Saturday, November 14, 2009

Our new 1983 Sigma 36

Just Jo is up for sale to make way for our retirement plan......the Sigma 36.

She left England 13 years ago and has cruised the Atlantic, Caribbean, Pacific Islands, Australia and Asia ever since. The previous owners now have two small boys so they needed to upsize to a 42 footer.

Currently she is named "Rogue Wave" (because 'Sigma' is some mathematical component of a Rogue Wave.....go figure). Needless to say I don't want any association with Rogue Waves, so we are having a family naming competition over the coming months all ready for re-launch next year.

Speaking of family.....I was absolutely chuffed to find the owner had built a baby cot into the aft quarter berth complete with a soft toy hidey hole! Young Aidan will have a nice cosy place next to grandma! With Stephanie coming down next year I can see some happy times onboard with the whole comfort!

Fear not change......

Fortune favours the brave and risks can reap rewards.
So it was when I recently travelled to the island of Penang in Malaysia to view a lovely Sigma 36.......the risks were many however with some excellent support from my broker in Langkawi and a receptive vendor, it was all smooth sailing. The broker arranged my local transport and all inspections, removing those unwanted stressors so I could focus on the yacht purchase.

All was well and my offer accepted. I will return to Penang around Jul 2010 to rerig and carry out some modifications prior to sailing back to Australia.

So now I find change has been thrust upon me by my own hand and my Around the Edge will now be either Up and Over or Down and Under! Planning is underway to assess the best route and time. I may just take the shortest route home next year, save some long service leave and look at doing a shorthanded (2) Around Australia Race in 2011. This option can allow different crew to join me at major cities. I will post some photos of the Sigma 36 in the next post.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Small Boats, Big Ambitions - extract from Rolex S2H Website

23 December, 2005 3:22:00 PM AEDT
Small boats, Big ambitions

With much of the media attention for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race inevitably focused on the big, expensive line honours contenders, it is easy to overlook the 30-foot battlers that will arrive in Hobart some days later.
One may assume that the sailors racing these little boats are merely in it for the experience, the have-a-go-heroes who just want to get there. For some that is certainly true, but for the owner of Toecutter, the smallest yacht in the 86-boat fleet, he has far greater ambitions.
"Our expectation is to win the race," says Robert Hick, owner and designer of the Hick 31. "If we don't win, we're not happy. We were 2nd two years ago, and one of my boats won the 1998 race, so we have a chance if the wind works out for us."
Is it realistic for a diminutive 31-foot boat to take on the might and power of the maxis? Perhaps not on line honours, but on IRC handicap Hick believes he has as good a chance at winning the Tattersalls Cup as any well-prepared boat in the fleet. "Like everyone, we live and die on the weather we get," says Hick, about to embark on his 13th race to Hobart. "The thing about these new big boats is they're so fast that we're no longer racing in the same weather patterns. That can work to our advantage or against us. It depends on who gets the better weather."
In some ways a nasty forecast with bad weather from the south would suit Toecutter. "Crashing through the waves can cause real problems for the big boats, but for us, we go over the waves rather than through them. We can press on more or less at full pace through the rough stuff. We just wobble our way up and over the waves."
Of other similar-sized boats, Hick will be keeping an eye on the Mumm 30 Tow Truck, owned by Anthony Paterson and whose crew includes Olympic skiff representative Gary Boyd. "They will be hard to beat if they get more than their fair share of downwind running conditions."
If Robert Hick is all about winning the race, Dave Kent is certainly one of those have-a-go heroes for whom the sheer experience of getting to Hobart is everything. There are no Olympic sailors on board his 32-footer Gillawa. Instead, Kent invites sailing rookies to join him in the adventure of a lifetime. "When I started sailing, I actually discovered a sport that I was quite good at," he explains. For team games at school, he was always the last to be picked. So when I discovered sailing, and found a sport that I not only enjoyed but was actually reasonably good at, I was hooked on it.
So Gillawa is all about giving people a go, it doesn't matter whether they're good, bad or indifferent. Just give them an opportunity."
Among this year's crew on Gillawa are Janine Frawley, who completed her first-ever sailing race with the boat in the recent Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race, and Andrew Meacham, who has never raced before. "I've done a few deliveries, but I've never actually done a race," says Meacham, who admits he is looking forward to the Rolex Sydney Hobart with mixed feelings.
"I suppose there are some nerves, and some excitement. I'm really looking forward to going through Sydney Heads, and I'm looking forward to sailing up the Derwent and seeing Hobart. It's just the bit in the middle."
It's exactly that sort of understated humour that Kent looks for when he assembles his crew for Gillawa. "Our basic concern is crew camaraderie, because we're on a small boat for a long time. It's the way the crew communicate with each other - no cross words, but offers of help and support.
Tow Truck CYCA Staff
Last year Gillawa was last into Hobart, and by some margin. In fact, most of the boats had arrived, had their parties, and had already gone home by the time Kent and his merry band crossed the finish line. They arrived some seven days, 18 hours and 23 minutes after the start gun had fired in Sydney, but then there were 57 yachts that never made it to Hobart at all, some of the biggest maxis included.
Kent kept crew morale high through the vicious Bass Strait, with some well-timed humour. "When we heard Skandia had fallen over after her keel broke off, I said: "Well, we've pushed them beyond the limit. Who's next?"
But how would Kent cope with finishing last again? "I don't think it matters. We are one of the smallest boats and on handicap probably the slowest. I can't see us beating anyone across the line this year either. Our aim is to knock off a day and a half from last year's time. We're aiming for a PB, a personal best." The skipper believes this is an achievable goal.
"Last year we stopped in Eden for 12 hours when the weather was really bad. Our intention is not to go near Eden this year unless something goes really wrong. We don't think the race will be quite as much on the nose as it was last year. It should be a faster race."
But if you are resigned to coming last in a race, why race at all? Why not just go on a 600-mile cruise instead? "The answer to that is simple," Kent answers. "If you want to be recognised not just as a sailor, but as part of this small, elite group that can say, 'Yes, I've done a Sydney Hobart,' then suddenly people will say, 'Wow, you are a sailor.' Now you might not be much of a sailor at all, you might just be using your muscle to wind a winch and might never have sailed before.
But it has a huge attraction, the Rolex Sydney Hobart. When someone has done one of these races, they feel like they have really achieved something. There are many other races around, but this race has a special name for itself."
Kent says the welcome in Hobart is like no other race he has done. "The guys recording the finish were still there to record our time. Normally you record your own time when you arrive that late, but there they were. It's incredible the emotions that are brought out.
Of an inexperienced Gillawa crew, even the skipper has only competed in three Rolex Sydney Hobarts, in 1976, 1980 and 2004. But you get the sense that this strange habit is growing on him. Not even the severe weather of last year's passage across Bass Strait has deterred him. "It brought home how we had to help each other. We had waves to the top of the spreaders, and there were times when we thought, how are we going to get through this one?"
For Dave Kent, it is coming through those moments that makes it worthwhile coming back for more. "I think Rolex sum it up beautifully with one of the race slogans. We've got a sticker inside the boat which says: 'The Rolex Sydney Hobart. It reminds you of who you are.' I couldn't think of a better way of saying it."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Essential work continues

The work continues to prepare Just Jo for her two challenging voyages. Some of the essential work to be done includes:
  • HF radio system installation with sailmail and weatherfax functions,
  • Increased water storage capacity by 100 litres giving a total of 150 litres,
  • development of a water catchment system for replenishment at sea,
  • Seabrake emergency steering device,
  • radar reflector,
  • new engine mounts and servicing of the engine, gearbox and heat exchanger,
  • installation of replacement teak seat pads (sick of splinters in my arse); and
  • new sail wardrobe.

As for desirables, I am seriously considering AIS, Broadband Radar (uses extremely low power), Rutland wind generator and liferaft (was going to hire). I would also like a Hydrovane Self steering system but this is one expensive item! That said, the Aussie dollar is strengthening daily which lowers the cost, as you can only buy direct ex factory (Canada) and pay in the currency of your choice.

For example; the complete Hydrovane system cost comparison:

  • EUR 4472 (AUD $7920)
  • CAN$6881 (AUD $7292)
  • USD$6192 (AUD $6852)
  • GBP 3440 (AUD $6030)

So as you can see, considerable savings can be made depending on currency traded. I can readily transfer these systems to another yacht for minimal cost once I am ready to up size yachts for the world circumnavigation. There is the added bonus of having new modern equipment now which opens up the scope of yachts I may look at in the future that do not have extensive cruising inventories (or have older equipment), but are very capable blue water yachts. It is very easy to overcapitalise on a 30' yacht! I also want to be able to remove surplus equipment for the 2011 Sydney to Hobart race to increase her speed.

My current Tender is just over 6 feet long and is only safe with one onboard due to the low freeboard. Great for me, but a pain when I need to transfer guests. Enter 'Just Joey', a 2.4m Pram/sailing dinghy from Boatcraft Pacific. I have ordered the stitch and glue kit and my dad has agreed to take up the challenge, develop a new skill and assemble her in his shed. I will take a small inflatable on the circumnavigation and a liferaft.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Inner or Outer....that is the question

Damn work gets in the has been so busy at work I have been doing some long hours at night getting all the data I need to plan for this adventure. Finally received my Raymarine chart card reader and XL9 Chart of Australia so planning has commenced in earnest. Relle's away playing with our new grandson 'deckie' Aidan and keeping our grownup kids amused, so plenty of quiet time here to get my ideas on paper.
I have charted a few routes so far taking into account a couple of objectives. First of all lets look at the two routes possible - not taking into account the million variables.
It is widely recognised there is an Inner Route and Outer Route. This is with respect to the Great Barrier Reef. Ships carrying certain goods cannot transit the Inner Route and the majority of small vessels use this route as the preferred way north due to the protection offered by the reef. The difference in distance is significant; 7467 nm for the Inner versus 6536 for the Outer route. The Inner poses a navigational risk to a tired solo sailor without day hops in the reef areas. Apparently the nav lights are reasonably well spaced to permit night navigation.
The recognised route for records is the Outer Route. There are only a few people in Australia who have achieved a non-stop solo voyage around Australia......certainly gets the juices flowing!

Extract from the World Sailing Speed Record Council.
Around Australia. 6536M Either direction: Start / Finish: From any point in or close to a harbour acceptable to the WSSRC. Course: The vessel may sail either way around the continent and the course must enclose the whole of Australia and the following islands or capes: Ince Point on Wednesday Island of the Thursday Island Group (Queensland), Melville Island (Northern Territory), Montebello Islands (Western Territory) and South East Cape (Tasmania).

Monday, August 10, 2009

The invitation...........

A journey of a thousand miles
begins with one

My daughter gifted to me the words above, encouraging me to achieve my dream of sailing a yacht solo around the world. What follows below is one step toward realising that dream.

Today I write to five friends inviting each one of you to join me in an adventure that is the
Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race – 2011

Whilst some of you have known each other for many years, others have never met.
What I do know is that, individual skills aside, each of you possess the personal qualities I believe will make up the core of a great team.

Each of you possess individual skills that when melded together would present a formidable force whilst bearing the hallmark of a competitive, winning team.

I will attempt to coerce you with offerings of wet, cold and windy nights at sea, accompanied by bouts of sea sickness and sheer terror whilst rewarding you with adventure, exhilaration and accomplishment.

I could think of no better way to celebrate three 50th birthdays in 2011.

Just Jo
Before you decide to delete the email, call medical and have me undergo psychiatric evaluation, please hold that thought and allow me to briefly introduce this outstanding group of gentlemen.

If after reading you want a piece of the action….fire back your preferred contact details and let me know either way.

1. Mel (47ish)– racing/cruising sailor, serving Air Commodore RAAF, IRAQ Veteran F/A-18 Hornet Commanding Officer, light aircraft owner and social flier, can run a half marathon - Keeper of the Bagpipes, consumer of quality reds – lives in Canberra, ACT.
2. Mike (35ish)– Professional /racing/cruising sailor, ex LCDR RAN Seaman Officer, Patrol Boat XO, happy to watch a half marathon from the Bridge Deck and clap loudly - happy to sample quality reds….or any red for that matter – lives in Atherton, QLD.
3. Glenn (47ish)– racing/cruising sailor, ex decorated QLD Ambulance and Helicopter Paramedic, ex Southport Air Sea Rescue Skipper, can run a half marathon if chased - built to work a foredeck! – lives in Townsville, QLD.
4. Garth (33ish)– racing/cruising sailor, NQLD Helicopter Rescue Crewman, ex 4RAR Special Forces (SF) Section Leader, SF Instructor, East Timor Veteran, will run until told to stop - fearless and unbreakable, mast work in 6 metre seas won’t require us to draw straws……can save bowman if required ! – lives in Townsville, QLD.
5. Darryl (42ish)– social sailor, ex IRAQ Veteran F/A-18 Hornet Pilot, 4th year of Doctor study – well qualified to advise on the seasickness meds you should have taken whilst you are throwing up over the rail. Lead Protest Negotiator – can smooth talk our way out of any Protest!
6. Kev (47ish….rumoured to be 35 at the pub)- racing/cruising/solo sailor, broke yacht owner, serving Flight Lieutenant F/A-18 Hornet Aerospace Engineer, IRAQ Veteran F/A-18 Hornet Avionics Technician, Automotive Technician, ex Southport Air Sea Rescue Skipper, probably have a crack at a half marathon …….if only I had the time - can fix, plug, mend a lot with very little to get you home safely.

The Division we would race in requires 6 crew. I have not identified any reserve crew at this stage.
In preparation for the race there are mandatory safety and equipment requirements for the yacht and crew eligibility rules also apply - see the end of email and .

2010 - I intend taking Long Service Leave (Jul-Sep 2010) and circumnavigate Australia (anticlockwise). I am in the planning phase at the moment and if you are interested, I will be offering an opportunity for each of you to join me on various legs in preparation for Sydney to Hobart 2011. This is an excellent opportunity to gain sea miles, although this won’t be a concern for Mike! If you choose to sail with me, I would encourage you to sail on local boats within your area to assist in honing your skills and growing back those sea legs.
Follow the link to: for more information on the yacht and my waffling.

So you want a piece of the action……
We would meet and greet as a team in Brisbane for compulsory Yachting Australia Safety Training (valid 5 years) one weekend in Jan 10 (or other suitable time) and then discuss the plan of attack. We would hook up when available for the qualifying races and the odd regatta throughout 2010 and 2011. (eg Sail Port Stephens, Sydney to Gold Coast, Sydney to Coffs Harbour, Newcastle to Lord Howe, Brisbane to Gladstone). I believe early planning will make the experience more enjoyable for all and give me time to seek out sponsorship to offset costs. (I have already been asked about sailing the Three Peaks Race in Tasmania…..hence the Marathon comments.)

If we race Just Jo in 2011, we will attract media attention due to our 30 ft size and the crew composition……fortunately Media coverage means sponsorship opportunities! Media historically focus on the front and back of the race……….oh, and of course the dramas!

Just Jo is 33 years young and now is a good time to mention we would be at the back of the fleet due to her 1976 IOR racing design, however I believe she will still pack a surprise and be competitive on handicap….which is what it is all about. For example, Love and War (S&S 47) was built in 1973 and won the race in 1974 and 1976. She won again in 2006 due to upwind conditions that suited IOR design! There is no way we can keep pace with the downwind yacht/skiff designs of today. The hull design of Just Jo reportedly won the Australian Half Ton Championships in the 1980’s and she proudly wears a couple of second place plaques on board. She is a strong yacht built of ¾” thick solid fibreglass. My best solo speed over ground to date is 11.4 knots surfing 2-3 metre seas, wind gusting 38 knots on the quarter!
Usually there are only one or two other 30-32 foot yachts in the race, with the min limit being 30 ft, so there are always races within the race.
- Weather advice - Mel may be able to entice Roger (ex Tindal Met Man) to assist us in this very important area.
- Foul weather gear and additional personal safety equipment - will seek RAN support through temporary issue (RANSA).
- Cost – I will seek sponsorship and/or we share expenses.
- Open to suggestions if Charity fund raising is on your mind.

Whilst I acknowledge the commitment I am asking is significant and will impact upon your personal agendas, I am confident this team has the right blend to be competitive.

Standing by to accept boarders!

3.1.6 Qualifying Race or Ocean Passage
1. A boat shall substantially complete a qualifying race of not less than 150 nautical miles not more than six months before the start of the race.
2. The qualifying races are:
• Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, New South Wales
• Gosford - Lord Howe Race, New South Wales
• Cabbage Tree Island Race, New South Wales
• Maria Island Race, Tasmania
• Melbourne - Stanley Race, Victoria
• Haystack Race, South Australia
• Other races approved by the Organising Authority
3. Approval of an alternate qualifying race may be sought from the Organising Authority in writing.
4. A boat may, with the prior approval of the Organising Authority (to be sought in writing), obtain dispensation from the requirement to substantially complete a qualifying race by completing a non-stop ocean passage of not less than 24 hours not more than six months before the start of the race. A boat which is granted dispensation shall submit a detailed log of the passage on a form that can be obtained from the Organising Authority with the Pre-start Documentation under paragraph 4.3.
5. Dispensation from the requirements of this paragraph 3.1.6 may be requested in writing to the Organising Authority.

3.2 Eligibility of Crew
1. All crew shall meet the requirements of ISAF Regulation 19 (ISAF Eligibility Code). The minimum number of crew on a boat in the Cruising Division with a VHF radio (or an extension speaker) at a helming station is 4.
2. The minimum number of crew on all other boats is 6.
3. The minimum age of all crew on a boat is 18.
4. At least 50% of the crew on a boat shall have completed a Category 1 race or an equivalent passage. Particulars shall be supplied on the Declaration of Crew Experience to be provided under paragraph 4.1.
5. (Jan 2010) At least 50% of the crew on a boat shall have completed a Yachting Australia Safety and Sea Survival Course or an approved equivalent. Copies of the crew members’ current Certificates of Competence, or equivalent, shall be provided under paragraph 4.3 (refer Special Regulations Part 1, Section 6.01).
6. (Pudz / Garth / Glenn) At least two crew members on a boat shall hold a Senior First Aid Certificate or equivalent qualification, or be a practising medical practitioner. Copies of the crew members’ Certificate or other qualification shall be provided under paragraph 4.3 (refer Special Regulations Part 1, Section 4.07).
7. (Kev / Glenn) At least two crew members on a boat shall hold a Restricted Operators Certificate of Proficiency in Radio Telephony issued by a relevant authority, or higher qualification. Copies of the crew members’ Certificate or other qualification shall be provided under paragraph 4.3 (amends Special Regulations Part 1, Section 3.25.2).
8. It is recommended that the skipper or sailing master have a recognised Yachting Australia certificate (or equivalent) of at least an Offshore Skipper certification.

Monday, August 3, 2009


It has been quiet on this site for the past month as I piece together the logistics of next years trip Around the Edge. I also have a small dilemma, in that a yacht I have had my eye on for some time has become available. I will keep planning around sailing Just Jo, as I don't want to fall behind in my planning at this early stage. Will keep you posted on my progress.
The planning so far is basic - distance and approximate days I need to do the trip including sleep and stopover breaks. Obviously with any crew better time can be made. I have been intently studying the inner route through the Barrier Reef as this will be the most challenging if done solo. I will wait for responses to my expression of interest for crew before I offer up different legs of the voyage. I want to share the experience but at the same time strive for my own personal achievements of solo sailing.
Winds during Aug-Oct commonly prevail from the SE Trade Winds up the NSW and QLD coast. Reaches and runs would be the order of sail. As I round the top, the wind bends and follows the land, again offering excellent sailing conditions. Further west past Darwin the winds bend away from the coast as they meet the westerly systems moving east. These systems then stream down the WA coast toward Rottnest Island and Fremantle where the Fremantle Doctor kicks in. As I round the cape bound for Adelaide, the Southern Ocean yawns wide to cloak me in her roaring forties winds. From Adelaide, Hobart beckons around the wild west coast and into the Derwent for some well deserved rest at Constitution Dock. Departing Hobart, next landfall will be made at Jervis Bay where I will look at visiting HMAS Creswell for an overnight stay. Back up to Sydney for some drinks in the Sydney Hobart Bar at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA). The final sail to Port Stephens will be the hardest.....knowing the journey is almost over and work is just over the horizon. Should be a brilliant 3 months!!!
Fantastic preparation for the 2011 Sydney to Hobart where I celebrate my 50th birthday!

Quality Time

I digress......had a great day at the Sydney Boat Show on Saturday with dad. Took him along to act out as the 'rich' playboy just returned from his circumnavigation of Antarctica!! Pointed out all the 'Cougars' looking for the next husband, although he had no trouble finding all the long legged blonde yacht hostesses looking for the sugar daddy!!

What I did find was a distinct lack of nautical design of interiors of the modern production yachts. Sharp corners, laminates, protruding and dangerous handles and numerous other design faults that one would have thought would have been designed out of the marine industry after 1000 years. Very disappointing considering the price you pay for a production yacht. Some looked like a budget motel whilst others tried to mimic a trendy apartment....obviously aimed at the harbour cruising exec or charter operator wanting to make surroundings more 'familiar' to the charterer.

Bluewater Yachts built Charlies Dream which is a beautifully engineered yacht with a craftsman's finish. Seaworthiness, attention to detail, rounded corners and handles, teak interior, maximisation of space and most of all....conformity with nautical design made it a pleasure to be aboard. Pretty hard to get the old man out of that one..........maybe one day.........

Thursday, June 25, 2009

About 'Just Jo'

'Just Jo' is a Custom 30 sloop that was designed by Naval Architect, Mr Peter W. Ebbutt, as a competitive cruiser/racer under the International Offshore Rule (IOR) held popular in the early 70’s. His design is reported to have won the Australian Half Ton Titles in the eighties, and 33 years later still performs competitively; often scooping the prize Rum during midweek twilight races.

'Just Jo' was reportedly built in 1976 at Fremantle by owner of Custom Yachts Mr Neil Cain, for his son to race in the waters off Western Australia (WA). The most significant and appealing change in contrast to the full blown cruiser version, was the sleek, low profile GRP blister cabin top and flush Burmese teak deck; similar to the design employed by round the world yachts. The strength in build quality (3/4" solid glass layup) and design is still well reported by Marine Surveyors. She has competed in many offshore regattas in WA and bears the plaques of success right up until the late 1980’s.

Peter Ebbutt has designed super-yachts for the well heeled and also yachts that have raced in the Great Circle Race around the world.
One of his projects in 1989 was a 100’ mega yacht worth in excess of USD$2M that took 7 years to build. I like to think of 'Just Jo' as the concept yacht that led to 'Christine' (hah hah) check her out at Peter heads up the multi-national salvage and environment control group Ocean Motions in the USA. Peter confirmed to me by email he is the designer of the Custom 30 and was very excited to hear his design was still sailing competitively after 33 years.

'Just Jo' has a history that can be traced back to Fremantle. Following her sale by Cain, she was a live-aboard fast cruiser for a couple who cruised from Fremantle to Darwin. 'Just Jo' is Australian registered and is reported to have voyaged through Indonesia. The couple parted ways and 'Just Jo' was sold to a sailor from Queensland. She was sailed ‘over the top’ and around Cape York to Bowen in North QLD; testament to her seaworthiness.

'Just Jo' was then sold to Bryan and Jenny Thomas who sailed her back to Townsville in 1997. By this time she was showing signs of wear and tear and they refitted her at great expense. Bryan regularly sailed 'Just Jo' single handed and won many twilight races, much to the disappointment of the skippers of more expensive and modern yachts. Not bad for a 70 year old!

I took ownership of 'Just Jo' in March 2005 and continued the on-water refit over the next 18 months. I should acknowledge a few people here...thanks dad for the work ethic and those metal, maintenance and hand skills, Mr Tooke from my school days for the Tech Drawing and Woodwork knowledge, brother Dave for the paint and preparation knowledge. Still can't sew yet.....I have sailmaker Relle covered off on that task! My lifetime of accumulated knowledge and skills of maintenance, engineering, woodwork, mechanics, design, aircraft avionics, electrical and electronics permitted me to undertake a level of refit that would be cost prohibitive to the average person on such an old yacht if contractors were to be employed. The result is an exceptionally strong and seaworthy yacht that still, after 33 years, maintains a competitive edge on handicap.

In late 2007 early 2008, I solo sailed 'Just Jo' over 1100 nm from Townsville to Port Stephens north of Newcastle, where she is currently moored. In Dec 2008 I replaced the standing rigging and continued to improve her condition...must stop those annoying leaks one day. A new mainsail and Genoa are planned for the new sailing season. I have sailed her regulary in and around Port Stephens, and in Apr 2009 I sailed her solo to Sydney and return in 30-40 knot winds and 4 m seas. On a broad reach I achieved a new hull speed of 11.4 knots under a single reefed main and rag of a headsail! We are now waiting for our next challenge – a circumnavigation of Australia in 2010.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Vision

In Reflection......
My dad was born in the Channel Islands.....the island of Guernsey. He spent 7 years in the Royal Navy on HMS Ark Royal and HMS Cummberland before we left England on one of those government sponsored 10 quid package deals to Australia onboard the ocean liner Flavia way back in the early 60's. I am sure that this heritage and six weeks at sea at the age of two and a half is where my passion for the sea started.

From then on, every year my parents worked hard, scrimped and saved so our family could holiday near the sea. Urunga, Batemans Bay, Long Jetty, Kogarah and Shoal Bay were the more regular haunts along with visits to our very few relatives near the beach in Sydney. Growing up in the Central West of NSW we looked forward to our annual coastal holidays as they were the treat of the year. I remember begging each year for dad to buy a boat but we were by no means a well off family. Our first dinghy had a cantankerous seagull outboard but I thought it was just the ducks guts!
I should thank my parents for creating my passion for the sea.

Since our dear departed friend John Kumm first thrust the yacht tiller in my mate Glenn M and my hands way back in the early 80's, I have realised I have felt at home near the water and boats. I have sailed, boated and fished with some great people over the years and we have enjoyed many memorable moments.

Back in the early 80's, I learnt from experienced skippers the right way to stay safe at sea and how to assist others in distress; for this I thank the old Skippers and crew of Southport Air Sea Rescue (now Volunteer Marine Rescue). The opportunity to train on the Old Southport Bar before it had walls was the biggest adrenalin rush one could have. To be Skipper of a 23ft 470hp Sharkcat Rescue vessel in 2-3m breaking seas is a buzz! Most yachties and boaties are happy to just get in or out of a bar or seaway once.......we would spend hours training in and out of the broken water looking for the deepest channel of the day/week so we could escort yachts safely through the bar. The eight years I spent as a volunteer with ASR were some of the best in my life....although Relle may not agree!!

Some moments were more memorable than others for the WRONG reasons!!! Like five ASR Skippers on a J24 with wings, broaching whilst crossing the Gold Coast Seaway after a passage race, skipping down the barrel beam on with Kev wringing the neck of the outboard whilst surfing inside the 2m breaking wave.......the old 9.9 Jonno never missed a beat!! The old adage too many Chiefs not enough Indians may have applied......

My most memorable job was the rescue of 19 Japanese tourists from an upturned Flybridge Cruiser that flipped on the seaward side of Wave Break Island in the Southport Seaway on a run-out tide on New Years Eve. My crew were first on scene and rescued 11 people (it was a little crowded and no-one spoke English) and stood by until a second vessel arrived, We also coordinated the entire rescue including helicopter assistance....very satisfying result with no loss of life.

Its was not always fun and excitement. Often a pleasant day on the water would be saddened by injury or loss of it a head on collision between boats at night; a man throwing a stick to his dog and then duck diving in the shallow water to hide from the dog only to knock himself unconscious on a solitary rock on a sandy beach; an old man with dementia drowning at the waters edge or a boat flipping on the bar or seaway. These days made you even safer at sea.

This leads me to the purpose of this Blog which will probably astound my beautiful children as much as it did my wife! I want you to join me on an adventure as I tackle the goals I have set for myself as I approach the ripe age of 50.

To procrastinate is to perish.

My Vision

For many years I have imagined inside my head space that a time would come where I would sail the that solo, with my wife Relle or just a mate.
In preparation I have set myself three goals:
  1. Achieve RYA Yachtmaster qualifications.
  2. Circumnavigate Australia in 2010.
  3. Compete in the 2011 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race (S2H) in 'Just Jo'.
The Concept
A crew of six is required to race in the Sydney to Hobart. I have five highly skilled and top blokes in mind and over the coming months will attempt to coerce them with offerings of wet, cold and windy nights at sea accompanied by bouts of sea sickness and sheer terror whilst rewarding them with adventure, exhilaration and accomplishment.

The Plan
I plan to take in the East Coast races where possible and arrange the voyage in legs. Detailed planning will commence shortly but for the purpose of this post my initial thoughts are:
  1. Gain commitment from the crew.
  2. Seek sponsorship.
  3. Undertake a Safety at Sea Course in Jan 2010 in Brisbane so the crew can meet, greet and get wet together.
  4. Circumnavigate Australia by race and cruise 2010.
  5. My intent is to invite the crew to join me on various legs to get used to the yacht for a week at a time...or longer. This will assist in gaining the necessary sea time to enable an entry in the S2H race.
  6. Preliminary timings:
  • Depart Late July 2010 for Sydney
  • Race - Sydney to Gold Coast late July 2010
  • Cruise to Brisbane inside the Broadwater.
  • Race - Brisbane to Great Keppel Island early Aug 2010
  • Cruise to Airlie Beach
  • Race - Airlie Beach Race week mid Aug 2010
  • Cruise to Townsville
  • Townsville to Cairns
  • Cairns to Lizard Island
  • Lizard to Thursday Island
  • Thursday Island to Nhulunbuy (Gove)
  • Nhulunbuy to Darwin
  • Darwin to Broome
  • Broome to Perth
  • Perth to Albany
  • Albany to Kangaroo Island
  • Kangaroo Island to Hobart
  • Hobart to Sydney
  • Sydney to Newcastle
  • Haul for maintenance.
  • rest......
  • Sydney to Hobart 26 Dec 2011

As the plan evolves I hope you will enjoy following the circumnavigation of 'Just Jo'.

'Just Jo' at her mooring in Nelson Bay NSW


I have set up this Blog site to keep my family, mates and potential crew abreast of my pending nautical nonsense and how you can become a part of the Around the Edge adventure!

Stay tuned in the coming weeks!