Stolen Kiss

Stolen Kiss

January 21, 2015

Adelaide to Fremantle - the last leg!

Setting sail early in the new year was an excellent start as far as we were concerned! All the planets lined up, so to speak. We had Jules and Marg with us (Jules has crossed the Bight 5 times and Marg 3), it was a full moon and the best time for an east-west crossing.

On Jan 2nd, there was a strong wind warning with northerlies. As far as we were concerned an excellent window to get over to Port Lincoln from Wirrina Cove Marina, south of Adelaide. Alas many locals warned us of going out due to sea conditions. We usually listen to local advice, but by 1400 hours the wind was not as strong as forecast so off we went.

Half way across the Gulf of St Vincent I requested a weather forecast from Adelaide Sea Rescue, which was interesting as there was no "W" in the wind direction. Marg simultaneously downloaded the updated forecast from BOM which had the westerlies forecast and indeed, the wind started to come on the nose. That cemented our decision to go into Nepean Bay near American River, Kangaroo Island.

What a wonderful anchorage in the bay outside the river entrance! We stayed for two nights then headed west on a fantastic SE window!

Julie's advice was to stay high in the Bight, following the 100m line for calmer seas and better wind. Not many people know or understand this, yet it makes so much of a difference! With a full moon and SE winds 18-25 knots behind us, with a brief 30 knots past Cape Catastrophe, we settled down for a 4 day stunning sail to Daw Island at the western end of Israelite Bay. It took us just under 24 hours to clear the SA coast, departing from Kangaroo Island!

It was a lazy sail for most of the miles!

We followed the 100 m line for most of the way. As a front was forecast to go below us on the last 12 hours, we made a direct westerly course for Daw Island. Being high in the Bight meant that we only got the top end of the front, translating into Southerly winds, rather than SW winds. Had to be happy with that! With such good winds, we were clocking an easy 180 miles a day, with our least run of 172 miles in a 24 hour period. The easterly winds had knocked out the SW swell, but as the winds clocked south, a bit of a swell kicked up and we had a few waves crashing over the boat during the last night! We had our cockpit overs on, so we were warm and dry inside the cockpit! Gotta love cruising as opposed to racing! The down side was that the delivery skipper to Adelaide had also damaged the seals in the autopilot, so it was hand steering for the last 100 miles in quite trying conditions...for us as opposed to the boat. We had spare seals with us so we would now go into Esperance to affect the repair.

In the wee hours of the morning, up popped Daw Island. A welcomed sight! This was another Jules' suggestion - not many people know about Daw Island. A gem of a protected anchorage, only open to the north. Nice sandy beach and sandy bottom. The fishermen hang here, so it must be good!

As the chart did not show any detail, Google Earth confirmed its location.

The whole anchorage is sand so there are many places to anchor to get out of the swell. it is only open to northerly winds.

Navionics chart shows no detail. All good depth coming up to around 6m near the sandy beach.

What do girls want at the end of a long southern passage??? Dark and Stormy of course!!

From Daw Island it was a short hop to Middle Island, then into Esperance, sailing through the stunning Researche Archipelago. The anchorage here, is somewhere along the bay with the pin lake or over against the other island if westerlies.

Its wonderful being in the Southern Ocean - no need to motor!

I remembered what I did not like about sailing in Esperance - windy and cold! We waited in Bandy Creek for a few days and hired a car. We had  0.8m below our keel at LW over the short bar getting into Bandy Creek (we draw 1.8 m), with the rest of the creek being deep at around 4 to 6 m.

Our hydraulic seals were replaced in a few hours. We caught up with some friends then looking at the weather, although a little too much wind, it was in the right direction!

However, Esperance still looked stunning and the reason why I started sailing - the landscape is so inviting!

BOM forecasts had been consistently accurate, albeit a little out in their timing. The forecast was for SE winds reaching up to 30 knots between Hopetoun and Esperance. We ended up with 45 knots and 3 to 4 m seas behind us for the best part of the day. So happy to be sailing a Hylas! Promptly, when we were 5 miles east of Hopetoun, the wind dropped to around 20 knots, swung further south, the seas settled and we had a quiet night reaching into Albany!!

As we decided to stay an extra day in Albany, Peter and I missed the window to get around Leeuwin and sail to Port Geograph. The SW winds that were forecast changed to SE'lies, so Julie and Marg set forth without us!

Not all  marinas have exercise for horses!

Peter and I were homeless for 4 hours from 0500, when Jules and Margaret set us ashore so they could be on their way.

We, of course, missed the best sail of the lot, with calm seas and a good breeze.The girls anchored in Bunker Bay for the second night and by all accounts, it was the best conditions one could expect there - glassy seas and no swell! We were happy for them to have such a great sail.

Peter and I picked up the boat from Port Geograph and had the usual amazing sail on easterly winds north. Departing at the usual first light, we were interested to see the entrance to Port Geograph had changed; apparently in the last 12 months. We could see the channel from Google earth and it was well marked. The track on our charts just looked a little strange!!

Anchoring back in the beautiful Bunbury harbour found us amongst other yachts returning to Fremantle. It was great to catch up with early Esperance sailors...from the 70's!

Much has also changed in Bunbury with a plethora of cafes around the harbour. From Bunbury we had an 11.5 hour sail into Fremantle Sailing Club - 80 nm! We had a magnificent sail with one foot on the beach all the way up to Bouvard, then motored to James Service reef until the SW filled in. We dropped a reef in to come on the breeze through Challenger passage - a long time since we had been through there.

A yellow floating mark appears just south and inside the outer green floater, which we think must be marking Challenger Rock, which  a few racing yachts have hit as the round the mark and harden up to head south. All the old salts were aware of this rock!

So now we have Stolen Kiss home. A wonderful feeling and an adventure that has extended over 11 years and some 42,000 nm.

October 23, 2014

Fremantle here she comes!

Feeling the need to have her closer we decided to use the services of a delivery person. There have been many horror stories of delivery skippers, concerning lack of care. One such skipper delivered a yacht from Asia to Australia, using the new high performance sails rather than the Dacron sails!

After having the boat picked up from, Pittwater, she spent a few days at CYCA without us!

They just managed to leave before the wild weather hit Sydney in early October, taking shelter in Eden until the weather cleared. From there it was a reasonable run for them with a maintenance issue of dirty fuel tanks - turned out we had algae in the tanks! Last fuel up was Pittwater! This is rather surprising as we had cleaned the middle tank out in Galápagos.

We were very dismayed to hear that part of the autopilot broke. They did have big seas but the autopilot is oversized (suited to 50 to 80 foot boat) and is only 4 years old. It has done a lot of miles (around Mexico, down to Central America, across the Pacific and up and down the east coast)  in big seas in that time. Sadly, delivery skippers push the boat and do not understand about having a low response value on the autopilot so the seas can be taken more easily.

We found Peter Neaves, Australian Yacht Deliveries by word of mouth..he had delivered a yacht to FSC. We would recommend him again.

Peter Neaves did comment that he thought the boat sailed well in big seas. That is the very luxury of a Hylas. We found crossing the Pacific, that the production boats around us found the conditions uncomfortable, whilst we did not even notice the sea state. When you are down below on the Hylas it feels as if you are only just moving along, when in fact you are hooning at around 8 knots!

Stolen Kiss is now in Adelaide. Jules and Marg will come with us on our final leg home. Jules sailed our first leg with us, so quite fitting for her to be there for the penultimate leg around to Port Geograph.

March 31, 2014

Sensational Summer in Sydney

Exploring Sydney by boat..there is just nothing like it!

Although we missed the New Year Spectacular as in the fireworks off the Bridge this year due to family committments, we will be there for the 2015 New Year!

January/February in Sydney was just sensational for a few reasons. The weather had settled and we had no thunderstorms, just a few windy days. Most people had returned to work so there were only a few yachts moving around, most of which were international visitors. Maritime appparently were a little slack, so moorings of course were overused in the sense that yachts were staying on them for more than their allowed time. This was not a problem as there are many to go round!

All in all, there are so may fabulous anchorages around Sydney Harbour, not to mention the amazing Middle Harbour, Pittwater and Cowan Creek. Once out of the main harbour you are free from ferries and commercial traffic and its hard to believe you are anchored in the middle of such a metropolis! We were in Northbridge Marina for a while ...the courtesy dinghy's that you row are out for the penguins!!

Public transport is excellent and it is so easy to get around! From the water, there are ferries, trains and busses which all run to the city centre and around. We first did the whole tour of the Harbour by ferry! It is really worth it.

For provisioning, Blackwattle Bay is close to a major shopping area, Birkenhead has a Coles and shopping complex just behind the Marina (or anchorage), Northbridge in Middle Harbour has access to a good shopping centre once you walk up the hill, and Mona Vale is a small bus ride from the dinghy dock at Church Point. This is also a great walk. We did get very fit as there are so many fabulous hikes and its very hilly!!

There are so many moorings around in terms of courtesy moorings and in Pittwater, you can use the moorings in the Bays like Morning Bay and Coaster's Retreat as long as you stay with the boat in case the owner comes along.  Moorings and anchorages a plenty up Cowan Creek....which is in a National Park. maritime NSW has all the lastest info on moorings and locals are always a great source!

Sydney is not expensive if you know where to look and ask around!

Australia Day celebrations on the harbour were great fun, especially since it was Peter's brother John's (visiting from the UK) birthday!

We really enjoyed seeing Captain Cook's Endeavour again as she was built in Fremantle and we were on the water sharing her launching! She has sailed to the UK and around, tracing Cook's Voyages.

We are sure we gave John a birthday to remember! Although many boats on the harbour, everyone behaved themselves. It was not difficult negotiating the traffic! The 21 gun salute was awesome but a little unnerving when many boats moved up under the Bridge to watch, but then stopped! A bit of a pile up and a few anxious moments for Peter!

The new A380 QANTAS Airbus did a spectacular fly pass 3 times across the Bridge...not a newbie pilot flying that one! It was all a case of national pride for us and a welcome home to Australia!

We had a family visit, sailing around the harbour

 and enjoying a sensational land tour up to the Blue Mountains around Katoomba. None of us had ever been up there and one thing is for sure, we have some exploring to do in Australia!! We did not do this place justice as it has a high WOW factor! Amazing hikes! We were first worried about the bushfires (me more than anyone else!) but it just so happened that our week was clouded in for most of the time. The upside was some sensational walks in the cool weather! We did get a little peak at the vista when the weather cleared a little! The 3 Sisters would have ot be one of the most photographed scenes in Australia.

Familial traits are interesting. John on the far right is Peter's oldest sibling and of course Peter is the baby of the family. They have not spent a lot of time together due to age difference and geography, but they are just so alike!! Even to the extent they both always carry a hanky! Mannerisms and humour....its all there. We laughed much!! How wonderful for them to share such a special time together. Peter's sister, Ann is on the far left. Next year we will go to Europe to do some of the canals ...Danube with them. A boating family of course!!

With inclement weather comes the freedom from crowds! Always an up side!

For those cruisers who do not come to Australia, having seen a lot of the world, we know you would be missing out!!

December 5, 2013 keeps getting better! Oct/Nov 2013

The weather windows to head south this year, being northerlies have been short lived and followed by a strong southerly change, usually around 30 knots with thunderstorms in some cases. We have had troughs by the dozen! It's early December and still they come!

However, we no complain! Our longest passage along the NSW coast was a little over 200 miles, but more of that later!

We had a 24 hour window to scoot the 90 miles from Southport to Yamba. The swell was more of a concern as we needed to get in over the bar at the Clarence River. It appears that the swell dies down within 12 hours after a blow. The southerly will die down and there will be usually a day of Light SE winds with a NE seabreeze, followed by a NE'ly the next day. We wait for the NE'ly which gives us a great sail in around 20 knots! The EAC was pumping; we had 3 knots with us passing Byron Bay, with Laine and Terry (Virgos Child) ashore telling us we looked fast! BOM's updated forecast put in a little Sou'easter late evening! Great! We hit it 20 miles north of Yamba. A bit of a slog, but we had made good time with wind and seas easing as we approached the bar, so with calm seas and little wind, over we went with no moon near the top of the flood. We could not see any breaking seas and we had spoken to a cat who crossed earlier on an ebb and said it was flatter than the seas outside! That was just before the southerly hit and should have been a warning of what was to come. Nothing like getting into flat water and dropping the hook!

The Clarence River Bar on a good day....the bar breaks on the leads, so don't follow the leads but come in on a SW course to the end of the southern breakwater...inbetween 2 breaks!!

We had a great time in Yamba catching up with Margaret, exploring the town,

and finding some nice real estate up the river.

We hid up the river near Maclean waiting for another blow to pass, having to organise a bridge opening.

There were many sugar cane fires, which look great at night as long as they are not close enough to drop soot on the boat!

Its great being tucked up the river when its blowing outside! The public dock was available, but the choice of anchorages were more peaceful.

These small wallabies were very prolific and thought they were hiding!

Almost two weeks later we had another small window to jump the 200 or so miles to Port Stephens. Many yachts were out there in the same weather window! Our back up plan was to go into Coffs if the forecast changed. With us was Billabong, a Bavaria whom we met up the Clarence.  We departed with a little residual swell at the bottom of the tide at 0600 before the wind came in! Easy to dip around close to the southern breakwater and scoot around the breakers!

Whilst Billabong went out to the edge of the shelf to find the current, we skunked along the 100 to 200m line and found the same. We had mostly 3 knots with us once past Coffs, then smoked along at 10 and 11 knots with a 4 knot current fromTrial Bay. We had to exit the current early as we would have been entering Port Stephens in the dark and on an ebb. That gave us a 200 mile run in 24 hours. Billabong continued through to Pittwater. We had a 30 knot following breeze from midnight, helping us along with the current. Fantastic sailing! We encountered a few ships heading north and gave one ship a scare when we pinged him with our was 0200 and we were going to take his stern but we think he saw our radar and thought we were heading towards him as he did an abrupt 90 degree turn. Strange him being between us and the shore. He must have been trying to get out of the current.

As we were expecting another southerly blow later that day, we had made a reservation at Soldiers  Point Marina for a mooring, which with the special, worked out at $35/day. With this came a complimentary car (new small Mercedes no less!), a library with free internet and complimentary wine, amazing ensuite showers and complementary bicycles. What an absolute bargain. They are such nice people there and a great restaurant to boot!

Trevor and Emma came up for the weekend and had a condo around the corner. We had some nice meals and a walk on the headland overlooking the entrance. Although a longer stay in Port Stephens would have been good, another weather window popped up, giving us a day with northerlies to get the 65 miles down to Pittwater.

It's a bit of a trek getting out of Port Stephens and around the headlands to eventually head south.

Two hours after our departure we still had 65 miles to go to Pittwater....the same as from our mooring! A strange day evolved as we were shrouded in heavy fog until 1100 hours. We could hear a ship off Newcastle blowing its foghorn. We could not see it until it was a mile away! It was waiting to go into Newcastle. They do not like ships anchoring there now after the last disaster so the ships book their berth when they enter the reef in up north and slowly drift down with the current. As we were motoring we had the radar on as well as the AIS, so I guess the ship could pick our radar up and maybe thought it was a ship heading for him!

It was just so fabulous to get into Pittwater. Wow! We picked up a mooring in Towler's Bay for the night whist the wind was still north. You can use these moorings if you do not get off the boat, so if the owner comes along you can move. It seemed that there was a general relaxed attitude towards moorings in general.

We found another mooring near the motor boat club and made it our base. We found out from some local paddlers that Church Point was the place to go for coffee and to catch the bus into the Mona Vale shops. There is a great dinghy dock at Church Point for those who live on Scotland Island. We hard some interesting stories about Scotland Island and seems that perhaps paradise is not at all what it is cracked up to be for some! Still looked idyllic to us!

Trevor and Emma visited us for the day and we took a hike around Barrenjoey. Spectacular views!

The storm that came in one night gave us a two hour sound and light show, but thankfully no more than 25 knots. Storms were raging all up the coast. We had enough time to wander up Cowan Creek for the next blow, which was so well protected. With 35 knots at North Head (Sydney Harbour) we had nothing over 10 knots...just lots of rain..and lots of waterfalls!

Showing the coloured rock as opposed to the sexy legs!!

Another day of northerlies almost 2 weeks later we zipped off to Sydney Harbour on a beautiful easterly! Magic sailing through the heads and down past the iconic Opera House and bridge....

ending up squeezing into Blackwattle Bay at the back of the city, near the fish markets. Another great chunder and frightening event which seemed to go around us until a bolt of lightening must have earthed on Anzac Bridge as it lit up all around us with lots of zapping and sizzling...thankfully all the yachts there were ok. The loud bang made us jump. Alan from Amnesia was visiting; he made a quick exit.

What a place to be for a while! Great access to the city, ferries and light rail. We zipped everywhere! Just up the road were the Glebe shops and a great laundry.

We did wonder what this ship was thinking..but they berth just the other side of the old bridge!

The Opera House is all that its cracked up tp be!

We decided to move around into Middle Harbour and found some great walks and anchorages.

Trevor and Emma came to visit and took us shopping. We walked up Bantry Bay and enjoyed the magnificent view. The bays around Middle Harbour are very protected and offer a few cafés to enjoy. There is a mobile coffee 'shop' that comes around on the weekend, also offering papers. You would never guess you are in the middle of such a metropolis.

Our favourite places in Middle Harbour are either side of Spit Bridge for the great cafés, restaurants and walks around the headlands. The buses depart from the either side if the bridge and it's a quick ride into town. Roseville Chase, by the Roseville Marina is very protected and offers similar, although only one cafe.

There is also a great protected anchorage up the third arm, being Sugarloaf bay where there are also some complimentary moorings. There are many places to anchor is water under 10 m, but depth is an issue....being too much as opposed to too little! It's all excellent holding in mud and sand.

Previously in the week, we had met up with Richard, whom I used to work with. His in-laws and family were on their new boat behind us in Bantry we were delighted again to catch up! Such a small world the boating community. Richard and Mark have two beautiful children and it was just so wonderful meeting them.

The waterways of Sydney offer many secure anchorages, even around the moorings, where you can find depth and don't mind the ferries in the main hoarbour! We have motored around most of the bays. Perhaps it might be a little more busy in January, but apparently after New Year it settles down again. We thought we would find more visiting yachts...but not so. Hopefully later. Paddling out in Middle Harbour in the early morning I found two penguins floating about! Wow! Apparently there were sharks around too, but I figured I was safe if the penguins were. There are many Bull sharks that come back to Sydney Harbour for summer!

A fantastic 6 months cruising and more than 1500 nm along the east coast. Although we have sat out some blows, we were well tucked up and saw nothing over 32 knots. Part of that was sheer luck NAND the rest picking protected anchorages and keeping an eye on the weather. Every night the wind dropped and mostly went west or SW, even in the big blows. During the whole 6 months we had wind over 12 knots at night only a handful of times. Every other night the wind dropped out with the sunset and rose after sunrise. How good is that! The east coast is certainly up there with the best in the world, but then again, every anchorage and sail is weather dependent! We are happy to be sailing now more than we are motoring. Is that because for the first time in 10 years we are sailing outside the tropics?

We have now scoped out the essential bits of Sydney accessible by boat (which is a lot!) and look forward to showing the family around!