Subscriber, Sean Hants emailed us recently about his first offshore voyage. His story contains some sound advice.
I contacted you some time ago regarding travel in Bass Strait. Well, we did our trip over finally even though we’ve been a couple of times with another yachtie.
Bass Strait, feast or famine it seems. It is a daunting prospect first time out on your own considering the fear mongers who say… don’t do it, your boat’s too small, the swells are too big, the storms etc., etc.
We had a great trip in our Swanson 28 and it did nothing but inspire us both to plan to do more and go further.
Preparation is the important part, we think, even though our boat is small and our electronics fairly basic, weather check/forecasts prior and a basic passage plan with a few contingencies helped make it relatively safe and a real adventure.
One gizmo I did get which was helpful was an AIS receiver which links to our little GME chartplotter and gives a heads up about approaching ships. I thought this was quite valuable during our night crossing over to Grassy as it removes some of the stress of watching out for those big buggers that always seem to pop up and be on you in no time.
Our unit gave a 10 nm range which allowed us about 30-45 minutes to plot their range and bearing accurately and avoid if necessary, or get in contact. Most ships seemed to be travelling in the 10-15 knot speed range.
As for the seas and the weather, we found the BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) predictions very accurate and that helped us plan our timing of departures and arrivals.
King Island lived up to its reputation, lots of tidal flow, particularly down near Bold Head just before Grassy, sea mists, lightning at night, beautiful sunrises, strong winds and rather largish swells.
We came back via Apollo Bay which was an interesting entry, with the swell running in past the small breakwater entrance. It’s a wonderful protected little harbour and we found a spot on the floating wharf with some friendly Cape Barron geese. I reckon it could be a risky entry there on a big south swell.
The run back down to Port Phillip was quite idyllic, a light south breeze, two metre swell and dolphins, dolphins and more dolphins and a beautiful coastal landscape. Couldn’t believe how many there were that came and ran with us for up to half an hour.
Got back down near Point Lonsdale and tanker, cargo ship central. We ran about three to four miles offshore (keep a lookout for cray pots) for much of our return leg and that seemed to keep us about one to two miles inside of the exiting and arriving freighters. The AIS unit gave us good forewarning well before we saw any of these ships.
Our next foray we think we might go left and down the Prom and over to Flinders. We’ve gone to Hastings before and Westernport is a lovely bay, moor off Cowes etc. The feeling of getting away from the land and out in the swell is a touch addictive but also makes me a bit apprehensive as well as excited.
- He and his wife had gone as crew on another yacht before making the voyage. This gave him some local knowledge of the area and experience of the conditions to expect, before he had to face them on his own.
- He knew that his boat, a Swanson 28, was a good seaworthy boat.
- He did the pre-trip planning, including for contingencies. I like to think of it as being prepared for where you want to go and where you may end up.
- He installed an AIS receiver which gave him a 10 nm range, i.e. an alarm sounded when any vessel carrying an AIS came within 10 nm of his yacht.
- He was aware of and allowed for the big tidal range in the Bass Strait islands.
- Like a performer, he is excited but nervous about his next voyage. Complacency can lead to disaster.
We wish Sean and his wife Maggie many years of safe and happy voyaging.
1. Cruising doesn’t have to be slow
From time to time I’ve mentioned Mike Clements, with whom I sailed on Rager I. He used to own a timber business and over the years he set aside the best wood to build his dream boat that became Rager II.
Mike sold the boat to Gary Shanks in Adelaide. Some readers may remember that she sank on the return from the Port Lincoln race. Refloated a week later, she was rebuilt and continued as a racing yacht.
Subscriber, Mike O’Reilly of Adelaide, competed in the 2008 Sydney-Hobart aboard Rager II, and emailed us about her sale to a cruising couple and transformation “from a wave piercing surfboard to international cruiser”, with a new name, Courageous.
The new owners chose not to depower their yacht. As a result Courageous made the passage from Noumea to Southport (787 nm) in 3.5 days. And they were short-handed.
Note: We used Distance Calculator to work out the distance of the voyage.
2. Video corner – Chris Stanmore Major (CSM)
Ann remembers reading in Erroll Bruce’s Deep Sea Sailing that sometimes the most difficult thing you will have to do on your watch is get into your wet weather gear before going on deck.
CSM has put together a good video about the difficulties of life at sea or, as he puts it, Life at 45 degrees.
3. Earth Hour – Saturday 26 March 2011
At 8.30 pm this Saturday we will turn our lights out for Earth Hour. It will be our fifth year, i.e. since Earth Hour’s beginning here in Sydney in 2007.
When we sit down to our candlelight dinner and a bottle of good red wine we won’t miss the television at all. The evening will remind us of the years before electricity and all the labour-saving devices that clutter our lives.
It’s good to see interest growing – 131 countries and territories have signed up this year. That’s three more than 2010.
Will you join us? Sign up at Earth Hour.
In their own words: ERIC HISCOCK & SUSAN HISCOCK
“I realise now that I have married the perfect crew.”
“Crews fall out; we don’t.”
Eric Hiscock (1908-1986) met his future wife Susan Sclater (1913-1995) while sailing on the Solent in the 1930s. They married in 1941 and became a sailing partnership that lasted until Eric’s death aboard Wanderer V in New Zealand waters.
Eric joined the Royal Navy in 1939 and served for two years before being invalided out due to being ‘half blind’. That did not stop him from sailing the world in a series of yachts named Wanderer.
In 1955 he was awarded the Cruising Yacht Club of America’s 1955 Blue Water Medal with the citation:
“Circumnavigation by Canal and Cape of Good Hope by owner and wife, July 24, 1952-July 13, 1955 in 30-foot Giles-designed cutter.”
Eric wrote a series of books about his and Susan’s cruising experiences, starting with Around the World in Wanderer III.
Both he and Susan were awarded the MBE for “services to yachting” in 1985.
A while after Eric’s death, Susan returned to the Isle of Wight and bought herself a West Wight scow, the same design as the first yacht she’d owned at 17. And at 79 she won her first race!
Susan’s obituary describes more of their lives.
© 2011 Bevanda Pty Ltd http://www.theboatingbible.com