Thursday, 12 December 2013

The run home

 I flew back to Townville on Tuesday 12th November to resume the trip South after a busy couple of weeks at home.

Allusive needed a few maintenance issues sorting before getting underway and during the afternoon and evening I fitted a new capacitor to the generator, reassemble the furler, fitted the number 3 genoa and generally stowed our gear and tidied up to allow room for Andy and Kel to move onboard on Wednesday.

Tuesday night the remaining Louisiades crews in Townsville  got together for a meal at the Townsville Y C. It was good to catch up with Rod from Psycho and Robby from Eclipse one more time.

 Wednesday morning I motored around to the Breakwater Marina to fuel up and to pick up the crew, Andy Duffield and Kelli Saron from Quintessa, who had also done the run out to the Louisiades.

 Andy and Kel intend to leave Quintessa in Townsville for a few months while they catch up with family and friends further south. Kelli arrived with the contents of her fridge and freezer plus passage food she had prepared, which made for a very well organised menu.

 We departed at 1000 hours and had an easy run to Abel Point marina where we had arranged for an Auto electrician to check our alternator surging problem where the voltage charge was fluctuating every few seconds. We arrived early in the morning and Kurt was on board by 7.15- very efficient!

The problem was hard to find but turned out to be burnt contacts on a 10 amp spade fuse, which was causing the fuse to arc out. This has been the intermittent problem we have had for months, so it is great to have it finally sorted.

 We left Abel Point at 1000hrs on Thursday and wended our way through the islands South of the Whitsundays and outside Fraser Island in very light conditions, motoring probably half the time. The crew amused themselves on this 4 day passage with a large jigsaw puzzle, iPad scrabble, reading, fishing and eating good food. The watches were very casual and everyone seemed to get plenty of sleep. Andy and Kelli are great crew and for a power cat owner he had a very extensive sailing background which made the passage very easy for me, particularly with my minor ailment which requires light duties at present!
4 days to kill on the run to Southport

 The last night before arriving at Southport saw a mass of thunderstorms around us. These did quite a bit of damage inland with hail stones as big as tennis ball reported in some areas.
At one point the horizon to the East to seaward  was a mass of grey clouds and jagged lightning bolts which gradually overtook us. Fortunately the lightning was only sheet lightning by the time it was overhead, very spekky as it lit up the sky almost continuously. The wind turned southerly very quickly and the temperature dropped considerably.In this mass of cold air there were wind gusts up to 30 knots and not much else, but it had us worried for a while.
We eventually arrived at Southport late the next day and anchored in Bums Bay at 2130 next to Graham, Sue and Jamie on Symphony 11; more Louisiades rally friends. Graham came over for a drink and a chat before we fell into bed.

 (See Sue’s blog at
 Other good  blogs from this trip include

On Monday the 20th we moved to the Southport yacht club where we refuelled and took a pen for 2 nights.
Andy and Kel went to stay with family for a couple of nights and I did a few maintenance jobs including an oil change, fitted a 24 volt meter and freed up the furler again.
We had a meal at the club on Tuesday night with Kel's family and Peter from Haven 111 plus the Symphony crew.
We left from Bums Bay at mid night and motored into a light Southerly for the rest of the night before the forecast Northerlies arrived. Just Andy and John on board for this leg to Sydney and Kellie will rejoin us there after visiting family.
This was another light wind leg notable for the dozens of dead mutton birds floating in the visible area of water we sailed through. Apparently they starved to death on their return flight from Siberia to SE Australia. We later saw a lot more washed ashore in Two Fold Bay at Eden on the Victorian border. This was quite disturbing as there must have been many thousands more that we didn't see.

I was also interested to spot my first Sunfish laying on the surface off Port Macquarie.

At about this time I was watching the maxi yacht"Wild Thing" on the AIS as she passes us, also going South but further out to sea. She was doing 13.5 knots and I thought to myself "she must be motoring as there isn't that much wind". I then realised our SOG was 11.5 knots and the water temperature had gone up 2 degrees to  24 degrees. We were both in a south bound current of about 3-4 knots!!! This stayed with us for about 12 hour and gradually faded as we moved further South as did the water temperature.  This warm stream of water probably had a lot to do with the thunderstorms present in SE QLD and NE NSW that were around at the time.
Late in the afternoon of the 22nd the gathering thunderstorms and rain convinced us nearby Port Stevens was a good option for the night and would give me a chance to catch up with Nicole and Pete on Escape Pod who were already tucked up in the bay.
Our only breakage for the trip happened as we sailed in through the entrance at Port Stephens. A sudden fierce gust of 40 plus knots  and a wind shift of more than 90 degrees snapped the preventer on the main boom as we did an involuntary tack! Andy found these gusts were very hard to stand up against and we doused the main fairly quickly after that.
 We then picked up a public mooring outside the marina alongside Nicole and Peter on Escape Pod, who joined us for a chat and a nightcap.
We left early the next morning after speaking to Peter on Haven 111 who had arrived during the night and was anchored nearby.

During the morning we had more thunderstorms and rain but not as bad as the day before.
We arrived in Sydney at 1800 after an exhilarating reach into the heads and took a berth for 4 nights at the CYCA.
Our son Andrew kindly flew Di up to join us for these 4 days and we made good use of his Chris Craft for harbour cruises and lunches at the fish market.

Kel rejoined us with a bit of a cold picked up from her grandkids but soon shook it off. We celebrated her birthday in style with lunch at "Plonk" at the Spit Bridge and were joined by Graeme, Sue and Jamie off Symphony 11 who had now reached their home port in Pittwater.
After dropping Di off at the Airport we set sail for Eden at midday on the 27th November as the heavy Southerlies that had been about for most of our Sydney layover had abated and we were due for 2 days of light winds from the North. This proved to be another easy passage with some motoring to keep the downwind speed at a respectable level.

Unfortunately another front was due to come through during the weekend so we decided to wait for it to pass and chose Eden as our refuge for two nights.
Allusive arrived in port at 1100 and after a quick run up to the shops we moved over to the anchorage area behind the woodchip wharf which is protected from the Southerly winds. Eden is open to the South and can be very uncomfortable in a Southerly blow.

 Loading pine pit props for the Chinese mines
 Boyd's Tower
 Two Fold Bay
  Looking towards Green Cape
 Folded Sandstone formation
Sue and Mike join us for sun downers
The three of us had a couple of good walks, the second out to Boyd’s Tower (used for spotting whales by the early whalers) and enjoyed a couple of social evenings with Jeremy and Penny Firth from Hobart and old friends Mike and Sue Powell on Yaraandoo 11 who were also holed up waiting to go South.
Our departure was early!  At 0230 on Monday the 2nd  the met observations showed Gabo Island was down to 4 knots and had shifted to the North, so away we went.
The promised North Easterly finally filled in as we rounded Gabo and built slowly all day so by 1630 we had a good 25 knots behind us and were reefed down making good speed.
The winds peaked at about 35 in the gusts and we spent the night with 3 reefs and half the No3 on the pole goose winged. The autopilot handled the 3 metre waves extremely well and very little time was needed to be spent on deck, as the Queenslanders were starting to feel the cold!

 Dawn on the last day looking towards the Sisters

Once we cleared the Sister Islands on the Northern side of Flinders Island the weather improved quickly and as I write this we are motoring (again!) on a calm sunny sea with only 30 miles to Low Head.

We arrived at the marina just before dark and slipped Allusive back into her old berth that the boys had kindly been holding for us. Di drove down to join us for the night and early next morning the four of us set off for home.
Another chapter in our travels is over; I wonder what the future will bring?

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