Monday 7 February 2011

Our voyage south to Melbourne started well.  We left Sydney Harbour under sunny skies before a northerly wind. The southerly current was also heading our way with our speed topping 9 and 10 knots for much of the first day.

As we approached Eden, near the Victorian border, we were aware of an approaching SW change accompanied by strong winds, rain and rising seas.  Our choice was to either stop at Eden and sit it out, or make it as far south as possible and then use the wind change to speed us along in a westerly direction, maybe stopping to rest at Refuge Cove at Wilson’s Prom.

In the end we pressed on, observing the lights of Eden off our starboard beam on our way south all the while keeping a good eye out for ships and other vessels.

By Sunday morning, as we worked our way past Gabo Island and south into Bass Strait things began to take a turn for the worst.  Despite our best intentions, our speed had dropped off and we hadn’t made it as far south as planned.  This left us facing an ever-deteriorating situation as we punched on.  As predicted, the wind did indeed get stronger and with it came the rising seas.  Not such a problem when it’s going your way, but this weather was very much on the nose.

We reefed the sails, lashed and stowed everything down, but still it was an uncomfortable ride with horizontal rain and constant sea spray causing us to re-assess our plans; particularly given we faced the prospect of another two days of it.

Then around 9:30 on Sunday morning we made the decision to turn around and head back to Eden; retracing around 90 miles already travelled.

Now running with the wind and seas, the motion of the boat was instantly restored to a calm, steady state.  Speed was pretty good too, but it was still 2:15am on Monday morning before we finally got bed after dropping anchor in the still waters of Twofold Bay, Eden.

The correctness of our decision to return to Eden was reinforced when, in the course of re-setting the sails for the run back up the coast, (with the wind at times gusting 40-50 knots) we discovered that about a metre of stitching in the mainsail – high up near the top of the mast – had come apart and was close to ripping.  In addition, the eyelet in the corner of the jib was held by just the barest of threads and a few flaps away from breaking free of the sheets.   So with the mainsail and jib out of action, it was left to the small staysail to do the work back to Eden, which it did famously.  (The winds were so strong I’m sure a t-towel would have been enough to move us along nicely.)

After a good sleep we awoke this morning to magic sunshine in a snug, still harbour behind the Eden woodchip-mill.  Our big task for the day was to find someone to repair the sails.  This we finally did, (the result of many, many phone calls), and after moving across to the main Eden wharf we were met by local folk Colin and his wife Helena, who own an industrial sewing machine and as the sails were loaded onto the back of their ute they promised to do the best they could and return then tomorrow.

Right now, we are still tied up at the public wharf here in Eden and hope to re-start our journey to Melbourne sometime in the afternoon tomorrow.  The weather forecast is looking good and so if all goes to plan we should arrive in Williamstown on Saturday.

Stay tuned for further details; you’re most welcome to join us aboard for a cuppa when we arrive.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and  resting in Eden.