Thursday, 4 June 2015

Sydney to Lord Howe

Sydney to Lord Howe Island

We returned to Sydney on Saturday after a couple of days visiting Andy and Kellie with the last minute perishables to shop for and a social Sunday lunch with some other Louisiades Cruisers.

The plan was to clear customs Monday morning but we delayed this until Tuesday afternoon as a large Stationary high was sitting over the area between Sydney and Lord Howe and wasn’t expected to start moving away until Wednesday.

We filled the time in by giving the water maker a test run – a good thing as the power switch had to be replaced due to damage in transit. The guys from Rainman were marvellous, turning up to change the switch within 30 minutes of us calling them. Di did some more shopping and we changed the No.3 to the No.2.

The forecast was now for a trickle of wind starting on Wednesday morning so we arranged to clear customs Tuesday afternoon.

Sydney puts on a great light show this time every year (Vivid) so we arranged for some younger friends to join us for a dinner cruise on Sydney harbour Tuesday night and this proved to be a spectacular night with the bridge changing colours every few seconds and the Opera House being used as a projection screen. In Darling harbour water jets had laser lights intermingling with some graphic light effects visible. On the way back to the CYCA we arrived off the Opera House just as the fireworks were starting. Probably because it was mid-week, there were very few private boats on the harbour so getting to the different venues was easy. Very different I suspect to the NYE fireworks.

Tuesday May 26th.
Last minute jobs then over to Neutral Bay to clear Customs before returning to the CYCA for the  night.

Wednesday May 27th

An early start leaving the pen at 0630 and clearing the heads at 0715 for the 420 mile run to Lord Howe.

The breeze was light but sailable for the first few hours and we even ran the MPS for a while. This didn’t last long and by midday we were motoring as progress had dropped below 2 knots SOG. To make matters worse we had a 1.5 knot current against us and this lasted until dawn on Thursday.

Our first 24 hour run on the chart was 126 miles with the log showing distance run as 171 miles! The difference being the current!

No fish in the first 24 hours but plenty of Chinese coal carriers drifting in the deep water of Newcastle waiting to be loaded. These were up to 100 miles offshore and all were drifting west with the current at SOG speeds of 1 to 1.5 knots; as shown on the AIS ; into the light breeze! At least they were being carried in the direction they wanted to go.

Life on board has been pretty easy with almost no swell making getting around the boat simple. Di and I spent most of the day fiddling on the internet and reading/ snoozing. We have a small Telstra 4G wireless receiver with good range- excellent when we put it in a sock and hoist it up the mast!

We took the shifts during the night fairly casually with no fixed change times. We find this works best with lots of cat naps during the day allowing us to stay fresh.

Thursday  May 28th

Sailed with full rig until 1600 when we were subject to a couple of squalls and heavy rain with gusts to 27 knots. We quickly went to two reefs then three with half headsail. The breeze was now a Northerly and we were hard on the wind from here to Lord Howe

Friday May 29th

Di rated Friday a 3/10 compared to Wednesdays 8/10 as the sea state had risen and was very confused. The wind was changing direction and strength constantly from calm to 20+ knots making progress difficult .In the end we used the motor to keep us moving and strapped the main down to reduce the wear and tear.

Saturday May 30th

We arrived off Lord Howe at daybreak and expected to have to heave too off the lagoon entrance until port control was awake. However the local policeman had spotted us and called us up at 0630 to let us know he was on the way out in the RIB to guide us in through the reef entrance to our mooring. Fantastic service!

We had a bit more sleep the launched the dinghy and went for a wander ashore to get our bearings. All of the moorings are between .5 and.75 miles from the beach and it feels quite isolated sitting on a mooring only 50 metres from the reef and half a mile from the shore, especially as we are the only visiting boat here at present!

Much of the island is national park with some spectacular scenery and walks through the lush vegetation. Much of the surrounding waters are also marine park with limited fishing opportunities for amateurs and no commercial fishing. The island has lots of cement sheet and weatherboard buildings and has a 1950s feel to it. The vegetation is very lush and dense with some huge Banyan trees. The main industry is tourism with a maximum of 400 guests allowed on the island at any one time. Many of the larger private homes act as guest houses. I had an interesting conversation with one man who has been coming for holidays for the past 20 years. You can only buy real estate on the island if you have been living here for more than 10 years or have a close family member who is a resident. This stops land speculation and helps keep prices under control although he did mention one of his friends who had bought bought a house with good views for $900k.

Sunday May 31st

We are keen to get an up to date weather forecast and can get internet at the museum between 10.00 and 2.00 (closed Saturday of course) so in the morning went ashore to do our chores including topping up the two gas bottles we had been using ($18.00- v reasonable) and filled up our two 20 litre diesel cans at $3.00 per litre!

After a frustrating 2 hours battling with the internet we retired to the boat for a late lunch and to get out of the weather as it was very showery and the wind was getting up. During the afternoon we managed a quick walk over to the Old Gulch on the Northern side of the island and a walk along North beach before picking up our fuel from the jetty. Nothing is locked or put away. Everyone leaves their paddle boards and surfboards on the beaches rather than carry them home. The local policeman is responsible for lost property and is also the local port operations controller and not much else. A great relaxed lifestyle.

The Big Blow

 Monday and Tuesday 1st and 2nd June

As forecast the winds started to pick up Sunday night we were quite nervous about what to expect over the next 2 days.

We are moored to one of the 6 Lord Howe Island moorings in the Northern part of the lagoon that are hired out to visiting yachts. There are another lot in the southern end of the lagoon. About 50 metres to our west is the extensive reef which gives protection to the lagoon from the swell, but not the wind. At low tide the lagoon is only subject to the wind fetch inside the reef but at high tide there is quite a joggle from the swell remnants that flow over the reef making the moorings at this time quite uncomfortable. At low tide the depth under Allusive is less than a metre but the pitch is least so we shouldn’t bump the bottom.

The moorings are rated to 75 knots for a wind surface area of 20 square metres. As bow on we would be much less than 20 s m and the maximum wind gusts we experienced were about 48 knots we calculate we didn’t exceed 25% of the maximum loading.

When you are sitting this sort of weather out these are the type of things you think about!

As it turned out it was reasonably comfortable on board once we had convinced ourselves Allusive was in no danger and we spent the long hours reading, playing cards, chess and scrabble plus baking bread and sleeping!

We felt sorry for the two tug crews whose vessels (Seaforce and Pedro 1) were too big to come into the lagoon. They tried to anchor on the sheltered side of the island but the wrapping swells were too uncomfortable so they resorted to steaming backwards and forwards with barge in tow. They are delivering materials for the airport runway upgrade and a smaller tug and barge come out to them when the weather is calm to load up outside the lagoon.

Wednesday 3rd June

We managed to get ashore in the late morning at ebbing half tide and had lunch in the Anchorage cafĂ©: seafood pie of course! then wandered around the CBD (post office – closed Wednesday- Thompsons store and the local Co-op). Lots of people stranded as there had been no flights in or out since Sunday and the first won’t be in until Thursday. Our walk today took us down as far as the airport and up to the police station to have a chat with the Simon, the local cop/harbour master. Weather due to moderate Thursday and swell will be low enough for us to get out of the lagoon on Friday. At least that’s the plan!

Back to the museum to check emails and then another rolly night on the mooring.

Thursday 4th June

Wind down to 15 knots, time to do all of our boat checks and last minute cooking for the passage to Noumea. All looks good for a Friday morning departure.
Now at the museum. this post will be the last until we get to Noumea


1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on the New Cal landfall. Sounds like Lord Howe made for an interesting stay.