"So you two clever dicks thought that you could
sail half way round my world in your itsy bitsy boat without any problems.
Wrong! I will let you get to within a couple of hundred miles of Brisbane and
then I will unleash my might (which I will keep a secret from the
meteorologists)." So sayeth the Lord.
We wrote our last Blog after a balmy day in shorts,
doing odd jobs like polishing woodwork and so on. Generally giving Ares
some TLC. As we sat down to dinner with a glass of special red out of a
Panamanian litre box the wind began to rise and within the hour we had 40 knots
up our chuff. This certainly got us moving and we began to think that,
horror of horrors, we might arrive early and attract the Quarantine people's
overtime charge for arriving on a public holiday. If only!
The wind continued to rise and then to back and the
rain started. By 0400 Tuesday we were bashing into wind up to 56 knots
(strong storm Force 10) and neither of us want to be there again. Things
stayed like that for the best part of 24 hours. Our faithful Flossy wind
steerer gave up under the strain ( a tiny but vital piece of plastic broken) and
it was far too rough for our electric autopilot George 1. So it was hand
steering two on and two off for us, it being impossible to do more than lie down
with closed eyes during the two off. No more shorts but now the full
oilies. The problem was that the helmsman could not let go of the wheel and so
could not take a look at the chartplotter. This meant that occasionally we
wandered a bit of course but with regular changes this was not serious.
The cockpit was regularly filled with water and one of these such flushings
knocked out the control panel for George 1. The fridge flew open a couple
of times and we have been skating around on broken eggs, jam and
pickle bringing a new meaning to the term "scrambled". Two survived
though and we are hoarding them for a celebratory breakfast in the channel to
Brisbane. Poor Ares, who had been pretty clean when we left New Caledonia,
is now a bit of a shambles below - a bit like her middle aged crew. One of
the odd things about sailing in a storm is that, whenever the wind eases to a
mere gale one thinks, Gosh, how peaceful life is!
During the night we had begun to get a bit
concerned about the feasibilty of entering the channel through the sands which
leads to Brisbane, fearing that the waves would be breaking over shallows we
would have to cross. With swells running at over 6 metres this would have
been exciting to say the least. However at 0700 or so this morning things
eased, the wind direction went round in circles - how can that happen? -
the rain and lightning stopped and entry into the channel was a
doddle. Donner und blitzen, what a couple of days!
We enjoyed eggs, beans and bacon (scoffing all
our fresh food before the Quarantine boys can get their hands on it) and had a
gentle 50 miles down the channel to Rivergate and our confrontation with Aussie
officialdom tomorrow. As for Ares who we had so hoped to bring to Brisbane
in pristine condition she suffered a bit over the last two days - broken
Flossie, damaged George 1 (not to be confused with George V of Tonga) control
panel and the auxiliary generator broke free from its mounts and is now lying on
its side in its locker. Some roll must have caused that! As for her
crew, a bit battered but not beaten and looking forward to a run ashore
To cap it all a strong wind warning has just been
issued for the bay for tomorrow and so we won't be able to move to Manly until
Friday. Hey ho, the joys of sailing.
Very best to all.