This is it: D Day is upon us
Today is our last working day for the year. We will be moving on board Take It Easy on Friday, ready for the start of our 8 weeks’ sailing voyage.
We have been studying the forecasts this week. For our exit out of the Gippsland Lakes and the first leg of our trip round the bottom of the continent, we are looking for anything that has not got any East in it to be able to ‘get around the corner’. And of course we also have to be able to get across the Lakes Entrance bar – fun and games! For a while it looked like we might have been able to go on 5/12/14, but it won’t happen. At this stage it looks like we will escape early next week, which gives us a bit of breathing space as we both feel wrecked.
It has been a hectic few weeks beforehand, with last minute tasks such as affixing our new AMPAIR wind turbine to the back of the boat. Stainless steel brackets had to be made to measure at the shipyard. These were not ready until yesterday afternoon! Wade and our friend Paul Dow, from the catamaran Skellum, were waiting in Paynesville for the brackets and pole to be finished. By late afternoon the parts had at last been made. Wade & Paul beavered away all evening. By 1.00am the pole was assembled, the brackets fitted, the turbine mounted, wired and working! Nothing is ever easy on a boat, and it always, always takes two or three times longer than you expect to complete anything! However, Ampy the windmill is up… Phew! We’ve done the fresh food shopping, packed our clothes, tidied up the house, ‘briefed’ Bengie the shipcat who was looking a bit nervous, and we are ready to go.
Our goal: return to Lord Howe Island
Our hope it to return to Lord Howe Island, 350 nautical miles (650kms) off the East coast of Australia, about level with Port Macquarie. For us it means a 2000 nautical miles round trip (or 3700kms).
Here are a couple of maps. The first is one of Australasia so you get a better perspective of the entire trip. The red dots show the port of Lakes Entrance and Lord Howe, out in the middle of nowhere. The second is a blow up of the East coast. It shows you the starting point down the bottom left hand corner at Lakes Entrance, and a range of possible stopping spots along the coast, with Lord Howe Island, the Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs at the top right hand corner. Click on these to display in full screen.
Of course, as with any sailing, we are totally dependent on the weather, so at this stage we are not sure about specific anchorages or timeframes. The plan is to get to Sydney as quickly as possible and either wait there for a South West change to head off to Lord Howe, or sail further North to Port Stephens. Depending on the wind direction, strength and our departure point, once we leave the mainland and head offshore, the passage will take anything from 48 to 72 hours. So we need three clear days of right wind conditions to depart. Like last year, we hope to do the dash across the Tasman Sea before the end of December. If we don’t get the right conditions by 31/12/14, we will remain on the East Coast and just explore. But hopefully the weather gods will be kind and we will follow a South West change, which should give us enough time to sail all the way to the beautiful world heritage island of Lord Howe before the wind swings to the North East.
Life in wonderland
Once there, the fun and relaxation really begins: bush walks, diving, snorkelling, kite-surfing, bird watching, dreaming, fishing, surfing, photography, writing, snoozing, sunning ourselves, more swimming, more photography, heaps of exploring. Oh yes, and G&T’s and tasty food, some caught by “The Great Provider”, Captain Wadie!
We are also hoping to explore the surrounding isles, including Admiralty Islets and Ball’s Pyramid, which we did not get to last year, and go further north to the Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs. We will just see what the weather lets us do. Eventually we will leave this paradise to return to the mainland, making landfall where the wind takes us, somewhere along the East Coast. We have to be back at work on 2/2/15, but we won’t talk about the 4 letter word.
Now for updates. We will publish our Sailing news on the website at least once a week so you can follow our progress and check out our latest photos. In addition, Bird Photo Challenges will continue fortnightly on Thursdays, since they are scheduled ahead of time, as will the One Four Photo Processing Challenge which comes out every Monday.
We will be restricted while offshore with communication. There is no mobile or internet in the middle of the ocean. So there will be a few days of ‘silence’. Once at Lord Howe, the internet coverage is little better than dial up, and there is no mobile service at all, so bear with us, but we will stay in touch and give sign of life. We love the “Likes” and your comments, so keep them coming! We just might take longer than usual to respond, but respond we will.