Those of you who played or follow rugby (or other codes) will be familiar with the first 10-20 minutes being referred to as the settling in period, where nerves are calmed, teamwork comes together, players warm up and soften up the opposition before settling into the rhythm of the game. Often, it can be a scrappy period of the game punctuated with some ‘big hits’. The analogy in sailing is getting past sea sickness, settling into 24-hour watches with shorter sleep patterns and getting into a rhythm as a crew and with the boat, to get some miles behind us. For me, that happens after the second night and there’s a high and clarity that follows.
So, Ben & I set out from Hardys Bay on Anzac morning farewelled by the Killcare contingent of friends and family. After
being farewelled from Sydney, I now felt well and truly farewelled. Ben had a farewell size hangover to go with it. The breeze was light from the north and the current heading south – I thought some upwind sailing would be good for settling in, ahead of a southerly change due on Wednesday.
We tacked our way up the coast past familiar landmarks and the coal ships around Newcastle, looking forward to a wind change, with strong to gale force winds forecasted.
We could see a bank of cloud approaching from the south most of Wednesday and thought this was the forecasted change, though it arrived a few hours early. I decided to reef the mainsail early and it was too late as the cloud bank descended upon us. A strong gust hit Galaxy III and spun her around, just as I was about to hook the reefing loop over the horn cleat. Calamity ensued that resulted in violent flogging of the sails, tearing the jib and damaging the forestay. In short, we copped a flogging and just to add insult to injury, in 10 minutes the wind was calm and we were motor sailing.
Time for the crew to review “lessons learned” over a beer; we needed to control the boat by heaving to (stopping the boat by sheeting the headsail windward and turning the rudder windward) or motoring upwind before addressing the challenge at hand. Crew reactions when hell breaks loose separate the experienced from the inexperienced. We now have that experience.
The real front did arrive later that evening and faded after a few hours. Eventually, the wind did become consistent from the SW and we enjoyed a good run up the North Coast and Gold Coast to North Stradbroke Island, where we anchored for the night, hoping for a surf on Saturday.
The surf was tiny so we decided to head 50nm north for Mooloolaba Marina, to repair the sails and rigging, before continuing our onward journey. In the meantime, I repeat “must stop breaking stuff” at regular intervals.