December 2012 Nov 2012 >>
Thursday 27 December
In the sunshine before the mountain
All is calm as the silver and gold morning creeps up from Risdon Cove, the site of the first British settlement in Van Diemen’s Land, and given that name in 1794 by John Hayes to honour his second officer, William Risdon, when they were mapping the Derwent in the Duke of Clarence.
On this last morning at Barry and Wendy’s, away and behind our camp only a hint of mankind is heard within the whispers coming down the brooding mountain with its rocky cap deep in shadow. Its flutes not lost, but hiding some of their grandeur as they await the next burst of sunlight that have been striking almost without notice from behind fleeing clouds.
Another Christmas has come and gone, the Sydney Hobart fleet has sped out the Harbour and at this early hour they could be halfway to us at Hobart. That’s OK for today Jack and Jude must also leave one paradise and head home to Banyandah, another paradise with unfinished work.
These last three days have flown with so much delight. Each day different yet holding the same precious thread of contact with family members, especially the two young adults on the cusp of life. They will share today’s journey home with us so we may show them the grand lady that has made so many of our dreams come true. Their curiosity has inspired Jude and I into spinning stories of our struggles and conquests, igniting their young minds, and I confess to shedding some tears on two occasions when recalling poignant moments that turned me into a softy.
Barry and Wendy’s place is something very special. So intensely surrounded by dramatic nature, and yet just over the rim, a capital city spreads to a seascape promising adventure and commerce. Boxing Day’s fine weather sent Jude and I walkabout up and around the cavernous quarry that created the extraordinary landform upon which Barry built his house. As a young lad growing up just one street below the quarry, Barry made them an offer for the land holding the mine’s overburden. And in the late 1970s, when the bluestone quarry finally finished building Hobart’s roads, Barry secured his dream bit of land.
That was decades ago. Today the suburbs brush along one side, but the property’s exposure is pure nirvana. Magical green forests reach for the summit where the Organ Pipes stand proud next to where other mountains stretch north towards a gigantic silver medallion with a jagged tongue named the Derwent. In a park like atmosphere full of open spaces, distant clouds and mountains become a changing billboard as the sun plays hide and seek. Here a conservatoire would find inspiration and peace in an area crisscrossed with walking trails that lead to nearby Mount Lofty, or far away to the peak of majestic Mount Wellington, adorned with two surreal spaceship objects that smack of man and perhaps spoil her lovely natural shape.
Down to earth Barry is presently navigating through the finer nuisances of property development. A new water supply has opened the possibility to share this magical location with others and he’s up to eyebrows in developing 12 large blocks. Something we have discussed – along with so much more. Thank you immensely.
Needing a break from sanding and priming, this holiday on the plateau has proven a straight path to heaven. In between our walks and socials, Jude sketched the mountains and gum trees, while Jack laid horizontally polarized listening to ‘jock witty’ sing his repetitious greeting.
Saturday 22 Dec. ~ Good News and Not
Let’s get the bad news across straightaway. After laboring for two weeks, sanding and filling until Banyandah’s topsides are slick, we mixed up our 2 pack Poly- U, diluted it with retarder thinners and with great expectations, me rolling it on, Jude shoulder to shoulder tipping it off, well, the transom came out looking bloody awful to put it nicely. The stuff just wouldn’t flow. Brush marks froze as they left Jude’s deft touch. The flat surface of our transom was our trial, and so we stopped right there thinking we’d look at it again in the bright light of a new day and went off to the marina’s Christmas Party.
Next morning it looked just as bad. Scratching my noodle, I made the decision to abandon using the cantankerous Jotun 2 pack, and instead, buy four litres of enamel paint, which we know we can brush smooth. But that’ll have to wait till after Christmas now.
Disappointed, Jude turned to giving Little Red a new red coat, and I, though not at my best with a slightly pickled brain, set to installing the 42′ long machined sail track. With great trepidation, expecting a major stuff up considering our run of luck, I set up the video camera then proceeded to offer up the metre wide roll of expensive plastic that had been especially machined for us in America. Well, blow me down with a feather, it all went so magically, I came alive with good cheer. Yep, up she went smoothly aided by a few squirts of diluted detergent. You beauty! Our new mainsail now has a home. We’re a going machine once again.
Wednesday 19 Dec. ~ What Price Perfection
You know you’ve been working hard when your eyes refuse to open to the new day. Gummed up, brain running in molasses, what day is it, you wonder?
Weeks two and three of Life on the Hard sure got a lot harder. It’s those damn topsides. Why is it, the closer to perfection, the harder it gets? Dimples never seen suddenly appear and tinny-winy blemishes yell out I’m here!
Those who know Banyandah are probably rolling on the floor laughing right now. Our lady is more working class than showgirl, but pride, or is it ego, has Jude and I up and down ladders, priming and sanding for hours and hours. If that wasn’t enough for legs past their prime, we also sanded Little Red, getting her ready for a new coat as well.
Midweek, for a break from the coalface, we borrowed the marina’s courtesy van and went shopping for three months of victuals. Ouch… Right in the midst of the Christmas rush, babies wailing, Jude pushing one cart, me pushing another, nearly a grand spent in just a few hours. To celebrate, in a madcap last stop we bought ourselves a Christmas gift. A new Opulence mattress. The old one looks like two elephants had made it their bed and my back has been complaining for nigh on too long.
Did you read in Where Wild Winds Blow how we acquired our mainsail from Egyptian fishermen who had salvaged it off a French yacht that had disastrously misjudged the first coral reef in the Red Sea? This sail’s story is a saga of patiently waiting some 20 odd years before it felt the breeze once again. Well, that main, which could never have been called first class, has now powered Banyandah more than twenty thousand miles including three Bight crossings. So it’s a wee bit worn out. Therefore, we have splurged and bought a brand new one. Whoopee! But more than that, a mainsail with full length battens.
Our track system, installed back in ’73, comprises four SS sections that accommodates plastic slides that work remarkably well unless one jambs at a joint. With Jude and I closing in on yet another decade slipping past, we often tuck in a reef at sundown just so we don’t have deck work in the middle of the night. You never know when sailing the Southern Ocean. And since we don’t like getting wet before going to bed, I often pull the reef in while trucking down the wave fronts. Don’t think that’ll be possible with full-length battens, so we flashed even more cash, opting for a new sail track system. We’ve sailed lots of miles in dirty conditions. The Red Sea for instances ground our winches to a standstill, blocks exploded, and an Egyptian garden hose taken to the masthead poured grime out the bottom for what seemed hours. Well, the top end of Aussie is kinda like that with sand in the air being blown into all those bearings. So we don’t like those tiny balls they put in the big name sail cars. Besides being costly, they might be trouble up north. We prefer simple things.
We researched a different system made by TIDES Marine in America. A one-piece machined UHMW track that slips into existing grooves, or in our case they machined one to fit our ancient Ronstan SS track. Slippery as a wet baby’s bottom, it uses solid stainless cars. On the sample they sent, sliding the car back and forth seemed like greased lightening. Jude called it her toy. I called it heaven.
The new mainsail arrived midweek and of course straightaway I wanted to fly it. Nothing soothes the mind than seeing a new sail actually fits. Without the proper track, I was going to fly it free just to see how it fit, and I wanted it dead quiet. But Tasmania has freaky weather. One moment sunny and quiet, the next the Roaring Forties shout out. After a difficult night, the stillness at dawn saw me unpacking our super crisp sail and attaching clew and tack. Hooking on the halyard, as I pulled up the first few metres, wouldn’t you know the son of Poseidon let out an almighty shout. The trees shook, leaves fluttered and our new mainsail went wild. Sharp metal corners abound on slipway bogies and my mind’s eye imagined one of them slashing a huge jagged gash. Oh my god! Get it down! Cuddled like a child, fortunately no harm came to our new baby.
Hours later, after those mountains of stiff cloth had blocked our access all day, we experienced a calm and let the thing fly. You Beauty! She’s a ripper. Might have liked a wee bit more roach seeing her full-length battens will support its shape, but love the Bainbridge Ocean 1055 cloth that’ll drive Banyandah to even greater adventures. The track arrived in a coil today, and get this, they assure us it’ll slide all way up our 13 m track. More on that later.
Good weather next Saturday and Sunday means we’ll be hard at it laying on new polyurethane topside coatings. After that, tools down, we’re going up to Barry’s in Hobart to unwind and celebrate Christmas. His son’s a chief and with thoughts of last year’s fare making our mouths water, we have plenty to be thankful for this season. So I plan to find a quiet place under a gum tree in the shade of Mount Wellington and utter my thanks.
This Christmas spare a thought for Mother Earth. She’s doing it tough, mostly by our own doing.
Long life and good health to all.
Merry Christmas from Jack and Jude
Wednesday 12 Dec.
Jude’s photo has made a front cover. Her albatross picture taken while adrift in the Great Australian Bight now graces “The Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels” website.
Tuesday 11 Dec. ~ Life on the Hard
Serious cruisers will know the shaky start of day descending a steep ladder to race for the loos that is normal for life on the hard.
Surround by a forest of masts, Banyandah stands forlorn like a worn object of art precariously balanced on her long keel, her mass kept from toppling by what appear two flimsy vertical arms, one of which doubling as the means of entry into our abode. She feels dead, or dying with occasional tremors and shakes so unlike her lively antics when afloat and this has us tiptoeing about praying she recovers.
Instead of commanding her to even greater adventures, Jack and Jude consult her list of aliments to plan a recovery. It is a long list as she only get’s looked at every two years. There are spots of cancer needing cutting out, nothing serious, but a stitched in time…. Her sacrificial bits have been eaten down to gnarly bones. They must be renewed. There are nuisance leaks around some of her portals that need plugging. And to extend its life, her anchor rode should be turned about, her bobstay too. That’s work enough for a veteran couple, but alas, that’s just the start. Our lady’s protective skin needs rejuvenating, top to bottom. The five years of bashing around Australia’s hostile climate has left her beautiful blue coat threadbare and worn patches show hints of her white undercoat. Her skin facing the myriad of undersea creatures seeking a home needs copious amount of poison to ward them away. We normally double these coatings to give us two years of fast cruising. You can do that with ferro.
Thursday 6 Dec.
I just got off the phone with Martin at Somerset Sails in New York. What a helpful fellow he is. Somerset Sails have made our new mainsail, which will be shipped tomorrow. Woohoo, can’t wait. If the quality of his sail matches his service then it will be a wonderful new piece of gear on Banyandah.
One of the nice things I have enjoyed has been placing a skype call to him, he has a free phone number +18003239464, and be able to discuss every detail of our order. We want the sail quickly during peak holiday time and Martin made sure it all went smoothly. Watch this space for comments on the quality.
Other news, it has been windy, very cold, and rainy most of this last week, snow has fallen on the Tasmanian mountains! These terrible conditions have slowed our progress a bit. But between showers, we’ve been outside sanding the hull, grinding out cancerous bits ( there have been a few trouble spots for years that we have to redo every 4 or 5 years), plus I end for ended the bobstay a task taking most of a day, and end for ended our anchor chain and replace the main anchor shackle with a new one, tested of course. Getting off the signage, our name, numbers, etc. was tricky. Using an electric heater soften them, but they broke into little bits, and a fine scraper helped. Our new paint job will give Banyandah a wonderful new facelift. She’ll probably be a similar colour, Admiralty Blue, is running hot favorite at the moment.
Saturday 1 Dec.
Shaking us awake before dawn, Saturday brought a series of fronts, their wind blasts sending the thermometer down, bringing relief from yesterday’s 33 degree heat. We tried to work outside after breakfast, but slugged by the wind’s physical impact proved too great a burden when added to the cacophony of trees blown wild and screeching masts and rigging. So we took a walk. What seemed a good idea to work in Jack’s new boots proved scary once on the cricket pitch where we got nearly knocked flat by blasts rushing down the mountains. The expanse of white water we saw brought thoughts of our friend Ronnie Morrison bringing his 80 foot mega-yacht down from Sydney at that very moment. We were sure the storm’s arrival meant he’d be battling.
After a jaunt to the corner shop and finding it closed, we thought we’d march out to the ferry terminal to Bruny Island. There are a few shops in that complex that might have something for a Saturday night meal, and to cover all contingencies we first side track via the pub to check out their menu. Surprise! While having a cleansing ale, we spotted Maatsukyer taking up a long run of the visitors dock. Ronnie must have slid in while we were walkabout, so off we went to welcome him in.
Maatsuyker, a Warwick 80, is a lovely vessel loaded with great timber features and powerful gear. All the hard work is handled by a comprehensive hydraulic system that raises and lowers all sails, and sheets them in and out, all with push button ease. Her accoutrements are first class. From a massive fawn bimini that acts like a greenhouse keeping her crew nice n warm, away from the chilling southern ocean wind, where they can relax in very social corner nooks upon cushions of deep ocean blue.
Ronnie seem surprised at our concern.
“Had to motor last night,” he replied to our questions. “Then we had a heck of a headwind crossing Storm Bay,” he said in his laconic way like the big kid he is.
From Arlie Beach where he wintered Maatsukyer, they sailed out to Lord Howe Island for a week’s visit, climbing Mount Gower and snorkeling for shells. Then a two-day voyage took them into Sydney Harbour to re-provision victuals before heading down the NSW coast, direct to Kettering, a voyage lasting 72 hours. That’s not that quick just a leisurely sail with occasionally squirts of adrenalin like when their boom dragged the sea. He’d sailed to Sydney in 68 hours, against the prevailing current.