Monday, 25 February 2013

Cows, Caves and Crumble

Cows and Caves made a great change for us for a few days last week. We really enjoyed our time on the farm with Karen and Herb and the girls loved playing with the dogs, helping round up the cows to be checked and treated for eye problems, riding on the quad bikes, catching yabbies in the dam, picking blackberries and best of all eating grandma's blackberry crumble.

In the thick of it picking berries with Grandma's crumble as an incentive! 
Em and D'Arcy help get the cows into the yards
Ava with the catch of the day

While in the area we also did a great day trip to visit Jenolan Caves. The underground formations were amazing. The girls really enjoyed hearing all about the way the caves formed, stalactites, stalagmites and underground rivers.

Intrepid Cavers

Amazing inside the caves

While we are on the boat I'm usually checking the weather forecast regularly (Em may even say a little too regularly!!) but this week I didn't show much interest. That is until I realised that NSW was being battered by a huge East coast low and felt glad to be a fair way inland, though a bit worried about how the boat was.

We returned to the boat by bus and train on Saturday (We had to check D'Arcy's bag as we left to make sure she hadn't hidden one of the dogs inside) and it was quite windy and wet but all was well aboard. That night a short but very sharp storm came through at about 1am with torrential rain, lightning and wind that really pushed us around in our berth in Gunnamatta Bay and even broke an aluminium pole on our boom tent. A good night to be tied up in the bay I think. Many others up and down the coast were not so lucky with much flooding and damage to houses.

This week we have headed South by road to Canberra  (while strong northerlies continue on the coast) and again look forward to time with friends and seeing the sights while Em also works Tuesday to Friday.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


We are having a great time in Cronulla. Lots of swimming at the beach which is just 5 mins walk away from the boat. Best of all has been catching up with family and seeing the kids play with their cousins. A real theme of our trip away this year is to see family and friends along the way as much as we can. We have such great friends in Hobart yet it is still such a special thing for the girls to be with their cousins and family and for Em and I to catch up with them all as well.

Swimming in Botany Bay
 On arrival we were given a huge tray of mangoes by Uncle Andrew and Aunt Megan and these have been put to good use and were polished off very quickly. The regular weekend pancake session on Aratika 2 this last Sunday included loads of very decadent mango pancakes.

Ava tucking into pancake number 4, or is it 5! 
 Continuing on our non nautical theme at the moment we left Aratika 2 tied up in Cronulla this morning and boarded the train to travel up the Blue Mountains to visit Em's mum and her partner Herb on their farm.

All aboard
We negotiated our way through central station and then onto the Blue mountains line and up through a series of fantastic old train stations to Mount Victoria where Em's mum Karen met us. 

There was a bit of a nautical theme to the train trip however, as we were downloading the NZ Met service forecasts for Puysegur Point and Foveaux Strait and emailing them to our good friends on the yacht Galactic as they near the end of their crossing from Hobart to Bluff, NZ. Technology is amazing that we can do this while on the train in NSW to a small boat at sea on the Tasman!! 

Through central station

Fantastic old station at Mount Victoria

Well away from the sea now

Grandma picks us up
So now it's a week on the farm with Grandma and Herb to look forward to. No rocking boat and passing ferries.Instead it's cows, dogs, cats, chooks and the nearby Jenolan Caves and Blue Mountains.

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Start

After a very hectic time we left Hobart on 21 January, Robb's birthday. We were pretty exhausted having packed up the house, moved onto the boat, done a myriad of boat jobs, put the car up for sale and all the while kept the kids entertained and out of mischief.

We left Hobart at 6:00am and sailed the 8hrs around Cape Raoul to Port Arthur for the night. Em put in a huge effort and despite very bouncy seas cooked a double layer choc cake on the way!! The girls were great and saw lots of dolphins, seals and birds.

Leaving Hobart 
Sailing Towards  Port Arthur

Birthday Dinner. Check out that cake!! 

Next day we sailed around in between Tasman Island and Tassie and then turned North up the East Coast of Tas. A small milestone as it should be all Northwards from here for a while. A bit of a slog of a day in the end as we got into Reidl Bay on the East coast of Maria Island just before a Southerly change. Girls still travelling really well despite a bit of queasiness for Ava.

Past Tasman Island. It's all North from here!! 
It was obvious by now that the window we thought may open for Bass Strait in the next few days was unlikely so we went around the North of Maria Island and into the fishing port of Triabunna. Here we tied up with the trawlers and a few other yachts and spent a few days resting, doing laundry and hanging out. With no window for a crossing for at least a week due to a cyclone moving down the Qld/NSW coast making the North end of Bass Strait nasty we decided to go up to Schouten Passage for a while. We sailed up in a day sail and found a beautiful area on the South end of the Freycinet Peninsula.  Here we did lots of swimming, snorkeling and walking including a great effort by Ava and D’Arcy to get up Bear Hill on Schouten Island. Spectacular views at the top and we descended to the boat below to sit out a forecast SW blow at anchor. Dolphins in the Bay and Wedge Tail Eagles overhead.  The enforced slow down in the pace and time in Schouten Passage was actually just what we needed to settle into life afloat and also to rest up after a hectic few months pre departure.

Bear Hill Summit

On the way back down

Bear Hill

Swimming ashore

Tough Life

Aratika 2 anchored below Bear Hill

Constant weather forecast watching showed a possible window opening for Bass Strait on about 1 Feb so after 4 days in Schouten Passage we headed back to Triabunna to refuel, rest and pick up our extra crew member, Frank, for the passage. Frank is a great friend, previous owner of Aratika 2 and Master Mariner and yachtie.

In Triabunna we went to the park, found a geocache on the nearby “Isle of the Dead” and enjoyed amazing iced chocolates and coffees at a local cafĂ© that included super fast NBN wifi. We all sat there with kindles out downloading books!

Frank and his wife Adrienne came down on the 31st and had dinner with us and then with the weather still looking good for a Southerly flow across Bass Strait all was in place to leave the next morning. Adrienne continued on to Hobart that night and Frank stayed on Aratika2 with us for an early start.

1 Feb started early with a 6:00am departure for the 360nm trip to Eden. The passage was great and with Frank along we did 3 hours on and 6 hours off for the whole way. We sailed and motor sailed with the wind behind us. The girls were just fantastic and read books, listened to talking books, watched movies and enjoyed the view from the cockpit. We saw lots of dolphins, seals, albatross, some flying fish and even a large shark. Through Bass Strait the weather blew up (as forecast, though a little stronger)and we had a fast and lumpy finish on the last day in 25-30kts past Gabo Island, Cape Howe, Green Cape and into Eden after 60hrs at sea.  It was great to anchor in east Boyd Bay before dark and enjoy a beer and dinner at anchor.  Having Frank along made it very manageable for us and all the more enjoyable and the kids took it all in their stride without a drama.

Our escorts across Bass Strait

Ava on watch

The girls in their sea berth. 

Our friend and mentor Frank in his favourite spot! 

Bass Strait Sunset

Green Cape, nearly there! 

A day of rest in Boyd Bay near the Naval Jetty with swimming, reading and relaxing and then the next day we moved over to Eden jetty so Frank could fly home and we could do some washing, shopping and exploring.

The next few days the kids started E school through the Tasmanian system. It was very easy, very interactive and the gilrs are loving the online lessons thus far.  Amazing what the technology lets them do online with their teachers and classmates.

We anchored out in Eden waiting for the strong Northerlies to blow out so we could head North again towards Sydney.  We had a bbq on the beach, visited the fantastic marine discovery centre where the lovely staff spent lots of time with the girls at the touch tank and various displays and also visited the whale museum to learn about the whaling history of Eden. 

Ava at school

Visitor alongside in Eden.

Eden whale museum

At last the wind turned to the South and we were off on a 124 mile overnight trip to Jervis Bay. We sailed fast in strong winds with the sails reefed down and soon the sea heaped up behind us and became very lumpy. It was a pretty uncomfortable night in the end with steep seas, rain and varying wind so we were glad to enter Jervis Bay in the dark at about 5:00am. We went in on radar and waited in the bay for some light to emerge from the rising sun before going down to the South of the bay to "The Hole in the Wall". No moorings available so we dropped the anchor well off the beach and sea grass and went to bed very tired. The girls had slept through the night passage no problems so as Em and Robb slept the day away they did E school lessons online. Jervis Bay is beautiful and largely Marine Park and National Park. We had a great time watching eagles, fish, dolphins and exploring the beach and rock pools. Ava and D'Arcy had a great time swimming,snorkelling and exploring the marine life in various pools. 

Checking out the rock pools in Jervis Bay
Bath time! 
2 Hp replaced by 2 girl power

Local dolphins catching dinner beside us. 
After a few great days in Jervis Bay with Northerly winds approaching we used the last day of Southerly flow to sail the 75 miles to Port Hacking. We are now happily ensconced in the Cronulla Marina just minutes from surf beaches, shops, the train station and most importantly the girl's cousins.

Point Perpendicular at dawn as we leave Jervis Bay.