My eye has been on Lord Howe Island as a destination for many many years. My former boss at my university job had regaled me with the story of his horror sail to the island, and I’ve read several others. I remained undeterred. Sailing was pretty much the only option – it’s so bloody expensive to get to any other way.
After arriving at Southport we had (as I said previously) a day and a half to pull everything together, including submitting our Application for a Public Mooring and provisioning for a minimum of two weeks. M and I did not stop from the time we dropped the anchor (although admittedly I did do some mental-health op-shopping, getting a long-sleeve Icebreaker merino top for $12 and a great wet weather coat for Small Z).
M zipped around on one of our bikes (the one without the snapped gear cable) getting beach-wheels for Foamy, fuel, a two metre boathook, a slab of Wilde beer and a box of sparkplugs. He serviced two of the main winches, put new oil in the motors and roped our new SUPs to the starboard lifelines.
I made countless trips to the supermarket, and was very grateful that I knew where Bliss Bulk Foods was. I actually bought lollies for everyone – usually I avoid processed crap, but I just wanted us to make it through the passage as happily as we could.
The Smalls had to forego the jumping cushion and the playground. Small Z was not well throughout and largely remained on the boat, gently simmering with fever, while Small DB was dragged from pillar to post. By Thursday night we were sorted. Friday morning, we left at 5am – there were quite a lot of ships about as we headed out to sea.
Our aim was to arrive early on Sunday morning at high tide and be on a mooring before the big southerly swell that was due before noon. We were averaging 9kts, sometimes peaking out at 13kts. M and I took turns having naps. It wasn’t the kind of passage that you could lounge about and read, but the uncomfortableness was bearable.
Decontructed nachos for dinner. We put two reefs in the main and continued to fang on through the night. By 5.30am on 3 November we had clocked our first ever 200nm day. Pretty happy with that, except that it meant that we had to slow down in the afternoon or we would have arrived during the night – something we wanted to avoid. Took the mainsail down and whizzed along on a reefed jib, ensuring an early morning arrival.
At some point during the second day we had a few waves come up over the port side of the boat on to the roof. Which would have been OK if we had remembered to bring the generator in from the back step into the shelter of the cockpit. M and B – Kings of the Idiots.
We arrived at Lord Howe Island at about 7am on Sunday 4 November 2018. Wrangled ourselves on to a mooring with helpful instructions from Simon – the LHI policeman – on Channel 12. Very happy to be securely tied up, we all collapsed for a few hours. This is really basically an ocean anchorage – we are protected by a reef at low tide, but high tide… the swell makes it over and there’s a lot of sloshing about.
We went ashore in Foamy and jumped into HOT SHOWERS!! Genuine bliss. There’s also a fancy looking washing machine here that I plan to put through its paces. The perks you get when you’re paying to visit!
A long slow walk down along the coast – saw a cafe, a general store and had a good chat to an older woman called Jill about climbing Mt Gower (currently shrouded in cloud). Back on the jetty we met the crew of the Illawarra – they had set out in their boat at around the same time as us, but something broke on their boat and they had to turn back. So they came over by aeroplane instead!