Seaka's Voyage 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.
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.

Re: Seaka's Voyage to Queensland.

Postby Phillip » Tue Oct 04, 2011 9:26 pm

This is the final post for my voyage to Queensland on my blog at

First, some thanks are in order.

To my wife Nan, who has been in New Zealand for most of the voyage, my thanks for your daily support by phone and text.

To Keith and Chris (previous owners of Seaka) for their support before and during the whole voyage. Thank you.

To Peter (ex Top Hat, Marinka) for his generosity with the loan of a car and support in Mooloolaba. Many thanks Peter.

To Karl (ex Top Hat, Solitude) also in Mooloolaba, thanks for the support, especially the texts when I was sheltering from a violent storm behind Double Island Point.

To Derek of the yacht 'Silver Lady', for the regular contacts and the two roast meals he cooked.

To John (Top Hat, Airoloen) for his phone support during the voyage.

To Shaun (Top Hat, Blue Moon) for the photographs and movies when leaving the Camden Haven.

To those Top Hat owners who freely gave advise, all of which was gladly received.

My thanks to these yachties I befriended along the way, namely:

Richard & Wendy from "Charon"
Ross & Marge from "Black & Tan"
Rob & Debbie from "Trax"
Derek from "Silver Lady"
Mitch & Meg from "Aviour"
Rick from "Sea Piper"
Max & Judy from "Maxipacket"
Daryl from "Raven Mad"
Simon from "Goodonya"
Eric from "UNI"
Boots from "Catch The Wind"
Tyrone (Try) from "Sahara"
And Peter from the Maclean Cruising Yacht Club.

And finally my thanks to all those who have followed the voyage, either with or without comments. I hope you enjoyed following me. I do know that some of you are in withdrawal as you are not getting your daily blog!

Now the summary of what happened.

We (that's Seaka and I) were away for 168 days (6th April to 16th September), during that time:

We anchored 77 times.

We were anchored for 75 days over 22 periods of which 4 were between 8 and 9 days long due to bad weather. Some of those days were also sailing days as sometimes we only sailed for a couple of hours or less.

About 100 hours was spent hugging a handheld GPS during storm weather at anchor. We only dragged twice, the first time at night with no moon, both after circling our anchor with the anchor chain.

We always tried to anchor in 7m of water at high tide or 3m at low tide. 20m of chain was put out as a minimum, or if room allowed and during high winds, 30m was always deployed.

We spent 82 days sailing, this includes 3 overnight sails. The log shows 514 hours of sailing and the 82 sailings can be listed as:
• 45 were under 6 hours
• 6 were between 6 and 10 hours.
• 13 were between 10 and 12 hours.
• 9 were between 12 and 15 hours.
• 7 were between 15 and 20 hours.
• The longest two were 22 and 26 hours long.

We were moored in a marina 13 times for a total of 20 days. The longest time spent in a marina was 3 days. The cheapest was $25 a night (Gladstone) and the most expensive $60 (Airlie Beach for 1 night). The average price was between $30 and $37 for 24 hours. The best marina was Gladstone and the worst were Coffs Harbour and Airlie Beach (which went into bankruptcy after we were there).

We travelled a distance of 1,394 nautical miles or 2,582 km. Our average speed was 5.3 knots but we always planned with an average of 4.5 knots. Our top speed was 11.6 knots (on day one, that was a shock!). Our maximum speed with no effort (no wind or motor) was 4.2 knots in the East Coast Current off Smoky Cape on the night of our return to Camden Haven.

When we had to motor sail, with the engine running at its sweet spot, we used an average of 0.9 litres of diesel per hour.

We went aground three times, the longest for about 30 minutes.

There were very few breakdowns. We only broke one piece of sailing gear. The cam cleat on the 40 year old Bakelite mainsheet block burst during a jibe on the first day. I did have a replacement on board. I tore one of the reefing points out of the main sail (my fault) and repaired it with stick-on sail tape. A bolt broke on the 10hp Nanni inboard engine and I had it repaired within the hour. We lost five things overboard, a metal lure, a padlock, a sail batten, a shackle and one hat that was recovered.

During the voyage I replaced the two seven year old batteries, the 20 year old VHF radio (the transmission side failed) and the Autohelm. The Autohelm was fixed for about $7 (for the two small switching components that had failed) by Don (thanks Don), but if I had sent it to an authorised repairer it would not have been viable for them to fix. These four items, which cost about $1500 to replace, I feel are not related to the voyage but are general ongoing maintenance costs.

I changed the engine oil and filters twice but not the fuel filters.

I took 2,927 photographs during the voyage.

What did it cost.

Well the time off to start with and that has to be open ended, as it was only a few days before the end of the voyage that I could say for certain that I had a return date. For all the other costs of food, fuel, marina fees, cleaning and entertainment (movies a couple of times and books) it seems to be between $150 and $200 a week. The higher of those usually occurred when a marina was involved.

I don't like to drink on my own, so there is no alcohol included in that cost. What alcohol I had, I took from home and that includes a bottle of wine that Keith (the previous owner) gave me.

What Would I Change?

Most importantly I would have a companion, either on Seaka or on another yacht (preferably a Top Hat of course) that is doing exactly the same voyage. At times I did suffer from being alone, the longest was 10 days without seeing or speaking to anyone. Young Jessica has all my praise for what she did as I am now absolutely sure that what she did is not in any bucket for me to do!

I had a lot of fishing gear onboard but caught only enough fish for about a dozen meals. I will only take a 6' estuary rod and the towed lures (no boat rods) next time. The crab pots will stay at home.

In Seaka I have three swabs for the forward cabin bed. Next time I will have fitted sheets to keep them in place. Incidentally I ended up sleeping across the yacht as I could not stand the rocking from side to side when sleeping along the yacht centre line.

I will take less clothing, footwear, towels, bed linen, cooking gear, food items for fancy food, cleaning gear, fishing gear, spare sailing ropes and equipment that I don't normally use when sailing! I reckoned I filled a Ute with all this extra gear as Seaka is now 10cm (4") up on her lines. The photograph above shows all that gear on the floor of my shed.

I need to beef up the solar panel I have. One thing that annoyed me during the voyage was trying to keep the house battery (the starter battery was off limits) fully charged as well as the computer battery. The computer needed 18 volts to charge which meant that the small inverter I had consumed heaps of power.

I will be fitting four steps at the top of the mast so I can service the top of the mast.

What do I have to Repair or Service?

Very little really. The cabin top hand rails need revarnishing. I need to shorten the galley safety strap. The topsides need cleaning and polishing. I need to do the anti-fouling as there is no antifouling on the bottom of the keel. I need to change the engine oil. A collapsed foam swab needs replacing. Two stanchions need to be resealed. The cockpit timber floor grate needs re-oiling. The mainsail needs a service. I need to address the problem of the black mould inside the cabin.

The major jobs are, the replacement of the rudder bearings, the propellor needs to have Propspeed applied and the stern gland needs repacking.

The two cockpit winches need to be replaced as they are worn out after 40 years of service. I need to install an extra handrail to the cabin roof inside on the port side. I need to fit a float switch to the bilge pump and alter its plumbing. The mast head light needs refixing.

Final Comments.

Did I love it? Yes.
Am I glad I did it? Yes.
Did I hate it? Yes, on a couple of very rare occasions.
Did I enjoy the sailing? Yes, but on one or two ocassions, No.
Did I see something of Australia? Yes.
Would I go again for the same lenght of time? No.
Would I do it again? Weeeeeell I'll think about that!
Do I still love my Mark 1 Top Hat, the best ever made? Yes.
And the next voyage is to? Let's just say I'm sleeping on that one at the moment.

I lost 5kg of weight, which was good and a 37 year old beard (yep. it's gone for good) during the trip.

I will try to have all the blogs turned into an e-book by 2012 with extra photographs and charts. Watch this blog site
and the Top Hat site (under Voyagers on the Bulletin Board) for more information.

If there are any comments on this and all the other posts, I will answer them over the next three weeks.

Phillip. :D
A 1969 Mark 1

Home port is at Dunbogan on the Camden Haven Inlet, Laurieton NSW
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Re: Seaka's Voyage to Queensland.

Postby Shaun » Wed Oct 05, 2011 8:35 pm

Good wrap-up Phil :D ,

Thank you for taking us with you!, Im certain many people have sailed to the Whitsunday's vicariously from the comfort of our lounge chairs through your blog.

How far offshore roughly were you when you found the strong Sth East Aus' current?

I'm also curious as how much time you spent in the cockpit Vs in the cabin while sailing (& also at anchor)?

You putting a Manson Supreme anchor on your shopping list yet?


PS, where's the bloody VIDEO of it!!!! :lol:
"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: Seaka's Voyage to Queensland.

Postby Phillip » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:21 pm


How far offshore roughly were you when you found the strong Sth East Aus' current?
I was just inside the FAD off Smoky Cape. About 2-3 nm off-shore.

I'm also curious as how much time you spent in the cockpit Vs in the cabin while sailing Depended little on the weather unless it was cold or raining (rare) at night most of the time was spent indoors unless it was warm etc. or there was a moon. At night I cat-napped (max 15 minutes each) between 0100 and 0400 so I was in the cabin then.

(& also at anchor)?Depended on the weather and what I was doing.

You putting a Manson Supreme anchor on your shopping list yet?
Nope. Not necessary, CQR is ok thanks. :D

I'll talk to you about the little bit of Video I have.

Cheers Phillip.
A 1969 Mark 1

Home port is at Dunbogan on the Camden Haven Inlet, Laurieton NSW
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Re: Seaka's Voyage to Queensland.

Postby Phillip » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:17 pm

Evening All, The Adventure Continues.

Posted here is todays blog!

First, a bit of a correction.

I posted the wrong mileage for the trip, so;

Total Mileage: 2,394 nautical Miles. That's 4,435 Km.

On Monday last I snorkelled on the propellor to clean it of the 8mm of growth [since I arrived home] and had discovered that the prop was loose on the shaft, or so I thought!

The big news is that today, on hookah, I removed the rudder so that I could replace the top and bottom bushes which are worn out and remove the propellor so I can get Propspeed applied.

When I grabbed the propellor to clean the retaining nut prior to removal it just came away in my hand!!!

Yep, the prop shaft was broken, in fact snapped off inside the propellor but the key had survived which meant that propellor still turned and was retained in position by the RUDDER.

We did 680nm in that condition as I now reckon that I snapped it when I went aground at Yellow Patch. It actually occurred when a stink boat went roaring pass with a huge wake and while I had bounced up in down as a result there had been a large sounding 'crack' which I now know to be the shaft snapping as the rudder was driven upwards. Looking at the break it would appear that the shaft had a crack in it before I went aground. If the rudder had not retained the propellor I would have had to return to Yeppoon for major repairs.

So now I will get the propellor and rudder sorted out and then go up on our local slip for a clean and new antifouling.

Photo of snapped shaft and key still in place.
DSCF5403a.jpg (153.76 KiB) Viewed 2133 times
A 1969 Mark 1

Home port is at Dunbogan on the Camden Haven Inlet, Laurieton NSW
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Posts: 1551
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