Till everything stopped

Following the Australia Day long weekend on the water with the Adams10s, it was another of the monthly regattas for the Farr40s. Normally the pattern is 4 races offshore on Saturday, followed by another 4 inside Sydney Harbour on Sunday.

This time however the conditions were against us, it wasn’t as if there was too much wind, rather a lack thereof. It was decided that we’d shift inside on Saturday with the hope of something, however that something wasn’t coming too soon. After talking to each boat, the decision was made to head for the bar, having sat around for over 3 hours.

Inshore Sunday

Racked up after a clean start

Sunday the plan was to get in the 4 races and get some results, once again the AP was hoisted and following an hours delay, a nice little NorEaster came in. The first 3 races were just one lappers in order to get them in, the last race was a standard 2 lapper. So we got in 4 races to make a series at least.

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SailGP in a NorEaster on Sydney Harbour

The following weekend was pretty similar, although the boats were something different this time, SailGP held it’s only Act so far this year. Rather than take over the harbour for the weekend, it was on Friday and Saturday. Saturday, we put the RIB in the water and went out to watch the ‘Old Buffers’ at Middle Harbour16s where my old laser foe, Kev Wadham led all the way on Erics. With a quick unrig, Nathan and Harry jumped aboard and it was off down the harbour to watch the ‘Flying Machines’. Needless to say that section of the harbour was cordoned off giving them free reign. These ‘things’ doing 30+ knots and spinning in a tack are something else up close. I’m glad we had the opportunity, although the TV coverage does provide a lot of technical information and closeups.

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Early morning over Corio Bay Geelong. Cruise ship passenger disembarked at the yacht club.

I was then back on the road south to Geelong, this time for the Geelong Wooden Boat Festival where DeckHardware had a range of Allen, Antal, Forespar, Goldspar and LIROS on the Wooden BoatShop stand. Whilst no where near the size of the Hobart version, the enthusiasm for working with wood was highlighted. There was a race bringing some of the boats from Port Arlington on Saturday and they all dispersed Sunday afternoon. Whilst looking around some of the other stands, there was one fellow steaming timber to bend and it brought back memories of my late father building his first yacht on the front lawn at Newport in the ’60s. Steaming the ribs and bending them into shape, a lost art.

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Rowing sculls at Geelong

Dad at one stage picked up a rowing scull similar to this one, although more of a single hander, Mum was still able to sit in the stern and be taken for a row around Pittwater. I’d do the same with my younger brother Sam sitting in the stern. Not light to lift around, but remarkably easy to row. I don’t know what happened to it once the family home was sold at Church Point, if anyone sees it around?

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Casablanca

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Casablanca

Another highlight was seeing the 49’er Casablanca again, this time up close. I’d helped John Biddlecombe to build her and on launching in the mid 70’s competing in her first race to Montague Island and return. Somehow as a teenager, she seemed big but compared to say the current 50’ers, she’s small with probably half the beam. The centre cockpit and flush deck was gone, replaced with a coachroof. Unfortunately there was no one aboard so I couldn’t see below, mind you going to Montague, all I can remember below was the bunk! A lot of time was spent on deck trimming, short tacking back up the coast out of the Set.

The World and the Economy has ground to a halt with COVID19 and whilst we are reasonably stocked up at DeckHardware, some of our retail outlets have felt the downturn of isolation effects. Now is surely the time to not only do some of the chores around the house, but also a good time to have any maintenance done on your boat. Supporting your local outlet during the shutdown period will assist us all when we come out the other side and get to spend some enjoyable time back out on the water.

In the meantime, I hope that everyone is safe at home and taking care.

More of the same

That’ll be back on the water and back on the road interstate.

January wrapped up with the Australia Day long weekend and officiating racing for the Adams 10s at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. It was a reasonable weekend weather wise, with a bit of everything, the best day being Sunday with four short races from Middle Head up to Little Manly. It’s a good track in a NorEaster and especially when the ferries aren’t running for a few hours. I had a call from Phil Barnett who captains one, letting me know that due to the festivities at Circular Quay and under the bridge, they had a break for a few hours. Nice.

Sometimes there's a breakaway leader

Sometimes there’s a breakaway leader, MH118 with a nice lead

Racing wise, it was all about the Lake Macquarie boat Backchat, winning four of the eight races. The minor placings were keenly fought with L2, Dilemma and Powderhulk finishing in that order. It was also great to see Extender/SSV/Animus/Mad Max racing again. Now known as Organised Chaos and sailing on Pittwater, the only timber seater in the fleet gave a few a run for their money even winning one of the races.

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Day one race start

Then it was back on the road, south. Initially a day trip south of Sydney and into the recent bushfire zones. It’s certainly something else going from green bushland to burnt black and tree trunks only. There was however quite a few thank you signs for the Firies. It’ll be many years before life returns to ‘normal’.

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Southern NSW January 2020 and bushfires devastated many.

I then headed south to Melbourne with my first stop at Geelong for the NACRA/49er/FX Worlds, catching up with a few of the Aussies involved and assisting the local chandlery who had a stall at the club. Then it was over to Sandringham for the Laser/ILCA Worlds and catching up again with a few of the Aussies competing. DeckHardware has been supporting the Australian Sailing Team from just after the 2008 Olympic games and a few of the team over the years have become good friends. So I tried to give a little moral support as well as product and technical support. Whilst I cut this trip short and didn’t catch up and see everyone I wanted to, I’m sure that there’ll be another trip south at some stage this year.

Coming up is the Farr40 States at MHYC followed by the SailGP the following weekend. I quietly saw one of the AC45s a while back, so I look forward to seeing the F50s out on the harbour. I hope that they have breeze this time though. Then I’m back to Geelong for their Wooden Boat Show where we’ll have a range of LIROS on display with the Wooden Boatshop. Unfortunately this coincides with the MHYC Sydney Harbour Regatta, so no race management that weekend.

Back on the road 2019

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about being on the road or on the water. The Summer sailing season in Sydney finished up, so now I’m on the road interstate.

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Aussie wildlife in suburbia – country style

First up was a trip north to Southern Queensland. However with a couple of detours inland, Casino I’d not been to before and as the first stop, really didn’t have the time to have a look around. My second stop was west of Toowoomba, visiting a customer I’d seen a couple of times before. Luckily for me he works from home, really the rather large tin shed out the front so I’m able to connect after hours and on weekends. Given that it’s several hours drive away from anyone else, this works.

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From there it was on to the Sunshine Coast where Craig and Tracee look after me, all too well as Tracee likes to cook, feeding another gives her the opportunity to experiment too. They’re out on acreage 20minutes from Mooloolaba gradually making improvements in the garden and surrounds. Tracee also has a thriving vegetable garden with plenty of fruit trees that also has a fence around however not to the stage I’ve done at home but showing my photos, I think Craig has another job ahead. They have an issue now and again with the local wildlife, it’s nothing to be sitting on their deck having a staring competition with a Kangaroo family. But it is nice and peaceful and a joy to watch at times, just not when they are in the garden having a munch!

Monday was spent seeing customers old and new locally. With most areas of Australia, I have it pretty much sorted who I see where and when to minimise the time in between stops, but now and again I get caught out. I then spent a few days working my way around the suburbs of Brisbane, it’s certainly nice to see the roadworks heading in and out north of the city finished, although that doesn’t stop the evening peak parking lot in a section that should be doing 100kph. The highway south to the Gold Coast is 4 lanes either way and you can do the sign posted speeds, however the greater section to the Sunshine Coast is still 2 lanes and nowhere to pull over in a breakdown, the same bit of road that I drove on in the mid 70s when first driving to Mooloolaba in my teenage years with a Laser on top.

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From the other side all you see is the CBD of Brisbane

The next couple of nights were hosted by an old Middle Harbour mate who’s retired to the northern suburbs of Brisbane, Tony Hannan. I can’t count the number of boats we sailed together or against, but each time I stay the evening stories are never the same. It’s always good being able to fill him in on what’s happening down south, despite his occasional visit for a regatta or two over a season.

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Once this was the style of yacht design, known as plank on edge

 

My last two days north of the border were spent on the Gold Coast, one doing the rounds and the other visiting the annual Sanctuary Cove Boat Show. The show has evolved over the years with more focus on power and especially this year, Jetskis and similar high speed personal watercraft.

My last evening north of the border was spent with grey nomads James and Marita, sitting in their caravan watching football on an Ipad! Unfortunately our Manly Sea Eagles were beaten by the Gold Coast team at home so it was a good excuse for an early night given where we were.

As always it’s good to catch up with a lot of customers, many who have become friends as well over the years. Unfortunately it’s not always possible to see everyone and to those who I haven’t caught up with, we’ll try for next time. Others like Tony have left Sydney for warmer climes, it’s just a little hard to fit everything in.

Having gone up the inland route, I headed back down the more familiar coastal road. All I can say about the NSW section of the Pacific Highway is that it’ll be fantastic when the roadworks are finished. How long that will be, it’s been how long they’ve been promising? At the moment the northern third from Sydney is all over the place with speeds from 60 to 100kph and back every couple of kilometres.  I don’t think it’ll be before my next trip north, but here’s to hoping as my windscreen is evidence of the current state.

 

 

ABWF 2019

Last weekend saw the Bi-annual Australian Wooden Boat Festival on again in Hobart. This event is huge, the largest boat show in the country with everything from the Barque James Craig and HM Bark Endeavour down to canoes and standup boards, if it floats and made of timber it’ll be there. Again as before Hobart really turns it on for a four day festival of all things that float, they do it right down there and I spoke to people from around the world and from Cairns to Perth as well as quite a few Sydneysiders who made the trip south.

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It’s a bit of a hike down to Hobart, the 10 or so hour drive to Melbourne then the overnight ferry trip followed by another 3 hours or so from Devonport to Hobart. The ferry of course was fully booked, there were those like myself with trade stands and those towing boats to display. In talking to one visitor from Melbourne to the stand on Sunday, he said the majority of those on the flight were coming to the Festival. He could tell by the style of their clothing, much of it wet weather sailing gear!

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Endeavour with James Craig behind

This year DeckHardware shared a stand with Almasts a Tasmanian rigger/spar maker who purchase various products from our range from us. This made it a little easier to man as Ben who is their Hobart based staff had worked out that about 70% of all the shows he had worked on were with me! We also had a range of products on the Peter Johnston stand, PJs is the local chandlery and has their shop only a few hundred metres away backing them up. I took down a range of products including some of the Antal range which we were showing for the first time. Feedback from the stand display was all positive which was very encouraging.

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LIROS Lr01172 three strand classic in white aboard Storm Bay

I had a chance finally late in the day Sunday to have a quick wander around after meeting up with Tim Phillips from the Wooden Boat Shop aboard his wonderful Gaff Cutter Storm Bay. Tim is looking to do some replacement rigging aboard Storm Bay and we spoke about the various options available from LIROS. He also had a range of boats that he’d crafted over the years alongside. A delight to see great Aussie craftsmanship on display.

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Storm Bays rigging, all rope

Also there finally after nearly 160 hours of motor sailing south was Defiance on which I was last aboard in Sydney. On Sunday evening after the show closed, Ben, Mitch and I met up with Craig aboard. The number of passers-by who stopped to ask and make comments was incredible. One who also stopped worked with Doug Brooker in her build, Craig had Lindsay Buckmaster jump aboard for a look around and to tell tales of her build. Whilst I was there several others also stopped to chat about her. Craig mentioned ‘welcome to my world , this is how I’ve spent my time tied up in Constitution Dock’. He’s immensely proud of the work done doing her up and there are many others, not just me  thankful of the job done to keep her afloat for another 45 or so years.

If you haven’t been before, see you in Hobart in 2021, there’s something for everyone who loves being afloat.

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Till next time Tassie

 

 

2000 here, 2000 there

A couple of weeks ago I headed south again, down through the Snowy Mountains and out to the coast to Wallagoot Lake. This road is quicker than going via the coast road.  It’s all pretty good road until you have to come down Browns Mountain  with all of its hairpin bends and slow corners.

Wallagoot Lake Boat Club is situated in a National Park and as such there’s no power. Dinner on Saturday night at the club is under candle light and torches, but a typical country club where everyone jumps in and helps including myself on the end of a tea towel drying up!   It was good to see 4 of the Jindabyne guys come down from the mountain too, having been there only two weeks earlier.

Out on the water I learnt something new with their local weather conditions. When a sea breeze is forecast, wait as in hurry up and wait. I tried to get some racing in on the last of the overnight land breeze, nope, too hard. Once the Nor  Easter kicked in it was great, settling in at a nice 10-12knots and reasonably steady. The locals here have GPS marked courses for the typical conditions, so setting courses was easy. NorEast course please. We had the usual mixed fleet from Sabres and Lasers with NS14s being the larger, through a  mix of trailer yachts. Unfortunately the Multi’s were non-existent this time around with only Tim bringing his Hobie17 down from Jindabyne.

The host club had arranged for me to stay with one of their members for the couple of nights at Pambula Beach just south of Merimbula and this was greatly appreciated, especially waking up in the morning and looking out over the river mouth and towards the open ocean. One thing that you have to look out for there is the locals standing in the middle of the road seemingly without a care in the world or of a car coming towards them. They just take over the road and the verges and slowly hop out of the way as you come down the road.

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The next trip was up to Queensland, going in the other direction for a change. This time I made sure that I saw a few out of the way DeckHardware customers. It’s always good to catch up with these and they always take the time to make sure that they are fully up to date with all of our product range, it’s nothing to spend an hour or more with them. I thank them for their time, showing the new products as well as many of the others available.

For the first time in my driving life I had to drive through a section of a flooded highway. Northern NSW had coped the states maximum rainfall for the previous couple of days and the section at New Italy just south of Woodburn was in trouble. We all take it for granted that we’ll get somewhere at a certain time, no problems. At my second attempt, I followed a four wheel drive and got through the knee deep water over the road. Those heading south weren’t so lucky, there would have been 30-40 cars stuck in the deep water. When the authorities say don’t drive through flooded roads, don’t. Larger vehicles like the van and four wheel drives had no issues, but some of those stuck heading south, just shouldn’t have tried. On the return south there was little sign of what had happened days before.

I dropped into the Boat Show at Coomera on Saturday. On Sunday, I spent some time at a couple of the local sailing clubs, seeing how they do things and there is always someone there that I know!

I usually stay with my Aunt and Uncle on the Goldie and Geoff especially likes it when I come as the Sunday night takeaway variety increases, I always have a chuckle with this one. Monday morning however I woke up feeling quite ill, it wasn’t the food as the other two were fine. The pain didn’t decrease and after talking with Robyn and seeing a local GP, I headed south having only seen a few on Monday morning.  Hopefully my next trip will be less eventful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the road south

The  Australian Wooden Boat Festival held Bi-Annually in Hobart is a must for any boat owner. Sounds like a big call but it is. Whilst the modern composite racers may think otherwise, here’s evidence as to how boat building and the sport of Sailing has evolved. The Festival had everything, marinas full of classics both power and sail, halls and marquees of products on display and for sale. Then there were the Tall Ships to go aboard, HMS Tenacious, the James Craig and at least a half dozen more. More than anything else this is the place to go and look at boats and boating stuff mixed in with a little history, simple.

Everyone who also travelled from the mainland that I saw agreed and there was plenty of us. Hobart does this well, there was even a park off Salamanca Place that was purely for entertaining the younger children as well as a school boat building competition. Like all major events, there’s road closures and parking hassles, but this event is free to wander around. So who else will be in Hobart in February 2019?

Last weekend was the final round of the Flying Eleven State titles at Manly and there was a great fleet of over 80 entrants from around NSW and some even coming down from Brisbane for the weekend. Saturday started off with a great southerly that then went East and soft before the forecast afternoon storm arrived. They got in two races before the hail and rain put a dampener on things. The storm also created issues for the classes 50th Anniversary Saturday evening function, luckily the organisers were able to move inside Manly Yacht Club and the majority stayed reasonably dry. There were of course the smattering of former Flying Eleven sailors who had gone on to greater successes at National, World and Olympic events. Those who couldn’t make the evening sent their apologies and a few memories of what the class meant to them growing up. Two former national champions in Nicky Souter and Malcolm Page even caught up in Austin Texas and sent a selfie. Melissa did some live footage so they were able to stay in touch with proceedings on the night. An evening enjoyed by all who attended, well done to those who helped arrange.

This coming weekend is the first of many in a row back out on the water watching some close racing. First up is the Snowy Mountains Regatta at Jindabyne, a fresh water event that’s only cold if you capsize. The last few years have been blessed with great conditions, this year may be a little cooler and damp according to the initial forecasts. I hope not!

After that it’s the Sydney38s as part of the MHYC Sydney Harbour Regatta, more great racing to watch, this time over three days and the Farr40s joining for the weekend.

Classic

Really there is only one way to describe some of the boats that I saw the other day at Darling Harbour, Classic. The Wooden Boat Show held in conjunction with the Maritime Museum had a range of Classic boats, both power and sail and whilst mostly timber, there were a few fibreglass production yachts from the 1960s and 70s.

There was a range of the old Halvorsen cruisers and it was interesting to note that whilst they were pretty much production, none are the same. Something I didn’t know. It was good to see some of the older yachts as well, from a timber 30′ Daydream through to the rebuilt 12m Gretel2 in immaculate condition. There was also a few fibreglass production yachts, Compass28 and Contessa25. I grew up racing with my father on his little JOG boat and the Peter Cole designed  Contessa when it came out really put the ‘cat amongst the pidgeons’ with it’s speed and manoeuvrability. Most of the others at the time were still long keeled designed in the 50 and 60s, the exception being Dads Temeraire and a couple of Primaat ply boats.

Wandering about some of the older racing yachts, it’s interesting to see how far they’ve come. Yachts such as Caprice Of Huon, for years one of Australia’s top Offshore yachts, Fidelis, which came across from New Zealand and won Line Honours in the Hobart Race and then there was Ruthless a Peterson One Tonner whose freeboard struck me as being quite high. I don’t remember other One Tonners I’ve sailed being so high wooded. And there was plenty more, each with a memory or thought of a time or race.

On the new side, there was SjoRo a new 8m fitted with Liros Classic rope, keeping the style classic. Rather than having the colourful ropes of today, she has the modern rope construction with the Liros Hemp colour, it all fitted the style.

I also went to see Lyn Pardey in the museum theatre doing a talk on her decades on the water with husband Larry. The pair are well known in cruising and timber boat circles and I remember going to a previous talk of theirs last century. It was a bit of history with the boats they owned and also built or repaired. Lyn had quite a range of photos on the screen whilst she talked and it was great to hear snippets about each. I had the chance to mention to her later that I may have been one of the few who saw the Pardeys earlier visit to Sydney. She appreciated that.

Wandering around talking boats, doesn’t get any better.

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