Monday 14 October 2019

Coffs Harbour to Noumea New Caledonia Voyage

Monday 19 August 2019, Coffs Harbour
At 10:30 Kathy and I rowed ashore from the courtesy mooring just outside the marina, armed with our passports and new ships documents. After conducting a search around the marina building we discovered a set of stairs leading up to the customs office. We were greeted by the border force official with "ah you must be off Ambler". They had a great view over the harbour from their office and were expecting us. There were of course forms to fill out and a few lengthy phone calls from the officer in regard to how he was to handle our very new passports. Once clearance was completed we rowed back to Ambler, lashed the dinghy on the deck then had an early lunch. We let the mooring go at noon with a calculated 859 nautical mile voyage to the Amedee Pass at the outer reef of New Caledonia ahead of us. Once clear of the outer harbour breakwater we set sail (a mainsail with 1 reef and a full headsail) in an 18 knot south easterly which soon built and veered to the south to over 20 knots. We took a second reef to better balance the boat in the rough sea. At 16:00 the sea was quite boisterous as we were passing over the continental shelf. All of a sudden the headsail sheets fell to the deck and the headsail began flogging wildly. We soon realised the webbing holding the stainless clew ring had parted company with the sail so we furled the headsail and lashed it to prevent it unwinding. We then unfurled the staysail and set it while we assessed our options. We could have returned to Coffs but the 21 miles we had come would have taken a lot longer (working to windward) than the 4 hours it took to get to this point. We decided to push on as we were still making good speed and we would deal with the headsail once the conditions abated. We carried this sail configuration through the night.

Tuesday 20 August
We shook out the 2nd reef in the mainsail at 07:40 as the wind had eased to a southerly of 15 knots. We felt a bit underpowered at this point but the sea was still randomly breaking across the foredeck.
Our noon to noon mileage was 131, which isn't bad for a bird with a broken wing. The sea and wind had subsided enough, so we unfurled and lowered the Genoa. Ian Short had originally built the sail in 1999 and had put a big stainless eyelet through many 10oz sailcloth layers and that had served well for 17 years. Back in 2016 the sailcloth was noticeably soft and fraying around the perimeter of this eyelet, so the eyelet was cut out and a new stainless ring was laced in using webbing that was then sewn onto the multiple layers of cloth by a sail maker in New Zealand. We started sewing new straps on by hand but it would have taken us ages as we had trouble getting the needle to penetrate the layers of cloth and webbing, so thinking of the great service that the original ring provided, we instead decided to punch and islet 9 new 10mm holes through the sail fabric radiating from the ring. We then laced the stainless clew ring onto the sail via some 4mm cord tied through all these new holes. We dragged the sail forward then hoisted it again at 13:30 and imediately set the pole to run wing and wing with a full main.
Unfortunately the wind continued to abate during the evening and we were left with a confused sea and not enough breeze to keep steerage way so at 20:00 we decided to motor which would also recharge the batteries as the cloudy conditions today hadn't helped our solar panel's capabilities. An hour and a half later we reset the sails to a light north westerly and a calmer sea.

Wednesday 21 August
The seas continued to abate with a westerly of 15 knots at midnight and it was was pleasant sailing for the first time on the passage. By noon we had covered 127 nautical miles in the last 24 hours. The westerly built up to over 20 knots during the afternoon and we had 3/4 of a headsail set on the pole and 1 reef in the main which we carried through to after midnight.

Thurday 22 August
At 01:30 we lowered the pole and unfurled the headsail as the wind had decreased a bit and veered to the north west. We were beam reaching in 15 knots through to just before noon when the wind began to build again. At noon our daily run was 157 and we had 2 reefs in the mainsail and a full headsail. At sunset we decided to lower the mainsail as the wind was predicted to rise further. I then felt something hit me in the back, I turned around then looked down, it was a flying fish at my feet in the cockpit, I sent him back to the Dorados which may have been giving chase at the time. The sea and wind continued building as we furled away some headsail through to 22:30 when a south west change at up to 30 knots hit with a cold rain squall (perhaps a farewell gift from Tassie).

Friday 23 August
The cold south westerly with a few accompanying squalls remained with us through to the afternoon as we continued sailing with a reduced headsail. We had covered 154 nautical miles noon to noon. The wind began to back to the south and moderate allowing us to open more headsail to suit the conditions. At 22:00 a glow was seen on the horizon directly in front of us. This soon became a row of square lights which looked strangely like a house. I altered course 20 degrees to keep a safe distance and made a call on the radio three times before getting a response. It turned out to be an Asian fishing vessel and he confirmed there were no other fishing vessels in the area.

Saturday 24 August
As the wind was forecasted to back further to the east on Sunday, we altered course to steer more to the south of our lay line. We were sailing still with a reduced headsail which we were able to unroll completely by dawn, we then raised a mainsail with 2 deep reefs at 09:15 as the wind had eased further in strength. We were then close reaching in a warm south easterly. At noon our daily run was 133 nautical miles. Our battery power had suffered due to the lack of sun on our solar array so we deployed our tow generator. Basically it is a propellor on a shaft attatched to a 30 metre rope which spins a permanent magnet motor mounted on the aft railing, this is wired in to a regulator to put power back into our batteries. At 13:30 we raised the full main. The wind direction continued backing through the night and at midnight we had the sails sheeted in hard going to windward.

Sunday 25 August
The breeze continued easing in strength and it became dificult to keep the sails from backing as we went over the large swells from the south. We had to do some motoring in the light conditions before dawn to help. At 07:30 with more breeze, we engaged our Fleming windvane "Kev" and he managed to adjust the course over each swell a lot better than we could. He sought out and followed all the wind shifts too as we got ever closer to New Caledonia. At noon our daily run was 129 nautical miles with just 40 to go to the Amedee Pass. We then had to put a reef in the main and added another reef half an hour later to keep the boat balanced as we worked to windward in 20 knots. On Kathy's watch the clouds on the horizon ahead of us began to look like land during the afternoon . So she gets the icecream. We advanced the time 1 hour at 1600 to agree with New Caledonia time. We found Kev had done a marvelous job getting us directly to Dumbea Pass at 20:30 even though we had originally intended to enter via Amedee Pass which was further to windward. There were enough lights to guide us in on this seconday pass so we disconnected Kev and entered. Once inside the reef the wind abated rapidly so we decided to continue under motor through the marked reef chanels and entered Port Moselle, Noumea and found a convenient empty mooring just before midnight local time. We had covered 56 nautical miles since noon.

In total we had covered 885 miles in 6 days and 10.5 hours with an average of 5.7 knots.

Monday 26 August, Noumea
First thing in the morning we hoisted the anchor up from the forepeak with a halyard and re fitted it to the chain (which hangs from a hook in a rubber bung blocking the spurling pipe when we are at sea) and moved off to anchor nearby. We launched the dinghy and made our way to the three offices of Customs, Immigration and Quarantine. The latter was closed between 9am and 12:15pm for morning tea. So we had a wobbly wander around town and found our favourite pattisiere that sold chocolate croissants. After lunch we revisited the Quarantine office who organised us to go alongside the marina for inspection and final clearance at 14:30. We then moved back to anchor and began the big clean up and wash down of salt over the next 3 days between trips ashore to replenish supplies, stretch the legs and explore.

Sunday 29 September 2019

Port Stephens to Coffs Harbour

Sat 20 July to Mon 12 August 2019 Port Stephens
In Port Stephens we caught up with friends and family members. My sister Janice and husband Daniel were up doing some work on their house on top of Wanda Wanda Head and we anchored nearby to visit them. We also kayaked along a fair bit of the shoreline and found another Cape Barren Goose called Wybalena on a mooring at the entrance to North Arm. Nearby is Fame Cove which has some courtesy moorings and is almost land locked by a native bush reserve with lots of bird life.
We did a lot of day sailing and testing of the new cable steering connected to the Fleming wind vane, it was like magic. We bought some plywood and made some more vanes as the lightweight plastic ones that it came with are reported to be a bit too light by friends that have used the Fleming wind vane. Also we were visited by pods of dolphins many times during our stay. They are permanent residents in the port and there are around seven charter boats that fill with tourists, from all parts of the world who arrive by bus daily.
We weathered a big blow during our stay and chose to tie alongside the public wharf again for protection for 6 nights. Even the large dolphin spotter boats found manoeuvring difficult in the strong winds and seas and their customers on return, looked relieved to be back on land.
We summited Yakaaba head with friends Andy and Narelle which was a great day outing as it involved a big drive around the port to Tea Gardens then a walk along the beach to the base of the climb. A very good track leads to the summit where there are some ruins, perhaps from one of the world wars. It would have made an ideal lookout post as the views of the coastline north and south are extensive. On Monday evening the four of us found the local club and enjoyed a big dinner of roast lamb and baked potatoes and all the trimmings, delicious.

Tue 13 - Wed 14 August Port Stephens to North Haven
On a good forecast it was time to head north again. We departed at 09:30 and made our way towards the entrance of Port Stephens with just the head sail deployed as we had a 15 knot south westerly. Once clear of Yakaaba Head we set the mainsail as well and poled the head sail to run wing and wing. We ran with this configuration until 19:00 when a shift to an 8 knot westerly took over. The breeze then went north westerly at the same strength just before midnight. We were able to keep this breeze, close reaching through to our destination arriving off the Camden Haven River at 05:00. As the conditions were ideal in a few more hours to enter with the tide, we hove to until first light and got under way with the engine on at 06:20. The bar way was smooth and we came to anchor off the North Haven boat ramp at 06:40. We had covered 78 nautical miles in 22 hours.
In North Haven we caught up with good friends Phil and Cheryl who had been collecting our mail, including Ambler's new shipping registration papers from Canberra. We also topped up with LPG and diesel from the nearby service station. We stayed Thursday and Friday and did a drive to Port Macquarie for some more provisions too. We had spotted a good weather window developing next week for a voyage departing customs at Coffs Harbour to Noumea, New Caledonia. I phoned Customs also now known as Australian Border Force at Coffs Harbour to give them advance notice of our departure, they would let us depart as early as Monday if the conditions remained favourable.

Sat 17 - Camden Haven River to Coffs Harbour
We weighed anchor at 07:00 and found the bar way smooth again for an easy exit. Once at sea we set sail with a 10 knot north westerly which we made use of through to midday. We sighted whales off Port Macquarie and we came closer into the beach to escape the southerly setting current again. Along this leg we experimented with the new plywood wind vane blades and gained some more experience with different steering settings in the light breeze.
We were expecting a southerly change during the day and it came around noon when abeam of Point Plomer. We turned into the strong breeze and dropped the mainsail then turned back on course allowing the 25 knots to fill the head sail and pull us north. At 14:40 we were abeam of Korogoro Point where the current against wind was standing up the seas making for a great ride as we surfed along. Also enjoying the conditions were numerous humpback whales which were all travelling south with the current, they were leaping right out of the water into the wind and crashing back down in the waves. It was a spectacular sight and fortunately no whales came too close to us this time.
Just after dark the strong southerly eased off and turned south west allowing the mainsail to be re hoisted and the head sail to be poled out. We carried this configuration through until 23:30 when we altered course to enter Coffs Harbour. We came to anchor near the south west corner of the bay right on midnight. We had covered 89 nautical miles in 17 hours.

Sun 18 - Coffs Harbour
After dawn we weighed anchor and moved over to a courtesy mooring next to the jetty. We had breakfast then went ashore to check out the markets in the nearby park. There were plenty of fresh fruit and vegies so we stocked up on a few good bargains. We then caught a bus into Coffs and found the main supermarkets open as well. We completed the list of products we needed for the voyage ahead. The next bus back was another hour away so we decided to walk back to the boat following the bush track next to the creek, appreciating the birds and smells of the bush. We spent the rest of the day preparing Ambler for sea.

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Eden to Port Stephens

Tues 21 May 2019 - We weighed anchor at 06:10 from our comfortable Eden anchorage, the forecast looked perfect for an overnight passage north along the coast to Ulladulla. We had to motor on and off while a westerly breeze petered out until 11:30. Then a south easterly filled in at about 8 knots. We took advantage of this breeze by hoisting our half ounce spinnaker with a full mainsail and we carried this through to sunset abeam of Bermagui. The breeze then veered south then south westerly at still less than 10 knots which would carry us through the night to Ulladulla with our genoa and full main.

Wed 22 May - We arrived on the leads of Ulladulla harbour at 06:00 where we dropped sails and fired up the perkins to enter, guided by a single dolphin in our bow wave. We found an anchorage spot just inside the northern breakwater and had breakfast. The fees for even tying up for the day were exorbitant and many warning signs for doing so were observed along the vacant wharves in the outer harbour. The plan for the day was to catch up with my sister Christine and Nic who live nearby. They joined us, via a short dinghy ride from the public boat ramp, for the morning and brought along a delicious quiche for lunch and fresh greens from their garden. The pelican population of the harbour were all present in the area, each occupying its own pole, waiting for the return of the many trailer fishing boats that we saw exiting before first light. We weighed anchor at 13:15 and exited the harbour then set sail in a 10 knot south easterly bound for Jervis Bay. The afternoon sailing conditions were enjoyable and we arrived at the entrance at 17:30 then sailed south to a public mooring located at the "Hole in the wall" bay.

Thur 23 May - We launched the kayaks and paddled along the shoreline then circumnavigated spectacular Bowen Island which forms the southern part of Jervis Bay entrance. The sheer sea cliffs of the east face rise to the north cut off by the entrance and the land slopes from the top of the cliffs down to the western shoreline. The island is a nature reserve and it is prohibited to land according to the many signs. The water was crystal clear and we could see the bottom for most of the paddle.

Fri 24 May - We sailed off the mooring and headed over to Huskisson where we picked up another courtesy mooring just off the mouth of Broughton Creek. We then explored the township via a short dinghy trip to the shore.

Sat 25 May - Broughton creek beckoned so we launched the kayaks and headed many kilometres upstream with the tide. We could have kept going but we would have had to camp ashore overnight.

Sun 26 to Tue 28 May - were spent aboard here on the protected courtesy mooring where it blew off the land from the north west.

Wed 29 May - The wind was due to come in from the south west so we motored the short distance to another courtesy mooring off Vincentia, then went ashore to reprovision for the voyage north tomorrow.

Thur 30 May - At 07:00 we hoisted sail, dropped the mooring and sailed with just our head sail out through the entrance then turned North with another yacht, Mojo from the Tamar River. The wind picked up to 25 knots from the west by the time we were abeam of the drum and drumsticks. Here two small grey coloured whales popped up right beside us for a breath. We had to furl the to half a head sail when we cleared the headland to turn north west towards Seven Mile Beach. The plan being to keep the waves from building and to stay inshore of the southerly set current. We unfurled the head sail off Geroa as the breeze moderated but left the main sail bagged for the rest of the voyage to Wollongong. We motored in and came alongside Ven Lee, a friends charter fishing boat. We took Mojo's lines to tie up to another fishing vessel in front of us.

Fri 31 May - We caught up with a few friends who dropped by and we walked to the local outdoor store and supermarket.

Sat 1 June - A southerly was blowing around 25 knots so we left Wollongong Harbour for a brisk sail to Sydney with a reefed main and full genoa poled wing and wing. Brisk it was and we arrived in the harbour and headed to another courtesy mooring this time near the middle harbour yacht club. We caught up with some friends on their boat here and stayed overnight.

Sun 2 June - A gale with rain was predicted over the next few days so we headed through the spit bridge and sailed to Crag Cove to anchor until Thursday. We had a few excursions ashore over the next few days and also walked to Chatswood for some fresh provisions.

Thur 6 June - We weighed anchor and sailed to Bantry Bay in the morning, picked up a courtesy mooring and went ashore to explore the bush tracks in the area, including some rock engraving sites and followed a very challenging mountain bike trail (by foot).

Fri 7 June - We departed Bantry Bay and motored through the Spit Bridge again to anchor in Farm Cove to experience the Vivid Light show for the night. The evening became extremely uncomfortable as I think every charter boat in Sydney Harbour came in to the bay, around us and back out numerous times until midnight. The lights were good to see but perhaps better viewed from land.

Sat 8 June - We weighed anchor at 08:30 and sailed towards Sydney Heads in a light westerly. Then we had to motor north through the wind shadow of North Head. We set sail again off Manly Beach and continued on north to Broken Bay where we entered at 13:30 then motored south to an anchorage near Scotland Island for a few days.

Mon 10 June - A friend called Jack drove us to the Boat Locker (a second hand boat accessory shop in Warriewood) to pick up an almost new cable steering system for Ambler which I had bought over the phone 6 weeks earlier. This would enable the connection of the Fleming wind vane steering system I had bought second hand and mounted to the transom earlier in the year. The advantage of this new cockpit wheel is it will be mounted to the aft bulkhead of the cockpit and then the wind vane control lines won't effectively cut the small centre cockpit in half like a conventional pedestal mounted wheel does. We weighed anchor at 14:10 and began a cruise over the next 5 days exploring the many bays, creeks and anchorages of Broken Bay.

Fri 14 June - With a spring tide high enough in the evening we were able to con Ambler into Mullet Creek to an anchorage adjacent to Wondabyne train station. We began the hour long journey at an hour and a half before high water and arrived in the dark at 17:50 to anchor in 6 metres of water with 30 metres of chain out. On the way upstream we ran over a bouyant poly pipeline on the surface across the channel which we managed to roll over succesfully and also avoided some yellow buoyed silt screening that was set up adjacent to some rock walling that was being done by the railways to protect their infrastructure.

Sat 15 to Sun 30 June - We accomplished many jobs aboard such as fitting the steering and servicing the engine. There were many trips by train to pick up extra supplies for these tasks and visiting both our relatives in Sydney and the Central Coast.

Mon 1 July - The exit on another spring tide was accomplished in the dark and we got under way at 18:00. A mention to the local waterways officer during our stay in regard to the obstructions we encountered on the way upstream had payed off, he said he would have a word to the workmen. We found the channel clear this time and negotiated the barway entrance to the creek with 0.2 of a metre under keel clearance.

Tue 2 to Thur 18 July - was spent again cruising around Broken Bay, Cowan Creek and Pittwater. We spent a fair bit of time testing the steering system between bushwalks and kayaking in Kuringai Chase National Park. We had decided to correct some errors in the Australian ship registration papers that had crept in during the transfer from the British ship register in 1988. The length of Ambler should have been 11.30 instead of 10.50 and the tonnage measurement is not required on a pleasure yacht which can cause extra charges levied as a cargo vessel in foreign ports when calculating port fees and charges due. A new plaque had to be made and statutory declarations witnessed which we were able to have done and posted away prior to leaving the bay. The new ship's papers were granted free of charge and would be posted to a friends place in Camden Haven in a few weeks time.

Fri 19 July - At 04:15 We let go the mooring in Coasters Retreat, Pittwater and motored towards the entrance to Broken Bay where we picked up a light westerly breeze and set sail for Port Stephens. We sailed along close to the shore to avoid the southerly set (current). Just off Swansea we were rewarded with two humpback whales suddenly surfacing just off the starboard bow for a breath then they resurfaced alongside us on the port side for their second breath, then just astern for their third before kicking up their tails for a deeper dive. That was way too close!
Just off Newcastle we altered course for Port Stephens and were able to set the sails wing and wing as the breeze had changed to a south westerly. After sunset the breeze started fading and we started the Perkins an hour and a half later when we were off the headland of Point Stephens due to the lumpy backwash sea and what little breeze there was, just wasn't enough to shape the sails to create any drive. We entered the port and headed to Shoal Bay to anchor at 21:00 guided by our friends on Mojo who lit up their deck lights to help guide us into the anchorage. Distance travelled 82.5nm.

Sat 20 July - It was a bit rolly during the night but we slept well after yesterdays long day sail. We weighed anchor at 09:30 and went alongside the free visitors wharf in Nelson Bay where there is enough space to moor 4 vessels under 12 metres in length. We met up with an old sailing friend Andy and his partner Narelle who had just settled in town around 3 months ago. Andy had bought a dental practise and with Narelle as the practise manager, has taken on the challenge of fixing as many of the locals teeth as possible (and a few blow ins like myself) to get them all smiling at each other again.

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Hobart then North to Eden

Friday 5 April - We stayed anchored at Prosser Bay on Tasmania's East Coast near Triabunna ticking off more jobs on board. On Sunday we weighed anchor and sailed 25nm through to Dunnalley via Marion Bay Bar. The keel came close to the bottom a few times but we made it through.

Mon 8 April - We waited at Dunnalley for slack water which came at 1300 and then passed through the swing bridge at the Denison Canal. We then sailed 7nm to anchor at Monk Bay and waited a few days there at anchor while a front passed over.

Wed 10 April - We sailed at 7.30 around to the Iron Pot which marks the mouth of the Derwent River. We crossed the Derwent River and entered the Dentrecasteau Channel and turned south. We had a mixed bag of wind directions and wind speeds up to 25 knots which gave us a good work out winching, tacking, reefing and hauling sails about. We were bound for Cygnet but had to give up when we arrived at the Huon River mouth as it got dark. We anchored in Randalls Bay having covered 54nm in 11 hours.

Thurs 11 April - We motored 6nm in the calm reflective water to Cygnet where we caught up with a sailor friend Susanne and also met some local sailors at the yacht club over the next 4 days.

Mon 15 April - We departed Cygnet for some cruising in the Channel and anchored overnight at Randalls Bay again, Snake Island, Kettering and then caught up with friends on Wild Goose and Snow Petrel 2 at Gentleman's Corner and the Duckpond over Easter.

Tues 23 April - We departed the Duckpond for Hobart and arrived to anchor in Cornelian Bay 25nm later. The weather didn't look too promising over the next week. So we booked a week at the Prince of Wales Bay marina to try and get our windvane and steering system sorted out.

Wed 24 April - We sailed 3nm to the marina where we actually ended up staying two weeks ticking off jobs and catching up with friends and family.

Tues 7- Fri 10 May - We sailed from the marina and spent nights at Cornellian Bay, Hobart visitors dock, Sandy Bay and King George Sound visiting friends.

Sat 11 May - We again transited the Denison Canal and anchored off Rheban for two days on the east coast opposite Maria Island.

Mon 13 May - We sailed 7nm around to Prosser Bay.

Tue 14 May - With a good forecast ahead we weighed anchor at 00:30 and motored into Mercury Passage to pick up the south westerly change that had just rolled over us. We were soon running wing and wing before it. We passed to the south of Schouten Island and at 07:00 we were east of Freycinet Peninsula where we watched the granite mountains turn from a deep purple to pink as the sun rose. We adjusted our course to Cape Howe on the NSW/ Victorian border.
At noon we had covered 65nm but had to motor from 11:00 to 16:00 through a wind shadow of the NE coast of Tassie, as per the forecast. Once north of this area the westerly was to fill in as we arrived east of Banks Strait. Indeed it did but the sea became really rough in only 10 knots from the west. On examining our position we were passing over the continental shelf where a strong southerly current met a southerly swell and a westerly wind wave. (The direction of wind, swell and waves are described as coming from, whereas currents are descibed as going to). We altered course to stay west of the shelf until the wind abated.

Wed 15 May - Unfortunately the wind built to 30 knots from the west through to 02:00. We had half a headsail and no mainsail at this point. The seas were crashing over us from beam on and we were thankful to be in a sturdily built 70's model where the deck is just as strong as the hull. It needed to be. The wind and seas began to abate at first light and soon after we unfurled the headsail completely. At 10:00 we raised the mainsail with 2 reefs. At 16:00 we shook a reef out and at 22:00 we raised the full main.

Thur 16 May - At 00:00 we had just 10 knots from the west, then 10 knots north west at 08:00 with Cape Howe in sight. At 10:30 we were abeam of the cape with less than 5 knots and batteries that needed charging, so on with the Perkins for a few hours until a north easterly filled in. We arrived at Eden at 17:30 and went alongside the wharf briefly to wash the encrusted salt from Ambler with a fire hose then off to anchor nearby. The distance covered was 367 nm in 65 hours. Our average speed was 5.6 knots.

Friday 17th through to Monday 20th May was spent washing and drying all clothing and gear affected by the Bass Srait crossing.

The next installment is coming soon, who knows we might even catch up to where we are now in New Caledonia.

Wayne and Kathy

Tuesday 2 April 2019

The Major Refit

Over the 2 years, 2017-2018, Kathy and Wayne have completed a major refit on Ambler.
The Perkins (4108) 4 cylinder diesel auxiliary engine had to be extracted for a rebuild. Also to be extracted was the massive rusty steel ring frame built into the boat which supports the mast and rigging loads via the chainplates.

Ambler was slipped at Tamar Marine's boatyard, Launceston. A crane was organised to lift out the 450kg mast, which was then lowered and stored on 5 wood pallets placed on the chandlery roof (thanks Tim). Then it was a matter of unbolting the steel ring frame from the chainplates and structural beams that connect the rigging loads through to 2 main bulkheads and the hull itself. Two 1 inch plywood load bearing beams also had to be cut to allow the frame to be lifted. A chain hoist was then set up over the mast hole in the deck and about a ton of load was applied before the beam began to move off its over 40 year old bed. It was then a matter of maneuvering it around towards the front hatch. We made an A frame hoisting rig on the foredeck to ease out the 80kg steelwork in one piece then slipped it overboard and into Phil's ute. A trip to Val's at Beaconsfield for a new stainless (Bling Frame) to be made using the old crusty as a template. The reinstallation went well and the bolts through the beam married up well to the chaiplates and plywood beams that spread the loads throughout the hull. Two new 1 inch plywood panels were shaped and epoxied in where the previous cuts had to be made, then drilled and bolted to the . The mast was then craned back in.

For the engine extraction a hatch was cut in the cockpit floor and fabricated to allow access to and removal of the oily, smokey Perkins. The engine was lifted out then bolted to a modified engine work stand to enable the engine to be stripped completely in the cockpit. Four different companies in Launceston were used to rebuild the disassembled various bits then all was reassembled again in the cockpit, painted bright yellow, so any future issues of fluid can be identified early and rectified. Then the engine was lowered into position and the hatch re sealed. New sound proofing was installed and a rebuild and rewire of the battery compartment was done as well.

The hull was antifouled then Ambler relaunched and towed by the 8ft (2hp) dinghy to Tim's mooring for the recommissioning of the Perkins. All went well and we motored back downstream to Ambler's mooring at Deviot.
We also spent a lot of time replacing the old copper electrical wire for tinned copper as I had found a few had heated and one smouldered due to terminal corrosion. The main cabin roof was insulated with foam mat and a new roof liner material called Digi Foam was installed for cold climate voyages ahead.
We also had some mountain biking adventures over the two years with many weekend rides at the Blue Derby tracks. We also got away for some MTB touring around the NE corner of Tas and a 2 week ride from Melbourne to Adelaide along backroads, railtrail, farmland, national parks and desert.
Plans of another voyage were made and Kathy had a 2 year leave without pay application approved. I also officially retired having reached 60 in 2018.

Early this year Ambler was slipped at the Tamar Yacht Club for 10 days from 8th February. A Fleming windvane steering system and a new Lowrance echo sounder and transducer was fitted along with the usual scrub and antifoul.

We moved on board Ambler on Wednesday 24 Feb and sold the Toyota van on the 26th leaving us free to sail. We spent all of March cruising the Tamar while we worked on the various chores and stowage to get Ambler ready for sea.

We departed the Tamar River on Monday 1st of April 2019 at 1030 bound for Hobart. With SW15 easing to near calm before a 10 knot NE filled in then backed to NW 10 as we passed Swan Islet before midnight. We passed Eddystone point at 0530 with a light W of 6 knots. A Northerly of 15 knots filled in just north of Bicheno which we made good use of arriving to anchor in Wineglass Bay at 1830 having covered 180nm since the Tamar River.

Wed 3rd April we departed picturesque but rolly Wineglass Bay next morning and sailed 12nm in through Schouten Passage to anchor at Morey's Bay.

Thur 4th we left Morey's Bay Shouten Island and sailed 25nm to Prosser Bay near Triabunna.

Continuing blog updates on the next post soon.

Wednesday 18 January 2017

The last leg home to Launceston, Tasmania

After arriving in Camden Haven on Friday the 4th November we anchored in the river opposite the village of North Haven. It was a short row ashore and then 100 metres from the dinghy pontoon lived Wayne's good friend and childhood neighbour Phil and his wife Cheryl.

We spent a week anchored off North Haven and enjoyed the picturesque beauty of this coastal town surrounded by bushland. In fact from seaward the only building visible was the local surf club and the man made breakwaters. It was refreshing to find this region developed within the natural bush environment. The only way to take in the ocean view was to walk or ride to the end of the breakwater or to the beach.

We explored the waterways by kayak and one afternoon spent half an hour under a bridge in the backwash of the pylons watching a mother dolphin and calf diving around catching fish. Another day we borrowed Phil's car to drive to Port Macquarie.

On the 11th November we departed with the high tide and sailed with the gentle 10 to 15 knot breeze all day and arrived off Port Stephens as the wind began building. We sailed through the passage between Tomaree and Yacaaba Heads then anchored off Jimmy's Beach, at 0200 Saturday. After a sleep in we sailed further upstream to anchor off Pindimar to explore the area via kayak over the next few days. Another couple of days were spent tied up at the public wharf at Nelsons Bay, which allowed us some extended day walks. We met a family of grey kangaroos that were in the park at the end of the main street. We also explored some bush tracks and summited Tomaree for the expansive view.

After a week of exploring Port Stephens we departed on a favourable forecast for the long day sail to Broken Bay. We arrived in the bay as the sun was setting and the anchor went down at last light near Juno Point. The next morning we motored up to the entrance of Mullet Creek near Brooklyn to sound our way over a barway on the last of the spring high tides. We made it in with just 0.2 metres of water under the keel. An hour later we dropped anchor across from Wondabyne train station in 6 metres of water. The anchor was firmly set as we planned to base ourselves here for a month or so to visit our families and Sydney friends.

Wondabyne station is on the Northern rail line and is only long enough for the rear doors of the rear carriage to pull up alongside. There is approximately one train per hour that is timetabled to stop at the station if required. The creek is more like a bay here and there are some shacks around the waterfront and a few moored boats, the shack and boat owners enjoy this waterway and surrounding national park when they visit by train or boat. We enjoyed approximately a month in Mullet Creek exploring the area by kayak as well as a few walks along the Great North Walk track. We spent many days visiting friends and relatives in Sydney and the Central Coast.

We made it out of Mullet Creek on another high spring tide and headed to Pittwater to spend a day anchored in Careel Bay.  The next day with a good weather window, we continued our voyage south. We arrived late afternoon in Wollongong Harbour then set out at 5am the next morning. The next night we anchored in Jervis Bay. Then it was a shorter voyage to Ulladulla for a night. The next stop was Twofold Bay, Eden as the weather wasn't suitable to continue across Bass Strait. Here we actually stayed for a week before getting a good weather window of more than 48 hours.

While waiting in Twofold Bay, we moved between two anchorages, Boyd Bay and Snug Cove, depending on the wind direction. We explored the Kiah River by kayak and also walked to Eden and along the foreshore tracks. We also caught up with a good friend Bob on his yacht Sylph IV who had recently returned from a multi year voyage encompassing Japan, Alaska, Canada, USA, Mexico then across the Pacific back to Australia.

The required weather window arrived at last and we set out on the 23rd December at 0200 and cleared the NSW coast by 0800. We lost sight of land in the afternoon and sailed on the gentle breeze overnight towards the northern end of Flinders Island. It wasn't until the following afternoon that we saw land just half a mile away as the fog had been getting thicker all day. We altered course to pass through Sisters Passage and again to pass along the stunning shoreline of Flinders Island in the vicinity of Mt Killiecrankie. We talked of a future plan to sea kayak around the islands of the Furneau Group.

The engine was put to use as the breeze had died to a whisper once the sun had risen on Christmas Day. We motored onward and passed the Low Head lighthouse then entered the Tamar River just as the tide turned in our favour. We had just crossed our outbound track just 6 days short of 2 years away and just over 9,300 nautical miles under our keel.

Saturday 5 November 2016

Arrived Coffs Harbour

We arrived at Coffs Harbour at 09:30 on the 1st November 2016 and were able to pick up a courtesy mooring outside the marina area to await Customs clearance (now called Australian Border Force).

Over the last 24 hours of the passage we experienced very strong winds and a cold front which, along with the numbers of ships around us, left us feeling exhausted.

The formalities were completed and we were declared termite free. So this 41 year old vessel has still been able to outrun the infestations of termites that must, by the sounds of it, be rampant through a fair number of vessels made of or containing wood.

We have since sailed to and anchored in the Camden Haven River.

All is well surrounded by the smell of the eucalypts again.

Wayne and Kathy