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NewCal to Australia Passage Report #10 (Final)
Date: 2 November 2003
Position: NW Fairway, Moreton Bay Entrance Channel Marker
Speed: 5kts, motoring
Distance to Moreton Bay Entrance: ZERO
Last 24 Hours: no fair, we hove-to yesterday
WindSpeed: 5 kts
Wind Direction: SW
Waves: Two inches
We're inside Moreton Bay! Beautiful warm sunshiny day with almost no wind. Mare's Tails approaching, and lots of clouds low on the southern horizon.
We spent yesterday afternoon close-hauled and moving very fast - I had forgotten as a cruiser how lazy I had become and after tweaking all the sail angles, fine-tuning the autopilot in wind mode, and kicking in the engine (just a little above idle speed) we made wonderful progress to weather. The wind cooperated and swung around from the SW to S and we were eventually able to lay our Moreton Bay entrance marker exactly. The wind died down in the evening and the seas abated and Kathy spent half the night being in charge of a power cat while I thankfully slept. We swapped watches at about 0100 when the wind picked up again from the south, and the passage into Moreton Bay finished uneventfully, with our free-loading birds finally flying off in the morning. The birds were exhausted and must have been wanting to recover from the previous days' weather - just thinking about it, these seabirds can't just land and sit on the water to relax in tumultuous conditions because they'll simply have waves breaking over them all the time. We had one little guy in particular who spent the whole night sleeping on the engine cover, completely ignoring us as we worked around the cockpit right next to him. He didn't even mind me petting him.
When beating hard on the wind, simply turning on one engine and running it slowly enables to boat to point at least ten degrees higher (usually 20 degrees) and allows the boat to punch through the waves with minimal slowing down - motorsailing, although not "pure", is the best way to get to windward quickly. In this case, it allowed us to EXACTLY lay the Moreton Bay entrance buoy.
Although we had more, these two birds stayed with us the longest. The small one refused the drink the water or food offered him, whereas the large one kept his distance and did make a mess on the solar panel.
The weather change we were racing to beat has now been delayed, with the latest forecasts saying it will arrive in the middle of the night. We'll be tied up to the dock (or at anchor) by then!
At 0830 today, the GPS log turned 15,000nm. This is the distance we have covered on KatieKat since we picked her up in April, 2000!
Thought you'd like to see the latest main saloon passagemaking configuration.
From the navigator's seat, from left to right: Radar, VHF (with kitchen timer on top), SSB and behind it is the Pactor modem and speaker with its separate 12v battery (for ground isolation) and and a kitchen triple timer sitting on top, the PowerBook computer for weatherfaxes and the handheld autopilot controller in front of it (I had broken its crude plastic stand I had made), and finally the GPS. Note the boat instrument panel which is rotated 90degrees from its usual aft-facing position and is simply held down with Velcro. On the other side of the table is the iBook which I use for SailMail and occasionally for viewing charts. Still lots of room to spread out paper charts. When we get to port, all this stuff gets disconnected and disappears down below and we are left with simply a bare table. Very nice way of having a large nav station which, let's face it, is only needed when passagemaking. For short hops, only the GPS and VHF need to come out, and they can sit by the instrument panel. In the background under the window are the digital voltmeter and ammeter for whichever bank is selected, the recording barometer, and under the starboard window is the LED battery voltage level gauge and ammeter for the windgen. The spinnakers make great pillows. You can also note that everything sits on little rubber non-skids - we've found these more than adequate to keep everything from sliding off no matter what the conditions: the centrally-located table simply experiences minimal motion, irrespective of any boat gyrations.
We still have at least six hours before we get to Scarborough, the Customs port of entry for small craft. It's Sunday, so we'll simply pull up to the quarantine dock and wait to be checked in tomorrow morning. The entire boat is salt-encrusted, with the running rigging (lines) incredibly stiff. Looking forward to hosing everything off. We just brought up the anchor and chain from down below.
Shows you how the normally very flexible but now salt-soaked/encrusted line looks like, primarily the result of our being pooped. The next shower or a good hosing off will restore most of the line's suppleness.
Just finished bringing up the anchor from down below as we enter Moreton Bay. In the background are the Glasshouse Mountains. Oops, the furler line is slack.
Kathy's already perking up, as Glasshouse Mountains off our starboard beam provide a familiar distinctive backdrop to the coastline.
As you can see, Kathy is one happy camper!
The local weather forecasts were identifying deteriorating conditions further down the coast, but were now delaying and minimizing the impact on Moreton Bay. As can be seen in this final 1245 weatherfax for the passage, the trough line is still down the coast and will hopefully move out to sea before hitting us.
End of a most interesting passage. Thank you for putting up with my rambling and occasionally whinging (that's Aussie talk for whining) reports. It'll be a few days before I update the website, since we were a little preoccupied and I didn't have the opportunity to work on it during the passage.
I was unable to send out the above - HF propagation simply didn't allow me to connect.
We motorsailed down Moreton Bay all day long with a light breeze, gently using the engines to help us along, realizing that they were running on fumes as we were almost out of gas (that's petrol for the rest of the world). The starboard engine inexplicably started cutting out, seemingly randomly, but could be restarted immediately most of the time. When we got within ten miles of Scarborough (our port of entry), the wind shifted to the southwest and picked up to 20 knots, the tidal current changed to an ebb, and there we were having to thrash to windward for the last couple of hours of our passage, trying to get into the marina before dark and before the predicted front hit us. There we were, bashing along in the tidal chop, with Kathy on her knees leaning over the engine and constantly squishing the gas bulb which we discovered would keep the engine from dying completely as motorsailing was the only way we could make some decent time in this stuff. I told Kathy that this is an example of what the expression "nursing an engine" means. Then the bad engine ran out of gas and I added most of the couple of litres I had hoarded into it and just before entering the marina I poured the remainder into the port engine's tank - there couldn't have been anything left in that tank either! We arrived after dark and eventually found our way to the quarantine dock which is where I'm typing this and hopefully will be able to send it out tonight. What an ending! G'night.
The Quarantine Dock at Scarborough.
The problem with the engine cutting out was simple: the fuel hose had somehow inexplicably become wedged underneath the engine release clamp as I had lowered the engine (thus pinching it). First time in 15,000 miles! I've since re-routed the hose to prevent a recurrence.
Don't bother reading this, as it merely gives two trivial examples of the results of thuzzy finking - it's true, tiredness definitely affects the decision-making process. In this final day of sailing, I made two significant errors, each of which could have saved us about three hours and completely avoided the nasty winds at the end. First of all, since we were beating hard on the wind I had set our waypoint as the shipping channel entrance marker on the northwest side of the Bay entrance. When the wind went away and we started motoring when Kathy came on watch I simply forgot to change the waypoint to the northeast channel entrance which was maybe ten miles closer and would save an additional five miles as one sailed down the Bay. Now, having screwed that up and entered in the main shipping channel, we then proceeded all the way down the Bay down that channel which meanders way over to the East - we should have simply hugged the coast and taken the shortcut directly to Scarborough, saving us about 15 miles. (Sigh)
A couple of days later you see a very happy Kathy as we approach our familiar "home away from home" Manly - a great location for cruisers with nearby shops, great bicycle paths, and excellent access by train to Brisbane.
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