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Newsletter - June 2017

"China Girl" Sailing Adventures

"China Girl" was launched in July 2015 for a family of four.  She is a 3 cabin layout with forward king sized bed, twin heads, B & G electronics, Finscan touch screen technology (which the kids can operate better than the parents!), 4 TVs, internet, heater, washing machine, workshop, fridge/freezer with extra drawer fridge, wine storage, liquor cabinet, lithium battery to run all the house / electronics, 600 lt of diesel, 1400 lts of water, good storage, etc. (all the inside comforts of home) onboard water.  Our 'home away from home'.

Outside is just as good.  The hard dodger offering an indoor / outdoor room experience, 3.1m Walker Bay centre console dinghy with a Honda 20hp outboard to push us along nicely (even for extended dinghy trips), all housed on the stern arch (even though on this version it had to be beefed up to support all the toys!).  Exterior BBQ, 2 servery side tables to entertain, Eastport pram dinghy stowed up forward on deck which does not get in the way of the sailing when we are in port or anchored, and a 10'7" Red Stand Up paddle board with windsurfer kit for keeping fit and staying in shape.  All the toys to keep us occupied.

For the first year we mainly focussed on familiarising ourselves with all the sytems on the boat, and practising our sailing skills on beautiful Lake Macquarie.  This included setting up the sail lines and using the reefing system, using the staysail, launching the code zero, using the electronics and loading Navionics charts, autopilot setup, obtaining our boat licences, launching the dinghy with the 'big' 20 hp outboard, etc.

Small trips undertaken from Lake Macquarie were to Newcastle, Pittwater and Sydney which were all good shakedown cruises.  As we were planning to travel north in May 2016 we set about getting all of our passage plannning items such as charts, books, Stugeron seasick tablets, radio licences to operate the VHF and HF radios, internet plans, etc. And also the safety gear in order for the 'just in case' scenarios.  This included liferaft, PFDs, EPIRB's, PLB's, harnesses, jackstays, man overboard recovery slings, bolt cutters, knives, torches, flares, etc and the list goes on.

Lake Macquarie to Whitsundays Return (May to December 2016)

We left Lake Macquarie on Saturday, 14 May 2016 always on a high tide out of Swansea Channel, and turned left and started heading up the coast.  Fortunately, the forecast was for calm seas and light winds being mine and the kids first offshore voyage so easing us in was good.  I think from memory the kids and I took a Stugeron seasick tablet (just in case) but probably more to ease the nerves. We had a good trip up. On the way we saw whales, dolphins, birds, cargo ships, fishing boats, lighthouses, beaches, beautiful coastal scenery, lots of blue water.  In fact, being on the water on reflection is quite magical and does not in a way feel real.  Lets face it, the perfect conditions we had were calm seas, light breeze, and sails up.  Enjoying the wonders on the water with your loved ones... life does not get much better than this.

With the cockpit cushions in place made it very comfortable in the cockpit.  With the clears rolled down when the sun went down we found the four of us still in the cockpit with pillows and light blankets out taking it in turn for rests through the night whilst someone was always on watch.  We found sailing at night very comfortable, dry, warm and enjoyable.  We enjoyed breakfast, morning and afteroon teas / snacks, lunches and dinner in the cockpit. Simple food was mostly consumed.

In the early hours of the second night I realised I was out too far in the East Australian Current (EAC), and on the screen saw a triangle (a cargo ship).  At this stage I was still working out how to use the chartplotter, and on a steep learning curve.  I woke David up sleeping in the cockpit.  I told him there was a ship showing up on the screen but I could not physically see it.  He got up rather groggily and took a look at the chartplotter.  He could not believe I had awoken him. Even though he was still half asleep he was still in disbelief as the cargo ship was still 20 nm away!  He laid back down and resumed his sleeping position.  After more playing around with the chartplotter I managed to work out you could zoom in and out and see the distances and how close other ships were.

The most challenging thing I found was doing the 3.00 am to 5.30 am watch.  I remember sitting behind the wheel in the cockpit trying to keep a lookout. My eyes so heavy, and the head just dropping it felt like I was falling which woke me up again.  I had to stand up, slap myself on the face, make a coffee and turn on the Ipod for some loud music to keep me up.  I was OK.  The music would get me through till 6.00 am when the sun started to rise.

On Monday afternoon we had made Gold Coast Seaway and all onboard were happy.

We exhibited "China Girl" at the Sanctuary Cove Boatshow which was a nice stopover, and where she was well received by visitors to the Show.

After the Show we made our way through the Broadwater again timing the high tide at Jacobs Well.  Always fun going through the Broadwater, and we anchored at Peel Island.  The kids enjoyed the walk along the beach, chasing the crabs, and David enjoyed another sail onboard "China Rose" our Eastpram dinghy.

Next stop was Manly.  We left our boat at the marina for 4 weeks and flew back home to attend to business, school and home duties.

This was how it was going to work for us.  In between business, school and home we flew back and forth in school holidays at the most convenient times, and each time moving the boat further up the coast.  From Brisbane to Scarborough Marina and Mooloolaba (to see other customers along the way).  Next challenge was the Wide Bay Bar.  We had obtained the 2 new waypoints at the time and entered them into the chartplotter.  Had a good crossing and eventually made our way to Hervey Bay Boat Harbour.  Here we stayed for 2 weeks as it was school holiday time. We hired a car for a week, and enjoyed the sites.  David even flew back home for one week to make sure everything back at the factory was all okay.

The next stops were Bundaberg, Pancake Creek, Roslyn Bay (Great Keppel Marina).  We again flew back home for 3 weeks and returned one late night.  In the morning we planned on leaving for Mackay.  The wind was probably forecast for about 25 knots which was a little stronger than I was used to but it was a southerly so behind us should be okay. 

A challenging overnight sail was to be had.  We both had not sailed this way before so it was all new territory for us. We left early in the morning 6am and had a good sail toward Island Head Creek.  Then the decision had to be made to sail between Duke and Percy Islands (which is what we had originally intended) but as 5.00 pm drew closer Skipper David decided best to stay out in the shipping channel to avoid any obstacles such as an island (we've all heard the stories).  We ended up going around the islands in the shipping channel. 

By now the wind was blowing up to 25+ knots, and we had a problem with the autopilot steering settings, and the boom was gybing frequently.  When the boat swung around and did a 180 degree turn it was totally disorientating in the dark, no moon out, no lighthouses, no ships.  Not being able to see the waves made it more difficult.  We just had to feel the motion of the boat and keep her riding the waves the best we could. Staying on course was a challenge.  So here we found ourselves hand steering for about 3 hours with waves about 2.5 - 3m.    It was great to see the sun come up again so we could tidy lines, sails, etc and get everything back under control.

We sailed past some of the anchored ships and made our way to Mackay Marina.  Again, so good to get in safely to the marina when other yachties  give you a hand with your lines is always a nice feeling, and them asking how did you go out there when you are looking and feeling quite exhausted.  By now the wind was 30+ knots.

We were getting closer to our destination.  We stayed for a week and hired the marina car to reprovision, and do some sight seeing / shopping.  We also had the bottom cleaned so we could be as competitive as possible before heading to Hamilton Island Race Week.

Highlights of the trip included Whitehaven Beach, staying at Airlie Beach Marina and using the facilities especially the rock pool which the kids loved, seeing whales and dolphins numerous times, enjoying local produce and restaurants, experiencing beautiful scenery and walks, and always looking forward to coming back home after a day out exploring to our beautiful Bluewater 420 "China Girl".

On our return trip from the Whitsundays commencing October 2016 we called back into some familiar ports but wanted to try and stop at some other new locations.  This included anchoring off St Bees Island, this time came back overnight through Percys and Duke Island then making our way back down to Roslyn Bay (Great Keppel Island).  At this time it was about 6am and we were in the shipping channel again, and the SW started to kick in earlier than we had expected so we were pushing into it moving about 3- 4 knots but felt as though we were not making any ground. Waves were breaking over the boat so we beared away a few degrees to make it more comfortable pushing over the swell, and tried to sneak in behind North Keppel Island. After some 5 hours later we made it into Roslyn Bay.  The weather had all calmed down again by then.

The other great stopover worth mentioning was a visit to Lady Musgrave Island.  It took us about 8 hours from Pancake Creek.  On the way we radioed up a cargo ship called "Oriental Spirit" and had a quick chat to the Captain but I think he was trying to concentrate on getting into Gladstone Port and did not speak English that well.  There were about 30 boats when we arrived. We walked through the island with the sounds of nature surrounding us. We enjoyed the isolation, like being on a deserted island.  In the morning when we woke the water was still as you can see by the photo. Coral as we were entering the channel was stunning.

Safely back at Mooloolaba Yacht Club we enjoyed a catch up dinner with three Bluewater owners.  We called back into Manly Yacht Club and managed to get a one month berth next to another of our boats, our Bluewater 450M "Charlie's Dream". We left the boat here again for a month then flew back mid November 2016 to bring the boat back to Lake Macquarie. Before we left we managed a quick overnight trip to Peter & Virginia Lewis's beautiful home where the kids fed the cows, and got a small taste of what it would be like to work with animals and look after such a big property. 

We set off back through the Broadwater then out the Gold Coast Seaway and was expecting a 2 day sail back.  We were going well the first day and night then into the second day in the afternoon the wind suddenly eased then stopped for a few minutes.  A group of flys which had been bothering us for the last few hours of the trip (inside and out) suddenly vanished, and all of a sudden we were hit with a 25 knot SW.  We just happened to be off the heads of Port Stephens by now so thought it best to head in.

We got on the radio to the coast guard and asked about the conditions of the entrance and he advised another yacht had just made it in but to have a look for ourselves.  Here we were again bashing into it.  The change had again come in earlier than expected but the boat handled well.  We beared off again just to give us a good motion over the waves.  Big sprays over the boat again sometimes hitting the hard dodger windscreen.  David had been into Port Stephens a few times so was familiar with the entrance.  We pushed through and probably after 2-3 hours made it to D'Alboras Marina.  Always good to finally tie up safe.

With work, school and time constraints we ended up leaving "China Girl" here for a month. We bumped into two of our Bluewater builds here.  The first being another one of our Bluewater 450M's "Friday's Child", and our Bluewater 420 "Sabbatical II".  Both boats looking good!

Having the kids onboard still means they had to keep up with their school work, and interestingly enough they seem to have done better in their end of year school reports which is an encouraging sign.  Many card games, boggle, concentration, DVD movies are watched and we try to sneak some educational ones in there.  We recently watched Captain James Cook Expeditions and his adventures discovering the new world.  This saw us join the Sydney Maritime Museum and a visit to climb onboard "The Endeavour", and standing in The Great Cabin. We marvelled at the bravery, skill and seamanship these sailors demonstrated (not always to their favour) and adventures they undertook which paved the way for us to travel with all the navigational aids and tools we have today. Truly amazing!

Therefore it seems that given the business, school, family and time constraints we have it appears a commitment to a part-time cruising lifestyle for us at the moment is in order

"China Girl" had been away for 7 months and it was so good to arrive back home again in Lake Macquarie until the next adventure!

Lake Macquarie to Hobart Return (January to April 2017)

"China Girl" adventuring to be continued in the Bluewater Newsletter next month - July 2017.

Hamilton Island Race Week 2016

After being invited by Andrew Robertson, an experienced, competitive sailor, and our new Bluewater 400 "Polaris II" owner to enter the Hamilton Island Race Week we thought it was a good idea to combine a few things, namely, the Sanctuary Cove Boatshow, cruising the Whitsundays, gaining some offshore experience as a family, and getting to know Andrew & Margaret better, as well test our skills and boats against one another.

We booked in another Bluewater owner, Wayne Reed whose Bluewater 400 "Leyla" was berthed at Airlie Beach Marina (not far from Hamilton Island) to help crew on "China Girl".

The facilities and organisation were excellent and there was plenty to do on the island for those that were not that keen to do all 5 races.  Entry was $750.00 which included 2 weeks marina fees.


"China Girl" on Race 1 proved she was more than a match for her lighter sister "Polaris II", and built a commanding lead almost all the way to the finish line when low and behold a rain squall came across the entrance to Dent Passage (finish line) not to mention a runaway yacht who could not pull in their spinnaker sailing up Whitsunday Passage whom we followed then realised too late that they were going the wrong way which left "China Girl" suddenly missing the finishing line altogether, and battling the current to finish with now no wind.

Race 1 DNF (Did Not Finish) or Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory you might say.

Race 2 "China Girl" DNF due to light winds and against current.  In fact, we were more concerned about the current taking us back to the start line until a slight wind puff enabled us to sail clear from the rocks.

Race 3 Called off due to not enough wind, however, it was an incredible sight to be amongst full on performance boats all still with wind under 5 knots then a whale swimming through the fleet followed by so many crews jumping in for a swim including us!

Due to the race being called off "China Girl" and "Polaris II" crew decided to rendevous at Whitehaven Beach to enjoy more swimming and scenery.

Race 4 "China Girl" did not start due to sorting out a shore power breaker issue.

Race 5  Forecast 25 knots from southerly direction gave us the best chance to redeem ourselves against "Polaris II" and to finish on a positive result.  Started well as we had on all races winning the start against "Polaris II" due to Wayne's positioning, and kept a slight lead to half way mark which was very exciting to be so close with the lead changing constantly.  After which "Polaris II" through her superior tactics reduced sail upwind which kept her pointing higher than "China Girl" and finished some 15 minutes earlier than "China Girl" over a 3 hour race.

Another thing we learned on this last race was to in the future turn off the forward sink seacock as due to healing with maximum sail up we took in approximately 200 lts of water which covered the toilet which to our amazement did not overflow into the forward cabin due to 160mm door sil height.

After pumping out with the shower sump pump during the race I immediately washed down everything with freshwater after the race, and so far pumps and washing machine have not faulted (touch wood).

All in all due to battling with light winds, currents, missing the finish line and taking on water we learnt alot about our boat, humility, expectations and celebrating Andrew & Margaret's sailing of "Polaris II".  They finished 15 out of 30 in the Cruising Division 4 category,  and were very happy with "Polaris II" sailing performance.

Not really considering "China Girl" as a racer, and with all the gear onboard which makes living aboard and cruising so comfortable we were pleased with her speed, however, need to work on our tactics and navigation.

And lastly, a big thank you has to go out to Wayne Reed for helping us sail "China Girl" during the HIRW.  There is no way we could have done it without him and we really appreciate his presence onboard, sharing his knowledge, teaching me and the kids about tying bowline and reef knots, the importance of checking the engine daily COBBLE, and playing UNO card game each night before bed.  He made it fun for the kids with his sayings like "if you've got an issue grab a tissue", or "it could be worse you could have two broken legs", and lots of good, funny, stories he told about racing around the world in the Clipper Yacht Race 2011 (and winning it mind you!). Thank you again Wayne.

Cyclone Debbie

Bluewater 400 "Leyla" survives Cyclone Debbie without any damage in 130 knot winds.  While this is technically true let me explain that she was in Airlie Beach marina at the time which did not fair so well.

Read Wayne & Heather Reed's account of events below.

Friday afternoon 24 March 2017, I  had just finished a week of sailing in Sydney and looking forward to a day off before starting another week of Clipper training on Sunday.  The BoM website was reporting a Low Pressure system developing in the Coral Sea that could develop into a cyclone.  No big deal at that stage - still a long way off - it could go anywhere - even fizzle out.  Friday night, still a Low, and looked like heading away to the SE.

Saturday, 25 March 2017.  In the morning checked the BoM site and sure enough it had developed and was now a Cat 1, and had changed direction to now be travelling SW.  Having lived in North Queensland for most of our lives we had experienced a few cyclones ranging from Cat 1 to Cat 5, and were well aware of how quickly these can develop and change direction.  By late Saturday night it was Cat 2, and making its way SW.  Decision time.  I decided that I was needed at home.  Enquiries about flights revealed there were no flights to Hamilton Island so I had to fly to Proserpine.  I was advised that the airport could be closed at any time so I may not make it home.  Thankfully, I managed to get home by late Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, 26 March 2017.  I arrived at Proserpine Airport at 15.30.  Very windy and a bit of rain but still manageable.  Lots of activity in the Marina with people securing boats as best they could. 

Heather had already been working hard on Saturday to prepare the yacht "Leyla".  She had managed to remove the headsail, and virtually anything that could flap, flutter or come loose.  She had purchased 3 additional fenders, and fitted some additional mooring lines.

We filled the water tanks, closed all the seacocks, and disconnected the shore power.  Fitted the running backstays and fitted additional mooring lines.  In total we had 18 mooring lines securing the yacht - ensuring alternate cleats on the pontoon were used.  6 fenders dockside and 4 fenders between us and our neighbour.  It had been my intent to remove the mainsail and lower the wind generator but the wind had strengthened making this a dangerous option.  I laced the mainsail up with the headsail sheets, and secured the boom with additional lines to stop it swinging about.  I also secured the wind generator.  Not sure it would survive at 130 knots.

We had planned to remain onboard on Sunday night, and move to an apartment we had secured on Monday but this changed when the marina staff advised that they were shutting off the water and power, and that the Disaster Management Committee and Police had ordered an evacuation of the marina.  Our Cyclone kit was already prepared so left Sunday night.

Monday, 27 March 2017 10.00.  Now a Cat 3.  Torrential rain and very windy and increasing during the day so we remained indoors watching the developing storm.  Our view across the bay showed horizontal rain, a 2m swell with breaking waves, and very windy.  We lost power on Monday night.  The storm was still a long way off the coast but definitely heading straight for Airlie Beach. At 2200 hours the BoM upgraded Debbie to a Cat 4.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017. The eye of the storm crossed Airlie Beach about midday, and when the wind returned from the NE it sounded stronger.  From our view out across the bay we witnessed 6 yachts drifting towards the beach at Cannonvale.  Unfortunately 2 of these yachts came ashore on the rocks, and were completely destroyed.  One - a fibreglass yacht about 38ft was completely obliterated with nothing left to see in less than 30 minutes.  Another - a steel yacht hit the wall about 50 metres from our apartment.  I watched it get battered almost flat in under an hour.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017.  In the morning the worst was over but still very windy and raining.  We made our way to the marina to check on "Leyla".  Still a big swell and breaking waves in Pioneer Bay with a significant swell finding its way into the marina.  Lots of damage.  Yachts sunk in their berth, a couple of yachts on Shingly Beach inside the marina, lots of shredded sails and broken mooring lines and boats damaged where they had banged into each other or rubbed on the pontoons. 

Fearing the worst we were pleased to see that "Leyla" had survived.  Not a scratch to be seen.  One snapped mooring line where it had chaffed going through the fairlead, and 3 busted fenders.  Very lucky.  The pontoon had not faired so well and had shifted about 50cm but was still intact.  A lot of pontoons had broken away from the main walkway, and some of the older pontoons in the Northen end of the marina had overturned and holed boats.

That night Mother Nature put on a final show to let everyone know that she was still around, and not to get complacent.  A significant storm with lots of thunder, lightning and torrential rain hovered over Airlie Beach until dawn.

The Whitsundays is slowly recovering.

Wayne & Heather Reed, "Leyla".

New Bluewater 20' Cygnet Sailing Gaffer

Bluewater Cruising Yachts is excited to be unveiling our new Bluewater 20' Cygnet Sailing Gaffer at the Sydney Boatshow 2017. 

Key features include:

  • Designed by Hardcastle Lowe Yacht Design
  • She is a classically styled 20' high peaked, gaff rigged sloop.
  • With a deck stepped rig with light easily handled carbon fibre spars. 
  • Varnished "Oregon" bowsprit with headsail roller furler. 
  • Water ballasted for safety and performance but light to tow, launch and recover when unballasted.
  • Laminated GRP, aerofoil section, internal lead ballasted centreboard raised and lowered by a differential winch conveniently operated from the cockpit.
  • Large capacity bilge pump for either removal of ballast water or pumping of bilge.
  • Generous cockpit with two large lockers and outboard well at the aft end for 4 to 5 hp short shaft outboard motor.
  • Clean, simple sail plan with all sail controls lead to aft end of cabin.
  • Poptop for headroom when anchored.
  • Weekend /overnight accommodation for a family of four.

If this sounds of interest to you come down and see us at the Sydney Boatshow for a closer look.

Names will be taken to organise test sails after the Boatshow.


Sydney Boatshow 2017

The Sydney Boatshow 2017 will also mark the 50th anniversary, and Bluewater is very excited to be exhibiting two boats at the show.  Firstly, our Bluewater 420 Raised Saloon "China Girl" which provides the ultimate lifestyle in cruising in comfort, with the confidence for coastal cruising or ocean passages. Still so happy to be one of the last "Australian Made" Bluewater cruising yachts in Australia.

The other will see the launch of our new Bluewater Cygnet 20' gaff rigged trailer sailer.  A boat which has been designed for affordability, comfort, and sailing performance.  Our hope is that more people will be able to experience the pleasures of owning their very own beautiful yacht, sail and enjoy being out on the water.

 
 
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