The boys have made it across the border into Queensland. After spending a night at anchor in Byron Bay, they set off early on Monday morning, bound for the Gold Coast Seaway and the Broadwater. Marine Traffic recorded them at Southport on Monday afternoon, and they anchored at Bums Bay overnight.
The Seaway is the main navigation entrance from the Pacific Ocean into the Broadwater and Southern Moreton Bay. It is one of Australia’s most significant engineering projects, completed in 1986 to stabilise the location of the Nerang River entrance. The Broadwater is a large shallow estuary reaching from Southport to the Southern section of Moreton Bay. It is separated from the ocean by a thin strip of land called Stradbroke Island. The Take It Easy crew will be enjoying these protected waters for a couple of days. The pace is slowing down this week. No point going at a rate of knots, since they need to wait for the new rudder to be made! The guys have to reach Mooloolaba by Friday, when they hope the rudder might be ready. Peter Snell, Easy catamaran designer, delegated the rudder making task to Grenville Eastley, who is part of the Easy family. He is building an Easy of his own and is doing us a huge favour by making us a replacement rudder.
So what has the trip been like to date?
While the team is in smooth waters and enjoying a more leisurely pace, I caught up with them over the phone to quiz them on what the first 10 days of their journey have been like. Here are some of their impressions.
Mike describes the voyage to date as terrific: being at sea, the wildlife, getting to see how the boat handles, particularly since he is building his own, is all really enjoyable… It’s quite funny, Mike saw Take It Easy being built some 13 years ago, and then went sailing on her when she was first launched. So it is a thrill to be back on board. When prompted about the tough bits, such as the multiple night watches, he says it’s all part of the experience and he loves every minute of it. He finds it a good confidence builder. “It is great to be doing this with someone who has done a lot of sailing. You learn a lot. I’ve still got to come to grips with the chart plotter, setting up waypoints, etc… but getting there”. Listening to him talk, you can tell he feels quite contented.
Merv also finds the trip a great experience. Although he had done some ocean sailing, it was many moons ago and it’s different on a cat. He feels this is a chance of a lifetime and is thrilled to be part of the crew. He comments that many people say “I always wanted to do this or that, BUT…” and there are a string of reasons why they let opportunities slip by. Not Merv – when the chance to do this trip came along, he went for it! When asked about the highlights, he talks about the whales, the dolphins and the sea birds. “We’ve seen lots and lots of whales. And bait fish balls. The poor little critters get hit from both sides: the pelagic fish chasing them from underneath, and the gannets diving from above!” He also says it gets surprisingly very tiring, particularly during multiple overnighters – you don’t realise how much movement there is and your body strains to keep your balance, even on a cat. But then you get off watch and crash in the bunk, and it’s a beautiful feeling!”
As for skipper Wade, he feels it is going well. It is so much easier with three people, and much better when you can sleep at night! It is also obvious he is very confident running the boat, and comfortable at sea. He does say “going day and night sucks, but you do the hard yards when you have to.” He describes life on board with the guys as harmonious. The boys say they are treated like royalty with nice meals even after a hard day’s sail. He likes to look after his crew. For him the highlights are the good progress northward, the many whales they’ve seen, and catching lots of fish! He hasn’t changed his views about delivery trips however. “If we were cruising, we would choose not to go on day like today – too light, rainy, having to use the engines a lot – but on a delivery trip, you do what you have to.”
And let’s not forget Bengie the ship’s cat! She has been doing a lot of sleeping – under the doona when it’s a bit rough, or cold, or just too boring. After her exploring on deck a few days ago and her star appearance in the boom bag while underway, she hasn’t been very impressed with the rain and soggy cockpit. She stepped out in the morning, found a puddle, stopped, shook her paws and went back inside! “Don’t like that wet stuff.” However she appreciates the fresh fish!
So there you have it, glimpses of life aboard Take It Easy. They are off again first thing in the morning, bound for Cape Moreton, 60 nm further on. A big day of sailing hopefully, a night at anchor, then onto Mooloolaba where they will stay until the rudder is ready!
Here are a few more images, thanks to Merv, the official expedition photographer.