Friday, March 10, 2017

Noumea to Bundaberg 2008

03/07/2008 Leaving Noumea

We left Noumea and the seas were reasonably calm just a rolling swell from the south-east and very little wind, the sun was shining and it was rather pleasant, Dusty was out on the bow getting a bit of sun. Once we were outside the reef we hoisted the mainsail and rolled out the genoa, however, we still had to run the engine and motor sail for some time as there was little to no wind.

(Leaving Noumea behind)

We had a short wind burst at 0100 hours and I cut the engine, this only lasted for 30 minutes and the engine was restarted. Then around 0300 hours the wind came in from the north-east and it was cold and we started to get light rain. We sailed at times and motored at others during the Thursday. Once the wind picked up we went under sail and the engine was only started when the batteries required charging.

Thursday 4 July 2008, today was a special day it is I migrated in 1961 and landed in Oz as a 13 year old boy and today we clocked 10,000 nautical miles since the voyage began, the ride was uncomfortable the boat appeared to be getting a pounding more than in the storms we had been in before, this may have been due to the swell coming from the south-southwest and the waves and wind coming from the southeast or east at different times. The nights were black without any moon or stars which made it difficult to see the waves as they hit. Without a moon it’s just black you cannot see a thing and is a problem with not knowing what rouge wave will hit us and where.

My entry in the log for 0100 hours on Friday was Cold, Cold, Cold. The seas were also getting larger and I knew by the weather reports that I had studied before leaving that we were in for more rough times, winds would be in excess of 20 knots and they actually reached around the 35 knots at times. I was hoping to get in to Bundaberg prior to Tuesday as that day was going to be very high winds. Dusty asked me if I had expected this type of weather before we left, I said yes to a certain degree, I did expect winds of around 20 plus knots but not 30 plus knots. I knew we were in for a rough ride and probably fast at times. Dusty said his heart stopped a couple of times when he was on watch and we surfed a wave at around 12 knots.

We had to alter course away from our rhumb line to cater for the wind and the waves, with surfing some of the larger waves it can tend to push the boat around and put you in the situation that the waves will break across the beam. To prevent this we changed course so we surfed straight down the waves. Then when we ran the engine for charging the batteries we corrected the course or over corrected to allow for the deviation when the engine was again shut down and we had to surf straight down the waves again.

Dusty enjoyed his time with us although he admits some of the waves gave him a little fright in particular when a wave broke on the stbd side alongside him and it was higher than him sitting at the helm. It was getting a little wild at that time and I took the shift one hour early as it was not fair to leave Dusty with the responsibility under those conditions he being a new crew member and only just getting used to how the catamaran behaves under such conditions. Weather conditions continued to get a little worse until the last morning out, we had some or partially clear skies and sun now and again.
(Messy confused seas)

It was good having another crew member to keep watch it gave us more chance of rest in the uncomfortable conditions. Unfortunately as skipper you do not get to rest all the time when off watch, you have to get up and check that the crew are alright when conditions are rough and waves are at a frightening height. One also listens to the boat for any strange noises, things do break or come loose that have to be fixed.

Each morning we kept the radio sched with Rag of the air, HF 2173 so someone out there knew our location and that we were all safe and well.


It was near midday on Monday that we passed the North cardinal marker at the north end of the shallows of Fraser Island, this is around 22 nms north of the island and you cannot see land. Everyone is looking for the sight of land because we are so near, however land would not be seen for some hours later. Entering Curtis Channel then into Hervey Bay towards Bundaberg the track takes you through the centre so land is not seen until about 15 nms out from Bundaberg and now it was getting dark. We called VMR Bundaberg on the VHF radio and informed them of our arrival time, they in turn informed quarantine and gave us the coordinates for the quarantine buoy where we had to anchor until the next morning when the Quarantine Officer would contact us, VMR also informed us that they close down at 1800 hours and requested us to log off their books at 0800 hours the following morning. The last 40 nms from the northern marker seemed to take for ever as we got closer we started to push against the out going tide. The wind had dropped and we had been motor sailing for some time, when the tide started to work against us I started the stbd engine to keep our speed around the 7 knots that was when Murphy came aboard, you know Murphy? Murphy’s Law. As I mentioned in previous notes that when we got the parts for the stbd shaft clutch assembly in Fiji we decided that we would not change the parts as the worn clutch was hanging in there. Well it decided it had had enough and we lost the stbd engine drive. Fortunately the tide was on the turn so it did not hold us up too much, I had already given our ETA as 2000 hours, and that did not change. It just meant that we had to enter the channel at Bundaberg on one engine and anchor with one engine which is fun with a catamaran because it likes to go in circles when you go astern. We were about 5 nms from the channel; we could see the marker lights and the flashing white light on the south head. It was cold and to make things more interesting it decided to rain, (Good onya Murphy).

As we approached the channel I took a good look before turning in, I had the waypoints in the GPS and we had CMap running on the laptop, it looked good so we did another night entry. Fortunately the channel is marked very well, it again seemed to take for ever, we entered on a flood tide, and the tide was now coming in. When we finally got to where the quarantine buoy area we started search with the spot light and could not find it, we disturbed a few boats and Nancy called out to one and he shone a light at its location. It was no wonder we could not see it there was about four catamarans and two monohull anchored around it and they were not there for quarantine. We picked a clear area with ample room and dropped the pick, we checked and double checked that it was secure shut the engine down we had a shower and Nancy prepared dinner and guess what? We are no longer at sea so ‘dry ship’ rule went out the window. Out with a beer followed by a wine which was followed by a bottle of Amarula, this is similar to an Irish cream it has an elephant on the label which has some significance.

We did not take much rocking to sleep that night, I woke to my watch alarm at 0600 hours the next morning, this is where the elephant becomes significant, he and his mates were stampeding in my head, and I had to get up and change the clutch assembly so we could go alongside when quarantine arrived at 0800 hours. Anchoring with one engine on a catamaran is a pain, going into a marina berth with one engine is very bloody difficult. Three headache tablets, ten litres of water kept the elephants happy and a cup of tea and I was set to work. I finished the job at 0759 hours, a little slow but got there in time.

VMR Bundaberg called us on the radio, the Quarantine Officer wanted to talk to us on CH81. They directed us to go alongside at a quarantine berth, Red 16. We got out the lines and fenders, weighed anchor and went alongside. Quarantine and Customs Officers were there to meet us once we were secured. They came on board and they were very nice and helpful and have assured me that they will offer all the assistance I require to import the boat into Australia.

(At anchor in Port Bundaberg)

It is incredible the rumours and accusations that have been made in regard to these authorities, they could not have been nicer. Some of the statements that have been made to us about the Australian authorities are totally unfounded.

They did take some of our food stuff, raw meet, eggs, cheese etc. We expected that and we understand that it is a requirement to keep our country free of exotic diseases. The horse flu last year is a perfect example to what can happen.

We have to import the boat and that means paying 5% import duty and 10% GST, they have given us two weeks to prepare for that, they have the right to make us do it straight away. I think some people that have caused these rumours about these authorities in the past have probably created what problems they had themselves going on what we have experienced so far and I will give further information in regard to the matter as we go through the process.

Well I think it is good to be back in Oz, we are still in a bit of a daze now the voyage is over, and it is a little surreal, it seems like a dream now. It has been a wonderful experience for both of us and I think you all know by what has been in our blogs that we have met some wonderful people along the way.

We have also caught up with Karl and Sandi on ‘Fantasy 1’, you may remember last year in Raiatea I loaned them a GPS for them to get home after a wave had come through their hatch and damaged their computer and GPS connections. Their boat has been here since their return; they went home to Adelaide but have returned to do some work on the boat. It is good catching up again.

First night in we went to dinner at the local restaurant at the marina, very nice to, Dusty was leaving the next day for home, he developed a cold on the voyage and he was very generous he gave it to me before he left, thanks mate. The next day Angela our daughter came up from Brisbane with some of our gear that we had stowed at her place that we were very grateful for. It has been so cold here which we did not expect and she brought the downers for the bed. Ange spent the night with us which was great. The next night we had our mate Rick visit and stay the night, he brought a couple of bottles of wine to welcome us back on Aussie turf.

Well we have 10,473 nautical miles completed on this marvelous voyage. I have more to post on this blog before I finish which I will do soon.


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