Safely in Brisbane, after a terrible storm

Lynn & Mike ..around the world
Mike Drinkrow & Lynn v/d Hoven
Fri 4 Oct 2013 01:54
27:26.69s 153:06.32e  Safely in Brisbane - after a terrible storm
We tied up to the customs dock at 11.30 this morning and what a relief to be here. We have just had the the worst 24 hours at sea, EVER.  Mike and I are quite shell-shocked.
A huge storm hit us about 15 hours outside Morton Bay, entrance to the Brisbane shipping channel. We had heavy winds all day, but then it got much worse – nasty swell and very high winds – highest I saw was 59knots!! And as the storm cranked up, the AutoPilot and the steering in the wheelhouse (inside)  packed up. We could not hold Time2 on course. Mike, with a little help from me, then had to hand steer from outside on the flying bridge, where there is little protection from the wind or spray.   We were very concerned that we would have a total steering failure, and then we would have been seriously “up the creek !”. Mike was doing his usual McGyver thing, making a plan with substitute hydraulic oil. He used 2-stroke oil to fill the reservoirs, huge mess, oil overflowing everywhere, but it seemed to help a lot. All this while the boat was pitching and rolling like crazy.
I contacted our friend Will on sy Offshore, who was home in Tasmania, and very supportive. He made calls to the coast guard, customs and even  a towing tug – getting them on standby should things get out of control. He was monitoring our position and it made us feel a LOT safer. I think he stayed up the whole night..
We got drenched as each swell crashed over the front of the boat, sending spray into our faces. With beanies and full wet weather gear we were still freezing and soaked. Spray was also getting inside the boat, as we changed “shifts” on the wheel. Hand steering this boat is very very difficult – particularly in bad weather – I have new respect for the efficiency of the autopilot. We had to steer hard, holding a course by looking at compass while ducking masses of spray – all this in pitch dark... we both are very muscle sore today. Eventually at about 1.30am the weather eased off a bit and Mike tried to restart the AutoPilot – for about the 10th time ... and BINGO, it started. Finally we could come back inside the yacht and get warm. We were exhausted but still had another 8 hours of bad weather before we got into the Brisbane river.  Morton Bay continued to offer rough weather and waves over the front of the boat for another 5 hours, but at least we were inside.  And then, as soon as we hit the river, it was dead calm.
We have completed Customs and Quarantine quickly - both teams very friendly and efficient.  And then we crashed!  We are moving up the river to the Dockside marina for a week or so, where we hope to relax and do some land stuff only.  We will then head down to the Gold Coast to get hauled out, and head home.