Reefs in the water and reefs in my sail..


d'Albora's Action Project: AUS 360 Blog Update

Presented by Pivotel

Afternoon all,

I apologies for the late blog but I have had my hands full navigating and I needed to wait for a break in order to put a blog together for you all.

So last night I was making my approaches to the Pandora Passage which is the main shipping entry at the very top of the Great Barrier Reef.  I arrived an hour after sunset with 30-35 knots of wind and 3-4 meter swell.  On the entry there is a 10nm gap between the 2 outer reefs and then almost 200nm of passages that I needed to follow through all the inner islands and around all the reefs and rocks.

Climate Action Now has handled herself well and I had been maintaining a great average speed of 8.9 knots so far with 2 reefs in the main sail and my smaller jib out but I was completely powered up and as I needed to sail almost directly down winds to clear the reefs I was aiming to hand steer for a while so that I could soak the course a little more and give myself a better clearance from the reef.  As I was so powered up and would likely need to gybe I decided that I would play it safe and put the third reef in the mainsail.  This reduces the size of the sail by over 50 % making the boat more manageable. I had um’d and ahh’d about that reef for over 2 hours resorted to the old motto of 'if you are thinking of reefing just reef' or something like that.

I can honestly say that this was one of the best decisions of the night as I took the helm to drive the boat through this gap in the reef.  I was still surfing waves at 16 knots even with the reduced sail up but when the 40 knots of wind hit I was safe.  I did find myself laughing like a mad woman in the night.  It was dark and the boat was firing away beneath me and I was on deck with bare feet in shorts and a T-shirt all along as I wildly drove my baby through these reefs.  Even though I was nervous about making a poor calculation it was a lot of fun surfing those waves.

At the same time while I was hand steering and once I had just entered the reef I started to notice some lightning on the horizon.  My next hours was filled with worries like how incredibly bad it would be for me to be struck by lightning now that I have just entered into confined waters.... Thankfully the lightning moved off towards the North and I continued on my way.  I also have managed to have more feathered friends join the boat last night as two new seabirds of the same type as Simon perched on the cabin top but as the winds were high I already had the wind generators turned off.

I now had about 200nm of channels that I needed to passage down and these channels alter course here and their as you make your way around a reef or island and each leg of the journey was roughly 25nm long before a course alteration was needed.  So far I have managed maybe an hour or 2 of 10 min cat naps on deck and have traveled almost 150 nm of this passage and hopefully I will be clear of the Torris Straight Islands by midnight and back into open water.

Now that I am in shallow waters the sea state has changed from the big open ocean rolling swell to these annoying steep little pushy waves that shove the back of the boat around but the colour of the water here is amazing.  It is the most mesmerizing light blue, a marked change from the deep seas.  There is still a strong 25-30 knots of wind around which is likely in my favor as it would have prevented most of the craft from being out today making for an easier passage.

As it is I have not really had that much traffic.  Two vessels this morning and just now I was overtaken by a container ship.  I am expecting a little more traffic at the Torris Straights and then hopefully once I am clear in open water again I can finally get a little sleep.

Thanks to the following Sponsors for all their continued support: d’Albora Marinas, Pivotel  B&G, Australian Geographic, Zhik , Park Fuels, Karver, 3M, White Bay 6 Marine Park, and Great Circle Life Raft