Sunday, 29 July 2012

segment 6, Saturday 28 July 2012, Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour about 80 NM

The tide information is that Coffs is about 15 to 30 mins behind Sydney and high tide will be approx. 4.00pm at 1.65 M. However, as Coffs is a deep water harbour, without a tricky bar to be concerned with, one can arrive at any time, ( except perhaps in big easterly gales when they sometimes close the inner marina harbour if  the seas are  breaking over the northern breakwater wall into the inner marina harbour itself ).

So, whilst  we need not worry about arrival time at Coffs, we still  need to consider the leaving tide and conditions at Port Macquarie. Again we are  ok as we decide to leave at 7.30 am , about 2 hours before the low run out tide , so we should have good clearance ( 1.2m ) at the low spot just opposite the fish co -op, ( about half way between the marina we are moored at  and the entrance break walls).

There was the usual discrepancy with the wind and sea predictions as Buoyweather predicted SE 1.5m seas  and winds 12 to 14 knts from the SW, and the NSW Govt. forecast was for similar seas early on, but winds 20 to 30 knts with seas 2 to 3 m late morning for the Macquarie Coastal region,  but slightly lesser seas for the Coffs Coastal region, (with Smokey Cape/Trial Bay - about 30 nautical miles north of Port Macquarie -  the demarcation point for the different coastal region  forecasts).

We got underway about 5 mins after our new friends in the sailing Cat, Bill and Trish ( who were also tied up at the fuel wharf ) , and waited another couple of mins to give them space , as the channel is narrow and closes to approx. 15 to 20 meters at some points, with moored vessels on either side along parts of the channel.

We pushed off from the fuel wharf and turned to starboard towards the entrance bar about a mile away when immediately we  had to stop to let several dragon boats pass. They had all simultaneously launched from the hidden slipway about 60 m away,about  the same  time we pushed off the fuel wharf. By the look of them they certainly needed the practice as the only thing they seemed to have working together was their laughter and giggles.

Once they were safely behind us we proceeded up the channel , slipping in and out of idle to keep the speed below the 4 knot limit.

The next test this morning was not far away. Up ahead it looked as if the sailing cat had turned and stopped, just before the narrowest part of the channel. I immediately asked rear admiral Julie ( who has better eyesight than Capt. Barry ) whether I was imagining things, as it looked like Bill and Trish were heading back our way. Julie noted that they seemed to be drifting and putting up the main sail, probably for the assault exiting  over the entrance bar.

We squeezed past the sailing cat with a few meters  to spare and proceeded past the fish co-op and dog legged left and right squeezing even closer  past some fishermen in a small boat  blocking the narrowest part of the channel.They apologized , but stayed right there for the next boat to squeeze through.
We finally entered the straight gun barrel between the breakwater walls and immediately saw the swell outside the entrance which was being partly diverted by the breakwall and partly  funneled  inside.

I put the throttles down to about 1600 rpm and we powered through several green  2+ m swells (almost surfable waves )  and almost immediately turned slightly to port to avoid the surf breaking on the bar about 400m further out , where the depth reduced along a straight line  from 11 to 5 m.

Due to the differing weather predictions we decided to proceed for the first couple of hours at about 16 knots ( 1800 rpm at 160 l/h total )  to put the Govt predicted winds and bigger seas behind us by the  time they were due to arrive ( assuming they might be  correct ).
seas a little confused but comfortable

The sky was clear bright blue and the seas were choppy and for about 45 mins we were surfing the 1 + m swell and the speed was varying between 12+ to 17 + knts.
After 2 and 1/2 hours we slowed to the usual passage making 1225 rpm ( 9 to 10 knots at 55 l/h total).

Capt Barry shot some more temperatures on the stabilizer, engine and gearbox parts and checked the steering rattle ( which is only present at  the lower revs ) just to check the state of the nation, but all seemed well down below.

To pass some time Capt Barry decided to check the charts ( which are always open on the chart table ( ie the cook top - and are annotated for the next trip) and read up on the installation and operation of the Vetus rudder sensor and rudder indicator gauges, as during  the  trip , Capt Barry noticed that the Vetus rudder indicators (both helms )  occassionally swung completely off the dial when  turning to starboard ( which is not only irritating , but can be a hindrance in some close quarter situations in marinas ). When this happens the skipper needs to  resort to the autopilot rudder indicator to determine the true position  of the rudders.
Not sure what the issue is here, but a  guess is that it will be the sensor and not the indicators, and either something to do with the vibration coming through the tie rod (unlikely as there is no detectable  vibration at the sensor location )  or when the steering was last serviced and the sensor was possibly re connected with the rotating sensor dial in the incorrect position.  Any way something to occupy Capt Barry's mind and after a fiddle next stop a further report will be given (only if successful of course).
the chart table . Notice the EVER WATCHFUL   rear admiral Julie catching a few ZZZzzzs  on the lounge  in the saloon. Also the coffee pot on the floor (where it can fall no further) and the towel folded on the galley floor at the foot of the freezer drawers is for the cat as the vent to expel the heat comes out at that location.

Half way to Coffs, the seas became quite lumpy and confused and there were constant white caps and a bit of spray on the port side of LAST WORD  , mainly because we had a 1+m  swell from the SE and winds blowing 10 to 16 knts from the west.
seas quite messy with the 15 knot westerly and SE swell. Here we are about 7 nm offshore

As we neared Coffs , Capt Barry phoned the fish co-op ( 6652 2811 ) see what time they closed the fuel wharf, and was told 1.30pm with a call out fee of $110 ( boat size and fuel volume variable ). We were going to miss that by about 15 mins, and decided not to speed up as  fuel was not a priority as we still had over 50% reserves

Capt Barry next phoned the Coffs Harbour International Marina ( 6651 4222 ) and spoke to Eliesia ???who confirmed LAST WORDS  berth ( F19, about the middle of the western most arm opposite the fuel / fish co-op wharf )  , berthing fee ( $65 per night ) and location and description of the berth ( ie no middle pole between boats and on the northern side of the finger). I then asked about the wind conditions in the inner harbour/marina, and was told the winds were blowing  15 to 20 knts from the south -ie Eliesia emphasised it was  a blow off approach.  This amazed Capt Barry as we had been in a westerly all the way up the coast from Port Macquarie and we were only 15 mins out from Coffs.
I asked if there was any marina assistance available when we arrived as we had a fair amount of windage and were not that familiar with the berths and conditions, and Eliesia said she would be there to assist.

Rear admiral Julie was left in charge to enter the harbour as Capt Barry went about preparing ropes and fenders ( both sides ) for what we suspected might be a tricky berthing in he wind.

Well we entered the main harbour with ease and as we approached the end of the historic long jetty that protrudes into the main harbour, we turned to starboard and  settled on a course to  round the green  marker into the inner harbour/marina when a sailing boat ( first timers we later discovered ) came out of the inner marina and changed course to cross right in front of LAST WORD.
Obviously they were temporary Australians.
Whilst it was not a real issue and we just adjusted  our course to pass them on  their port side ( which is the usual protocol ) , it is preferable for  out coming boats to pass in coming boats starboard to starboard on immediately exiting the inner harbour/ marina entrance,  as this gives the incoming boat a wider  swing/turn to line up the inner harbour/marina entrance to allow the exiting boats to see the incoming boat.

LAST WORD  entered the inner harbour/marina and found berth F19 ( as the designations are clearly visible on the ends of the fingers ) , and we noticed the fuel wharf was still open, but decided the wind was a bit tricky, and to just berth the boat.

The promised assistance was not evident so we decided to berth stern first with just the rear admiral to do the ropes.

I went slightly  past the berth to reverse back into the  wind, which was blowing  at least 15 to 20 knts (actually, I  thought about 100 knts at that time) and blowing directly across the finger.
I figured I would have to reverse LAST WORD  into the berth at about a 45 degree  angle and get a back corner rope on then use the bow thruster to straighten up against the wind as there is no middle pole between berths to lean on,  and there was a  boat already in the other side of the common berth opening. I did not want to have the wind on the full side of LAST WORD  until the last part of the berthing, as 35 tons and 2 m of space between boats in that sort of cross wind was not the ideal recipe for a good time.

After commencing the berthing procedure from the pilothouse and placing LAST WORD  at an angle just outside the berth and in front of the already berthed boat sharing our common double pen , I went to the cockpit and picked up the hand remote for the last part of the berthing and  noticed two fellas walking down the F marina arm , about two berths away, with coffees, and asked  for some assistance.
The two chaps immediately put down their coffees and ran to assist. Whilst one of them had obviously never held a rope before, and  Julie was left to give  him competent instructions, the  other chap had some idea and I threw him a  rope already tied to the port aft corner of  LAST WORD  and asked him to put it around the back most marina finger  cleat and to  pull the rope through and keep it tight  as I came in.
Well we got the back in,  and the bow thruster swung the bow in against the wind and we tied off first go without hitting anything .
How close to the other berthed boat we came , I am not sure,  as I never look. I figure LAST WORD  needs to be as close as practical  to the finger we are berthing at, to avoid the other boat.

I thanked the fellas and asked which boat they were on as I wanted to deliver some beers later that afternoon. They said it was not neccessary and that  were two boats down on an East Sail school sailing boat heading to Southport on a lesson.

About then Eliesia turned up with the key to the marina gate (and was knocking off at 2.00pm ), I asked her where the promised assistance was for our berthing, and she commented that they were running the Saturday chook  raffle when we came in , but they stopped and watched , and thought we did a good job without  assistance.
Life is all about priorities I guess.
berthed at last

The wind seemed to die down about an hour after we berthed, always the way, isn't it?

After tying up, plugging in to shore power ( 15 amps only again ) , and hosing down LAST WORD, Julie and I went for a long walk up Muttonbird Island , then around the harbour northern breakwater edges to the historic jetty that protrudes into the main harbour, and checked out the fuel wharf and fish co-op and other shops and facilities.
half way up Muttonbird Island and looking back at the inner harbour /marina and long historic jetty in the main harbour
view from the easternmost viewing platform on Muttonbird Island down into the  surging sea 
one of the local pesky rodents that eat the Mutton bird eggs and are constantly being baited. Julie was trying sign language here for the latest sea and weather conditions, but was given the silent treatment.
at the end of the south eastern inner break wall with LAST WORD   far left

Even though it looked like ok seas and weather to make Yamba the next day , Sunday, rear admiral Julie said a lay day ( or several ) was needed , and Coffs was as good a place as any to spend some down time, and we were in no rush, so we booked at the local restaurant , LATITUDE 30, for dinner the following night.
Latitude 30 has jazz and happy hour between 3.00 and 6.00pm , so that was another option for tomorrow.

We arrived back at the boat after dark and i decided it was time to honour my commitment and take some beers to the two fellows who assisted us on arrival.
I grabbed a beer for myself and wandered down to their boat, and started talking to a fellow standing on the marina arm at the back of their boat. He informed me the boys were inside and they were leaning to sail and delivering the boat to Southport where another crew would take the boat to Hamilton Island for race week (which explained their lack of experience with the ropes when we berthed).
I popped my head inside their sailing boat and asked if i could buy them a beer and discovered  there were 7 on board doing the trip.
So I grabbed a bucket load of beers from LAST WORD and returned and boarded their boat where introductions and good conversation was had for an hour or so.
barter material ( took over from old form of beads )  for assistance during berthing and universal  greeting material for  marina introductions.

They had sailed from Sydney to Coffs in one long leg over several days (about 300 miles )  , and were sailing, in the morning and going right through to Southport, some 150 miles away, in one leg.
Where you  fit 7 blokes inside a 36 foot sailing boat , I am not sure ( and one or two did ask if we needed crew , as they knew we were headed in the same direction - and I think one or two of them were over their sailing lesson ).
They said they used the motor if their speed  fell below 6 knots , but had not needed it yet, and expected to get to Southport for under 60 liters of fuel. I told them i had used approx. 1700 liters to come from Sydney, and stopped each afternoon for exercise, happy hour  and a change of pace.

After returning to LAST WORD  where Julie had had a glass or two of Chardy, we BBQd steaks, cooked  fried rice and prepared a salad and watched some of the Olympic coverage then retired for the evening.

Trip particulars: 80 NM , 6.4 hours,  618 liters,  av 12.5 knts  at 96 l/hr total.

Forster to Port Macquire

segment 5,  Thursday 27 July 2012, Forster to Port Macquarie, 60 NM.

Capt Barry did he usual sea and weather checks , and received the usual conflicting information.
Seas were supposed to be from the SE at 1 m at 9 secs and winds SE 7 to 10 knts , (with BOM saying winds late afternoon 20 to 25 knts and seas 1 to 2 m),
The recommended bar crossing for Port Macquarie is 2 to 3 hours before a full / rising tide , ie approx. midday to 1.00pm as high tide was 3.00pm.

We departed at 7.30am , about 90 mins before low tide and when the river was running about half speed.
We watched the depth sounder , but had a good idea from our readings on the way in, and the lowest was 1.4 m under the props (in  the last 100m  before we turned to enter the walled section of the entrance).
The actual bar crossing was fair  and we were under way at our usual 1200+ rpm doing about 10 knts and using about 55l/h total.
leaving the Forster/Cape Hawke Harbour Bar

As usual we  increased RPM to WOT every 90 mins or so , doing about 23 knts at 245 l/h total.

Capt Barry shot  some temperature readings of various engine , stabilizer and other equipment, monitored by rear admiral Julie on camera in the laz and engine room.
photo taken off the raymarine screen showing Baz in the engine room

We had frequent visits form dolphins and whales , and several dolphins played at the bow for about 15 mins , smiling at s all the while.

Capt Barry detected a rattle from the tie bar on the steering assembly (while shooting some temperature readings )  , and after checking all components were functioning properly and tight and checking for the  vibration at different RPM, Capt Barry telephoned and consulted one of his engineers who agreed it was not uncommon at certain revs to get vibration/resonance (and to shut the laz hatch and get on with the trip).
Last word instruments on route to Crowdy Head ( to Port Macquarie )‏

Approaching Port Macquarie harbour from the south
Last Word entering Port Macquarie

We arrived at Port Macquarie at 1.00pm and checked with Port Macquarie  VMR (65841966) who informed us the bar was fair and to proceed.

We also checked with the Port Macquarie Marina ( 6583 1940), and were offered a berth at the fuel wharf for $35 per night or a swing mooring for $20. Again being big spenders and wanting toexercise our legs we opted for the fuel wharf with power and water available.
LAST WORD  at the fuel wharf
view from the fuel wharf east  towards the port entrance
Fuel was 1.90/l so we decided itwas not needed (despite being tied up along side the bowser).
The marina manager said if he had his way he would sell it in bulk for about 1,55/l, but the marina consultants he was responsible to report to said  he could only knock off about 10cents a litre, but we knew we could get fuel fr $1.59 at Coffs Harbour.

The trip was 60 NM and took 5.8 hours on generally smooth waters , and LAST WORD  used 352 L, so we averaged 10.3+ knots and 60 L/H total.

LAST WORD received a hose down and we took on water, and then went for a 2 hour  walk around the south  western section of the river, which accommodated the main shopping centre.

We debated staying at Port Macquarie for several days as BOM was predicting some 30 knot winds and seas 2 to 3 m. The day was clear and sunny and winter was definitely receding, even the nights were not that cold, and sleeping under a dooner was proving more restless.

That evening we strolled east along the river bank to the strip shopping area and had dinner at LVs, then back to the boat and a conversation with  fellow travellers ( Bill and Trish ) who were on their way to Darwin in a 40 foot sailing cat (having just finished circumnavigating Australia -over three years).

Bill recommended Julie trying "ear putty" from the local chemist as a sure cure for sea sickness, and supplied one plug for Julie to try.

Rear admiral Julie retired about 9.30pm to read a book and Capt Barry did some paper work and checked the BOM and Buoyweather and Manly Hydraulics and decided to make a decision on continuing or staying in Port Macquarie tomorrow.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Port Stevens to Tuncurry

segment 4, from Shoal Bay at Port Stephens to Forster/Tuncurry (Cape Hawke Harbour).
Thursday 26 July 2012 ( star date ..... whatever for Trekies).

Captain Barry arose early to check engine oil and other boat systems and check on the weather and seas.
Buoyweather was predicting 1.4 m seas at 10 secs from the SE and winds 5 to 10 knots from the NE and later NW, and BOM was predicting 20 to 25 knt winds from the NW.
We were not sure whether we would travel to Cape Hawke Harbour and chance the shallow narrow channel or push on the Port Macquarie and decided to see how the seas were given the difference in wind predictions.

I suggested we try Forster ( after all we are doing this trip to see as much as we can and cross as many bars and enter as many ports as practically  possible ), and Rear Admiral Julie said..... "MAKE IT SO".

We got under way at 8.30 am and arrived 4 hour 40 mins later at 1.10pm at Cape Hawke Harbour (Forster/Tuncurry).

We travelled about 50 NM averaged 10+ knts and used 365 L averaging about  73 L/H total.

Broughton Island north of Port Stevens
coming around the point to Foster/Tuncury Bar

We arrived at the entrance at high tide (1.5m ) and the entrance over the bar  to Cape Hawke  Harbour was fair, but narrow and we kept to the southern wall for the  first part then crossed to the northern side 1/2 way through to take the norther channel and moored against 4 piles between the Wallis Lake fish co-op ( Tuncurry side of the river ) and the slipway. this was tricky as the river current was running at about 5 knts and there is a bridge ( 6 m height limit , and LAST WORD is  6.2) another 200m further on , so if you miss your berth or turn to anchor you need to watch the tide carry.
One can moor in the narrow fast flowing channel, but we decided to take the $25 per night pile mooring with access to land (but no power or water).

feedng the pelicans

Fuel was $1.59 /L at the fish co-op behind us , but we did not need any,
The fish co-op organises the berthing (6555  8344) and the Forster volunteer marine rescue ( VMR ) is 6554 5458 and should be consulted on entering and leaving the harbour if you are not a local.

Julie and i decided to exercise our legs , so we walked south about a KLM where i was able to purchase a float switch and we were walking across the bridge to FORSTER when i developed a headache and a storm swept in from the north with 25-30  knt winds and a sprinkle of rain, so we turned around on the bridge and headed back to LAST WORD.

storm coming
looking at the boat from the Foster/Tuncurry bridge

i spent longer than neccessary changing the dud float switch , mainly because of my headache which was developing into a migrain  (which 4 pills were  taking their  time to ease).
I was the ships captain and decided no headache was going to stop me, so i pressed on with the repair. However, every time i bent forward to work on the float switch ( on the laz floor  under the stern thruster ) the head ache thundered more  aggressively and after a couple of minutes ii would have  to stand up and stick my head in the stiff breeze coming in the laz boarding platform doorway to ease the headache thumping.

I eventually finished the task ( and tested it ) , but not before the headache finally had its own way and i threw up several times .
I thought i had won the contest between my  determination to complete the  repair and the headache , especially when i  sensed the rising moment and managed to grab a nearby bucket in which to throw up......however.....
I think we should call it Capt. Barry 1 .. and headache 1 (or 15 all if you play tennis ) , as I soon realised ( when i was ready to install the float switch  ) that the float switch was in the same bucket.
Well, float switches are water proof, and after a quick clean it was installed and works just fine, and my headache began to lighten and disappeared within the hour.

Rear Admiral Julie said that as my headache had retreated we should dine out, so we climbed over the side of LAST WORD  one more time and settled on a Thai Restaurant 30 meters adjacent to our pile mooring.

As LAST WORD was tied up right ouside the restaurant there was conversation about her from the dining guests and i am pleased to say that she received rave reviews.
The food was sensational (and rear Admiral Julie says the best she has ever tasted.
We declined dessert and left for the boat at 8.45pm where Capt Barry did some homework on the next days weather and sea conditions then another early night.

Pittwater to Port Stevens

Wednesday morning , I again checked Buoyweather and Govt weather site (BOM ) and whilst they were predicting 1.5 to 2 m seas and 2 m swell and 10 to 15 knot winds ( with Thursday looking the better day ), we decided to leave and head for Port Stephens.
leaving Pittwater 7.45am Lion Island in the distance
Capitain Barry at the helm

LAST WORD sat on 1200 rpm ( 55l/h total ) at approx 9.8 knots ( which is about 1 to 1.5 knts faster since the clean and antifoul). Every 90 minutes or so we put the hammer down to wide open throttle (WOT for boaties -  2300 rpm 23knts 240 l/h total ) for 5 mins, then  and sat on 2000rpm ( 19 knts ) for ten minutes or so, then back to the 1200 rpm 10 knots as the staple passage making speed.
Skies were patchy/sunny and sea/swell  was about 1.7 to 2 m and there was a 10 to 12 knot NE head/cross wind , however the swell/sea were about 10 secs apart and not unpleasant and the stabilizers make for a comfortable ride.

Pushing water 2000rpm  19 the speed.

We passed Terrigal just after  9.30am ( just under 2 hours  ), Bird Is ( Norah Head at 3 hours ), and  passed the entrance to Lake Macquarie in 4 hours , and Newcastle in 5 hours.
We arrived at Pt Stephens at 3.00pm and put the anchor down in Shoal bay ( see pic below ) 15 mins later.

We tossed up whether to anchor at Shoal Bay just inside the southerly headland (where we would still be in the northeasterly wind , but out of the main southeasterly swell )  or Jimmy's Beach just inside the northern head  out of the wind but more exposed to the swell. We decided on Shoal Bay as the swell would be slightly less ( in theory ) and the wind should drop.

We only spotted a couple of whales and dolphins this leg and managed to miss  a crab pot ( 20m away ) about 5 nm offshore

Coming in to drop anchor at Shoal Bay Port Stevens.

Captain Barry inspected the engine room (E/R)  and Laz. and decided he had better fix the bung float switch in the aft end of the laz ( that activates the small bilge pump that pumps out  the water that drains from the boarding platform cleats into the laz pump out box )  as a couple of liters of sea water  was sloping  around the laz gutter that runs down the middle of the laz.

We spotted a couple of dolphins and took that as an omen that it was  late enough for some refreshments, and dinner and a DVD and early night.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Bobbin Head To Pittwater

7am In our berth Bobbin Head Marina
We left our berth at  Empire Marina Monday 23rd July 2012, bound for the RMYC Broken Bay at approx      7.45am. However, we stopped at the fuel wharf first, a distance of 80m, to fill up. 1340 L  at $1.51 / L.
It took about 40 mins to stir the marina staff and fill and I added 1 L of fuel doctor.
Just left the marina, still in the 4 knot and no wash zone
Probably a good thing we took on fuel and wasted 45 mins as the mist was very thick , and we had to use radar into the sun and mist.
We arrived at RMYC BB at 10.30am into a tricky gusting 15 knots  southerly and managed to back into a 20 M berth first go. There were several marina hands available to assist including the dock master, Doug Taylor.
Being  a member I get one night free per month and it was $60 for every night thereafter.
As the weather had blown up and the seas were 2 to 3 meters ,I booked into a coastal navigation ( using charts only ) and electronic aids course for the Monday and Tuesday nights. I am not sure what electronic aids was all about, but assumed it was something to do with navigation.
I had organised with Ray Gent ( travelled sea  captain  and philosopher ) to visit Monday with the intention of spending a couple of hours examining the various bar entrances to sea ports and river entrances we may visit on our way north, and we ( I ) practiced  with the electronic  ruler, way points and using the panoramic / overhead picture overlays and looking up tide information. All good, and so was the terrific lunch Julie organised. Ray loaned Julie his Merc to visit Avalon shopping centre for some last minute shopping and lunch  provisions. Julie was gone for about an hour (30 mins of which consisted of Julie trying to work out the Mercs automatic column shift ).
The coastal navigation course turned out to be fairly basic, but it was good to do the refresher given our  circumstances.
Desert at Jonah's
Tuesday, started as  another dreary, windy , drizzly day. However , it cleared ok and we managed to make the best of it by lunching at Jonahs with John and Marly.
Of course the food , wine and company was terrific.
We were driven back to the marina in time for me to attend my navigation course.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The run down.......

ok, i am told it s time to start my blog about LAST WORD'S trip north to the Whitsundays
Some particulars first.
CREW comprise Captain Barry Barker, a 57 year old recently retired lawyer  with approx. 7 years large boating experience and someone who is happy to go down into the laz or engine room and fix the latest problem (assuming the latest problem can be properly identified in the first place), ,and Rear Admiral Julie Barker, not retired, but still enjoying playing with jewellery and someone definitely not prepared to visit the laz or engine for any reason ( other than to perhaps load the third fridge with pepsimax ). Other crew will join along the way, for example Ray and Maggie Gent who will sign on as deck hands for food and lodging - plus wine, from Mooloolaba to somewhere north of the Great Sandy Straits. Ray, who just loves big boats,  loves the excitement of the Wide Bay Bar crossing, being an experienced hand at such crossings.

VESSEL  is a Pama built pilothouse motor yacht named LAST WORD. Constructed in 2010 under instruction from PMI ( aka Don Salthouse / Peter MacDonald and Roger Gaskell ) and Barry Barker.
LAST WORD has a water line length of approx. 17.5 m and LOA of 19.7m, a beam of 5.3m and draft of approx. 1.55m, and head clearance to top of steaming light of approx 6.3m with twin Cat C12 705 hp engines , one Onan 17 Kw generator,  one HRO 150l/h watermaker, Wesmar RS600 stabilizers (6 sqf fins) with digital gyro and larger vickers hydraulic pump for slow RPM passagmaking, 1300 l of fresh water, 3800 l of diesel ,  plenty of Raymarine screen and electronic equipment , 80m of 13mm L grade anchor chain and 45 kg Ultra anchor (plus spare anchor and chain).  LAST WORD has two helms (pilothouse and flying bridge ) and  is carrying two tenders ( one 4 m AB  RIB with 60 hp and one 2.6m sirroco fully inflatable with 3 hp). Loaded for the trip north, LAST WORD  weighs approx. 36 tons and has a top speed of approx 24+kts clean. LAST WORD  passagemakes either between 8 and 11 knots (using approx 36 to 55 l/hr combined ) or on the plane at between 13+ and 20 kts, using approx 160 l/hr combined at 1800rpm making approx.15t 16 kts seas depending.

The trip is planned to take approx 5 months. Approx 5 to 6 weeks to arrive at Hamilton Island , three months in the Whitsundays, and a couple of weeks to return home..... is all flexible , and we intend returning home several times during the trip, leaving LAST WORD  where ever.

Capt, Barry has spent the last several months planning the trip, ie buying the necessary publications (the 2 Alan Lucas books and the hundred magic miles , plus the paper charts ( approx 15 required ) , beacon to beacon for parts of the trip, a book on understanding chats and the Navionics platinum flash card for the satelite pics and tide info.
Of course we have plenty of parts for mechanical breakdowns ( assuming it is the standard parts that play up ) and spare props for the tender  (and castle nuts in case i drop one when changing the prop ) , impellers, oils, coolant,  filters (including for the watermaker), anodes , medical etc.
I have additional flares, spare portable VFH and grab bag to go, (with heat sack - and solar panel for heating -  for the Rear Admiral , in case we have to spend several days adrift).

The first leg was on Saturday 14th July 2012, from STGMBC on the Georges River Kogarah , Botany Bay to Bobbin Head where LAST WORD  will be lifted and cleaned for the rest of the trip. The cleaning cost should pay for itself with the saving in fuel.

The trip took 5 hours at approx 9 knots ( opening to WOT every 90 mins or so , for approx 5 to 8 mins ). The seas were about 0.5m and there was a north westerly headwind gusting 10 to 20 knots.

i was accompanied by Bruce Hald and Phillip Ralph (in place of the Rear Admiral who insisted on beading at home ) and it was best described as a 12 beer trip

We arrived at 3.00pm Saturday afternoon and slipped LAST WORD  into berth F19, gave her a quick clean and left to return home until Monday 16th when LAST WORD  will be lifted and cleaned.
Monday 16th July i will report on the lift out and clean.

Wind and seas are looking unfavourable for starting our trip in the next week , so the crew may look for something to do in the meantime.

Be back soon.


Bobbin Head.... Empire Bay Marina


It is Monday , 16 July 2012 and LAST WORD  is ready to be lifted , cleaned and antifould for the trip north.
The staff at Empire Marina, Bobbin Head, under the guidance of general manager, John Lawler,  are very organised and professional, and i am sent a reminder SMS the day before reminding me of the lift out and time .
At the designated time , staff explained the procedure and crew boarded LAST WORD  to assist being pulled into the travel lift.
Attached is a pic of LAST WORD  in the ravel lift , which has a capacity of 50 tons.
LAST WORD had plenty of shell on her running gear and probably two many anodes , as some seem not to be working , but the paint was lifting/bubbling on the trim tabs and rudders (which i understand in the black art of electrolysis MAY..... indicate that there are to many anodes).
This is a little weird as i have had two different alleged experts look at LAST WORD and her berth, and both could find no issues, and thought all was well.
LAST WORD'S hull received a wax , and prop speed was applied to all the running gear (except the trim tabs), even the underwater lights were propspeeded and had clear silicon painted on the glass lens.

LAST WORD  was lifted back into the water Friday 20 July , and the rest of the day i spent chasing a leak in the larger tender (hopefully the valve ) and fixing one of the MSR bedroom double  doors ( the hardware has jammed in the locked position).

As the weather is looking a little suspect,(2 to3 m seas and 25 kt winds )  , we decided to stay in the Empire Marina for the w/e, then on Monday journey to RMYC Broken Bay, Newpor,t where i will meet with Ray Gent and discuss stopovers along the journey and bar crossings and have a light  lunch, and pass some time , i have booked in for  a course on coastal navigation by Marine Rescue .....never too late.

Well Saturday 21st July started ok , and then something completely unexpected occurred.....

i was on the boarding platform when....BOOM.... an almighty explosion shook the Marina.
I thought a boat had fallen off its blocks on the hardstand.

i grabbed my phone/camera and took some shots.

it seems that two of the shipwrights were using an angle grinder in the shed and some sparks ignited some vapours from some nearby  venting solvents. The back of the shed went up very quickly , and there were several further explosions as other solvents ignited. End result was that several fire crews attended the scene , but could not stop the fire consuming approx. 40 feet of the adjoining heritage buildings.

We have lost power and water at the marina , and may have the services reinstated tomorrow.

The 50 ton travelift was in the shed with the drivers  platform in the left rear corner next to the fire. One wheel has punctured and who knows what other damage to the electrics and hydraulics as a result of the heat and fire.

It is a good thing i decided to put LAST WORD   back into the water yesterday morning , otherwise LAST WORD  may have been stuck on the hardstand for several  weeks waiting for the  travelift to be refurbished and operational.