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

Short trip to Brisbane

Last week I spent a bit of time in Brisbane. It was a combination of a few things happening. First up I attended the Queensland Yachting Association Club conference held over two days at Southbank. This was the first of many put on by Australian Sailing in each state.  As an AS sponsor, it was interesting and will be interesting to see what’s happening in each state. I’ll also be attending the Victorian, West Australian and New South Wales events.

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Grafton locals

In the middle of all of this was of course the final racing for the Americas Cup. I was able to stay with the QYA President Ken Hurling for a few nights. It was ‘great’ to get up at 0300 and watch what was going on in Bermuda with another sailor. Ken was able to keep up to speed with some of it through his daughter Suellen in Auckland as well, a quick call to her to check on the Kiwi feelings. It’ll certainly be interesting to see the format for the next challenge, will it be the TV spectacle of the foiling multihulls or a return to more traditional match racing on monohulls which most active sailors prefer.

Then there was Queensland Youth Week, an annual regatta at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron. This event is rather large with over 200 competitors from Qld, NSW, Vic and even from Western Australia sailing in 10 different classes.  It’s always good to come to these events, even when I’m not volunteering for the on water side of things. Catching up with a range of friends, customers, those I haven’t seen for a while and run into as well as keeping a keen eye on what everyone is using where in terms of rope and other equipment.

I also took in a little drive one afternoon, it took nearly 5 hours in a roundabout route, west of Brisbane to see a non-marine customer of DeckHardware. It’s always interesting to see how a manufacturer utilises marine ropes and fittings in a harsh environment on the land. I spent an enjoyable couple of hours with Matt and his team thinking of different ideas and combinations for his business applications. You think you have one solution sorted and then one word or phrase sparks another option, which it did in a few circumstances. Always good to think outside the square.

Next up is Victoria followed by Perth, a drive then a flight and before we know it the Summer sailing season will be upon us.

 

Another 3000kms

Well almost, 2970 over the last week up to Queensland and back. I left home early Saturday morning and stopped by Mannering Park Sailing Club en-route. They had a couple of events at the same time, one for 14′ Catamarans and the other for O’pen Bics.  Both had good numbers of entrants.  I spoke with a couple of fellows who had driven from Griffith in central NSW with their Maricats. I was unaware that they sailed out there, but yes there’s a good fleet of mixed boats that sail on Lake Wyangan and plenty of water currently too.

It was then off to the Sunshine Coast for a few days, just another few kms. I caught up with an old mate Roscoe and we spent Sunday arguing with the TV coverage of the Bathurst1000 V8 Supercars. We were both on the ‘same page’ so it was a bit of fun.

Monday morning it was off to Noosa, an hour or so away to start the week seeing DeckHardware customers, both old and new showing off some of the new product range. It’s also good to catch up with many of the builders, riggers, sailmakers and chandlery owners as many have become pretty much good mates who I see out on the water too.

As is the case with many of these trips, finding out who is doing what, building something out the back etc opens up the talk. Having a range of products from dinghies to yachts and being interested in general is a break from the long drive.   One new build is an 8m carbon foiling catamaran being built in a backyard. The owner has a couple of sheds but now that it’s almost together it’s under a shade cloth outside. Torture boarding and spraying to come, hopefully they’ll be sailing in the New Year with the focus on Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island regattas mid-year.

On Tuesday at the end of the day, I met up with a fellow Sailing Anarchist, American yachtsman Bill [BJ] Porter who is cruising the world with his family on a HalbergRassey. It’s taken several years to get to Australia, arriving in Brisbane from New Caledonia only a few weeks ago. ‘Eventide’ will be coming to Sydney for the Christmas – New Year period and I look forward to showing them around our great harbour.

Wednesday morning saw me at Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron going over a familiar boat in detail. Some time ago I was contacted about the IOR Sparkman and Stephens 1/2 tonner Defiance. This was the boat that Robyn’s father owned when we first met. We spent many years racing and mucking about on her so it was good to see the effort that Craig the new owner is putting in to keep Defiance going for another couple of decades.

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Craig started out to do a minor tidy up but like all things the job list has grown. Defiance had been ashore for nearly 10 years unattended, but was still in reasonable nick due to the craftsmanship of her builder Doug Brooker. The plan is to get her down south for Christmas with hopefully a stop over at Middle Harbour Yacht Club and show her off. He did say that if it was still a NorEaster that he’d keep going south. We’ll see. I’d love to sneak in a quick sail.

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Another friend who I caught up with was Mark Gray, who with his wife Jules have provided a comfortable bed on several occasions in Brisbane. So much that his dog ‘Beer’ will cuddle up to me, “Chardy’ not so keen but a little wary. Mark’s sailing these days is as a delivery crew on Beau Geste80 and the Volvo70 Giacomo, his stories of sailing at high speeds on these maxi yachts. Always good to see them and they look after me well.

As is the norm on these business trips, it’s non stop during the day. However it’s the variety of people that I see and the range of products that DeckHardware can offer mean it varies greatly. I can be talking to one customer about plumbing and the next about TuffLuff foils.

One great change in the trip north is the roadwork being done. Various governments have promised upgrades from the two lane highway that it’s been forever it would seem between Sydney and Brisbane. There are now bypasses from the smaller towns, although I’m sure that their economy has suffered as a result from lack of travellers. What has hit me is the ‘Rest Stops’, whilst these are large and relatively clean and tidy facilities, there’s no shade. The older style are clearings amongst the trees off to the side of the road and are a delight to stop at and have a little ‘shut eye’. I hope that in time some of the landscaping at these new ones will offer the same shade, or that they see fit to build some sort of shade structures for those who use the facilities.

I’m back out on the water this weekend, it’s the first round of the Farr40 events for the season. Two days of racing so it’ll be interesting especially given that Team Transfusion will not be sailing. The former World Champs will only be doing the States and Nationals this year. Current forecast is for strong winds, so setting a course will be interesting.

 

This time it’s Victoria

It seeems like only yesterday that I was over in Western Australia checking out the boating scene including the continuing build of this catamaran south of Fremantle. In this case the supply and fitting of the Forespar Marelon plumbing

Two weeks ago I was up in Southern Queensland , now I’m down in Victoria and about to kick off the week down here. This will be the end of the long trips till after the Sanctuary Cove and Sydney Boat Shows as there’s plenty to do locally as well.

Who knows what I’ll find, either way it’ll be a busy one showing off all the new products.

It may be the end of the sailing  season down here and they all talk AFL, but I have plenty to show too. What I’ve found after Queensland, is that I’m spending far longer at each stop. Being able to show off more keeps us out there.

I’m looking forward to it. Each trip usually brings something new.