Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Canberra, Australia
Boat: No boat yet. Bareboat charters only
Gaining Experience J
My girl and I only have a couple of years sailing experience as we both still work (quite intensively) and can only get away for 2 or 3 times a year for chartering ( we are also bushwalkers and try to fit that in as well). As relatively inexperienced sailors, we are constantly learning (and re-learning) lessons as we sail. While our salty adventures are not up to some of the stirring tales here, I thought it might be useful for our less experienced colleagues to document our recent charter on the Broken Bay/Hawkesbury/Pittwater area of New South Wales, Australia. I hope you enjoy!
I picked out the boat from the web from what was available in the area and ended up with a Bavaria 31 as about right for our level of experience. I looked up the boat design and was quite excited about all the modern trimmings. However, on arrival, it was evident that the boat was not the latest model I had seen, but a much older version which, although adequate for our purpose, was a bit tired. A new jib furler had recently been fitted and the old jib had been cut down to fit the furler. This had resulted in the jib having only poor draft (lots of wrinkles) and poor sailing in light winds particularly. Had a choice of 2 berths. Aft berth was quite claustrophobic and my darlin’ refused to sleep there, so we ended up in the forward v-berth which had good ventilation, but was a bit short for me at only 5’9”. Overall, boat was fine and we were basically able to do what we had set out to do.
We wanted to consolidate our experience and practice our basic drills such as smooth gybing, chicken gybes, MOB, heaving to, sail trimming etc. We also wanted to explore the area which is surrounded by rugged National Park and is quite a beautiful sailing ground .
Was a bit cold (14-17deg C Max). Glassy mirror-like surface in the early mornings but wind building during the day. Most days 17kn and on one memorable late afternoon up to 35kn towards the Broken Bay heads. The latter was quite testing as the sailing ground is relatively narrow with quite a few changes in direction. Overall variable conditions certainly gave us a workout with the occasional hairy moment.
The fluctuating winds (speed and direction) tested us as a sailing team with the occasional bout of raised voices from each of us and some hurt feelings. We make it a practice to sort these out quickly J. The Broken Bay area is known for gusts flowing down from the surrounding mountains and being channelled by the many re-entrants. In one spot 15kn suddenly gusting up to over 25kn. We spent a lot of time with one reef in as a result. I was a bit unhappy with my own performance as I found that I had to re-learn things that I already knew! This ranged from simple things to quite important ones. I guess this is a result of chartering with too-long gaps between sailing experiences. I also found that I did not have an instinctive feel for the wind and had to keep checking …checking …and checking. I feel that this is the main skill I still have to acquire. Might get out in a dinghy locally to build on this skill.
Overall we really enjoyed the charter, with the true test being that we didn’t want to go home at the end. We still have a lot to consolidate (I didn’t say learn because our theoretical knowledge, however limited, currently exceeds our experience). We had some glorious mornings with mirror-like inlets and having a couple of nice BBQs off the back of the boat as well as about 6 hours of sailing per day (some of this was motoring J)