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Tuesday, December 29, 2009


"You're on your way where? To Easter Island! Wow, that'll be great!" My friend's voice, sounding awed and impressed, came clearly over the Ham radio in Banyandah’s aft cabin. "But isn't this the wrong time of year?" Scepticism had crept into his voice. "You do know it's winter down there."

Of course I knew - hadn't I sat for hours with those dog-eared weather charts before me? Hadn't I tracked over and over again July's wind patterns for the deep South Pacific. My friend had voiced his worry over storms, but it wasn't storms that were shown in the ocean before Easter Island, it was frustrating calms and winds from around the clock.

The crash and bang of drooping sails now confirmed what those charts had indicated. Again we were becalmed. What a slow trip. Our fourth straight night without wind and we're bobbing about as though a toy boat at bath time with southern storms sending up a fury of swell. Already twenty-four days have past and Banyandah has managed a mere 1,800 miles - a jellyfish could go faster! A measly 100 miles separates us from the island of statues - maybe I'll motor.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Late Night Visitor

While alongside at Emu Point Slipway in Albany, I heard my dear lady shouting in the night. "Put that down. Get out of it."

Groggy, coming out a deep sleep, I thought she was dreaming, and was about to comfort her back to sleep, when I felt her crawl over me. That got me wide awake. I sleep next to the companionway.

Rising in the dim light, I heard Jude shout that someone had been on our boat and had just gotten off. So without a thought, I was away like a shot, over the rail, onto the dock and off towards the empty parking lot. In the dim single lamp, a large figure was walking off with something in his arms. I ran after, shouting, "Put that stuff down! Walk away and nothing more will happen!"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The people you meet

When guests of the Fremantle Sailing Club, I awoke feeling a bit old this particular morning. Too much booze or one too many stories the night before had me feeling every one of my sixty-four years and I was crawling rather lethargically round the cabin when I heard a rap on our railing. Coming up my eyes clasped onto a man my age inspecting my boat.

"Bonny wee sailing ship you have laddie," were his first words, and I smiled. I love people who like my boat. And replied, "She's stout and looks after you in a storm and that's what matters, plus she's a treat to live aboard."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fishing for monsters

Aboard Banyandah, offshore of North West Cape WA

Walking aft I saw our Ocky strap bowstring tight and the trolling line singing. Shocked and alarmed I jumped back shouting, "Hey Jude! Come look. Something huge is hooked up."

We nearly always troll a fishing lure when sailing during daylight hours. In the past, we also dragged them during the night, but too many lures got taken by Noahs even after we devised a simple alarm consisting of an empty tin that fell to the deck whenever we had a strike. Whether then or now our setup has always been a simple handline. Attach the lure by a few metres of wire trace to a swivel then 50m of 100kg tested monofilament that's attached by another swivel to nearly 100m of small-diameter braided sash cord that makes the initial haul-in a little easier on our hands. The boat end is attached to a strong Ocky strap held in a bight of line that only lets the strap stretch to its maximum length without breaking, and seeing how far it stretches is something like watching it weigh the fish. A normal-sized fish usually just takes the catenary out the line, but on this bright Sunday morn motoring over some of the world's best fishing ground it was like a guitar string. We had just hooked a monster.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Running scared at Spratly

Back in 1979, the world had no satellites guiding our every movement day and night. Instead, all ships used the heavens to navigate, and our maps, what we called charts, we’re inaccurate - some made by aerial surveillance during WWII with soundings dating back to the earliest explorers.

Running scared at Spratly
Only steel nerves and luck stood between the
1979 Amateur Radio expedition and disaster

From the log of the Banyandah -South China Sea, March 31, 1979