Emma Ward

Our Dream

Departing Bayview Marina, Darwin NT.

Sunday 3rd July after a slight desalinator delay, we departed the marina as the Purple Pirates!

How lovely it was to have our amazing friends gather at the marina to send us of on our way.

We have been passing through those lock gates countless times over the past five years with the look of freedom in our eyes and the feeling of adventure in our souls, always wondering how it would feel passing through on this very day. The day we have been planning and preparing for since purchasing Emma Ward.

How did we feel? Elated, relieved, excited, apprehensive.

Captain Peter said it felt satisfying and exciting. We had bided our time, prepared ourselves and Emma Ward and now we stood on the threshold of our big adventure.

As the green light came on to signal it was safe to exit the lock, our eyes met and a soft smile passed between us. The revs were increased and off we went.

It would be a year and lots of sea miles under the keel before we used the Bayview lock again.

Sailing in the Tropics is pretty neat and you really don’t need to pack much at all. A pair of shorts, slip on a sun shirt, slop on some sun screen slap on a hat, slide on those sunnies and shoes are optional. For much of the dry season, you are on your way to a great day on the water. Fair winds, calm seas, with absolutely no rain in sight.

I wish the same could be said about southern waters! There’ll be no strutting around in shorts or bathers, that’s for sure. So we had to turn our attention to purchasing some good sailing clothes. The kind of gear which keeps you warm and dry when the winds pick up, when the seas get rough, or perhaps the rain settles in. The kind of sailing when you get up before dawn and the early morning air has that slight chill to it before the sun has had time to rise and warm your surroundings. Those long night passages…well, we haven’t done any long night passages as yet but I know how cold I’m going to get. I escaped my southern life because I can’t handle cold weather and now I find myself having to think about enduring it on our circumnavigation.

I spent a bit of time researching and asking fellow sailors what we may need and was a little taken aback at how expensive this was going to be. I wanted to find good quality gear for a reasonable price, especially since it’s a once off adventure and we may not get any further usage.

So, what I discovered is that shorts and bathers will be pushed to the dark side of the cupboard and three layers of sailing gear to the forefront.

Layer one, or base layer as the sailing terminology goes, is thermal wear. It’s best to go for 100 percent Merino wool which will keep you warm and dry with it’s moisture wicking propeties. I also discovered that merino wool can go several wears before it needs washing. I can’t tell you how ecstatic this made the Captain as he can basically wear his long johns for a whole week without the need to change them…EWWWW

Then comes Mid Layer – Salopettes. I found these online at a wonderful shop called Marine Outlet. They sell sailing gear at an incredibly discounted price, really worth checking out. The sales people are very helpful. I opted for the bib variety as I was concerned that the braces would constantly fall off my shoulders as being a small person, sizing is definitely an issue. This is a size small.

Sailing boots were next on the list. Lots of recommendations from friends came through for Dubarry boots…..they are very gorgeous but very expensive indeed. I found these Gill boots made from neoprene. I reckon they’ll do the job just nicely even though they are quite tricky to get on. I’ll have to get some baby powder – I hear that’s the trick when dressing in neoprene.

Last is the outer layer. I found these coastal sailing trousers at Boating Central. Web site says they offer safety, comfort and protection from the elements. Made from CB10 Evolution Breathable fabric and featuring sewn and tape welded seams, the Pacific Trouser is 100% waterproof while also offering a high level of comfort and condensation control.

And then the jacket.
Designed for coastal sailing to ensure increased safety, comfort and protection from the elements. Made from CB10 Evolution Breathable fabric for maximum comfort and dryness. I ordered a size medium. It’s a tad too big, yet there is plenty of room to fit more layers underneath if the need arises.

So now I’m all dressed, I have a few little concerns.

How the heck do I use the bathroom?

I’m sure I’ll need to sleep in this get up because it’s going to take far too long to undress and then dress again for my shift !!!!

Today I checked the countdown timer app on my phone – 166 days to go to the event I titled Honeymoon Circumnavigation.

166 days and counting by the minute! So much to do, so much money to spend and so little time to have it all completed.

The past five years have been a whirlwind of learning sailing terminology, learning to sail, and learning sail maintenance. It is a never-ending list of learning new things. Getting around on such a small space, where and how to store things which you may or may not need and so many darn checklists! I’ve been reading lots of information on what you should or shouldn’t do. Some of it very useful, some of it just confuses me more than ever!

The 2020/2021 DBCYA wet season races saw us win our division. A major goal achieved for Emma Ward. She is now emblazoned on the Board for all to see at the club. Such a proud moment and a consolidation of our combined sailing experiences over the past five years.

Emma Ward on the Board

So now we turn our attention to the next 166 days. It’s all about maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. Let’s start with the windows, ‘cause that has been one huge, ongoing drama. We’ve always had issues with the windows leaking from time to time. A few years ago, we had resealed them, which wasn’t overly neat and tidy, but it did the job at that point. Fast forward to now, we decided to go ahead and have the windows replaced as the leaks were still an issue and knowing that our trip was looming, we didn’t want the windows to become a major impediment when sailing in the Southern Ocean. I could go on and write a whole article on the window drama suffice to say, they are nearly complete and looking fabulous.

Having installed new windows, which look fabulous from the outside, then prompted us to contemplate the mess from the inside. We thought about getting frames around them, at a considerable expense. Trying to complete various tasks with the least possible effect on the hip pocket, we decided to have no frames around the windows. This then meant we needed to clean up and sand (oh god), then repaint around them. Cleaning and sanding …. I’m not even going there with the amount of mess that created. It brought tears to my eyes – not due to the dusty windows. Sanding and painting. Sanding and painting.. Task done. The interior of Emma Ward is white. Quite an easy colour to match, you would think? Well not so. We first painted her five years ago upon purchase and took her décor out from the seventies into the modern era. Over time and much sailing use, there was evidence of touch ups which needed attending to. Well, with the left-over paint and the need to have a seamless clean refreshed look, we painted and made good a few extra surfaces. Which then led to having to sand and reoil the wood parts, including the new support beams we had installed.

Tick. Major task complete and looking good. The next major task, cleaning out the hatches. Take everything out, scrub the hatch, wipe down clean each item and only put back what is necessary and useful for our trip, name each hatch and record what goes back inside. Literally, I was head down bum up for about a week contorting myself into various poses which would make a yoga instructor proud.

Bum up

Two weeks of sanding, cleaning, painting, scrubbing every damn inch of our new home, she is just about ready for living aboard.

Then comes the kicker. Due to Emma Ward’s age, she now needs an out of water survey to make good on her insurance. This is most definitely the last thing we need at this point in time. Breathe deep. It’ll be fine. A crazy unaccounted-for expense. However, as the Captain points out, this is a positive as when we set off, we will know she is seaworthy and as safe as can be. Another thing to tick off.

One other thing we have achieved is the use of the starboard water tank.  When we bought Emma Ward the previous owners told us that there had been diesel in the starboard water tank and so it was unusable. 

We thought about this but there was no way to check as we could only get whatever was in the tank pumped out via the main water system.  After much thinking we came up with a plan to install a deck wash pump near the tank, re-route the tank to the new pump and see what was inside.

We had this done at the marina and turns out there was a lot of sludge and some type of cleaner in the tank.  Once this was removed and with a couple of flush throughs the water appeared ok.

So, we put a heap of Milton purifying tablets in the tank, and we are currently flushing this through.  So far, the water coming out looks and smells ok and we have acquired a whole new 260 litre water tank.  We may or may not be able to drink the water only time will tell but we sure can use it for other things like cleaning the anchor when it drags up half the mud on the sea floor.

So, what are the big purchases left to do? Buy wet weather gear and a life raft are probably the two biggies, oh and a laptop. We are still waiting on the bill for the windows.

What’s on the checklist? Organise the house, and complete general scheduled maintenance on Emma Ward.

Will she be ready in 166 day?

Will we be ready in 166 days?

Tick….Tick ….Tick.

A great day for sailing. Weather forecast predicted today, 10 to 15 knot winds, seas below a metre – no rain. With only three crew, out we venture to do our best.

Winds were quite light for how Emma Ward likes to sail but we started well near the front and made good ground. After turning at the first mark in second spot, we headed downwind. We didn’t put the spinnaker up today, as with only two on hand it can be difficult to manage so we made do with having the head and main sail out as far as possible.

At the next marker the field had caught up and we turned in fifth spot.

However, the next leg was into the wind as Emma Ward heeled over to catch the wind she powered up and overtook most of the other boats by the time we rounded for home.

Another short run downwind with Michael doing his impersonation of a spinnaker pole and Emma sailing sort of wing to wing.

Poling out the Head sail

The ground we lost by not having the spinnaker up, we made up for on the last leg. Emma ward flew home to a winning of third place on handicap.

We crossed the line in second spot and came third on handicap. This keeps Emma at the top of cruising division with two races to go.

We also one the prize draw for the night. You beauty. Captain’s head will be in Garmin heaven tonight with $1,000 worth of Garmin dollars to spend.

Thank you Garmin.

We were quite sort on crew this week. Captain Pete on the helm, Micheal and Chief Mate Louise, the only three on board, so apologies for the lack of photos as there was no time to take any.

Emma Ward is on a roll. This week she won the trifecta. First over the start line, first to finish and first on handicap.

At the start line we approached a little bit ahead of time. Some good tactical de-powering allowed us to slow Emma Ward but still retain headway. We then tightened up the sheets and shot across the start line in first place.

Rounding the first buoy we maintained our lead however by the second buoy Qcumber had opened up a sizable lead and Lollipop was just ahead. We rounded this buoy and set the sails for downwind and despite giving Qcumber a few minutes start, we had caught her by the next buoy. From that point on, Emma Ward remained clear of the field and the longer the race went on, the bigger the gap between her and the rest.

We crossed the line in first position a good five or so minutes ahead of the rest. Back at the clubhouse, we also found out that she had won on handicap. She is now sitting clear at the top of the table and with just three races to go. However both Qcumber and Lollipop are very close behind,. And so we will have to sail at our best to maintain top position and secure the title.


WE WON…..woohoo!!!!

After having a diver scrape the bottom, hopes were high that Emma would be bask to her best performance.

Sure enough, she sliced through the water like a hot knife through butter.

A good start saw us in first place at the first buoy and she was never headed past from that point on. At times the wind was gusting up to 22 knots. She was making between five and six knots through the water. The problems with the traveller clam cleats persisted, so new ones have been bought and installed ready for next race day. The tilt o meter was showing between 30 and 35 degrees at times. Emma Ward crossed the finish line with a distance of six minutes between her and the next yacht,.She was first across the line and first on handicap.

This result has taken her to the top of the cruising division after five races. The $100 prize money was well spent on two new clam cleats for the traveller and a bottle of wash and wax. As a reward, for her great performance, the Captain spent all of the following weekend washing and polishing Emma .

Congrats to the crew for a great team effort. Will be good to get the chief mate back for the next race.

Link to view race resukts


Link to overall season results to date


The threat of a storm for the race start.

As we made our way to Stokes Hill Wharf, there were many storm clouds in the background and we needed to reef the sails.

We got off to an excellent start, with Marjani over the start line by a mere fraction ahead of Emma Ward.

All going very well, until the wind stopped.

Emma Ward didn’t make it around the third buoy. Waiting, waiting, waiting for that non existent wind.

Waiting for wind

After a few frustrating hours of going backwards, we decided the only decent thing to do was to cook up a feed, as we couldn’t get back into the lock until 1730 ish anyway.

BBQ and Beer
BBQ and Beer

Race Results


All crew pumped and ready to race. Captain Pete, Neil, Jenna, and myself. Prepped and ready to roll. We had to dampen our enthusiasm for a bit as the start was delayed for 15 min to accommodate a huge tanker traversing the course.

Oil tanker delaying the race start.

After the tanker had moved off, the race got underway. Emma ward got off to a flying start and was just pipped across the start line by a smidgen. She cleared away from the rest of the field and headed round the first buoy with a good lead. Unfortunately, as we headed into the second leg, one of the traveller blocks broke causing a delay and a slight loss of maneuverability. This allowed the field to make up the time and as we rounded the second last buoy we were neck and neck with Qcumber. Heading upwind into a 20+ knot wind and sailing close hauled, the crew had to hang on and at the same time replace the traveller block shackle.

Turning for home with all repairs complete, we couldn’t make up the gap from Qcumber who after some great sailing by her skipper and crew crossed the line 3 min ahead of us in first place. Emma Ward crossed the finish line in a well deserved second place.

After the race we had to wait for about two hours before we could access the lock. So we dropped the anchor, flashed up the barbeque and kicked back with snags and a beer.

Here is the link for Race 2 results:


Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there for the first race due to interstate work commitments. Captain Pete, Greg, Neil and Jenna were there to ensure Emma Ward looked her best for the first race.

There were some tactical errors, a problem with the traveller and the main sheet block broke. “A bit of a disaster” was the Captain’s words. All in a days’ sail.

Next weekend we get to do it all again.

Check out the race results.