The Complete Blog of Seaka's Voyage Towards Tasmania.

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The Complete Blog of Seaka's Voyage Towards Tasmania.

Postby Phillip » Fri Mar 29, 2013 7:54 pm

G'Day All Top Hatters,

Below I have posted the complete story of my sail towards Tasmania with the missing posts. Enjoy. :D
I will post the photos in the gallery under 'Seaka's Voyage Towards Tasmania"

The Complete Blog of Seaka’s 2013 Voyage Towards Tasmania.

Preparation For The Tasmanian Voyage.
December 6, 2012, Camden Haven River on home mooring.

Over the last nine months I have been steadily repairing Seaka and upgrading several systems. With the help of my mate Don we have replaced the switch boards as we found that the old boards were consuming more power than anything else on board. I have also added another house battery and next week I will install a 100W solar panel and associated frame on the rear of Seaka.

I have had the engine out and we have found that there was a broken valve spring, which wasn't helping the engine to run. I have also replaced the engine mounts, had the injectors serviced and repainted the engine. All hoses and filters have been replaced. I also removed an old timber engine mount and repainted the bilge area.

I have relined the ice box with 2" high density foam, all fibreglassed in and flow coated. We fitted 4 mast steps earlier in the year so that I can now get to the top of the mast. When we came out to antifoul Seaka I manage to repair the loose rudder and of course the propellor shaft was replaced, but I failed to replace the cutlass bearing, thinking it was Ok, so I will have a replacement on board in case we have to slip during the voyage.

I have opted to fit a Garmin chartplotter instead of buying small scale charts, the cost works out the same but I will have electronic charts for all of Australia. I have purchased a second hand Jib [in very good condition, thankyou Dianna] and had it serviced by the sailmaker next door. Hopefully by the end of next week I should have all the require items finished.

On this voyage we will have another Top Hat with us to start with. Shaun in Blue Moon will be with us until Eden at least. Others may be joining along the way. It is intended that we will be in Hobart for the Timber Boat Show on the 9th February 2013.

One Week from Departure.
December 27, 2012, Camden Haven River.

Well the Nanni diesel engine is back in, but we have two issues. First one is easy to fix and that will happen on the 2nd January when I get a new seal for the raw sea water pump and a couple of new washers for the fuel lines. We will also install the new Garmin GPS on Friday 28th December and rectify a few minor electrical problems. The major problem is that we cannot get the engine to go under load. I am hoping that this is only a fuel supply problem but we will not be able to sort this out until late on the 2nd January when we get the above mentioned parts.

I have completed installing the new 100w Solar panel and it works very well in keeping the batteries fully charged. Hopefully that's the end of my power supply problems. We now have everything on hand except for food and moving the dinghy and associated items onboard, so we are close to setting off which will happen as soon as the engine is working OK.

Almost Ready
Very light NE'ers
January 3, 2013, Camden Haven River.

Things were going well over the last couple of days. We now have the raw sea water pump up and working and today we had the mechanic on board who discovered that we were only running on one cylinder. After two hours that was sorted and the engine is now running beautifully!

So onto the next thing which was a quick motor out into the river and back to check all was OK.
Which it is NOT! During the trail motor the oil pressure gauge indicated that there was no oil pressure. I am hoping that this is not the case and that it is in fact a faulty pressure gauge.

So tomorrow I load the rest of my gear as well as getting the oil pressure gauge sorted. We [Seaka and I] and the other two local boats heading for Sydney hope to get out of here around 0500 hours on Saturday.

The First Sailing Day, Towards Broken Bay.
Light NE'ers
January 5, 2013, Camden Haven towards Broken Bay. Lat. 32 42.955'S Long. 152 8.919'E. 90.2nm today.

What a day! 90.2nm over 18.5 hours at an average speed of 5 knots, but for long periods after 1500 hrs we were doing five to six knots with seven to eight and even nine knots at time. To say the least, when I finally anchored, I was shattered. We only used 10lts of diesel.

This morning I heard Little Sister, the other Camden Haven yacht going south today, leave the wharf at around 0300hrs. I rose to the alarm at 0415hrs and got ready to leave. Family and friends arrived soon after and at 0510hrs I let go the moorings and to shouts from shore of “No Looking Back” I set off down the river. Shaun on Blue Moon saw me going and rang to say he would be another 20 minutes. I just wanted to be out over the bar and so after an easy passage out I moved slowly offshore to get to the East Australian Current.

Shaun reported later that he had copped it going over the bar. In fact he tried to make like a submarine! What Shaun had done was he had followed the official leads out of the Camden Haven River which took him directly over the bar. To traverse the Camden Haven Bar you should take the course that I followed in Shaun’s YouTube clip “Seaka goes over the bar”

By 0930hrs I had changed course to the south and in very calm conditions we were doing around four to five knots. At 1000hrs I reported into MR Crowdy-Harrington but did not get a very good response, they did not seem to be interested in my position speed or course. Just before 1100 hours we turned the motor off as we now had sufficient wind to sail only.

Over the next few hours the wind slowly built while Shaun in Blue Moon caught up and passed us. As the wind and waves increased it reached the stage about an hour before sunset that I thought it might be best to reduce sail a bit. I got the Genoa down and put two reefs in the mainsail. This was the first time that I realized that Top Hats really need a sail up front. What to do, with the wind increasing I decided to ultra conservative and hoist the Storm Jib. What a difference and did Seaka take off. Talking to Shaun over the radio I said that I was heading for Port Stephens and a bit relieved Shaun agree as I found out later that he had blown up his Autohelm and broken one of his Junk Rig sail slats.

During the late afternoon I had heard MR Forster calling us, but they had not heard my replies, nor was there any phone coverage out there. As we moved inshore closer to Seal Rocks the phone went and this gruff voice came on

“Constable **** Port Stephens Water Police, is that SEAKA?” “Yes, I replied, What’s wrong?” Back came the Constable, “Where have you been and where are you now?”
“Ah, I said, you have been trying to ring me.” “Yes, he said, you haven’t been answering MR Forster’s calls”. “We are off Seal Rocks and heading into Port Stephens” I replied.

I then explained that we had been too far offshore for our small ariels to reach Forster and there had also been no phone coverage. Later I realized that maybe I should have called on repeater channel 80 instead of 16 as we may have been in a bit of a radio coverage hole.

Not long after the Police call off Seal Rocks I made contact with MR Port Stephens. My radio signal from my small aerial was not strong enough for them to receive clearly but we made ourselves understood and they monitored my progress until I anchored at Nelson Bay in Port Stephens around 2345 hours.

It was a long haul into Port Stephens and what had not been important before was that I was still in the process of setting up my new GPS. The problem was that it was set with the boats head always up which meant that the charts rotated around the fixed boat on the screen and to make matter worse the night function which dims the screen came into effect making the chart very hard to see. It almost drove me crazy when coming in through the Port Stephen Heads.
After anchoring, I closed the cabin hatch, had a bit of toast and crashed.

Rest Day, Port Stephens.
January 6, 2013. Nelson Bay, Port Stephens. Lat. 32 42.955'S Long. 152 8.919'E

I slept through the alarm this morning, got up and had some breakfast then went back to bed. Surfaced around 1000hrs and started to put things back into a shipshape order. Found out that I couldn’t charge the computer as I have the wrong size plug, which is the reason why I missed these five days on my sailblog.

Shaun came by before going into town where he got me some ice, which was good. Went in for a swim to freshen up and had a fresh water shower in the cockpit. Shaun came over for tea with pasta to finish off the fresh food I had on board.

The Second Sailing Day, Towards Swansea.
No Wind to Light NE'ers
January 7, 2013, Port Stephens towards Swansea. Lat. 33 2.412'S Long. 151 30.29'E. 45.5 nm today.

Up at 0530 hours and moving out at 0615 hours. Shaun still getting ready and followed half an hour or more later, but did not catch up all day. Just after 0700 hours we rounded Shark Island and motor sailed for the Swansea Bar. It was after some discussion last night that we decided to halve the voyage to Pittwater by going into Lake Macquarie for a rest and to meet the other Top Hat owners in the lake.

During the morning the seas were flat and shiny as we motor sailed south. The highlight of the morning was the visit of a pod of about thirty dolphins that played around Seaka's bow. Listening to the VHF radio I discovered that we needed to make a booking for the Swansea Bridge and this I did for 1500 hours after contacting MR Lake Macquarie. Around 1330 hours it was becoming evident that we were not going to make the 1500 bridge so changed to the 1700 hour opening and stopped the motor. We were now sailing at about 3 knots.

Just before 1600 hours we were approaching the leads to cross the Swansea Bar using the chart plotter as I could not pick out the leads in the western sun. As we approached closer the leads became evident and following them in we picked up the second set of leads to the buoyed channel up to the Swansea Bridge. On arrival at the bridge I found one of the buoys for waiting vessels, but it had no rope. Clipping on I finally manage to get a mooring rope attached to the buoy that could be released when the bridge opened.

Duly at 1700 hours the bridge opened and on the other side was Greg in Felicity to meet and guide me through the Swansea Channel up to the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club where we would spend the night on the marina wall with Felicity and Blue Moon who arrived around 1900 hours. After chips, a beer or two and a lot of talking, we all retired for the night. Today we did 53 nautical miles over 11¾ hours at between 3 and 5 knots for an average of 4.5 knots.

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 1.
No Wind to Light NE'ers but very hot with NW storms predicted in afternoon overnight.
January 8, 2013, Rathmines, Lake Macquarie. Lat. 33 2.275'S Long. 151 35.616'E. 4.6nm today.

Today we sailed across to Kilaben Bay at Rathmines at 0600 hours. Started ahead of Shaun in Blue Moon but he beat me to Skye Point, so I have lost my first and only yacht race to date. I had to beat up to Kilaben Bay and eventually tied up to the F Wharf at 0845 hours. We did 2.7 nm. Shaun had anchored offshore but the reason I had tied up to the wharf is that the oil warning light had been on and off since leaving the Camden Haven. I suspected it was either, a switch board problem, the oil pressure switch or the oil pump. The other reason we are here is that tonight we are expecting 40 knot winds from the north east and this is one of the best places to be during such events. Oh, and it's going to be HOT!

Shaun and I were picked up by Greg of Felicity who took us round the area to purchase some required items. I got a charger for the computer and spoke to the mechanic at the Marmong Point Marina about the oil light and the stern cutlass bearing. After that discussion I spoke to Terry back at JTS who did the Nanni service a couple of weeks ago and he said it’s not the oil pressure because if there was none the engine would only last five minutes. Well we have had it running a lot longer than so it’s got to be the pressure gauge or the light. We went back to Seaka and removed the pressure switch and tried to replace it without success. I ordered a new one from Nanni in Sydney. We then went onto Whitworths where Shaun replaced his ST2000 auto helm that he had burnt out on day one. I also managed to sort out the computer charging problem.

Given what Terry told us, I decided we needed to go ahead with the re-alignment anyway and with the possibility we may have to deal with a new oil pump as well. So we have booked to come out onto the hard at 1300 hours on Monday, the mechanic will deal with the re-alignment and stern cutlass bearing on Tuesday. Hopefully we will go back in on Wednesday. While all this is happening I will anti-foul Seaka. The cost here for the haul out and hard stand is less than at the Camden Haven so may be back here on an annual basis if the costs at home do not drop. The temperature topped out at 42.5º today and it was still 36º at midnight.

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 2.
Another hot day with a stronger southerly predicted in the evening.
January 9, 2013, Croudace Bay, Lake Macquarie. Lat. 33 0.25'S Long. 151 38.383'E. 5.5nm today.

Shaun came over at 0900 hours and helped me get off the wharf. On Bear's advice we are moving the 5.6 nm over to Croudace Bay to shelter from this southerly and future North Easters’. Seaka could only motor at 2 knots against the swell and wind to Skye Point and then we had a clear run up to Croudace Bay where I found Bear and Egret II up in the northern corner. We rafted up and I spent the afternoon talking. Moving away from Egret II anchored Seaka inshore and near the wharf over soft mud as close to the shore as possible, in fact I think I only had about 20 to 30cm under the keel.

Later I went with Bear to his house for a shower before Bear, Greg and I went the 85 km around the lake to the Wangi Workers Club to meet Mike of Dulcamara, Michael of Storm Petrel and Shaun for an evening meal. It was at the club that we found out that Blue Moon was defeated by the southerly wind and swell so Shaun had waited till the afternoon to move around to the Wangi Wangi Workers Club wharf. So after a meal six of sat down to talk about how we could improve the Top Hat web site which was under much strain at that time. We also discuss where the Top Hat Group was heading and we all agreed that “steady as she goes” was the appropriate course at this time.

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 3.
January 10, 2013, Croudace Bay, Lake Macquarie. Lat. 33 0.25'S Long. 151 38.383'E

Bear came onboard this morning and we tested the oil pump on the Nanni. The result was that the oil pump was OK! So rang Nanni and organised the oil pressure switch to be delivered to Bear's house. Spent the rest of the morning talking.

Later Bear picked me up and we went to the "Wind Warriors" at the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club. This was race meeting and it was educational to see the radio controlled model yachts racing around a 20 metre course. The instant protests and immediate rulings had everybody going. Did some food shopping on the way back.

Shaun and Blue Moon were coming over to Croudace Bay today but late in the day we found out he had headed south to Pittwater with the other Top Hat owners, Mike and Michael, where he arrived at Refuge Bay around 1900 hours and will stay there until Saturday morning.

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 4.
Going to be another hot day.
January 11, 2013, Croudace Bay, Lake Macquarie. Lat. 33 0.25'S Long. 151 38.383'E.

I spent the day working on my Sailblog. Its 35° already, 0900hrs, so have taken the Jib off and put up the sun shade over the boom. Later Bear brought out ice milk and a 24mm socket to change the oil pressure switch. Turns out it’s not the switch but the oil pressure light that has failed.
Now 2000hrs and still 33°.

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 5.
Heat Haze and Hot.
January 12, 2013, Croudace Bay, Lake Macquarie. Lat. 33 0.25'S Long. 151 38.383'E

Cleaned Seaka’s deck today and read a book.
I could smell fuel today and after some investigation found a 4 litre container of outboard fuel had split so I had to air Seaka out and Bear was able to dispose of the fuel for me. Later in the afternoon I went over to Egret II for a BBQ with Bear and his two children. Very nice thanks Bear.

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 6.
January 13, 2013, Croudace Bay, Lake Macquarie. Lat. 33 0.25'S Long. 151 38.383'E

Bear took me to Bunnings where I brought all the gear necessary to do the anti fouling this week. Also brought another water hose [left Seaka’s in my caravan] and a SD card so I can down load the voyage track from my Garmin GPS.

I got the rudder head off today and replaced it without any problems. I had to check this now otherwise time would have been lost on the hard tomorrow.

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 7.
Southerly winds to 20 knots.
January 14, 2013, Hard Stand at Marong Point Marina, Lake Macquarie. Lat. 32 58.679S Long. 151 37.090E. 2.4nm today.

I sailed over to Marong Point Marina and tied up to D finger just before the wind got up. I reported in and signed all the agreements. Greg and Bear were at the marina to see Seaka come out as well as Shelly, a lecturer from my university days at UNE. Just before 1300 hrs I motored around to the lift area where Seaka was lifted out and the hull cleaned by water blasting. Seaka was then moved to a hard stand and before putting her down I removed the rudder. It was too easy! Greg then gave me a hand to sand the old antifoul off with 80 grit wet and dry sandpaper. It did a good job too. Greg then dropped me off at Bear’s where I am staying while on the hard. I cannot stay onboard unfortunately.

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 8.
January 15, 2013, Hard Stand at Marong Point Marina, Lake Macquarie. Lat. 32 58.679S Long. 151 37.090E.

Well today we have put on two coats of anti-foul, cheaper at the Marina than Whitworths, on and have had prop-speed applied to the propeller. The mechanics started around noon and have replaced the cutlass stern bearing and the stuffing box material. Tomorrow morning we will have the re-alignment completed and should splash back in around midday. Greg dropped me off at Bear’s at the end of the day.

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 9.
January 16, 2013, Public Mooring east of Swansea Bridge. Lat. 33 05.154'S Long. 151 38.588'E. 9.2nm today.

Things got off to a bad start this morning. Yesterday the mechanic spent an hour applying Locktight to the grub screws in the propeller shaft. This morning he discovered he should not have done that and spent an hour removing the grub screws so he could realign the engine. To say the least I was not happy and even though they said they had taken time off the bill I very much doubt it. So I cannot recommend the Marong Point Marina mechanics at as ethical people. By midday Seaka was back in the water and the mechanic had checked the alignment and the stern gland, all is OK.

I plan to stay on the seaward side of the Swansea Bridge tonight. Everything had gone well; I meet Greg [Felicity] at the Lake Macquarie Sailing Club where we moored Seaka while Greg took me up to the shops to get vegetables, meat, milk, bread and ice. Back at the sailing club we checked the weather to find that it was perfect for the run down to Pittwater tomorrow.

I then cast off and proceeded to the Swansea Channel which, with the ebbing tide, took us about half an hour to transverse before we came to the bridge. There we hooked onto one of the mooring buoys and during that process got a rope over the top of the rudder, luckily it came away and we safely completed mooring up.

About four minutes before the bridge was due to open the operator demanded that I drop the mooring which I did. I now had to circle around in front of the bridge with the current pushing me towards it. As I tried to circle, the bridge went up but nothing happened, the lights were still red! Next thing I found that Seaka and I were being swept onto the southern piles at the entrance to the bridge. We sort of run up and around the pile just as the lights turned green. Well I was going through green or red, we had no option as the current pushed us through.
Shit! As I went under the raised bridge an SMS was received. Out the other side of the bridge a quick check for structure damage was done, luckily none was found. I then grabbed a mooring and settled Seaka down before looking more intensively at the damage. All I could find were scratches and considering what we had just done, not too bad at all.

But back to that SMS. Greg had just heard that there was a weather update that predicted 30 knot winds and 2-3 metre waves tomorrow! So I contacted the Lake Macquarie Marine Rescue and booked the bridge for the 0700 hour opening tomorrow.

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 10.
January 17, 2013, Croudace Bay, Lake Macquarie. Lat. 33 0.25'S Long. 151 38.383'E. 6nm today.

It was very rolly last night and I didn’t get much sleep, must remember never to moor here again overnight unless going into the lake. So today we returned through the bridge, with no dramas, taking one hour against the ebbing tide to get back into Lake Macquarie.

Once in the lake we headed for Croudace Bay to shelter from the 30 knot North Easter. After settling in for a hot day and sorting out the gear I decided that a review of what I was doing was in order.

Firstly a more detailed examination of yesterdays damage today shows that we have a total length of about 15cm of scratch that goes through to the fibreglass below. The rest of the scratches are only in the duco.

After considering the weather patterns here and in Tasmania, both of which are not normal, money already spent, time lost due to weather and repairs, the damaged duco and most importantly my moral, which is at rock bottom, I have decided to call Tasmania off for this year.

Shaun, who has got down to Sydney while I was doing repairs, later rang and said he has to start his return home. So I will wait for Shaun to get here sometime on Sunday. We may get a weather window on Monday to get us to New Castle otherwise we will have one that will get us to Port Stephens around Wednesday or Thursday next week. After that we will have to see what the weather gives us.

It's 38c here already today and blowing hard before the southerly comes through tonight. I've just had Bear [Egret II] deliver me supplies which included ICE!

I really don't know what I would have done without Greg and Bear while I have been in Lake Macquarie. Thanks Guys. I am feeling a lot better now that I am returning home to regroup. Hopefully next year’s weather will be a lot kinder when we try again to sail towards Tasmania again.

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 11.
Very hot, 42°.
January 18, 2013, Croudace Bay, Lake Macquarie. Lat. 33 0.25'S Long. 151 38.383'E. 1.2nm today.

Very hot today with the sweat just running off me. I had to move a couple of times with wind shifts. Then at 2000 hrs Shaun and Greg both rang to say that a very strong wind warning had been issued, Shaun had just had 50 knots at Rose Bay in Sydney, so I moved over onto a vacant mooring that Bear said had had a very large vessel on. We didn’t get any strong winds but it is now only 35°, a lot cooler!

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 12.
Overcast and a cool 25°.
January 19, 2013, Croudace Bay, Lake Macquarie. Lat. 33 0.25'S Long. 151 38.383'E

Bear came out to Egret II and brought me ice. I later had a BBQ with Bear and his son. Shaun is now at Pittwater and should be here tomorrow.

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 13.
Wet and a cool 25°.
January 20, 2013, Croudace Bay, Lake Macquarie. Lat. 33 0.25'S Long. 151 38.383'E

Greg in Felicity came along side and rafted up for four hours before he returned to his mooring off the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club. I packed the inflatable dinghy away. Shaun arrived at the wharf from Pittwater after I moved over to moor on the Croudace bay Wharf at 1800hrs.

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 14.
January 21, 2013, Croudace Bay, Lake Macquarie. Lat. 33 0.25'S Long. 151 38.383'E

Today we completed a few shopping jobs and Greg took us out to Redhead for lunch. Later Shaun and I hosted Greg and Bear to a thankyou BBQ on Blue Moon. Without these two blokes I would not have achieved what I did in Lake Macquarie.

Visiting Lake Macquarie, Day 15.
January 22, 2013, Pulbah Island, Lake Macquarie. Lat. 33 05.682S Long. 151 35.225E. 11.4nm today.

On Tuesday Shaun got me over to the Wangi Wangi RSL Sub-Branch for a shower and lunch. On leaving the Wangi Wangi RSL Wharf Shaun then had me sailing to windward, i.e. tacking, then running down to the south side of Pulbah Island where we rafted up on public mooring No 192. That was the best sail of the month.
Later that evening we were struck by a westerly storm but only received wind and a little rain. What we didn't realize was that the southerly, unpredicted by the Weather Bureau, was about to hit. This resulted in a very sleepless and bouncy night.

The Third Sailing Day, Towards Port Stephens.
Overcast with unpredicted 25 knot southerly winds.
January 23, 2013, Shoal Bay, Port Stephens. Lat. 32 43.0S Long. 151 35.225E. 48nm today.

We had booked for the 0700 Swansea Bridge opening but cancelled that at daylight. After relooking at the weather we decided to go for it, booking the 0900 bridge opening. We both just made it to the bridge in time for the opening and after successfully getting through proceeded for the bar and the predicted light southerly winds.

I had a Jib on and two reefs in the main sail. After clearing the very smooth bar I got the Jib up and was forced to hang on! It was very obvious that the auto helm was not going to do the job so I was hand steering with only the Jib up. I was never to get the reefed main up! Nor was I able to do anything but steer. I eventually struggled into my sailing gear and gathered some comfort food and water to last the day. So much for the light winds and slight sea.

So here I was, once again, stretching the envelope of what I thought I could do and getting that bunny off my back after the bridge incident. During the next 8 hours I covered the 48 nautical miles to Port Stephens at the average speed of 6 knots! Needless to say I was totally done in after starting the day with a lack of sleep. In fact I had several jibes during the day which I started calling sleep jibes, as I had no idea what was happening until my brain caught up with the jibe. Finally in Shoal Bay I got the anchor down and prepared a meal. Eventually Shaun arrived about an hour later. Now this was not all the excitement for the day. We were sheltering from the southerly wind in Shoal Bay but at midnight an easterly storm stuck and the short story is that I was forced to re-anchor so that I was not inline with the catamaran behind me in case I dragged my anchor.

Visiting Port Stephens, Day 1.
January 24, 2013, Nelson Bay, Port Stephens. Lat. 32 42.955S. Long. 152 08.985E. 1.5nm today

Today we moved around to Nelson Bay to do the washing and buy a few goods. Tomorrow we will move over to Fame Cove or North Arm Cove in preparation for the coming weather on Saturday and Sunday. We are expecting heavy rain and the swell out to sea here, where we won't be. The swell will reach 6 meters on Monday morning.

Looking at the weather we may get home on Wednesday, but cannot confirm that as yet. We will have to wait and see what transpires.

Visiting Port Stephens, Day 2.
January 25, 2013, Fame Cove, Port Stephens. Lat. 32 41.100S Long. 152 03.675E. 5.9nm today.

We motor sailed to Fame Cove where I went onto one of the public moorings. Tried a bit of fishing but no good.

Visiting Port Stephens, Day 3.
January 26, 2013, Karuah and Fame Cove, Port Stephens. Lat. 32 41.100S Long. 152 03.675E. 12.2nm today.

On the day after we arrived at Fame Cove we went up to Karuah for a couple of hours. Shaun met his family there as well. I have always wanted to get Seaka there so that's another item out of the bucket. On the way back to Fame Cove around 1400 hrs I went the way we came, but Shaun went back between an Island and the mainland. I reckoned I wouldn’t get through there because of the ebbing tide, as it was at some stages I had nothing under Seaka according to the sounder.

Just before I got back to Fame Cove I ran into a rain squall. It was so dense that I couldn't see more than a boat length in all directions. Needless to say I got drenched. We are back on the same mooring as last night. A very quiet Australia Day for a change.

Visiting Port Stephens, Day 4.
January 27, 2013, Fame Cove, Port Stephens. Lat. 32 41.100S Long. 152 03.675E

Raining with little or no wind. Read two books today.

Visiting Port Stephens, Day 5.
January 28, 2013, Fame Cove, Port Stephens. Lat. 32 41.100S Long. 152 03.675E

No comments, raining. During Sunday and today we stayed in the cabin as the rain fell out of the sky. Highest rainfall for the Hunter for some years apparently.

Visiting Port Stephens, Day 6.
January 29, 2013, Fame Cove, Port Stephens. Lat. 32 41.100S Long. 152 03.775E

Today I was able to have a dinghy bath with over 150 mm of water in it. Then I did a dumb thing and tried to lift the dinghy to get the water out. Well the dinghy didn't move but my back did. So I've pulled a muscle [I hope] and not put my back out. Anyway it is improving but slowly.
Moved Seaka over to the south side of the Cove at noon as a south west swell is coming into the Cove. Wind went around to the south later.

Visiting Port Stephens, Day 7.
January 30, 2013, Fame Cove, Port Stephens. Lat. 32 41.100S Long. 152 03.775E

Three yachts left this morning. Read all day.

Visiting Port Stephens, Day 8.
January 31, 2013, Fame Cove, Port Stephens. Lat. 32 41.100S Long. 152 03.775E

Did some maintenance today such as; cleaned the SS solar panel frames, pushpit and pulpit, tightened the tiller head, Checked the engine oil, fixed the engine stop pull switch, glued some Velcro strips back in place and downloaded the GPS track to date. Went fishing, but no luck again.
Went over to Blue Moon for tea.

Visiting Port Stephens, Day 9.
Fine to start.
February 1st, 2013, Fame Cove, Port Stephens. Lat. 32 41.080S Long. 152 03.875E

I cleaned the cabin roof and walls inside. The inflatable dinghy was packed away and stored in the rear of cockpit for a trial.
Plotted the course to Camden Haven and installed the waypoints on the GPS and Chartplotter.
1300hrs and we are now having a thunder storm.

Visiting Port Stephens, Day 10.
February 2nd, 2013, Fame Cove, Port Stephens. Lat. 32 41.080S Long. 152 03.875E

We had storms throughout last night with winds to 30 plus knots, this is why we are sheltering here. I slept OK through most of the night. We have had some really bad weather over the last few days.
Both Blue Moon and Seaka were moved to the south side of the cove around 1630hrs to get out of the swell coming into the cove.

Visiting Port Stephens, Day 11.
February 3rd, 2013, Fame Cove, Port Stephens. Lat. 32 41.080S Long. 152 03.875E

We spent a pleasant half hour this morning talking to Tom Mowbray who is in here with his 60’ Commitment which he had sailed to Patagonia and from there to Cape Horn and the South Pole polar ice as a charter vessel.
Nothing much else happened here today as it’s too windy to go across to Nelson Bay. Our planned departure now put back 12 hours to a late departure tomorrow, Monday. Shaun has run out of food so I gave him a tin of meat and a tin of Baked Beans. When Shaun came over to get the tins of food he had a cupper and ate half a packet of my Tin Tam’s!

Visiting Port Stephens, Day 12.
February 4th, 2013, Fame Cove, Port Stephens. Lat. 32 41.080S Long. 152 03.875E

The weather was not very good on Sunday so we waited until the Monday morning and both of us [Seaka and Blue Moon] enjoyed an uneventful sail across Port Stephens towards Nelson Bay. At Nelson Bay we decided to push on into Shoal Bay and go ashore there to do our last bit of shopping for the sail north to the Camden Haven. We had fish and chips for lunch. I put on the Yankee Jib and I also put one reef in the main sail and tried to get some sleep.

The Forth Sailing Day, Towards Camden Haven.
February 4th and 5th, 2013, Fame Cove, Port Stephens. Lat. 31 39.00S. Long. 152 47.658E. 97.5nm today.

At the appointed hour of 1700 I raised the main sail and then raised the anchor. Once I had the anchor back on the bow roller I retired to the cockpit where I raised the Yankee Jib. During our stopover in Fame Cove I had reorganised the halyard and down haul for the jib so that I could do it from the cockpit. The inflatable dinghy is now stored across the back seat in the cockpit instead of on the cabin roof. This arrangement meant that this was the first time I had actually sailed off an anchor as before I had had to motor away to give me a bit of sea room to raise the sails.

After sailing out of the wind shadow at the entrance to Port Stephens the southerly took hold of us and we were soon doing 6 plus knots. Unfortunately this was not to last and a couple of nautical miles north of Broughton Island as the sun set the wind started to drop to under 10 knots and as a result our speed over the ground was reduced to 2 to 3 knots. With the large swell running in from the SE I had no option but to start the inboard to maintain the 4.5 knots we need to get to the Camden Haven Bar with a favourable flood tide. While I had maintained a rumb line approach to Seal Rocks Blue Moon had reached well out to the east and I last time I saw him was as the sun set.

Once full dark had set in I was in for a wonderful surprise. As we sailed along I noticed a streak of phosphoresce in the water and heard a sound like someone taking a quick breath. I soon worked out that Seaka was surrounded by dolphins that were enjoying the bow wave riding action in front of us. For the next two hours I enjoyed this rarely seen phenomenon with large medium and baby dolphins outlined by phosphoresce swimming around us. This event was the top highlight of the voyage.

After turning north, once clear of Seal Rocks, we settled into a routine of watch and rest. Around 0100 hours on the Tuesday the moon rose and we could once again get an idea of what was going on around us. At 0400 I raised Marine Rescue [MR] Forster on the VHF and reported in, next and final call would be to MR Camden Haven.

Just before the sun rose we were followed by the SW change which I could see as the typical roll front. Unfortunately there was not enough light to take photographs. As the sun rose higher we sailed out from under the clouds into a beautiful day. With sufficient wind we were once again sailing without the motor at 4 to 5 knots.

Towards midday we were approaching the Camden Haven Bar which I found to be very smooth but with strong flood waters, from recent rains, coming out with the ebbing tide. Dropping all sails we proceeded up the Camden Haven River to the Laurieton United Services Club Wharf where I moored Seaka. This was the 5th of February, exactly one month and 341 nautical miles after we had sailed back in January.

Later, after getting my ute down to the wharf, I proceeded to strip all the extra gear out of Seaka and about mid morning the next day I moved Seaka around to her permanent mooring opposite Dunbogan and so the voyage ended.

We didn't get to Tasmania this year, the weather was just too bad, but we will get there. The planning has been done; it’s only a matter of choosing the right year with the right weather. Soon after our returned we had 790mm of rain over 9 days.

Last week I repaired the Swansea scratches, so Seaka is looking her 43 year old self again.

My thanks to all those who have followed and helped Seaka and I in this voyage towards Tasmania. Special thanks must go to Bear and Greg.
Who knows to where the next voyage will be.
March 2013.
A 1969 Mark 1

Home port is at Dunbogan on the Camden Haven Inlet, Laurieton NSW
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Re: The Complete Blog of Seaka's Voyage Towards Tasmania.

Postby tryer » Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:56 pm

Have just read about ur trip.

Well done and done well.

I am envious. The little "girl" sounds great, I sold my Tophat last year after 20 years of fantastic fun and sailing. I do miss her, she ALWAYS got me home.

Go hard....

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Re: The Complete Blog of Seaka's Voyage Towards Tasmania.

Postby Phillip » Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:17 pm

Thanks Scott,

Going to spend the rest of the year in short local trips and an internal repaint. Gotta beat the mould somehow!

May even get carried away and paint the external hull to cover all the adventures!!! :lol:
A 1969 Mark 1

Home port is at Dunbogan on the Camden Haven Inlet, Laurieton NSW
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Re: The Complete Blog of Seaka's Voyage Towards Tasmania.

Postby Troppo » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:56 am

I enjoyed your story, Phillip. You didn't get to Tassie this time but it was still a trip to be happy with, I reckon. You certainly covered some sea miles and faced a few challenges along the way.


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Re: The Complete Blog of Seaka's Voyage Towards Tasmania.

Postby Phillip » Mon Apr 15, 2013 3:58 pm

To Troppo,

Thanks mate. 8-)
A 1969 Mark 1

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