Roving Rear Commodores' Reports - Pacific & Indian

Roving Rear Commodores' Reports - Pacific & Indian

The latest news and whereabouts [October 2017] of our Club’s RoRCs

By Roving Rear Commodores - 11/11/2017

Franco Ferrero and Kath McNulty in CARAMOR –
Nov 2015 – 2018

Much to Caramor's disgust, her crew are still gallivanting. She can't complain though, the accommodation at the yacht club in Valdivia is comfortable and secure and club members check up on her regularly.

Meanwhile up in the Peruvian high Andes, at 12,500ft, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, Franco and Kath have been looking after semi-wild horses and learning to dance Aymara style. Every weekend is a fiesta and the locals really know how to party; the smallest unit of beer is a crate, not a bottle.

After a month, fully acclimatised, they moved on to Cusco. On the way, the toilet in the bus caught fire. Cusco is an expensive half-built modern city with water sanitation problems. The historical centre is beautiful and striking with Spanish colonial architecture built onto Quechuan walls. After four days of hiking over the Salkantay pass, Franco and Kath arrived at Llaqtapata, an Inca site with an amazing view of Machu Picchu.

In November they will rejoin Caramor in Valdivia, to prepare for the crossing of the Pacific.

Jonathan and Anne Lloyd in SOFIA – April 2016 – 2019

After a month in the Whitsundays we were ready to leave and head north. Our plan was to cruise in company with OCC member Eve Wilhite on Auntie as far as the Torres Straits, where she would join the Rally2Indonesia Auntie was having significant autopilot problems and given that Eve was single handed the passage up to the Torres Straits inside the Barrier Reef would prove to be a significant navigational challenge with plenty of reefs and a busy shipping channel to look out for. Eve could manage an overnight passage, but no more than that before she needed to get some rest. This factor dictated our passage plan up to the Torres Straits. From there we planned to head straight across the Gulf of Carpentaria to Darwin.

From the Whitsundays our passage took us up to Magnetic Island, which lies just off Townsville some 130 miles to the North, and then Fitzroy Island off Cairns. Between Cairns and the Torres Straits there are a number of small Aboriginal settlements, but little else. However, it is a beautiful unspoilt coast with a number of attractive islands and anchorages along the way.

The first of these was Lizard Island on the edge of the Barrier Reef. The water was turquoise and beautifully clear and the coral reefs around the island had not yet succumbed to bleaching. Given its attractions it was no surprise to find quite a few yachts in the anchorage, many of whom we had encountered previously including OCC yachts Mawari and Scott Free. From Lizard Island we cruised in company with Auntie on successive overnight passages up to Bathurst Bay, Margaret’s Bay and Blackwoods Bay on Mount Adolphus Island before finally arriving in Horn Island in the Torres Straits. On arrival in Horn Island we found the anchorage crowded with yachts assembling for the Sail2Indonesia Rally. Very sadly it was time to say farewell to Eve on Auntie. After taking on some fuel we set off across the Gulf of Carpentaria. On our passage up from the Whitsundays we had noticed damage to the UV protection strip on the genoa so had taken it down ready for repair in Darwin and replaced it with the spare staysail while at anchor in Horn Island.

We had a cracking start to our passage across the Gulf until at dusk on the first evening we noticed a major tear in the stitching on the mainsail. So without further ado it was furled away. This now left us with a 700 hundred mile passage to Darwin without either our main or genoa. We managed to make 4.5 knots under staysail alone and In spite of this setback and having to motor for the last two days due to lack of wind we made it to Darwin in 7 days.

While in Darwin Sofia was hauled out at Cullen Bay Slipway in order for the coppercoat antifouling to be touched up and for the hull to be cleaned and polished. Sails were also repaired and preparations made for our forthcoming Indian Ocean crossing. We also undertook an excellent three day excursion to the Kakadu National Park. While in Tipperary Marina we encountered OCC yacht Dreamcatcher and decided that we would cruise in loose company across to South Africa. Our plan was to take the classic route from Darwin to Richards Bay calling in at Christmas Island, Cocos Keeling, Rodrigues, Mauritius and Reunion.

After a slow start the trade winds kicked in once we passed Ashmore Reef and thereafter we had a fast passage to Christmas Island, where we spent a couple of days before heading on to Cocos Keeling, which is a delightful lagoon anchorage reminiscent of the Tuamotos. This was classic trade wind sailing and we covered the 530miles from Christmas Island to Cocos in just under 3 days breaking our daily record run each day. The next leg to Rodrigues was the longest at just under 2000nm. We had another fast passage but the conditions were more boisterous with significant swells and several days with a never ending succession of rain squalls! The remoteness and rustic charm of Rodrigues made for a relaxed stay and then it was a short 3 day hop on to Mauritius. The sophistication of Port Louis with its smart waterfront shops, restaurants and luxury hotels provides a stark contrast to the quaint simplicity of Rodrigues. We spent 10 days here dividing out time between Caudan Marina in Port Louis and the anchorage at Gran Baie. We stocked up on provisions in the excellent market, toured the island in a hire car and carried out various maintenance jobs.

Next on the agenda is the short leg on to Reunion followed by the longer and much trickier passage to Richards Bay in South Africa. If all goes according to plan we should be in Cape Town for Christmas.

Bob and Judy Howison in KINABULU – Feb 2017 – 2020

We had a brisk sail from Port Moresby to Bligh Entrance in daylight. From there as we turned to a south west heading under trisail and jib we encountered headwinds and rain squalls. The electronic charts lacked detail and our recently purchased paper chart wasn't much better! Through the darkness of the night we adjusted our vision to see that many of the tiny islands in the north east channel have well lit communities. The 2m seas shortened but the anticipated strong currents never materialised. At daylight in Torres Strait we were relieved to have very little sea and hear Ozzie voices on the VHF as we passed Thursday Island. Each of our charts showed optional recommended routes for commercial vessels depending on their depth. If we were to pass by this way again we would look closely at exiting Torres Strait before Thursday Island.

Once through the Straits and "flying" across the shallow Arafura Sea with 20-25 knots of SSE breeze, we headed west to stay as far from the Papuan coastal fishing activities as we could. Most of the fleet out of Thursday Island took the rhumb line to Debut in the Kai Archipelago, and a couple of boats had to extricate themselves from fishing nets!

Three months with the Wonderful Sail2Indonesia Rally (over 2,000nm) provided an opportunity to explore the islands and meet local people. Nothing had prepared us for this amazing experience and we are grateful for the generous hospitality of the independent Regencies and the Indonesian Tourism Board for such a warm welcome. We were overwhelmed! The people were always smiling and welcomed us with a display of local customs and food. Such diverse ethnic groups and cultures!! Sometimes we sailed long distances between islands and the south east trade winds and fishing fleets provided some challenging passages. It was great to have some OCC boats in the Rally - Scott Free, Mawari, Reboot and Auntie. We crossed paths with Exit Strategy who was in the Rally from Darwin.

It is back to reality as we head across the Singapore Strait

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