Seaka goes around Australia, 2015

Re: Seaka goes around Australia, 2015

Postby Phillip » Wed Oct 14, 2015 4:29 pm

Oct 14th

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On Saturday 10th October we left the Horizon Shores Marina at 0545. We proceeded to the Goldcoast Seaway with only one incident when an approaching large motor boat crossed to my starboard side, the wrong side of the channel for him, to ensure I got his large wake. Unfortunately, or fortunately for him, I could discern no name or registration numbers on him. We logged on with Marine Rescue for the trip to Yamba by phone and called up on the VHF to confirm our departure from the Seaway at 1000 hours. With an outgoing tide fully developed it was very rough in the Seaway and it here that I think we hit 9.1 knots as the maximum for this trip. Once clear of the Seaway things settled down and we sailed for Danger Point arriving off there at 1400 hours and so we slipped back into NSW with the clocks going forward one hour.

We now settled into a very fast trip with speeds of 6 and up to 8 knots, arriving off Cape Byron just before dusk at 1800 hours. Here we found that some northern Marine Rescue stations were lacking enough radio operators to operate 24/7 with Kingscliff closed down and Ballina, Yamba and possible Coffs Harbour only operating between 6am and 6pm. For the rest of the night we reported our progress to Marine Rescue Bryon Bay.

Just before midnight a check of our progress discovered that over the last 18.5 hours we had covered 100 nautical miles at an average speed of 5.4 knots. This is a record for Seaka and I. Just after 0200 hours, when 4 nautical miles offshore, we observed a meteorite fall between us and the land. I was later to learn that the sonic boom from this meteorite had shaken towns well south of us. By 0430 we were off Yamba but with the large swell running I decided that it would be best to wait for daylight before crossing the bar. Eventually around 0600 we headed in and found that the bar was smooth but with that swell from the NE present. About a mile off we got a fright as two large whales surfaced almost alongside Seaka, they sounded and we didn’t see them again. The only other whale seen was a full breach just south of the Seaway. Safely crossing the bar, we moved upriver and soon anchored in Iluka Bay where we hit the sack for a well-deserved sleep until noon. We did the 120 nautical miles [Jacobs Well to Yamba] in 24 hours and 20 minutes with an average speed of 5 knots. This includes the time spent hanging around waiting for dawn.

On Monday 12th October our plans of getting home this week crumbled with the latest BOM weather predictions. I decided then to go up to Maclean where I could tie up to the town pontoon which gave me better access to the shops than at Iluka Bay, where I would have to get the dinghy out. We got a booking for the Haywood Bridge on the Pacific Highway at 1800 hours and motored up there during the afternoon. Once under the bridge we moved up to Maclean and moored to the pontoon just on dark. Over the last two days we have been doing small jobs and reading. We have had visitors of course, being on the pontoon.

On Thursday 15th October we have a 1000 booking to return under the Haywood Bridge to Iluka Bay. Because of the weather we plan to leave Iluka Bay on the same day around 2000 for an overnight sail to Coffs Harbour where we will await the next lot of northerly winds.
S29 27.279' E153 11.789'
A 1969 Mark 1

Home port is at Dunbogan on the Camden Haven Inlet, Laurieton NSW
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Re: Seaka goes around Australia, 2015

Postby Tales » Mon Oct 19, 2015 8:08 pm

Well done Phillip! That's a great average speed.
We had a long stay in the Clarence River on our way down and loved it.
Found the people in Maclean very friendly and helpful. Free shower at the Bottom Pub so we had a meal there each time.
Best prawns I ever had from Yamba marina fish shop - straight off the trawler.
Met Alan Lucas there too!
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Re: Seaka goes around Australia, 2015

Postby Phillip » Tue Oct 20, 2015 8:31 pm

Tom and Others,

First, I also met Alan Lucas on my way north.

I arrived home after an over-nighter from Coffs Harbour in beautiful conditions last Monday at 0900.

I have the last blog half written and will post in the next couple of days.

:D :D :D :D Glad to be home after 209 days and 2,773 nautical miles :D :D :D :D
A 1969 Mark 1

Home port is at Dunbogan on the Camden Haven Inlet, Laurieton NSW
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Re: Seaka goes around Australia, 2015

Postby percyverhance » Wed Oct 21, 2015 3:21 am

Well done Phillip.Have followed your voyage with great interest.Good job.
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Re: Seaka goes around Australia, 2015

Postby Shaun » Wed Oct 21, 2015 10:41 am

Back across the Camden Haven Bar....complete with Top Hat!

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"Blue Moon" MkIII Junkette rig,
Camden Haven River,
Mid Nth Coast, NSW

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Re: Seaka goes around Australia, 2015

Postby woodsy » Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:39 am

Thanks for keeping the dream alive for the rest of us Phillip!
Enjoyed our trip!!
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Re: Seaka goes around Australia, 2015

Postby Dolphin » Wed Oct 21, 2015 3:38 pm

Congratulations Phillip, you're back to the future! Well done.
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Lake Macquarie
"After it's all said and done, there is a lot more said than done!" Aesop 620 BC
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Re: Seaka goes around Australia, 2015

Postby frank » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:57 am

Do it again, I enjoyed that. Well done and thank you.
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Re: Seaka goes around Australia, 2015

Postby Brandon » Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:16 am

Hi Phillip,

As a relatively new comer to the Top Hat universe your travels in Seaka have been very interesting to follow. It is very encouraging to see what you and the boat have done over the past few months. Adventure and fun seem to sum it up and I hope there is plenty more to come for all Top Hats,

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Re: Seaka goes around Australia, 2015

Postby Phillip » Fri Oct 23, 2015 2:31 pm

Well here it is, one more fix for all of you out there. :D

Many thanks for all your kind comments and I do hope I have inspired others out there to do something similar.

My trips in the future will be limited to the area of Camden Haven to Sydney as I have less than a year before my
70th year and I now find that the old body cannot front up every day, day after day.


23rd October, 2015.

One thing I forgot to tell you all about last time was the cargo vessel SUNJO I encountered off Ballina. On the AIS receiver I noticed this vessel coming south on a course that would meet us some ten nautical miles ahead. I changed course slightly to the west to run parallel with him. That information came from the AIS. I then called him up and a very polite gentleman with an Indian accent identified me by my speed [6.4 knots] and that I had just altered course. He said I was fine on that course and we eventually passed each other about a mile away. Not much later a yacht ahead of us called up “the large fishing boat” or anybody that could see it. I let him go on for a while; this must be a game with these large cargo vessels, before calling him and giving him the name of the vessel which of course got an immediate response. He had been seen and was well clear, but when these large ships approach from astern at around 15 knots it is disquieting to see them getting nearing all the time without knowing their intent as they pass you. Every yacht should at least have an AIS receiver and every commercial fishing boat should be equipped with a ‘Class A’ AIS. It is so rare to see a fishing boat with AIS, I have only seen two, and one of those two turned his AIS off when he started fishing!

So, on Thursday 15th October we motored down from Maclean to the Haywood Bridge on the Pacific Highway. I was on time but there seemed to be a problem and eventually 35 minutes later they raised the bridge. In fact they forgot about me and I proceeded under the bridge without the lights. The bridge was raised all the way up, something I have never seen before and they kept it there for almost 15 minutes. Anyway I was through and on my way to Iluka Bay at the river mouth. On the way down I saw a 2.5 metre shark which could have been a Grey Nurse or a White Pointer Shark. Once anchored up I sorted all the gear for tomorrow and just to see what was around cast a plastic lure for a bit and got a nice Taylor for tea.

We rose before daylight the next morning and soon got underway, crossing the bar around 0600. We moved out to get some sea room and into the East Australian Current after which the sea flatten out and with very little wind we motored south. We saw a few sharks on the surface but nothing else. As we approached the Solitary Islands the winds went around to the north east and quickly strengthen to around 15 knots. As the winds strengthen the seas built up till we had at times 2 metre waves. This is hard sailing as we now had a rough sea and the wind directly behind us. Eventually I took down the Genoa and we motor sailed on with just the main with two reefs in it.

So have I got enough problems? No not quite. I next saw a pod of whales ahead and slightly to port [left side for you landlubbers]. As I got closer they started to Breach with the youngsters being the most active. What was concerning was that they were on a converging course. Eventually I couldn’t drift to the west anymore and I had to reverse course for a bit then head east to get clear of them. The last three miles into Coffs Harbour were very rough and I was glad to enter the Marina and dock in bay B23. There I was met by the marina staff that it turns out, used to own the Top Hat called “Pippin”, now I believe in Jervis Bay.

The next morning at 0349 my phone started ringing, as I didn’t know the number I didn’t answer, but they left a message on 101. I called that in and its Marine Rescue Port Macquarie saying I’m 50 minutes overdue and would I please call them. Turns out that when I logged off at Coffs Harbour I said I would be sailing for Camden Haven next SUNDAY afternoon. Somebody got it into their head that meant that I was sailing ‘NOW’! How they worked the reporting times out I have no idea. I did not log on to start the journey and that alone should have had alarm bells ringing.

So, Saturday was spent relaxing and preparing Seaka for the final leg. I didn’t cook in Coffs Harbour but had ‘fish & chips’ on both nights. Sunday dawned and we were greeted with a clear almost windless hot day. By 1430 I had had enough and retrieved my mooring lines and departed from the marina. Outside we found a SE breeze that we were just able to use towards Smoky Cape. There was little if no swell and only a slight wind chop so we made good time heading south. Before we made Smoky Cape we had another yacht approach us from the south with his ‘Class B’ AIS going. It was interesting to see how my plotter showed him and we eventually passed port to port about half a mile apart. After that we encountered no other vessels but the AIS receiver showed plenty passing us out beyond the horizon and the 100 metre depth line.

We settled down quite easily for the night with no real signs that I was as tied as on previous overnight sails. I had reduced the main sail by two reefs before nightfall and with the Genoa we averaged the required speed to see us over the bar at 0830 on Monday morning. During the night we were visited by Dolphins, a terrific sight as they were all lit up by the efflorescence. When dawn broke we found a larger than expected south east swell but no wind-chop at all. The south east swell would not affect our passage over the bar which is protected from that direction by Camden Head.

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As we approached the Camden Haven Bar we were surrounded by a large pod of Dolphins for the last time, as in if they were welcoming us home. The bar was flat and on the end of the north wall was fellow Top Hatter Shaun and further in my wife. By 0900 we were at the Laurieton wharf and tied up. I would take off two ute loads of gear, most of which will not be going back onboard, home before I moved Seaka to her home mooring at Dunbogan the next morning. Seaka is now a good 10 cm up on her waterline!

This trip took 7 months [212 days] and covered 2,773 nautical miles [5,100 km]. Only 2 days were spent off Seaka during the trip on two on separate occasions with friends.

My thanks to all of you who have been following my adventure and I hope you have all enjoyed these Blogs.

Phillip @ Camden Haven. :D :D
A 1969 Mark 1

Home port is at Dunbogan on the Camden Haven Inlet, Laurieton NSW
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