Our Life Afloat

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Blog of Jack and Jude
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I love not man the less, but Nature more – Byron

We all need a little love

Lord Byron once wrote –
There is pleasure in the pathless woods;
There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes;
By the deep sea, and music in its roar;
I love not man the less, but Nature more….

Why spoil a good story by not missing a meal
Japan set to propose resuming commercial whaling at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission
[Read More in EARTH NOW]

Midwinter Hints and Tips
Hello from Northern NSW, where the balmy days feel more like summer than mid-winter, and are perfect to tackle a bit of boat maintenance. So, we thought we’d put up a few helpful hints for maintaining your vessel and gear. 

For the many who have asked how Jude is recovering from her fall and broken wrist bones – she’s fine, her wrist is nearly back to 100% but her ankle which was over extended and suffered severe bruising is still causing her pain. She’s now out of the Cam Boot and to get full use of her ankle again she’s right into a whole range of exercises set out by her physio to relieve the swelling. Even better news is that we’re planning our next offtrack excursion – albeit this time we’ll be carrying a wee bit less weight.  With such wonderful winter weather, a week lost in the never-never enjoying Nature’s wealth is calling like a siren.

Tips to Save Your Costly Running Rigging
By guarding against the five deadly enemies of all line: sunlight, dirt, salt, chafe, and shock, you can extend the life of any piece of marine rope and save replacement costs by doing just five simple things on a regular basis.

Wash and Dry Before You Stow!
Did you realize that nylon line–like those used for docking lines or anchor lines–can lose up to 15% of their strength when wet? Or that wet line, stowed in a dark, dank locker presents a prime breeding ground for mold and mildew? 

Wash your anchor rode, cockpit sheets, and halyards with fresh water. Get into your anchor locker with a hose and spray it down. Do the same with your others lines or soak your ropes in a 20 litre pail of fresh. This will loosen up line-killing dirt and salt crystals. Then flake the line in alternate loops over a rail or your lifelines to dry them before coiling and stowing after they have dried completely. This can add years of life to any line and it will stay supple for sailing or marine knots. We always wash our lines when wintering Banyandah.

Keep Lines Under Tension
Halyards and Genoa or jib sheets must stay under constant tension to prevent fibre and strand breakdown. Lines that are too loose will shock and slack, which can weaken the line. Take care not to make lines too taut.

Some lines–docking and anchor lines–must have slack in order to perform their best. On the other hand, your super expensive sail halyards and sheets should be under tension. When sailing, re-tension your sheets and halyards once in a while to keep wear under control.

Make Leads Straight and True
Straight leads give you the best fair leads. You might have heard the sailing term “fair lead”, which means the direction a line travels form one point to another. The straighter you keep the line, the less wear and tear on the fibers.

Keep this in mind whenever you need to thread a sheet through a block, or lead a line from the mast back to your cockpit, or set up your Genoa furling line between bow and cockpit.

Keep acute bends that change the lead of the line by 60 to 90 degrees to an absolute minimum. The more bend you put into a line, the more stress this places on the apex of the bend. Use straighter fair leads to pump life-blood into your lines and save on repair and replacement costs.

End for End Lines Once a Season
One of the huge jobs on olden day square-rigged ships was to end-for-end line once a year. This monumental task involved thousands upon thousands of metres of rigging. But it added years of life, and well it did because those big ships were at sea for years at a time, and the cost of line back then was astronomical.

Today, the cruising or racing skipper can use this same technique to add years of life to docking or anchor lines, halyards and sheets. And it’s a lot simpler because you aren’t dealing with so much cordage.

If using rope halyards, end for end the line will shift the wear point, just as it does for rope sheets. If anchoring on rope, just make the bitter end of the line the working end. Do this once a season. This end-for-end technique has been proven to extend the service life of anchor line, sheets and halyards by a whopping 50%!

Whip, Dip, or Tape Bitter Ends
The ends of your lines can fray and unwind to look like the head of a golliwog. Prevent this with whipping, where you wrap sail twine around the end. An easier temporary method uses 50 mm duct-tape. Wrap the tape tight, two to three times around the end, then use a sharp knife to cut through the line at the centre of the tape.

Or, make your own end-whipping dip. Dip at least 10mm of the bitter end into super glue. Any of these techniques are guaranteed to stop fraying and save you lots of money.

Melt ends of synthetic cordage first
See more knots HERE

Furlers – Friend or Foe?
After spending my first twenty years before the mast being bashed about by sailcloth and hardware while trying to stay aboard when changing sails, we invested in furling gear and a furling headsail. What bliss! No matter how hard the wind blew, I remained safe in the cockpit while reducing sail. Yippee! Never again did I have the arduous task of bagging stiff cloth or the problem of storing so many sails. But there are a few serious shortcomings with furlers and with winter’s stronger winds upon us, let’s review how best to manage them.

Furling sails are bulky. They create a lot of windage at the front of the ship that can make manoeuvring in confined spaces difficult, and when going to weather, their massive leading edge reduces performance. But it is while at anchor or hanging off a mooring that this extra windage can catch us unawares and cause damage or even loss of the vessel. The windage will cause your ship’s head to be blown off the wind with the result that you may find the ship being blown one side to the other and this creates greater strain on your ground tackle.

Windage of furled sail

Granddaddy of all problems
But the granddaddy of all problems comes when the sail has been loosely furled. In stormy conditions that ol’ devil wind just keeps niggling at the loose folds, slowly tightening the sail around the spar to expose even more cloth that eventually has the clew working back and forth until the clew tears loose. Once set free, these sails self-destruct. Therefore, it is imperative that furlers are wound tight then finishing off with a minimum of three wraps of the sheets. Another thing to watch, the furling line must be maintained in good nick. If yours should break, you could lose your boat like what nearly happened to the bloke in this photo.

Loosely furled headsails worked free during this east coast low. 
Read how this happened HERE

Protect the sail
Furling sails spend most of their life exposed to the sun’s UV and therefore most have a wrapper of sun resistant cloth to protect the sailcloth. It is important to furl the sail * But a problem develops as the sail ages because the area where the wrapper is attached to the sail is stiffer than the cloth and therefore the cloth works along that seam causing a weak point. We keep our eyes on this area as it is usually the first place the sail will fail.

Another thing we do when we leave Banyandah on a mooring for long periods is to remove the sail from the furler to lessen the yawing that can occur in gusty conditions. This makes our lady sit straight into stormy conditions thereby reducing the strain on our mooring system while at the same time it also extends the life of the sail.

Three NEW background images / wall posters added
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Two remote destinations
Do you love wild outposts of Nature, where the creatures don’t scurry away but instead come in for a closer look? Do you love being all alone surrounded by soaring peaks, with great walks and good fishing?

If you’ve been toying with the thought of sailing across the bight to Western Australia or sailing east from the west coast, then here are two places that will offer a magical experiences and a place to rest.

Daw Island

We’re guessing that you’ve never heard of this droplet of land that pops out the turbulent Southern Ocean twenty miles from Isrealite Bay in Western Australia. Previously we sailed past it on our way west, but didn’t stop as we had wind for many more miles. So the next time when going east, we were keen to explore Daw Island. Especially after Ted, our ex-tuna fisherman friend in Albany told us that Daw Island once had a tuna processing ship stationed there during the fishing heyday of the 70s.

Daw Island Location Map
Daw-Island_3Today Daw Island is an outpost of Nature, a lonely island at the very eastern end of the remote Recherche Archipelago, impossible to visit without a stout vessel and the courage to face Australia’s south coast. Very few visit, mostly fishermen and few yachtsmen, but hardly any pleasure boats venture that far from help.

Wild creatures live on Daw Island. Cute comical sea lions, majestic sea eagles, plump geese, muttonbirds, penguins, and deadly snakes all coexist with a myriad of other birds and critters. At Daw Island, these creatures raise their families unmolested, far removed from man and his needs. At Daw, Nature dominates. And that makes this place special. [Read More]

Investigator Islands
Facing the Great Southern Ocean, this remote outpost for Nature seemed to beg to be investigated, and so we planned to anchor there overnight if conditions allowed. Lying 55 miles west of Esperance, and 15 miles from the mainland, the Investigator Islands, which were originally called Rocky Isles and then renamed to honour Flinders’ ship, are no more than two gigantic granite boulders rising out tempestuous seas.

In 1802, Matthew Flinders wrote, “Rocky Islets (Investigator Islands): low, smooth, sterile, frequented by seals”
Approaching the anchorage Hard white sand bottom – but very deep

When first sighted ten miles ahead, we were in seventh heaven flying a full main and headsail poled out, both filled by a gentle breeze, our first since leaving Adelaide eight weeks earlier. Gazing at the approaching humps gaining colour and taking shape, Jack was on the aft deck cleaning a recently caught two-meal tuna while Jude prayed the mild swell would not have much affect in the bay trapped between the islands.

These islands are the furthest west in the Recherche Archipelago that contains many areas not surveyed. Therefore, using our chart just as an indicator, we cautiously sailed into this bay that is surrounded by rising granite rock and then carefully skirted the shallow patch off its head, before proceeded with extreme caution expecting the bottom to rise suddenly. Looking about, we saw no sandy beaches, just steep bare rock all around, and so it did not surprise us that we had to sink our anchor into great depths.

Cleaning out accumulated Ribbon Grass from anchor locker Our first sight of Sea Lions
Jude’s running off to retrieve her camera

Once settled, our next look about found sea-lions littering the rock slopes. Too late to row around, but we didn’t mind, in half an hour the sun would be molten gold behind black rock, providing heaps to see from our floating home. A group of what we thought were NZ fur seals were cavorting about in the rocky gap between the two islands, their dark shapes starkly contrasting against the white breaking southern ocean swells seething with foam. Through binoculars, their dripping wet coats reflected the orange glow of the setting sun through which sea-birds were already flying home.

Sea-lions and fur seals slipped off rocks and swam beside us, hand standing under water to wave flippers, and excitedly leapt about in such perfect harmony with the sea while others raised their heads to ask ‘Who’s come to visit our island?’

Around us the world is wild, stark, menacing. While downstairs it’s warm and cosy. The transition swift, absolute. Upstairs, orange and amber red succulents carpeted the pink granite massifs that form the backdrop to dark creatures lugging their slug-like bodies up slopes, or posturing, heads aloof, princely, regal, while overhead against scudding darkening grey, forked tailed terns dart, their eyes striped black – inquisitive, hanging perilously aloft on lopping fragile wings. [Read More]

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Our Life Afloat — 6 Comments

  1. Hello Jack & Jude,
    Wow, what a life! Loved reading your adventures! May we share them by posting your link on our TideMinders Facebook page? Larry and I have been looking for something that’s enjoyable with grit, real determination in living life; you two with your experiences are the prime example! What excitement you add to those, like us, who have wonderful sailing memories and are now retired.
    Good health to you and Jude!
    Best to you, Judy and Larry Gray

    • G’day from Australia – Glad you find our articles enjoyable and uplifting. The sailing life keeps us active and fit, and so far we’ve adapted well to loosing some physical strength. We’d be delighted if you posted a link on your facebook page. Cheers J&J&

    • Thank you Carlo for your your well wishes. Jude is a heroic lady with a high threshold for pain and filled with determination, and we’re pleased to report that she’s on the mend nicely. The broken wrist bones are doing well and the swelling, which has given her such pain, is easing. Cheers, J&J

  2. Wow, it seems as though nothing will stop you two from finding a way to be cold and uncomfortable in a tent somewhere far from civilisation. It’s good to hear Jude is on the mend. Can’t risk damaging those rowing wrists can we. I hope she gets better quickly and a late happy birthday to you Jack from the Peace and Plenty gang.

    • Hello Niki, Lauren and little Lulu –
      Cheers for birthday greetings and “cute” summation. Far from civilisation sounds all right to us!
      Appreciate all your work getting Zulu Waterways so useful to the boating community.

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