To Newcastle, Au
To Newcastle, Australia
Although day one was only from seven in the morning until midday, it made sense for me to call midday to the following midday, day two. We never tire of this view, some would say endless blue, to us it’s our personal motorway.
Day Two. Wednesday. 25/11/15. No sooner than I had gone to bed at six than Bear had a chum going south from Noumea to Sydney at a fast twenty four knots and another coming north to Noumea, they passed in parallel some five miles off each side of Beez. To my surprise when I got up at ten the skipper put in his request for lunch. Usually it takes him three days before he selects from the menu and he begins to feel the normal pangs of hunger and fancies anything other than a biscuit washed down with water. He didn’t fancy anything hot but a selection of titbits and the last of our French stick, easy.
I stuck my head out to a beautiful sunny day, Beez enjoying five and a half knots on the Peaceful Pacific, today the most glorious blue. Plenty of birds skimming the surface of the water showing off their acrobatic prowess. It was smooth enough for a game of backgammon and the skipper allowed me a five three win. Don’t upset me. Lovely sunset though.
152.2 miles in the last twenty four hours.
Day Three. Thursday. 26/11/15. Another beautiful day. Bear had another chum at eight o’clock, I missed it as I was asleep......... Awake at ten, Captain ordered stew for two o’clock, rightee-oh then, things are all settled into the rhythm of sea life. As soon as you get to this stage in a passage you can keep going for weeks and weeks, four hours good sleep twice a day and two shifts on duty. We had to gybe at eleven o’clock and sadly, we had to put the engine on at thirteen forty five - just at very low revs, to keep the sails from flapping. Beez was purring along at four point eight knots in a gentle eleven knot breeze, not a bird in sight though. Again I was allowed a backgammon win at five two. Don’t upset me – again.
During the afternoon Bear couldn’t convince himself that the two Chitty Chitty Bang Bang side-ear solar panels were doing their stuff. At higher revs the engine didn’t seem to be putting any charge into topping up the batteries, so in a never-seen-at-sea-before, out came the generator for a couple of hours. The Breaking Bad tidy whities look, or in the skippers case, the not-so-neat-and-slightly-faded-blacks is a vision not to be placed in my brains Kardex System on a permanent basis.
Day Four. Friday. 27/11/15. One solitary sea bird at five thirty after a lovely sunrise. I won five two at backgammon. I won’t tell you again that I don’t want to be upset..........Grrr. During my evening shift the fluxgate compass decided to go completely mad, the heading defied the course over the ground and led Beez to looking like a crab, literally sidling through the water.
My fluxgate experience. Heading 318 degrees with course over the ground at 235..........
Sunrise on Saturday.
Day Five. Saturday. 28/11/15. Happy Half Way Day. A stunning sunrise. At midday, accompanied by a solo sea bird, we had completed 536.2 nautical miles with 522.4 to Sydney, Yeeha, celebrated with a libation accompanying steak and kidney stew. We know how to party like animals aboard the good ship Beez.... who was humming along to five knots on a hot, sunny day. The only downer to the whole thing was being smashed five nil on the backgammon field. Revenge was sought with many dollars taken at Rummikub.
Topping up the tank from a jerry can. I liked the one eye against the hole, it so reminded me of the toucan we watched in the Bronx Zoo as he put his eye to a nest box.
The sea became a bit sloppy this afternoon and Bear needed to hold on with both hands. I think this mode of taking my empty to refill could indeed take on, especially in the swankier establishments.......
Another pretty sunset lining up.
It was in pretty pinks.
Day Six. Sunday. 29/11/15. My lone sea bird made an appearance on the dot of five thirty, as I went to bed I stuck my head in the office where the downstairs chart plotter said 422.7 miles to go. As I settled in my darkened nest I’m now beginning to think its the same sea bird chap who comes to check on me. Later, I lost five four, I felt a sneaky roll on a wave was very unfair at the critical moment in the last game, I had thought a sweet victory after yesterdays sham. Sham, Huh. At two thirty in the afternoon we both heard the first of a far-off, but very deep rumble of thunder. As dusk fell the high clouds had their own firework displays going on as lines of light lit above them, then the first pats of rain becoming really heavy by sunset. Real lightning and loud thunder cracks split the usual wave noises, thankfully staying two miles away at its nearest but nevertheless, the IPad and Bad Elf – our back-up GPS went to bed in the microwave. Never used much it has always been the most excellent bread bin and occasional shelter in a storm.
I don’t really remember exactly when it was that Bear stopped going to bed after supper and choosing to sleep until his shift at twenty two hundred in the cockpit, next to me. I have to admit I have grown used to it. It used to drive me nuts that if I wanted to lean out to the right he was there – in the way. His snoring was at times and still is, like a Kango hammer. Now though, it is strangely comforting. It is lovely that I get my two till six to myself as he scuttles off to bed. It all feels........simply a nice pattern.
Moving along really well and Beez Neez is a dream.
Day Seven. Monday. 30/11/15. The lightning continued to light the early hours of my two till six watch but as Bear came on, I was thrilled to announce that it was just us kids and all was well. I went off to bed still musing it was the same chap who had come to see me this morning, once again on the dot of five thirty. He always appears just off the front left of Beez nose, great wide but slim brown wings in a perfect arc before he dips to seemingly touch the surface of the water, circles once and then heads off from her rear right. Hummmm. I got up to sunshine and the girl bowling along at 6.8 knots in 18 knots of wind. After sweet and sour chicken I had a sweet five three win at backgammon, the final bet of eight bob taking me to the nicely rounded number of US$ 670, far surpassing any monetary records of the past and I continued to take good money at rummikub. Growling and a few bad words at this point....... I saw two backs and tails of dolphins a long way off but not a sniff after. Bear went down into the office to get the latest GRIB files to check the weather. He came back to sit opposite me, laptop in hand. Sydney is due to have a massive low hit at about nine in the morning on Wednesday. Out came a bit of paper, if we motored and raised Beez from six and a half knots to eight we would get in at four in the morning. Shall we go for it. Let’s go for it. The thrill of it.
A very special flag ceremony.
Progress. We can nearly fit Sydney on to the chart plotter.
Day Eight. Tuesday. 1/12/15. I had no visit from my friend this morning but didn’t think much of it – I certainly did later. Still going for it. The morning went by in a flash. The day before we arrive anywhere on a long passage is spent cutting hair and beard, nails, shower and tidy general up. After lunch another lovely win at five four. I’m really getting cheesed off now. At a quarter past three the delightful flash of a dolphin tail, then another and another until we had a tight formation of twenty off Sugarloaf Head – as the chart plotter told us.
Up I jumped from the rummikub table to take pictures and videos of our smiling escorts. Tucked in tight left and right, then fanning out, watching for fish and tail slapping, moving as one to tuck in once again.
Putting on a solo show.
Expert at jumping and swimming.
This little monkey suddenly peeled off, came up behind where I stood and did a massive tail slap, flicking the water all over me, you can see the droplets falling in front of him. I am absolutely convinced he did it on purpose.......All at nine miles an hour.
They were still with us as I went for an afternoon snooze at four, no sleep as I giggled and listened to their constant excited squeaks and clicks. They left us just before I went on duty at six, they had been with us for just under twenty five miles. Why ??? Just having fun.
I actually had a chum of my own at eight o’clock as the skipper snored on. Just as well my Lincoln Rhyme tale was so absorbing..........Then I saw the lights of Newcastle, just sixty miles to Sydney, excitement really building now. Just the thought of getting a picture through the rigging of Beez with the Opera House in front. Wow, up there with sailing past the Statue of Liberty.
The 1000 nautical mile mark and all is well.
Day Nine. Wednesday. 2/12/15. At one fifteen in the morning, in a deep sleep, I was suddenly slammed against the side wall then a split second later was three quarters of the way across the bed heading for the floor. The noise was unbelievable, full wash cycle, nothing for it but to go out to see the skipper to see what I could do. He was of course his calm self, everything under control once more. We had been hit by a solid wall of oncoming wind registering thirty five knots. Beez had been all but stopped in her track. Darn, this was not due until we had snuck inside the shelter of the biggest, most beautiful natural harbour in the world...........at around four in the morning.
I went back to bed, everything crossed that this had been nothing but a squall and we would sneak the thirty miles left to do as planned. Bear came down and his dejected face said it all. We have to turn and run for Newcastle, we are only doing a knot and the sea is building at quite a rate. I went on at two, instead of my usual quick just us kids, there was a bit of chatter. Disappointment had flooded us both for a nanosecond, but at the end of the day we were now facing the way we had come on a duck pond doing four and a half knots. I have to admit to now feeling a bit cheated and almost embarrassed to admit that I needed to see new GRIB files. I had naïvely hoped that our thunder and lightning had been enough gritty edge for this whole journey. Please may this latest stuff have just been a squall...........
Doubting Thomas was put right just looking at the amount of orange to red on the 06:00 forecast..........perfect sailing is yellow to two tails, three in red can easily get quite nasty, quite quickly. As it happened, we had just got into the fairway of Newcastle as the waves began to build and the gusts were over twenty five.
What a difference. A u-turn. What did we learn ???, the miles done began to go backwards with us.............Fed up – no safe.
We radioed Newcastle Harbour Patrol to ask permission to enter and a pleasant man came on and told us to stand by. A few minutes later he came back telling us no big ship movement until ten o’clock. He gave us the lat and long of the yellow Quarantine Buoy and said he would inform Border Patrol for us. Then our radio chirped and it was Steve of Scott-Free. What a lovely surprise, we had thought they would be in Pittwater by now but the low pressure system that had slammed us had kept them snug in Newcastle. Steve would get hold of Howard the marina manager and sort us out a slip as at the moment there is no VHF contact. Thank you, things are beginning to feel happy again. I swung into the wind so Bear could drop the main and no sooner than I had turned back to enter the fairway than David Allan was coming out – I’ll just hang on for a minute then and enjoy looking at a splendid degaussing buoy........I waved heartily as he passed us and I was thrilled when the skipper stepped out of his nest and waved as heartily back. We are thoroughly going to enjoy the Pink Island.
I followed the channel, turned left and ahead saw the yellow ‘Q’ buoy. Thrilled to see a chap and his small friend eyeing our team performance. Bear leaned over and got hold of the tether and there we were. Time for a sandwich as we wait for Border Control.
ALL IN ALL PACIFIC OCEAN – TICK, FANTASTIC
HUGE EXCITEMENT WITH SOME RELIEF