Have just completed inspection of the boat critical systems and apart from replacing sail chafe protectors, there was no damage done to the boat in around 6000 nm sailing. Sail was upwind and downwind mainly in (very) strong winds. Apparent touched couple times 50 kn. We had no hairy situation, except couple close sightings of whales. Probably overreacted as they are very smart, although can get temperamental.
Weight of boat certainly helps to comfort levels on board. Sailing wise, we found boat as good an any other, or better in similar class. Sporty boats were simply overweight and their performance edge went out of window. They are at their best in coastal day sailing, bar to bar. Passages are not racy boats forte.
Largest waves we have meet (and seen so far) when on the way back, at peak consistent 5m, with here and there substantially higher, possibly 10m. We got sprayed in cockpit couple times as large waves breaking on top and hit the port hull.
At anchor we have seen 60 kn max, and consistent 40-50 kn. 25 kg rocna held without a glitch at all times in all sorts of bottoms and currents and tides. Resetting appears to happen instantly, no dragging couple metres. we now have 120 m of chain, enabling anchoring in very deep waters.
Looking forward to another trip.
We have left Camden Haven and had the easiest bar crossing - ever. Flat water , no wind and no excitement. After one hour, enough wind came to turn off engine and sail all the way. Butterfly is strong and easy sail point for L 400. On our way joined us another sporty cat and used spi in same conditions. It went faster knot or 2, and needed to be sailed with permanent attention as wind gusts were above 30 kn.
When arrived to Port Stephens the other cat went in with sails. As there is first time for everything we decided to copy, but we took first reef in main and second in jib (yeey!). What can go wrong !? It should be another perfect bar crossing.
As we were approaching the bar, noticed strong wind gust coming towards us from behind the hill. Too late to reef, so had to cross the bar with 10 kn speed, luckily near flat water but rocks were near by. No incident. This time we have seen three groups of whales, so season is not over.
Tomorrow morning we plan to sail to Sydney. There is strong southerly forecasted but we should arrive early enough not to be problem.
Then our tip ends :(
However, summer coming up in Sydney and fun & adventure should continue :)
We have departed Southport thursday morning on a rising tide. Bar crossing not that difficult although 2m waves and outgoing tidal flow. Turned off motors and sailed towards EAC as calculated by PredictWind. Soon our GPS showing constant 10 to 11 kn. Sailing was excellent with full jib and one reef in main. 2 to 3 kn current helped, my speedo is unreliable.
We shortened sail before night and ended up again with double reefed main only. No motoring as we have seen no whales at all ! This is surprise as couple day earlier we have seen at least twenty north of Moreton Island.
Tanja theory is that males left already and mothers & babies go in groups and near shore.
There was significant shipping traffic overnight. On one occasion I had to change course for 40 degrees as two 300m ships in tandem turned exactly to us. We like these maneuvers at 5 + miles distance, before gets too hot and COLREG kicks in. AIS was great.
Managed to enter next day Camden Haven. Called Coast Guard and they assured us that bar crossing is nothing to worry about. 2 m easterly waves & 25 kn NE wind. After careful consideration we committed to go into bar on fourth hour from low tide. Tanja looked back and inform of any larger waves and time to impact, while I was concentrated on not losing direction. After a while Tanja suggested to turn around as this does not look good. Haha, hahahaha. No way back from there with large breakers and wall 20 m or so away :)
When big wave arrived from back I slowed down engines to improve chance of not surfing. Immediately after wave passed the boat, increased power to speed up, then same for next wave etc. Worked fine but narrowness of channel (80m) did not leave any room for error.
Finally we were thru and happily motor to anchorage where we found free public mooring.
It looks at this point we will be able to continue on tuesday for Port Stephens. Batch of bad weather coming thru but Camden Haven appears to be in sweet spot where storm activity will be minimal, if one believes forecasts.
Camden Haven is true bird sanctuary. We will have couple days to explore more.
After many days of strong winds and lots of rain and doing nothing, we finally get opportunity to continue moving south. Tomorrow at 9am we plan to exit Gold Coast Seaway and target Coffs Harbour or Port Macquaire. We will be out sailing one night. There is large number of whales, that weight up to 40 T, and we will use the following tactics to minimize chance of collision: During day, max speed 6 kn over water and keep constant watch. During night max 4 kn over water and run one engine. Maybe we are too cautious, but until we know better, will remain careful and protect us and the boat. Luckily current should help us quite a bit as one can see from picture ~ 2kn.
As there was lots of rain there is a chance of river flooding, hence we decided to push for overnighter instead of stopping at Yamba (Clarence river) and try to make it with daysails only, that are safer from whale collision point of view. There is also potent electric storm brewing for next week, so faster move south is better :)
We have completed visit to Boat Works. Serviced both saidrives, changed oil and seals. No other issues found by mechanic.
Rig inspected by professional rigger - in excellent condition, except some preventative maintenance work I will have to do.
Also serviced outboard. Antifoul looks still fine. No growth since may '18.
Gods of sea were kind to our wallet this time.
Boat weights 17 T, measured by lift. This is a surprise as it is 2 T over max weight. Ah hulls are made in mold, every Lagoon 400 has the same hull shape and any one that also weights 17 T, should have same waterline level. Have seen Lagoon 400 that sink deeper so they are even heavier. I cant believe we have 7 T of stuff on the boat. Impossible. Maybe one of these 'fake factory number' situations. Hate to think what was the weight of cats that we sailed with, as most were slower although on paper should be (much) faster.
We had nice walk to Mckenzie lake on Frazer island. Managed to swim, however have not spotted any dingo.
Vesna left by barge for mainland and then airport. It appears this type of break from demanding city job suits her. We have started move towards Wide Bay Bar. Anchored in Garry anchorage. Secure and pretty but sand flies attacked Tanja,. Moved next morning to Tin Can Bay for reprovisioning and refuel. Mainly motoring and sweating as depth got really, really shallow. No grounding. Position for wait for crossing of Wide Bay Bar next early morning. Still in the dark, one boat left for crossing. We waited and waited for second boat to go so we follow, however nothing. We finally decided to move as tide flow was quickly increasing. Minute after another 6 boats turned on engines and followed. I assume they thought we know what we are doing :) Crowd behavior at it best. No breaker got us during crossing and no dramas. Once thru, got out screecher and finally we could sail again. When arrived in Gold Coast, we only had 2x reefed main. Much more wind but also we slowed down below 6 kn due to number of whale sightings. Entered Southport at night. Enough lights from high-rises & SAS Planet & 2 pair of eyes. Navionics alone not to be trusted for such operations. This was our second night bar crossing. First one was Bundaberg, also went fine. We learned how to navigate among reefs, so this skill helped here.
We are now anchored next to South Standbroke island and waiting for tuesday to go to Boat Works to fix saildrive that is taking on water. Today we had lenghty 26 km walk on the island ocean beach. And tomorrow we plan excursion into the city to have seafood lunch at local seafood hotspot. At this stage saturday looks like we will be able to make progress south. Ideally daysails to minimize whale collision chances....
We are in Sandy Straits of Frazer Island and it looks in a way similar to Lagoon in New Caledonia, except coral reefs replaced by mud and oysters. Underwater visibility shortened from 30 m to 2 m. Reading warnings of crocodiles. Also encountered one of Mad Max type of characters.
Passage back was overall better than passage to NC. Much less moisture, no sharp upwind sections, and we have done some fast sailing. We also had to motor, so we used 1/2 tank of diesel.
We both feel that next trip will likely be again to NC and possibly further, maybe Fiji. North of Australia - Indonesia, Asia etc is too polluted and populated for our taste. Confidence in our boat and skills improved and we had some 'mini-storm' situations which help to prepare ourselves and boat better for the worst case scenario.
We are anchored between Fraser Island and mainland, waiting for Vesna to visit us for long weekend. Australia strikes as different area when comparing cruising grounds. Fraser Island nature is very interesting and very different to many tropical islands we have visited. Unfortunately, impact of human activity is not positive. Wonder if one day human attitude towards nature will change for better. For now it is only destroy, destroy for $$$. Humans are not special and ALL humans deserve same treat as other living creatures.
Oh yeah, did I mention that crossing of Wide Bay Bar is probably the most difficult bat crossing anywhere in the world :) Everything to keep our sense sharp .
Day 4 - that is when fun started !
Beautiful morning, glassy water and clear skies until cloud line from south starting to get closer. And one could see very thick clouds and beautiful massive cloud formations. I was thinking - this looks like more than what weather forecast said - up to 25 kn.
We packed up everything and moment arrived when clouds came over us. And we were greeted by up to 60 kn gusts and near freezing temperatures and rain.
In 1/2 hour seas raised quite a bit and I started thinking plan B. Then luckily settled down to around 20 kn. We raised second reef and enjoyed beautiful sail around 7 kn thinking that was it. Then in 1 hour 8 kn, then in next hour 9 kn, then in next 10 kn ! This was too much for our leisurely comfort. Decided to take down mainsail. This turned out to be an error. We have used new downhaul line to take sail down downwind from cockpit- worth the gold. Force of wind was actually too much to pull it by hand as battens glue to spreaders and just dont budge. Used winch to downhaul. For the moment thought to leave third reef as then could still take it all down but, skipped that step. And used only triple reefed jib to move.
Weather continue to deteriorate, seas building. And unfortunately wind moved forward so jib could not handle situation and had to turn engine on If third reef could continue to sail and enjoy more comfort ad sail gives stability. Once sail down, cant take it back as seas too large.
We were forced to motorsail next 48 hours. Seas were building and kind of stopped at 5m. There were some scary much larger waves. We had waves on beam. I was very nervous looking how our boat gone over these monsters. And big one come in pairs or in triplets. First looks big and then after it crossed second bigger behind, and sometimes third even bigger... Was not worried about boat flipping but about violent impact of these waves on boat and us. Could not sleep and for some time hand steered. It is not easy, especially if one has to do it for several days. And when no moon, one just guesses when that sound of large wave coming closer. It is interesting that large waves come from very different directions, like 90 deg from where majority travels.
In these waves our boat has not failed once - no flying glasses or water in cockpit although beam reaching in near storm conditions (largest seas ever for us). Observing action, contribute this behaviour to 3 things - 1 autopilot has to be on high sensitivity setting. When big ones come in a group there is no time to lose direction, not even for part of a second. It has to maintain perfect direction else dangerous next one can get you on a side. At high speeds this is in my opinion most important. My sensitivity had to push to 7, normally 3. What if AP fails in these conditions , we both got scared of this thought.
2. Boat shape - wide hulls and third small middle hull allow boat to swing thru the top of large steep wave without any effort. This was most hairy to look unfolding. And after intense continuous 48h watch of this action, I was able to sleep for an hour in the end so i guess trust boat bit more.
3. And last, one has to keep speed up. Fast enough, one escapes full force of group of waves. So, I am not convinced any more drogue is a good idea.
I have also tested drive downwind and it appears one can nicely pass/neutralize large wave by turning 60 degrees from direction of wave travel.
Simpy, to get away without damage, one needs luck as well. Preparation can do only that much.
Finally on day 5 in the morning seas abated so we could pull up sails. We had very nice beam reach sail from 8 to 10 kn in 3-4 m waves. This enabled us to arrive in Bundaberg in the evening and now safely anchored in the river.
Wow, what a passage !!! Gained lots of experience and insight.
We tired a bit and we had no seasickness. And we still like traveling world with the boat.
day 3 Beautiful day at sea. Sunny , no wind, no waves. Time to recoup, relax and do everything like on land. We motored whole day. Weather is forecasted to strengthen in the morning when we get final push to Bundaberg. We plan to arrive Sunday morning at this stage.
day 2 Overnight was sailing under the moon. Wind kept coming and although we had two reefs for better sleep managed 6.9kn average speed. Day started choppy with 3m seas then winds abated and returned. Now is sunset and we deeply reefed again. We continue enjoying the trip without any issues although bit choppy at times.
on the way Sun is about to be gone and we will shorten sails. Comditions are excellent and we are doing 7-8kn whole day in choppy 2 m beam seas with code zero and average 16 kn apparent wind. Night promises more of the same Both enjoying the trip
We are leaving New Caledonia tomorrow 11am local time. Our destination is Bundaberg, 806 NM away, expected to be reached in 5 to 6 days. Forecast is for nice start, then day or two motoring than wild finish as southerly change catches up with us. Worst conditions in forecast are 2.5 m seas with 6.5 seconds period slightly aft of the beam. Do bot have experience if and how difficult this is. Our heavy boat should be asset in such conditions but we will see.
We have done for preparation mental scenarios of boat flipping, fire on board, MOB, hull flooding and storm management. For all we have workable plans in place that hopefully will improve chances of better outcomes.
We are currently relaxing at Ilot Maitre, and having PAPIGA capitain's specialty for lunch.
Weather in New Caledonia is getting nicer and warmer and we have to leave to avoid cyclon season. MetBob that provides routing services for return trip pointed to next tuesday as likely departure day. Trip should take 5 to 6 days if no issues. He says it is possible we will have wind from behind the whole way.
With this in mind, today I tested another downwind setup butterfly with screecher and mainsail. Total sail area 137m2. As screecher is so large only worked 170 to 180 apparent. But that is fine as one can 'tack' from normal setup at 120 deg apparent and butterfly at 180 to arrive to desired point.
Boat achieved close to 100% of apparent wind speed, more or less, but that was average. So in 12 knots of true from behind , boat manages ~ 6 kn. As this can be achieved by mainsail and screecher, wonder if spinnaker can add any value here.
We have now sailed our Lagoon 400 more than 5,000 NM and I would like to record my view on upwind sailing at this point.
I was near beginner when boat purchased, and overwhelming view on public forums was that L 400 can go upwind only at 50 apparent. So, i thought that is the fact. I guess mostly this view is based on charter boats that one see in sailing centres around the globe. Usually less sail, fixed propellers and novice catamaran sailors that try to sail catamaran like monohull. On top of that boat is very spacious, especially if loaded heavily, looks like can't sail upwind. However after 5k NM, i realize this is simply not true.
My experience is that it can be sailed down to 30 apparent in flat water, more chop, larger angle is required. In really bad conditions up to 50+ apparent angle is required. But our average upwind angle is around 38 degrees. In conditions where airborne part of hull is not an issue, and especially in stronger winds our boat is quite competitive upwind. If cant get rid of airborne hull at any reasonable upwind angle , it is time to turn on engine.
The key to perform best with catamaran upwind is to keep hulls constantly in the water. Airborne part of hull will cause boat to slow considerably. This is true for monohulls as well, but it is critical for catamarans. As front of hull goes out of water, water detaches from hull and once hull back in water, boat has to reestablish flow around the newly immersed hull and this slows boat down and causes speed penalty. AS catamaran has 2 hulls penalty is bigger, and causes frustration in certain conditions where waves length forces bows out of water.
One needs to find minimal angle where bows do not come out and then optimize sails for this angle. This is mostly problem near the shore or harbors. In open ocean, my experience was so far that upwind sail is fine and progress good, as wave lengths are much larger.
Wonder what will be my view on above at 10,000 NM...
We have now six years old 480 AH GEL batteries (see pic), and capacity has become so small that any day not starting sunny, I have to run generator. So they are likely at the end of life. We have decided to replace them with 400 AH lithium batteries. This will give us about 10 x more capacity than what we have right now. Also, will replace 164 kg of lead batteries with 54kg of lithium. 110 kg saving in weight will make it easier to balance the boat. All this for extra 80 % of cost, compared to buying same batteries as before.
We have done research and paid today the deposit for new batteries. Now all we can do is cross fingers that installation we have studied and chosen will do what we think it should do. Else this will be expensive mistake. We exclusively use 12V and no big size inverter and largest loads are anchor winch and one electric winch. We expect that batteries will be charged 99% of the time with 360 W of solar.
On pic one can see old batteries weighting 164 kg. Not easy for my back to remove them.
We made 30 NM passage from Mato island to Noumea with wind behind us. Ideal time to test gennaker and jib in butterfly configuration.
With 76m2 gennaker only, we managed around 45% of apparent wind but with 35m2 jib added this jumped to around 70%, true wind around 12 kn. I was happy with results. Total 111m2 sail area pushed boat quite well, and was wondering whether I still have use for my 100m2 symmetrical spinnaker. Hard to believe it could do better. Ease of deployment of jib & gennaker is just too inviting. And setup works in 150 to 180 apparent wind angle. One can see from pic than speedo stopped working. Managed to get 4 months of working speedo out of last cleaning and using antifoul for wheel.
We will sail shorty to Australia - Bundaberg and then make our way down to Sydney before end of october.
We have seen Isle des Pins by car. As it is not allowed to anchor except in one anchorage. By car, we inspected other anchorages and there was no boats. Local people are enforcing no-anchoring rule it appears as many boats were in Kuto bay only.
Island has couple of very nice anchorages, however inside of island is regrettably ruined by plantations of european pines and eucalyptus. Villages are same as anywhere. After several days of enjoying walks, beautiful colours, animal life, we have moved to island Ua, 40 miles towards west. Again gennaker proven its value as we managed to sail 2/3 of the way. After couple of days on Ua and couple of squids we have today moved to island Mato as wind expected to increase to uncomfortable levels tomorrow. Had nice 10 NM sail. I have started with jib, and as we would arrive too late to anchorage, simply unfurled gennaker and we sailed 4-6 kn in around 7 kn of wind. Now at night we have absolutely flat water and can hear birds screaming from nearby island.
We are going to sleep around 8pm an wake up at 5am, which is 3 hours earlier than when living in city and working. I guess this is now natural rhythm as it should be. It shows in better health and overall feeling better and healthier.
It is interesting when one compares sailors coming from different countries. Values can vary vastly, and in unexpected ways. Country where one comes from, definitely has large influence on one's belief what is right or good or bad, and how the person is wired.
Few sailor groups can be identified in New Caledonia: french, US, german and australian. There are sailors from other countries but not in enough numbers to be able to come to any conclusions.
Americans - big boats so then can carry large dinghies, ideally with console and zoom here and there in anchorage continuously. Lots of antennas on boats. In the evening one can see thru windows large TV screen that is on all evening. Many behave like movie stars. Movie industry definitely shaped minds of US population.
Australians - mostly rent out their houses when away and look where to get shop with beer. Rising house prices since 1950ies from depths of depression and VB beer adds probably responsible.
french - their psyche largely influenced by ocean explorer Jacques Custeau and traveler Jules Verne. They use underwater guns and catch dinner and use mainsail only, instead of jib.
Germans - their psyche largely influenced by Karl May, writer from times of romantic travelling. They all live self sufficiently, enjoy nature, have modest boats and carefully manage finances, so they can prolong travel and stay away from work and busy cities and lovely suburbia. Most understand electricity and physics, chemistry, so can sort out any issue with the boat for fraction of cost.
Me - I was influenced by Jacques Custeau, no doubt. I also like german's style of happy, low footprint living, enjoyment of the day and night as they come. And be able to fix things by myself and find joy when successfully saved couple of thousands by using my own head and deduction and what i learned when studying physics. Also enjoy improving the boat to make it more performant.
Picture below is an island that is very precious to Kanaki. We think it is burial site, maybe for chiefs only.
We have made passage of 40 NM today to Isle des Pins, apparently one of the 10 best island on the globe. No wind, motoring 2/3 of the way, but last 1/3 we managed to sail using gennaker only between 120 and 180 apparent wind angle. Boat speed played around 50% of apparent wind speed. We were again very happy to be able to deploy gennaker and get excellent and relaxing sailing in return. I have become crippled, so Tanja had to manage gennaker and anchoring today. She actually furled gennaker in 15 kn apprent wind by herself. Accused me that I am holding sail back so she has to pull more, but at the end she managed the task without a problem. Good exercise.
Dinner was spectacular in Kuto bay. We plan to stay on the island for a while and have really good look. Surprised how many other boats are around.
Tanja managed to produce bottle of merlot, so I had some after weeks of draught.
Yesterday night we had experienced strongest sustained winds so far in our sailing career. Overnight it was blowing 40 to 50 kn, maxing to 55 kn. Forecast was up to 25 kn. We are in Mato anchorage that has only reef protection. No protection against strong winds. On top of that I had screecher installed. This is lots of sail if unfurled in blow. We shared anchorage with another four larger catamarans and one monohull. Guess no capitain slept enough this night.
I was in ready position to start engines immediately if anchor or chain let go as reef was close to the boat. Also was checking gennaker regularly and especially during very strong bursts to see no weaknesses.
It was actually starry night so one could see fury of the seas. Although strong winds, it was reasonably ok to sleep according to Tanja. Winds started abating just before sunrise.
All ended fine without any issues. Our confidence in our anchoring aparatus and screecher setup strenghtened. See pic of anchorage.
We and Priscalina have come back from Ouvea atoll, overnight passage. Forecast was no wind so expected to motor whole way.
Managed to sail during the day using screecher. Reefed sail 2x as night approached and turn on engine. Quickly wind turned on the nose and we motored in 18-24 kn apparent whole night. Water we crossed is up to 7km deep ! Colour is different than Med. Bit bumpy on occasions but no one got stressed because of that. In the morning winds turned better and managed to get extra 4 hours of sail.
When leaving Ouvea manta rays checked out our boat for good bye. Impressive animals.
We liked Ouvea - colours are amazing, people really nice, food ok/great. Wish we could check number of small islands surrounding atoll. Maybe next time. 45 nm round trip. However water temperature was still touch too low for enjoyable swim - 23.2C - it is winter. We and Priscalina plan to depart NC for Australia mid septembre. With view to come back to Sydney mid to late octobre.
Sunny weather, infinite trade winds, good company, good food and amazing colours.
From observing other more experienced sailors, got some ideas for boat improvement. One of them is Code 0 sail usage. It took me a while to figure out how to use Code 0 efficiently.
The main issue with this big sail is it can unfurl in strong winds and cause major damage to the boat. Furling system and sheet keep it in place but it can loosen up when wind pounding. The other issue is it should not get wet for long. So I stored it after each use to protrect my precious investment in carbon sail.
I have now used soft shackle to lock furling system and use sheet to tension in opposite direction to put pressure on it and sail makes no moves in seaway. Furling rope is no longer used for that purpose. This way, sail cant unfurl and have seen other boats use this approach in very strong winds. So far, in 30 kn there was no hint of any movement.
I have spliced new infinite loop for furler that is much longer and enables handling of sail from safety of cockpit. Factory install forces you to go in front.
Result of this is that Code 0 will stay installed fulltime when sailing and will be used much more often and usage will be safer. It is a major pain ta put it on and take it off after each use, resulting in much less use.
This addition should improve boat performance in sub 10 kn winds - up to 15 kn apparent wind in all directions, for reaching will carry up to 18 apparent and downwind up to 20 kn apparent. So hoping to see double digits here and there without stressing boat.
See white rope - new furler - on pictures.
We have sailed to Ouvea, around 40 NM. Excitement of the day was whale breached in front of our boat just when exiting anchorage on Lifou. We got the message and did 120 deg turn and cautiously made large circle around whale mother and baby. Jenny and Steve actually wake them up first, thinking that it is uncharted reef. Luckily they had engine on and whales woke up early enough so no dramas.
Reiterating our belief that running engines at night in whale area is not waste of time.
We managed to sail 1/2 way with gennaker and main averaging 5 kn in around 8-10 apparent and some counter current. Then wind moved further back and had to motor to arrive early enough to anchor safely.
Lagoon has diameter roughly 15 NM, which is rim of volcano. One gets lots of respect for this place as it was likely one of the largest volcanoes in earth history. It is very interesting to us that sea depth increases dramatically very close to shore . Steepness of these underwater mountains is breathtaking.
First pic from the atoll shore.
Second pic shows windward angle that boat achieves most of the time. Not as good as some monohulls but definitely appreciate windward abilities of our boat.
We have made passage from Grande Terre , Mato Island to Lifou Island. Around 100 NM in total. From Mato To Havannah passage was nice sailing and observing world pass by. Left Havannah passage at midday, at low tide, still experiencing 3 kn tidal current and nasty standing waves. Conditions improved once we were 5 NM from the pass. Started with gennaker and full main and as wind strengthened we ended up with 2 reefs in main and one in jib. I have successfully completed test of my new system of how to singlehandedly reef mainsail downwind without turning upwind. Also have modified reefing system to be more robust. This is important so one can carry more sails and go faster, to minimize time on ocean passage where bad things can happen. As it is whale season , we run one engine at night. When we closed on our target, we turned off engine and set sails to travel at around 4 kn assuming that eventual impact at 4kn speed will not be too bad. Nothing happened :) We met Jenny and Steve from Priscalina in anchorage Baie Drueulu, and decided to continue tomorrow together to Ouvea, that looks really attractive. There is no cars to rent as it is Marriage season on Lifou. By foot one cant get far. Still beautiful island, but not too much to do. So, time to move. Lifou is the largest raised atoll on the world, and is amazing that the whole island is made up of animal dead bodies of corals, shells and whatever else passed by and got stuck.
Currently enjoying calm condition in Southern Lagoon. We are shortly leaving For Loyalty islands. Water temperature there is 2 degrees more which makes lots of difference. Ouvea is the only true atoll in New Caledonia and has warmest waters. Population there is Kanaki, and we want to wish them all the best for independence vote later this year.
We also observe english vs french style of colonization. It appears french have had softer hand. Some would say, that is why they have now problems with natives. Others would say, diversity is spice of life and without it there no meaningful life.
We will join for this trip to Jenny and Steve from Priscalina FP catamaran Lavezzi 40. Later on we plan to cross back to Australia together.
See pics from day 1 of our passage. Robert from AquaBar, FP catamaran Belize 43 took them as we sailed together first day and night in group of 5 boats. Conditions were lively and sailing was fabulous.
Our daughter Vesna visited us for a week to see what parents are up to. Weather cooperated and she was able to see Noumea, and three coral islands Signal, Amedee and Maitre.
We were able to mostly sail between islands in near glassy conditions.
Snorkeling was great and we have spotted lots of wild life, including black tip sharks, turtles barracudas, sea snakes...
Short holidays were completed by buffet dinner at Ilot Maitre that had whole sashimi tuna, whole baked tuna, roasted pig and other high quality food on offer. Not cheap but certainly worth it.
Francois and Serdar visited us and spent nice and easy weekend with us near Ilot Maitre. Serdar and myself revived good and bad moments from sydney IT contractor life and look forward to exciting adventures lurking ahead.
Looks like both are bit surprised by catamaran size, spaciousness and comfort.
We sailed couple miles upwind in 7-8 kn winds and boat felt lively and managed good progress, even though we are loaded nearly 3 T. Maybe new sails help that much, or we loaded less ~ only 2 T... or both.
We had to motor back as day was nearly windless, rarity in New Caledonia.
Last couple of days we visited island Kouare which is deep in Southern Lagoon, 40 NM from Noumea. Due to trade winds, we had to sail against weather when going there and easier deep reach when returning.
Island is picture perfect example of coral island. One becomes aware how these islands are really formed.
Starts with colorful coral that starts life in place favoured by currents and winds. Little fish joins, then larger fish , then turtles, then birds etc, etc . So bodies of dead corals and all other creatures over time actually are building material for corral island. Beautiful colours are cause for island to form. In a way, energy of life creating island. Sure animals that stop by, do not know true reason why such place is so beautiful and that tax will be their body when dead.... Amazing process.
Sail against wind was in choppy lagoon water created by 20 to 25 kn winds, probably 1m short waves. In this situation we used 1 reef in main and jib and used apparent wind angle ~ 48. Boat went around 7 kn and VMG 3 kn with true tacking angle around 55 deg. Drive was pleasant for everyone including boat. One can see from chartplotter large number of reefs that one has to navigate thru. Errors are catastrophic and we both look at the satelite photos, chartplotter and sea to avoid such scenario. Ocean waves are usually larger and much more pleasant to sail against. On the way to NC we used apparent angle 38 for autopilot with 2 x reef with good speed.
On the way back we made fast 40 nm passage. We have seen boat having difficulties going faster than 8.5 kn, as bow and stern were deeper than normal. Reason is wave generated by the boat that trapped boat in this speed. Our 3 T of stuff help keeping it from going any faster.
Few pictures from visit to beautiful Amedee Island on the edge of outer reef. One can see ocean waves normally coming from roaring forties breaking on the reef. We had calm anchorage as reef extends nearly 1 km and no wave can come over such long distance.
Photo camera cannot load pictures on computer as USB cable damaged, so can show only iphone pics.
Wildlife New Caledonia has mostly SE trade winds around 15-35kn in lagoon - 250 days per year. Short waves that develop in lagoon do not help when sailing against wind.
To weather last batch of trades we sailed northwest with the wind and explore coral islands. We have seen large number of sea turtles, few dugongs, inquisitive sharks,manly black tip, lots of large fish, sea snakes, sea eagles and some other strange birds that seem unique to NC.
We also trying to use sail when possible so that we fill tanks only once before leaving NC, meaning we last on one tank for 6 months or so.
We see surprisingly large number of Australians cruising NC. I think main attraction is easy access to coral reef and numerous coral islands. Also coral quality is excellent. And of course looots of fish, although one has to be careful due to ciguatura. Local advice - do not eat fish larger than 1 metre.
We hope this batch of trade winds is ending and turned the other direction practising upwind sailing to visit islands we liked most so far and find some new ones.
Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
Waiting in Baie du Carenage for strong winds to end. Three creeks flow in the bay, there are two hot springs and lots of underwater life. One of few cyclonic holes in NC. It is chilly in the morning and place reminds of alpine lake.
Also, due to mining, water is reddish and red line can already be seen on our antifoul. Will clean once we are back in open.
Nature above water is nice, no mining near water so waterfront quite green. Reforestation after decades of mining hides scars but I guess will never be same as before. Sympathize with natives that try to stop mining but unlikely to make any difference. Surprised that reefs around mines are still quite healthy, unlike in Australia. Maybe the reason is farming. There is very little farming in NC, compared to Australia.
We are lazying around on our private little island and enjoying relatively good internet. No boat in sight and seen 3 humans in 5 days.
Doing small boat upgrades and studying Vanuatu and Fiji, our potential next destinations.
Sailed from Mato Island to Maitre Island, around 28NM. Nice reaching and downwind in light to moderate winds. Southern lagoon sailing with no waves, no boats to worry about, steady winds and we had lunch in front of the net and watch world pass by. Of course I have checked our route before to ensure no reefs in our path.
We were faster of most boats, that supposed to go better in less than 10kn winds than us, however they may have been enjoying life like us. Tanja provided alternative opinion on this one - people here do not motor-sail pretending to sail like in Sydney.. Maybe I have learned to trim sail better ?!
We had fire on the beach with three other boats Duette 1, Leilani B and Glamma Puss and 2x trout caught by Greg from Leilani B.
Greg initiated us a a fisherman and was so kind to gave us calamari lure and we managed to catch our lunch for 2x first time ever! I still owe him 1 calamari as a payment for the lure ! I hope to get him payment in Vanuatu.
Now we plan to reprovision in Noumea and will return back to Southern Lagoon and explore further in unknown with bit of skills we have acquired so far and some extra gear needed for that adventure.
One can see from this picture of surface sea water temperature why we choose Vanuatu for our next stop, departing in AUGUST. New Caledonia southern lagoon, where we travel (bottom of pic under Noumea), has top class nature above and underwater, partly because colder water. We already have swim suits and water is 22 - 23 C. Else it gets cold after 30 min in water. Vanuatu currently around 3-4 C higher.
Passage Aus to NC reflections We are enjoying natural beauty of Southern Lagoon - Ua islands. We both agree that never have we seen such a beauty in our lives. So we just sit here until get enough of it.
Finally can objectively reflect on passage and how crew and boat handled it.
We needed 5 days and 7 hours. And arrived in first half of boats, averaging 150nm per day.
Boat handled seas well. I was especially impressed by boat handling 30 kn headwinds and 3m waves. We travelled whole path with 2 reefs and sure we're among fastest boats. Some used full sail to get ahead but that is taking on extra risk which we do not do.
From our enquiries our boat came out on top regarding fatigue and sea sickness. Tanja had slight seasickness day 2 only. No toilet visits or anything like that. Funny that she got better when we were beating whole night into 30 kn winds.
Lagoon is true ocean boat, it can take all you need for the trip and not be overloaded by large margin. This can't be said for most other cats we have seen as waterline did not look good at all.
Now back to enjoying spectacular colours and wildlife, and trying to catch that squid swimming under boat for dinner! Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
We are sitting in Kuto Bay, Isle of Pines , to weather strong winds and rain over next couple days. New Caledonia will shortly have Independence vote and things getting bit emotional is my observation. Topic: Kanakl people vs colonizers. Therefor we have decided to sail to Vanuatu for a different type of experience mid august - cultural South Pacific and visit to live vulcano.
If I had a choice, would surely choose to be native of pacific islands instead of sydney office person with all the trouble associated with place of many million people. Yet natives do not see it that way.
Yesterday we had very nice and relaxing 40 NM passage from Ilot Mato to Ile des Pins. It was mostly direct down wind and butterfly with white sails worked really well. Originally we planned to stop on another island in Southern Lagoon but sail was just too nice and a bit cold so we decided to come around next time. Ile des Pins has really unique trees, many I have never seen before and nature is really beautiful.
We plan to stay here till saturday to visit local market .
Koncno v divjini Po tednu dni mocnih pasatnih vetrov sva poskusila prvi izlet na otok in anchor winch nehal delat ko sem hotel povlec ketno gor. 30 metrov ketne in 25 kil anchorja povlect z rokami na coln me je preprical da bolje da to popravimo preden gremo naprej. Moji amaterski poskusi da odkrijem elektricni problem so hitro padli v vodo in Po dveh urah sem se predal in smo zavili v glavno Marino in cakali na astronomsko cifro za placat popravilo. Izkazalo see je da so francozi v NC izjemno efikasni in poceni!!! Recimo da sem placal 30x manj kot sem racunal:-) Obenem smo si se enkrat ogledala Noumea in tokrat nasla lepe predele, en bi lohk rekel kot Monaco v tropih. Zdaj sva na grebenu pri lepem otoku in korale so prvovrstne. Ni interneta tako da satellite edina povezava z svetom.
Neokrnjena narava nad in predvsem pod vodo je izjemna.
Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
We are on mooring in front of Ile Maitre resort - see pic. Island provides shelters against waves. Wind is very steady and blowing 30 to 35 kn. Tomorrow should get quieter and we will go in town to get food, swimsuits, etc before departure. In winter temperature of water drops to 20 C and we do not like cold water. Visibility underwater however gets in winter to 50 m. On tuesday we hope to sail around 25 NM to wildernsess. See another pic.
In meantime, we have put up additional mosquito screens, eating and do nothing.
Arrived! Apologies, I have realized just now that boat name is case sensitive and that all my updates from the road were not actually updating.
Reposted them so they came all at once.
Arrived! Completed our first real passage. Now moored in beautiful clear waters with lots of corals and fish.
Passage for me was nothing short of exceptional. Feeling nature changes as one travels into different world.
Sailing in short - we traveled whole passage with 2 reefs in main and 40 to 100% Genoa. Safety first. Lagoon 400 shines with this setup in heavier weather.
Day one was great, lots of wind and waves and speed however boat and a/p handled very well.
Day two repetition of day one in milder version. Could shake reef or two but was just too enjoyable to add stress to sailing.
Day three wrong weather forecast. Instead of smooth seas and 10kn we got 30 kn on the nose and some ugly waves, presume generated by currents. Very happy how boat handled situation.
Day four best day of sailing long swell else flat seas 25 kn and bunch of squalls. Was enjoying slaloming thru them. We ended up going into two squalls. First one took all sails down. Second one just alert.
Day 5 winding down .
Boat no issues.
Tanja got modest seasickness day two, and got better day after.
She enjoyed trip as well apart from seasick part Overnight watches - we agreed day by day and do not feel too tired after 5 days.
Now is pastries/vine/cheese/dive/snorkel time:) Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
Day 4 After period of good sailing, we hit 20-30 kn headwinds and 3m waves on the nose this morning.
Motorsailing beating to wind 4 to 6 kn to minimize impact of slamming and improve comfort. Uncomfortable but not dangerous.
Tanja got seasick yesterday, however today improvement even though conditions worse.
Else we are both well. Boat no issues.
According to predictwind we should arrive on the reef entry in front of noumea Sunday evening. We will wait daylight to cross reef entry.
Day 4 After period of good sailing, we hit 20-30 kn headwinds and 3m waves on the nose this morning.
Motorsailing beating to wind 4 to 6 kn to minimize impact of slamming and improve comfort. Uncomfortable but not dangerous.
Tanja got seasick yesterday, however today improvement even though conditions worse.
Else we are both well. Boat no issues.
According to predictwind we should arrive on the reef entry in front of noumea Sunday evening. We will wait daylight to cross reef entry.
prvih sedem ur poti Valovi tri metre, vcasih kaksen pride preko 5m in poskropi kokpit. Veter na book, 2x skrajsana jadra.
Veter do 40kn, soncno.
Imeli smo kapucino in kosilo. Brez karkoli razbitega.
Delamo v pouprecju 7.5 kn, in smo druzbi see stirih katamaranov in ene velike jadrnice. Nekaj colnov naprej, oni ki imajo vecje posadke in dirkajo, vecina pa ne ostala odzadaj. Nekaj colnom odpovedal autopilot saj mocni pogoji.
Nic slabosti ali straha. Tanja zdaj pociva saj bo imla vecerno izmeno.
Jadranje je spektakularno!
Potovanje se zacne jurti ob osmih zjutraj. 777 NM do vhoda v koralni greben. Vso pot bojo 2 do 3 m bocni valovi. Veter tudi bocni celo pot v glavnem do 30 vozlov. Planirano je 4-5 dni za prehod. Morski tokovi ne bojo tako mocni kot so bili na poti iz Sydneja. Ali imamo zato podvodne gore in koralne grebene . Planirana pot je na drugi sliki.
Za to pot sem izvlekel jokerja kar se tice optimiziranja jader. Se vidi na sliki.
Upam da bo delalo !
We have spent last five days in Boat Works shipyard servicing our boat. To get there, one has to do 12 NM picturesque river cruise. On one side national parks, on the other large number of upmarket properties. I have used SAS planet and Navionics to navigate river and channels. Easy.
Level of service, attention to detail and value for money were unexpectedly good so I am another sailor recommending Boat Works for people, especially with catamarans. Sydney just cant do this kind of service.
Boat passed all inspections with flying colours. Only thing not fixed is the circular protector for jib that is broken. As we will not race in closed areas and do 100 tacks in a day, this is cosmetic issue only.
We purchased more spare parts including one starter motor for diesel. Extra chain for drogue and storm anchoring, extra safety equipment, extra fishing gear, etc, etc.
We have done two courses. One for medical help specific for offshore sailing which was really good. The other course was for PrecdictWind where we expanded knowledge about forecasting, and interpretation.
One can see from pics happy customers .
Now we are at Southport for final count down for departure. Last year small group left for NC in not the best forecast conditions and were smashed. Rally participants were all fine as they left on better forecast.
After resting for two nights, we decided to move on to Southport, 158 NM north. Southerly wind was bit weaker, waves bit smaller and we motored less than previous leg. Hard part was around Ballina where we had 1 to 2 kn current from north stopping us. We managed in 26.5 hours which means average speed of 6 kn. This time we have practiced shortening sails without turning into wind and that worked well.
Meaning we can carry more sails into the night. Encouraged by our success we left mainsail on with two reefs overnight. Wind was blowing up to 40 kn again, and ride was smoother and enjoyable. Wind strength seem to come in circles cycling from 15 and all the way to 40, and repeats each hour or so.
We are now at Boateworks where boat service will take place for 5 days. First time we will live on hard on the boat. There is plenty of other couples living on boat while sorting out issues with the boat. Catamarans are in majority. Boatyard looks promising !
Tanja spotted large green turtle around Coffs Harbour which is not tropics and i had to admit that was wrong as diving company advertised green turtles watch and I dismissed as impossible . And we also spotted two shark fins circling around boat like in old movies. This kind of scaremongering does not seem to bother many as we saw in Coffs harbour large group of swimmers in ocean daily where is know white pointers exist in numbers. Maybe sharks are not that interested in humans after all.
We have completed first 400 NM of our trip without any incident, breakage or sea sickness although conditions were not ideal.
Hope our good spirits continue.
Decided to depart from Port Stephens in strong southerly conditions, sail overnight and arrive to Coffs Harbour. Exit from Port Stephens bar was exciting as we exited one hour after high and SE swell raised some impressive size waves. Our 2 x 40 HP done the job, bit of spray, and we are out! There we found large (for us) waves, 2-4m , on the beam, and wind howling around 30 kn. Had second thoughts about the plan but once we cleared nearby islands waves become more orderly and sailing turned to excellent. I prepared proper cappuccino for the moral. With second reef in main and one or 2 reefs in jib we zoomed past Broughton Island crossing 10 kn on occasions. Soon after noticed GPS speed to get less and less due to current. PredictWind actually predicted current that goes our way, which was one of reasons we started new leg, however predictions are not always correct.
Before night, seas have looked pretty large, but actual sailing was fine. Decided to take down mainsail and continue with jib only as wind coming from around 150 deg and no desire or experience to reef mainsail at night in large seas if conditions worsened. Current at this stage slowed us by 2 kn. Night arrived with full moon and all worked fine. Boat behaved well, so we just relaxed and Tanja took first watch. We swapped around 1:30 am.
Seas have not decreased, wind 20 to 40 kn, pretty much constant .
Following seas at night were large. One could see size of wave once wave overtook us. However autopilot and boat behaved 100% and no water came in cockpit, except once as towering seas spilled bit of water on our outside table, like one would take bucket of water and spill on table !? I found this funny.
Tanja spotted crab nets just in time and avoided.
We turned engine on after our speed failed on occasions down to below 4 kn. Difference between speedo and GPS was around 1.5- 3 kn sometimes even larger. Max speed over water 12 kn, and had many 10kn + surfs which autopilot handled very well.
In total we needed 31 hours for 155 NM, which means average 5 kn. Estimate on average current stopped us for 2-3 kn, so average speed over water was 7-8kn. We motored around 1/2 of the time, to arrive to destination in daylight.
There was no scary moments or seasickness. We both slipping very easily and nicely into, new to us, life on the seas.
We rest one day in Coffs Harbour which we found very pretty. Found place with excellent (!) and non-expensive seafood and great river walk. Just forgot how excellent truly fresh fish tastes.
Tomorrow morning off to last leg Coffs Harbour to Gold Coast Seaway which will last around 30 hours and one night sail. Winds and waves on the stern, 1 kn current on the nose.
We started 3 am Wednesday from Manly to go 80 NM to Port Stephens and arrive before night. Had second reef in main and unfurled full jib. At this point not confident enough to handle sails at night so we had sails out to handle lots of weather before we had to change. We still beginners for night sailing.
Motor sailed till daylight, then we had great sailing for 6 hours wing on wing, running at 160 deg APP. Had around 0.5 kn current against us. Did not bother to unreef as boat did really nicely cruising around 7-8 kn over water in 15 to 20 kn apparent. Although we had 3 m waves from east and another 1m waves from south, wing on wing was surprisingly stable and no seasickness noted. According to Marinetraffic we managed 6.4kn average speed. Motoring was slowest.
Sailing was abruptly stopped by squall around midday that brought lots of rain and some extra wind, and after 10 minutes we got suddenly down to zero wind! As prediction was for wind to die around midday, we took down all sails and happily motored and anchored around 5pm in Port Stephens.
It was beautiful evening with moon, feeling good to be out of city and crowd.
Today we went To Nelson Bay shopping. Found some bakery with good croissants and then did some food shopping in massive, new woolworths where prices were quite steep even for sydneysider.
Plan to stay here another day or two, to wait out southerly front and continue saturday or sunday, depending on weather.
Very nice swimming and water is very clean.
Na pot gremo v sredo ob treh zjutraj !! Zivcnost se dviguje. Tanja gre se dvakrat delat. V cetrtek je predviden mocan vdor zraka iz antarktike , sunki do 50 vozlov ki nas bo zaustavil za tri dni kakor kazejo napovedi. V sredo planiramo narest 80 NM do Port Stephens preden se znoci. Potem v nedeljo naprej.
Port Stephens is naturelno zelo lep, ima nekaj otokov od katerih je Broughton Island nacionalni park. Tam zivi veliko nurse sharks, tjulenjev in tudi belih morskih psov. Podrocje bogato z ribo. Ali to ne moti ljudi da si ne iscejo hrano z podvodno pusko. Port Stephens je do sedaj nas najdaljsi izlet saj smo sli tja in nazaj pred dvemi leti ko smo bili se cisto svezi na colnu. Tu se zbirajo francozi, saj ima kraj zelo lep zaliv in mnogo sidrisc, in seveda vsak francoz ima svoj katamaran. Dosti njih pride delat v Australijo iz Nove Kaledonije za 6 mesevcev in potem na sest mesecno jadranje po juznem pacifiku.
Nas prvi cilj je Southport v Gold Coast, ker se pridruzimo grupi in bomo sli cez carino in cakali na ugodno vreme za potovanje.
Vesna ja castila kosilo, saj je dobila prvo placo od nove firme kjer je prevzela precej visoko pozicijo. Smo nazdravljali njenemu nadalnjemu uspehu in za naso srecno pot. Pride nas obiskat julija.
Na pot do Nove Kaledonije preko Tasman Sea, 800 NM, bo slo v grupi 40 colnov, polovica katamaranov. Podrocje je znano po nevarnem morju tako da to ni kraj kjer bi clovek uzival potovanje z 3 vozle saj se vreme hitro spremeni. Ali nas coln je dokazan dizajn in je dobro opremljen za nepredvideno.
Tanja stops working on 24-apr, and PredictWind forecast looks good for departure morning 25-apr. We need to get to Southport, 400 NM north. Departure to New Caledonia is scheduled for may 14.
We are both excited and bit scared . Boat is ready, inspected and not overloaded.
For start we should have westerly wind around 8 kn from mainland so sea will be pretty calm and with gennaker should clock around 6 kn reaching. There is southerly change coming next day so that should be good too. Plan is to do day hops and not in one go as calculated by routing software. Sea current is predicted strong up to 4.5 kn against us so we will sail close to shore where current goes below 1 kn.
The guy that sailed this boat in Southern Ocean, Kenneth, was kind enough to explain in details how his warp was made. See this unique video.
His logic makes sense, my boat is similar, have all components on the boat already, so my storm defense will pretty much try to replicate what he is doing.
This may not work well in cross seas, so plan B is to actively steer boat to avoid breakers at certain angle (around 30 degrees) against wave crests.
Now next step is to go out there and test setup, deployment and retrieval.
Sem sel testirat nova jadra, ko sem koncal ciscenje morske rasti pod vodo.
Nova jadra, zaupanje v jambor, lep dan, cisti podvodni deli, lepi valovi, dobro nastimana jadra dosegel 10.3 najvisjo brzino z 2 x skrajsanim glavnim jadrom in 1 x skrajsanim prednjim. Coln je brzel brez napora, jadra so bila zelo napeta v obliko rezila.
Rigging inspected. No faults detected apart from broken sail protector on lower spreader. Not sure if will get fixed. Rigging now 18 K NM and 5 years.
Tanja did all the hard work of climbing, inspecting and taking photos to compare with photos taken previously, while I was doing strategic thinking .
Crew happy, everyone happy !
Priprave za potovanje so v koncni fazi.
Za neurje bomo imeli 125m 20 mm najlonske vrvi ki jo vlecemo za colnom v U obliki. Po potrebi bomo z shackle pripeli sidro, pomozno sidro, ketno, karkoli, dodatne vrvi tako da upocasnimo coln do pod 10 vozlov. Nasa strategija je da aktivno vozimo coln cez neurje. Na ta nacin se lahko umaknes najhujsim goram in luknjam morja.
One more time
12 items left to do.
Boat is now 95% ready for the trip. Last big item is thorough rig inspection this weekend. Tanja will do that and also install radar reflector.
Sitting in Manly and preparing for free diving. My lungs out of shape, so far can do 2 min 45 sec without air.
PAPIGA - test 1
Danes sem cel dan posvetil raziskavi kako najbolje pripet vrv ki jo vlecem za sabo v neurju in katera je najbolj varna smer ce imamo valove ki prihajajo z dveh razlicnih smeti.