In The Begining
Where We Started
This is Peter and Louise. This website is about our sailing adventures. We live in the tropical north of Australia, crocodile country. The dry season offers brilliant sailing conditions and is the perfect opportunity to get out there and explore.
We are the very proud owners of a 43ft Cavalier – Emma Ward. We have had her for about eight months now and we are in the process of giving her a bit of a makeover. She is being freshened up with new interior paint, all visible wood is being stained with jarrah. She is looking very nice and fresh.
Our intention is to start living onboard at the marina in 2019 once our land life has been neatly packed and boxed up. Then we can fulfil our dream of sailing around Australia and then the world – Pete has that all mapped out.
This website will become a tool where family and friends can track our adventure. We welcome you to also join us. Follow our Facebook page – Sailing in the Tropics with Emma Ward.
The most perfect time of the year. As a teacher, I get four weeks holiday mid semester. A great time for a sailing get away. A time to practice sailing technique. A time to enjoy being out on the water without having to rush home and plan for the next school day. No timetable. No plans. No ties. Just mother nature and us.
That’s how we spend most of June and July. The absolute best time of the year. These pictures will capture what I cannot describe in words.
That day finally came. We were able to take Emma Ward home for good. After her first sail, she needed to return to the slip to have the mast step rust proofed and two leaking windows fixed. Our little baby was ready to come home.
Was I a little bit nervous in handling those humongous sails on my own, most definitely. Just like Kotuku only a bit bigger I kept saying to myself. No problem.
We knew that Emma Ward hadn’t sailed for at least two years, so we were also a little concerned about being out in the harbour and then suddenly breaking down. She was in great condition and had been well maintained however when machinery isn’t used regularly, that’s when it starts to break down.
So, we just had to get out there and give it our best. Out the lock, through the channel and away into the harbour. It’s common practice for us to motor until we reach the end of Stokes Hill Wharf where the sails are then hoisted. We didn’t even get to the beginning of the wharf when the engine just stopped. Right. What do we do now? We looked at the engine. It was a quagmire of hoses and clamps. So we were drifting, literally. Better put the anchor down so as not to run into other boats. Second problem. How do you do that? Kotuku was easy, just lower it in. Emma Ward had a winch and we were unable to get it working. I was becoming a little anxious as we were drifting towards another boat and all I could do was basically stand at the bow to push us off if we got too close.
Then I heard Pete on the phone. He had called a few people who he thought could help. Jackpot. As luck would have it, he had exchanged business cards with the marine engineer before we left Cullen Bay who was able to get hold of a dinghy and come to our aid.
The issue, one little impeller with a big important task. We took photos and notes for reference. Thanked our lucky stars and went on our way.
That day we took with us a few important lessons. First, if we are going to circumnavigate Australia, we will need to learn about diesel engines. Second, we should have asked questions on how to use the anchor. Thirdly, I think there was a bit of naivety going on. We were so excited about our recent purchase and learning how to sail that we overlooked the fact that one must be prepared for the crazy to happen when out at sea.
From that day on we have pledged to learn as much as we can about our yacht. Our aim is to be as self sufficient as possible as well as knowing how to fix as much as we possibly can.
The Easter long weekend was finally upon us, the time had come to take her out for our first sail. It was an exciting day. Our very own yacht. I couldn’t wait to spend some time down below. It’s the same feeling you have when you finally move into your own dwelling. Wow, it’s ours. I wanted to touch all the buttons and check all the dials, open every cupboard and hatch, turn on all the lights, fans, make a coffee and have that comfy home aroma.
We decided to collect her from the slip at Cullen Bay, sail around the harbour for a few hours and then berth her at her new home in Bayview.
The day went very fast and without a hitch. I was nervous about managing a 43ft yacht as opposed to the previous 27footer. One of our friends said, ‘it’s just like Kotuku, only bigger’, ahhh yeah….a slight problem for a vertically challenged person such as myself. I don’t recall managing any sails that day. I’m pretty sure I stood back and let the reality of it all just soak in. I was quite happy with that for the time.
That Day We bought Emma March 2017
And so, we looked on all the websites. Our spare time was taken up with scouring the internet and discussing sailing plans or checking our list for what we wanted in a cruising yacht.
Then she found us. Emma ward. Sail number 88. It was perfect. Love at first sight. We boarded her with checklist in hand, she ticked off everything and so effortlessly. From that first step into the cabin, I knew., I just knew she was the right fit.
The following weekend, we took her out for a test sail. That’s when Pete fell for her. He was wrapped with how she handled and sailed.
Done. Deal signed and delivered.
Kotuku took us on many little adventures around Darwin Harbour. During the dry season, we would have practice sails, well, I would. Every weekend was spent with the explicit purpose of practicing something. Most importantly, I needed to learn how to put up the sails and remember parts of the boat – port, starboard, running sheets, genoa, main sail – the list of parts to remember is never ending. Oh, I also had to learn how to tie knots. A very important skill when out on a yacht. Luckily my children all did scouts, so I had extra tuition at home. The clove hitch was easy. The bow line took a bit more practice and then some!
Kotuku taught me how to put the sails up and down, how to tack, how to reef and how to cheese the lines. It sounds like a lot of work, but it was so much fun. At the end of the day we would anchor off Fannie Bay to enjoy the gorgeous sunsets and enjoy a BBQ dinner.
On the long weekends, we sailed to Crab Claw island and Tapa Bay. That was about as far as we could go given the constraints of Kotuku, as we could only carry limited provisions.
We started to visualise what it would be like to sail further out and for longer periods of time. For that we would need a bigger boat with better facilities. That’s where the list started to take shape. A proper head, galley, less claustrophobic main cabin a boat that would take us to distant shores where we could be self sufficient for extended periods of time.
We decided on a plan, formed a budget then welcomed yachthub and boatsales onto our screen.
We learnt how to sail on a 27ft Mottle called Kotuku. She was a fabulous little yacht. Just the perfect size, so easy to reach the halyard and raise the sails as a beginner sailor. (I’m only 157cm tall). We became members of the Dinah Beach Yacht Club to participate in the wet season racing series, cruising division. Kotuku sailed beautifully. She won the Stern Chaser event on Australia Day 2016 and was most improved for the race series