23 August, 2007


We have been sailing in Greece for more than a month. The western side was great with wonderful sailing and great land places to visit. I have now run in an Olympic stadium in Olympia the site of the original Olympic games.
We left that are - more later and sailed to the Greek islands. They told us about the wind - the meltemi. well can it blow all day every day at more than 20 kts. We got sick of anchoring in bay and not leaving mlua for fear of the anchor moving and finding ourselves on the rocks.
Well all that has gone and we are no in Amorgos having visited most of the Cycladese island. We are to move east and then check into Turkey for a month before returning to Greece to meet friends.
Updates will come when I can get a connection that works and I will update the web under the same conditions.

Sicily an Update


The history of Sicily goes back to 1400BC when the first wave of people took a liking to this island strategicly placed in the centre of the trade routes from west to east. After the original tribes had established themselves they were overrun by the Greeks who where challenged by the Carthaginians but they were run out of town in 480BC and the influence of the Greek Magna Graecia took over and built some great temples on the island. The city of Syracusa on the east coast sided with the Romans and much of the Greek architecture was destroyed.

Rome's influence declined and the Arabs and then the Normans back from the crusades arrived. Roger had a great influence and built some magnificent churches with Jesus as the central theme. Cefalu and Monreale are the best examples. The latter rivals the best the Catholics could build in Rome.

The Mafia is said to have influenced the life of every Sicilian but for the cruiser one can only see the positive results of development.

Aeolian Islands

We left Tropea in Italy early in the morning to sail eastwards for the volcanic island of Strompoli. The wind was kind to us but as we neared the island it can straight on the nose so we had to motor onto the lee of the volcano which was giving off smoke and gas. It has the classic conical shape but unlike Mana in Vanuatu you are not able to climb to the craters edge. The island rises out of the depths and there is no place to anchor. We tried to anchor in 40m of water with lots of chain but as the wind came up and it grew dark the anchor pulled out. We picked up a mooring buoy. A yacht and a catamaran did the same, then spent almost an hour pulling stern to stern so that the crew could share their evening meal. What an effort.

At 4:00 we dropped the mooring and set sail anticlockwise round the island to see the red glow of the volcano as it released the pressure into its crater forming the famous "lighthouse of the Mediterranean". We did not see the glow only a dull grey cloud over the summit - in the dark and as the sun rose. Well you just cant trust these Italian navigation marks.

We then head south to the islands of Panarea, Salina and Lipardi on route for the safe anchorage on Vulcano. The scenery through these volcanic island with their weather and wind eroded rocks is very dramatic but one has to keep a sharp look outt for "above and below water rocks". We pulled into the crowded anchorage on the east of Volcano right in the wash area of the numerous ferries that stop here. Not a great place but relatively safe. On Sunday evening the charter and weekend boat left and the bay was left to the long term cruisers.

The volcano dominates this anchorage and small town supporting the many people who come here to climb to the top of the crater. On the edge of the bay there are hot springs and mud pools with the usual fat bodied tourist expecting some miraculous cure from coating themselves in the evil smelling ooze. At some points the sea water was hot as the water bubbled up from underground but you had to seek out the spot and the ferry wash soon disturbed the convections.

Italy an Update

Italian East Coast

After the dirt of Rome we were happy to set sail along the south eastern coast of Italy. We sailed south to the island of Ponza where the rich and famous come to place when they are not in Capri. The island has a wonderful harbour surrounded by high cliffs. You anchor in the shadow of the cliffs with the wind blowing way over the top. The water was so warm that Denny had a swim!

From here we sailed east towards the bay of Naples and stopped for the afternoon in a bay on the north side of Ischia where one of those touching experienced that make a cruise occurred. While cruising to the bay a small RIB came alongside. The two young lads started to talk to us in broken English asking about Malua and where we had come from. After a while they sped ahead and boarded a cruiser. Shortly they returned with a bottle of cold local wine saying we should enjoy Italy. They returned later, having been into the town with a fresh bag of Buffalo Mozzarella for us to enjoy with our wine. Such open generosity and kindness from a youngster will be a memory we will cherish.

The wind started to come up so we sailed to Cala di Corricella on the south of Procida. Did the wind blow. A large cat broke loose and drifted off into the distance which set the scene. For three days we stayed in the lee of the cliffs with 60meters of chain out. Only one of us would go ashore for short periods just incase Malua also lost its holding.

We were relieved to move on and set sail for Capri which we could see in the distance along with Mount Vesuvius. We had no intention of entering the marina in Capri because we had heard that the charges for our size boat are 150 euro or about $250 Aus per night. We motor sailed past the blue grotto and the rocks of Faraglioni before setting sail for Amalfi.

Amalfi is the home of the Knights of St John with their particular cross and the use of the fleur-de-lis as the mark for north on the charts and compass. They also wrote the first maritime code regarding trade at sea. What a great place. We stopped to get fuel and was greeted by a blond Italian who said he had married an Aussie girl in Bondi who was no an Italian mamma with a six month old bambino in an apartment up on the hill overlooking the marina. Would we use his marina or tie up along the public wharf? What a question? 55 euros a night later we had a great time along side the superyacht cruisers and sailing vessels all with crew. The company was great and the position secure plus we did not have to contend with the wash from the many ferries that came and went all day and night.

The town of Amalfi is perched on the hill side surrounding the harbour. the shops and church with its great doors made in Constantinople are built on the sides of the only valley for miles around. The town has a great feel with narrow streets, small doorways and dark alleys leading round in circles. On our first morning we set off up the valley and followed the roman built steps/road up the side of the hill. After about two hour of hard slog we came out on top of the mountain overlooking the harbour and town. What a great view.

The following day we took a local bus to Ravello perched 1155 ft above Amalfi. The town is famous for hosting writers such as D H Lawrence, Gore Vidal and even Greta Garbo but more recently holding a week of chamber music concerts in the gardens of the three large villas. We found the gardens not as well set out or maintained as the gardens of Bowral in the Southern highlands of NSW. We chose to walk down the mountain. A decision we regretted about two hours into the decent as our knees were about to collapse. That night the rain came down. Not just light European rain but heavy thunderstorm downpour. Malua got a good wash.

The coast further south to the Straits of Massina around the Gulf of Policastro has few places to stay. The only remarkable item are the watch towers that dominate the high ground all along the coast. Give Marina di Scario a miss because the mooring lines are not secure and we hit the wall with our stern.

We finally reached Tropea which is a new marina overlooked by the old town 196 steps above the waterfront. The old town has a lovely feel about it and as it was my birthday we dines out on two consecutive evenings enjoying the local seafood and wine.

We had been invited onboard an Australian yacht Time Out The owner is undoubtedly the rudest person I have encountered while sailing. He did his organization, his family and himself a great disservice not that it matters but he is a prominent person in Australian life. I hope are wakes never cross again.

From Tropea we set off for the Aeolian Islands of Stromboli and Volcano on route for Sicily.


This little known island is the gem in the Med. It is full of history, stones and bones. The people are wonderful and generous while the sailing can be quite challenging.

Rome Update


What can one say about Rome that has not been said before. We moored Malua in the mouth of the Tiber at Fiumicino expecting to see the twins float by but all we saw was garbage. The river was so polluted you would have to get a shot if you fell in. The tap water stained the decks and turned a t shirt yellow.

The bus service into Rome rivalled the worst in the world except nobody paid which could be the problem. The Metro on the other hand was a pleasure to ride. We spent 14 days travelling into Rome every day concentrating on one section of the city. I loved the place but found the Romans approach to the tourist the worst we had encountered. My first and last transactions in Rome they attempted to rip me off by short-changing me, only to be settled in my best Ozzie Italian.

I would not return and would definitely not spend a lifetime understanding the place however there are some magical moments like looking at St Peters through a key hole and looking down onto the alter from the top of the dome in St Peters. The steps designed by M. Angelo in front of the chaotic museum Capitolino with the big foot and the horseman in bronze plus the Villa Borgese are also stand out places. Ostica Antica as a Roman ruin is the most extensive and best preserved and well worth the half day in the sun.

The traffic has to be seen to be believed but I must say they are the most courteous drivers I have ever seen.

Corsica Sardinia Update


The sail to the Sardinia West coast was easy. This was Denny's first long passage where she would have to stand watch alone with only Harry on board. We had chosen a full moon which came up on the first night while Denny was on watch - she thought that it was a large ship appearing over the horizon. We carried the reacher for a full day with the wind abarft of the beam but then the wind dropped and we had to motor the last few miles round the north west cape into the Golfo dell Asinara. We had difficulty finding a place to anchor because of the marine reserves. The next day we set off for Bonifacio in Corsica.

I did not have any chart for this area and my chart plotter's charts ran out a few miles to the east. In preparation I had copied Google Earth map of the coast and the port and had the waypoints plus CMap charts on the computer but I had no depths or real detail. The Bonifacio Straits are very busy with shipping and are supposed to have a fearful reputation for severe weather. We traversed the straits in almost a flat calm and arrived at the port just as a ferry was exiting. The moorings were quite full but we were able to pull alongside a French yacht.

Bonifacio is where Nelson hid the English fleet after the battle of the Nile. Nelson though it was a great place but the French negotiated to keep Corsica. It has a lovely French feel to the town, shops and restaurants. We dined out here but were disappointed in the choice and quality of the food. Again the wine featured in our shopping list. The harbour is overlooked by a magnificent walled city and fort which we visited.


We set out with Dennis and Jo on Aurora who I had heard in the Pacific in the Port to Port Rally in 2004. It is a small world the sailing community.

We left them in the Fornelli passage and sailed to La Madealena to get a cruising permit only to realise that it was Sunday and everything was closed. This is the naval headquarters of the NATO task force and therefore dominated by the USA both on the water and in the slums of the town. Not a nice place to be.

We spent the night in a small bay then beat a hasty retreat out of the area towards supposedly the best sailing grounds in the world at Porto Cervo where the Aga Khan has built a very up market marina and resort. We went ashore to find the place deserted except for the shop girls in the exclusive boutiques lined up next to each other in the tastefully decorated mall.

The port is the most expensive in the Med. On race day it must be great if you are part of a sponsored team but for us anchoring out in the bay it is just ordinary.

On the 8 May we upped anchor and set sail across the Tyrrhenian Sea for Rome.

Balerics Update


After visiting the Watson Smith extended family in Wales and England we flew to Palma on Mallorca to wait the arrival of the Erasmusgracht. We checked into a out of town apartment where we could cook our food and unpack all the things we carried in our bags. We spent the week or so visiting the old city of Palma built by the Romans in the C4 but flourished under the moors eventually coming under the Spanish rule. The Gothic cathedral built in 1230 dominates the city and overlooks the waterfront. The harbour is filled with yachts and cruisers. They range in size from 40 feet to 100 meters. Just when you think that you have seen the largest along comes another which is larger. There is no room for the casual cruiser to moor so you have to find a spot and negotiate with the Mariner manager on the spot.

We off loaded Malua and found a spot at Marina Alboran which had a number of charter yachts which were coming and going so as one left we slipped in. The people were very helpful. It is located right on the main drag near a chandler where I was able to purchase a few odds and ends. The supermarket was up the road so Denny and I were, after a few trips with our wheeled suitcase able to restock the boat.

Note: when shipping from Australia stock you vessel with all the goods you require for your cruise right down to engine oil, cleaning agents and tins of food. Don't bother with taking tinned Italian tomatoes or Spanish olive oil. The customs don't care and the shipping company doesn't either. You may save some money but you will save a lot of time and have the brands you are familiar with. The same applies with yachting goodies although the chandlers in Palma have the range and depth of the best in the world. Docking warps are cheap.

While in Palma visit the Cathedral, Arab baths, the old city and the Museu de Mallorca with the statuette of the 4th c warrior in bronze which is just the greatest. The castle on the hill and the art gallery of Joan Miro are all must see visits as is the train ride inland to Soller with the Picasso pottery and pictures.

On 5 April 2007 we set sail from Palma and sailed along the coast to the bay where we had rented the apartment then eastwards to Palma Nova and onto the port of Andratx - the oldest harbour and marina in the area. We anchored out and took the bikes ashore in the RIB to ride up the valley to the old town. Bike paths where provided next to the highway but our experience was that the drivers were very careful and courteous to people on bicycles. After a days riding we sat on the waters edge in one of the many cafe and had a few cold ones before returning to Malua anchored a stones through away.

Note: I purchased a LED anchor light and fitted it at the mast head next to the VHF radio antenna. It puts out such bad radio interference that you have to switch off the radio. Either locate the LED in a different spot or get a different type - how do you test.

From the south west coast we sailed across the Bay of Palma and past the C Blanco to the very narrow inlet Cala Pi. What an experience. There is bareply enough room to turn you yacht when you get in but with the help of Tim on Lady H we were able to drop anchors fore and aft and secure Malua ahead of his vessel. The sides of the cala rise steep out of the water and give you protection from the wind but not the swell. Fortunately there was no swell and we had a great night however the following night when we repeated the process the swell came in at 2:00 am and we spent a very uncomfortable night being thrown around by the waves bouncing off the side of the cliff face only meters from us. We were relived to see the sun rise and leave the washing machine.

The east coast of Majorca has a number of wonderful bays - cala ranging in size from very small to quite large. They are less than a half days sail and the holding is always good. Some even have marinas. Our favorite is Porto Colom where we moored Med style along the harbour wall. It became obvious that a gangplank is required if you wish to step off your yacht on to the quay with any sort of dignity. Malua not having one I set about making one from a ladder I purchased and filling in the rungs with a long strip of marine ply found at the local ship builder. A low cost option which will double as a ladder when on the hard.

We Cala hopped north up the coast towards warmer weather because the wind was always cold and the nights required at least a jumper and a blanket on the bed. Puerto de Cala Ratjada is the furthest point north on the east coast. We pulled in along side the outer harbour wall. The town is clustered around the harbour which has a few fishing vessels, ferries and small boats. The next day we set off for Menorca.


Our first open water sail. We set off with no wind and a clear horizon but as we crossed the channel a thick fog descended on us. The radar gave some comfort as the freighters passed ahead and astern of us. Then just as soon as it arrived it evaporated and we could see our destination in the high cliffs of Menorca.

Ciudadela has a very narrow entrance then opens out just wide enough for an inter island ferry to turn. Being early in the season we were able to secure a mooring berth right in front of the best restaurant on the water front along side Velshedia with Graham and Mary Pay from Dorset (new grandparents).

The city has a very Arab influence although in 1558 it was over run by the Turks. The old city was built with narrow streets, many of which lead to a dead end so you have to keep you wits about you. The market with a covered arcades is great. The shopping experience is out in the industrial area which we reached by bike. Here there are many factory outlets selling shoes and leather goods.

Menorca is exceptionally rich in megalithic structures built around 1500 BC. these are Taulas - T shaped stones, Navetas - boat shaped structures and Talayots buildings. We spent two wonderful days riding through the country side visiting these sites. One the oldest existing building.

Reluctantly we left Ciudadela and sailed clockwise to the north of the island to Fornells. Most people sail through the south. We continues round the island to the famous port of Moa or Mahon which was prized by Lord Nelson who though it would be the centre of the British Med fleet however the politicians decided that Malta would be the place and Mahon is now small commercial port visited by cruise liners, ships and the yachts passing east or west across the Med.

We moored stern to a floating pontoon on the northern part of the narrow bay. It was a great place to take the RIB to the shore and climb the steps up to the old town. From here we rode our bikes into the country side to see the Taulas and Talayots. The provisioning is good here either in the old town or out of town at the supermarket. I stocked up with a few bottles of Spanish wine which at 1 to 2 Euro a bottle is excellent value and very drinkable. Malua's waterline is down.

We were waiting for a weather window to sail the 220nm to Sardinia but the moon was full, the wind in the right direction so we set sail a 9:30 for the two night and three days crossing. A great sail eastwards.

11 July, 2007

Sailing in the Med

The internet access has not been good in Italy and Sicily but we are now in Greece and I have found an internet cafe so here goes.
We spent 14 days in Rome then sailed south down the coast. Amalfi was out of this world. We moored next to the super yachts and spend the days climbing the mountain. We then sailed south but the coast is not yacht friendy so after a week or so we sailed to Volcano north of Sicily. This is a huge volcano and a string of islands. We had some lovely sailing and days at anchor then sailed to the sicily mainland which turned out to be fascinating. Palermo and Montrial could blow the mind. After sailing anti clockwise round Sicily we did a three day passage to Greece. The sail was great with the reacher up to the whole day. At night the full moon was up so we could see the shipping as it passed.
We checked in at Pilos in Greece then sailed north to Olympia where Denny and I ran on the Olympic track. The site and museum is fascinating. we are now sailing east towards Athens then towards Turkey.
I will update when I get access and the time.
The boat is going well but there is very little wind so we spend quite some time with the motor.

20 May, 2007

No Internet Connection so no Story

We have sailed from Menora to Corcisa and then to Sardinia and am now in the mouth of the Tiber spending two weeks in Rome. The sailing has been great and the port along the way very interesting especially the very old civilisations. We crossed the sea and entred the Italian mainland to see Rome. We are moored in the mouth of the Tiber and take the train into the city each day. There are very internet access points so the story is short but will be updated in the next few weeks as we sail south.

28 April, 2007

Porto Colom

Dawn brought little wind and a smooth sea and we set sail for Cala Santanyi further north. Here we anchored alone in a inlet with a beach and tourist development around the hill tops. Again I set two anchors and adjusted the stern anchor to get the stern into an increasing swell entering the Cala. By nightfall the swell had risen and Malua was rock and rolling back and forth. It was not dangerous but sleep was impossible as Denny and I were tossed from side to side in our bunk. As the sun rose so did our anchor and we set sail for the calmer waters of a marina for a good sleep.

Porto Petro turned out to be rather small and full so we anchored in the bay and fell into a deep sleep. The following day we sailed north into a friendly marina at Porto Colom and berthed stern too at the marina wharf, surrounded by restaurants and overlooked by an old town with its white walled houses and red tiled roofs.

Cala Pi

The east beckoned and we up anchored at dawn to set sail across the southern part of Minorca to round the south eastern most cape of Point Salinas. While the sun was shining the wind was light and from the northeast so we tacked around the cape and northwards past the high desolate cliffs, destined for a secluded beautiful inlet called a Cala. These inlets may be large but frequently only a few boat lengths long with a width just sufficient to turn a vessel. One must anchor and then either drop a stern anchor or secure the vessel to the shore with a strong line. On entering Cala Pi we found another 40ft British yacht anchored at the head of the inlet but managed to turn at their bow where we dropped anchor. The skipper came over in his dinghy and offered to take out our stern anchor to restrict our swing. The water is crystal clear and one can see the bottom as well as your anchors securely embedded in the sand between the weed. We took the RIB ashore and scrambled along the cliff tops overlooking the Cala and Malua. As the sun set the wind dropped and the sea turned to glass and we slept the sleep of a contented traveller.

Riding the country side of Mallorca

After more than two weeks of grey skies and rain, the sun rose into a clear blue sky and with it so did our spirits. We were ready to explore the hinterland of the Port of Andraix and ride our bikes into the countryside and up into the mountains. We loaded our two mountain bikes into the nine foot RIB along with Denny, I and sustenance for the tour de Minorca. The bicycle paths in the area reflect the wealth of the local authority who must receive a substantial income from the tourist housing development. It was a pleasure to cycle on the red painted bicycle path up the valley towards the huge cathedral dominating the town of Andraix. On reaching the forecourt we found the building to be windowless and rather dull especially compared with the rose window of the Palma Cathedral. The town reflected the cathedral and we soon left to cycle towards the mountain range in the west. The bike paths soon ran out and we were left at the mercy of the narrow roads and the Spanish drivers who I must say give you a wide berth, so different to the Australian aggressive speedsters.

We crossed or rather pushed the bikes up a pass and descended into a sleepy little town set in a valley. The ochre coloured houses with their red tiled roofs were set round the town square with a church housing a marble statue brought by the Trappist monks in the 18th century. The French bread, local cheese and tomatoes put the push back into the peddles and we crossed the mountains for a speedy down hill glide back to the port. Like many of the locals we took up a position in one of the many restaurants overlooking the bay and enjoyed a chilled beer to watch the sun set into the sea.

20 April, 2007

Malua in Balearics

Palma de Mallorca has been the crossroads of the western Mediterranean since man sailed the seas. We visited the Museu de Mallorca and saw pots and tools dating back before 1000 BC. Also in the museum are a few bronze statuettes of warrior from the 4 century BC along side Arab, moor and Christian relicts. The town of Palma is dominated by the Cathedral built in the 15 century on top of an Arab mosque. The sun sines through the giant rose window right into the main building. The exterior is of local sand stone with high pinnacles which were added during the 19 C along with Antoni Gaudi’s iron work and canopy over the main alter. Quite extraordinary. Adjacent to the Cathedral is the old town with its narrow streets, three story buildings and beautiful doors and windows. We strolled through this old quarter taking pictures and taking in the atmosphere. Further uptown there are shops and boutiques to satisfy the massive tourist demand. The number of people on the street has increased dramatically since we arrived before Easter. It must be very crowded in the summer.

After unloading Malua we moored in a marina overlooked by the Cathedral and set about getting her ship shape and Bristol. Not an easy task as the crane which loaded and off loaded Malua dropped small pieces of rust on to the deck and topside. These have now rusted and left brown marks. When the weather improves I will set about removing the rust and shining the topsides but till them we have some sailing to do.

We left Palma and sailed south west along the coast. This part of the Balearics is very developed with German and British tourist, even this early in the season crowding the sidewalks. Unfortunately the weather has been cold and wet since we arrived in Palma so the sun has not brought them out onto the beaches.

Our first anchorage was at Las Illetas – a small bay behind three islands. It is close enough for the day trippers to come from Palme when it is crowded but in the evening we had it to ourselves. The following day we sailed south into a cove dominated by three large square holes in the rock face. The pilot indicate these are Phoenician tombs cut out of the rock. They are large and deep 40 *40m into the cliff face and defiantly carved from the sandstone. I am not convinced that the final size was created by the Phoenicians but they are impressive and makes one wonder who came this way back in the mist of time.

Further westwards we stopped at Puerto de Santa Ponsa which must be the most beautiful marina in the world. The entrance is narrow but it opens out into a 522 berth marina surrounded by overlooking hills and cliffs. The facilities are great right up to a travel lift at the far end of the valley. We chose not to enter but anchor out for two nights. It rained day and night the entire time we spent in the anchorage. We had to move just to stay sane and sailed/motored into the port of Andraitx. This is a fishing and yacht harbour. The fishing boat are similar to those in Ulladulla but more closed deck to protect the crew from the bitterly cold wind. The crew look the same the world over.

We anchored just outside the harbour in a quit spot with good holding so we were able to go ashore and explore but that story will have to wait.

09 April, 2007

Malua has arrived in the MED

On Thursday before Easter the Erasmusgracht docked in Palma - the sailing capital of the wetern Med. There were ten yachts on the deck along with 65 containers full of onions destine for Tesco in the UK. After some raised voices the British load master was able to direct the local Spanish stevedors how to rig the slings to lift the yachts off the ship. There were some tense moments when the two cranes lifted the 65 ton Oyster off the deck and attempted to move it over the side. They did not move in harmony and one of the slings started to move forward. The owner just stood and looked with wide eyes as it slowly moved over the side in to the water.
By the time they were ready to lift Malua it was well into siesta time so they thought they could place the slings over the impeller through hull..... think again mate this Aussie was having noting of that. They moved the slings and started again. Compared to the other lift it was easy and we were in the water and steaming towards the marina in down town Palma.
This is such a yachting centre. Just when you think you have seen the largest yacht along comes another which eclipses it by 10 or more meters! They are just huge.
I started the task of getting the yacht ready to put to sea. All the halyards and lines had to be run again. It was a task but eased by the thin line I had left when they were removed. The water tanks have been filled, the fuel full and the batteries fully charged.
We set off to provision the food from the local supermarket. We filled two supermarket rollies and rolled them down the streets of Palma on the way to the Marina which in on the waterfont at the edge of the city overlooked by the great cathedral.
In a day or two Malua will be ship shape and Bristol and we will be able to go to sea. Oh for the wind in the sails and the motion of the sea under our keel.

28 March, 2007

Watson Smith Cousins

Being an only child I have not enjoyed the company of an extended family. It did not help that my father left England and settled in South Africa. I then added a few miles and migrated to Australia. Out of the blue and letter landed on my doorstep....Are you Harry the son of Harry who was the son of Harry. Yes but actually it was Henry in place of Harry. Well this opened up a Pandora's box of relatives I knew about on the family tree but had never met. On Sunday about 42 descendants of the Watson Smiths arrived to say Hi. Was I blown away. I have captured some photos at http://picasaweb.google.com/harryws20
The gathering was great. Thanks Jan and Ian for organising the party.

Stop in Journey to Med

We arrived in London on our way to the Med. It was exiting to do all the sights especially to visit Greenwich where I stood with one foot either side of the prime meridian. It was only two years ago I sailed across the 180 degree date line from west to east near Fiji and now I stand again with one foot in each hemisphere. I was also able to set my watch to the exact GMT.
The weather was cold with snow in the air but it cleared to give us three beautiful days. We visited the art galleries (Portrait, national and Tate) and some of the museums. It was also a great thrill to have dinner with my old school friend of 45 years Richard and his wife.
From London we travelled to Worcester to visit family- Jan and Mike.

08 March, 2007

Malua on Erasmusgracht

The picture shows Malua on Erasmusgracht at S 18°42' W 115°48' I received an email from Captain Westerdijk who has changed the position of the yachts to optimise the deck space. The Australian stevadores could learn a few things from the experts.

02 March, 2007

Malua Progress Across Pacific

After loading Malua on the Erasmusgracht I could turn my mind to organising my trip in the Med. General advise is move on to your boat before you set sail so you can tie up all the loose ends. Well sending the yacht away and still living in you home is the next best thing except that when you find all the things you forgot to load on to the boat. You soon realise that the 20kg baggage weight limit on the aircraft to the Med will be blown away by the large admiralty pattern storm anchor you found behind the garage door! Thank goodness I have three other types of anchors on Malua.

The photo is the plot of Malua crossing the Pacific thanks to the Erasmusgracht Master recording it on the ship tracking site. http://sailwx.info/shiptrack/ I will continue to follow the vessel right into Palma and may even use it for Malua.

Planning a trip before embarking on it is a novel experience for me. I have in the past set off and taken each turn as they came along. No specific planning, just go with the flow and what looked good at the time. Fun, exciting and you meet the unexpected but what did I miss? With the help of the Internet, Google earth, cruising guides and friends this current planning session is a great experience - almost as good as the actual trip.

At this stage I have redirected mail, purchased insurance, cancelled subscriptions and deliveries, serviced cars, redirected mail, set in motion end of financial year actions and cleaned up all those loose ends I never quite got round to do. Unfortunately it reminds me of what my father did before he moved from this earth.

We leave Oz on 19 March bound for LondonGreenwich, museums and the other sights. Then off to see the extended family I knew I had but have never met. What an experience. Fly into Palma to meet Malua on the 27 March and then off on the cruise of the Med.

13 February, 2007

On Board Securing Malua

On board the ship the Master organised the securing of Malua. The cradle was welded to the ship and eight straps used to tie down the yacht to the ship. I re-connected the back stay, removed the genoa halyard and used the main halyard as a backstay. The anchor was placed in the locker, the fenders put away and the lockers masked up to keep the water out. I then closed all the through-hulls, turned off the power and closed the companionway for the last time. The loading and securing was complete. I could relax.

We waited around to watch the other yachts being loaded. There was a 40 ft racing machine, a Swan 45 and finally a 83ft Oyster called Darling. While being long it was also heavy at 65 tonnes. The ship required two cranes to lift it on to the deck. As it was raised out of the water the ship listed to starboard under the weight. Slowly the yacht was lowered onto the deck and secured.

The Erasmusgracht will complete the loading on Friday and leave on Saturday for Tauranga in New Zealand then on through the Panama to Palma de Mallorca in Spain arriving some time towards the end of March.

The next chapter of the adventure will then begin.

Loading Malua on Erasmusgracht

Steaming towards the Erasmusgracht secured along side Darling harbour in the dawn light I realised we had finally arrived at the end of the Australian chapter of the Malua story. It was so exciting. The next time I would be sailing Malua it would be in Europe on the Mediterranean and that would be only 40 days away!

We arrived alongside to find a 43ft yacht already on the vessel and the stevedores struggling to load a power boat. They did not have the correct loading equipment and it appeared as if they did not have the experience with loading vessels from out of the water on to a ship.

The Australian water front has been plagued with industrial and demarcation issues. Only certain groups of union staff are permitted to do designated tasks. This was evident today. The Master of the Erasmusgracht and the load master from Sevenstar had to hold their tongues as the P&O crew struggled to load the powerboat. We stayed alongside the ship waiting our turn to be lifted out of the water.

The mast of Malua and the temporary backstays appeared to pose a problem for the stevedores. They asked me to remove the backstays but I refused and suggested that the current lifting rig should be change to a more suitable arrangement for yachts. There was a long delay but after more than an hour the correct lifting rig appeared attached to the ships cranes I was relieved. The stevedore crew came aboard and with the help of the divers and my marks on the hull we soon had the slings in the correct place. The crane slowly lifted Malua out of the water as we tested the weight distribution and how secure the rig was. It was time to leave Malua as they hosted it up over the side of the ship. The fourth time Malua has flown from the end of a crane’s slings (in and out of my yard in Canberra during the fit-out phase of building).

Last Days in Sydney

Denny arrived from Canberra to assist with the final preparations and the loading. We had anchored next to the Sydney Fish Market which provided us with the wonderful Australian ocean produce. I wonder if we will again see the quality and range of fish and shell fish available any where else in the world. We feasted on fish (red snapper), oysters and prawns over three days as we prepared the boat.

Last minute purchase where made: Tilley hat for Denny, scanpans, digital camera, Asian sources and additional cloaths suitable for the marinas of the Med.

Preparation for Departure

The final touches have been completed, now all that was required was to stow some equipment and remove the halyards, sheets and lines from the vessel. I understand the outside of Malua will be covered in oil and grime after the ocean transportation especially with the passage through the Panama Canal. The halyards were removed and in their place I ran a light line so they could be pulled back into their original locations. It is amazing the length of line one has on a yacht when you stack then on the deck. Most of these lines have not been removed before and now require a good wash which I will do before re-running them when Malua reaches Palma.

I changed the oil and filters on the engine, filled the diesel tank and pumped the bilges completely dry. The hatches and cockpit lockers were taped closed and the RIB and outboard stowed.

To load Malua on to the ship I will have to remove the back stays and place temporary lines to hold the mast up during the crane lift. This is always a tricky business because Malua has two heavy roller furlers forward of the mast. The side stays are abeam of the mast and any movement will push the mast forward. This happened to me on Alibi when I was on the hardstand. The crane touched the mast which fell forward, crashing over the side and bent the stantions. Thankfully on that occasion nothing major broke and the mast was not damaged but I would not like that to happen to Malua’s taller mast.

The news arrived that the Erasmusgracht was due into Sydney harbour on Thursday evening and we would be loading at 7:30 on Friday morning.

Over the Bar

The day to load Malua on the vessel was set for the later part of February but some how it came forward. Unfortunately the tide and water over the bar did not make a similar adjustment. The last high water at the bar that I could cross with safety was on 6th February thereafter I would have to wait more than ten days. This did not coincide with the loading date in Sydney of 13th February. I had to complete all the preparation tasks and cross the bar on the high tide on Saturday 5th February. This took no account of the weather for the trip to Sydney. I have always said I would not sail on a timetable but when the weather was suitable. Two days before the shipping company advised that the loading date had been brought forward to the Thursday 7th February – not much time to reach Sydney and a schedule.

Stephan joined me for the sail to Sydney and the weather forecast turned out favourable. We crossed the Batemans Bay bar on Saturday morning and headed out to sea with a forecast of southerly wind to push us to Sydney.

The wind did not come through as predicted so we spend some time motor sailing towards Jarvis Bay where we anchored for the night. We had a great pre-prepared meal and a restful sleep after the excitement and pressure of the departure.

At dawn the follow morning we set sail and the southerly rose to a convenient 10 knots. We raised the spinnaker with its new snuffer and sat back in the sun to enjoy the run north to Sydney. We arrived just as the sun set and anchored inside the north head in Quarantine Bay.

Monday saw us motor under the Sydney harbour bridge and into Blackwattle Bay next to the fish market. I then settled down to prepare Malua for its departure and wait for the instructions to load.

The Final Touches

A yacht is never finished. That can be taken a bit too far and I am guilty of that. When Malua was launched there were still many little wood working tasks to be completed. The vessel was seaworthy and the systems worked but the final finishing touches still had to be completed. Over the past month I have tackled these by installed the fiddles around the bench tops, fitted doors to almost all cupboards, panels to the bulkhead and cover strips where needed. The final few days in the marina in Batemans Bay was spent in a frantic rush to pull all these together.

New cockpit cushion covers were delivered, the dodger had new canvas attachments and the sunscreens around the bimini had to be adjusted for the new dodger.

Two days before I was due to sail the final touches where finished. Denny came on board with the storage containers filled with all the odds and ends one needs on a vessel when you are far from home. The storage spaces were cleaned and the junk accumulated during the Pacific cruise was removed or just thrown away. The containers were stowed and everything put in its place – ship shape and Bristol!