Complacency Combust-a-Tron

“We’ve got a couple of choices,” said M, as we sat on the sand at Bayview yesterday afternoon. “The weather is pretty much going to be ballistic for the next week, which means we’ll have to stay in Pittwater, or…”


“Or we can leave early in the morning before the ballistic really kicks in and head around to Manly.”

“Um. It seems obvious.”

“Well, it will be a pretty full on passage. We’ll be heading to windward. It won’t be comfortable. But it will be a good experience for heading overseas – and we’ll be in Manly by mid-afternoon.”

“OK,” I said blithely, knowing that was his preference and also unable to ignore the logic, “Let’s do that then.”

And so it was that early this morning (but not early enough) we were up trying to make everything shipshape and secure. Just before 7am as we were about to leave, we discovered that we were out of drinking water. BAH! #fail

M rowed over to the park with our 20L container, I made banana porridge and hard boiled some eggs for the journey. Normally, for a potentially suspect passage, I would have some museli bars, corn chips – easy munchy things – but not this time.

But no matter – it was only going to be four or five hours, right? Right.

To cut an epic story a little shorter, here’s list of what we DIDN’T do and SHOULD have:

  • made and installed covers for the fucking cockpit drains, something that has been overdue for 18 months. Waves kept shooting up through the two outside the main doors, drenching the cockpit and the main cabin floor. We stoppered them up with towels, and three towels were SUCKED AWAY down a thing the size of a shower drain. WHAT THE?
  • The view.

  • had many bottles of drinking water freely available in the cockpit – no one wants to negotiate the innards of a boat that is whacking along while they are dripping wet… a recipe for vomit and despair…bringing me to…
  • op-shop/eBay sourced wet-weather gear. #fail After being out at sea for half an hour M and I were both soaked, head to toe. He changed jackets three times, just to be soaked again. I was marginally luckier – I’d put on my new (op-shop) wool vest that I picked up yesterday, and although it got soaked when a couple of waves went entirely over my head and down my back, my core remained tolerably warm, although my teeth were chattering…
  • Ginger biscuit and ski goggles for the spray.

  • bowls for vomit need to be easily accessed so one does not have to crawl down the steps into the kitchen, open a cupboard, grab three stainless steel mixing bowls and throwing all of them up the stairs into the main cabin hoping that the seven-year-old catches one and aims her technicolour yawn into it… #win
  • remember not to look at other people’s vomit. At any stage.
  • Motion of the ocean.

  • fix the cupboard doors that flew open and then banged repeatedly, allowing my laptop to fly out and hit the floor.
  • fix the cutlery drawer that opened and closed every seven seconds.
  • don’t leave the 5HP outboard motor you are trying to sell on the front trampolines, or else M will have to re-enact some crazier part of The Perfect Storm trying to get it tow the cockpit, as Bella Luna plunges up and down Very Large Waves… which reminds me…
  • don’t scream, “Throw that fucking motor overboard, are you insane?” at M as he is being George Clooney on the front net…
  • make sure every. single. hatch. is closed tighter than a cats butthole.
  • secure the hammock securely.
  • Wrestling the hammock in strong winds. Note the massive knot in the jib sheets.

  • act LOGICALLY instead of HOPEFULLY when M tells you to secure everything that might fall – think WORST CASE SCENARIO and you might avoid things like the printer flying through the air from the Nook on to the floor in Small Z’s room, and the aforementioned laptop…
  • organise restraining lines along the front of bookshelves, the craft drawers in the Nook and the felt baskets full of clothes and the ones in the bathroom full of everything that you don’t want coating the floor…
  • figure out how to make Foamy more secure.
  • have grippy footwear – clambering about undoing tangles in the jib-sheets after being wet for four hours – not so great in pruned-up bare feet.


Words from Captain M
[as dutifully transcribed by moi]

The boat handled it beautifully, averaging eight knots to windward, fully reefed in breaking waves. It gave us great confidence in the boat – not that we would ever go to windward by choice, ever. It gave us a good window into how lazy/complacent we have become.

Far better to happen en route to Manly than between Middleton Reef and New Caledonia. It was pretty epic today, but the whole idea (I did enjoy the sailing – I like to sail) is that you get yourself out there in 25 to 30 knots, get over your anxiety when you work out the boat is doing well, and the next time you find yourself in that situation, have everything a lot more sorted – we’ll be more dry, warm and comfortable and less anxious about the boat.

Autopilot worked really well with the new steering system. It coped with hours of big crashing waves. The boat didn’t slam much at all* because it’s quite light. The humans definitely got trashed, but the boat excelled. And Honey the Cat did really well. And I just want to put a really positive spin on it, because we learnt a lot.

Spot the cat.


My Last Words

Far be it from me to detract from any positive spin, but Small Z pointed out that today broke her 18 month no-vomit record. Small DB spent the day (before and after hurling) looking like a gaunt and whey-faced plague victim, clutching her bunny and patting Honey. I heaved over the side a few times, but nothing came up. During the last hour the two Smalls (stomachs purged) fell asleep on the couch and I fell asleep on a wet towel on the cabin floor while M steered bravely onward.

The aftermath of today’s epic sail 😱

*this is arguable, in my opinion


  1. Michelle

    Oh wow. The highs and lows or in your cace the peaks and troughs ! Blah don’t you hate sea sickness. Good on you for being brave and testing things out. So glad Bellaluna sailed awesome. Hoping you area bored safe and sound and having some rest and food!! Greg is in Noosa checking out an idea , back on Saturday. I shall show him your blog. We are in Maclean on about the 1st April. Love to you all MM xxxx

  2. Mark

    Hey there Miscelle 🙂
    What is Greg up to? The same gig as Ross?
    The sea was crazy, lotsa 3 mtr breaking waves, 30knots, but nothing compared to some of our wilder Tassie stuff, no big swell under it all. It’s just that we had totally gotten soft, inside the reef and over Summer in Yamba. Forgot about stowage etc. So good to thrash the boat and see what gives. I loved the trip, awesome sailing, but the thing that gave was the people. We gotta be dryer and more comfy. Good to sus it out now. The boat was ace. Mostly used the Autopilot and just hung on and got very wet 🙂
    We will be back up in Yamba in late April.

  3. Sam

    Well done you guys! You will be so well sorted for weather now. Also second the comment elsewhere about coastal weather…. worst stretch in my limited experience was between Gold Coast and Hervey Bay. Major blergh!!

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