First race of the 2018/19 Dinah Beach wet season racing. Crew all shirted up and ready to roll.
The conditions for the first race look good. A chance of rain, but the weather forecast will always say that for the wet season. We were practicing getting our timing right for the start of the race when boom, the heavens opened. Winds dramatically increased so we reefed both main and head sail.
Thanks to Captain Pete who remained cool, calm and extremely collected we managed to start the race, albeit late but we crossed that start line.
Once the rain eased off we had a great sail day . Her kite spectacular. The saying of the day,
‘you can never have too much purple”.
Did I mention we got second place!
Click on the link to see the results of race 1
Peron Islands six day trip. July 2018
Since we’ve taken up sailing and owned Emma Ward, our goal has been to get out once a year for an extended dry season sail. We really are blessed living in the tropics, as the weather is so predictably gorgeous and sailing conditions are perfect.
Last year we sailed to Dundee and Crab Claw Island. This year we decided to push ourselves a little further, to go somewhere new and head around to the Peron Islands.
We had a chat to our new neighbours at the Marina, who advised us of safe anchoring spots and directed us to a website called yachtingaustralia.com.au which was most useful in providing essential information on the sailing passage for our trip.
Day 1 Darwin Harbour to Fannie Bay July 14th
Leaving the marina at 1530 for a very cruisey standard sail to our spot outside the Darwin Sailing Club. A great start to our trip.
Day 2 Fannie Bay to Bare Sand Island July 15th.
Spirits are high and ready to hoist those sails after our protein packed Captains breakfast of bacon and egg toasted rolls. Alas, no wind. Bugger. We motored for the bulk of the day. We were keen to use the water maker, so once anchored we would happily make some water and keep those tanks topped up.
Well, it wasn’t to be, after much troubleshooting, we realized the water maker primer pump wasn’t operating. Having enough water is one of my “things”. We were carrying extra water but I’m still mindful of how much water is used. Funny, how you can have all this water surrounding you but not able to access it.
Oh, and the sail stop was missing. Am pretty sure we dropped the main too quickly yesterday and it fell out.
Day 3 Bare Sand Island to Sting Ray Head near point Blaze at the mouth of the Finnis River July 16
Finally, we get some decent winds to try out this new boom bag and lazy jacks layout we had just installed. I wanted to experiment with keeping the lazy jacks up or tucking them away as well as how much tension to keep on the boom bag. Sails are up and we are cruising very nicely for the morning. Great job. I’ve had some helm time, everything is going great guns. Until, the lazy jacks break. Crap. Not good. I was sure that when I ventured up the mast to tie them on, I had made a very secure bowline. We needed to reef the main. A very tricky task when winds are over 10 knots and there are no lazy jacks to hold the sail in place. We managed to work out a system and got the job done as best we could. I was quite annoyed with myself and couldn’t understand why both lazy jacks had failed at exactly the same time.
The day was saved by four dolphins who decided to swim in our bow wave.
Day 4 Sting Ray Head to Peron Island South July 17th
Yesterday had been quite a long and taxing day. After much deliberation, we decided that since we had come this far, we may as well make it to the anchorage at Peron Island South. I think we needed that great sense of achievement to reach a point where we hadn’t been before.
So, up went the spinnaker from Point Blaze to Peron Island North. Wow, she sure looks mighty fine.
The winds had dropped to five knots, as we sailed into our anchorage for the night at 1730.
Did I mention we saw a turtle
Day 5 Peron Island South to Dundee July 18th
Sure, it was going to be another long day, but when you are doing what you love, it’s not a chore. Winds were 10 to 15 knots for most of the day and Emma Ward was adept at sailing herself. Those sails were so perfectly balanced we didn’t need George (our auto pilot) or hands on the wheel.
A beautiful day sailing indeed. We anchored at Dundee by 1830.
Mental note – check the bilge pump. It seems to have a mind of its own now.
Day 6 Dundee to Fannie Bay July 19th
Yep, another early start. Out here, living your passion, it really doesn’t matter about 5am starts. Sailing early is quite refreshing. Watching the sunrise with a warm coffee and clean fresh air around you. The ocean is calm. The water has that certain glow. It’s a great time for early morning reflection and gratitude.
Captain tightened the stern gland, after finding far too much water in the bilge. That was why the bilge pump kept coming on yesterday. I had the helm, great team work.
We managed to get the sails up for a few hours and made a grand entrance with the spinnaker into our favourite Fannie Bay spot.
I have these memories of primary school, where the teachers used to have us play this game called ‘Port and Starboard’. I never really got the gist of that game. I would stand somewhat in the vicinity of the teacher as he called out ‘port’ and pointed to an area of the room where all the children would run to. Then ‘starboard’ for the same effect. In my confusion, I would take a couple of steps in the direction that a majority of the class had run off too, so at least I kinda looked like I knew what I was doing! The teacher could have been speaking double Dutch for all I knew – I didn’t even know my right from left!!!
Fast forward many years to the present. Notwithstanding that some days I still have difficulty differentiating my left from right, the parts of a boat make more sense to me now. Thank goodness!
I fell into sailing by way of meeting my partner. He had a 27ft Mottle when we met. For our second date, he took me out sailing. I had absolutely no idea what to expect or what to do. What will I do when he realises I forget my left from right? I was more concerned about that than falling off the yacht.
Sheets, cleats, Genoa, oh my. So many many things to learn. Why does everything little thing have a name? Main sail, reefing points, slugs, sliders, clew, halyard, outhaul, winch, just to name a few. Don’t even get me started on the knots.
Well, persistence and resilience are my middle names and I got there. From that first time on a yacht, it felt good. It felt like home. Every time those gates to the lock open, that mighty sense of freedom overwhelms you. When we get out of the channel and the sails are hoisted, the engine is finally turned off and its just you and the elements. Nothing else matters. That, right there is my favourite moment. The wind catches the sails, the yacht has a steady cruising speed and the sound of the bow wave is pure bliss.
Now, I am the proud owner of a 43ft Cavalier Sloop. She is big and she is beautiful. She came up for sale and just went to ‘have a look’. Let me tell you something, when an item has been price reduced and you go for ‘a look’, that there is a dangerous combination. Emma Ward felt comfortable and homely. She fit like a glove. I just had to have it.
The dream of selling up the land life for that of the sea is fast becoming a reality. A goal has been set. A date marked on the calendar. Every time I need to make a decision, it is with the knowledge that I will be selling up and living a sailor’s life.
Oh the adventures to be had. So far around the coastline of Darwin, Australia we have sailed with the dolphins seen turtles and an abundance of birds and flying fish.
I love the unpredictability of each sail. Our monsoonal wet season in the tropics can be a testament to that. Hanging on to the boom in rough weather whilst trying to reef. Clinging to the mast to untangle a sheet, glasses so smudged and fogged up, wet from the rain but not feeling the cold because the adrenalin rush takes over as you do your best to rectify a situation to keep sailing. Thinking on your feet. Being so aware of the surroundings. What’s the swell like? How are the clouds forming? Do they show signs of rain? Where’s that weird noise coming from? The yacht precariously tilted on one side, yet never once feeling as if it would flip over.
Sights are set on a circumnavigation of Australia, then watch out Northern Hemisphere. No time limit. Just one incredible sail to see the world from an ocean view.
Oh, and I have learnt my right from left now. When you do something every day, it becomes automatic.
Follow Emma Ward on – Instagram emma_ward_88. Look her up on Facebook, ask to be her friend and I will confirm our friendship. I look forward to continuing our journey together and share our love of adventure and sailing.
So, Emma Ward was fitted with a new boom bag on Friday. A very nice fit indeed and the colour match to the headsail is halfway to making her new look complete.
So, with that comes a new configuration of lazy jack lines. Captain and I discussed some configuration options with Scott the sail maker and made a mental list of what we needed to purchase in order to get the job done. We had a diagram to go by so we could double check everything that night. After much studying and discussing, we had it all worked out. Then came that look. The look you get when the Captain gives orders without saying a word. The look that says, ‘it’s your turn to go up the mast’. Damn it. It was my turn. Captain had been up the mast to fix some lines in our early days of ownership. I remembered saying that to keep things fair, I would have the next turn up the mast. Damn it.
Off to The Yacht shop we went. We needed two new swivel blocks and some new line for the lazy jacks.
Well, there was no point in stressing about it. Thank goodness it was a calm day. On went the safety gear and up, up, up I went. Pockets stuffed with equipment needed and my phone tucked into the front of my shirt for that all important birds eye photo of our boat.
I was a little shaky, understandably. After all, I have difficulty mastering a common step ladder! A few deep breaths, telling myself to stay calm, I did what was needed to be done. I had to cut the old lazy jack line which was attached to the mast on a saddle. Then attach the new line and thread it threw the swivel block, pass the line down the mast and repeat on the other side. I must have been up there for at least half an hour. I can tie a bow line no problem on deck yet when it comes to tying one under a slightly stressful situation, it takes me a tad longer.
I didn’t get that birds eye shot. I was clinging so tightly to the mast, I just couldn’t manoeuvre myself around to comfortably take the phone out of my shirt front. I was actually more concerned about dropping it.
Whilst up there, I did have one thought about clothing. Pockets were kind of useless when you are sitting in the Bosun’s chair. You can’t really get your hand in the pockets, or even wriggle enough to assist. So, I stuffed as much as I could into my shirt front and let my bra hold it all in place. Very handy storage indeed.
Right, so we’ve both been up the mast now. I guess next time a job needs doing, we will have to draw straws.
Since Cyclone Marcus hit Darwin in March 2018, we have been using a borrowed head sail, which we are most grateful for as it meant we could keep on sailing during the weekends. We’ve been using the fabulous dry season weather to refine skills regarding adjusting the sails, presenting the main sail, noting the tell tales and taking a more detailed note of the environment in which we are sailing. For example, noting where the wind is coming from and how to adjust the sails accordingly whether that be by use of the traveller or main sail sheet. Also, adjusting the cars for the head sail to get a more refined trim.
So, while we have been busy with sailing and general maintenance, sails have been ordered.
The head sail has a purple trim. As you can see in the picture.
So, we thought we may as well get a new main. A little bit of an extravagance but it seemed logical as her current main was well aged. Now we know that the sails are new and fresh and current.
Basically, it started with the spinnaker. So, I’m kinda working backwards here. After much research and deliberation, we decided on an asymmetrical spinnaker. Mainly for ease of use. When we cruise full time, there really is no way that Pete or myself will be able to manage a spinnaker pole on our own, it’s far too heavy and cumbersome to maneuver. Pete gave me full reigns on colour and design. Colour was easy, the design, so very complex. I looked at so many designs, so much so that the mind gets cluttered with colours and colour matches and all the related costings. Sometimes, simple is best. Less is more. With that in mind, purple will do just fine. What do you think?
Our headsail had been damaged during Tropical Cyclone Marcus.
As a result, we decided to use our storm jib as we were determined to finish the wet season race series. It’s always heart warming to know that when in need, those around you will step up and lend a helping hand. So it was with fellow sailors. I received a call on Friday afternoon to say that a spare head sail was available for us to use on Sunday’s race. Beauty!!
Down we trot to the marina on Saturday to fit the sail and get race ready. We were very grateful and excited to have the loan headsail. Well, overjoyed actually.
The winds were 15 plus knots, waves about 1 metre. The start out from the Sailing Club in Fannie Bay was rather hectic. There would have been at least 30 boats, so it was very chaotic indeed.
The weather was perfect. A great day to be out on the water. We raced well as a team and most importantly, had fun.
We knew the day before that Emma Ward was having a little engine issue – well quite a biggie really- she wouldn’t start. The Captain went through some routine checks and came to the conclusion that it was the starter motor. So the mechanic was all booked to come at 9:30am race day morning.
Yep, all rusted out. Mechanic saves the day, contact with the supply proved fruitful and he was able to collect one for us. Out he trots to collect it. I consider myself a bit of an opportunist (well, when it suits me to be so) and I did purchase a Dyson not so long ago. I thought it quite normal and considered the ‘done thing’ to Dyson out the engine bay whilst there was a most opportune moment.
I am also keen to get my a hands dirty and learn as much as I can about the engine so that we can be self sufficient when sailing is our full time occupation. So there I am, squished into a little hatch box, learning about starter motors and trying to see how it all fits together. I actually had that space bookmarked for clothing storage. Hmmm . Will need to rethink that one.
A new starter motor fitted, a few less dollars in the back pocket and we are away. half an hour late but away!!
Crew was low yet spirits are always high. There’s no time to practice today, we are straight into it. I thought we were going to make it first over the start line, but Scallwag had the better angle and beat us by a whisker.
Here’s a few snapshots of our race day. There’s not many today – all four hands on deck were very busy with those running sheets.
Stormy weather ahead
After two missed races due to Darwin wet season stormy weather, we were ready to get back into the race groove. The weather held off nicely until midway through,and then it poured! it was nice to cool off – at first. Note to self, I must purchase some wet weather sailing clothes.
Speaking of which, we wore our new Emma Ward shirts. I think they look fabulous. a huge thank you to my colleague and friend for taking the time in her extremely busy schedule to embroider them. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
We managed first over the start line to win a six pack for our efforts.
We’ve been quiet on the water but not so with the interior. Emma Ward has a fresh new look. New paint, new wood stain, new carpet. Every inch of her has been sanded, cleaned and painted.
Can’t wait to show her off soon.
Race results for race 4.
Kathy and Tanya preparing the main sail for the first race of the year. After shaking off the Christmas cobwebs with a few practice runs on the sails, we were ready to go. Emma Ward was third over the start line, a slow start but she sailed consistently and considering we have no spinnaker as yet, we held our ground throughout the race.
Captain Pete’s new tilt -o-meter gadget was very useful in determining the lean on Emma. The seas were calm, about 10 knots and the north westerly winds kept us cool all afternoon. Storm clouds were looming in the background, a great sight to see them developing in the distance on our way back to the lock.