Ivo's First Sailing Adventure in Australia - Sydney to Lord Howe, and back!
In May 2001 finally went to Lord Howe with Frank and Peter - ten days of a real adventure.
We sailed on a beautiful and well equipped Frank's 34 foot yacht Lara.
Lord Howe is a small volcanic island located approximately 400 nm NEE from Sydney. It is the southernmost island with the coral lagoon. A real tropical paradise on a doorstep of Sydney... highly recommended! For more information visit the Lord Howe Island web page.
It was indeed a very exciting trip .. 'spiced' with storms, head winds and as Murphy's law demands, all sorts of technical problems! But, the important thing is, we made it .. to view photos from this trip follow this link.
To view photos from the trip follow this link.
Departing from Sydney on Friday night, 4th May. Sailing/motoring the whole night. The following day head NE wind, slow progress. After 4 days of rough seas, head winds, rain, hardly any eating, constant seasickness and all sorts of technical problems we finally made it to Lord Howe. When safely anchored in the lagoon of this tropical paradise, we had no main sail and no engine!! The rail of the mainsail 'disintegrated' during the storm in the middle the (second) night, and the engine starter blow-up just in front of the entrance to the lagoon!! We were towed into the lagoon by LH Island Harbor master! The big question was now - how to go back to Sydney??
But, first of all, we needed a good break. We had a good dinner, few bottles of a good wine and a good night sleep! It was Tuesday, May 8th. The following morning we were like new born, with 'recharged batteries'. The master-plan was drown quickly: 1. call the manufacturer of the mainsail rail in Sydney, complain about the lousy product, ask them to fly a new rail to us by tomorrow, 2. try to fix the starter locally, if it doesn't work, sail back without the engine! 3. If the engine is not fixed by tomorrow, I'll try to cancel my air-ticket and sail back with Frank and Peter. Namely, Frank & Peter were supposed to spend a week on LH and then sail back to Sydney. Without the engine and with a damaged main sail it would be too risky & tiring for only two of them to sail back.
The Plan was perfect, and (almost) everything worked well. Rail was flown to LH the following day, replaced and by late afternoon (Thursday) the main sail was operational again. The engine starter was hopelessly burnt and we gave up all hopes that it will be fixed locally. Therefore, the decision was to sail back to Sydney as soon as possible so that I don't miss too many days of work (I was supposed to get back to work on Monday). Unfortunately on Thursday afternoon the storm was raging - Southwesterly wind was so strong that we could not find a captain on the LH Island willing to tow us out of the laguna! Waves were huge and breaking over the coral reef into the lagoon. The weather forecast for tomorrow was not very encouraging - more wind and of course, from the wrong direction! Spent another quiet night on LH and woke up early hopping the wind subsided - and it did a bit - just enough to convince the harbor master to tow us out of the laguna. For that purpose we hired a big fishing boat, paid $100 and after 15 minutes of a real roller-coaster ride we were set free again!
Of course, according to Murphy's law, if you want to sail SW, the wind will blow from SW - the validity of this 'universal' law was confirmed once again! For the following 4 days we had a continuous parade of head winds - the progress was indeed very slow - headwind and big waves slowed down Lara. Without the engine to give us a kick we sailed tacked, first S then NW, S, NW and so on. The last day, Monday morning when we were already close to Port Stephens, the wind finally changed to NE! The mainsail and jib were finally replaced with the spinnaker .. It was a beautiful day, with moderate wind which started to increase towards the evening. We were making 5-6 knots the whole day. In the evening wind increased to 20-25 knots - Lara was surfing - making 7-8, sometime 9 even 10 kn. Carried by the wind and waves we once made 12.5 kn! It was indeed a spectacular run - one of my best runs ever! It was almost midnight when we approached Pit water. The wind subsided and when in Pit water bay wind almost completely died. Without the engine we had no means to get to the Prince Alfred Sailing Club. Frank came up with a brilliant idea - fix the dingy outboard engine (3.5 HP!) to the stern and use it to propel the yacht! After solving a number of obstacles we managed to get it working and Lara was soon making 2.5 kn towards the club!!
After more then an hour of such 'speeding' we arrived to the Club around 1:30 am, moored Lara, packed quickly, and Frank's daughter Carol was kind enough to give us a lift home - by 3 am I was already at home, had a short nap and at 8 back to work - missed one day only - not a big sin!!
To view photos from the trip follow this link.