those who have no idea at all what an `Electronic Charting System’ is, I will attempt to explain. 

The system is an electronic version of paper charts which outline in great detail the contours of a coastline, the varying depths of water, locations of islands and reefs etc.  Very roughly it takes approximately 250-300 charts to plot the coastline of Australia … and each chart cost $30.00.  I’ll let you work it out but that comes to a lot of $$$ … and where does one store 300 charts of about 1000X750mm in size?

* The swallows seem to think they own everything on the yacht .. that's OK, until they turn in the other direction an `shit-on-the-screen!! *

The Electronic Charting System has the identical data on 4 discs (about 20X20mm each) and displays the data on a monochrome (green) screen …  (some rich people have colour screens) in my system about 80X60mm, with an image of the location of the yacht `blinking’ and superimposed over the electronic chart!  Therefore, the system will tell me `exactly’ where the yacht is in relation to the coastline and all obstacles around me!  Not bad eh?  It does a lot more besides and I am slowly trying to take it in.  The brain can only absorb so much before it stalls and says … `enough’ already!

My latest assault on the set up is to learn how to use the Routeing System which allows me to construct an electronic trail on the chart, which when engaged … and linked to the Auto Pilot will automatically steer the yacht along the trail I have made.  Sounds fantastic doesn’t it … and it is!  Must admit it has taken many hours of reading complicated manuals, plus trial and error, to get it all together.   Erica, Cousin Elaine and Geoff experienced some of the wild rides, during this process. 

Just yesterday I plotted a route across Lake Macquarie and the system worked to perfection, taking the yacht along the planned route, exactly.  Hooray!   A note of caution … you must always be on lookout of course, as your planned route may take the yacht through a moored fishing boat or similar solid object, with unimaginable consequences!!  

But apart from that, it’s very smart and an enormous time saver.  At every way-point an alarm sounds and the skipper must give permission to the system to continue, by pressing a button.  This is a safe-guard to force the skipper to look around to ensure the path is safe and clear before giving the system the go ahead to continue! 

AUTO PILOT’ SYSTEM

This system comes in a very, very, close 2nd to the `Chart Plotter’ system as the most valuable system on board.  Though I sail alone (one-up) very frequently, I have to admit I couldn’t do it without the assistance of the auto-pilot … it’s the equivalent of having another person on board willing to work 24 hours a day, without complaint and capable of sailing a straighter course than any human being.  And they don’t have to be fed and watered! 

* The `Auto-Pilot (the grey ring bolted to the steering wheel) takes orders from the Chart-Plotter and automatically steers to a point I nominate!! Just GREAT! *

The wonderful relationship the Auto Pilot has with the Chart Plotter makes it ever more valuable with every new trick I learn about the two systems.  Coming into Cape Hawke Harbour, I was able to tell them both to `Go-to’ a point just off the Cape, from 15 miles away … and the boat was automatically steered straight to that point!!  Magnificent!  

Sailing can be really tough! 

`BLACK EASTER SUNDAY’ NIGHT ‘05: 

Anchored in Cape Hawke Harbour, Forster-Tuncurry (two towns which had their names linked) in a narrow channel with fast flowing tidal waters, an annoying vibration started up that was new to me.  I got out of bed twice, say, 11:30, 01:00 … and finally 03:00 to finalise this matter once and for all.  It proved to be the tidal waters creating a vibrating effect on the `bridle’ attached to the anchor.  I can hear your mind buzzing … asking yourself … what the hell is a bridle?  Catamaran yachts, because of their wide beam (width of yacht) as opposed to a narrow beam on a mono (single hull yacht) swing at anchor much more than a mono.  This can cause some discomfort if the yacht swings side-on to the breeze.  A bridle is a type of yoke, or `V’ shaped rope leading from the bows (pointy ends) of each hull and attaching to the anchor chain 3-4 metres out from the bows … and reduces the swinging effect dramatically. 

* The anchorage at Forster-Tuncurry is a narrow fast-moving channels, with sandbar, with Pelicans! *

Now where was I with the Black Night drama?  All right … when leaning over the front crossbeam, (the large 300mm diameter aluminium beam which connects the two hulls) through the lifesaver lines, in pitch darkness (apart from my Dolphin torch) to inspect the bridle … my big head caught on a line and my `Timberland’ spectacles, with titanium rims, multifocal lenses, with auto tinting and scratch free glass, were ripped from my face and dropped into the 4 knot tidal waters … never to be seen again by human eyes, maybe the occasional fish will scratch it’s head at this strange inedible item on the seafloor.   $500.00 into the briny!  A very `Black’ night which left me with a very `Black’ feeling for the rest of the day … and onwards.  Plus, how does one see clearly now?

* This Boy had a MUCH WORSE day than me! The Skipper badly mis-judged the strong current … which swept the yacht under the bridge! *

 

Replacing the glasses in Brisbane proved to be a $560.00 exercise … too much for a moment’s inattention!!  These glasses will have a cord from each ear piece from which will be hanging a small float.  Really, these are on the market and this customer has been `given’ one by OPSM!

 6-4

ooOoo

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COUSIN ELAINE AND GEOFF … from WESTERN AUSTRALIA … 17TH MARCH 2005

 

Had a call from my cousin Elaine (Nee Fulwood) and husband Geoff on Thursday 17th March ’05 and it quickly became evident they would like a sail on Tsunami.  They had both lived permanently onboard a power boat earlier in their marriage and were therefore `old salts’.  We met on the following Saturday and they accepted an invitation to stay overnight. 

* Cousin Elaine (nee Fulwood) and Husband Geoff ... they loved Pittwater. *

 An overnight gave us the time to sail around to America Bay on Hawkesbury River and on Sunday, to call on the rubbish barge and waterfall around the corner in Refuge Bay (not to be confused with Refuge Cove where the oyster operation occurred.) 

* Rubbish disposal ... always an on-board problem. The local Council did something to help! *

* Geoff ... Elaine and Lloyd. Hawkesbury River, 20 kilometres north of Sydney. *

I may have mentioned the `rubbish barge’ in earlier writings?  It is a Council/Govt installation which is a moored barge (about 3 by 6 meters) which carries 6/8 240 litre bins.  Boats in the area deposit their garbage in the bins and a Council workboat comes regularly to empty them. Haven’t seen anything like that in the West!

Elaine catered for the weekend in grand style and they were clearly both taken by the space and comfort of the Cat though Geoff did force Elaine from their cabin with his snoring!

* Friendly Pelicans ... Big Birds! *

6-3

ooOoo

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BARNACLES AND TSUNAMI, PITTWATER, NSW … 12TH MARCH 2005

 

Later that day, I went to see friends, whom I made on earlier journeys to Pittwater, Cath and Roger Manning, (co-owners of a Seawind 1000 Cat, `Orca’).  They had invited me to call on them at their magnificent home overlooking Refuge Cove (a smaller cove than the `Basin’ and about 5 miles from Refuge Bay, Hawkesbury River and the waterfall.)  On arriving and pirating someone’s mooring it was great to have a meal with them and catch up. 

* Roger and Catherine on `SV Orca' ... the Basin, Pittwater, NSW *

 I mentioned to Roger the incredible amount of coral growth (barnacles) forming on the hulls of Tsunami … a bit like an oyster farm under there!  He suggested I beach the yacht on the sand flats in front of their house (it dries out at low tide) apparently the previous owner of Tsunami had done the same thing once!  Anything to try to save a few $$$, so, at next high tide, which was in total darkness just to make it more interesting, with Roger’s help, (he loves messing around with yachts) we backed Tsunami over the flats and anchored forward and aft (back and front – I know you knew that?)

* `Tsunami' almost high and dry in Refuge Cove, Pittwater, down from Roger/Caths Mansion! *

I had imagined Tsunami would rest on her two keels and the hulls would stand proud of the sand.  Wrong!  The keels and rudders sank straight into the sand/mud up to the hulls.  By the time this was evident, I had spent $400 on antifoul and brushes etc!  So turning to plan `B’ … scrape as many ‘oysters’ off the bottoms and polish with scouring brushes.  That took all of the next week to do, mainly because the high tides were getting lower … and the low tides were getting higher.  Each day less area of each hull was being left bare and it became necessary to work underwater. 

* Coral growth ... it loves to grow on anything floating on water! *

* When there's water in it ... Refuge Cove is beautiful and straight down from Roger/Caths house! *

Now I have done some of my best work in the dark, but underwater???

Tsunami went like a scalded Cat on the trip to Lake Macquarie, so I am convinced it was the oysters that had been holding her back before. 

 

 

 

 

* The magnificent outlook from Roger and Catherines balcony! *

6-2

ooOoo

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