Continuing our column on owner’s own experiences here is a contribution by Paul Westcott. Our thanks to Paul.
Guinevere’s Around Australia Circumnavigation.
Guinevere is a 2008 model 42DS and left Avalon Sailing Club in Pittwater last April. She returned in December and in the 8 months covered about 8600 miles and had 50 different crew on board for various lengths of time. “How do they all fit” asked someone, not understanding the size of the yacht or the crewing mechanics.
The whole trip was divided into 15 legs and four on board is very comfortable (me plus three crew). The crew have been a mix of family, friends and friends of friends. The longest leg (21days) was Darwinto Broome and the Esperance to Adelaidewas the longest in terms of not seeing land (5 days to do the Great Australian Bight). The southern ocean swells have to be seen to be believed! I could write a book on the trip so it is difficult to write a brief summary. Instead I will note down a few aspects of the trip and refer anyone interested in more detail to check the web site: http://www.guinevere.net.au Each leg has a blog written by various crew and makes some fun reading and there are lots of photos. Overall it was a wonderful voyage.
The Crew – this has been a highlight and living closely with a huge range of persons of different ages and sailing knowledge has been both a challenge and a reward. In some cases I had three crew with virtually no experience! Fortunately this was up theQueensland coast so only day sailing. My safety induction routine is down to a pat and no one has had to use the Man Overboard Equipment.
Fishing I never thought I would get tired of eating fish. We caught the most fish betweenCairns and Broome the biggest being around 12 kg. The trouble is with limited refrigeration you almost have to eat it immediately and sashimi followed by baked fried or whatever day after day does get monotonous. We had most success trolling. With more time we would have explored more but our rubber duckie was christened by others as a “crocodile teething ring” which dampened our enthusiasm to go exploring up the mangrove creeks.
Scariest Moments This is a long section as sailing a keel yacht up north where there are limited charts presents many opportunities to hit things. In fact they say there are those who have already hit and those who will hit. I am a member of the already club multiple times. Guinevere hit usually associated with crossing a bar or entering a river so fortunately a sandy bottom and no damage. Other scary moments are the engine stopping enteringCoffsHarbour (dirty fuel – now fixed) and also arriving at strange ports at night. All up I will have had over 40 nights at sea so arriving at night cannot be helped and rather than stand off we have used the chart plotter and our navigation skills to get to an anchorage. It is stressful though. Another moment is when leaving Shark’s Bay through the notorious Steep Point. It all looked ok (our first taste of the big ocean swells from Sth Africa) when three large waves came though and actually broke with white water right across the two headlands. Fortunately we punched through without damage but not a good start.
Best Read – this was at theAbrolhosIslands reading “Islands of Angry ghosts” and Fitzsimon’s Book “Batavia”. We were there 5 days waiting for the wind to settle below 30 knots and were able to walk to the fort they built in 1640. It was very special to be there.
Nicest meal- fresh lobster, squid oysters and reef fish all caught that day and eaten on board Guinevere whilst in a picture book anchorage at theMontebello islands.
Navigation- Thanks goodness for the chart plotter and all up I have over 100 charts as back up. It is a constant task to plot a route and check for hazards. The tides up north are large (10 m at Broome) with large currents (like more than 5 knots) so travel times had to be adjusted to avoid going backwards. The Torres Straits were the most confusing as the times and currents were quite different over a short distance.
Best Gadget (beside the chart plotter)- this has to be the AIS which tracks commercial shipping so I can tell the speed size and heading of a vessel from over 30 miles away.PassingPort Headland at night showed more vessels than we could count. Yes; we did have to take avoidance action at 2am to miss an iron ore carrier with a Chinese name coming our way under full steam.
Weather? – it was generally good with some of the worst winds up the NSW coast at the start of the trip. The winds in theKimberley were fickle so we motor sailed a lot. Fortunately we can get along at nearly 6 knots at 1800rpm and burn less than 2 litres per hour. Guinevere has performed really well with only minor running repairs and routine maintenance. She loved the east coast trade winds which blew steadily at 20 plus knots day after day and we regularly averaged over 7 knots. It is very comfortable and the furling main and genoa have meant sail handling is easy. I continue to be surprised how little sail area is needed to get 6 plus knots. Like all yachts the wind on the nose is an issue and we had adverse winds down the WA coast. The slamming gets to your nerves hour after hour.
Magic moments – There are so many. Sailing at night with a full moon, flat sea; steady 15 knot breeze and a current in your favour is a memorable sailing moment. The sunsets and sunrise never fail to impress and seeing nature close by is a highlight. We saw so many whales in North west WA that we stopped counting. In one morning we counted 35! Seals, dugong, crocodiles, whales, turtles and countless birds add to the experience.
Return to Whale Beach My leave pass from my dear wife Julie expired in December so the plan is to sell Guinevere ( or form a syndicate) and “downsize” so I am not sure yet what I will be sailing in a year’s time.
I was not that experienced when I left so encourage anyone thinking of this to “give it a go”.
If I can help anyone with advice I will be glad to do so. My email is email@example.com
Best Wishes to all you Jeanneau owners.