Delights and Dramas!

It is interesting how after nearly 18 years of sailing together on catamarans, we are still learning! There is nothing like a weather pounding, gear problems and silly mistakes to keep you on your toes and feeling humble. Here is an update on our trials and tribulations.

Passage to Broulee

NSW Coast to Batemans Bay

Our track so far!

With two reefs in the main, a few rolls in the jib, and an early start, we left Bermagui to sail 40 miles to Broulee, just south of Batemans Bay. We had a gusty Westerly, then WSW and SW, so it was a beam then tail run. It was as if the wind was teasing us, with 30 to 35 knot gusts one moment, pushing us along at 8 and 9 knots boat speed and making us happy to have reefed heavily, then hardly any breeze which meant our boat speed would plummet to 3 or 4 knots.  Should we shake one reef off?  Tempting but no!  Better to be underpowered in the lulls that overpowered by the strong gusts!  The fun thing about sailing a catamaran that weighs only 4.5 tons – well may be 5 with all our stuff – is that it accelerates really fast as the wind picks up, making you smile from ear to ear!

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Basalt tors just south of Narooma

The whale count was low: only one, which spooked us a bit as it surfaced just ahead of us, then disappeared, and the next sighting of it was on our sounder: a big mass that appeared underneath the boat then moved on!  You wonder how aware they are of your presence – would not want them to decide to surface right under your hulls!

The birdlife was again amazing. When you sail in strong winds, seabirds abound and seem to enjoy the conditions. We feel so lucky when we see endangered species along the way, such as the black-browed albatross, doing huge wingovers, and the Hutton’s Sheerwaters, which we had not seen before.  A raft of them just took off right next to us!

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A raft of Hutton’s Sheerwaters

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The Black-browed Albatross and its awesome 2.4m wingspan

We anchored behind Broulee Island 6 hours later.  When we say island, it actually is not.  There is an isthmus, a spit connecting what was once an island to the mainland.  In the 1800s the bay was an active harbour. Tucked in right against the island in only a couple of meters of water, Take It Easy was nicely sheltered from the the SW gale and floating in flat water.

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Anchored at Broulee

We were going to start again on our way on the Saturday, until we saw the updated forecast: orange all over, too ugly to contemplate.

Forceast Saturday

Orange and red – never good!

So we stayed put in the anchorage, opting instead for a couple of walks ashore, one with pussycat, and the other on our own. Bengie was obviously keen to stretch her legs and get her fur ruffled.  She got into the dinghy of her own volition!

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Bengie pretty excited to be in the tall grass!

 

Drama in the middle of the night

On Saturday evening, we had decided we would stay put at Broulee until the Monday, as the forecast was for continuing gale warnings and 4 to 6 meter swell. But during our second night in the anchorage, the weather did something that was not forecast: the wind died to hardly anything and shifted to the NW and the swell picked up in the bay, pushing us towards the shore break. The sharp rocking woke us up at midnight. We were dangerously close to the shore, with waves breaking on our beam! To free ourselves before getting beached, we had to cut away the anchor rope and let the anchor go (with a float so we could find it the next morning). We motored away like scared rabbits and used one of our spare anchors and chain to re-anchor further out, but not before getting one rudder stuck on the sandbank and its shaft a bit bent! Why do these things happen in the depth of the night, in freezing cold conditions? To keep you on your toes and really test you out!

The moral of the story:

  1. Always, always anchor in deep enough water to allow the boat to do a full 360, just in case! Forecasts are good, but sometimes odd things happen locally than can catch you out. We normally allow for the full swing, but unfortunately not this time. Won’t do that again!
  2. Carry at least one spare anchor, chain and rope. We have two aluminium Fortress anchors and a marsh anchor as spares as well as our main Manson Supreme. We were glad we had the spare gear.
  3. Tie a decent knot to the float that shows where your anchor & chain have been dropped… Yap, you guessed it, the knot slipped and alas despite hours of searching the next day, we did not locate our anchor and chain. Big fat zero for the Captain’s knot tying technique. On the bright side, before we left we were thinking we should either regalvanise the anchor chain or get a new one as ours was getting very rusty.  Well now we’ll get a nice shiny new one!

To Batemans Bay Marina!

Bright and early on Monday, we sailed to Batemans Bay. It was very chilly and gloomy, but at least the swell had abated to 1.5m instead of 6m and the wind was much lighter. We saw about six whales along the way too which compensated for the early start!

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Humpback whales doing a lot of tail slaping!

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Arrival at Batemans Bay – Snapper Rock

We are now spending a few days at the Batemans Bay Marina. The guys here are very helpful. We have ordered 50 metres of chain and a new Manson Supreme anchor. And Wade spent some time in the cold water, removing our starboard rudder. We are hoping to get its shaft straightened! Although we lowered it a bit so it would work, we’d rather it be fixed.

 

TIE at the Batemans Bay Marina

It feels like we are making very slow progress and our experiences of the past few days have been rather irritating. It is now over three weeks since we left Melbourne and we are still days from Sydney and weeks from Queensland. But we just have to go with the flow. Although the mishaps are annoying, we are enjoying our sailing, settling into a rhythm and letting the weather and circumstances dictate what we can and can’t do.

26 thoughts on “Delights and Dramas!

  1. 50 meters of chain and a new anchor sounds expensive on the bright side no beached boat and all safe. Really enjoying your posts.
    Henry

    • Hi Henry – yap but it’s only money… it was scary in the night – I remember looking at how close we were to shore, getting splashed by the waves and looking behind us with a nasty reef looming. OMG! So the lost tackle is small fry compared with what could have happened! You know what they say about BOAT! “Bring On Another Thousand!”

  2. Enjoy the adventures! It’s much more fun for us to read about excitement like this rather than everything going smoothly. You may have wondered why you have been faced with so many trials. Obviously, it’s to better entertain we who follow your blog – so be thankful – as we are. Haha.

    How big were the breakers that you were woken up to?

    Is it possible to buy or make an anchor that has a good float permanently attached to somewhere convenient for these types of situations such as the very end of its chain/rope ? Having to choose between spending the time to make sure you have tied a really good knot or getting out of the way of the next set of big waves is not a good situation to be in. I guess the other thing would be to have a float with a good clip on it so you could easily clip it to the anchor. It’d have to be really strong to survive pounding by big waves.

    Cheers,

    Craig.

    • Hi Craig – thought our followers would enjoy a bit of excitement! We look back and think: managed in a crisis, survived another drama and learnt something again! But it is stressful and expensive!
      Your idea about a float with a clip actually is in place. In the drama, darkness and eminent danger, Wade picked up the first float that he saw in the locker – right underneath it was “the real float” with rope and clip already set up! He kicked himself the next day!

      The waves were not big – may be a meter, but in shallow water when they come on your beam and it’s dark and you’re scared, they seem worse.
      Glad you are enjoying our posts. 😊

  3. There’s always the element of surprise, usually a factor in the equation for every endeavor. You made the right decision to cut the anchor rope and use a float. Unfortunately the knot failed. I’m sure that your book of knowledge has added a few pages with this experience. Be calm, be strong! G-d bless. 🙂

    • Hi HJ – yes, learning the hard way. But as you say, cutting away the anchor rope was the only thing to do to save the boat! And these things never seem to happen in daylight when you can see what is going on!

  4. Things of nightmares. Problems always seem to escalate, combining small issues into something threatening. The NSW coast is exposed with not many safe harbours. I avoid those roadstead anchorages for anything but calm weather. Keep us updated with the details of the rudder repair. Safe sailing. Chris

    • Hi Chris! We will post again about the outcomes of the repairs and purchases! It might be a bit painful for the bank account! Thanks for visiting.

  5. Looks like quite an adventure, enjoying following your blog & great photos, safe trip
    Lindy & Phil

  6. I enjoy your blogs, Chris and Wade, because I can appreciate ‘what can happen at sea’ ! We are in warmer climes, but the winds have been cold. The shorts came out today; a good omen. Currently sailing past Port Clinton. Best wishes, Doug.

    • Hi Doug – we dream of shorts! Still rugged up in thermals. It was down to 1 degree during the last few nights although it warms up during the day. Glad you are enjoying our posts. Stay safe!

  7. Sorry to hear of your rude awakening. Do you use your Fortress? One came with the boat and we were trying to sell it but without success. Our cat is 42 ft and 11 tons so quite a bit heavier. Interested if you did use it this time?

    • Hi Sue! Yes we have used the Fortress anchors a few times, mainly when needing to tie fore and aft. We find they work very well in sand and mud. Being aluminium they are lighter and easier to handle with the dinghy. We would not use them normally as a main anchor. But in an emergency that’s what we used as back up during the night and the day after our mishap. It held fine. We do find the Manson Supreme is superior and has not let us down, hence ordering the same again for our main anchor!

  8. Very exciting read, poor Captain Knotty will never live this down. Stay safe and have a great sail to Sydney where the Postie awaits. Fantastic to see the whales and the muttons. At least coming north you will finally warm up.

    • Hey Sue, let’s hope we can see you soon, and maybe have a little explore together up the Hawkesbury! By then Knotty Wadie might have recovered!

  9. Slowly making your way to warmer climes . This maybe of some help , I had a similar problem with my rudder & to help get it back in I dropped a line down the rudder bearing hole and attached it to the top of the rudder tube . Get a length of booker rod & cut it to width of your tube slide it into the hole & add 2 nuts on the inside while doing so then adjust them to stop the bolt coming out . Tie your lanyard around this .this way someone can assist in pulling the rudder back from onboard .
    Thanks for all your posts they are inspirational

    • Thanks John! Glad we are not the only ones with these mishaps! Yes we had planned to drop a line down the shaft, so your suggestion with the rod across the top will be really helpful. Thanks also for the feedback on our posts. It’s nice to hear others are interested.

  10. Hi Bengie and factotums,

    Glad that you are making the best of it at Batemans Bay, even if you wish it was Hervey Bay!

    John and Janne Emmett, sv-Chi of Limeburners Lagoon, Geelong are wondering if we can offer you some welcome diversion during your stay. As we do also. John and my wife Jan are siblings, and we live down the road at Tuross Head. We have been aware of your enforced stay, but have had a most unusual run of events, appointments and commitments during the past two weeks, so refrained from offering something we couldn’t deliver. One last commitment tomorrow morning, so all being well we could pick you up for a coffee in the afternoon, and from there Friday is free, and afternoons/evenings through to tomorrow week (Weds 6th).

    I appreciate that sailors are subservient to a vessels needs, always, but our offer is genuine.

    Happy to help if we can, and would be pleased to say hello,

    Bottoms up! (Well, perhaps that isn’t a nautical greeting) so how about “Fair winds” instead,

    Chris and Janet Jones

    >

    • Hi guys, thank you so much for the very kind offer. Tomorrow, Wednesday, is a big day for us working on the rudder. The boat is not coming out of the water as planned as the cradle we need won’t be available for several days and we want to be on our way. We are attempting repairs while at the jetty and with luck will be leaving in the next couple of days. But again thank you for contacting us. Chris and Wade

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