Monday, March 31, 2014

Sailing Gold Coast to Melbourne!

One week ago I replied to an ad on the internet looking for people to help deliver a boat from gold coast to Melbourne, I replied with my experienced and prayed I would get a call back. Today I am sitting on a 43ft catamaran and leave in a couple hours for a 6-10 day sailing voyage down the coast of Australia. How I have been so lucky on this trip I don't know but let the adventure start again. 

43 ft Catamaran in Gold Coast, Australia

Day 1 update: Leaving the harbor was a bit hairy, 12ft swells chop and wind for the first couple hours. Had a seagull hope on the boat and hung out till the morning for a free ride. I got some sleep before I had night watch from 8-11pm and then 2-5am wasn't to bad. Woke up to a delicious omelet breakfast and the sun rising on the horizon. Pod of dolphins followed us for 10 minutes a bit ago it was beautiful. Were cruising about 15-20 miles off shore, motor sailing at about 6 knots, the sea is a lot calmer today and the sun's out! Should pull into Sydney harbor by Sunday morning, get some fuel an some more supplies.

Day 3 update: the last 24 hours have been quite interesting, other than making good timing from gold coast to Sydney. Had watch this am from 5-8 and witnessed by far the most beautiful sunrise I have very seen in my life, photos wouldn't do it justice. After a quick nap some fighter planes flew over head doing some training maneuvers, followed by a pod of 100 pilot whales! Later on after playing a couple cards games we noticed a storm with a waterspout following us from behind, so we prepared for the worst. There are a couple in cyclones in the area that we have somehow have been barely dodging, just before sunset our port engine went out. For dinner I prepared a huge pot of spaghetti Bolognase, then we worked on the engine while still motoring towards Sydney about 50 miles away at the time. After an hour of helping work on the engine I bunked down for a nap before my watch later that night. Woke up to lightning storms all around us, the port engine running again, and the wind howling. Had to immediately attach lifelines to myself to stay on the boat and reef the sails to make them smaller so the wind wouldn't toss the boat around as much. We rode out the wind for awhile, it's now 3am and were about 5 miles away from entering Sydney harbor finishing our first leg, going to anchor for the night, get some sleep, gas up in the morning, and head out again! An amazing experience so far and it's not even half over yet, the craziest leg is yet to come, the bass strait....known as one of the worst seas in the world, but luck has been on our side so far!
Off the coast of New South Wales, most beautiful sunsets ever!

Day 5 update: Yesterday we got into Sydney harbor at 5 am, tied up to a mooring and all got some good sleep, since we had been non stop sailing for 3 days. After waking up and getting some breakfast, the captain and I bleed the fuel system of the port engine which was the problem why it was acting up and cutting out on us the day before. When finished we headed to shore to get some food from the store, a weather update, refueled, filled up the water tank, and lastly cruised by the Sydney opera house for a quick photo session! We departed the harbor around 5pm yesterday and headed south into some moderately choppy conditions, was a pretty low key night but made some good miles. All day today was quite bumpy and not to eventful, except we tried to get close to an island that had said in the book there are little penguin species and fur seals that live there. We didn't see any which was disappointing, but at least we tried, about 24 hrs after leaving Sydney we had sailed about 200 miles which is much better than we expected. It is now a Lil after 1am on Saturday morning and the wind is howling, but we are cruising at about 10 knots, hopefully making it into the bass strait by sunrise! Some crazy conditions out here, couple good knock arounds, some how have yet to be sea sick, and been dodging some storms passing by us as if were in a lil bubble. At the moment we are on course to make it to Melbourne Sunday evening or early Monday morning which would be a great accomplishment! Wish us luck 

The Tasman Sea is relentless

Day 6 update: About 2 hours after the last update I had posted shit went haywire, our so called safe bubble we have had all trip pop'd. We got around the southeast corner of Australia where New South Wales and Victoria border is, heading towards the bass strait right into a storm.... 8-12 ft swell and whitecaps smashing over the bow. The boat was rocking all over the place, water washing through the cockpit, and pots flying off the stove. Haven't had much of an appetite in the last couple days and it finally caught up to me this morning during my 5-8am watch had to throw up twice, then finally got to bed when my shift ended. Took about 30 minutes to get to sleep since waves hitting the side of the boat makes the inside of my cabin sound like a warzone. Trying to fall asleep in the seas were in is equivalent to trying to sleep in the back of a trophy truck doing an offroad race, but sleep is the only way to feel better and get rid of the stomach ache and nausea feeling. After waking up and being on watch again around 11am the sea had gotten worse, we had to bring the sails in(reef them) and slow down. Were not making much head way since the wind and swell is not in our favor, making it so we have to zig zag(tack) back and forth taking 3 times as long to go towards our destination. We've decided to head towards land and hug the coast a bit more in case we need to go for shelter (even tho the closest sheltered inlet is 80 miles away). Waking up after another small nap around 6pm the Tasman sea has calmed to a bare-able chop, wind has changed south (to our favor) and were finally making headway again. Got a bit of pasta and garlic bread for dinner in me and couple waters, crew and myself are hoping it stays like this throughout the night so we don't have to head for refuge and can just get to Melbourne on schedule! As crazy as this has been and even during the times of feeling like shit these couple days I wouldn't change this voyage at all, it has showed me mother nature and the sea in its most raw form, which not to many people get to experience. It has also got me thinking about my career path I have been working towards (becoming a captain), not that I don't want to anymore but that I need more experience just like these voyages. Being on a boat miles off the coast not being able to see land and at the mercy of the sea's raw power is the most adrenaline and mixed emotional excitement I've ever had in my life!
Lighthouse island somewhere in the Tasman Sea

Day 8 update: Haven't had any signal for the last couple days here in the Tasman sea about 30-45 miles off shore. After my last update we had a pretty calm morning, then later that day got hit by another decent storm, not as bad as the one I described before, but still a good amount of chop to knock shit around. Yesterday evening I got a pretty good nap in before getting some food in my stomach as well. Watch last night from 11pm - 2am was pretty bumpy, with a bit of action, dodging couple islands, a ferry, and fishing boat while heading around South East Point. As the rest of the crew has been sipping away at hot tea or coffee on night watch, I've been living of the delicious lil cup of noodle packets you dump into a mug then fill the rest with hot water, been keep me alive haha. It's been really fun navigating at night reading the chart and GPS, looking for the lighthouses and there light patterns. Then putting all that together to find out where you are on the chart and what points of references you need to stay between to navigate through safely. I've always loved navigation, maps, and geography for that matter so doing all of that while on the ocean has been a lot of fun! Last night the captain didn't wake us for our 5am watch and I didn't notice till I awoke at 7:30am, but he had it under control as well as getting us sailing at 11 knots for a couple hours. It's now 9am on Monday morning, were 83 miles from the entrance of Port Phillips (Melbourne), if we keep up our current speed should get to the entrance around 9pm tonight. Which would be good timing since the tide rising will help us get through the inlet which acts like a river since it's so narrow. After entering the inlet we would still have roughly 30 miles to the Marina we are delivering to, the bay which Melbourne sits on is huge and might as well be a sea of it's own, but at least we will be sheltered from the swell and be able to make good time once inside. So as of now our ETA to arriving at the docks ending our voyage is 2am tonight if everything goes to plan, that's about 17 hours from now, fingers crossed. Oh and we had a pretty epic rainbow pop up after sunrise this am so hopefully that will give us some good luck for the rest of the day.

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