Egret 11 moves to Queensland

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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.
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Egret 11 moves to Queensland

Postby Scottaboliky » Tue Aug 18, 2015 6:48 pm

Bear asked me why I bought a Top Hat and why a Mark 1 such as his Egret 11.

It was simply that I have always liked the Top Hat class. I grew up in Melbourne, sailing at the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria and racing International Cadet Dinghies with my Dad. There were a few of the original Cold Moulded Top Hats in Hobsons Bay at that time.

I liked the look of the Mark 1, but don’t like the later models cabin shape. I also felt that the forward hatch with it wrapping over the front of the cabin would leak and be very difficult to stop leaking.
I have seen some later models with the hatch that has been changed to a hatch like the Mark 1.

A really nice thing happened on my arrival in Lake Macquarie to meet up with Bear and go out to Egret 11, was seeing one of my Dads old boats, it's now called Aurora original name was Aloha. I hadn't seen it since I was 15 years old (40 years ago) and it was anchored 150 meters away from Egret 11. My Dad is now 86 and he was very pleased to hear of her.

Bear and his son Thomas were very helpful in getting me underway from Lake Macquarie. We checked the rig over, going up the mast, checked the engine out and installed an autopilot. It helped reading about how Phillip did his autopilot on Seaka. When I got underway I had hoped to go with a friend but he was unavailable, so I went alone.

The trip to Southport took 6.5 days nonstop, although I stopped at sea plenty of times due to running out of wind. I also had problems with the Yanmar engine mounts working loose, so basically I just used it to charge the batteries after which I would tighten them up again.

I spent 2.5 days looking at Crowdy Head. I would get a little wind and sail past some 10-15 miles then the wind would die and the east coast current would drag me back again. The reason I didn't go into Camden Haven [near Crowdy Head] or anywhere else for that matter was that I was afraid it would take too much time to get going again and wanted to get back to my family.

Finally I got a good breeze and had a nice sail from there past Coffs Harbour and South Solitary Island but then the wind died again. I drifted and sailed a bit all day making a few miles. Then the wind came up very strong out of a clear blue sky, in the struggle to get the mainsail down it parted and ripped right along the bottom as the seam stitching let go.

I sorted out that mess re-hoisted the working jib and we were off making hull-speed and surfing at times as the waves built up to 3 meters. We flew through the night passing the entrance to Ballina just on dawn, it was very cold.

The wind eased off during the day but I managed to make the Gold Coast Seaway around 2100 hours. I managed to limp in under engine just beating the outgoing tide; luckily the sea was very calm as the wind had been blowing slightly offshore.

My friend met me near wave Break Island on his jetski and guided me to his dock in Runaway Bay very tired and happy to be home.
It had been a long time since I had done something like this but I loved being at sea again with the Albatrosses, Dolphins and Whales plus the challenge of it all.

I'm very pleased with my Top Hat she handles and sails very well. I was amazed at how dry she was on deck and she didn't ship any water in that strong wind north of Coffs Harbour, just a little patter of spray. The little 4 cm high ridge toe rail on the deck gives me a great deal of confidence when moving around the deck.

My routine, sailing, navigation, cooking and getting adequate sleep was quite flexible and the basis of a lot of what and how I did it was dependant on my location at the time and whether it was night-time or day-time.

I felt it would be better for me to try and get the majority of my rest and sleep during the day as I felt the yacht would be much more visible and other small vessels such as speedboats out fishing, other yachts etc would see me. My navigation kept me fairly close to the coast for a couple of reasons, one being to stay out of the shipping lanes and to hopefully either get a back eddy out of the East Australian Current or reduce the strength of it too manageable levels. Actually at Crowdy Head I found it very strong even close into the shore. One of the other good things about being close in was that I could remain in contact via cell phone 90% of the time which made family, friends and also myself feel better. Bear followed the trip and I kept in contact with him pretty much every day. He was very helpful letting me know what the weather was really doing south of me.

I tried to rest as much as possible, as you can imagine I never slept for very long, probably an hour was the longest I have ever slept for during the trip. Food was kept very simple and I had a lot of tinned soups (thick) which were perfect for the cool weather nights, some tinned ham, biscuits, cereal, UHT milk, coffee, tea, bread, fresh vegetables and eggs etc. I had about nine days of food onboard for the trip and had at least 40 litres of water and two days of food left when I arrived in Southport. Cooking was done on the typical Top Hat 2 burner metho stove, but I also had a portable single burner gas camping stove that uses those small disposable gas cartridges.

They were both very good and during the strong wind warning I went through during the leg from Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay where it was very cold during that night and from time to time I would light the gas stove and it warmed up the inside pretty quickly. I also kept a kero lantern burning all night down below too as they give off a cheery cosy glow and warmth.

I like the simplicity of her, so now she sits in Runaway Bay on the Goldcoast.

I'm at work in Phuket now but will be back in few weeks and do some more sailing in her.

The mainsail was easily repaired so Egret 11 rides again.

I found that the Top Hat has a much quicker motion than my previous yachts which have all been larger. Arriving in Southport after my trip on Egret 11, I was very tired and bruised a lot mainly from being bent over the Yanmar engine when working on it.

It took me awhile to recover and my wife said “You’re not doing that again on your own!!”

I'm now 55 years old and last time I did a long singlehanded journey was when I sailed my 32ft yacht Stormbay 11 from Capetown to England some 24 years ago.

Scott-a.jpg (144.4 KiB) Viewed 2792 times

Egret-11-c.jpg (152.88 KiB) Viewed 2792 times

Egret 11 is prepared to go north
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Re: Egret 11 moves to Queensland

Postby Troppo » Tue Aug 18, 2015 7:36 pm

Well done, Scotaboliky! That's a tough trip on the amount of sleep you were getting. Certainly an adventure that one. Great to read your story and fantastic that Egret II is out and about.


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Re: Egret 11 moves to Queensland

Postby Shaun » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:40 pm

Good write-up Scotta, I think you did that very well, you can often get caught in those ports along the NSW north coast if you stop in them, & if you've got the weather why not continue.
What did you use to wake yourself up regularly, a kitchen timer or something?
"Blue Moon" MkIII Junkette rig,
Camden Haven River,
Mid Nth Coast, NSW

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Re: Egret 11 moves to Queensland

Postby Scottaboliky » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:25 pm

Thanks Troppo & Shaun , I have enjoyed hearing of your voyages & storie on the site as well.
I didn't actually use any alarm clock or timer to wake me up , was pretty keyed up as you can imagine being not familiar with Egret 11 , so every creak or strange noise would wake me up . i was pretty confident that I wouldn't sleep too long based on previous sailing trips and it proved to be correct , I picked the areas to try to sleep too , like when I was becalmed or plenty of sea-room was available , still the last bit was very tiring.
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Re: Egret 11 moves to Queensland

Postby Ianb » Wed Aug 19, 2015 3:24 pm

Congratulations Scott on a great trip.
You a Capetonian by any chance? Last time I was there, the docks had changed a lot since I was a boy. Used to ride my bike freely around there, and did my sea cadet training at SAS Unitie. Looked at the yachts and dreamed....
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Re: Egret 11 moves to Queensland

Postby Scottaboliky » Wed Aug 19, 2015 5:12 pm

Hi Ian , no I'm not from Capetown , actually was born in Launceston , Tasmania went to school in Melbourne , moved to the Gold Coast when I was 16 , that's where I had my first yacht Stormbay 11 built which is the steel version of the Tahiti Ketch & sailed her from Gold Coast to Sth Africa , landed in Durban coastal hopped to Capetown , loved Sth Africa the hospitality & the kindness of the people there was second to none , very good memories from there in fact there is a guy here in Phuket now that I knew from Capetown his yacht is called Antares 11 , 55ft Alloy yacht he is heading that way again after Xmas , Cheers Scott
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Re: Egret 11 moves to Queensland

Postby Notlongjohn » Tue Nov 03, 2015 5:37 pm

Scot, really interesting trip. Liked the crowdy head scenario. Just this June I've done the pitwater to port macquarie trip in a mk 1 with an experienced sailor. We spent a night in crowdy. ..also nights in lake macquarie on courtesy buoy,in port stevens ,and forster.non of this overnight stuff. It didn't look like egret had a furling headsail. Do you see that as a an important to do job.will southport b your home port.

Cheers. John fron "Mari Anne" Hibbard Port Macquarie.
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Re: Egret 11 moves to Queensland

Postby Scottaboliky » Thu Dec 31, 2015 8:42 am

Hi John , nice to hear from you sorry for my late reply have not looked on the site for a long time.
Have not long come back home from working overseas, glad you had a good trip Port Maquarie is a nice spot.
Yes Southport is the home port , I won't be putting a furler on Egret , I like the simplicity of a Hank on headsail their is very little to go wrong with the present system Happy Sailing and all the best for 2016
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