Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Ups and Downs of a Sea Going Life

Courtesy SOS Dan Bouy
 Nara Inlet
9th October 2011

We have one of these. We saw it at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show and thought “What a good idea!” You secure it somewhere in easy reach of the back of the boat and if someone falls overboard you just throw it to them. It hits the water, inflates automatically and they hold onto it until you can turn the boat around and recover them. It has a streamer to mark where they are and even a flashing strobe so that it can be found at night. One of those things one hopes you’ll never use, we attached ours to the rail on the stern of the boat.

Passing Hamilton Island on a reach it was a little rough. Not unduly for a 44 foot boat but Dreamagic was healed over and sailing well when a sudden gust brought the gunnel under the water. Exhilarating sailing but as the water drained off the rail it washed around the Dan Bouy which promptly inflated! I called to Rona. She came on deck to find me reluctant to let go of the wheel in these conditions, and the fluorescent, 7 foot phallic like object waving around while trying to find a means of escape to the sea rushing past just below it. Ever resourceful she managed to straddle it and get it under control. However there are some serious weights in the bottom of it which keeps it upright when immersed, and a drogue which stops it drifting away. Like a cat carrying a kitten she managed to drag the whole thing below and stow it, inflated in one of the cabins. A week later I am still not game to go in there.

Now here is a moral dilemma. We had dropped a sail off for repair at the dinghy dock at the Whitsunday Sailing Club. There was a stiff northerly blowing and the sea was lumpy as we made out way in with the rubber ducky, but once inside the wall it was calm. The sail was collected and we were preparing to make our way back out when a young fellow approached us and asked for a lift to his boat. I was not looking forward to the trip out anyway. Our monohull was rising and falling with the swell and boarding is generally done over a transom which coming up to a metre out off the water before plunging back down. Our dinghy is not that big but it is a 3 man, and while I didn’t want to make the journey any longer, the guy did need a lift. We all climbed into the dinghy, with his two bags and carefully made our way across the bay to his Catamaran.
This boat was suffering the same fate as our mono and rearing out of the water. The steps were on the starboard side but the hulls were quite narrow at the rear and the step faced inboard of the hull rather than straight back. I attempted to bring the dinghy up to let him disembark here but the difference between the movements of the cat and dinghy made this dangerous. We took the dinghy to the middle of the transom and he threw his bags into his dinghy, which was attached to the deck across the rear of his boat. So, now we just have to get him off.

The port side hull was marginally less affected by the movement of the boat so we decided to try that hull. I moved the dinghy into position and he alighted but the Cat transom came down across the bow of our dinghy. Not normally a problem, but someone had through bolted a fibreglass box to the deck to hold a gen set, and had not cut the bolts off. A two inch bolt pierced my dinghy making about a 4 inch tear in our bow. The dinghy deflated and rolled tipping the pump, shoes, and occupants into the sea. The outboard was saturated and we swam to the other hull and climbed aboard.

To cut a long story short, we brought the outboard back to my boat where I stripped it and dried it. The dinghy has gone to the repairers and I expect the bill to be around $300. We are out a $60 pump and one of a $40 pair of Crocs so let’s say $20. Our passenger, still dry beside us dripping over our boat thanked us and suggested that next time we catch up he’ll buy us a beer. What would have been a fair resolution?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Romantic Vagabond

I picked up this quote recently. Originally by Sterling Hayden (1916-1986)

Sterling Hayden
To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen, who play with their boats at sea - "cruising," it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.”

I didn't realise I had ever met him, but he certainly knows me!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Where the Hell have you been?

Hinchinbrook Island

When I was a kid in Sarf London we used to go to Saturday morning pictures. (I was 8, and unaccompanied in Sarf London. My parents didn’t take me there and pick me up, and I didn’t have a phone to call home if I couldn’t decide what colour Ice Cream I should have. “Be back by 4.00” that was it. The rest was up to me. Good eh? How times change. Probably explains a lot).

Anyway, the pictures, or movies as our language challenged cousins called them always had three components. There were cartoons, then a serial to get you back next week, then the film. After the movies we would re enact the film on the way home. It was great, but for the serial. Whether it was Sci Fi. War or Western the hero would always be left in a precarious situation. Pushed off a cliff by natives, fired through a torpedo tube by dastardly Germans or cast into space with only a pen knife and an oxygen bottle, that was it. I waited all week to see the end of the hero, (I was that sort of kid, always on the side of evil) but Lo! Here he was, not quite over the cliff, not quite in the air chamber that I had so clearly seen him inside last week!

What has this got to do with Capt’n Willi? Well, despite rumours to the contrary he wasn't hung for piracy. Nor did he sail over to Tortuga in search of truth, the meaning of life and a cold beer. However we did leave Airlie Beach shattered and bruised both physically and emotionally. After the crew left Airlie to go back to their lives it left a huge void on the boat. All good things come to an end, and that was the finish of one part of the adventure but it was hard to say goodbye. Thank you to the Airlie Crew, John, Linda, Kerri, Nik and Mik, and of course Rona. Maybe that’s why the French use Au Revoir rather than Bon Voyage when saying farewell. Not so final.

We left Airlie and drove the boat through shitty weather nearly cleaning up a charter boat to reach our own personal bolt hole, Nara Inlet. I read somewhere that you can spend forever seeing other people’s paradise, but you need to find your own. Mine is Nara Inlet. We went there, set the anchor and went to bed …..for two days!

My apologies for not keeping up the log of Captn Willi. Since then we have hosted Louise and Sonja for a trip from Hamilton Island to Magnetic Island. During that trip we attended a Pirate Party at Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Squadron of which I am a Vice Commodore, and on my birthday too! Thanks girls, a memorable evening, if only I could remember it!

We have competed and completed the Magnetic Island Race Week. John joined us again, together with Simon, Mani, Rona and I as crew. Sarah also joined us for a short while and then promptly flew home again saying she had never had so much fun. I would hate to see what she does if she isn’t happy, but her presence was greatly appreciated. Thanks to all that crew, and we kept the boat in one piece which was more than could be said for many boats including our sister ship which lost its entire mast over the side. That’s a $40,000 ouch! Also, thank you girls for allowing me to share your girls lunch. I learned a lot, and as promised, I am sworn to secrecy. I just wish someone had told me these secrets about 30 years ago. It could have saved a lot of problems.

John stayed after Maggie and helped us take Dreamagic to Cairns where we caught up with friends, and actually won a race! Yes, we had to sail from Brisbane to Cairns which would have to be the most expensive bottle of rum ever but we are going home with the hardware! Vini, Vidi, Vici. I Came, I Saw, I Conquered. (Or as we said during latin at The Little Ladies of Perpetual Flatulence, Vidi, Vici, Vini. I Saw her, I Conked her....)

We hosted Rona's mother Erica for a few days and we also hosted 4 delightful girls out for 3 days on the reef. Chris, Pat, Gabby, Bernadette, you were fantastic company. I haven’t laughed so much for a long time and for me that is a big statement!

So then that was the end of that part of the adventure and Dreamagic is now going back to Brisbane. Thanks to all our friends in Cairns, it’s hard to leave but hopefully next year we’ll be back for longer.

Currently we are sharing a beautiful anchorage at Hinchinbrook with a thousand March Flies. And it’s October!

When we came through here on the way to Cairns we had John with us. John is the sort of person you would want with you if the boat was sinking. Can he sail boats? Yes. Actually he was on a yacht midway from the Philippines when the rudder fell out. They patched the hole up with the loo door and made a temporary rudder from the spinnaker pole. Can he fly helicopters? Yes. Does he know anything about crocodiles? Well, he has been attacked a few times, including in a helicopter. Don’t ask! If half of what has happened to him had happened to me I would write a book and I think I have had a fair go at living dangerously. He is very modest about these things and never says anything unless asked directly. (In fact on the way up our exhaust blew a leak and it was a toss up whether the boat would would fill with exhaust and axphyxiate, the heat would set fire to the boat, or the leaking exhaust would fill the boat with enough water to sink her.Still, at least we wouldnt starve to death!) However, he is an outdoors guy and catching fish is the sort of thing he does easiliy. I don’t. For a start I don’t like killing things, especially if they are looking at me sharing the same mission statement, and some of the fish up here look like they could do just that. Anyway, on the way up John rigged big lures and dragged them behind DM teasing the fish, while Rona looked at him as some sort of Mountain Man and I felt like a geek  until something bit the lure clean off! John was disappointed  but if it’s that big I don’t want it aboard!  Fish 1, DM 0.

It is therefore fitting that I say John, you would have been proud of me today. Inspired by your lifestyle we bought a new crab pot in Cairns, rigged it, baited it and set it in exactly the same creek you said would have loads of crabs. I was wary of crocodiles but thought Sod It! Harden up, Geek!

I was surprised when I got back to the boat to see our float travelling down the creek at a fair rate of knots. Rona felt we may have caught a very large crab that was dragging the pot but I thought this unlikely as it had only been set about 3 minutes. I went back in the dinghy and retrieved the float and line, but no pot. I like to think a croc took it, but its maybe that I just can’t tie knots. Anyway, 1 $40 crab pot is in 3 metres of green soup and I am not diving for it. Crabs 1 DM 0.

Thanks again to everyone we’ve had the pleasure of catching up with recently. Chris and Sandra now floating around the Whitsundays on Time Lord. Gary and Joy for getting me drunk and then fixing Dreamagics exhaust at 3.00am This has been the best time, and I am sorry to leave, but its really just on to the next part of the adventure.

Greatness Is Not In Where We Stand, But In What Direction We Are Moving. 
We Must Sail Sometimes With The Wind And Sometimes Against It,
But Sail We Must, And Not Drift, Nor Lie At Anchor"
 Oliver Wendell Holmes