Day 27 – Well plans change don’t they?
Leaving Schouten Passage (Moreys Bay) by 6am is great because it is light enough to see the rock formations of Schouten as we sail past even though it is overcast. We see Wine Glass Bay and notice the NE swell and think how uncomfortable it would be at this time. Happily hooting up the East coast with our sails bat-winged out and a steady Southerly at 15 knots we have a very pleasant ride. Wind is expected to increase so we have main reefed to the top of the shrouds and the no.3 headsail up. The plan is to reach Binalong Bay by 3pm then figure out how much time to rest there before heading up to Banks Strait and Clarke Island.
The wind is picking up. Its now sitting at between 25 – 30 knots S. Nashira is very nicely balanced when bat-winged (main sail out on one side with a preventer to keep it held out and head sail poled out on the other side, so it stays put).
Quite relaxed and comfortable we hear a beeping alarm. What is it? Evan and I are both looking around as we are not familiar with this sound. Ah, Evan notes it is ‘Steady Eddie’ our Auto Pilot. It says it cannot keep us on course. Hmmm….. Evan takes the Auto pilot off and tries to manually steer. No luck. The steering wheel is frozen in place. Shit
We lost our steering once before going up to Lake Macquarie and had to use our emergency tiler. Thank goodness we had practiced with our sailing club at Middle Harbour so we knew how and what to do.
We pulled in the head sail to slow us down and Nashira automatically headed more upwind. With the wind now at our beam we left it like that as we were sailing away from land (which is a good thing!)
Evan opened up the steering assembly at the helm and quickly checked to see that the ends of the steering cables were still attached to the pully chain. (this is what had come undone previously) Nope, they were fine.
He ran downstairs and checked out the steering quadrant and cables and it would not move. Next we pulled out our emergency tiler and could not budge the rudder. Oh crap is the rudder frozen? Adrenaline is pumping but we are staying calm. Evan decided to remove the steering cables and see if the rudder would move. I sat upstairs holding the emergency tiler in place… waiting…. It seemed like ages went by. I was thinking we are going to have to let Tas Maritime know we have lost steering before we are out of radio range.
When the cables were released Evan yelled up to try the tiler to see if I could move the rudder. YES!! Phew. I was able to change direction.
We pointed into the wind and lowered the mainsail before heading back to land. Evan called St Helens Marine Rescue and they advised we could not enter St Helens as the tide would be too low for us to come in. If we continue heading north and stop at Binalong we cannot stay there for too long as a Northerly is forecast to start tomorrow afternoon and we would have no protection and no place to repair our steering. If we continued to Clarke Island it meant like 15 more hours of hand steering with the emergency tiler and neither of us thought we could physically do that. Also we would be stuck again with no place to do repairs so we decided to head back South to Bicheno then head back down toward Kettering or Hobart for repairs the next day when the North winds arrived.. It means we would have to do 6 nautical miles in a 25 – 30 knot head wind. It seemed the best plan. I called Tas Maritime and asked if they could call ahead at Bicheno and locate an available mooring. They were great saying they would ring us back once they found out what was possible.
Now to concentrate on steering. Bugger it was hard work, with the Motor running and Evan now on the helm we made our way.
Tas Maritime called back with the number of a local fisherman named Peter who would help advise us as we came in. Peter was a gentle kind man who talked about the bay, made sure we knew what to watch out for and let us know that it is very protected from the Southerly. Advising that it would be better to drop anchor than to try to use a mooring as they are very heavily chained to hold Fishing boats in Bad Weather.
As we entered the protection of the land the winds and waves blessedly started dropping. Once in the bay it was much calmer. We dropped anchor close to shore (we looked at the moorings but they were indeed unsuitable). Turned off the motor and stood in quiet letting the shock wear off a bit. Evan suggested making a cup of tea. Great idea.
I felt like I needed to cry but sucked it back in as Evan determinedly started taking the steering assemble apart looking to find what had gone wrong. I helped where ever I could. By 4pm we had Frank ask the Kettering ship wrights who they thought could help us with our steering. They put us on to someone who put us on to someone who in the end may be able to help. They want to see the cables so we need to get them out and down to Hobart asap. Removing both steering cables was a challenge but anything was possible especially now that we were safe. We organised a local courier Danny to pick up the steering cables this evening and deliver them to Hobart the next morning to be looked at. Everyone has been so helpful so far.
With that completed we went to the pub for a huge hot meal including desert! We planned to leave Bicheno the next morning by 6am and head back down to Schouten Passage. Depending upon the weather and calls to Kettering Shipwrights and Marina we will decide what to do next. In the meantime the emotion of the day was draining, feeling oddly exhilarated and tearful at the same time it was time to get back to Nashira. Once onboard it was hard to stay awake and it did not take long to fall asleep.
Day 28 – Heading Back Down the Coast
We woke up regenerated and ready to start the day. The wind is negligible. Yay!! No wind and No waves. I’m good with that.
Evan worked up a jury rigged system for the emergency tiler with a rope clove hitched to the tiler and each end of the rope fed through a bollard on each side of the tiler and up to a winch on each side of the cockpit. This allows us to use the winches to move the tiler so we can steer and manage the throttle at the same time. It also keeps us out of the wind which will help as we imagine a possible 10 hour journey if things go as planned.
The return to Schouten Passage was straight forward, luckily no wind and no waves to speak of. Evan heard from the cable guys that they are indeed able to create a new cable for us which will be ready by Thursday! We discussed plans and decided to head to Kettering Marina if they can fit us in and get several jobs completed on Nashira that have been on the list and need doing. More phone calls later we found the Kettering
shipwrights are able to help us out on Friday and the marina has a berth for us we arrive tomorrow. So we are heading for Chinaman’s Bay and early tomorrow morning the weather forecast looks good to head through the Marion Narrows and Denison canal. We should be in Kettering by early afternoon if all things go right.
Through Schouten passage now and heading to Chinaman’s Bay on Maria Island the North wind start increasing. Our steering system needs a bit more attention now to keep us on track so both of us turn our attention to a winch and we tighten and loosen each winch as needed to keep us travelling in the right direction.
Rounding the point into Chinaman’s Bay we dropped anchor in 3 metres with a sandy bottom with a sigh of relief. Tomorrow we will hand steer through the narrows and canal before setting up the system we used today and make our way for Kettering marina
Now for some Rest and Relaxation