Protection against wild weather

This post is a long one, sharing with you the biggest thing on our mind at the moment: protecting ourselves from wild weather. So grab your beverage of choice and find a comfortable place to read this!

Current severe weather event

No sooner did we leave The Boat Works that we spent days anchored nearby in the Broadwater, unable to get off the boat, as severe weather hit southeast Queensland and northern NSW with a deluge of rain, huge seas and winds in excess of 40 knots – we saw 46 knots recorded a few times on our navigation gear and that is in the shelter of Stradbroke island. La Niña is in full swing with all this coinciding with king tides.

With the intense rain a few leaks have appeared… just when we thought we were watertight! We guess that with that sort of rainfall and wind strength, drips are to be expected. More changes of hatch seals required when the conditions improve!

In this wild weather, it is comforting to have our two screens turned on inside the cabin to monitor conditions. The Vesper (AIS) Anchor Watch on the left shows how far we are from our anchor and our track, the NKE screen on the right records wind direction, wind speed and water depth. With 65 meters of chain in 6 meters of water, we were not budging!

We motored to Paradise Point briefly to pick up our boom bag and jib from Mike Sabin at Gold Coast Sailmakers, then moved away again alongside Crab Island, to have space to swing in the strong conditions. Here is a glimpse of what the new trims look like. Mike helped us set up the boom bag. We had to wait a few days for a lull in the weather to set up the jib!

Mike and Wade set up the boom bag between showers
4.30am set up of the jib on the furler before the rain starts and the wind picks up!
Day 10 of constant rain – soggy cockpit

Although the wind has eased – 20 knots rather than 50 – the rain has not. The current is flowing fast around us, the water is a dirty brown with floating debris. There were flood warnings for the Coomera River with the water reaching the hard stand at the Boat Works for a while! It is not a cyclone, but it certainly is an intense weather event.

The hunt for boat insurance

As 2020 comes to a close, one issue has been worrying us: boat insurance. December is when our insurance renewal for Anui falls due and this impacts our cruising plans. In fact December 13 was D day, right in the middle of the latest wild weather!

Most people only cruise for part of the year, mooring their boat in a marina or leaving it on a hard stand for a period of time while they return to land life. We are on Anui permanently for as long as we can manage – with health and climate issues! So we have to be concerned with being protected in extreme weather and the nitty gritty of our insurance policy. It pays to be very diligent with reading Product Disclosure Statements (PDS) each and every year at renewal time. A slight change of wording can be the difference between being insured or not, as we have found.

For the past 7 years we have had our vessels insured with Topsail and have been happy with them although we noticed gradual changes in policy particularly since cruising full time. There is no cyclone cover between latitudes 5 and 25s, no cover at all at any time of year in some anchorages such as Pioneer Bay or Shute Harbour in the Whitsundays, Twofold Bay at Eden in NSW to name a few that affect us. But this year’s changes to our policy had us gasping. Not only was there no cyclone cover north of latitude 25 S, the conditions to be covered for cyclone damage below that line were more stringent. But it is the incredibly restrictive anchoring conditions anywhere at any time of the year that had us floored. Topsail now requires you to move anchorage daily or face the risk of increased excess if you make a claim and provide no cover at all if you anchor in the same spot for more than 14 days. You also have to be on board and ‘in control’ of your vessel for a minimum of 6 hours a day. And of course if you leave your boat unattended for more than 24 hours at anchor you are not covered – a standard clause. We considered the anchoring restrictions totally untenable so decided to shop around. We approached Pantaenius, Club Marine, Nautilus, Red Sky, New Wave… It made for interesting reading of PDS – Chris’s job given her insurance background!

We have changed insurers! Helped by broker Wesley Strong of West Rock Insurance, we have moved to RedSky Insurance who are underwritten by Lloyds. We have a far less restrictive policy, for slightly less than we used to pay, and with a similar excess to what we had. It will cover us against all normal risk (theft, accidental damage, public liability) but also for damage caused in a named cyclone anywhere we choose to hide, albeit with a large ‘deductible’ ($25,000) which is of similar level with all insurance companies.

For us this is a game changer. Although we have no desire to live through a cyclone on board, are very much aware of the risks with increased storms and severe weather events, and will always take every precaution to protect our vessel, we do appreciate the greater freedom of movement and extended cover without the imposition of unworkable conditions.

Where to spend Summer?

With our insurance sorted the next thing on our mind is where to spend summer. Our current thinking is to stay in Queensland, at least until the end of January, since we need to return to The Boat Works for some engine work. Beyond that to be honest we are not sure. We have to consider three issues for the months ahead: covid, cyclones and humidity.

We are worried that Covid outbreaks might spike up with the festivities and result in state border closures again. If we go south into NSW we might get stuck and there are many safer anchoring options in Queensland than in NSW. We are a bit dubious about river anchorages with floods often accompanying heavy weather.

For cyclone protection around latitude 25S our research shows that the best marina for us would be Gladstone – enough berths for our size boat, protected from the worst of the weather by Curtis Island, close to where we intend to be (Keppels and Southern Reef). We are considering making a booking with them for a few months to have somewhere secure and definite to go back to.

And then there is the humidity! It is early in the summer season and already we are suffering. Even Bengie is finding it uncomfortable. Right now we have 87% humidity! It just saps your energy. You wake up in the morning and feel hot and sticky. Working anywhere on the boat results in instant drenching with sweat. Going ashore: same thing. In fact even standing still you are dripping with perspiration. We go through so many clothes because they get soggy and smelly! If we struggle now, imagine what it will be like in the height of summer!

So we shall see how we feel in early February and decide whether we turn right or left when we leave The Boat Works.

Christmas and New Year

For now as soon as the weather settles and the wind is in the right direction we are heading north. We were hoping to spend Christmas just the two of us and Bengie at Lady Musgrave on the Southern Reef. We don’t have kids or grandkids and now neither of us have parents alive. So it puts a different spin on festive times. But with the continuing heavy weather, we might have to be happy with Fraser Island for Christmas and Lady Musgrave for New Year!

2020 has been a ghastly year for many of us. Our wish is that this coming festive season is a time for joy, renewal and connection for all of us. We hope we come out of this year stronger and more appreciative of what matters.

Merry Christmas from the Sv-Anui crew, and stay safe. Warm hugs to all.

20 thoughts on “Protection against wild weather

  1. Oh Chris, Yes 2020 has been very crappy for some of us. Great about the insurance – we are currently with Topsail – but will definitely look at your new policy provider. We are moving to anchor off Fraser Island today but will be at Great Sandy Straits marina over xmas… perhaps we will see you in passing. Cuddles (maybe with a wet cooling rag) to the girl . Much love to you and Wade! xxx

    • Hiya Trish, enjoy the festivities. We are hoping to head off early next week with a boat full of food and fuel for a few weeks escape! Merry Christmas to you and Andrew. Stay safe.

      • You too. I have just had an interesting email exchange with the CEO of Topsail. Our anchoring conditions aren’t changing so I think it depends who you are and where you are as to your yearly restrictions (although I would have thought your conditions similar to ours). I still have to drill down into the current information but I have been assured (ish) that they see no change to our anchoring conditions on our insurance being necessary for our next renewal. That is a relief – but it doesn’t mean I wont check out alternatives before we renew.

  2. I have to say a big wow to your insurance issues and a $25K deductable. Wow!

    You two are brave in dealing with the many storms. I’d be heading for solid ground! The new boom bag looks perfect, great colors. Day after day of rain would make me droopy as well as the humidity, again, wow.

    It’s dry here in the desert, just 5% or so humidity in my home just now. I wish all the best for you both and your families this Christmas and 2021. Please, stay safe from the virus! 🙏🏻😎🇦🇺

    • Thanks John – not a lot of fun in bad weather, but it is hard to find a place that is ok at the moment, even on land… lots of floods and trees down… sometimes we think it is safer on the boat!
      Thanks for the good wishes. You stay safe too.

  3. Thanks for this post Chris, lovely to hear what you are up to. Good job sorting out a better insurance. Beautiful blue on the sail bag and jib trim.

  4. Hi Guys. I still avidly follow your posts and my favourite catamaran. The new main bag and jib look awesome. Nice one! How are the new props performing? What I really like about your posts is that you tell it how it is. I always wondered how to survive in that much humidity. It’s a shame you are locked out of NZ for now. Summer here is much less humid and milder than QLD. Great cruising grounds too! Hopefully we will have a travel bubble open with Aus soon and it may be an option for you. If you ever need shore support in Auckland or further North, you have my email! Merry Christmas Chris, Wade and Benji. Keep that anchor dug in! 🙂

    • Lovely to hear from you, Craig! We missed you! NZ is definitely on the cruising list in the not too distant future!
      The humidity is unpleasant, particularly right now when we can’t get away. It is easier once you sail away, can anchor in clean water and jump overboard a few times a day! We had a summer up here when we bought Anui and swore not to do this again! And now we think Tasmania in summer has real appeal!
      Merry Christmas to you.

  5. Have read your hugely interesting and informative descriptions land-lubber style from the comfort of my office chair in my library with soft rain and but little wind pitter-pattering on the roof above me. *smile* Part of me is envious of your lifestyle . . . a large part realizes I would never manage ! Oh, know the places, know the weather, have watched the BOM reports and thought of you. Know a little about insurance so found the inclusions and exclusions most interesting. Thank you for the privilege ! Fraser Island has been in the news so much . . . I believe the months’-long fires have now been extinguished by rain – where roughly are there anchoring spots ? . . . . Personally Yule has not been an expected holiday period for me for decades to total personal satisfaction but I do hope that when the bells will be ringing you are content . . . we’ll talk . . .

    • Hello Eha – sometimes we miss the landlubbers’ comforts like air conditioning, unlimited water so you can be a Wally, and a veggie garden, but most of the time we relish the freedom and the constant changes f scenery.
      The Western side of Fraser with the Sandy Straits offers a multitude of anchorages, so we will find a spot for Christmas then head for our happy place on the reef!

  6. So pleased you came through the big blow unscathed. We were thinking about you. It’s ironic that our Aussie holiday season is frequently the craziest weather of the year, especially on the east coast. I’ve heard some cruisers take a long term marina booking, plug in a portable air-con and sit out the summer humidity. Have a great Christmas guys.

    • Hi Pete, yes the humidity is unpleasant. Of course the other option, although not this summer, is to head south and float around Tassie or SA! Enjoy your time with your family before you two are reunited with Selah!

  7. Love your new bag and the colour is lovely, Anui on the side is a nice touch. Stay safe out there. Street party tonight and then off for a week tomorrow. Wild weather up north has made us change our plans, heading north and then west. The rivers all the way up are flooded in one way or another and no chance of going up the waterfall way from Coffs, may make it in reverse on the way back. Wild weather every where

  8. Always interesting reading through your joys and sorrows. Here’s hoping the new year brings you more joys than sorrows! Happy, albeit, sweaty Christmas to you both Chris & Wade ….. quite a contrast to us, all rugged up in cold drizzly Glasgow. Anyway, stay well and enjoy your cold ham (roast turkey for us mmm 😉 !

    • Thanks for the good wishes Elgar! All the best to you and Claire. Funny thinking about the Christmas fare. May be some sashimi fish for us if Wade can catch us something tasty 😋!

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