Tuesday, 10 January 2012

KI to Port Fairy, Victoria

Hi everyone
Happy 2012!
Sorry it's taken so long to post our progress - so much has happened in the last 10 days that every time I think "I should update our blog" I think "ah, its too hard - there is just so much to say!" Yes, I am very lazy...
Hopefully no one thought we were lost at sea, given our last post was at Christmas Cove on Kangaroo Island! I'll do my best to catch you up now, and hopefully you'll forgive the very long posting!

So where were we... ah yes...

At dawn on New Years Eve we motored out of Christmas Cove in Penneshaw. As expected it was glassy-calm, no wind, warm and gorgeous. The nervous excitement was enormous as we headed into our first offshore passage.

On a clear, calm day at sea level the horizon is only 7 or 8 nautical miles away, which is about 13 kilometres.  By late morning we were completely out of sight of land. We had resigned ourselves to motor-sailing if necessary, and unsurprisingly the winds were dead South-East and on the nose. Not to worry, the winds were light and the swell was long and very comfortable. We had many visits from dolphins along the whole route, but none so wonderful as on that first morning when we were joined by at least 20 (that I counted) as we were motoring along. We could hear them chattering and squeaking to each other, calling their mates over to hitch a ride along with this crazy little boat out in the middle of nowhere. Here is some video...

Around midday the wind picked up, still on the nose, and unfortunately in the opposite direction to the swell which made for more uncomfortable conditions that stayed that way for most of the rest of the trip.
Around 6pm I made the mistake of going below to cook dinner, which I didn't end up eating because I got really seasick! After the perfect conditions earlier in the day I had made the mistake of of not taking additional seasickness tablets. Big mistake! Michael tells me dinner was delicious though. Good boy ;o)
We settled into our 4-hours-on/4-hours-off watch routine which worked really well for us. It was enough time to get a decent amount of sleep, but not too long that the person on watch gets too tired or bored. Despite feeling ill, I did manage to snap a photo of the beautiful final sunset of 2011. I swear the conditions were rougher than the photo makes out! ;o) 

Sunset on 2011, about 25 nautical miles offshore of SA

I was asleep at midnight so there wasn't much of a NYE celebration, but Michael woke me for my second watch at 2am and we marvelled at the dramatic amounts of phosphorescent algae igniting in the boat's wake and washing down the decks as each wave crashed over the bow. Our own private fireworks display. We saw phosphorescence the second night too, but not nearly as bright or in such large amounts! If I hadn't been feeling so seasick I would have taken photos - next time I promise.

Michael went off to bed and I took up my graveyard shift. Stupidly I didn't take seasickness tablets again, and was sick on and off for the whole night. The hilarious thing was at one point I was leaning over the side of the boat being - a-hem - sick, while at the same moment admiring the glowing algae as it swept by in a luminescent streams along the deck in front of me. It was like: "blech! ooohh pretty! blech!" 
I think this is becoming quite a good analogy for our new life - 9 parts beauty and relaxation, 1 part extreme discomfort and terror!
hehehe... a good trade??

A few ships appeared on our AIS (Automatic Identification System), but none even came within radar range. Michael was particularly impressed when our AIS picked up a container ship 125 nautical miles away! We had chosen to go well offshore, and this certainly made things a lot less nerveracking at night when its harder to see and judge distances, particulalry of lights. In fact whenever I felt a bit nervous I just coached myself by saying "its OK, you are in the safest place you could be - there are no reefs, land or ships anywhere near you. The boat is strong, the equipment is showing exactly where you are, and the weather is only going to improve."

So we survived our first night at sea, and I learned my lesson and took a sea sickness tablet at the beginning of each watch from then on. Day two we continued our four hour watch pattern. The seas had not let up, but it was stubbornly consistent, so we were able to settle into the pattern and get comfortable. Kitty was definitely not enjoying the rougher conditions - we had waves of up to 3 metres because the wind was coming from the opposite direction to the swell -  but she was actually really good, just wanting the occasional cuddle and even eating a few mouthfuls of cat food. We made sure she had plenty of water (it was really hot out there!) by tipping a few drops on her paws so she would be forced to lap it up.
It was a good day. At one point we even had dolphins jumping alongside the boat under rainbows formed as waves crashed over the bow ... aaaawwwww!

When Michael woke me for my watch on the second night he said "you have to stick your head outside!" It was so balmy, the stars were so clear and bright, and there was phosphorescence sparkling in our wake. It made for a lovely night-shift and I didn't feel sick at all so I could read and even go online (amazing that we had phone and internet coverage for such a lot of the trip!)

When Michael woke me at around 10am the seas had dropped to a gentle swell and we were only a few hours from our destination at Port Fairy. As we rounded into the bay I snapped the photo below. Its not a great one (I was pretty tired!) but it is worthy of inclusion as a record of our first landfall outside SA. We motored into the pretty Moyne River, pulled up at the wharf in the middle of town, and stepped off the boat into the 42 degree Port Fairy day.

I'll post again shortly with some photos and experiences from our 10 days in Port Fairy!

Port Fairy approach, 2 January 2012

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