Night Cap

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This forum is for members to share their top hat sailing experiences, whether it be an interesting day sail, a coastal passage, or a journey across the oceans.
These experiences may be good, bad or ugly!, it is intended that we can learn from each other, & encourage each other to get out there & enjoy these wonderful yachts.

Night Cap

Postby Shaun » Sun Feb 08, 2009 8:18 pm

After buying "Night Cap" TH 25 MkIII, in November the task was to get her from Gosford to her new home port, Laurieton on the mid north coast of NSW.
This task proved to be both a longer process than i thought & to cost more than i anticipated.

Gosford to Newcastle
This passage was a big learning experience, we under-estimated the time it would take to do it, estimated the nav calculation at 4kts, but the predicted SW never arrived, in its place we had a 18-23kt NE to beat against!, this threw the schedule out the window!.
I made a lot of mistakes, eg - didn’t take any precautions to avoid seasickness (since found “Kwells” work well for me), neglected to Log on with the VMR :oops: (seasickness played a part here, not wanting to talk on the radio, now log-on before pulling anchor), didn’t organise proper food/lunch :( , (snacks all day arent good).
We were forced to do an unplanned night sail, making Newcastle at 3am, with only a few litres of fuel left (now carry enough fuel to motor the entire way).

Newcastle to Laurieton approx 106nm.
Had to leave the boat at Newcastle marina (that was the expensive part) over xmas & NY, until having
some spare time coincided with favourable weather.
Organised a mate as crew, not a sailor but an ex-soldier in an eastern
block army, he said he was used to suffering, so i thought he's the
perfect candidate! :twisted:

Logged On with the VMR!
Left Newcastle early on fri 16th Jan, just after a weak southerly had
come through, S/SW winds fairly light so motor sailed to keep to the
schedule!, arrived Shoal Bay Port Stephens, early afternoon well
before the predicted stronger S change that nite, btw great place &
plenty of courtesy moorings. No petrol station in Shoal Bay, so caught the bus to Nelson Bay to replenish the fuel.
Was a fairly strong S change that came in about 10PM & was still very
strong on sat morning so hung around & prep'ing boat till 1300, then
set off (again obviously logging on etc),
had an excellent sail !!, doing around 5 - 5.5kts(on gps) :D , i estimated
in 20-25kts of SE, 2-3m swell, careful Nav was required around Seal
Rocks, with frequent plotting position on chart, glad we cleared them
with some daylight!, they are a surprising distance offshore, we were
a good distance to their E. Wind died around 2200, so motored thru the
night, then sailed again when a light SE arrived in the morning, we
had timed the arrival at Laurieton bar to be there at the slack tide,
which made the bar benign, easily crossed, most of my family was on
the breakwall to greet us!,
& we had an escort of Dolphins 3 times during the trip, fantastic!

a short video we made:

“Night Cap”
"Blue Moon" MkIII Junkette rig,
Camden Haven River,
Mid Nth Coast, NSW

Order of the Albatross - 2011
Order of the Tipping Dinghy

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Re: Night Cap

Postby Shaun » Sat Mar 27, 2010 3:18 pm

Laurieton To Broken Bay

Departured Laurieton 0730 Thur 18th Mar 2010,
Arrived Broken Bay 1630 hrs Fri 19th Mar.

Time taken to do trip = 33hrs
Avg speed = 4.85 kts
Max speed (that I noticed on GPS) 6.8 kts

Fuel taken onboard = 67 lts
Fuel used = 13 lts
Engine hrs = 6.5 hrs
Lts fuel per hr = 2 lph

Breakages = $99 for new traveller car

Two personal goals where achieved with this trip..
1) To attempt a solo coastal passage
2) To get my own yacht to a Top Hat event.

Departed Laurieton only 1 & a half hrs after I’d planned to leave(I thought this was pretty good! for me!) still had an outgoing tide, we can have upto 2 & a half hrs over-run here at Laurieton. Motored for the first 5 hrs, luckily Phillip(Seaka) had dropped by the night before & suggested I take a pair of ear muffs, in case of many hrs of motoring, this proved to be a fantastic idea & did save me a big headache from the noise of the outboard in the cockpit well.
I was fortunate enough to meet with Peter(Marinka) a few miles off Diamond Hd, we had been keeping in phone/email contact for the previous few weeks, as we were both planning to leave around the same date, but Marinka going Nth & Night Cap going Sth. We chatted for about 10 mins then we both headed off in different directions & within minutes Marinka was a small dot behind me.
TopHatSailing Mar2010 004.jpg
Marinka with Skipper Peter & crew Glen
TopHatSailing Mar2010 004.jpg (52.25 KiB) Viewed 2735 times

The NE’rs slowly started to come in just before midday, so I hoisted the main & #1 genoa & motor-sailed for a further 1.5hrs just to use up the remaining litre or so of fuel in that fuel tank.
We were making good time averaging 4.6 - 5.4 kts.

A little motor sailing video:

After the fuel ran out of that tank, I pulled the motor out of the well & put it on the pushpit, also didn’t notice any reduction in speed as the NE’rs had strengthened.

Saw many pods of Dolphins, some of them very large, amazing to watch from the bow as they come into the bow pressure wave from the sides. Saw one Dolphin showing off doing backflips only 15mts away, & another with his :) /her baby jumping together in perfect formation, very cute, pity didnt get that on film.

Made Seal Rocks just as the last of the days light made it possible to (only just) see the offlying rocks & I passed to their E.
The wind was starting to back to be more NNE, remaining on this port tack I was getting pushed slightly further out to sea, but considered this a better option than gybing & risking passing too close to the (unlit) Broughton Is’s.
Just before sunset the winds really dropped off & I was fooled into leaving the full set of sails up. This broke one of my golden rules :roll: which is to reduce canvas over-night, but I was rewarded with making good ground during the day & didn’t want to slow up now, classic school-boy error :oops: .
Naturally the Nth’erlys really started to punch in around 2200, I was overpowered but didn’t fancy the reefing procedure solo at night, was making very good time still so decided to carry-on, personally ive found it easy to do nothing & just soldier-on(especially when feeling a little queasy), than to make the initial effort to improve the sails or any task that happens to arise, a mindset that hopefully I can recognise and address on future passages.
I feel in love with my new ST2000+ autopilot 8-) during the trip, Peter had named his “George”, mine seemed to have a beautiful feminine quality to her & she was named “Jade”. Jade didn’t fancy steering an overpowered yacht at around midnight, so I was relegated to hand steering, ive forgiven Jade as I was reasponable.
Knowing from my regular chart plotting that I was well offshore(at least 30nm), this would explain why I never saw any onshore lights, no lighthouse lights, not even the loom from the lighthouse lights, however I could see a faint loom of light in the sky, I picked to be Newcastle.
I forced Jade back to duty around 0200, & while I was downstairs doing some Nav we gybed(I’d been using a preventer earlier, but for some reason it wasn’t on now), I was back in the cockpit in a flash, & grabbed the tiller & the mainsheet, by the time I’d checked the compass we were gybing back…I held the mainsheet to try & cushion the shockload but it was too much…the saddle on the traveller car broke & I was left holding the mainsheet connected to the end of the boom, also during the gybe the genoa got tangled around itself & the forestay…thinking bugger what do I do now…I tied the mainsheet to the spare jib sheet winch, & thought I’m going to lose the headsail here for sure, but managed to free it. While still making 5.5-6 kts I wondered how long I could keep going like this??
She really wanted to round up & shortly after she did, at which point I lowered the main & the boom onto the cabin roof & continued under headsail until daylight to make repairs.

Just before sunrise at 0545, I was downstairs doing some nav in prep for my 0600 VMR log-in, I popped my head up to have a look around ….LAND 300m on my port side!!!! :o :o Instantly I looked at my compass, my track was right, but I grabbed the tiller anyway & steered away from this mystery land, a silhouette of tall trees with large white rocks on a gravely beach from horizon to horizon on my E. At one stage I thought about going ashore & falling asleep under one of those ‘trees’.
Anyway, at 0600, my brain was still trying to convince my eyes they were not seeing what they were seeing, for a good 20 mins until the sun rose up behind the “land”/cloud formation…wish I’d taken a photo.
(I tried to radio for my 0600 sched but was well out of VHF (& mobile phone)range, I heard them calling me just after 0600 but my replies went unheard, until 0730 when I managed to make contact with VMR Norah Head. What a great job the Marine Rescue Radio volunteers do, we are very lucky to have such a great free service).
Fri morning saw a temporary repair to the traveller, along with the Bulk Carriers & land come into sight, once I saw Lion Is’ my tiredness faded & I practised heaving-to.
The lumpiest, most confused seas I experienced on the whole trip was between Lion Is, West Hd & Palm Beach Headland where I put the motor back in the well, almost shredding my shoulder on the backstay in the process.
Moored in America’s Bay for the night.
I was so tired on fri night I wondered if I’d even catch my plane flight back home on Wednesday, let-alone participate in the Top Hat Regatta, but woke up sat morning feeling ok.
Night Cap, “Jade” & myself thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
"Blue Moon" MkIII Junkette rig,
Camden Haven River,
Mid Nth Coast, NSW

Order of the Albatross - 2011
Order of the Tipping Dinghy

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. - Someone's random Youtube comment
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Re: Night Cap

Postby ozzibod » Mon Apr 12, 2010 10:38 pm

G'day Shaun and any other interested readers
I read with fascination your trip and it certainly makes a good read. I am interested to know a little about your outboard motor, it seems much more miserly than mine which is an almost 20 year old Evinrude "Yachtwin". It is an extra long shaft model, 2stroke, 8hp and has what seems to be a high thrust propellor.
I have had the motor since I purchased the boat in Sydney just over 2 years ago and I have noticed that it chews about 4 to 5 litres an hour at about half to 3/4 throttle. This seems somewhat excessive to me, however I am a newbie when it comes to modern outboards having been brought up on British Seagulls!
Would you be kind enough to share with me some details of your motor. I am looking to upgrade and what are your thoughts on 2 strokes versus 4 strokes and what is an ideal power (6hp? 8hp? 10hp?), make for a TopHat given that I would be looking at something to push me along at about 4.5 to 5 knots economically.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, I would be most grateful.

Sintra II
Montagu Bay, Hobart.
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:43 am
Location: Montague Bay, Derwent River, Hobart

Re: Night Cap

Postby Shaun » Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:59 am

Hi Austin,
Will reply to your thread in the other section so you have all info in the one place.

Got my charts off Night Cap last weekend & after reviewing them...the farthest offshore i got was 35nm at 33deg S (a few mile Sth of Newcastle), so i went a bit off the rhumbline & travelled a bit over 170nm(measured by dividers, as i went through 2 sets(8 AA) of batterys on the old GPS, so lost the distance covered info half way through trip.
That meant my avg speed was about 5.3kts, that im very happy with :D .
Normally the NE'rs ease at night & motoring is called for, but that night they continued through-out the night, enabling me to make good time.
As well as the 4 day marine weather forecast, i also found their wind forecast map very handy, was also helpful.

When the headsail wrapped around the forestay, one of the bowlines tied to the clew that made the resetting of it a bit more trickier.
Also 50% of the time the bowlines get caught on the shroud when tacking.

:?: Anyone use a better knot to tie their headsail sheets?

This photo doesnt do the Dolphins justice, they really were magnificent!
TopHatSailing Mar2010 008.jpg
Dolphins off Cape Hawke
TopHatSailing Mar2010 008.jpg (73.33 KiB) Viewed 2660 times

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

Order of the Albatross - 2011
Order of the Tipping Dinghy

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. - Someone's random Youtube comment
User avatar
Posts: 851
Images: 11
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:27 pm

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