26 April 2008

Sailing - April/May 2008

Hello everybody,
So now the adventure has begun in earnest. I was minding my own business in the Melalueca Backpackers at 1-Mile Beach (everybody who reads this should definitely go there it is absolutely awesome!!!!) when the owners came in and asked if anybody wanted to be crew on a yacht sailing north. Since this was the way I was heading in any case I thought I could give it a go. Next thing you know I have the job!!!
I left my car and a bunch of my gear at the backpackers and started sailing on Monday, 21 April from Port Stephens.

As an inexperienced sailor I was pretty apprehensive to start with, but can you imagine my feeling when we started to hit 3-4 meter swells after leaving the shelter of the inlet!! Fortunately I managed not to get sea sick and slowly but surely figured out how the whole thing works.
From the word go it rained, and rained and RAINED. We were steering on 3 hour shifts (ie 3 hours steering, 3 hours on back-up and 3 hours sleeping). In this way we sailed for about 36 hours to get to Coff's Harbour.

I had a pretty hairy incident on my watch when the wind had blown me too far inshore... believe it or not it is pretty difficult to keep a 54" yacht going in a straight line if you have gusty winds and it is raining cats, dogs, cows, horses and everything else! Next thing I know the lighhts are really close AND there is a freighter coming up behind me.... SHIT, PANIC!!! I quickly called the skipper who is on back-up and he helped me get out to sea again.

The people who I am sailing with are really cool and have years of sailing experience which I can learn from. Graeme is the owner (skipper) of the boat and Vicky is a good friend of his. We are sailing up to Hervey Bay, at Fraser Island, where we will be joined by Graeme's family. If all goes well this should be in the next 6-7 days.

What happens then???? Who knows...... keep checking this site to find out!!!

I hope you are all doing as well as I am!!!


Leaving Port Stephens on a rather miserable morning, but excited none the less!!!
The "Heads" sheltering the entrance to Port Stephens
This was what the cabin looked like for the next 36 hours, wet WET, WET!!!
Can you believe they let me steer the boat... GREAT FUN!!

Me alone at the helm

A brief opening in the clouds as we were heading into Coff's Harbour

The rest of the crew
Owner - Graeme and friend Vicky

...and our mascot MARS

Our trusty yacht...

"Annagram" - 54' steel hull (I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference a couple of days ago!!!)

Finally some sun!!! View from Muttonbird Island onto the Marina

Sunset over Coff's Harbour (fishing harbour) Marina


After a week waiting in Coff's Harbour we were able to continue, ironically we were only able to set sails on more day, therafter the wind became non-existant and we were forced to motor the rest of the way to our destination.

Some more excitement...

1) ...crossing the sandbar to get behind Fraser Island in "calm seas" we all of a sudden had a breaking wave behind us which in fact swept onto the boat and carried us with it for some time. The wave also bent the swim platform attached to the stern of the yacht!

2) ...entering our destination was not possible due to a low tide, consequently we had to anchor in deeper water for a number of hours. Having put out the anchor we realised that the motor had just failed!!! Ever tried lifting 30 meters of anchor chain by hand?

It was a real eye-opener to see how quickly things can go wrong on a yacht, and if you are not well prepared for such situations, the end could be a disaster (which of course my crew mates told me all about)!

We did finally make it into the harbour though which unfortunately ended my brief but excellent first sailing experience!

Now some more (sunny) pictures....

Graeme looking very snazzy with my sunglasses...

Vicky at the wheel

Somewhere off Coff's Harbour...

South Solitary Island

Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast... This is the Maimi Beach of Australia

Proof that we actually did sail!

Sunrise over the Pacific

At Garry's Anchorage, in the background is Fraser Island

Fraser Island

Graeme and Vicky concentrating on the channels in Sandy Straits

Sand cliffs on Fraser Island

Mars looking every so pleased at being let out of his cage!

This is more like it!

The whole family (l-r: Mariah, Connor, Ben, Anne and Graeme)


Furzarsch said...

Hey Pete,

finally you did not eat Mars. I would have had (?) some questions about the taste (remember Snickers/Bounty, something like that), but anyway.

Great trip, this is a dream of me. Did you mentioned what kind of job you've got? I can't remember.

Keep on posting, futuräma!!


Volker & Mama said...

Hey Pietie

Mutti und ich sitzten bei uns und staunen ueber Deine tollen Fotos und dein Segelabenteuer. Ein hoch dem Fotografen und der neuen Kamera. Das Windsurfen faellt Dir irgendwann mal viel leichter. Viel spass und machs gut. Love us