From Pancake Creek we got a weather window to head to the Swains Reefs, part of the Great Barrier Reef. We had high hopes for the diving out there - so an overnight sail in a falling wind was called for. The wind actually held longer than we had feared, and we sailed to within a few hours of the target reef - Pike Reef.Unfortunately, the reef is in a pretty bad way. The diving was not great, even on the SE side. Lots of dead coral, not the huge number of fish we’d have hoped for and no sharks.
Hiding from the weather
We had a nice couple of days at Lady Musgrave island, but the coral wasn’t up to much unfortunately. The weather didn’t allow us to dive either, as the promised calm did not really appear.The service boat joined us in there for a couple of nights, and we ended up with a pyjama party at 10pm as a squall hit and spun us around 180degrees. All 3 boats had people on deck, looking to see everything was ok.The forecast was showing a 3-4 day period of strong winds, so rather than stay put, and not
The 150km restriction has been lifted, so we are continuing north, as are many boats. After our quick scrub in Wathumba Creek, we headed to Bundaberg Marina and offloaded our anchor and chain for some regalvanishing treatment. Behold the shiny result, along with the anchor and chain from Jadean...Unfortunately, the chain from Jadean did not take the treatment and had to go back. Ours was fine, so we reloaded and finished our prep work, which included adding a 2nd crew member, Ronnie - the design
I’ve been behind Fraser Island for a couple of weeks, after the long solo sail up from Moreton Bay. The bonus sand bar at Double Island point makes for a perfect anchorage for catamarans, as its quite shallow - but the poor monos have to camp outside in the swell which persistently rolls around the point.From there I headed across the notorious Wide Bay Bar, which was no drama in the westerly wind. I had an appointment to collect crew - who was previously on a Wharram catamaran in Indonesia bu
In truth, the town is a bit run down, but we loved it. There are lots of lovely heritage buildings and beautiful parks.We had a wander around and found a home brew store where I was able to stock up on sodium metabisulphate for the watermaker, and we found the best pie shop.One of the nicest areas was their Gallipoli to Armistice park. Beautifully done, peaceful, respectful, moving. Very nice.It seems that Maryborough is not often visited by yachts, but we enjoyed our morning ashore. We’ll
On a bit of a whim we decided that the run up the Mary River to Maryborough would be a bit of an adventure, especially with charts from before the huge floods in 2011 and 2013. The run up the river was fine after some shallow moments at the Horseshoe back in the entrance.We had a stunningly peaceful night at anchor - there is a lot to say for river life! Flat, wind protection from the banks, just the 180 degree spin at high and low tide. We are about 20ft off the bank and its never been an issue
Sometimes keels just suck
I snuck in behind the sand bar that extends from Double Island point to get some relief from the swell that you can see hitting the bar. Even though the wind was SE, and the swell was from E and SE, it was getting pulled around the point and onto the bar. It was thoroughly unpleasant our where the monohull is (if you look closely).I made it in daylight so was able to sneak in just on dusk. Its quite skinny on water, but I’ve had enough for the time I’ll be here.If ever there were an example
So we are all supposed to be staying at home, and indeed, some of us are! However there are a lot of boats out and about. Fishing is an allowed activity which accounts for some - and there are plenty of folks like me, livingaboard but stuck.There are also a lot who are definitely flouting the rules, but as long as its not too upfront, the police and coastguard are letting it slide a bit.The coastguard boat came to notify me about the exclusion zone around North Stradbrooke island, and we had a c
All that power!
I mentioned that I’d put more solar power onto Duplicat whilst she was on the hard. We now have 3 x 330w on the hardtop (from before) and 3 x 375 watts over the davits (new). So why do I want 2.1kw of solar? The simple answer is... hot water!The old setup was pretty close to meeting all our daily needs every day. We could spend quite a bit of time at anchor without having to run the generator (other than if we were diving, and thats only a short 30min runs to fill tanks). This included making
What a difference a month makes!
I arrived back in Australia nearly a month ago, with some great plans scoped out and some nice crew lined up. Hannah and Erik from Sweden would join me, and possibly 1 other on the sail out to Lord Howe Island, and then onto Fiji where Amanda would rejoin too.First I had some hard work to do - so it was a quick launch at RQYS, then down to the Boatworks. Already it was impossible to find toilet paper in the shops (fortunately, I had left some of that onboard, just not much food).Boatworks was as
Seeing occasional spurts of data on the phone, and dodging fishing vessels. Seems we are almost there.Yesterday was fun at times - we had the parasailor up for a while which was lovely, drifting along - but the wind dropped to the point it was trying to self-sock, so we dropped it and motored until midnight.On David’s watch, we turned the engine off and have been sailing all night. Now we’re thinking about the parasailor again possibly until we get behind Moreton Island.All being well, we’
Slow and steady
After a couple of days making good progress, today we hit the light stuff. Already the wind dropped and shifted aft, leaving us a little slow overnight. Presently we have ENE force 4 occasionally 3, and occasionally shifting NE.The southerly flowing Eastern Australian Current really picks up around 154 degrees East (to maybe 2-3 knots), and we’re 47 minutes east of that point, so we’re continuing our SW course to intercept that. The wind is due to go very light at some point so I expect some
Almost out of the tropics
Making good progress, but we’ll cross out of the tropics soon. It wasn’t too chilly overnight but dawn felt a little cool! Everyone is in long sleeves now, with more layers on the night watches.We hit a snag with our bowsprit yesterday, which will need some welding in Australia, so for now we’re back to just the genoa. Doing well though, and the current and wind forecasts seem to be in our favour. Still expecting to be into Brisbane by Monday.
Brisbane, here we come
Underway again. Yesterday was quite sporting in the wind department but its eased a bit today, which was when we had planned to leave anyway. So our luck is holding! Lifted the anchor at 7:30am and motored up to the pass, where we raised sail and sailed out under reefed main and genoa. Wind has shifted more to the east (ESE at the moment) so we’re making our course, which is slightly north of Moreton island to give us teh nice run in with the current and predicted northerlies.All good onboard,
Preparing for Australia
Cleaning day today. At low tide, I was in the water with the scuba kit on to scrub the bottom of the hulls. We’re quite skinny on water here, so just 60cm from the keels to the bottom - I could walk along the seabed and scrub the hulls very easily. Not to mention that David and Tom had done a great job on the waterline earlier in the trip. Job done!After a stroll around the island, we continued with the jobs. Emptied all the galley cupboards and cleaned. Took stock of all the food we had left
Change of scenery
Decided to make the arduous 5nm trip to the southern most point of the reef. What a place! Just as we finished anchoring, turtles set to just 10m off the bow!We tried to edge in a bit closer but it became quite skinny on water and we have no real tide info for here, so we have to be a little bit cautious (as we always are).
Waiting on Weather
The waiting game is afoot. The angle from here to Brisbane is a bit tighter than our run into Bundaberg last year - and Bundy remains an option should we need it. If we take that option, we know it will be busy due to the rally, and we would need to move on PDQ - but that would be ok. Its a nice cruise down behind Fraser Island and we will have reprovisioned at Burnett Heads...The dilemma at the moment is that a Thursday departure would put us arriving into Brisbane just after the weekend. There
All alone in Paradise
Still enjoying our time in paradise and we’re still lucky enough to have it to ourselves. We’ve dived twice now - both times on bommies I’ve dived before. Stunningly unspoilt with huge fish, loads of giant clams, seasnakes, tuna, barracuda, etc. Today we saw sharks trying to take the odd fish from a school as they passed. No luck, but behaviour I’ve not seen before - quite awe inspiring.
We arrived this morning, just after dawn. Snuck across the shallow section at the end of the islands (6m depth) and came down to the spot we anchored in last year as it was relatively clear of bommies.We had a walk ashore. The good news is that the islands don’t seem to have suffered too much when the cyclone stomped over them recently. Lots of bird life ashore, are the scrub bushes remain and are well used for nests etc. Quite a few turtle nests too, and we saw one turtle ashore this afternoo
We just dropped the hook at Chesterfield Reef, pretty much exactly where we dropped it this time last year! Catching up on a few jobs and some sleep and then we can start the diving programme.4 other boats here, all down on the southern end. 3 are leaving right now (including 2 of the boats that shared Huon with us for a night). The fourth boat we’re not sure. Maybe we’ll have this place to ourselves tonight :)
A nice fast passage from Huon to Chesterfield has seen us start slowing down already. We knew it would be two nights as its just two for for us to do in 36hrs, but as we head towards sunset, we have under 70nm to go. Continuing at 8knots is rather pointless, so we’ve reefed the main a lot, and 2 reefs in the genoa and continuing at 6 knots for now.The required speed to arrive with daylight is 5.0knots, so further slowdowns expected. I have last watch, but we’ll monitor it at every watch chan
WOW in a ships log usually means waiting on weather, and we are doing that a bit as a trough is headed our way this weekend. However, in this case its more due to the stunning nature of the area we are in.We took a trip down to the small boat pass in the eastern side of the atoll, at the south end to see if it was worth a dive. Its a bit shallow for that but was great for snorkelling. We could get out there in the catamaran too, if we needed to (though we won’t on this trip). The bommies were
Nature in action
We are surrounded here by nature in action. Its turtle mating season and they are at it full bore! Loads of males hanging around looking for females, who seem to get the rough end of things.Once the male is onboard (so to speak), he just rides along leaving the female to get them both to the surface to breath. She is usually not very happy about this and tries to dislodge the rider. She’s helped by rival males whose favoured method of persuading his rival to dismount is to bite a certain ap
The night was kind to us - the wind didn’t drop too far, stayed around the 14-17knot range which meant we’ve been pushing on well at 7knots in a very pleasant sea state.I slept like a baby when off watch, which was needed as I hadn’t had a lot of sleep in the prior 24hrs. Too hot inside, and bouncy plus still settling into the routine of a passage. Tom and David faired a bit better. Last night was bliss in comparison.We have under 50nm to go now, and will be there today in daylight which i
We’ve been bouncing around Vanuatu for a while since I last updated the blog. Apologies - we’ve been busy and I’ve been slack!We made it up as far as Ureparapara (know by us as ‘Pac-Man island’ due to the shape). An incredible place to sail into as you really feel you’re right in the centre of a volcano. The villagers are very remote (infrequent supply ships, few passing yachts as the anchorage is reputedly very rolly, no phone coverage). We had a great welcome, helped setup some lig
It was a supremely comfortable night. The next morning, we met up with local and his family and walked up from the beach to see some cavings on the rock face some of which are quite old - though many looked quite new! Then we walked around to the moon cave. The story is that some powerful being took 3 attempts to make the moon, pulling rock from the walls to do it - hence the 3 openings. The water is crystal clear, and we could even dinghy in to the cave (which we did later).We moved further nor
Finding out feet
Its a very pleasant bay here, with a nice waterfall up the hill from the bay, which runs down onto the beach, and a cave on the left hand side. We had a quick explore ashore when we were there for sundowners with Bla Ellinor (who I lined handled for in the Panama Canal ages ago!) and Mezzaluna who we have met a few times.Sundowners and nibbles ashore was very nice. It was good to catch up and find out what they’ve been doing in Vanuatu and pass on the bits we know, as they head south. A local
Moving steadily north
After a morning fixing an issue with the furling boom (mostly David and Gavin in problem solving mode), we left Ambrym whilst we still had wind. Plenty of wind. More wind than we really wanted to test the mainsail fix in! Peaked at 27 knots in the gap between the islands of Ambrym and Pentecost.Geniet Lewe stretched their legs and headed further north. We chose to stop a bit sooner. The anchorage on the chart said anchor in 10m of sand. We were still in 60m of water, 40m off the beach, which doe
Gaspard Bay and on to Ambrym
We moved around to Gaspard Bay, and spent a couple of nights there. We had plenty of rain there! In fact, we tried to dive twice, but both times aborted due to the rain coming - as David, Gavin and Nadine were going to snorkel and tend the dinghies whilst Janet and I dived. Clearly no fun in the rain!We also failed to see dugongs again. Well, we did see them on the surface but didn’t manage to swim with them. I’m running out of opportunities!From Gaspard Bay we headed to Port Sandwich - anot
The weather was not as bad as expected - we got some wind, from which we are totally protected and a tiny amount of rain. The locals are desperate for rain, so its sad in some ways that we did not get the promised downpour... The boat could do with a nice fresh water wash too...Geniet Lewe came over and today we headed out for a dive on the far side of the reef you can see. It was a pleasant enough dive, enough current that we were drifting along quite happily but not so much that we couldn’t