The First Voyage

30 Sep 02

We slipped from the berth at Hope Is marina a little after 0700, motored about 500 meters to the fuel dock and tied up. Doesn't sound much but when you have not done this before, its quite daunting doing it with your life savings which is now 50 ft long and weighs 8 tons. There was no wind or current and every thing went without a hitch. At 0730 the fuel dock attendant had not arrived, so we ordered coffee from the cafe that was open. About 15 minutes later the attendant arrive, suffering from the flu, (we sympathized, but kept our distance!!). By 0815 we had toped of the diesel tanks and the outboard fuel caddies, slipped the lines and we underway down the Broadwater towards the Southport Seaway. About and hour later, with an escort of dolphins, we transited the Seaway turned right and with about a 10 knt northly behind us we hoisted the sails. The genoa was easily set but the main took some serious work to get up. Our voyage had finally started. With the main blanketing the genoa in the light wind I decided to furl the genoa as it was not helping much.

capebryon.jpg - 6344 Bytes Passing Cape Byron

This was to prove a bad decision ( I should have dropped the Main and left the genoa up). As the day progressed the wind slowly increased in force, but I didnít really notice until it was above about 25 knt true (we have no wind instruments). The boat was handling fine, hitting 12 knots at times and steady at around 10-11 knts. When I did notice that the wind had built up we were about 2 hours from Balina, our first intended port of call. My concern was getting the main down and stowed in the high wind with just the 2 of us, but since the boat was handling the conditions fine I decided to delay doing that, hoping for a change in the wind. No such luck!!

About a mile from the entrance to Balina it was crunch time. I started both engines and briefed Susanne on what we going to do. We turned into the wind and had the Auto pilot hold us on the course. The wind was now gusting to about 30 knts and without our 12 knts of down wind speed we felt the full brunt of it. Getting the main sail down and lashed was not a pleasant experience, there was no down haul. However all was accomplished and we turned back towards Balina entrance. We found a nice anchorage in Moby's bay and settled down for the night. That night I had a good hard look at the main sail handling arrangements. No down haul and more importantly, no down haul on the cringe rings for the slab reefing. This meant that just the two of us could not quickly reef or lower the main if we had to. I resolved to keep the main stowed until these deficiencies were resolved. With the northly winds that were forecast the genoa would be enough and it was easy to furl right? The previous owner had even put a 2 speed self trailing winch on the furler control line, piece of wrong I was!!

31 Sep 02

We awoke at about 0530 with the first pre dawn light. By 0600 we out of Balina and heading south under just the genoa making about 6-6.5 knts in the 10-15 knt breeze.

Susanne fussed about in the galley fixing breakfast. Egg and bacon muffins, Hmmmmm. Champagne cruising, little to do except keep a lookout and occasionally alter course. Radio ahead to the Yamba marina and reserved a berth. By 1330 we were secure along side. Half hour (or so it seamed) hot showers, 2 loads of washing, downloaded email and the latest weather forecast (good, continuing northlies) took up the rest of the afternoon. In the late afternoon, Tom a local farmer (who owns a 25 ft, or so, sloop docked in the marina) gave us a lift into town. We did a little shopping and then Susanne headed off to Church while I explored the town a little more and looked for a place to eat. I found 'Restaurant Castalia' ( 02 6646 1155  email ) and made a booking. I picked Susanne up after church and we walked up the hill to the restaurant. We found Castalia to have a small but diverse menu complemented by a carefully selected wine list. Our meal was excellent but we were very tired by now so we finished quickly and caught a taxi back to the marina and slept fitfully.

01 Oct 02

Again, awake with the pre dawn light and out to sea. Again heading south under genoa only making about 6.5 knts. At about 1100 a strong wind warning was issued, I made a quick calculation and decided to start both motors and motorsail. Doing about 10 knts as the wind built to about 20 knts from the west, I shut down the Starboard engine and we were still doing 10 knts. We were well on schedule to get into Coffs harbour before the strong wind arrived. At about 1300, Murphy deiced to pay us a visit. The block that secured the halyard return on the genoa disintegrated. ( it was undersized, so perhaps Murphy was not to blame after all). With the genoa flogging I tried to furl it, remember what I said about how furling it would be a piece of cake - NOT. Using the winch it still took me about 5 minutes to furl the genoa and not before tearing the leach. Now I knew why there was a 2 speed winch on that control line!! Once furled, I got both engines back online and heading for Coffs at about 8 knts. We were treated to a spectacular display of several pairs of whales frolicking on the surface about half a mile of our bow as we approached Coffs.

Coffs marina was tight, very tight and almost full. I took one look at our assigned berth, complete with a 25 knt cross wind and said 'no way!!' We picked up a vacant T end on a finger wharf were several people helped us get secured. We were berthed nose in with our stern hanging out. Getting on and off the boat was not easy, even with the aide of a rope ladder I rigged. We were just getting settled when one of the other boats got a phone called from friends from Seal Rocks, the winds had arrived and were uprooting trees. We all immediately set to work doubling up our lines. 30 minutes of frantic work and helping each other had us a feeling a little better. About 15 minutes later the WIND arrived and some!! We sat in the cockpit and watched these 50 knt plus bullets of wind come over the marina wall behind us, push us around a little and then hit the water in front of us and race across the water to slam into the boats on the next finger wharf. Monos with bare poles were heeling to 30 or 40 deg and had owners and crews running to get more fenders into place. The show lasted about an hour and a half and the wind settled down to a more manageable 20-30 knots.

coffswnd.jpg - 10754 Bytes

These pictures really don't do the wind justice,

perhaps a video would be better

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coffswnd2.jpg - 11505 Bytes

We met Keith, an ex RN Submariner who we had seen in Yamba the day before. He had spent the day on a bus getting back to Coffs and his boat after a delivery deal he was working on floundered when the owner ran out of money at Yamba and Keith was stiffed his fee. He lamented that had he known we were heading for Coffs he would have hitched a ride. That evening we met 'Bronko' from the boat berth next door as he arrived home from work as a sail maker and he was ex navy. After swapping experiences for twenty minutes or so, we arranged for him and his boss, Pierre, to drop by and look at our genoa the next day. The next day dawned fine and clear with little wind.

coffscalm.jpg - 9940 Bytes View of Coffs Harbour marina from the top of Mutton bird Island

 I set about getting the genoa down. I was looking for a feeder in the foil just above the furler drum. Hmmm could not find it. I decided that separating the drum from the foil was the only way to go and set about getting the job done. The problem was the stainless steel slotted screws set into cast aluminum with no 'never seize' or similar. Keith came over to help and so did Pete from 'Wee Toot' with the lone of some tools. Pete's wife Kath was heading up to town and took Susanne along to do some shopping while I continued working on the furler.

Many 'boat words' and banging (don't force it Sir ... Get a bigger hammer!) later we had all the screws securing the drum out and you guessed it, still the genoa would not come down. Keith suggested we go and ask Pierre for advice, which I reluctantly agreed to. So we rolled the sail back up and as we did, Keith spotted the feeder in the foil about 18 inches above the drum ... Dough!!! The genoa was down on the deck in 10 minutes. Pierre and Bronko arrived shortly after wood and took the sail, promising to have it repaired and a new UV strip by the next day. That afternoon, we headed up to the local very well stocked chandlery to do a little shopping for the boat, $270 later, new blocks, rope (it was not on the boat yet so its still rope!!) head rebuild kit, 'never seize' etc etc. Later that afternoon I tackled a rebuild of the head to try and stem some of the leaks in the system. (three weeks later I have most of them under control after re tapping a lot of threads that some ham fisted %$&^ predecessor left me with). The next morning when we asked Pete from 'Wee Toot' about bus services he handed us his car keys and gave us directions to the shopping center and hardware store. New step latter (to make it easy to get on and off the boat) power cord (I didn't like the look of the old one) bulk hand cleaner (never leave port with out it) and 20-30 Kg of groceries we handed Pete his car back, with a full tank. Bronko delivered the repaired Genoa, great job (Off Shore Sails 02 6651 1286 webpage ). That afternoon we hoisted the sail back on the furler with a new halyard return block and got the boat ready for an early departure the next morning

04 Sep 02

Our 'normal' 0530 departure followed by breakfast underway. We had be advised by several people at Coffs to bypass Port Macquaire and its nasty bar crossing and stop next at Laurieton.

susseonbow.jpg - 9246 Bytes Susanne, just taking it easy

We headed south at around 7 knts arrived at Camden Haven inlet at around 4:30 pm. We head up river to Laurieton and found some public moorings just south of the town. The tide was falling and a tidal stream of about 3 knts made picking up the mooring very difficult. Mike, a yachtie on another boat saw our difficulty and jumped into his dingy and gave us a hand, we followed this up with a couple of 'thank you' beers in our cockpit. Laurieton looked wonderful but we did not have time stop. We resolved to stop here a while next time.

05 Sep 02 Another 0530 departure followed by another effortless cruise at around 7knts to Port Stephens. Several phone calls as we approached the Port had us comparing marina berth prices from which we selected 'The Anchorage' at Corlette head. We stopped at the fuel dock before slipping into our assigned berth. Susanne wanted a couple of items from the supermarket and the marina staff gave us directions to a local conveyance store about a 10 minute walk away. We thought we were heading in the right direction but to be sure we asked a couple of ladies for conformation as they pulled out of there drive way. 'Jump in' they said  ... 'that's were are going' It turned out that we where hitching a ride with owner and staff of the local Thai restaurant. The owner was very proud of her restaurant, telling us of the awards she had won. We did our shopping and walked back to the boat. A little latter we decided that we felt like dinning out and Thai sounded great, so after showering and changing we walked backed to the restaurant for dinner (Sa-Nook Thai, 3/25 Sandy Point Rd Corlette Phone:02 4984 3363) . That proved to be an excellent decision. We had the best Thai food in a long time at a very reasonable price.

06 Sep 02

No not another 0530 am departure, this time we slipped out at 3:00 am. We need to cover allot of ground as we wanted to bypass Sydney and pull into Pt Hacking further south and with less hassle of finding at berth in a major port.

passng sydney.jpg - 9128 Bytes Cruising Past Sydney

Another easy sail and we pulled into Pt Hacking at around 4:00 pm and picked up a public mooring off Jibbon Beach.

jbbonbeach.jpg - 9621 Bytes Jibbon beach is just one of those beautiful spots a stones throw from Sydney
jbbonbeach2.jpg - 7605 Bytes  Sunset over Jibbon beach

The wind had now turned westerly but we were well protected and slept soundly.

07 Sep 02

We slipped or mooring again, you guessed it, 0530 am, heading south with a 15 knt WSW which was predicted to turn SW and build to 30 knts. We were heading for Jervis bay, a location we knew very well, having lived the for a couple of years. The wind did indeed built and swing more southerly, so we moved in closer to the coast to get some protection. We rounded Pt Perpendicular which guards the entrance to Jervis bay and ran straight into to teeth of 30 to 35 knts right on the nose. We motored the last 5 miles across the bay to pick up a public mooring off Vincentia.

08 Sep 02

Yep, another 0530 start. As we motored across the bay the port engine lost power and then died. Stb was running fine so I decide to push on and resolve the problem under way. Susanne was not happy with this decision and let me know, A LOT!!! We cleared the bay and set our course south and I climbed into the port engine room and began to trace the problem. The very dirty fuel filter seamed to be the problem. I changed to filter and set about bleeding the air out of the system and priming the diesel engine. No joy, I did not seam to be able to pump any fuel up with the priming pump built into the engine. Had I miscalculated and run the port fuel tank dry?? I thought we should have only used about 90 liters (half a tank). We were passing Ulladulla by this time and a radio call confirmed the availability of fuel, so head headed in. A big pod of dolphin escorted us in surfing first off one bow then the other then back to the first. We pulled in and tied up at the fuel dock at about 11:00 am. We took on fuel and found I had not miscalculated the fuel consumption, the port tank took 93 liters. Hmmm, Susanne headed off ashore to find lunch while I when back down into the engine room. I surmised that the engine priming pump was not able to draw the fuel from the tank on its own so I set about priming the engine by temporary pluming in the engine sump pump. Success!! Both engines running fine.

A strong wind warning had been issued and we decided to spend the night at Ulladulla. The was not a lot of room but with our shallow draft we were able to set the anchor in about 5 ft of water. There was not a lot of swing room and I was less than happy. After a good meal we go our heads down. At about 10:00 pm I woke as the wind arrived. 30-40 knt gusts buffered us around but the anchor was well dug in and we did not move. I sat up for 2 or 3 hours until the wind subsided and then went back to bed. Susanne had slept through the whole thing without waking.

09 Sep 02

Got up at 0530, but the whether did not look promising, SSW 20knts. At 0740 we decided to go for it and headed out. 15-20 knts on the nose so we motored on both engines. At around 1100 the Std engine started to lose power, a quick check of the fuel filter showed a dirty filter, but not as bad as the port one had been. I decided to change the filter immediately before the engine died. We motored in close to the coast and dropped the anchor off Potato point under the lee of a headland. Susanne set the anchor watch while I dived into the Stb engine room. I thought it would take about 30 minutes to change the filter and prime the engine. I had the job done in 17 and we were on our way again just as the wind changed swinging more southerly and building 20-25 knts. We pushed south, Bermagui, our home, was just ahead. The sun set just after 6:00 pm and we still had about 4 miles to run. The local Volunteer Coast guard radio station gave me some advice on negotiating the harbour entrance. I had negotiated the harbour entrance many times before in my 25 ft power boat and while this would be the first time in a much larger boat I was not worried. Just before 7:00 pm we negotiated the tight entrance into the snug Bermagui harbour and a Tuna fisherman helped us tie up. We were home, our first voyage of nearly 600 nm was over.