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Old 27-06-2018, 22:32   #76
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Location: Fremantle
Boat: South Coast 36
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Hi Gareth,

I am currently doing the "Over the Top" Brisbane to Fremantle on a tight holiday schedule. We are currently moored in Darwin.

We stuck to the side of the shipping channels through the GBR so that we could safely sail at night. Ships were common but not a problem with AIS and radar. Winds varied from occasional SW in the morning through to South and most commonly SE and ESE. Every day was a wind warning with over 20kts forecast, every few days the wind crept over 30kts. We only took shelter for one day in Princess Charlotte Bay when the forecast was for over 35kts. The day after there was no wind.

We stopped at Whitehaven and Chalkies beach in the Whitsundays and Lizard Island. Then Horn / Thursday Island on the way up. Horn Island is a nice anchorage but the flies are bad. Albany Passage at the Cape was definitely a highlight, I would anchor there if I do the trip again.

Cairns has a huge boat industry and can supply any need.

Seisia is a great place to stop and resupply. Showers at the camp ground a gold coin donation. Washing machines $3. Supermarket has most supplies and the best and cheapest meat we have found so far. Tender ride to the beach and walk across the soccer field to the super market. Service station a short walk from the wharf (Diesel $2.00 a litre June 2018).

Gove we anchored in the bay out the front of the Boat Club. Great feed. Hired a car ($65) to get supplies and fuel, cheaper than a taxi.

Hole in the Wall was great, we hit it at high tide and had a great ride. Navonics will show the tide just east of the Rip, we went by that as there was a lot of conflicting information on the net.

Darwin. Watch the current once rounding Cape Don, we went from 10 knots to 2.5 knots, so we anchored for 3 hours and then took off at 10 knots again. Swell/waves ranged from dead flat to 3m and for a short period 4+ metres.

Mobile coverage was not too bad till after Cairns, then only had it occasionally (Boost/Telstra). Inreach was great for SMS, their weather was average to spot on.

Things are going to break. I had electrical problems with the stater system, finally traced back to a fuel gauge wired incorrectly (worked fine for years, no one knows why it started shorting the starter). Autopilot stopped working in FNQ. Entire Helm/Pedestal had to be removed in Darwin to repair it. Mizzen mast traveler ripped from the deck in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Many more minor things. Be prepared to have to fix things with the resources you have on the boat.

If you need any more information feel free to contact me.

Mark
South Coast 36
caree.id.au
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Old 29-06-2018, 04:28   #77
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Mark, thank you very much for all the information, greatly appreciated!



Would love to hear more about your trip thus far, i will send you a private message...
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Old Yesterday, 19:25   #78
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Hey guys,


Quick trip update from the halfway point Darwin. Has been an interesting sail from Sydney. Had our fair share of issues which is typical, especially as it was the first time actually sailing Sea Wolf since getting her new mail sail from Hood a few days before I had scheduled to depart Pittwater. The commissioning sail at least still had the potential facilities of the NSW and lower Queensland coast if/where required.


Issues:

•Straight away I could tell that the Solar was providing insufficient amps, brand new 335WN1C-A5 LG panel.

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Only getting about 10-11 amps max during midday, only maintains the amperage of the boat during the daylight hours (1xfridge 3.5amps, 1x feezer 3.5amps (on 50-70% of the time being in the tropics), laptop and tablet plugged in and on 1.5 amps, Raymarine instruments system (Seatalk ng) and Autohelm 2.5 amps. Total 11 amps relatively constant. 480ah (brand new 4x 120ah AGMs additional 1x 120ah AGM for the started motor only). In total 600ah. Expect a 335W + 300W wind turbine to be enough. Since this is a coastal trip and not offshore, motoring is almost a daily occurrence getting in and out of anchorages.However on passages this becomes a problem which is most easily fixed by reducing amps by turning fridge off and using the portable engel as a fridge (currently working as a brilliant freezer).


•Blown water bladders due to heavy weather. When I bought the boat she came with 2 old bladders, these were replaced with new bladders. Initially there was no way to stop water flowing from one side tank to the other (port starboard tanks 200l each). Installed a valve of the water intake line which stops the flow of water. Fixed them in Pearl bay by removing, inspecting the inner lining and using puncher repair kit, fixing the holes. Wasn’t too difficult to spot the minor holes and patching them up takes a few hours to dry.


•Slow leak in the raw water pump between the shaft and the engine, changed inner bearing and gasket/seal which slowed leak but didn’t stop the problem. Bought a new raw water pump in Cairns which has done the job perfectly.

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•Wind turbine broken (Leading Edge 300W) due to strong winds. When I bought the boat I knew that the thing was old and had most likely had a good life, looks to be around 10 years old. The bridge rectifier broke when the boat was just moored in Pittwater, re-soldered the old broken connection back on which did the job. There was some rust which had developed within the backplate which held the magnets against the electric coil which I knew was going to be the weak point and didn’t fix. During a strong trade wind passage up the top of Queensland coast, pulled into Bathurst Bay after sailing a good 115nm in the day time only. Pulled in when it was blowing a good 30 knots, gust 35. At anchor, we could see from the victron battery monitor that the wind turbine was generating a solid 10 amps often 15 in gust. Looked at the owners manual which stated it can handle 60mph winds before it must be shut down. Naively, I let the turbine run during the night, awaking to the sound of the blades reaching a very high fizzing sound then boom… Got immediately out and disabled the turbine with a rope to stop the blades (magnetic brake and disconnecting the system was not strong enough to stop the blades). Found 1 magnet in the cockpit, rest gone…. Took the turbine off and have dismantled it. Unlikely I will find a replacement before I get to Perth.


•Raymarine system going down just west of Thursday Island, having to steer manually for 4 days in heavy weather before we could located the error and fix. First hint of a problem with the system was where the heading was lost between the EV-1 (course and heading computer) which came back within a few seconds. This only happened once before Peter was on watch when the entire system went down. Lost pilot, GPS, speed, heading, depth all at once. Had to wait for the short steep seas to die down before we could get access to the computer system to play around with the cables to try and rectify the situation. Ended up being a dodgy cable between the chart plotter and the seatalk ng bus which was taking the system down.


•Autohelm making a clunking sound which we had not heard before. This was actually between the pin end of the Autohelm and the wooden block connected to the quadrant. Will fix during my stay in Darwin which hopefully should help reduce the oscillation often evident with the Autohelm).


•Minor play in the steering wheel bearing, only minor but will need to be sorted before going offshore. Unable to access the bearing without taking the entire pedestal apart at the top.


•Lost my 11 foot Oceanic hard bottomed PVC RIB due to the shackle unthreading whilst at anchor at Blue Peal Bay, Hayman Island in the Whitsundays and being swept away by the strong currents. Very annoyed that there is a threaded stainless steel eye which attaches the front of the dinghy to the painter.

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I noticed it was gone at 4am and quickly pulled up the anchor to search for it, but with no wind just current, I did the only logical thing that came to my mind quickly and follow which way the current was flowing which was east out of the bay. Followed the coast then off Hayman Island for around 6 hours of motoring around and calling out on VH16 for other vessels to be on the lookout for. We had no luck.

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Hanged around the Whitsundays for a further day to see if someone might have picked it up but nothing. Bought a somewhat cheap replacement in Cairns which can handle the 15hp Suzuki outboard which luckily was on board sea wolf at the time.



Apart from these issues, the rest of the trip has been perfect.


Had some amazing experiences with whales in Fraser Island. These Humpback whales are quite inquisitive and come up to the boat to have a look. Whilst at anchor we had this happen a number of times. Paddle boarding with whales is a great experience I highly recommend.

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Whitsundays was spectacular. The southern islands are the best and quiet.

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Seen amazing wildlife. Manta ray flying next to the boat.

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Other highlight is the Hinchinbrook channel. Didn’t expect how beautiful the Hinchinbrook area was.

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Having a lot of fun just sailing the boast as fast as we can. This Beneteau 42 First has great balance at the helm, almost steers itself with the only exception down waves. The Raymarine linear drive does a great job however seems to oscillate slightly and loses around 1-2knots compared to hand steering. Boat has a hull speed of 8.3 knots which we could average. Often slowed down by a big fixed 3 blade prop which kills about 1 knot in lighter winds but with the blasting 25-30 knot trade winds up beyond Cooktown we could push it quite easily. Managed 190nm in 24 hours which isn’t bad, makes covering distance a breeze….

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Max currents observed this far is around the Thursday Island channel. These strong currents flow a good 5 knots which if you timed it right suck you into the Gulf of Carpentaria. The seas in the Gulf are very confused coming from several angles, coupled with wind against tide and things quickly become unpleasant. This is where the Raymarine system worked for the heavy weather, once the winds almost died off, the system went down…. Winds increased again and we were forced to use bungees on the aft winches connected to the helm. Since to boat is so well balance it happily stayed sailing in a straight line (having the correct balance of the sails also important).


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Had to slow down in speed to time the tides correctly with the Hole in the wall (Gugari rip) on Wessel Island. Timed it perfectly at slack water, was dead calm almost no wind either. Sailed nonstop to Darwin to get the Autohelm and new Raymarine cable sorted, restock before progressing to the Kimberley coast.

Kimberley coast sounds amazing, and adventurous with significant unsurveyed areas, big tides and subsequent currents, reefs and crocodiles to name a few. Any recommendations from anyone not on the Western Australian Cruising Guide and the Kimberley sailing club cruising guide? Ive read that there are amazing waterfalls, fresh water swimming holes and historic cave art work (which I would expect has a fee which im more than happy to pay towards conservation). Berkley and King George Rivers will be the first stop.

Which are the best spots for anchoring if you were time constrained (never a good way to cruise but required to get back to Perth for work).


Abrolhos Islands will be the next cruising ground before Perth.


Cheers


Gareth
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Old Yesterday, 20:02   #79
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Nice report, GAreth! Too bad about the dinghy. We too use a shackle to attach both painters, and have always moused it with s/s wire. Worked so far!

Kinda surprised about the poor output from your panel. Have you checked it for short circuit current and open circuit voltage, compared to specs? Could be a warranty claim time...

The "oscillation" in teh a/p steering can be caused by backlash in the linkage between drive and rudder. Have you checked that? Our Whitlock rotary drive has some worn gears internally and the resulting hunting is aggravating to say the least.

But, sounds like you are doing a great job of carrying on... a true test of a cruiser IMO!

Happy sailing.

Jim
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Old Yesterday, 20:27   #80
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Cheers Jim, have been enjoying the lifestyle too.
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Old Yesterday, 22:25   #81
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Hi Gareth,

Sounds like you are generally having a great time.

From Darwin we went direct to King George River and anchored in Koolama Bay for the night before heading over the bar and all the way down to the Twin Falls at high tide. Anchored for a couple of nights. Need to stick to the outside curves in the river as it was a bit shallow on the inside. Was well worth the visit.



We chose to go to the Montebello's instead of the Abrolhos Islands as can do the Abrolhos from Fremantle a lot easier. Loved the place, could of spent a month there. Stephenson Channel was a great anchorage, unfortunately approaching weather forced us to leave before we had time to explore the remains on Hermite Island.



If you are stopping in Broome at Gantheaume Point, call Anthony for your mooring well before you get there, was fully booked when we arrived.

Went out wide to miss the cray pots from Geraldton South, they were everywhere.

Have a great time.

Mark
Caree - South Coast 36
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Old Yesterday, 23:55   #82
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Quote:
Originally Posted by aualby View Post
Hi Gareth,

Sounds like you are generally having a great time.

From Darwin we went direct to King George River and anchored in Koolama Bay for the night before heading over the bar and all the way down to the Twin Falls at high tide. Anchored for a couple of nights. Need to stick to the outside curves in the river as it was a bit shallow on the inside. Was well worth the visit.



We chose to go to the Montebello's instead of the Abrolhos Islands as can do the Abrolhos from Fremantle a lot easier. Loved the place, could of spent a month there. Stephenson Channel was a great anchorage, unfortunately approaching weather forced us to leave before we had time to explore the remains on Hermite Island.



If you are stopping in Broome at Gantheaume Point, call Anthony for your mooring well before you get there, was fully booked when we arrived.

Went out wide to miss the cray pots from Geraldton South, they were everywhere.

Have a great time.

Mark
Caree - South Coast 36
Thanks for the info Mark. You didn't go explore the Berkeley river before king George river?
I'm concerned about the southerly winds off the WA coast. Is it better to stay close to the coast and into the Leeuwin current which runs south? Or go offshore?
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