Thursday, 26 February 2015

Sailing around Australia; Altered State.

Portland Victoria

28/2/2015  Altered State

The last couple of legs (or stages) of our sailing around Australia adventure have required us to do long hours at the helm of Easy Tiger.

Kangaroo Island to Robe was 27 hours and the leg we have just completed, Robe to Portland was 30 hours of nonstop motoring, with the odd bit of sailing thrown in.

 Being awake so long, can put ones mind into an altered state.

Fatigue becomes a real issue on these long journeys. It’s not like you can pull over and have time out. Although I do recall that the Zofian’s deployed their para-anchor and had a time out while crossing the Great Australian Bight.

I have also heard stories of someone so fatigued that he thought there were lawnmowers floating in the water. One night, when I was long distance truck driving, I was counting big steel framed electricity poles to keep myself amused. I was quite shocked to find there were actually none there on my return trip during the daylight.

To try and combat fatigue, Leanne and I try to keep a rotation of three to four hours on “watch” each. Being on watch involves keeping Easy Tiger on course, keeping an eye out for obstacles such as crayfish pot ropes and floats, reefs and their markers and of course ships. Also, we must watch the wind and sails in case conditions change, record our position every hour and make sure we monitor the engines.

While off watch, we an sleep for a few hours if conditions are calm. If conditions are a bit choppy, it can be like trying to sleep in the middle of a bouncy castle during a four year olds birthday party.

I have also tried reading, or working on the computer during my time off watch with moderate success. Typing my latest blog topic or catching up with news passes the time well, but I can only do that for an hour or so before I risk motion sickness.

Leanne passes her time during the day fishing when she is not on watch. This trip she caught 8 Barracouta. Shame that they are not good eating and are often full of parasitical worms.

The night passages are far worse for fatigue. Also there is little you can do in terms of keeping an eye out for crayfish pot ropes or even unmarked reefs when it is pitch black. All you have got to do is keep looking out into the black. Occasionally we do see a light, grateful for a sign of life, until we realize it may be a cargo ship bearing down on us.

Everything seems to slow down as fatigue creeps in. Unfortunately, staring at the sat- nav in a trance like state does not make time pass any faster.

Last night, we had to contend with plowing into a strong current, which slowed the boat down by a knot. That meant after ten hours of darkness, we were ten nautical miles behind our trip plan and that added another 2 hours to our journey.

The long trips are really tough but when you pull into delightful places like Robe and now Portland, it does seem to be worth it. We just have to stay long enough in each place to get over the fatigue and re-boot our minds.

Overnight, we have altered a geographical state as well. We have finally left South Australia and are now in Portland Victoria.  I must say that we have really enjoyed cruising around South Australia’s coast. From Streaky, Sceales and Coffin bays, to Port Lincoln and Robe these uncluttered anchorages and marina’s are well worth the visit.

We found the facilities and staff at Marina Adelaide were top notch and I think that the economical rates and location of Crown Marina were a real bonus.

Definitely South Australia’s coast is well worth a few bouts of serious fatigue to get to. Oh and if you do happen to see a few lawnmowers or electricity poles along the way, what the heck, that state of mind doesn't last... I hope.

This shot taken from the foreshore walk at Robe South Australia

Barracouta.  Easy to catch but crap to eat... shame cos we caught 8 of 'em.

Our updated map/track.

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