Delivery South

Last week was the first time in over a decade that I’ve spent some time at sea, ironically with the same skipper but different yacht. This time it was assisting to bring back a 49’er that had won it’s division at Magnetic Island Race Week recently. I flew to the Gold Coast on Monday expecting to leave that afternoon, however due to the southerlies we didn’t get away till the following afternoon. Apparently they’d had southerlies the whole way heading south from Townsville and were not keen on bashing into more of the same.

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Heading south the following day we had the leftovers of the southerly for the first couple of hours, then the breeze went left and it became a little easier to motor sail with just the mainsail up. Into Wednesday the breeze was forecast to build from the north and build it did to around 20knots.

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Around 1600 whilst below, Bruce did a sudden gybe and as a result the strop holding the mainsheet block on the end of the boom broke. Mainsail down and off and the jib top was set instead. Still without a motor we carried this all the way to Broughton Island off Port Stephens. The forecast was for a short sharp southerly change so it was in to Nelson Bay for the night. Timing was pretty good as it hit as we were motoring into the marina in the wee hours of the morning.

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Just like leaving Southport we saw the first whales just as we headed south, inside a mile of leaving the heads. Thursday was to be a day of motoring as the breeze struggled to get over 5 knots all day, at least the seaway was reasonable with little pounding in the leftover seas.

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I finally went below whilst off Broken Bay and only a few hours short of Sydney Harbour and woke to the sound of the motor being throttled back, we were off Sow and Pigs. It was absolutely calm with not even a ripple or a wave movement other than those we made. Brought back memories of offshore racing and finishing at night in similar conditions.  Thanks to James, Bruce and Jason for an enjoyable delivery passage and the usual yarns whilst at sea.

I went for a sail

First though, I went for a drive. I spent over a week in Queensland seeing old and new DeckHardware customers, retail outlets, sailmakers and maintenance facilities. I had a nice drive up the New England Highway as my first stop was out west of Toowoomba. The first time I saw Matt I arrived in the dark driving up the hill so I didn’t see much other than his shed, this time arriving in the morning I had the chance to see his view over the country side. There’s probably no more than 20 houses, but wow I can see why he chose that spot. Next stop was Bundaberg. Yes, home of Bundy rum and ginger beer, both different businesses on the east side of town. I had done the Bundy Rum factory tour on a previous trip, so didn’t stop this time. I did notice however that they’ve opened a new visitor centre. If you haven’t been and done the Rum tour and if you have the chance, it’s one to tick off.

 

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It was the beginning of a full week, starting at Bundaberg and working south. What was also good was the chance to catch up with a few friends and relatives overnight. Craig and Tracee surprised me with the fact that after many years being together, they were getting married that weekend. They’ve bought a new property just west of the Bruce Highway on the Sunshine Coast. Being in ‘the sticks’ they have a fire risk as well as requiring somewhere to store boats, with 10 acres there’s plenty of room. As I left the following morning, Tracee and I were on the veranda counting the kangaroos, apparently this was the largest number they had seen, over 10 and it looked like two were big alpha males, so a couple of families? Unfortunately neither of us had a chance to take a photo, I’m sure in times to come she will, as they are certainly a lot bigger than our bandicoots to get in to a vegetable garden.

 

Working my way south, the next person I caught up with overnight was former Brookvale sailmaker Tony Hannan. Tony’s retired to the northern suburbs of Brisbane and is pretty much out of the ‘rat race’, enjoying walking the dog and sailing his Laser. We could of chatted for a lot longer, but there’s always the next trip Hanno. I also stayed with my Aunt and Uncle on the Gold Coast for a couple of nights. Aside from the general banter of what are we all up to, I also try to get snippets of family history when talking with Cynthia, there’s always something that hasn’t come up in past conversations. I had always thought that PA [Percy] Yeomans of Keyline Plowing was my grandfathers brother, however I learnt that he was in fact the son of, making him my grandfathers nephew instead. As a child I can remember going to NevAllan and YeoBarney, the properties on Yeomans Road at Kurmond at the base of the Blue Mountains with all the cousins and ‘mucking’ around on the farm, sleeping in the barn at night with all the animal noises and smells rather than the sound of the sea.

 

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One slipway I visited is where Defiance, the Dibble family old S&S 1/2 tonner is being rebuilt. Craig, the new owner has kept me up to date over the last few years as work progressed. It’s a testament to Doug Brookers craft and now Peter Kerr’s workmanship that she’ll be around for another 45years. When finished Craig is taking her south to Tasmania with hopefully a stopover at MHYC and maybe a match up with the old foe Plum Crazy. She’s now back to being the light blue and with a new mast to come, the trip south should be a good one. One boat that Peter does have to work on is a 19th century Logan from Auckland, it was my first time to his shed so it’ll be interesting watching the progress of this one too.

 

It was a busy week and the return trip south was made even better by the recent opening of the Pacific Highway bypass around Macksville and Nambucca Heads. Unfortunately, I drove at night so didn’t get a good look. It was certainly quicker, however the new rest stops that have been built offer no shade. Good facilities for a quick stop but not a good rest. It’ll be interesting to see if trees are planted or shades provided to park under like the ones in northern Victoria on the Hume. Another 3400 kms on the odometer and a lot of different businesses seen.

 

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The late Benny Nossiter on the helm of Sirius.

Ohh yeah and I went for a sail last Saturday. Garth Riley is the new owner of the A10 Sirius at MHYC and gave me a call. It was the last of the winter sprint series with two races on the Sound. Race one and we were buried at the start so couldn’t get right which was the favoured side. It was a good sail however with a crew I hadn’t met before. Race two and the fleet went left and we went right so a bit off at the top, my bad that one but we caught them back on the downhill for Sirius to record a third and a third overall for the series. Well done Team Sirius, it was great to have the chance to sail again especially on a Adams10 that I’d sailed before under the previous ownership, hopefully not the last. It was a nice day at least, at typical winters day with a land breeze to start and a sea breeze to finish, one of those good not to be the RO for.

 

As the year marches on, it’s not that far away to the start of the Summer sailing season in Sydney, about 6 weeks for many clubs. The Gold Coast race starts soon too for those heading north

July happenings, now for August

001Over the last couple of weeks there’s been a bit on. I’ve been back out on the water with the last few races of the MHYC Winter series and with the start of the CYCA Gold Coast race. The race to Southport on the Gold Coast was one of the slowest starts, with some boats taking nearly 2 hours to clear North Head. The fleet certainly had one of the slowest races with quite a few retiring citing time restraints as their reason. There were those who had to be in Brisbane for the next leg of the racing north during winter to Yeppoon and there were those who just had to be back at work and had hoped for a quick race.

I also had the opportunity to drop by Hunters Hill sailing Club early on a Sunday morning to have a look at the Sabot training. DeckHardware are supporting the 50th National Titles this summer on the reaches of the upper harbour. It was good to get out and have a look at them and what the Sabot fleet are up to in general.

Next on the trip list is Western Australia, I’m off to Perth this Sunday for the week 011with a case of new products and catalogues. It will be good to catch up with everyone over there. With all these interstate sales trips over  the years, many of those I’ve seen have become good friends as well. I look forward to catching up with those such as Paul, Rachael and Jay.

First full week back to ‘normal’

After the few weeks leading up to Sanctuary Cove 2012 and the associated planning, setting up and returning to Sydney, today see’s the first week of a near normal week. After spending yesterday setting up the stands again in the warehouse as a prelude to th Sydney International Boat Show where DeckHardware will have a larger and improved stand on Sydney 2011.

Sanctuary Cove was an improvement on last years show with many if not most of the visitors to our stand knowing what they were looking for. As in every year, Man Ship Marine’s range of hatches and ports was the most requested product, it was surprising to see a larger number than usual of owner builders requesting information. They ranged from those who had plans, one fellow was on to his second hull in his catamaran build to a fellow from Victoria who had just turned over his Van DeStadt to start on the interior and deck. Now with an increasing range of products, DeckHardware can supply product information across a range of enquiries, from the Forespar Marelon plumbing products to the TBS non skid for their decks.

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Saturday was the first day back on the Middle Harbour startboat in some time. This was race 5 of the Winter series and I had missed the last race of the summer pointscore whilst Melissa and I attended a YANSW course. The photo shows Division 2 with 10 seconds to go, not showing is the one boat who was OCS, in Winter I try to lay a line that makes the fleet start down the line, but they still start on the boat and give away too many boatlengths. And the rain in the distance over South Head? Yes, we got wet!

Queensland this week

This week I’m up in Queensland seeing DeckHardware customers, old and new.

I have had the opportunity to stay with my Aunt and Uncle on the Gold Coast. Geoff is the owner of a Ross780 which he keeps in the canal at the rear of his house. At low tide as you can see the boat only just stays afloat. Normally it’s up on the floating pontoon, the ease of launching and retreiving surprised me.

Doing the rounds of the Gold Coast marine businesses is surprising. There’s those who seem to be doing OK, others who seem to be  lowering their stock levels. Then there are those businesses who have shut up shop all together. I saw one builder yesterday, who once he finishes his own boat in the next 12 months, will be looking to close down. I don’t know how those looking to start out in boat building will get a start, unlike I did back in the early 70s, with no builders left.

The fleet for the Wednesday late afternoon race was an assorted lot, like most clubs. There were an assorted fleet of trailer yachts, including Geoff in his Ross780, a large number of Etchells and even a couple of old IOR Quarter tonners.

The interesting thing here is that they sail the same course each week due to the confines of the Broadwater and the tide flows such that the smaller boats seemed to struggle against it.

Saturday I hope to drop by the World Laser Masters championships at Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Brisbane and catchup with a few old foes.