Just a little intro to this blog, I wrote on a night passage towards the end of January, it turned out to be a pretty hectic night and I probably ranted a bit much so wasn't sure if to bother writing it up, but given our ROAM adventure is at a slight pause I thought I would put it up.
Prior to beginning this adventure my time on a sailing vessel would probably add up to a total of 10 days, and most of this as a child just along for the ride.
Since the 31st of October I have lived on ROAM full time for 93 days, sailed well over 2000 nautical miles, crossed Bass Strait, sailed around the South and up the West Coasts of Tasmania, and Captained ROAM through Bank Strait. I have visited places in Tasmania that can only be accessed by boat (Port Davey, Ile Des Phoques), had swell of up to 6.8 meters and winds of over 40 knots.
Now I am fully aware that this does not make me an experienced sailor, and there are many people who my small foray into the sailing world would not even register to. But I have learnt a couple of things in the past 3 months that I feel like writing down (if they are worth reading I'm not really sure...).
I sit here writing this in the dark with a head torch at 3:30 am, trying to encourage ROAM to tend slightly to Port to avoid Black Pyramid off the North West corner of Tasmania. The course over ground on the navigation system is sitting happily about a mile or two to port of the obstacle until we get picked up on a surf, round up slightly and charge at the 73m high chunk of rock at 18 knots.
So that brings me to my first lesson; at night it feels like you are going to hit everything! From rocks on the navigation system, to other vessels you can only identify by navigation lights, when the sun is down it feels like the most probable scenario is that you will hit them. Even if both are present and are 5 nautical miles either side of your course, your predicted course over ground will probably take you to both (wavering between the two). When in reality if I could have hit Black Pyramid tonight from 10 nautical miles away without changing course I should give up being an unemployed sailor and take up golf or 8-Ball. Sailing at night took a bit of getting used to. Michael on our first night passage assured me that it is exactly the same, I think he claimed easier.
Back to now; Clear Black Pyramid to Port, round up 30 degrees to Starboard as planned, lower the Starboard Daggerboard half way to reduce leeway. This puts ROAM towards her fastest angle of 90 degrees apparent wind. Almost a Beam Reach with the swell the way it is. The wind increases to 28 knots on the gusts and ROAM takes off on a surf to 22.4 knots. Time to wake Michael and Liss, this takes longer than expected as when you have only had one hour of sleep it is hard to process new info. New plan; bare away, tuck in the 3rd reef in the main, furl the Genoa a bit to balance the rig. Then steer back to 90 degrees apparent wind. This takes about 45 minutes from start to finish. Just as we settle into our new heading ROAM gets side swiped by a breaker, this literally knocks every single item in the boat onto the floor, including me. Michael outside on the leeward side gets drenched in a torrent that washed over the boat and I haven't asked what happened to Liss in the Port toilet. We drop ROAM down to 100 degrees apparent wind which puts the swell more on the stern and makes for safer sailing, surfing consistently to 18 knots. So in response to Michael's statement of "Sailing at night is easier" I don't think I would agree. Changes in weather sneak up on you at night, and it takes longer to respond. I think I have gotten over my fear of sailing at night but it does provide some challenges that I am yet to master.
Lesson 2; The world is better without Facebook and Instagram. I would hate to add up the hours I have wasted on those two. After 3 weeks in some of the most amazing places in Tasmania, without mobile reception, you realise how much time you have for; reading, playing music, talking, or just looking at all the awesomeness that exists all around us every day. I'm not saying they are not useful and without them the number of people to see our films would probably consist of our extended families and Michael's boat building friends but when I am back in the real world I will endeavour to use them less.
Perhaps it is just the South West of Tassie, but it seems that everyone we meet has been living on a boat for 20 years or more. If you are not part of the cruising community you would never know they exist, they keep to themselves, avoid civilisation, raise children on their boats, and travel the world in the most amazing way while seeing the best of it. Like Jack and Jude, who wrote an Australian cruising guide, you can find here . We came across them deep into the bush up the Gordon River where they spend about a month a year re-discovering old logging tracks. Most cruisers are highly educated, and always enjoy a good chat over a beer/wine/whisky/rum/etc.
There is an amazing sunset or sunrise nearly every day. It is now 5:30 am and the sun is just starting to sneak up over Woolnorth, behind me the full moon is still high in the sky. The light pastels are starting to stretch towards the bright moon. Michael is wrong, just a little daylight makes sailing much easier ... atleast to me.