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Time to set sails

von | Mai 24, 2023 | Australien, English, Neu Kaledonien, Pazifik

Six months living, sailing, and travelling in Sydney. The crossing to New Caledonia; hiking and snorkelling in the Lagoon. A lot has happened!

For the first time, I wrote the blog in English first and then translated it into German – normally I do it the other way round, but after half a year in Australia, even my thoughts were in English. It was an attempt, but I didn’t really like it.

The text was also ready a fortnight ago, but unfortunately my laptop got a bit of a battering on the crossing here too. – But more about that later.In the end of February, my parents came to make holidays and visit me in Australia. We have not seen each other for more than a year, and as their date of arrival came within reach, I got really exited about it. We would meet in Tasmania, an Island just a couple of miles south of the mainland. It is known for its wide and untouched nature, animals that are only to be found there and a lot of good hiking trails.

I wanted to enjoy a nice and relaxing time with my parents and therefore decided not to take down my boat through the Bass Straight, most likely facing heavy seas and cold weather. – I’ve already gotten a taste of its spirit during the Sydney Hobart Race! Instead, I tied WASA onto a strong mooring in Sydney Harbour and took the plane.

Mom and Dad arrived the same day, only a few hours later at the airport in Hobart. We were embracing each other, excitingly exchanging the latest news on the way to the baggage claim.

To explored Tasmania, we had a rental car which allowed us to cover greater distances between hikes and different accommodations. We have seen the rough coastline, pictured by „the pipes“ towering out of the ocean over 100 meters in high. Down there, where no humans can walk to, seals and pinguins are enjoying their time.

Inland, it got hotter very quick, the green grass turned into brown, it were mostly sheep, that are held on the farms. These sheep are the origin of some of the worlds best merino wool. My mom, being an expert around wools and owning a wool and knitting shop back home, would not miss the opportunity to visit one of the merino farms.

Saying that, it didn’t turned out too easy to find the right farm. We only knew the name and a vague area, where we had to look for it. After a couple of hours drive we ended up in a small town called “Bothwell”. Allegedly, here we should find the 8000 hectare big Montecute Farm, owned by James and Richard Hallet.

After driving through the city a couple of times, we still have not had an idea where exactly this farm should be and I decided to ask in the gas station for directions. – believe it or not: I ran straight into one of the sheerers of that farm we were trying to find! In a typically Aussi style he cheered: “ Yeah mate! Follow me – it’s just down that road’ ey”.

We did follow him “just down that road”. After 15 minutes at 120km/h trying to follow up with his white pick up we started doubting, if he eventually will bring us to the farm or may just have forgotten about us and was just driving back home. Finally, we saw his breaking lights flashing up and the car slowed down to turn into a dirt road leading towards some farmhouses.

We have just arrived in the middle of everyone’s lunch break and felt a bit sorry to interrupt the workers during their rest! Sheering sheep is a hard work! On this farm only, 18.000 to 20.000 sheeps have to been sheered in a few months time, only! Nevertheless, everyone was very welcoming and James and Richard gave us a little tour around and explained the process of making wool.

Having spent eight days on the island, I came to the conclusion, that this has not been enough, by far! But we had to move on! My parents had booked a campervan in Melbourne, in which we planned to drive along the Great Ocean Road and further on to explore the coast until Sydney.

It has been a great time! –  I loved to finally see more of the country than only Sydney. I loved the small and long hikes we did and the restaurants we’ve visited. But most, I loved and enjoyed just being close to my parents for a little while! We drove, slept and ate together in the same car for two weeks, but still we never really came to a point where we annoyed each other.

After my Parents went back home and I had settled on my boat again, it was time to take work and earning money more serious. Most of the money I had already earned was well invested in the Sydney to Hobart Adventure and my new commercial endorsed yachtmaster ticket.

With the ticket in hand, I worked as a skipper for Charterboat central on Cruises in Sydney Harbour. How could work be any better? I love being out on the water, I love driving boats and I also love to interact with people. Even though most of these Charters have not been about sailing sailing at all, but about having a good time and big party while cruising around the Harbor, I always had a good time!

Selfie with my last chartergroup

Sweatier has been my work during the week:

As a boatbuilder, I was offered a project, where I had to refit the interior of an AMEL 47. Especially in the beginning, there was a lot of sanding, and fiber glassing involved. But after the messy jobs were completed and ended with painting the forward cabin and aft of the boat, I could start new projects. I extended the bed in the aft cabin, built some new frames for their windows and did some other bits and pieces of woodwork.

After repairing other peoples boats, I had to get WASA ready for her next big jorney, as well. With only a few exceptions WASA stood still for almost half a year! The windvane seized up and also the roler furler needed some love. I took apart both, cleaned moving parts and bearings from corrosion, applied grease where needed and put everything back together.

My sheets, worn out by the sun and the shaving from more than 16.000 nautical miles, needed replacement. Fire extinguisher and broken storage boxes needed to be replaced, the sails had to be stitched here and there and my engine was graving for a service as well. – even though my To- Do list didn’t show any to difficult tasks, it took a lot of time until every box was ticked.

At least the crew for the next leg towards New Caledonia has been set for long, already. Maya and Haydn signed on for that 1200nm long passage. Maya is German and has just moved to Sydney. She already sailed a couple of days with my friend Max in Panama and was keen to learn more.

Haydn and I have met during the Mondays and Fridays Twilight races. We were both sailing on Likealizad and while, sitting  on the rail shitchatting between maneuvers , we discovered that we have similar plans and dreams.

Hayden was getting his own boat ready to go sailing and climbing, but while coming to an end of the work and delivering the boat down to Sydney, one of the terminals in his rigging failed and the mast snapped in two! Without a mast, a sailboat is almost worthless. A new rigg, new sails, new shrouds are as expensive as a second hand boat itself. Haydn had to abandon his plans to go sailing this season, as now a new rigg has to be found and financed.

It is amazing how he is still keeping up on his dream and continuing the hard work on his project!

I think, I can understand the pain and disappointment he must have felt and don’t want to know what a broken mast would mean for my adventure?!

I want to use this opportunity to spread the word:

Haydn is still looking for a mast. Second handed or new doesn’t matter. It should be big enough to fit a Olympic 40 (40ft. Monohull) but also small enaough to fit into a young cruisers budget pocket. If you have any Idea or know someone who knows someone who might have a suitable mast or ideas, we are very thankfull for a MESSAGE

On the 15th of April, the crew was complete and the boat ready to cast off. We have had set the following day as the date of departure for a “sea trial” up the coast to New Castle, but the weather forecast looked too promising for a straight start towards Noumea!

The tricky bit about this trip was to escape the strong, south running currents at the Australian coast and then to battle against the trade winds towards New Caledonia. And the forecast was promissing us exactly that!! First, five days of southerly winds, that we could use to escape the coast, followed by Southeast to east winds by the end of the week. It could not look much better! For the first five days of the passage we headed as far east as possible, and then altered our course North towards New Caledonia.

Though, having favorable wind does not necessarily mean good weather. The conditions on the whole trip have been quite harsh. Compared to the tradewind sailing I was used to, this one was a roller-coaster! Most of the time we had the wind forward of the beam, blowing on us with 25 to 30 knots, frequently gusting up to 40knots! We were either sailing with the main in the third reef and the heavy weather jib up, or at times with the heavy weather jib, only.

The swell was very confusing as it came from two different directions at the same time, creating washing machine like conditions on WASA. Life on board was challenging: We were all threatened by seasickness. Sitting outside was mostly impossible due to waves breaking into the cockpit or heavy rain pouring down the sky. The nights were cold and every task took four times the usual effort and energy. In just sitting and lying on the floor most of the day, we experienced “the most exhausting nothing, ever”!

Cooking! Lets talk about cooking: It doesn’t matter how bad the conditions are or how bad you feel. At sea you have to eat! Otherwhise your body gets exhausted, the mind gets tired and things can get dangerous very quickly. We were cooking at least one hot meal a day. Rice or Pasta to provide some calories, at least one onion a day, some cabbage and other veggies for the vitamins. In theory we know it all: Good food is the base for a good mood and strong mind. But when you have to fight to keep your breakfast in, while chopping veggies sitting on the floor, trying to arrest your body with your feet, this is easier said than done.

This journey is my dream! If you want to support me and keep the journey going, please feel free to invite me for a symbolic dinner!

Thank you so much!

In our last night, when we were already sailing parallel to the outer reef barrier of New Caledonia, I was violently kicked out of my sleep. A massive wave crashed over WASA’s stern, not only filling up the cockpit, but also kicking away the poorly secured washboard and flooding down into the saloon!

In the moment of waking up I saw the water pooring down onto the chart table, into my book locker over all the electrics, over my laptop, our raingear and on into Mayas bed. – Everything was soaked in saltwater! As the boat healed over, water washed up the hull. When I expected the deep bilge I found the water only a couple of centimeters underneath the florboards! In the middle of the night, with the bucket, sponges and towels we dried the boat out as much as possible.

Our hopes to reach the safe and calm harbor in Noumea have been washed away as well. Three different lights should have marked the safe passage through the reef into the lagoon. But only one of them actually was lit. Tired, confused by strong currents, and without any other orientation but the GPS, I didn’t dare to enter through the channel. We bared away and heaved to, crawled into our beds and waited for the sun to rise.

After a short recovery nap and with good sunlight we could push on for the final miles! We docked at “Port du Sud Marina” at the 27th of April, 12 o’clock, finishing our trip of 1228nm after 11days and 1 hour.