Ok, I'm back in the relative civilisation of work in the bass straight so it's time to catch you up on my sailing adventure. I'll try to re-live it day to day from notes I've taken but I doubt I will be able to purvey it as well as I may have been whilst bobbing at anchor. Here goes.
Day 2 - Shute Harbour - Cid Harbour - Nara Inlet.
We were bright and early away in the morning after our first radio scheds back to base. I was feeling a little trepidation as this is my first unassisted moment on the water - our fate was in my hands. I had some confidence in my short amount of training but I knew I'd be tested. My confidence was soon to be shattered.
We left under motor to get to the safety of open water under 15 to 20 kn from the SE. The direction was to stay fairly constant for the duration of the trip but as we didn't know this we made no plans and played it day to day. The destination was Nara Inlet over night via Cid harbour for lunch. A survey of the charts put us headed just about due east under South Molle Island and across the channel on a fairly stable turn of tide. Out in the open with a reef in and a most of the jib we were doing ok. Off goes the engine and we're on our own. With the Misses at the helm and me trimming I had a lot to think about. None of this was automatic for me I had to think about every move. I had never used self tailing winches, roller furling jib or for that matter a steering wheel. I was experienced in Tiller alone. So with one eye on the Misses and my hands fumbling with lines we're making 6kn with a beam on swell and I was feeling pretty happy about it. That's when we lost steering. The wheel was hard to starboard and not responding in that direction unless the wind puffed a bit. It took me a while to realise it was sails trimmed in too hard. The tell tales on the Jib which I'd used happily on the J24 I'd trained in were all rolled up and the main didn't have any either. By the time I'd worked it out we'd made a lot of leeway to the North and we were heading closer than we should have to the southern end of S Molle. This was quite a blow. Without hands on the wheel I had no feel for her and I was disappointed it took me so long to work out the problem. We were headed towards a channel that I hadn't surveyed on the charts and we hadn't rehearsed any tacks like I was planning. Even though we were on the water it all felt like it was happening a bit quick. Nothing for it but to fire up the engine so we could head dead to wind. So that's the way we point to drop sails and it's at this point that I really appreciate the roller furling jib. Moving to the main we start running into problems, the thing just won't come down. I'm sure its the right halyard I've released but it just wouldn't drop more than the initial 100mm or so. None of the battens are caught on the sail bag but it won't move of its own accord. I carefully head up to the mast to give it a pull down but it won't budge. I head back to the winches to check again while scratching my head. This wasn't going how I'd planned it at all. I follow the slack halyard from the winch past the cams back up to the mast where I find a sneaky little cleat behind the sail bag that its jammed itself in. Problem solved - but it won't budge until I get some tension off it so back to the winches it is and then back to the mast. Now she drops like normal but my nerves are bit shot so we motor the rest of the way to Cid harbour for lunch. I'm disappointed in myself for not realising my problems earlier but it was a sunny day and only 10.30 or so. I didn't realise how much I relied on tell tales and how much more there was to think about when I was the only one on board who knew anything at all about sailing or navigation. I was starting to feel like I'd bit off more than I could chew. My comforting thought was that the engine was firing up first go every time so if need be it'd get a work out. But the sails weren't going up again until we had some open space and some lunch.
Cid harbour would have seemed fairly empty to any ordinary person in control of their yacht but to me it seemed crowded. I'd worked out the scope of chain needed and the swing room for lunch and we thread our way past a couple of boats and head to wind. The helm still seemed like the easy job for the Misses so I head forward to sort the anchor out. Again its the first time either of us had anchored and again my attention was divided between what I was doing and what was happening at the wheel. Our forward motion stops and by checking against the land I see that we're starting to drift backwards so I release the windlass with no finesse and out the anchor chain runs at full speed. I'm picturing the chain piled up and fouling the anchor so I tell the Misses to give it a bit in reverse while I'm trying to let out the next 20 odd metres gracefully. While this is happening I'm glancing behind me and to shore to check our rate of speed while I still have very little control over the windlass and I'm not sure wether I've missed a ten metre indicator or not. Seeing 3 cable ties on a link tells me I've got what I need out and although she's stopped giving it revs we're not holding. Ok take 2 but I've forgot to turn on the anchor windlass switch at the control panel. By this stage the anchored yacht behind us is paying attention as we've drifted far further than we'd planned which don't think the helms-person had noticed. This was doing nothing to help my turrets
We seem to get it on the 3rd try so engines of and out comes some lunch. I'm still very much on edge but we don't seem to be dragging. Or are we. I pick a couple of land based indicators but something isn't right. It's almost imperceptible and I wonder if I'm being paranoid. It's at this point I remember the part of the briefing where they mentioned briefly that they've had some reports of anchors dragging at Cid. A quick blue and a sandwich later and we're back underway with barely a break and certainly no relaxing. Now I was really starting to think I'd bitten off more than I could chew so on goes the noise maker destination - Nara Inlet.
With everything going on I didn't get a lot of time to appreciate the beauty of the place yet but Nara was about to change all that. With the wind behind us and an outgoing tide we made good time but it was all under motor. We navigated the steep sided narrow inlet and set up for anchor which this time went well enough. But I couldn't get the thought out of my head that we were a bit close to our neighbours. I sat on it for a while and made the afternoon scheds but couldn't relax. My better half thought I was being paranoid but after an hour of procrastinating and worrying about more anchoring issues similar to Cid I decided I wouldn't be able to sleep if I didn't shift us over a bit. With the sun dropping it was now or never. That was the right choice as again we hit it first go. Ok maybe we were working it out. Time for a beer, a feed and some full moon appreciation in this beautiful inlet.
That made me feel substantially better and the beers weren't hurting the cause either. Just when I thought I Nara couldn't get any prettier I was giving the dinner plates a bit of a pre rinse in the drink when I noticed the phosphorescence. Tiny balls of green light emanating from the wash. Its hard to describe how much of a shock or how truly beautiful this was after the day I'd had. I rinsed those plates to within an inch of their life just appreciating what a great experience this was. I was finally at peace. Not even losing at Crib changed the great mood I was in and we were uncharacteristically early to bed, completely exhausted.
Day 3 shortly. They won't all be this long it was just an eventful day.