Saturday 12 April 2014

Hell in a hole

(Apologies for the recent delay in posting, just emerged from remote areas, reliable internet finally! Lots to catch up on.)

Watering the boat at Fremantle Sailing Club

This was not the most pleasant of journeys..

We were getting ready to leave Fremantle for the Abrohlos Islands, some 200Nm to the north west, after we had docked at the Fremantle’s Sailing Clubs visitors’ dock, to effect some repairs (a stanchion base had ripped out) and use their showers. At 2pm Ashiki had been watered, last of the stores had been bought from a nearby IGA and we set sail on a glorious Thursday afternoon. I had a plan to first sail up the coast as far as Cottesloe and take in the sculptures by the sea exhibition, never been to it, so we finally get to see it from the deck of our own boat, with the aid of a telephoto lens on the camera..
Leaving Fremantle

Cottesloe Beach Sculptures (use magnifying glass..)
Aided by the brisk Sou’Easter we peeled off the coast and made passage towards the Abrolhos. We hoped to get there in 48hrs and for some reason I chose a more offshore track. Ashiki was flying downwind, wing on wong again, making 5 to 5.5 knots. 100Nm per day is an ambitious target, and is entirely dependant on the wind, but what a start we had! We sailed 58Nm in the first 12 hours. 

Wing on wong into the sunset.

Looking up the coast, Scarborough

Perth CBD inland

After sunset, and after a meal, the SE’ster strengthened even more, so did the waves. We were surfing them, and reefed down to only three panels on the foresail and no sail at all on the main, and still made over 5 knots. It was getting rougher, by 10pm I was feeling queezy while below, then threw up in the galley sink. We ploughed on, Susie was clearly the stronger, generally less affected by sea sickness, and was taking the bulk of the steering duties. Although the windvane does handle the boat in moderate winds (we ate together down below with the windvane doing the steering), we decided not to bother in the toughter conditions, when the tiller tends to fly around wildly. By 2am during my turn on the tiller, with 2m waves passing under us I was having trouble concentrating, sea sickness was making me light headed and exhausted. I then made the decision to heave to, I didn’t want Susie, who felt a lot better, to steer all night. So with a few panels up, the sheets let go and the tiller lashed to the lee side of the boat, we settled the boat at sea. At this stage Susie started being sick too as Ashiki layed mostly broadside to the waves, not ideal. I had 3 sea anchors below, but they weren’t set up with lines yet, and I was in no mood to do anything more. So we bedded down,  and slept off the night, 20Nm off the coast, NW of Perth. It was a rough and tumble night.

Amazing sunset on the night before the gale.

After dawn I looked out the companionway hatch, the seas were big. I’d say around 3m waves, steep, coming at us in short intervals and winds at 35 knots. That was enough, I set about tying the sea anchors to their rodes and let all 3 out from the stern. This made a difference, Ashiki pointed maybe 30 to 40˚ from the waves rather than dead broadside. Then I went back to bed, Susie was feeling no better at this stage and remained in bed too. We slept all day, too sick to even eat. Getting up and moving around was a hazard, the boat rocked so violently. I think I only fell once, thrown onto the head door, bruises to show for it. Susie, fell once too, at the same place. We were like those little chrome balls in a pinball machine. Odd thing was I swore I heard voices out there. 

“Mo mo Mo it simply wa… snt  right..” 

What was that!? 

Sometimes it was a like a cackle of women just outside the hull, chatting and giggling. I think I even peered out the hatch to check..
Then there were the musical organ sounds. I’ve read of sailors pressing their ear to the mast and listening to the voices of perished sailors of yore, but this is all fable isn’t it? I told Susie of my hearing of voices and she said she’d been hearing them all along too. She figured it was the exposed pipe ends of the aluminium battens and the shrieking gale making those noises. Some of the pipe sounds would morph into something human like, or maybe it was my brain always looking to interpret it as a voice.

“wa.. woo.. was really drunk at the time..”

What the heck!?  I’m hearing a Pink Floyd album now! This seasickness and hallucinating is insane!

Sorry, no pictures taken while sick, I had no energy to get the camera, and the fussing around below would make me feel even worse.

( be continued)

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