Our first solo trip !

Our first ‘solo’ trip out of Manly was over to Lucinda Bay. A couple of people had said that there was a nice place to anchor on the West of Moreton Island, just south of Tangalooma.

The almost salty sailors.

We thought this sounded like a perfect place to be for our first Christmas on the boat! We were going to do this as a family as it was also a great opportunity to get Pip, our aged cat onboard, to see how she suited nautical life.

It was somewhat nerve-racking casting off and avoiding all the really expensive boats. It is never a good idea to leave the boat in gear and go and chat with Jo on the dock about which lines need to be released! Especially when the lines slip and it’s a bit of a leap back on to ‘save’ the boat. Won’t be doing that again.

It is surprising (and just a little scary) how much windage we get on the boat, meaning that we need to keep the  momentum up or we seem to get blown towards the nearest (super expensive) yacht!

We got out of the pen, navigated down the fairway and through the leads out into Moreton bay. The course to Lucinda Bay was N-NE and it was about a three hour journey at 5 knots. Relieved at not causing too much carnage in the marina, it seemed a perfect opportunity to hoist the sails and ‘go sailing’. So we got prepared and reminded ourselves of the procedure  –

Step one – Rob to undo sail bag and connect the sail to the halyard and the first mast ‘car’ (the runner thingy that goes up the mast).

Step two – Jo to confirm there are no major objects in front of the boat and point the boat into the wind. While keeping the boat pointed into the wind, start winding the halyard up with our fancy electric winch. Then stand back and watch the sail hoist magnificently. This is the theory. What actually happened went more like this –

Hang on, the mainsail has all these battens on it (to help keep its shape or something) and we have rope lines ( lazy jacks)  that join the sail bag, which means the sail has a really narrow channel that it can go up in, thus  hooking said battens . So STOP HOISTING!. Let’s pull the sail down a bit and try again. Don’t let the boat nose drift through the wind! Steer, Steer, Hoist, Hoist. Geez this sail is massive! It’s not even a quarter of the way up yet.

So with Jo continuing to steer and course correct, me standing at the back of the sail asking (less and less) calmly to steer left or right ,  I un-lassoed the battens while Jo  winched the sail up, and we carried on. Until we got to the reef lines. These are used to make the mainsail smaller when the wind is blowing too hard. We had them set with the brakes off, but they were not running out particularly well. so we needed to  keep an eye on them as well. Then everything started to get really tight in the sail, so we stopped again.  It turns out that one of the reef lines had tripped a rope brake in the boom. This meant the reef was locked in and needed to be released before we could continue hoisting.  Another meeting to discuss the plan of action.   Bloody hell – who put that Island there ?  We are now are headed directly at land and a big warning marker for shallow water!  We abandoned all plans  dropped the sail as fast as possible and swerved  sharpish to avoid running aground.

Sailing is so relaxing.

Second attempt.   – We dropped the main sail (for the second time)and gave ourselves some space by navigating into the channel.We took the opportunity to discuss this sensibly and calmly and cleared the lines up so they wouldn’t  snag .

This time we remember about the lazy jacks, released all the reef lines like pros and yes – we get the sail up! All the way. This sail is square-topped and huge! It takes ages to hoist up our 12 metre mast – well, it feels ages when we are trying to handle so many elements at once – steering, hoisting, guiding, letting out bits here, letting in bits there. We were now completely exhausted. It has taken over 20 minutes to get this sail up. But we did it! Our first ‘proper sail’ with just us on the boat is officially underway. So after getting the headsail out as well – a much easier task compared to the main, We set our course to Lucinda Bay.

Flushed with success we were planning on turning off the engines and having a quiet, relaxing sail across the bay. Jo is already discussing putting the kettle on for a bit of a brew, so things must finally be going well. Setting our course in a somewhat North Easterly direction we started navigating to the fabled Lucinda Bay. Oh how relaxing this is being pushed quietly along by the wind. But wait, why are the sails flapping so much? all we have done is set our course in a more northerly direction… but now the sails are not catching the wind. The wind that is also coming from a North to North easterly direction. So we are heading straight into the wind. We are going to have to tack across the bay. Well that is ok., Turning a few times across the bay should be easy, we can do that. Let’s look at what that means for our travelling time. Gosh – we now need to cover about four times the distance, its almost 1:30pm and a straight line course had us arriving at 4pm, the latest we wanted to arrive and still have good daylight for anchoring. So unless we want to practice our night sailing, this is not going to work. After a bit of a boat meeting and navigation review we decided we were not going to be a sailboat today after all. So – hold off on the cuppa, we have work to do. bring in the headsail – that wrappy thing makes it so easy and quick! Bring down the main sail. Point into the wind, undo halyard line, pull the sail down, flap, pull, steer, flap, pull, steer.

We ended up having a nice drive across the bay and settled into the anchorage at Lucinda. It was well worth the trip.

We will be practicing hoisting the sail a lot more and there are a couple of things we would like to update to make the process easier…