Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Climbing Mount Amos

Tasmania isn't known for its settled weather (we are in the Roaring Forties, next stop Antarctica, after all) but, after our welcoming gales, we've had a few days of beautifully sunny and calm conditions. We took full advantage of it to climb Mount Amos in the Freycinet National Park. The signs at the bottom of the track warned of significant safety risks, a poorly marked track over boulders and smooth rock slopes and some strenuous and steep ascents but it was worth it for the views!

The rocky mount dominates the north side of Wineglass Bay

At the first viewpoint on the lower slopes

On the smooth rock face of the higher slopes. There are warnings not to attempt the climb in wet weather because these areas become very tricky.

The rock surface shines - it's not wet, it's the calcification caused by rainwater cascading down it. 

An improbably-balanced boulder. Coles Bay is below.

Some narrow gullies had to be climbed (this was one of the easier ones).

Team Maunie at the summit

It was a long hot day but so worth the effort. Dianne kept the severity of a toe injury from us (she stubbed it as we landed the dinghy on the beach) and hiked through the pain - it looked an interesting colour when she finally took her walking boots off!

and this little piggy went "Ow, Ow, Ow, all the way home!"

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Photos from the passage to Tasmania

Here are a few photos of the voyage across the Bass Strait which we hope convey an decent idea of what it was like. Thanks to Suzie Glac for her photos:

Relaxed motor-sailing (Photo: SG)

Sunset with Albatross (Photo: SG)
Graham & Roald preparing the Irish Flag spinnaker (Photo: SG)

The Irish Flag flying (Photo: SG)

Suzie serving up lunch - chicken and Mexican salad wraps

Suzie and Roald kitted up for the wild weather as we approached Wineglass Bay; Dianne checking the chart plotter
Graham getting the odd face-full of water at the helm

The seas quickly built up

... to about 4 metres
Spray flying (Photo: SG)

...and even more so! (Photo: SG)

Beginning to find some shelter from the 40+ knot gusts as we approached the Bay
Thankfully the gale abated quite quickly and we were treated to the sight of a pod of dolphins cruising among the anchored boats in the evening:

 he following morning the scene was even more tranquil:
The anchorage in calm and sunny conditions (Photo: SG)
After a decent night's sleep we felt ready to climb the rocky hills overlooking the bay for some superb views - photos to follow soon. Tasmania is such a stunning place!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Arrived safely in Tasmania

The final night of the passage saw some great sailing, first with the Irish Flag spinnaker and then reefed-down white sails.
Unfortunately we didn't quite beat the SW wind as it came through a bit earlier than forecast so we had a very entertaining (and wet) beat in for the last two hours (35 knots which a couple of huge katabatic down-squalls from the cliffs) to a really beautiful bay. The rather confused sea meant that a lot of water over the deck (and crew!). We've done a YIT update https://www.yit.nz/yacht/maunieofardwall to show our location.
Having consumed a very welcome bacon rolls and salad brunch, we are looking forward to catching up on some sleep then getting the dinghy out to explore ashore; there's some wonderful walking to be done here. Photos to follow when we get better internet.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

On passage to Tasmania

We left Eden at 06.00 yesterday morning in perfect conditions – blue sky and calm sea, No wind, unfortunately, but the Bass Strait has a reputation for bad weather so we were happy to take a day's motoring at the start. at 20.00 last night the breeze filled in from the NE, we hoisted the Parasailor and had a brilliant 6 hour run into the night, with about a knot of tidal assistance. Things got pretty rolly at 02.00 this morning as the tide changed so we reverted to white sails and are currently going a bit too slowly for our liking; a strong westerly is forecast for tomorrow and we'd like to be under the lee of Tasmania (or better still anchored in Wineglass Bay) before it arrives.
We have 2 crew for the trip – Suzie (with whom we sailed on Kiapa from Fiki to NZ a couple of years ago) and her partner Roald who is a very keen Dutch yachtsman. Four aboard makes for very nice 2 hours on, 6 hours off night watches!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Photos from Eden - and a recipe to tempt you

Here are some photos from the past few days; though the wind has been pretty variable (gales today) we've had plenty of blue sky and sunshine to enjoy this place.

Running goose-winged down from Jervis Bay, with 2 reefs in the main

The anchorage in East Boyd Bay. Well sheltered from southerly winds, particularly as we tucked close behind the crane barge.
Lovely clear water

We were pretty close to the crane!
On a walk over to the seaward side of the promontory and some stunning rock formations
On the southern point at the entrance to the bay is a curious and imposing tower, built in the 1840's. One Benjamin Boyd came here to make his fortune (he lost it, actually) through farming and whaling and he couldn't resist the temptation to build a town (which he modestly named Boydtown) and a tower that he thought would make a splendid lighthouse:

The tower was built from Pyrmont sandstone, expensively transported by cart from Sydney
Unfortunately the government didn't want it, possibly because the self-promoting Boyd insisted on his name being carved on it at the top!

Can you imagine anyone today being crass enough to name a tower after themselves, with their name emblazoned across the top?
So the tower was used to spot passing whales for the whale hunters to chase but, by the mid 1840's, whale numbers were already in steep decline, possibly because of some unusual help in previous decades. The Whaling Museum in Eden was built in 1934 to house the skeleton of Tom the Killer Whale. He and his black & white friends formed an unlikely partnership with the whalers by driving the sperm whales towards the shore then alerting the men at the whaling stations by slapping their tails on the surface. Tom even used to grab ropes hung from the bows of the oar-driven boats, so the story goes, and tow them out to the kill. 

Once a hunted whale was finally dispatched it would be towed into the bay and anchored for a few hours to let the orcas eat the huge tongue as their reward, leaving the blubber and bones for the whalers to process into valuable oil. Once Tom died, the other orcas didn't come back and the whaling industry declined pretty quickly. Boyd's great enterprise went bust, leaving Boydtown half-completed, and he left to try his luck, again unsuccessfully, in the goldfields of California.

Today East Boyd Bay has some apparently successful industry in the form of a logging mill and whose by-product, wood-chip, is loaded into huge bulk carriers for export to China.

A mountain of wood chip is conveyed along the jetty to the ship

The other jetty in this corner of the bay belongs to the Navy and is used to load ammunition onto ships. HMAS Anzac, a frigate, arrive here this morning.

White Ensigns ahoy! Sofia (Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes) and HMAS Anzac
 And finally, something (possibly) useful on this blog, for once. We discovered this easy recipe and tried it today with success. Take a muffin tray, oil the cups and line them with thin-sliced smoked ham. Add some finely grated cheddar and then crack an egg into each, with some salt and pepper. Bake at 190 degrees C for about 25-30 minutes until the egg is just set and then serve with salad. Easy but tasty.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Resisting Temptation in Eden

We had a brilliant overnight sail down to Eden and are now here, with quite a few other boats, waiting for a reasonable weather window for the 3-day crossing on the notorious Bass Strait to Tasmania. We'll be in the Roaring Forties so it's a passage to be undertaken with some care.

In the meantime we are enjoying the beautiful Twofold Bay which has the little town of Eden at its NW corner. Like Jervis Bay, it requires a Shuffle when the wind changes direction (due to the large expanse of water within the bay) so we've moved a couple of time already and had the chance to do some walking in the Boyd National Park as well as visiting the fascinating Whaling Museum in Eden. Tomorrow a Naval Vessel (as yet unidentified) will moor alongside the jetty near us; it's used to load ammunition onto the ships so we won't be allowed within 500m of it. Photos of this and from the past few days to follow shortly.

Being in Eden means that we are trying hard to avoid temptation. We are on Day 17 of Dry January so don't go near the locker in the aft cabin that holds the wine bottles!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Learning Something New Every Day

One of the highlights of this sailing life is experiencing different things wherever we go. That’s certainly the case on Maunie.

As we explore the delights of Jervis Bay, we appreciate the fact that it’s managed to avoid development mainly as a result of 28 square miles of its shores being transferred to the Commonwealth Government from the NSW Government. This was when Canberra became the capital city and required access to the sea! The Aussie Naval College was built here then transferred to Victoria and before returning to Jervis Bay in 1956. Thankfully as a result of this and a few other reasons the Bay has avoided heavy industry.

While we await a decent weather window to sail down to Eden, we’ve experienced several changes of wind direction over the past few days. Consequently we’ve had to do the 'Jervis Bay Shuffle' to get to a sheltered anchorage / mooring spot.  This isn’t a hardship as we see (and learn) things as we go...

…take yesterday for example:  We were motor sailing up the Bay and I noticed two yellow markers. When I asked Graham what he thought they were for, his reply was along the lines of, “well, you either know it or you don’t”. Now I’m not totally gullible and over the years have become wary of that kind of reply, trying not to walk straight into it – hook, line and sinker! He pointed out an unusual rectangle of submarine cables on the chart and went on to talk about ship degaussing.

Have you heard of that? (Whilst I vaguely recall some process linked to computers, in the positively ancient. pre-LCD days of CRT displays, I hadn’t but maybe that’s because I didn’t pay much attention in Physics classes. Well, in case you’d like to know too, ship degaussing involves a process to demagnetize a ship's hull by producing an opposing magnetic field to make the ship undetectable to magnetic mines. In WWII this was particularly a problem and they installed a degaussing system of heavy current-carrying cables on board the vessel itself. Since then, a more effective and cheaper system has been developed with a submarine cable laid out in a large rectangle/ parallelogram, the ship motors over the area, the magnetic field is activated and the job’s  done. Only thing is that you don’t want to be in the vicinity when this is activated as all Maunie’s instruments would probablygo haywire to say the least. Back to the yellow markers – they signified the corners of such an area and we could see the markers for the submarine cable on shore. There’s very little naval presence in this Bay at the moment however plenty of ships were up in Sydney Harbour and they may well remain there for Australia Day later this month.

As mentioned, Jervis Bay is beautiful and fairly undeveloped so here are a few images to illustrate:

The calm moorings near 'Hole in the Wall' at the south end of Jervis Bay

The excellent, free visitors' mooings are limited to a maximum stay of 24 hours

Point Perpendicular with its hat on
The rigging strewn with gossamer threads of spiders' webs

Take off!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Southbound Again

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.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Dianne's Birthday Fireworks (something to do with New Year too)

Having scoped-out the potential anchorage spots for the New Year's Eve fireworks, all we had to do was to insert Maunie into a suitable, if worryingly small, space. We knew that lots of boats had arrived one or even two days in advance to bag a prime position but Farm Cove is pretty badly affected by the wash from passing ferries so we decided to move round there at 06.30 on the special day. 

Leaving the anchorage, we passed several huge barges loaded up with enormous mortar-launched fireworks inserted into sand-filled metal skips. The evening's entertainment was going to see 7 tonnes of fireworks being set off, across two displays, one at 9.00pm (lasting for 8 minutes) and the grand finale at midnight that would run for 12 minutes. They take their fireworks pretty seriously here!

One of the explosive-laden barges. If that went up accidentally, 30m would not be far enough!
When we arrived at Farm Cove, choosing a good place to anchor was pretty challenging as the wind was both swinging around and increasing in strength so we had to guess where the other boats would lie as conditions settled. Thankfully, we chose well and got a brilliant place only 10m from the main channel exclusion zone so we only had little boats between us and the superb view of the Opera House (about 400m away) and the Harbour Bridge.

a wide-angle shot, taken before many of the 'last minute' boats piled in
The rest of the day was slightly stressful as more and more boats piled into Farm Cove and many of the motor-boaters displayed a complete lack of anchoring skills. 

"I've got my fenders out, I'm coming in!" The driver of this boat looked very surprised when we shouted "NO WAY!" when he was about to drop his anchor 30m directly upwind of us, meaning he'd drift straight back into our boat. He did move elsewhere!
One smaller powerboat tried five times to get his anchor to hold near us and then managed to hit Maunie a glancing blow as he went in for attempt number six. Some choice words (such as 'Put it into reverse NOW and bugger off!') shouted from our foredeck meant that there was no real damage done and, thankfully, the wind dropped to nothing in the early evening.

The little boats between us and the bridge - the yellow marker on the right is the start of the exclusion zone so we couldn't have done much better.

By contrast, the scene ahead of our bow was rather more congested!
As we waited for darkness to fall, we had some great aerobatics to entertain us, though the crowd was disappointed that the plane didn't go under the bridge......

... and, as dusk fell, the light and laser show from the bridge was pretty impressive in itself
 The 9.00pm 'Children's Fireworks' was pretty awesome - with displays from three moored barges above and below the bridge firing in unison. 

There then followed a parade of ships and ferries, all dressed in white rope-lights:

A tall-ship passes under the bridge, with moving images projected onto the bridge pylons
 Finally the wait was over and the midnight display was just the most amazing thing we've ever seen (and heard and felt - the shock-waves of the firework explosions could be felt through the boat). It's very hard to do justice to it with photos but here are three to give you some idea:

An incredible fire 'waterfall' off the roadway of the bridge, whilst further pyrotechnics were fired off the arch

That was definitely a not-to-be-missed moment and we were so lucky to have such a brilliant vantage point. At 1.00am the officials allowed boats to move back into the exclusion zone so most of the small dayboats left (their skippers probably not entirely on the right side of the legal limit for alcohol) meaning that we had a bit more room and so were able to get an undisturbed night's rest.

Happy New Year!