Saturday, March 31, 2012

Manly, Brisbane - 31/03/2012

We are still plodding along getting things ready for sailing at the end of April. The weather is still a bit off with high winds and occasional showers. Nancy still has one doctor's appointment to check the operation on the wrist all looks well at this stage, she also has one more dental appointment to check on her new tooth. She reckons she is smart now that she can smile and does not have a small gap on the side of her mouth.

The only thing I have left to do is pick up new glasses when they arrive and we should be medically sound.

(Early morning light at Manly Harbour)

I have been given lots of information regarding our circumnavigation of Oz, thanks to Jan and Arnie, Reinhard and Steve and Liz who have supplied lots of helpful sailing guides, this has given me a load to study. We are also going to meet with other friends who have personally sailed in the waters we are going to with special reference to the Kimberly's as there is a lot of uncharted waters around there.

The research is interesting because you learn about places, anchorages and what there is to see at the different anchorages. The big thing in the top end and around the west is the high difference in tides and the strength of the tide flows where one has to use them to ones advantage as I have said before.

Some yachts have already started to move north but I still prefer to wait until the sea temperature drops a little more and those cyclones are well out of season. The sea temperature has dropped some here at Brisbane it is now below the 26.5⁰C but it is still higher than that a little further north. Cyclone activity is still around with one cyclone well of the Qld coast the other day and moving on to New Caledonia's area.

Most of the yachts that are heading out at the moment are heading to Darwin by June/July to join the rally over to Indonesia which for most will leave the rally after the first port of call as this makes for easier and cheaper entry into the Indonesian cruising waters once past that hurdle they are free to do their own thing.

So that's where we are at present nothing really exciting other than some fun socialising.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Manly Harbour , Brisbane - 21/03/2012

Not much to tell at the moment we have been through the medical issues. Nancy has had the operation on her wrist and all is well there still sore but good. I have been checking things on the boat and doing some repairs which one has to do. Some of these jobs are not the most pleasing although very challenging, sometimes the air is a little blue. Like today replacing the tap/shower unit in the port aft head. To beat the system you need to be a contortionist and have very small hands and spanners to get into the small place to remove and replace the unit. I do not have either and patients, let's not go there.

Well it took the whole morning to replace this unit after installing I found that some of the old fittings leaked so over to the chandlers to give more donations and purchase the required parts. Yes I say donations because equivalent parts looking very similar that you buy for your house would be half the cost at Bunning's. But because it is marine it doubles in price so the rest must be a donation to the store owner.

This was my effort for the day besides a few mega  chores like changing lights bulbs in salon light fitting and engine instrumentation.

I have a list of jobs before we sail at the end of April but one of the big tasks are studying the notes of other sailors for the passage of circumnavigation of this wonderful country. As I have said before it is a bigger challenge than what we achieved sailing from the Caribbean to Oz. Crossing the Pacific generally you know where the wind is coming from. We did experience storms but Oz can turn it on down the west coast like no other. There are large tides and large and fast current flows that have to be timed so that we have them working for us not against us.

I have copied down notes with permission from Craig, of their voyage around Australia, they are currently in Sydney and have completed the around Oz this last 12 months.

Local knowledge and others experiences is a major part of sailing, what can be learnt by others is very valuable. The fact is for the safety of all the final decisions are made by the skipper and the skipper should ensure that he/she has all the available information to make such decisions.

Safety is the biggest factor in boating and when we look at our boat we think of what we are going to do and what we really need to do it. We have two Epirbs on board and one is due for a battery replacement. We are only required to carry one Epirb. The cost of replacing the battery and getting a certificate to state that it has been changed is around $325:00 we can buy a new Epirb for $389:00. The thing is because there is a  period for the battery to be changed companies can charge what they.

It's all looking well so far for our departure at the end of April. Nancy's wrist should be almost back to normal. Come to think of it Nancy and normal in the same sentence is an oxymoron. No just kidding. We are both looking forward to the challenge and are excited to venture into new sailing grounds and at the same time to catch up with people along the way.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Manly Harbour, Brisbane – 21/03/2011

We are still researching for the circumnavigation around Australia and in the process realise that we are going to hit some cold weather as we get down the west coast and cross the southern coast something we have not dealt with for some years now. I see this voyage as a bigger challenge than the crossing of the Pacific Ocean that we did. We do not own many cold climate clothes.
We are getting information from different people that have already done this trip some have done it in the reverse to what we are doing and sometimes in some areas like the west coast it is better but then crossing the southern coast may be more in our favour.
This year we will be watching the weather patterns on the west and southern coast lines around the months that we may tackle them next year.
Most of our medical issues are sorted, Nancy had an operation on her right wrist yesterday with the damage she had done on the tendon so I am chief cook and bottle washer for a few days. The doctor asked if she worked and she told him only on a boat, so he has given her a sick certificate stating she cannot work for the next seven days. So Nancy gives me the certificate and says there you go skipper. So I crewless but now have one first class passenger. All joking aside she is going well with the operation and tends to feel she is in less pain than before the operation but she has to let the wound heal.
Nancy has to go for follow up checks with the specialist and we have both been to the dentist, I have finished there but Nancy has a couple of more visits. The only other doctor’s visit hopefully before we leave is to get our flu jabs. We want to make sure we are all in good condition to start off with.
The boat itself is almost ready with all the servicing complete, I am going through spare parts and checking we have enough to get by, the big thing is to carry enough fuel filters just in case we get bad fuel although we shouldn’t. I always fuel from jerry cans so I can see what is going in the tanks and they are given additives to prevent the algae build up. The other good thing about the additive is that the engine runs cleaner since I have used it I do not get exhaust stains around the exhaust outlets and on the side of the hulls.
The worst thing one can do with a boat is leave it for long periods with less than full fuel tanks, fuel tanks with air space creates condensation and that water drops into the fuel this creates the fuel algae which is a black slime that when you hit some rough seas this algae stirs and floats around waiting to be picked up through the suction tube to the fuel filter where it blocks the filter off and the engine shuts down. This is when Murphy plays his games, it usually will happen at the worst time you could imagine. Consider it is rough whether usually that stirs it up enough to block the fuel flow and you want to get into harbour out of the storm. There has been many a boat come to grief crossing a bar entering a harbour and lost engines and then crashes into the harbour wall. I have had it happen where we have been in rough seas and lost one engine due to dirty fuel we are fortunate we have two engines and each has its own fuel tank.
It is always advisable to carry at least one fuel container (20L) as a spare tank. If your engine fails through dirty fuel tank with 20L of fuel in a container and the right size plastic hose you can change filters and disconnect the inlet pipe to the fuel filter and fit the plastic line and place the 20L fuel container above the engine bleed the line and it should get you out of trouble. But remember there is also a fuel return line to the tank and if you can get a second pipe to the return line it will last longer, if not you will go through the fuel a lot faster. My engines go through 2.5 litres per hour it probably pushes twice that with the return to the tank so if you do not put a return line to your jerry can you have approximately 30 minutes or a little less, this is plenty of time to get out of trouble. The old story when in doubt stay at sea entering a port with a bar crossing can be more dangerous to tackle than the sea itself.
In our preparation studies show that we will need to carry a couple of planks to use with the fenders to go alongside jetties that only have pylons as the standard fenders is a cylindrical shape the same as the pylon. One has to use two fenders roped to the plank, the fenders stay in contact with the boat and the plank maintains contact with the pylon. The other factor is the high tidal difference up to 8 metres, so the best time to go alongside these pylon jetties is around the top of the tide and be quick to do whatever you have gone alongside for. All this information we have gathered from other yachties that have done the same journey.

(I have made the correction thanks to Simon's comment, thanks Simon).

Monday, March 19, 2012

Manly Harbour, Brisbane 18/03/2012

We are at the stages of preparation for the voyage and there is a lot to do also there is a costs involved which is the norm for sailing or boating. The last couple of weeks have been a little busy in getting us and the boat right. We use this time of year to get all the medical issues out of the road and I may have mentioned before my heart specialist is happy with me and said that he does not need to see me until at least the middle of next year. So I have taken that as a leave pass for two years to do this trip, if it takes longer so be it. We have dentist visits to get any of those issues out of the way.
Nancy has to have an operation on her wrist on Tuesday as she has done damage to a tendon and the easiest way is to get the knife, she would not let me do it so we have a specialist doing the operation.
I have serviced the engines fully and replaced the port gearbox that was giving a little trouble, it is cheaper to replace than purchase the parts to fix it. Minard Diesels at Mayfield West near Newcastle have been very good to us and as far as Yanmar dealership they are excellent.
It is fortunate that I can do all the work myself, I think if we had to pay mechanics and electricians we could not afford this life we have, many think because we own a boat they think we are rich and we are far from that. The hourly charges in Australia for so called professionals and many are not is anything from $80 to $110 per hour, you probably would not mind if they did hard labour for this but they seem to take their own good time. I must say this is not the case with all of them there are some really good tradesmen out there that do the right thing but you need to ask around the boats in marinas to find out whom and where they are and because they are good they are usually busy and you have to wait.
We will still haul out on the way north to clean and paint the hulls and I have to change the anodes and a couple of through hull fittings and valves. I damaged a frozen valve the other day when trying to close the sea suction, the valve spindle broke, I have had to jury rig it so it does not come apart and leak water until we haul out.
The last couple of days I have been going through the paper charts and updating them obtaining the updates from the hyrographic website, printing the blocks and cutting them out and sticking them on the charts, it’s a very lengthy process when they have not been done for some time and you have a lot of charts and we have quite a few.
(Checking the charts and updating)
We have recently purchased more charts that cover Cape York through to Port Headland and we purchased these through America, yes I know we should buy Australian and we do where we can but we have to look at our budget and the charts through Bellingham in the states are basic black and white at a price of $5.95 per chart and cheaper if you buy a batch which covers the area I mentioned. Australian charts although coloured cost $35.00 each, so I ask you which ones would you buy? We will still need to purchase more later to cover the areas of Port Headland through to Eden in NSW for when we head out of Darwin next year.
The other items to be checked before we leave is safety equipment, electrics making sure all joints and fuses are clear of corrosion and check the radios especially the HF radio that we have not used operationally since we got back to Oz after the Pacific crossing other than the occasional testing. There will be places that we will not have normal communications such as our Wifi internet and mobile phones and VHF radio, the HF radio will be our only source of communication.
I have been studying other sailors blog sites that have already done the voyage or are part way through it, these sites have very good information regarding anchorages and things to look out for, Craig, Kerry and family have nearly completed their circumnavigation of Australia in 12 months and they have a great deal of information on their blog ‘Scarlett”.
Change of tide times will be very important as the tides differences in northern Australia can be 8 metres difference this drop or rise in tide makes for a very fast tide flow so we want to run with it not against it especially in crucial places like the ‘Hole in the Wall’.
So for those that see sailing as what you see in the sales brochures of sitting back with a glass of wine with the blue calm seas sun shining, white clean sails and a couple of bikini clad girls on the bows, its only in the brochures. Not saying this does not happen, it may but there is a lot to prepare before you set sail and it is not always blue calm seas and sun shining it could be pouring rain and as far as those gorgeous bikinis clad girls Nancy won’t let me get any.

(Yes that is green beer St Patricks Day celebrations, it was pouring rain so we had the function on board Alana Rose in the cockpit)
To be totally honest the preparation is also enjoyable sometimes hard work but still enjoyable. We may have a whinge and grumble but we would not have it any other way.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Funny how wives work things out.

The Plan 'A'

Our voyage will commence from Brisbane around the end of April and we will slowly sail through to Mackay stopping at some places on the way passing through the Great Sandy Straits. We will haul out at Mackay and clean and paint the hulls and a few other maintenance items before continuing up to the many islands of the Cumberland and Whitsunday's. We will leave this area around the end of August to attend the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club weekend at Gloucester Passage on completion of that we will head up the coast again stopping here and there through to Townsville, Cairns, Cooktown Lizard Island which will be similar to last years journey. From Lizard we start our new challenge of going up to Cape York around to the Top End and across the Gulf of Carpentaria to Gove then onto Darwin where we will hold up for the cyclone season.

When the cyclone season is over we will head to the Kimberly's and will probably spend some time around this area keeping in mind water, fuel and food supplies as this will be the motivation to move on as we start running out of supplies.

The challenges we will have in these northern and western areas are the strong and variation between high and low tides we have to make the tides work for us as they can run upto 8 knots, we can do 8.5 knots flat out under engines alone.

The map below shows the voyage the red being this year Brisbane to Darwin and yellow 2013 could be longer from Darwin to Brisbane.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Coming very soon.

I am in the process of establishing this blog and hopefully we will be up and running in April 2012.