Blog of Jack and Jude – explorers, photographers, authors
January 2014 December 2013 >>
Away by road and air
Banyandah is attached to a stout mooring in Oyster Harbour, Albany and a few friends will keep an eye on our Lady while we’re away. Late this Sunday night, Jack and Jude will fly to Hobart, and then bus across to Tasmania’s west coast to Strahan on Tuesday.
We’ll be helping some mates film a section on Huon Piners, their life on the rivers. We plan to be up river on the Gordon and Rocky Sprent for about two weeks. Pray the weather is kind because we’ll be tramping through heaps of wet rainforest. More on that when we get back on board. Our return is open at this stage, but we do hope to be back in Albany by March.
In this first week of 2014, we feel fully satisfied when looking back over last year. Better still, as new destinations beckon, we greatly anticipate the coming year.
Jack and Jude saw the first light of 2013 in Australia’s most southern state, Tasmania. We were then living high in the air, out the water on a propped up Banyandah and having to negotiate a vertical ladder to everywhere including the loos. Banyandah’s hull was half painted and we still had a million small tasks to complete to make her worthy of the sea once again.
Getting our lady ready for another year’s journey that looked set to log thousands of sea miles took an extra big burst of effort. With our reserves zapped, Jack’s shoulder ligament ripped, and so we were rather listless once afloat again.
On the calm waters of the Channel Country we sucked in the sunshine warmth, spent a week recuperating, paddling our Green Machine to gently exercise body and mind. Then pointing Banyandah towards northeast Tasmania and Bass Strait, we went on a mission in the remote Furneaux Island Group, retracing the final voyage of the Sydney Cove. In 1797, nearly sinking she was beached on an unknown isle off an obscure coast with a cargo of rum in her hold.
A short while later, sixteen desperate men and one lascar lady in disguise set off from Rum Isle as it was then known, attempting to trek 1600 km across never before traversed country to the only outpost, the struggling new colony at Sydney Cove. The remaining crew stayed on Preservation Island, locked away from the rum by a swift channel. They hoped to be rescued before the onslaught of winter and built temporary structures from bits from the ship. We wanted to film where those hearty souls had eked out life while awaiting rescue and maybe find the rock lookout they’d built. It’s all described in this great book: Wreck of the Sydney Cove by Max Jeffreys.
Long Held Dreams
All masters of stout ships caress several ‘next destinations’ and 2013 became the year to fulfill a long held dream. When living high aloft on props, for 2013, we had planned a summer cruise to New Zealand, a favorite. And liking a good challenge, we thought to sail around New Zealand’s most southern tip.
But circumstances such as Jack’s torn ligament, and then his ring finger got more wonky and wouldn’t fully close nor grip rope. Adding to that, our new main sail proved poor quality, putting the NZ plan beyond reach.
But being stout ship owners we soon caressed an even better ‘next destination’. We would re-discover some Coral Sea Islets, strongholds of Nature that we’d stopped at before, plus a few more if we could. This time with good recording equipment. We’d search for sunken wrecks, like the French Frigate Duroc wrecked in 1854, and try to find its boiler still lying somewhere on the weather edge of Mellish Reef, a thousand kilometers offshore, the furthest Australian possession in the Coral Sea.
Quick Visit Home
Before committing to the Coral Sea, a time at home with family was needed. So we sailed direct the nine hundred nautical miles from Flinders Island to Ballina on the Richmond River; a quick seven nights at sea. Changing hats for two months was great fun taking the grandkids camping, playing with the little ones and family dinners. But all that fun ended in mid-June when Banyandah sailed north into the Coral Sea.
Mid-year Good Fortune
The trade winds blow strongest in winter, and statistically June, July, and August have many more days with strong wind warnings. So we expected windy, sometimes squally conditions for a great part of our voyage through the Coral Sea and thinking we might rarely get ashore. But by far the greater time was fair and sunny, the days nearly always stunning vistas prolific with wildlife. We were ecstatic with the huge increase in wildlife. Compared with our last visit in 1982, a one month after a cyclone, we saw proof that Nature can bounce back after calamitous conditions.
After five wonderful, productive weeks in the Coral Sea, we embarked on another lap around the Australian Continent. Must have had movie making in mind and the remote inland Kimberley searching for more amazing Bradshaw art. Unfortunately that dream was shattered atop the beautiful and impressive King George River waterfalls when, with an hour of light remaining, Jude’s yelp for help told us she’d done horrible damage to her leg and knee.
Suddenly our remoteness lost its charm and turned ugly. It was either hit the BIG RED BUTTON to be saved, and leave Banyandah behind – or stick with the ship and get help further down the track. Not knowing if Jude’s leg was badly sprained or busted, it was hugely swollen, having good karma (we always put Earth First) a couple of days later, a skilled orthopaedic surgeon showed up on the next tourist vessel and her examination lead us to stay put and take the long road to recovery. Jude suffered through two weeks of bed recuperation before we braved a fast two night passage. It hurt when she moved, and the rollie motion made it especially hard for Jude to sleep, but she lasted the voyage with a cheerful smile and we adjusted.
To help Jude recuperate, what was needed was a secure lagoon away from the crocs, where Jude could get in the water and exercise her leg. Adele Reef proved perfect, providing plenty of exciting fishing along with great swimming in clear water and with miles of drying sand flats where so many other creatures lived.
As 2013 rolled towards its end, the Two J’s bucked stronger headwinds, learning two important lessons. One was to always set the staysail when going to weather, the other, how to cope with an injured person on board. Everything changed; Cooking, watch keeping, one person dinghy launching, things like that. Not easy. But once the hardship has passed, the achievement lingers, and success never goes away. So it only got better and better as we sailed south to arrive in Albany on Christmas Morning.
Environmentally – 2013 seemed dreadful
We are going backwards towards self-destruction, with Australia joining the other cowboys rushing the ruination of one fine planet.
While it is very difficult to prioritize the top 10 environmental issues facing our planet today. One thing is for sure, over population is at the root of all of the issues. Not surprisingly, the editor of the Planet Earth Herald, when listing the Top 10 Environmental Issues Facing Our Planet put Over Population at number ONE.
Good Health, Long Life, and Peace
Jack and Jude