Thursday, 10 January 2008

'Twas the night before Christmas and all were asleep...

I thought I'd share an extract from my diary recounting our travels on Christmas Eve.

"We sailed to Camden Haven on Christmas Eve. The trip was not the best planned, a last minute dash to beat the bad weather, and everything didn't run as smooth as expected. We sailed to Broughton Island planning to spend a few hours exploring before realising that I had miscalculated the tides - I'd not really done my homework and my rough calculations from days earlier were shoddy! About 2 hours out we were beating into a noreaster. Even though it was forecast for the evening we did not anticipate it so early, nor did we recall how crappy this felt. When we tacked we were heading ESE if lucky when we wanted to head NE.

We were forced to motor sail and I took first watch so Simon could rest. I managed to make good heading and after an hour Simon came on duty at the same time we lost all engine power. The mystery fuel problem again... Simon spent a good deal of time below with the boat bobbing around only to return to the helm green and with no clue as to the source of the problem. This same cycle was repeated a few times before Simon decided that a good clean out was required and hit full revs. Oddly this did seem to work and despite the opposing wind we were making 5.5 knots with engine and main sail.

I finally fell asleep below only to be awoken by a change in the motion of the boat. I came up to find us making 2 knots over ground due to the dreaded East Cost Current... while essential for marine life, it's dreaded by sailors heading north! We watched Seals Rock lighthouse for hour after hour before we finally made it past. It was now clear Foster was not an option and we were madly calculating speeds and hours to make it into Camden Haven. At about 2am I heard over the VHF, "Sailing vessel Thyme, Sailing Vessel Thyme do you copy?" It was the Volunteer Marine Rescue at Foster calling to check how we were travelling. I had a nice chat with the man which left me feeling not so sorry for myself about an Xmas at sea.

It was`short lived, ever the pessimist and with the currents power fresh in my mind I was struggling to maintain cheer and resign myself to a Christmas Day at sea. We continued to push the engine at 1,000 RPM for a total of 14 hours and Simon lead the way on the night watches before we shared Xmas morning sunrise together. It was one of clear skies, clam seas and despite the light northerly wind everything was perfect - we might make it to port after all???
I woke Simon at 7am to prepare for the bar entry about 6 miles off. We tried to turn the self-steering off only to find it jammed. Shit! We could not risk crossing a bar with only self-steering!! Damn - don't tell me I'm pipped at the post... Simon went below to find a solution - about an hour later Simon as handy as ever temporarily fixed the problem to allow us to cross the bar.
Just around Perpendicular Point we pulled down the sails, called the Volunteer Rescue on the radio to advise our entry, lined up the entrance leads and crossed the bar in the best conditions one could hope for.

We motored down the channel at over 8 knots with the incoming tide with me waving to all the early morning walkers. I was so excited we were going to be in harbour for Christmas Day!! We dropped anchor opposite Laurieton - for the first time without me issuing orders. Either I was too tired or due to Simon more than proving himself capable of nearly everything thrown at him.
Ohhhhh... soooo tired. A quick tidy of the decks before bed showed us some dolphins lazily swimming by - this must be heaven..."

2 comments:

secret squirrel said...

Hey you guys...Alan and i were in Norah Head around the same time as you were what a pity we did not know we could of waved at you or something..
Keep up the posts i am enjoying them very much.

stay safe,xox eve xox

theotherbear said...

I didn't know you had a diary. Does it have a little key to open it, and have written on any of the pages "I luv (insert any name here)"?
I have no idea what some of the things are you talk about but it sounds like a rather hairy trip.
Also? You bossing Simon about?? I find that completely hard to believe, I've never seen him listen to you yet. (He does seem to be earning his keep, by the way.)