Friday, February 26, 2010

Its Over! We have reached Hobart..the adventure continues.

HELP!!! where is my team when I need them.
Glenn with Lynn and Ken

Jen and Denise enjoying Hobart's coffee

By the time you read this blog, I will be asleep. Yes its over! We have made it to Hobart.

We have accomplished the longest time ever recorded in the Sydney to Hobart Race. We left the Cruising Yacht Club in Rushcutters Bay on 5.30am Tuesday 5th January 2010 and tied up at Kings Pier Marina Constitution Dock Hobart at 1pm on Thursday 25th February 2010. I make that 51 days!!! Can someone work out the hours for me, I'm not very mathematical. Don't worry Jen's doing it for me. 1,231 hours 30 mins.

Was it fun? Yes!
Was it memorable? Yes
Was it scary? At times, see 1st day to Jervis Bay Story, see crossing Bass Strait Stories.
Was it nutritious? Yes, especially Irish BBQ.
Was it educational? Yes, we know left from right now.
Was it relationship building? I think so? It was when we last spoke.
Did it improve our sailing skills? Of course.
Do I know where anything is on the boat yet? No

Highlights: Not in any order. Actually its a coming down the coast order.
Sydney Harbour, Rushcutters Bay and Crazy Lady's superb manoeuvering ability.
Jervis Bay, rain making ceremony.
Moruya River, and meeting Wally, and the outboard motor affair.
Bermagui, rest & relaxing.
Eden. Rain and finding new deck leaks. Meeting like minded cruising sailors.
Crossing Bass Strait. And the moon rising at 5.00am
St Helens. 1st impressions of the friendly Tasmanians.
East Coast of Tasmania. Bloody beautiful, spectacular water ways. Australia's best kept secret....
Arriving in Hobart. A truly great city, so many interesting boats, so much good coffee.

The way we were treated in Ulladulla Harbour. Bloody fishing Co-op. Hopeless.

Team Crazy Lady:
Jessica Watson has a behind the scene team, and guess what, so do we. If you think we did this alone you are sorely mistaken, yes we were on the boat alone and sailing ourselves, but we had a serious team working in the background. They must take some credit for our record breaking time too.

Weather Guru's and Tasmanian Anchorage Guides: Ken and Lynn Miller
Hobart Port Co-ordinators: Aaron and Janey Graham
Land Based Hobart Welcoming Committee: Denise(over the fence)Rodwell
Cuisine Advisor: Gerti and Dave(Lobster Pot licence not required) Slevin
Aquaculture Sponsor: James(winni)Patterson
Alcoholic Beverage Suppliers: Eth, Al and Kaye of The Tabourie Cellars,
Tasmanian Alcoholic Beverage suppliers: Ken and Lynn Miller, Denise(over the fence)Rodwell
Training Co-ordinator: Ginny Gerlach from Cruisability
Cheerleaders: Sue and Bruce Munro.

Thanks to anyone else that's been silly enough to follow this mayhem.

But its not really over yet, we have only just begun...........................................

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jen's "short cut" to winning the title of the Slowest Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

Entry from Captain Catnap's log (alias Glenn "Uncle Whingy' Love)

Today we took one step closer to completing the 2010 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
We were thinking of strategies to try and cut down on our ever increasing record time to be the slowest boat to ever finish. (You may recall that due to unfavourable weather patterns in 2009 and despite our best intentions we made our start much later than all of the other competitors).

Now you may call Jen competitive, perhaps, but I don't have a sporting competitive bone in my body. Today she came up with a cunning plan to cut down our expanding record time.
Boredom will drive her to many things.
After studying charts, cruising guides and chatting to other "WAFIs"=. Wind Assisted F#@k*n Idiots, (the Tasmanian Water Police told me that one) Jen told me about the Marion Narrows and the Dennison Canal= the best kept secret outside of Tasmania. Most importantly the short cut would involve both smooth and protected inland waters.

Jen continues the story:

How bizarre:
Today we sailed directly towards the shallow end of a dead-end bay looking for the obscured entrance to the Marion Narrows. The closer we sailed, the less we trusted the chart-plotter and the paper guides. Birds were beginning to flap and fluff as we glided past their sand-level roosts.

Just in time, the opening revealed itself with the orange leads lining up in the scrub as predicted. We began a long and shallow motor trip towards the "man with the bucket" who guarded the draw bridge at the exit of the canal.

Have you ever been out on a tinny on a reservoir or inland lake; perhaps Warragamba Dam or even Lake Burley Griffin? That weird feeling of being on a big dam on someone elses property surrounded by gently sloping paddocks. I took 100's of pics but none could capture the feeling.

It was all fairly well signposted with the red and green indicators but somewhat inaccurate in places. We chose to sail only over the green-blue water path and not the bright yellow-green areas which were obviously sand. Sounds obvious but required constant vigilance. (not much room for error). This just went on quietly for an hour or so with absolutely no inclination by us to rush

Eventually we came to the next apparent dead-end of this "mysterious inland waterway".

After radio contact (Ch 16) with Tony "Dennison Canal" we crept forward towards some old sheds and decrepit machinery. We trusted a series of weathered port and starboard markers and we were lead to a laneway!! (yes, a water version of the lane behind our old house at Parkes.) An actual laneway that somehow became a narrow watery canal just the right size for Crazy to slip through.
The local traffic was stopped and school children began to wave and cheer.
We felt rather regal.
(Not sure how the bridge opened or closed though)..

But all of the fun was tainted by one major disappointment:
We had looked forward to a special moment for days leading up to the planning of this passage. The highlight would be the partaking of a time-honoured Tasmanian tradition: the dropping of a few dollars and a beer into the Bridge Keepers "bucket on a stick".
The bucket is traditionally poked out as a boat passes by, not at all legal and always done very surreptitiously. Unfortunately a bridge maintenance crew were present and actively painting during our passage. The Keeper reluctantly kept his stick out of sight.

Within minutes of passing out of the canal the passage entrance was once again undetectable to the casual eye.
It was all very "Lord of the Rings": Hobbits into the "heart of the mountain" style journey.

Love to all
ps: Glenn now suspects I'm mad, but right now he's outside arguing with a seagull about a sausage!!!.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tasmania; Beautiful one day and bloody beautiful the next.

I know I've been a bit slack on the blogging of late, but I do have a good excuse. The Crazy Ladies and I have been sailing down the beautiful east coast of Tassie. I would have to rate the east coast as spectacular, the anchorages are remote and the water is soooooo clear and vivid in colour, its a source of continual amazement. (check our map & zoom in to see what I mean) The camera does not do the colour justice.

We are constantly amazed by the helpful locals and fellow sailors who go out of their way to offer information about safe anchorages etc: eg: Dave from SV Josida (the sailing pope mobile)was concerned we had nowhere safe to sit out the gale, that is blowing at the moment. (50 knot gusts) He gave me the phone number of West Marine a local mooring contractor. I rang him and he directed me to one of his own moorings, telling us to use it as long as we liked, no charge.

Here is a quick rundown on where we have anchored since leaving St Helen's.
Long point: as expected it's a headland that is protected from NE winds, a beautiful sandy beach with good potential for surf.
Sleepy Bay: good place to sleep. Jen needs to describe this place, as words fail me. Boulders & cliffs with vivid orange stripes, closely encompassing a beautiful crystal clear bay.(see pics of anchor in water and cliffs) This bay is around the corner from Wineglass Bay. We had to bypass it as the weather was not favourable.(we will visit on our return trip north)
Schouten Island: Moreys or Crockets Bay, Enjoyed freshly caught fish, by Dave. (as above) Beautiful protected cove with white sandy beach guarded by Bear Mountain. Inhabited by a colony of territorial fairy penguins. Can you really complain about being woken by their calls at 4.00am as they head off to work?
Shelley Beach Orford: Lovely spot. If the wind drops later today Jen and I will drop the dingy in the water and go for a walk.

Enjoying fresh cooked fruit scones, locally made berry jam and coffee whilst I type this. So as I've said before and I will say it again:....." Its a tough life but someone has to do it."

Hopefully tomorrow we will head to Hobart to complete the longest Sydney to Hobart transit in the history of the race.


ps: Ginny and Spirit Silver Edition arrived safely in Eden.

Monday, February 22, 2010

St Helens: the Friendly Town.

St Helens reflections

Crab pots

Friendly Marine Rescue delivering tomatoes

Glenn models for small change

local mosaic reflecting friendly community

We had already left St Helens and were well underway ,motoring through the St Georges Bay towards the notorious 'bared entrance' when the marine rescue vessel appeared to escort us, as arranged.
The five crew were waving frantically at us.
Had we forgotten to pay our bill somewhere?
Had we lost a piece of vital equipment?
Were we on fire?
I couldn't think of why the frantic crew wanted our attention, as they pulled up alongside of us in the rushing tidal waters.
An outstretched arm with a plastic bag revealed the answer.
We had apparently forgotten to take our present with us: a wonderful array of homegrown tomatoes!
Our stay in St Helens was full of such friendly incidents.
We wanted to hire a car for two days, and were able to use the "for friends only" car for two extra days without charge.
A lovely retired couple (who had lived in Narooma years ago) invited us to lunch and drove us out to their property. We admired the million dollar view, as their daughter, a chef served us our best coffee we'd had in months.
The staff at the laundromat were so welcoming and chatty that I nearly joined in to help with the ironing.
St Helens is the first town for sailors on the north east coast , and is close to the spectacular Bay of Fires. It is very pretty, but unfortunately stories of "the bar crossing" put lots of yachties off. We phoned some hours ahead of our ETA and were escorted for over an hour and then directed into a suitable marina berth by the St Helens Marine Rescue. We just can't believe the Tassie people.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spirit Silver Edition, Cruisability and Ginny Gerlach all in Launceston.

My life before cruising was driving. I had to drive all around NSW conducting training seminars, averaging between 55,000 to 60,000 klms each year. So on Saturday morning while walking down St Helen's main street, I said to Jen. "I'm so glad we don't have a car, I'm enjoying not having to drive."

Jen went to the supermarket, while I grabbed a local paper and went for a coffee. Suddenly my attention was drawn to an article on the Wooden Boat Rally happening in Launceston that very weekend. I knew that Jen would love to go to the "rally"and at the same time catch up with Ginny Gerlach, our sailing instructor from Cruisability, who would be flying down from Yeppoon, to pick up her new yacht "Spirit Silver Edition"(do you know Yeppoon is? "next to your fork.")

So what do you know? The next thing here I am driving a crappy Mitsubishi hire car, along 200 klms of crap road, Tasmanian style. ie: winding, hilly, potholed and cluttered with Grey Nomads snailing their way to Launceston. I hate driving!!!!!

The timber boat rally was great.(we will do another post on that soon)

It has taken me awhile to get to the point of this blog. Cruisability? When I was trying to encourage Jen to partake in this adventure, a country girl at heart (see previous blog) Jen knew nothing about sailing, whereas I knew you needed wind. We researched, and found a couple's sailing course with Cruisability.

Go to training and check-out the hot models.

Ginny was able to teach us to communicate, and to sail together as a team. I didn't realize how important this was at the time, but the Bass Strait crossing proved to it to be an invaluable tool.

Ginny flew down from Queensland to pick up her new boat. "Spirit Silver Edition". Spirit is a very famous yacht in Tassie, its previous owner Ken Gourlay was the oldest person to circumnavigate, unassisted in record time of 180 days, breaking the previous record by 5 hours.

To read his story and that of the boat go to:

Jen and I felt in awe of Spirit, as Ginny excitedly showed us over her, and pointed out the design features that made this yacht so exceptional. We hoped that as we slept on "Spirit" the vibe of the boat would infiltrate our souls. (trying to beat Jen with that one)

Safe trip home Ginny.

Thank you to all the messages, emails and phone calls wanting Jen to write a book, BUT based on one "arty farty" post, to all of you I say phooeeeyyy. I have my supporters too.


Pics: Spirit Silver Edition crosses the finish line. Ginny and Jen somewhere on Spirit.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Watery thoughts from a country girl at heart

I was staring through the lifelines at the water rushing past the side of Crazy on our way towards Eden. I became aware of the realization that the ocean was undergoing a definite change in character, and was it was becoming more viscous?

Previously the watery play grounds of some of the more pristine areas that we had visited further north were light, splashy, enticing, happy and almost playful. A holiday mood. A frolic. No real fear of being "lost" and "out of sight" if someone should fall in.

The water nearer Eden (Twofold Bay) looked more serious, thicker and official.
I thought about the bloody slaughter of whales and the fragile men perched in open timber vessels, of the dead. I felt sad and also began to feel vaguely worried. We had brought the grey skies with us. "It's just some rain"I thought, knowing that suppling and refueling of the yacht would now be much more awkward. But even at the anchorage in the still area the clear waters were a darker turquoise than I expected. A "wolve in sheep's clothing" as if trying to imitate the fancy colour of a memory that was once known and now corrupted by time.

If I knew the earth to be flat this water felt like the edge of the known world.

The changes became more significant as Gabo Island finally passed and land moved away.
I could now see exactly why these waves troubled me.
They were short and abrupt, a crisp navy in colour with a visible intense detail.
They were without contamination of light or debris.
They were the guards of of the seas ahead.
They were the military and we were in their zone.
I could define the boundaries as we sailed through the check point.
These seas meant business.
No games, no laughter, no frivolity, and no good times.
Their white caps on the crests were clean cut and vivid, and did not integrate with the blue below.

I watched the land slip away and was astonished to note the ordinariness of the trees and cliffs. It had the appearance of a poorly worked landscape, a lazy artist who had smudged olive green and rust brown into the background by using a careless blending of the thumb.

I lay down in the lee-berth inside the warm cabin. I stared at the ceiling. It pulsated for a second or so. Was this a panic attack?. I calmed my mind. We were about to sail over a very angry strait of ocean that had claimed thousands of lives. Out of the sight of land.

The next time on deck the ocean surface looked restless, an energy was being held firmly in place by a heavy handed ruler. No wave was individual but all were seething with a bad temper. The depth of this smoldering extended to thousands of metres below our boat. I found a childlike comfort in focusing my vision on the rectangular frame of the lifelines, but not beyond.

The landing of the fog around Crazy Lady came as a comfort. Bland weak wet grey mist everywhere. I could now easily deny the existence of all the outer watery unknowns. I was happy to be in this dangerous state of total denial, a good but bizarre place to live.

The calm waters of the fog looked thick, limp and oily. They irritated me. They seemed so fake. I knew they wouldn't last. They meant something else was on the way. The fog lifted and the bland disappeared. I was bashed all night long on the nose of Crazy. A southerly that was not forecast had intruded my night watch and as helmsman I was on trial. This was not a time to call for Glenn's help. I needed to prove myself worthy enough to commit this trespass. Determination, and protectiveness of my crew just kept me at the wheel.

I came on deck in the daylight. The water's surface was now firm and alive, fit and active and very muscular. There were no longer any mindless threats by waves out of sheer spite. Flinders Island had been sighted. A friendly coast guard had called us by name. We were in the substantial Tasmania waters, strong in body and robust.

I'm beginning to relax a little now. In writing this I'm trying to make some sense of all of these raw new sensations. It's been a bit hard for a country girl at heart.

We've Done it, we've crossed Bass Strait!

It's hard to believe that we are now in Tasmania. We are both tired physically and emotionally, but you expect that after a solid 52 hours at sea, concentrating on sea conditions, weather, navigation, seasickness, 10 hours of pea soup fog(wish I had learnt to work the radar) and trying to get some rest.

Since my 20's I have dreamed of sailing across Bass Strait, to me it's the Pigeon House mountain of sailing!(not Everest). I always thought it would be on a racing yacht in the Sydney to Hobart. Well thats the macho image I envisaged. But time has moved on and I have mellowed and maybe a cruising yacht was the way to go, and go the Crazy Lady did.

Really I have to hand it to both "Crazy Ladies" Jen and the boat, both handled the trip a whole lot better than me. " I never get seasick anymore" was my cry in Eden, so no medication for Glenn.

The crossing got off to a great start, with 4 other yachts in Eden all excitedly discussing the great weather window that was to appear on Monday. We all agreed that Monday was the day, with the wind turning North East and the 2 metre swell starting to decrease. There were two route choices on the table, either down to Deal Island, rest and then on to Flinder Island and rest; or straight to Tasmania. Three of the five boats chose the islands route. Can you guess what I chose? Yes that's right,... straight to Tasmania!
It was a Bass Strait crossing, right?
It was my dream, right?
Can you guess which way I will be coming home? Virgin Blue or Jetstar.
So back to the story: all yachts left on the Monday but not all at the same time. We left by ourselves at about 1.30 pm on the Monday. We waited for the NE to kick in so we would be off to flying start. We had a great sail down past Gabo Island and into the night on a twenty knot noreaster. We had many dolphins as our escort, there would have been about a 100 I think. We were pushing 7 knots and the swell was helping the keep the speed up. By 11pm yours truly was down for the count with violent seasickness and also Jen was feeling continuously sick as well. So it was decided that we would have a 2 hour on, 2 hour off watch system. I went down to sleep first. I was surprised to wake at 5am and look out to see Jen helming with the wind howling and waves crashing either side of the boat. I came up to take over, to be informed by Jen that she was hallucinating, hearing dogs bark and had fallen asleep a few times only to be woken as the sails flapped when the boat went "off course".

Next day the wind finally dropped to a weary calm, so on went the motor. We motor sailed all day and into a sea fog, that you could see coming miles away. So far on the trip we had not seen another ship, boat or anything, except for the lights of distant oil rigs early on in the trip. When surrounded by fog alarm bells started ringing in my brain. Now surely is the time that we will see another ship!!. If we do will it be too late to avoid collision? Surely I could get the radar to work. This went on for 10 hours, while looking in wonderment at the radar, a foreign language to me, wondering if sea clutter could be ships. At midnight on our second night we were hit with a mild southerly change. This meant that the wind was now on the nose for the rest of the trip. Speeds of only 2.4 knots were common (usuallly 6 to 8 knots can be expected) as well as lots of wild crashing waves over the front. Enormous thuds shook the Crazy as the hull hit heavily into the water (and woke a confused Glenn). Two weary sailors arrived at Binalong Bay (Bay of Fires) at 5.30pm. We are on a mooring and its a bit rolly but its safe.

Thanks Jen, you are truly my heroine after this trip.

On a sadder note for my son James. His grandfather Noel O'Keefe died a few days ago. Noel was a quite, dignified man and a top bloke. I know that he has had a great influence on James and had helped him grow into a fine young man. He will be greatly missed by all and I'm sorry that I was unable to attend his funeral.

Pics: Bass Strait Fog, only 99.9 nautical miles to go, just a few of the farewell committee at Eden.


Friday, February 5, 2010

James Love: Composer.

Are you interested in music? If you have ever wondered about the composition process, my son James has now started a blog on just that. Here is the link.

Proud Dad,


Eden, seems like Rain Making Ceremony was a great success.

Friday 5th February: Still in Eden awaiting a weather window to sail to Tasmania. Yes I did mention weather which at the moment is very wet!!! The locals at Eden are very pleased to see us, because we have broken the drought. They really need to thank the flood magnet Johnny Jenkins, if you remember his rain making ceremony in Jervis Bay:

We are at the Woodchip mill anchorage riding out the southerly change. There are four other yachts here at the moment and we are all waiting for the weather window for Bass Strait. Interestingly two of the yachts are from overseas. We have met Jim and Christine from "Twelfth Night" a Passport 40 yacht. They have been circumnavigating now for 12 years, they hail from Rhode Island USA, and obviously love the lifestyle. They have already given us some great tips that have helped us immensely. The other international boat is from French New Caledonia.They have a Beneteau Oceanis 44 (Bruuuuuce) and sailed from N.C. to Coffs Harbour and down the coast for a trip across the strait, and they loved Ulladulla!!! The other 3 yachts including us are all aussie's.

We are all anxiously watching the weather for the great leap of faith to Tasmania, and either Sunday or Monday, seems like the go. Jim and Chris have been now waiting 3 weeks for the right window. Luckily we all have internet onboard and everyone has a different opinion. What did mariners do before wifi?

To all of you that think this is an exciting lifestyle, think again. There is a lot of waiting for right weather and getting very wet in the dinghy. But it beats sitting at home watching TV with the comfy slippers and pipe.

Pics: Woodchip Mill Anchorage; A house for sale in the main street of Eden, and the Bald One bails out yet again.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In Eden!

A pleasant motor sail today from Burmagui to Eden. Snuggled up in Snug Cove.

Time to go to sleep.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Bermagui a pleasant surprise!

Our stay at Bermagui has been fun and most importantly relaxing. The time has come to move on, and that means further south to Eden.

Bermagui was the main star of the Billy Connelly movie "The Man Who Sued God" We have been lucky to meet one of the cast of the movie. "Rosco" he features at the very beginning walking through the caravan park carrying a pair of flippers. So good was his performance, he now works at the Fisherman Co-op, offering a welcoming smile and chat to yachties and fishermen alike. We were really impressed with the friendly staff and facilities, because this is still a working port and fishing is the main income, everyone went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Speaking of facilities, they have recently opened a new complex, with 3 restaurants a wine bar, fish and chip shop and several boutiques. Put Bermagui on your itinerary!!

Pics: Jen getting a fix at the clinic, view from the wine bar and "Crazy Lady" mixes it with the Trawlermen!!!