Friday, September 26, 2014

Brisbane to Lake Macquarie - the final voyage.

Selling our beautiful catamaran Alana Rose was not the easiest thing we have done, this vessel has been our home, our safe haven in storms and has looked after us in many a rough sea. Unfortunately the time had to come, many a person had asked me how long we would live-aboard sailing for and my answer was, "As long as I can hoist the mainsail we will keep doing it". Well my shoulders are telling me that I can't do that anymore. I have torn ligaments, new and old, the old ones have calcified and I have arthritis in both shoulders. Many people have said get electric winches, besides the cost it is not only the fact off winches. Our last sailing here to deliver the boat has proven that, just holding onto things when the seas are rolling causes pain.
After being back in the water after hauling out in June/July we advertised the boat for sale, we looked at the market what people were asking for a similar quality boat and we undercut them by around $40,000. This brought the right results with a flood of people wanting to check the boat out. I think some were just tyre kickers just wanting to look but not ready to buy, but there was some genuine buyers some had to sell something before buying etc. The annoying part is those people that say this is just what we are looking for, I have to get finance before making an offer and it is a lot of bull, why not tell the truth just say nice boat but not what we are looking for, it won't offend anyone, it lets the seller know that you won't be back. We had one couple come look at the boat twice and said they would contact us and let us know if they were not interested and they did just that, and I thank them for that, it is the right thing to do. Well we finally had a couple that came liked and bought and I am pleased to say they are a lovely couple and we are pleased Alana Rose is going to such a nice home and nice people.
They paid the deposit organised the survey and the day of the survey the surveyor rang them gave them the all clear and an hour later the money was in our bank, good way to do business.
They asked us if we would deliver the boat at our leisure and I explained we had to get a weather window. Well the Gods must have been on our side as come the Monday night after the survey which was on the Friday we had a three day window. Jason the new owner or should I say half owner as his wife Alyson could not come due to work commitments, flew to the Gold Coast boarded late afternoon and at 1900 hours we set sail.
(Alana Rose after survey and fueled with additional cans on deck ready to sail south)

Although we had a three day window it was not all beer and skittles. We left with a light head on wind until the change that came in around 2200 hours so we motored until the change then we got the sails working and through the night we had 15 knot winds from behind but unfortunately another squall came through then we had little wind and it meant we had to motor. Fortunately we had picked up the East Coast Current which gave us an extra 2 knots. 
(First night at sea beautiful full moon although it did hide behind clouds at times)

(Sunrise Tuesday morning one of the few squalls we had during the night)
(One of the squalls)
(Fishing boat just south of Port Macquarie bashing into the sea)
(Jason at the helm rugged up for the cold)

(Jason caught a few fish along the way but only one worth keeping)
(The day settled with very little wind but a great day to watch the whales and dolphins and there was plenty to see)
(A Whale splashes in the late afternoon)
(Another moonlit night)

It was then a day of motoring until late Tuesday night when the winds came in from the north at speeds of around 30 knots, this got us sailing with little headsail at speeds of 8 to 9 knots this continued through the night until about late morning when a large black cloud came in from the southwest. Nancy being on watch had to yell out to Jason  and I as the front hit, we scrabbled up on deck to get the sail down, it was rather cool just wearing my undies. We then had 30 knots from the southwest for some time as we slammed into the seas. The foul weather stayed for around 90 minutes and then we had WSW to W  winds between 13 and 18 knots, we had the mainsail reefed to assist one engine as the wind angle was not good to sail alone. 
(Wednesday morning seas a little lumpy but from behind)
(The SW change that came through the arrow shows our location when it hit)
(Alana Rose heading into the front)

This continued through the night. Before going off watch on the Wednesday night I checked the weather again for crossing the Swansea Bar and got a bit concerned. It had changed from an 11 knot westerly to a 20 knot SE wind which could stir the water up and prevent us from crossing. So I went to bed concerned and did not get any sleep thinking of what we should do if we cannot cross the bar. When back on watch four hours later things had calmed a little we were now in amongst the large ships moving about and at anchor near Newcastle. At one stage I had to call one of the cargo ships as we were on a collision course, I identified it on the AIS on the internet site. I checked the weather forecast again and fortunately it had changed back to the original of westerly 11 knots.
We had arrived early so we sailed past the Swansea Bar a short distance until daylight when we contacted VMR and got the go ahead for crossing the bar. The crossing was the smoothest calmest I had experienced and I cursed because I lost sleep worrying what we would do if we could not cross.
We picked up one of the moorings near the Swansea Bridge at 0700 hours and booked an opening for 0900 hours this gave us time to clean up and have showers. Our dear friends Colleen and Brian were at the bridge to wave us in for the last time, Jason also had friends in a 47 Leopard catamaran on the other side of the bridge to welcome him in his new boat.
Jason was on a learning trip on the way down I remained skipper and he was very pleased with Alana Rose performance and we certainly had different weather to test her out. His comment was he knows now he will feel safe in this boat.
(Our last night on Alana Rose at sea with a brilliant sunset)

We motored through the channel to Lake Macquarie and when we had got through the drop off I handed Jason the wheel and said you know where your home is and you know the lake better than I take the wheel. We went across the lake to Dora Creek to Alana Rose's new home, the parking was going to be tricky so Jason asked if I would do that so he could see how I approached it, it is a very tight spot but going slow we did alright and Jason has the confidence that he would not have any trouble doing the same.
(The Swansea Bridge)
(Taking Alana Rose through the bridge for our last time, photo from our friend Colleen who has watch us go through this bridge many times)
(After going through the bridge and going over the drop off into the lake proper I handed Jason the helm and said you know this place better than I take her to her new home)

Alyson could not be there until she finished work so when she got home we sat in the cockpit with the champagne to hand over the boat officially.
We stayed with them for the weekend to assist in anything they needed to know, we moved off the boat into the house and I do not mind admitting taking my last bag of the boat there was a very large lump in my throat and a few tears fell. Nancy and I are going to miss this boat and the life at sea, it is in the veins, but we now know we have a new adventure waiting on our land ship, our new motor home.
(Alana Rose's new home which looks perfect)
(Alana Rose from the house)
(New owners Jason, Alyson and Joey, we had the bottle of champagne in the cockpit as the official handover, these people will love the boat as we have)

Well the end of an era for us, it has been a beautiful experience we have done a lot in the past seven plus years and met some wonderful people. I would like to thank those people for their kindness towards us and I would like to thank the people that have visited this blog to read my scribbles. This blog was started for our circumnavigation around Australia and I hope it has some useful information for those intending to do the same, we had no idea when we started that it would be our last big voyage but that's the cards we are dealt.

I have already been put on notice that I have to continue scribbling on our new venture so I have started a new page for this so for those interested here it is: (copy and paste address)