We are playing catch up with our videos the next couple weeks as we have taken so much footage and done so little editing. However we just sailed into 1770 now and plan to stay here for a little bit. This should give us plenty of time to get up to speed! For now, here is a little story about our sailing yesterday.
We tucked in to bed early, anchored on the south eastern corner of Great Keppel Island. The wind was blowing strongly from the north and made our choice in anchorage very rolly. Also hanging Nandji on a lee to shore, which makes sleeping a little hard. The wind however was meant to shift to the west through the night, so I was confident this little cove would provide us safety and we could make a speedy exit in the morning. If only I could get to sleep…
Springing out of bed with my alarm set at 4:30am, it what felt like 5 minutes after lying down. I poked my head outside and Nandji was hanging out sea. Perfect, the wind had swung west. It was time to rumble. Quickly preparing Nandji and putting the kettle on, I poked the bear (Bonita) and woke her to help me get the anchor up. With Nandji free we headed east, quickly hoisting the main and setting a course. A northerly swell was present but the wind was coming from the west, making it difficult to read at first. After gybing once, the main was set and we were on our way. Unfurling the headsail and heading in a south easterly direction, steadily rolling with the swell. Not exactly on the course I wanted, so we changed the sail set up. After succeeding in poling out the head sail the other day, this is now my favourite way to sail. So pointing Nandji directly downwind, this was the technique we went to. Scooting along at 7 knots, heading where we wanted to go, finally the day was looking good.
After a couple of hours cruising at this speed, deep into my book I noticed the wind turbine facing off to the starboard side. A good indication, I have come to realise, a shift in the wind direction. Just as the headsail gave a little flap, it was quickly furled up. Dropping the spinnaker pole off the clew and flying again out the port side all in a matter of minutes. Sitting back and relishing in my own quick thinking and adapting, we didn’t lose any speed and were now going quicker.
A few more hours passed as we flew down the coast. I continued to remind Bonita how good I picked up the change in wind earlier, fishing for a compliment. Receiving no such words, we decided on weather to try to reach the outer reefs in this wind or head for the safety of a creek anchorage on the main land. Choosing wisely, Bonita nominated the creek. I have been determined to reach these outer reefs since forever, so didn’t give in easily. Thankfully I listened as we reached the creek on dusk.
Approaching the shipping lanes into Gladstone, we kept a good distance off shore as to not deal with these mammoth obstacles. Heading directly down wind again, we poled out the headsail once more. Surfing down the faces of the waves and digging the bow in, we were setting a terrific speed. Enjoying hand steering and keeping her straight, I was having a wow of a time. Some of the most exciting sailing we have done with Nandji. Reaching over 8.5 knots at times, we were proper flying. For us anyways.
The wind started to eased and my arms were tired from wrestling the wheel, Allen the almighty autopilot, took charge and showed me how much better at it he was then I. Kicking back and enjoying the ride, both Bonita and I were feeling quite comfortable with this new sailing technique and speed. Bonita doze off and I went down stairs to re apply some zinc.
A buzzer sounded off on the auto pilot, I didn’t think much of it as it sounded like the off course alarm. Allen usually sorted that sort of thing out pretty quick, so continued to lather my nose in the mirror. Then I felt Nandjis bow digging in and us turning sharply.
Oh shit, Bonita yelling "Yosh!", I jumped up stairs to take the wheel. The auto pilot had overloaded and released. With Nandji completing a chinese gybe (I think that’s what it is called) We quickly released the headsail and let it fly, furling it up as quick as Bonita's little guns would allow. The headsail furled up, but Nandji facing into the wind, we started going backwards. The main sail had a preventer rigged, stopping the boom from flying over if we accidentally gybed. It was doing its job all to well. The sail now capturing wind front on. Just before we released the preventer, I stopped and waited to see what Nandji was doing. Pushed backwards we reversed back into the oncoming swell and the bow righted itself pointing down wind again. The main filled with wind from behind us this time, pushing us forward again.
Well that was exciting we said to each other! If that had happened two months ago, we would have been shaking and feeling all tingly, absolutely shitting ourselves! However, we didn’t poo our pants and solved the issue quickly and confidently. With chuckles and laughter we decided that we would monitor things a bit closer from now on.
A great days sailing was had. A little problem that shouldn’t have happened occurred, but we enjoyed the problem and found it exhilarating and confidence building instead of scary and crushing. We learn from our misfortunes and hopefully don’t do them again. Becoming comfortable with your surroundings
is a good thing, but maybe not being so complacent is the key!
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