We were sad to leave Sydney Harbour as it's just such a vast and interesting cruising ground but we have to move on. Tasmania is our next goal but, unlike the Sydney - Hobart racers, we're breaking the 620nm voyage down into more manageable chunks so the initial target is Eden, at the southern end of New South Wales.
Before we left we found Boat Books, the best chart and nautical bookshop we have ever seen, to get paper charts (back-up for the electronic versions we carry) and a very good new cruising guide to the east and south coasts of Tassie. It pays to be fully prepared for this trip as the Bass Straight has something of a reputation and it'll take us about 3 days to get there from Eden. Compared to the record-breaking 1 day and 13 hours for the full distance from Sydney the winner of this years race!
So far the southbound movement certainly hasn't broken any records for speed. On Thursday (5th) we sailed only 20 miles, past Botany Bay (where Captain Cook first anchored and now home to Sydney's busy commercial port) and down to the natural harbour of Port Hacking. The pleasant spinnaker sailing was dampened somewhat by drizzly rain, unfortunately. In Port Hacking we made for the small but very friendly Cronulla Marina and ended up spending two nights there because Friday dawned and then just got darker - we had heavy rain and no wind so found the laundrette and did some below-decks boat work.
On Sunday the sun shone, hurrah! However the forecast 15 knot north-easterly wind didn't show up until about midday so we started the 75nm passage to Jervis Bay motoring on a glassy sea.
When the wind did kick in we had a brilliant couple of hours under spinnaker until the wind speed increased and the waves grew to such a size that it was prudent to take it down and revert to white sails. A good decision as, soon after that, we were reefing down and we were experiencing quite a sporty ride as we approached Perpendicular Point, at the northern entrance to Jervis Bay, in lumpy, 2 metre seas.
Jervis Bay is huge - about five miles from north to south - so we then had to reef further and beat up against the gusty wind, waves breaking over the deck, to anchor in relative shelter just off the most northerly beach. A beautiful and unspoilt spot so, with the next day's forecast showing even stronger winds and bigger waves, we decided to spend Sunday here too.
The unplanned day at anchor in pleasant sunshine allowed Graham to do more of his favourite on-going maintenance job. Regular readers will know that our teak deck has become something of a major project - after 19 years the caulking (sealant) between the planks is degrading through the effects of UV so it's a labourious job to cut it out, sand the edge of the planks, clean the surfaces with acetone, mask up with miles of masking tape, seal the sanded edges of the teak with clear epoxy, fill the grooves with expensive caulking sealant, smooth down with a putty knife and then remove the masking tape. If that can all be achieved without covering yourself with sticky black sealant, then it's a bonus.
The water over the deck from Saturday's bumpy sail showed that the last area of patching was a success but smaller drips were coming through the deck in as-yet untouched areas so it was a full day's job.
We reckon there must be about 140 metres of caulking on the deck but the good news is that we have completed about 80% of the job now. The plan is to continue the work over the next month or so; it will be a relief to get that job ticked off the list!
So, this morning the wind will swing to the south for a while so we are about to do what's known as the 'Jervis Bay Shuffle' - moving anchorage to the southern end of the bay because the wind-driven waves will make this spot uncomfortably bouncy. The forecast then suggests the wind will become lighter and from the east to north-east so we plan to do an overnight passage for the 120nm to Eden. We suspect that it'll involve some motor-sailing but the sea state should be benign enough to make it comfortable.