Sailing Vaega tolu – or trying to

Like any ‘new’ ownership, be it a sailing vessel or otherwise, entails some discovery and potential work to be done. Unless you already know the vessel intimately, it’s likely that some of the unexpected will come to light – over and above what you’ve already decided upon inspection and survey. Much of those less pleasant surprises come to light when you actually put the hopes and dreams into practice, and find that making those dreams a reality can be thwarted or at least delayed for a time.

Geoff’s blog “My Sea-tirement” details most of those challenges we have encountered but I have captured a timeline for those interested.

November 2018 attempt to view Montecarlo vessel and two others only to be left high and dry by the broker – we could see the vessel on the mooring in the harbour.

January 2019 – arrange with the owner to visit and inspect the vessel without the third party broker, and organise the surveyor.

Early February 2019 Plan to drive to Airlie Beach to make inspection is kyboshed by floods and closed roads northbound.

Late February 2019 – roads are finally clear and work calendars align for us to view the boat at long last. Sea trial and survey completed and purchase made! Now how to get her home…

Mid-March 2019 – Collect vessel and depart Airlie Beach, sailing at a clipping 8 knots to our first night’s anchorage. Despite a magic first evening and a bubbly christening on the bow, I got to test some know-how the next day by sailing up to our anchor and then off again with ongoing engine concerns, torn genoa, dysfunctional solar panel and no breeze – we were eventually towed the last 6 NM into Mackay by the VMR.

Need to repair engine, repair torn sail, new solar panel and regulator, augment the underpowered battery bank with 2 more new batteries, nearly fried the electrician – the wiring system is fraught with dodgy and dangerous wiring. 12 days at Mackay and no chance of sailing home into strong south easterlies – it’s 7 weeks since the purchase and we have to drive back to our homes for work.

Early August 2019 – the first chance we both have from work and family to try again to bring the boat home but the weather is much as we left it last – wet, windy and cold. However, we left with determination and after Curlew and Percy Islands anchorages waiting out some unseemly weather all seemed well in the world. Again concerns – this time with fuel consumption and resultant rising panic. After a night at Hexham and light fickle winds the headsail tore again. From there with the storm jib and main to Pearl Bay, and with a pre-dawn start onwards to Rosslyn Bay for yet another sail repair but time is running out for us.

Beating into prevailing winds is a hard slog when we should be going the other way. No chance to get to Gladstone so a rolly night at Cape Capricorn before punching on to Gladstone after a near collision with a juvenile whale migrating north. No time for dallying in Gladstone – it’s back to work yet again!

Two weeks later we bring her home to Bundaberg with two-hourly watches through the colder hours of the night and early morning. So far it has taken 22 weeks!

June 2020 No sailing for a long time – work, life and haul out, anti-foul, new mainsail was made, and other family matters took priority. COVID-19 has hit everyone, but no lockdowns affecting the Bundaberg region.

August 2020 – attempted a three-week trip to Great Keppel Island only to have gas leakage problems divert us to Gladstone yet again. This turned into major works to attain compliance while simultaneously a serious fuel leak had us waiting around for a fuel bladder to arrive from Melbourne – a city experiencing the first serious infection outbreak. Then further delays with having a shipwright assist with the design and Geoff having to construct a false floor, along with the diesel mechanics to connect and inspect the new fuel bladder. This used all our holiday time and more – the installation of the fuel bladder had to wait for Geoff to drive back up and do that and then another drive up for us to bring the boat back home once again – our holiday to Great Keppel never started.

September 2020 and work is in progress when issues with the freezer became evident. At the end of the month we returned to Gladstone and made a long passage home to Bundy with a detour to Fraser Island for a change of scenery.

January 2021 – renaming ceremony in the Bundaberg Port Marina – illness stuck Geoff and deterred us from our planned weekend sail to Fraser. I’ve retired but Geoff still has 3 more months of work-life ahead.

April 2021 – Geoff retires, moves out of his home of 20 years (partly to the boat, and partly to Macleay Island) and haul-out for slipping is done.

July 2021 – Installation of new solar panels had been completed but the new D400 wind generator “Wendy” required yet another haul out to enable the stainless steel welding to be done on the hardstand. After several attempts to replace the old pump for the freezer, it was adjusted to be air cooled rather than fresh water cooled and is working a treat – although a very noisy solution. Replaced racor filter for the Yanmar and replaced manual toilet in the aft head with an electric macerating toilet.

Later in July 2021 – departed Bundaberg but encountered issues with engine oil pressure alarm at low revs.

August 2021 – in Rosslyn Bay Yeppoon in a long queue for diesel mechanic for oil pressure test to determine if we need a rebuild/new engine and electrician. Major electrical issues that we suspected are realised every day. Purchased 4 new 140 ah AGM batteries, new 2000kw Victron inverter, new Victron 50ah MPPT solar controller – just need someone to install correctly and fix the nightmare that exists here waiting to kill someone.

Dramarama Timeline
Image of drawn sailing boat as a burgee with Polynesian style trim on jib and a yellow sun and waves from the bow creating a stylised numeral 3

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