16 Mitala Street, Newport NSW 2106   Tel: 61 2 9998 3700

     

16 Mitala Street, Newport NSW 2106
Tel: 61 2 9998 3700

Stories from the Coral Coast 'Dalwhinnie'

Life on the high seas and a few whales for good measure

We woke to another pretty day at anchor in Cid Harbour with enough cloud cover to make the decision to take the tender to shore and climb to the top of the Whitsunday Peak. This is a challenging hike up more deep stone steps than I care to remember and took us 1hour and 15minutes to get to the peak. It is apparently 470metres which doesn't seem too arduous but trust me it was not a stroll in the park. The views are magnificent and worth the effort and I was grateful that Brian carried extra water and there was a slight breeze and the cloud cover. You walk on a track that is thick with foliage and the evidence from Cyclone Debra is fierce. Torn trees and damaged vines along with huge pines thick in girth and tall literally toppled over the path. We did shimmy under some fallen growth and were grateful National Parks had finished the toppling effect by chainsawing the largest trees off the pathway. From one side of the peak you look across the Whitsunday Islands and on the other across to Hamilton Island which also took a beating but is well under way in the ‘fixing’ up phase. The regeneration will apparently take years and we liken this ‘look’ to our own Barrenjoey Headland after the fires tore through it some years ago. Whilst it is still pretty the destruction of the flora and fauna remains harshly evident. The climb down took around 1/2 hour so I was pretty pleased to return to ‘Dalwhinnie’ and enjoy a hot shower and change of clothes before we hauled up the anchor and set off for a new destination. 

Lunch was on the run, spinach wraps and salad washed down with hot tea simple & delicious. The wind was increasing so our sails came out with 15knots coming from the south. We were enjoying a brisk sail when I noticed something that Brian was convinced was a log in the water. Too large I told him, as a Whale and calf surfaced and began to sigh and breath and blow off steam not too far from the hull, but too far for decent photography. We kept on that tack and travelled past Dent Island and navigated the landing planes on the Hamilton Airstrip before witnessing a display of perfect ‘partying’ from several whales in the distance. The splashes were massive and they were having a whole lot of fun. Behind us were that Mother and Calf again just moving gracefully through the water but still too far away for my lens. After an hour of heading south with the wind slamming into the sails we made a tack and right there in front of us were that Mother and Calf and this time they had enjoyed their ‘weetbix’ or something (plankton and fish perhaps) because they heaved themselves out of the water right in front of ‘Dalwhinnie’. You grab your camera and scrabble around the boat wearing a harness because in these conditions safety is everything and then you're still keeping an eye on the whales with Brian panicking that we are about to hit them and ‘phew’ at last I manage to capture them in a video on my phone but not my camera. I have decided that you need a third person just to take all the images because Whales do not pose. They come and go as they please and they are not out to please us. Regardless I did capture them swimming gracefully through the sea close to our vessel and it was magic.

It was time to hoist down the sails and find an anchoring spot for the night. We stayed in a small bay off the island of Shaw which is very close to Lindeman. Lindeman Island was a Club Med owned destination and a very popular holiday spot for families until they decided to close down back in 2012. It is a National Park and there are beautiful walks but like all the other Islands that have been closed mainly due to cyclone damage the walks are not maintained by the QPWS. 
 

Stories from the Coral Coast 'Southern Belle '

Great one day swimming to get home the next

The journey from Pittwater to the true Queensland “Coral Coast” is long. Departing at the tail end of autumn, as we did on May 16, it takes quite a few ocean miles before arriving at an island that delivers warm weather and the picture postcard ideal. Mind you there are many memorable spots along the way, but we had to get past Bundaberg before reaching an island that delivered the complete tropical promise of warm balmy breezes, crystal clear water, deserted white beaches and a killer sunset.
On June 10 we arrived, in company with the yachts Novae and Isabella, at the beautiful Great Keppel Island and the tropical promise was perfectly fulfilled

We departed early from Pancake Creek to GKI and the journey was slow. After motoring much of the way north - due to calm wind/no wind/wind from the wrong direction – George announced we were having a “no diesel” day and our sailing companions pledged the same. We (I) endured hours of just barely moving under the MPS in 6-7 knots of wind then, finally, the captain was convinced to turn on the engine. Isabella had already given up trying to sail and Novae, a catamaran, was doing OK with the help of one engine. Both were way ahead of us. After 10 hours Southern Belle rounded Middle Island and aimed for Svendsen’s Beach where we quickly dropped anchor and joined the others for well-deserved sundowners.

The Island beach was perfect, just what we were looking forward to! Even though there were other boats in the bay we were the only ones on the sand. Looking to the west and at a spectacular sunset we decided to all rise early the next morning, take the bushwalk into the island’s interior and hopefully have lunch at the resort.

Next morning Peter and Debbie, Novae’s crew, offered their dingy as transport to the beach and we joined the walk just past the landmark tree hanging with colourful fishing buoys. The path turned out to be a well-worn rut, rock and gravel route ... enjoyable and easy to follow up and down hills, across dry creek beds and around shallow tidal lakes. It was hot in the interior and, as the morning progressed, the little biting midges were becoming voracious in appetite.

After 2 hours, and with the bush track turning upwards towards even steeper hills, we decided to take a side path towards the beach believing we could simply walk along the cooler sand back to the dingy. We thought the beach was a long uninterrupted stretch of sand … unfortunately it isn’t … and we came to a dead end. Barring the way was the deep and fast flowing Leeke’s Creek. 

For a while six hot, tired and bug ravaged yachties discussed the situation. We could go back the way we came … “too far, too hot and too many bugs”. Or, we could all swim across … “some of us are not good swimmers so could be dangerous”. Or, we could hope for another dingy to come by … “not likely”. There was nothing else for it, Peter and George volunteered to brave the swift water and swim across. There was comic relief as we watched George carefully tie his shoes and t-shirt around his neck only to have them thoroughly soaked as the water around him got deeper and deeper. Peter, on the other hand, perfected a one-handed swimming style while keeping his shirt dry-ish perched on top of his head and holding his shoes aloft. They made it across what we all thought was the only obstacle only to find they had to also climb over two rocky headlands and cross a stretch of beach before collecting the dingy and returning exhausted and much later than expected for the rest of us!

Back on board our boats lunch was quick followed by naps all round. We all had a memorable adventure on our first perfect tropical island, plus a good laugh about it over sundowners and another superb sunset that night.
 

Stories from the Coral Coast 'Jazzamatazz - A Guided Tour of Middle Percy'

A Guided Tour of Middle Percy

Monday August 7 2017
Middle Percy rose out of the glassy sea after an eventful overnight motorsail from Rosslyn Bay, including a very close encounter with a US warship looking for the crew of their Osprey helicopter that crashed in Shoalwater bay that evening. As dawn broke we were navigating through sleeping whales, floating languidly like night watchmen dozing at their guardposts.
West Bay was busy with a number of yachts anchored there, all dwarfed by a large motor cruiser, the Sovereign, on her way to Hamilton Island for race week. We were pleased to see our RPAYC friends and occasional Div 1 competition, John McConaghy and Second Time Around, also there in the bay and refreshing their existing A Frame sign (with a little bit of help from a Jazzamatazz marker pen ). The A Frame, AKA The Percy Hilton, is a seafarer’s institution. A haven for cruisers travelling between Yeppoon and Mackay, it is a shelter where passing yachts meet, share food, beer and tall stories and the leave a memento of their yacht affixed to the frame. We saw familiar names among the assorted wood carvings, hats, floats and assorted boatbits – all left as the various owners’ bids for lasting celebrity.

We decided to trek up to the Homestead, home of the inhabitants of Middle Percy, John and Kate. There are two tracks – the easy 4km track and the steep 2.8km track. We of course went for the challenging steep track which took us through mangroves, mud flats and woodland – guided by pretty painted coconut girls along the track; blowing us kisses and showing us the way.

When we got to the Homestead there was quite a crowd. John and Kate were hosting the entire crew of the Sovereign and their chef was in the final stages of cooking (with the help of one of the island’s goat population). We were promptly invited to join in a delicious lunch of goat stew with mung beans, freshly baked bread with island honey and home made damson jam. Kate gave us a fascinating insight into the history of Middle Percy island.

Also dropping in was Spikey Mikey (a photographer / cameraman / author working from his yacht Isabella) and his botanist wife Vivian. Mike had offered to take some video and photo footage of Middle Percy for Kate and John and was getting his drone fired up. We were invited to come along for the ride for a 2 hour guided tour of the island. Our transport was the tray of John’s ute with bags of potting compost for seats. The scenery was fabulous and John gave us some of the interesting recent history of the island while Vivian’s knowledge of the local flora was limitless.

At the end of the day we retired to the A-Frame for a much needed cold ale, a few Dark & Stormys and other refreshments. We spent several hours talking with the Sovereign crew and other yachties there before retiring back to Jazzamatazz ready for the next leg of our Coral Cruise to Airlie Beach & Hammo race weeks.


 

Sail Melbourne Wrap up

Another day of strong winds for the final day of Sail Melbourne International (29 November to 3 December 2017) meant an early finish to the event with the last day of Invited class racing called off. Olympic classes also finished one day early and wrapped up on Saturday, 2 December with medal winners decided after a three-day race series (29 Nov to 1 December 2017).

“This has been a very unusual weather pattern and we had 20 to 25 knots all night. The forecast is that it will stay like that all day as well. Even if some of the classes could cope with that wind speed, what they could not cope with is the sea state we have out there. In the channel we have two to three metre waves,” Principal Race Officer (PRO) Mark Taylor explained the situation.

It was a challenging week for the race committee with a heavy weather front crossing Melbourne and Victoria, but with the Organising Committee’s world class expertise the event wrapped up smoothly. “We have a good group of partner clubs that allow us to deliver the number of courses that we have and we have got great depth in race management skills, partially because of this event. Sail Melbourne has allowed us to put world's best practice back to our partner clubs and to also use the Sailing World Cup we hosted over the last few years to lift a lot of skills here.” Mark Taylor said with Sail Melbourne International one of the fixtures on the World Sailing calendar.

“It is a shame that the weather hasn’t been kind to us but it’s been wonderful to have had such a good turn out at our event,” Event Chairman Mark Klemens agreed. “This regatta has been going since 1992 and was coupled with the Sailing World Cup for the last few years and has continued on. Our host Royal Brighton Yacht Club has been amazing and we had a fantastic group of volunteers, who we could not have done without. It’s one of the events, which is on the sailing calendar in Australia and around the world and I’m confident it will only grow stronger in the future. In regard to the weather, I’m sure weather like this weekend will never happen again,” Klemens added laughing.

Sail Melbourne International is Australia’s premier Olympic and Invited Classes Regatta, held annually in the waters of Port Phillip. This year the regatta was hosted by Royal Brighton Yacht Club with some of the world’s best sailors from Australia and around the world attending.

360 competitors from ten countries raced at Sail Melbourne International 2017 with sailors coming from Australia, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, USA, Bermuda, Sweden, New Zealand and Canada.

The stellar Melbourne line-up included the Australian Sailing Team and Australian Olympic medallists with Rio 2016 Olympic champion Tom Burton winning the Laser, Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallists Mat Belcher and Will Ryan the 470 and Rio 2016 silver medallists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin winning the mixed-multihull Nacra17 on home waters.

See the Olympic class media release here for more details. Full news report here

Stories from the Coral Coast 'Lucky to find our friends'

Lucky to find our friends

"OK everyone up!"  It was 4.30am.  We had slept soundly tucked in behind Cape Upstart, but now it was time for a (hopefully) quick dash to Gloucester Passage.  There was a window before a southerly blew in so we should be able to pick up a mooring by early afternoon. 

Mike, our son, stirred.  He had joined us at Airlie Beach and sailed with us up to the rendezvous at Magnetic Island.  After a couple of weeks on board he still was not sure why we seemed to have so many early starts.  Ruth got the kettle brewing and I readied Barrenjoey Light to be up and away.

Shortly after 5am with the first of the nautical twilight peeking through we were a couple of hundred metres off The Bun, off towering Cape Upstart.  All was good and the tea went down well.

"High Temp Alarm!!!"  Mike sensed that was not good.  Engine off.  Main up and genoa unfurled.  Light breeze from north.  Hope there's not much current.  Better get further off the rocks.

Less than an hour later a strong southerly hit us.  It was much earlier than forecast.  At times up to 35 knots.  We put in two reefs and switched to the staysail, and tacked and tacked and tacked.  Mike who has not spent a lot of time on the boat became more confident with every tack.  It was much better than being seasick down below.

The wind died but the seas remained very lumpy and we crawled south through the ships off Abbott Point.    

Time to contact our friends who were down at Gloucester Passage.  "How y'all going?"  "Well Gail, not so good."  We told George and Gail on Southern Belle about our predicament.  No, we preferred not to anchor when we arrived.  Better to pick up a mooring if we could.  "No worries", said George.  He and John Carter (Happiness) picked out a mooring well away from other boats and said they would assist.

All through the afternoon we updated our ETA, finally realising we would not make it by night fall.  Still the wind had picked up a bit and at 7.30 we were doing 7.5 knots in 25 knots and flat seas as we neared Gloucester Passage.  "Where's Happiness?"  John and Adrienne had their AIS on as the mooring was near them.

The road to Tokyo 2020 in full swing for Annie Wilmot & Natasha Bryant

Earlier this month we were honoured to receive the prestigious award of “Australian Female Sailors of the Year”, sharing the spotlight with male sailor of the year and skipper of the 2017 America’s Cup winning team Glen Ashby.  Credit: Andrea FrancoliniCredit: Andrea Francolini

The night was particularly special due to the establishment of the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame. The inaugural inductees included prominent Olympic and America’s Cup winning sailors and coaches. It was truly an honor to be in a room filled with remarkable sailors that offer so much inspiration. 
 
Receiving this award is particularly special to us as our mentor, friend, and Olympic Silver medalist Lisa Darmanin was the 2015 and 2016 Australian Female Sailor of the Year recipient. Over the past three years Lisa has mentored us in every aspect of balancing study, lifestyle and elite sports campaigning. She has played such an important role in inspiring and educating us towards achieving our goals. 

One of the many things we enjoy about sailing is to be able to “give back” by mentoring younger sailors.  Last week we were given the opportunity to speak at the NSW International Optimist Dinghy Association’s “Opti Chicks” event at our home club; the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club. It was a great pleasure to share our failures, successes and our passion for sailing with the next generation of superstars!

December is an exciting month for us, competing in three domestic regattas throughout Australia. This week we head off to Melbourne for a national training camp followed by Sail Melbourne. Next, we head back to Sydney to compete in Sail Sydney. We will wrap up the year in Brisbane for the 49erFX Nationals. We are excited and ready for the month to come!

None of this would be possible without your ongoing support, and for that we would like to send our thanks. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunities you are providing, allowing us to get closer to reaching our goal.

To help us achieve our goal, we are reaching out and donations no matter how small are all gratefully received. Tax deductible donations can be made through the Australian Sports Foundation to either Tash or Annie

Follow and support the girls campaign on their official team website: http://bryantwilmotsailing.com/ 

About RPAYC

The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club - RPAYC is a yacht racing and sailing club based on Pittwater.

The yacht club offers year round inshore and offshore racing, cruising, centreboard dinghy racing, sail training and courses plus has a large marina accommodating up to 352 vessels.

There is also a modern boatyard with comprehensive marine services to help maintain your vessel.

Membership, including family membership is now available.

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