Sydney to Nelson – Day 5

Monday 20th February.

So far this has to have been a very restful passage. The wind has been steady in direction and strength up to now so we have only had to adjust the sails accordingly. More common is for varying wind strengths and directions meaning far more action. Boring? not in the slightest. This is the kind of sailing we love. However behind us the sky is glowering, dark and gloomy. We are in for wet wet wet and probably much more wind………..

Enjoy the peace whilst it lasts.

Sydney to Nelson – Day 4


Sunday 19th February.

Because we have been sailing on the back of a high pressure system that has been slow moving across the Tasman, the seas are relatively calm. The swell is minimal so it has been a calm and fast ride so far. Behind us an area or low pressure is nipping at our heels and we are expecting stronger winds and a lot of rain. We have been sailing too fast for any fish to take the lure. So it’s bully beef and beans for supper again. Yesterday we had a large pod of dolphins with us for some time and a lot of birds, mutton or sooty shearwater weaving about in our wake. Today, nothing. the sea temperature has dropped from 24 – 18, a sure sign we are getting nearer to the land of the long white cloud.

Sydney to Nelson – Day 2

Friday 17th February.


Day two. It seemed to take a long time for the Sydney skyline to drop beneath the horizon. There was no lack of favourable wind but a current was setting us back. How infuriating to see 8+ knots on the speedo and 6 on the SOG. There are worse problems. What a lightening trip to Sydney, financially as well as quick. One night in Birkenhead Point marina cost $100. ouch. Repaired sails returned and my front tooth re glued on. So far so good. the wind is fair and the seas are blue.

Departing Sydney


Tuesday 16th February

 We have spent a few days in the beautiful Pittwater just north of Sydney. For special treat on Valentines day we went to Cottage Point Inn for lunch. Absolutely fabulous food beautifully presented. we were the only guests who didn’t arrive by sea plane.

The Etchells national champions were racing this week and next the worlds start here in Sydney. We wish the Lennon-King team all the best. Sadly we can’t stay, the weather ‘window’ is open. We are waiting for customs to clear us out.

Brisbane to Coffs harbour

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

 Overseas yachts used to be able to clear customs in Scarsdale marina, no longer they have to go up the river to clear in and out at Rivergate marina. few years backcustoms would visit incoming yachts at Scarsdale. The currents in the marina are strong and particularly at the moment as they had opened the sluice gates further up stream due to all the flooding. The river was filthy, full of trees, branches and a lot more, the stink was dreadful.

The dinghy we loaded into a Ute and drove down to Southport to where the manufacturers were. They put it on test for us whilst we went spent the afternoon looking at the horrors of the gold coast, more like an Australian las vegas. Then Simon found a bar with a very decorative waitress.

Dinghy sorted and people very friendly and helpful.
So then it was off to stay with friends in their apartment and to visit the Matisse Drawing life.
It was a glorious exhibition concentrating mainly on his drawings. Blissfully easy to walk around as it was not over crammed with visitors like you get at the big block -buster shows in London.

The weather looked as though it was going to be light from the south south east for day after day, so we set off south hoping that we would pick up the southeastern Australian current which would help us get further south. It didn’t appear until we were within about 50 miles of Coffs Harbour. We snuck in during the night and tied up alongside. It is not a particularly beautiful place but there are no places to stop on route. Next stop will be – well who knows, we may go down to Port Stephens, Sydney, actually I fancy going to Sydney as there is a big Picasso exhibition.



This is the torn foot of the Yankee. The sailmaker has been and taken it away to do a proper repair.

A 112cm Mahi mahi we caught the day before we arrived off the entrance to Morton Bay. we had a fast passage of 8 days, 1400 miles at an average speed of 7.5 knots. Brisbane is hot hot and humid. Off to the manufacturers of the dinghy to see what they are going to do about it!

Passage to Brisbane – Day 7

Saturday 28th January.

It’s been an extraordinarily peaceful day. We are running down wind towards Brisbane with only 177 nm to go before the entrance into Moreton Bay. Duet is sliding effortlessly through the water at an average speed of 8.7 knots. We know we are fortunate as the Tasman Sea has a notorious reputation.

Is this luck? surely a bit, but with good weather information we can plan ahead. Of course it can go to custard, but forewarned ect, ect.

Last night we passed unlit Middleton reef last night with 30 miles to spare, no Italian cruise ship Captain bravado by Duet’s Skipper! The chart shows the reef ringed by wreaks. Thank the Lord for GPS and up-to-date charts!

On our approach to Australia we are very much aware of the things that are forbidden across the borders. Tonight’s supper was a big veggie curry! There is nothing worse than having to hand over to MAF (ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries) any uneaten veggies or fruit for destruction. Of course they are right and we respect their rules.

An amusing sight on the quarantine berth is the sight of yachties inbound from a tropical destination trying to consume their bunches of bananas before they are removed by MAF!

Passage to Brisbane – Day 6


Friday 27th January.

There is a lot of Bull**** written about fishing: here is some more.

When on passage every cruiser tows a line behind their yacht in the belief they will catch their supper. Sometimes this happens. Like fisherman the world over every one knows that their method is the best. Over the years I have developed my own theory.

I began with a simple glass fibre rod bought in the back streets of Panama that served me well all the way to Hawaii, Alaska and down to Mexico. I stuck it in a holder on the stern, let out the line and set the reel. A high-pitched whirr alerted me when a fish struck and then it was a matter of reeling it in. All went well until we reached the Sea of Cortez when a massive Wahoo fought so hard that in spite of Simon and my united efforts, the fish smashed rod and reel into pieces.

The cruising funds were low and the price of a new rod too high so I settled on a reel of heavy-duty line to which I attached a wire trace about a metre long on a swivel and at the end of that a lure that hid a large double hook. I asked around and advice poured in from all sides; this is the best kind of lure, are you sure your boat is tuna friendly to only trying to fish at the right time of day. Short of lighting a candle or making a sacrifice I tried out everything but the fish ignored me…

What was different between what I was using now from previously? It had to be the lure. Lurking around the fishing shops in Mexico I studied all the different types on offer. Of course my eye was caught by the most expensive, a beautiful feathered number that wouldn’t look out of place worn as a ‘fascinator’. ‘$25.00 for that? You must be mad!’ said Simon.

I found gull feathers on a beach and bound them tightly to an existing plastic lure, used a bit of acrylic paint to turn them scarlet and added strips of plastic from a shopping bag. Two days and 100 miles later, Bingo! From then on I have never looked back when trawling for fish.

My secret? Rule one is to have a very sharp and strong hook, but it is feathers that tickles a fine fish’s fancy. I have tried all kinds of different squid-like baits but the one that gets them every time is my special brand of ‘Sharon’. So named after the 80’s TV series called Birds of a Feather featuring the original Essex girls, Sharon and Tracy – and their extremely flashy next-door neighbour, Doreen.

Sharon numbers 1 – 5 had fluffy skirts made of pink and white feathers. Attracted no end of Tuna. But sadly they age and even multiple feather lifting doesn’t work in the long run. I am now on to Doreen #1 who wears black, purple and green feathers. Mahi-Mahi snap her up!

Passage to Brisbane – Day 4


Wednesday 25th January

Why are we sailing to Brisbane? To visit the Matisse exhibition of course.

Well that is not quite the whole story. Four years ago we were based in Australia and visited the Gold Coast Brisbane boat show. We were looking for a new dinghy. We liked the Swift make as it ticked all the right boxes. Our criteria was that it had to be large enough for 4 people, have a double aluminium floor, the material to be Hypalon, a very strong fabric and constructed with tubes that are separated internally into three separate chambers. An important safety feature as if one chamber should be punctured, the other two would stop you sinking.

We made a deal with the salesman who agreed a reasonable price for the dinghy on the stand at the show.

It was only about 6 months later we noticed that all the chambers went soft after only one of them was badly scratched by some sharp oyster shells on a wharf. We deflated the whole dinghy and after having made good the repair, began to inflate the damaged chamber. The strange thing was that all the chambers were inflated as well instead of just the one. It seemed that there was something wrong with the baffles inside the tubes. It didn’t matter which tube we inflated it affected all three.

We emailed the manufacturer asking for a solution and they denied that anything could be wrong and suggested some more testing. We retested the chambers and then explained that deflating any one of the chambers resulted in both the other chambers deflating as well. Inflating one chamber also affected the other two. Also, as we pumped the dinghy up, we could clearly hear air hissing past the baffles. There was no response from the manufacturer in spite of resending the email several times asking for not only an explanation but also a solution.

There is a dinghy repair guy in Gulf Harbour so we asked him to have a look at the dinghy for us. He cut the tubes next to the baffles and reported that they were leaking and made of an inferior material and defiantly not of Hypalon as they should have been. He said that any repair would be impossible to guarantee. The dinghy is serviceable as long it has no leak but that is not good enough.

We will be visiting Swift in Brisbane, dinghy in hand to see what they have to say about it. Then we will be able to give Matisse our full attention.