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Old 07-22-2007, 11:09 AM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2007
Home Port: Mackay
Vessel Name: Dreammaker
Posts: 64

Hi I am seeking info on two things . I have just purchased a boat in March she is a 47ft ketch.

I am planning on sailing up the coast of Oz in mid October. I have minimal sailing experience but managed to get her from Sydney where I purchased her to Lake Macquarie. So what I am looking for is any advise on a travel route/plan. I don't know if I would like to sail in the dark, so is it possible to make safe port doing day trips. I only have the standard safety equipment as prescribed by our waterway authority, is there anything special I should also put aboard.

Second is, I am looking at buying a Plotter/sounder combo in an 8 inch screen, something that I can add radar and network to a laptop later. I am tossing up between Lowrance Lcx 37c and Navman 8084. Has anyone got experience with these units and where would be the best place to mount it. (I have a centre cockpit and can't see the nav table from the helm.)

Well I'm sure I'll have more questions as the time passes.


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Old 07-22-2007, 10:42 PM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 58

I am probably not the best person to be offering advice, I don't know that part of the coast all that well and am certainly not the most experienced seaman, but, having said that.

I do not think that it is realistic to only sail in daylight. I reckon that entering and exiting ports, particularly those with bar-ways, is more risky than sailing at night. Crossing a barway is only to be attempted with the correct tide conditions. You also make the journey into an epic long one, when it really doesn't need to be (unless you actually want it to be).

Frankly, although sailing at night is a daunting prospect, it is not anywhere near as bad as one's imagination makes it. In fact, it can, in some ways, be easier that day sailing. Boats are, usually, pretty well lit and visible from a long way off. You can navigate by the stars and you can pick out the lights on the coast easily enough (you will never need to get out of sight of land) to make navigation pretty easy.

If I were you, I would be looking to make the trip in 2 or 3 day sections, and try to use harbours that don't have difficult entrances. Say, for example, Lake Macquarie to Coffs Harbour, then coffs Harbour to Moloolaba, etc. If you have decent (paper) charts, and a GPS (even a hand held is fine) and know how to plot your position onto the chart, and how to read a compass, it shouldn't be too difficult.

Whatever you diecide to do, good luck!

You what?
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Old 07-22-2007, 10:55 PM   #3
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 80

Hi SeaEscape,

My understanding is that lots of people make the trip north doing just day trips, and being prepared to wait until adverse weather passes.

My recommendation would be to buy the relevant cruising guides. These list all the anchorages, and how safe each is in various wind directions.

eg "Cruising the Coral Coast" (Queensland ) $A75 and Cruising the NSW Coast $A70, both by by Alan Lucas .

They are available over the net from Boat Books in Sydney:


Once you have these, you can do some passage planning, based on distances between safe anchorages and likely winds at the given time of year. eg going North in Queensland with steady SE trade winds will allow longer legs than coming South against the wind.

Also look out for river ports where there is a bar at the entrance.

Crossing a bar is going to require more experience and planning, esp. what to do if the weather turns bad.

best wishes

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Old 07-22-2007, 11:08 PM   #4
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 80

I did my reply before seeing Weylan's.

Sound advice to not assume you are always going to be able to get to the next port in daylight, as conditions may change.

One factor to keep in mind is just fatigue. As a less experienced sailor, sailing long legs with less and irregular sleep will increase fatigue, increasing the risk of poor decisions or mistakes.

I'm a big fan of the "start gently and build up" approach.

fair winds

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Old 07-22-2007, 11:37 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Home Port: Darwin
Vessel Name: Sandettie
Posts: 1,917

Another top book to buy before setting out is by Jeff Toghill. He wrote two excellent volumes on Circumnavigating Australia's Coastline. Buy particularly volume 2 Ports and Anchorages. It should be available from Whitworths or Bias, or failing that, Nautical Booksupplies.


"if at first you don't succeed....Redefine success"!

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Old 07-23-2007, 07:30 AM   #6
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What I'd be inclined to do is find someone with some more sailing experience and either pay them or whatever to get them on board. There are plenty of boards where you can find sailing crew, including here, and some are quite experienced. Also if you look in Afloat magazine there's a guy who advertises himself as a delivery skipper (there are actually a few around) but will also give lessons along the way and his price is reasonable. Money can buy a lot of things but it can't really buy experience.

I wouldn't bother with pulling in overnight. You'll want to do overnight sailing eventually so now's the time to get used to rotating watches, etc. Make sure you have a few crew on board especially for your first journey, on a boat like that I'd take 4, 2 experienced crew plus yourself plus one other. Run 3 watches at night with the 4th person acting as a floater, and have the two experienced crews taking turns in being the floater.

Me, I wouldn't bother with a chartplotter these days. For the money you can do a whole lot better with a laptop and software, the C-Map charts you get on CD for laptops are as good as or better than the standalone charts, and the software's just as good, plus with a laptop you end up with a better screen, at least 1024x768 if not better, and the chartplotters are mostly 800x600 at best. Since you're planning on laptop+network you may as well start that way, otherwise the money + time you spend on a chartplotter now would be wasted. I have no problems with the Navman gear, it's all good, but honestly a decent Toshiba or Panasonic (rugged/waterproof) laptop will see you pretty right.
= New South Wales, Queensland,
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Old 07-23-2007, 08:37 AM   #7
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 104

Hello Seascape; I've sailed from/to Sydney and have a fair idea on good places to stay on your way up north if you decide on day sailing. I've done it that way and done a two stop from Mooloolaba to Sydney. It all depends on you comfort zone and confidence. Not hard to sail at night but the scenery is missing and for me that is a part of cruising.

The guy who has rewritten the nav program "Sea Clear" lives on board at Tin Can Bay. I have a plotter but bought his program as well to run on a laptop. He can also supply a GPS aerial that works down below. It works out much cheaper than a plotter and sounder. I would advise still having a sounder but make it a dedicated unit. Can supply you his contact if needed.

If you want more advise on either subject drop me an email to (bedouin AT hotkey.net.au)


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Old 07-29-2007, 10:20 AM   #8
Join Date: Jun 2007
Home Port: Mackay
Vessel Name: Dreammaker
Posts: 64

Thankyou to all for replying, sorry I haven't been able to reply, I work away and I'm lucky to have a phone let alone internet access.

I guess I've got abit to work out. I've got two other guys that helped me bring it up from Sydney ( ones got abit of sea time but not on sailing boats ) I thought about getting someone super experienced but would I be able to put up with someone I don't know.

As for the chartplotter I didn't think I could use a laptop by it's self, I thought it needed the plotter with the cards to network with. So after your replies I went to acouple of boat shops and no one can tell me what I need to be able to set it up. ( me thinks the boat places don't sell laptops)

I'll check out the books mentioned. I'm pretty sure you can't have enough books on a boat.

Thankyou Again


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