Heading North - Underway Again 28 46.70S 153 44.44E

Mike and Liz Downing
Wed 26 Jun 2013 06:32
Underway again, at the second attempt at leaving Coffs Harbour. Initially left in the morning and got no more than a mile when we found water in the bilge. Not a lot, but a steady little stream. With the engine going, and being too close to the shore to risk turning it off, it wasn't possible to check all the likely possibilities as most involved the engine or the generator. (I have to lie over the engine to get to the generator, so not a good idea to try with the engine running!) Tasting the water it didn't taste like fresh water, so not a water tank or water pipe problem, but it didn't taste like seawater either. There was a strong unpleasant taste that I thought might be old stagnant saltwater that had mixed with oil or the contents of the bilge channels and perhaps been hiding somewhere for a while, only to be dislodged when we rolled going out of the harbour (it was still a bit swelly). So it was an about turn back into the harbour and back to the marina to start the investigation. Putting a piece of carpet over the hot engine the generator was checked and all looked okay. All the pipework was checked. Skin fittings were all checked. The floor came up and still no sign of where the water was come from. Then we thought about the watermaker high pressure pump under another part of the floor. So more floor came up. The pump was fine, but then a small trail of liquid was spotted going under the pump and making it's way to the bilge channels and on to the bilge sump. It was coming from one of the hanging lockers, but there are no fittings or anything that could leak in that locker. Wrong! We have been buying the crystals that help prevent condensation. Here they sell a bag that is on a hanger that you hang in with clothes. It's nicely scented, so everything smells nice, and it has it's own plastic bag that catches the water that's taken out of the air. The bag had 2 punctures, probably due to it swinging back and forth and catching on something, and the liquid was draining out, going behind the mahogany strip locker lining and down under the floor. We had turned round just for that! The boat was now in pieces with most of the floor up and by the time we had cleaned things up and put everything back the tide was too low to get out the marina. So having arrived in the marina after dark, we left after dark as soon as there was enough depth.
Since  then the winds have come up and down and we've been making 4 to 6kts against the current. So slowly making our way north. Overnight and during the day we achieved two significant milestones. Firstly we passed north of the 30 degree parallel (latitude) and that's where the weather systems start to change. The tradewinds are not so far away. Secondly we've passed Cape Byron - the most easterly point along the coast (the big fat bit on the east coast!). Up to now we've actually been heading in a northeasterly direction. From now  on it's going to be west of north. Since leaving  Coffs and up to noon today, we've made 100.4 miles. Again we had the moon out most of the night and that makes such a difference.