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Old 30-05-2018, 21:31   #1
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Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Hello fellow cruisers,

I would love to have your opinion on my up and coming trip from Sydney to Perth over the top end of Australia.

Me, my name is Gareth, im a 31 year old New Zealander living and working in Western Australia as a geologist. Sailing has been apart of my entire life, started racing dinghies at 5 years old, progressed to racing keelers (stewart 34, young 88, MRX). Parents have always had a yacht so every holiday would be sailing the NE coast of NZ (bay of islands, Hauraki Gulf). Worked on the superyachts in the med, sailed to Fiji, New Caledonia and Australia on a friend's 42 foot Catalina. Tickets, boat master, coastal skipper, VHF certificate, STCW95, power boat level 2, ERT first response (cert 2).

The mission:
I have recently bought a Beneteau First 42 1982 which was in need of some TLC.
I've always like this design of Beneteau, conceived as a ocean racing yacht designed by German Frers, they have a good reputation as a solid blue water cruiser. The initial plan was to buy one in the med and sail her back to NZ, but one conveniently turned up in Sydney which caught my eye. She had just come in from crossing the Pacific with her Danish owner who must have been tight on cash and almost all repairs on board were armature. I have spent >$45k getting her to my satisfactory level of safety and reliability, including new main sail, new standing rigging, full electronics/battery bank overhaul, major engine service (Perkins 4108 50hp 4500 hours) etc etc...

Sydney to Perth is >5000nm over 110 days, departure is the 3rd of August, will be aiming for Cairns for the first month (Sept), second month Darwin (Oct) then lastly onto Perth (my leave ends Nov 14). Massive distance which equates to ~50nm per day. Intend to do day/2 night trips along east coast as will have some family friends on board who aren't into longer passages.
Once I get to Cairns I will likely sail straight to Thursday island then across the Gulf of Carpentaria. The coastline on the northern tip of northern territory's looks interesting, as with the Kimberley coast past Darwin. Will likely stop off at Broome, Exmouth, Abrolhos before reaching Perth.

Issues/concerns:
My main concern is commercial traffic off the Australian coast. I have installed a AIS transceiver which will display traffic on my chart plotter and laptop with OpenCPN. What is the general consensus off the east coast in regards to traffic? Stay close to the coast and keep all traffic offshore?

The east Australia current which runs south at 1-3 knots. I aim to day hop of overnight or two up the east coast, ive read that staying closer to the coast negates the current in places. I will keep an eye on BOMís currents map of NSW coast. New South Wales

Reefs off the coral coast. Ive bought Alan Lucasís crusing guides to NSW and the coral coast. Also downloaded google earth satellite images using GE2KAP.V29.0.3.0 for OpenCPN. Have the CM93 charts of the area, Navionics on chart plotter, my Samsung S7 phone and Samsung Tab S2 tablet which also have OpenCPN and iSailor.

Strong tidal flows around Port Headland/north WA coast. What are the best resources for tidal information?

Wildlife around the top end, particularly salt water crocodiles. Swimming near river mouths is risky. Im planning on exploring the Kimberley's in the 11 foot RIB (dinghy). Should i avoid swimming all together?

Sailing the Abrohlos islands. I have a copy of the cursing guide to WA from Fremantle sailing club, which is fantastic. Protection at the Abrohlos is limited, I expect the prevailing southerly help with this. Anyone offer any advice on the area? Is it well charted?

One concern is that the keel bolts have been glassed over, so inspection means I will have to grind the expoxy away. Undecided if I will do this over the next month or wait until I get to Perth to check (plan of taking her out of the water the sanding back to glass in Perth).

Plenty of adventures ahead for me. Would love your opinion as there is plenty of good knowledge on this website.

Cheers

Gareth
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Old 30-05-2018, 23:34   #2
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Hello, nzdude, welcome aboard CF.

You suggest a lot of territory to go through in such a short period of time, and you will miss out on a lot that is worth exploring. The Kimberley Coast represents an area that will require very careful navigation, and at night, with big tides. Most cruisers choose to keep their traveling in the good viewing hours, for safety's sake. Safety of boat and humans. On your schedule, this may be impossible.

There are places in the Kimberley where you can swim: You climb up cliffs too steep for crocks, and swim in pools. It is time consuming: you have to find where to leave the boat and take a hike to do it. It may not fit with your schedule. But if what you meant was, jump off the boat and go for a swim, well, sometimes at the offshore islands, but you aren't really safe from saltwater crocs there: they've been found 20 mi off shore.

The portions where the current is against you make you have to sail farther than the charted miles. If you plan on 1.5 kn. against you for 2/3 the journey, that will give you a ballpark figure. The tides are stronger in the areas with higher tide ranges. For your scheme to work, and get you back on time, take into account the greater number of miles to be sailed. [Just recently, the distance between outside Twofold Bay, Eden, to off Barrenjoey Head is 229 n. mi. We sailed 249 on the trip, and the current is stronger on the portion from Seal Rocks past Cape Byron. Generally, the southern portion of your trip, to at least Cairns is pretty straightforward. There will be times, when due to ebb or flow, if you're in close, there will be contrary current.

I'm feeling a little concerned about the previous repairs to your boat holding up. Try and really shake it down on the way to Brisbane's latitude. It is always more convenient to fix your boat in a large boating center than in far north Qld, and across the top. You always wait for whatever it is to be shipped in. The length of time it takes is inversely proportional to your need.

Yes, to a certain extent it is a good deal to leave the shipping to your east. Sometimes the winds are better offshore. Just be aware, regardless of laws, sometimes ship's crews don't watch the AIS, sometimes ship's AIS fails for whatever reason, you make it as safe as you can, and accept your fate.

Sailing on a tight schedule means you miss out on fun exploration, and I suspect you will sail in all weather; it will be a useful learning experience.

One other thing: if you plan to take crew, plan on another 50% water than you thought you'd need. Landlubbers generally don't understand fresh water conservation on a boat.

Ann
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Old 31-05-2018, 05:00   #3
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Hi Ann,

Thanks for the reply and appreciate the advice.

This trip is more of a delivery with extended stops rather than cursing. I hope to spend plenty of good time exploring the Kimberley and surrounds in the near future. Main concern is getting out of the tropics before the cyclone season starts in November.

Repairs on the boat are costing me serious money, but the goal is safety and reliability, and intend on owner her for 5-10 years so can justify slightly over capitalising.

What are your highlights of the Kimberley? I'm hoping to spend a week or 2 exploring if the weather is good.

Cheers
Gareth
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Old 01-06-2018, 02:54   #4
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

I have not been to the Kimberley, yet. Many friends have, and found it wildly fantastic, but there are hazards. Last year, a catamaran went aground on a reef during a rapid tidal flow, there's a story about it here on CF. Use the CF Google Custom Search, under the Search menu to try and find it if you're interested.

Personally, I think, on a delivery trip, just go for it, get your boat safe at its intended location. You're young. You may well be able to go back, sometime when there's more time to be leisurely. There's a lot of history, and nooks and crannies. The Kimberley is wild. And remember, the salties have a reptile brain, but they are crafty and patient hunters who have the ability to remain totally submerged 2 hrs. If you google saltwater crocodiles, there's a site based in Darwin that has perhaps more info on it than one really wants. But they're a top of the food chain predator, and deserve respect.

Years ago, I saw an article about how an Aboriginal woman saved her husband from a crocodile attack, by attacking its eyes (the only vulnerable spot to an unarmed human), and succeeded.

But there are many other denizons of those waters who can put "finis" to one, irukandji (sp?) and box jellyfish, large sharks, et al.

Ann
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Old 01-06-2018, 08:40   #5
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

If you have doubts about those keel bolts.....I'd be taking care of that before I worried about the croc's.
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Old 01-06-2018, 08:56   #6
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

I hear Dave on Restoration island knows where and when re: swimming holes
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Old 01-06-2018, 10:21   #7
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Quote:
Originally Posted by nzldude View Post
Hi Ann,

This trip is more of a delivery with extended stops rather than cursing.

Gareth
Your typo caught my eye and I couldnít stop laughing! Enjoy your trip!
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Old 01-06-2018, 11:24   #8
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

The only reason I can think of for epoxying over keel bolts is water ingress due to grounding: check the "floors" forward of the leading edge of the keel. Mind you this should have been a light bulb moment for your surveyor. Grounding forces on the hull would be tensile forward of the keel (glass floor taps coming away) and compression forces aft of the trailing edge of the keel ( cracks appearing parallel with the keel).
These are nice boats but they do work in a seaway, I've heard lots of stories how they leak especially after bounding to windward: try avoiding bounding.
The late seventies and early 80's were problem times for resins (they say due to the oil crisis, so if the boat was not over built ... sometimes there were problems).
I also know of a B42 that grounded here in BC ... it should have been written off but they repaired it anyway, but maybe not through insurance ... who knows, there were rumors, then it was sold.

Check the taps for the liner for sure ... I think this version had a liner.


PS Down wind sailing on these boats over 20 Knts deep reef in the main with preventor and hang on to that wheel, haha
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Old 01-06-2018, 13:07   #9
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

1. Alan Lucas' book was my bible for the Coral Coast, made life really easy.

2. In my day, x-ray photos of keelbolts (from top of lead keel upwards of course) were commonplace, surveyors and insurance demanded them. Dunno why no one seems to mention them any more.
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Old 01-06-2018, 14:03   #10
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

It sounds as though you have prepared well. My only concern, assumingf the vessel is completel sound, is the 50km/day schedule. I think you are cutting it a bit fine. That does not allow for much time for the things that MIGHT go wrong. This sort of trip needs an open-end time frame.
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Old 01-06-2018, 14:45   #11
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Did the same trip 30 years ago in the original 30ft Defiance, a Doug Brooker cold molded S and S. You should not have any problems at that time of the year although it will be very hot at the top. The worst of the weather down the west coast should be over. We went non stop from Darwin to Fremantle, staying 100 to 200 miles offshore. Got beaten up the last 10 days or so but that was in Sept.
I think you have been given good advice on the keel bolts. If you don't know what condition they're in it will play on your mind in heavy weather which you will get on the last leg, and it will be a beat for sure. Some days we made good only 25 miles and Defiance was a great boat to weather. You will loose on whatever tack you are on as the wind shifts the wrong way on each tack... at least it did for us. The yacht club in Fremantle gave us 4 weeks for free for making it down that coast, not sure if they still do. Only 3 boats did it that year. Good coffee there though. Good Luck.
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Old 01-06-2018, 15:39   #12
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Hi,
I recently did Bundaberg to Dampier and return ( it wasnít planned that way but ended up that way). Coming up the east coast expect a lot of commercial traffic in the shipping channels. The AIS was invaluable for this. It would often go off before the vessel was in sight and within 15 mins it was passing you. TI is a good place to stop over and re provision and good for historical tours. Spend some time in the Kimberlies if you can. The Berkeley is well worth a few days. PM me if you want some anchorages as we spent four months there. Tidal fall was up to 11m with 6kn currents. As always prudent navigation is essential as rocks and reefs come out of nowhere. It is an amazing coast with not much after it so enjoy it.

Regards
Russ
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Old 01-06-2018, 15:54   #13
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Hi There,
A friend of mine did a similiar journey, however he completed the circumnavigation. He has a Leopard 40. He had various friends join him for various legs. For overnight stints he ensured there was a clear watch, everyone had the skills and knowledge- particularly when to wake him up if he was off watchthat My wife and I joined the boat at Port Headland and sailed to Geraldton.I was very envious of the guys who had the Darwin to Broome stint.
I will say the Monte Bella and Albrolhas islands were amazing, but here is a link his trip and a previous trip from Bahamas to Australia: https://www.sailblogs.com/member/2dream/
Cheers
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Old 01-06-2018, 16:24   #14
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Thanks for all the replies,

I will email Beneteau first and see what they advise in regards the the keel bolt. There is no signs of fracturing around the keel nor any issues when i got her surveyed/hull inspected before i purchased her. Yes she does have the liner on this b42 so makes in inspection slightly more difficult.

50nm per day average seems significant, but i intended on putting in some longer passages. Most of the NSW coast doesnt interest me, will only stop at Port Stephens then push on up to Fraser Island. Also between Thursday Island to the Northern Territory over the Gulf of Carpentaria in one go.

Since the tides are so massive i want good confidence in my holding capacity at anchor. Originally the previous owner had a horizontal windlass setup in the starboard anchor locker which looks terrible (have to reach over the windlass to feed the chain!!!), he said this windlass broke in Tahiti so was pulling up the anchor manually. That was never going to be an option for me (good exercise with 60m of chain but not a situation you want to be in when you can't pull up the anchor). Ive bought a new Muir Storm VRC2200 windlass which gives me good piece of mind. Im undecided which anchor to predominantly use as the boat has 2 options. A plough CQR which is a beast at around 50lb and a Bruce which is approx 25lb. Both are good for sand holding but doing a bit of research the Bruce seems to be the best option. Would you tend to agree??

PS im still looking for competent crew! I have an advert on findacrew but most of the people on there who have contacted me are novices looking for an adventure. Would love to have someone on board who has previous experience sailing of the north. Anyone keen??

Cheers

Gareth
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Old 01-06-2018, 19:37   #15
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Re: Sydney to Perth over top end of Australia

Oh boy - another anchor thread! Check any anchor manufacturer's guidelines - the Bruce is way undersize and I wouldn't describe the CQR as a "beast" at only 50lb/22kg. Now wait for the deluge of replies.
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