KatieKat Cruise June-September 2000

Australia East Coast

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DATECONTENTSINTEREST
Click here for KatieKat Cruise Index Webpage
Sept. - Oct. 2000Cruise Continues to New Caledonia
Mixed
13 September 2000Offshore Preparations
Family
3 September 2000Port Mid-Aft Hull Tour
Yachties
2 September 2000Cellphones and Internet Communications - Boring
Techies
28 August 2000Picture-Window Back Door and Grab Bars
Yachties
27 August 2000Marathon Dash South
Mixed
23 August 2000Fourth Reef
Yachties
22 August 2000Anchor Musings and GPS Anchor Alarm (Rev.8/27)
Yachties
21 August 2000Reefs and Islands and BikeBoat Woes
Family
14 August 2000Bundaberg - Boys Head for Home
Family
10 August 2000Fraser Island Fishing Fanatics
Family
7 August 2000Mooloolaba to Fraser Island - Bar Crossing
Family
6 August 2000BikeBoat Targa Mount
Yachties
5 August 2000Starboard Hull Tour
Yachties
4 August 2000Friends and Family Onboard
Family
24 July 2000Brisbane Dinghy Musings
Mixed
21 July 2000Brisbane Tourists
Family
17 July 2000Where Are We?
Mixed
15 July 2000Peel Island - On the Sand
Mixed
13 July 2000Manly - On the Mud
Yachties
11 July 2000Gold Coast to Manly - Waterfront Living
Mixed
5 July 2000Coffs Harbour to the Gold Coast - Dark Sloshing
Mixed
26 June 2000Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour - Flying Spinnakers
Yachties
23 June 2000Port Stephens to Port Macquarie - Minor Excitement
Yachties
21 June 2000Pittwater to Port Stephens NightSail - BikeBoat on Deck
Yachties
18 June 2000Start of Cruise
Mixed
Mar-Jun 2000Pre-Cruise Webpage
Mixed

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This webpage covers the first 1500 miles of our cruise up the East Coast of Australia from Sydney to Yeppoon and back to Brisbane, and ends with our departure for our first offshore passage (to New Caledonia). Simply click on the small photos to see larger-scale images, then hit your browser BACK button to return to this page. Joe Siudzinski


13 September, 2000 -- Offshore Preparations

I had originally planned an in-depth writeup regarding our preparations for taking the boat offshore, but have been too busy ... the work so far includes -
* Thorough check of all the boat standing and running rigging and systems
* Physically inspecting every nook and cranny on the boat and upgrading a few things
* Preparing for potential emergencies at sea
* Provisioning
* Lightening the boat (removing unneeded items)
* Studying and trying to make sense of weatherfaxes

Aw, I'll hopefully have time at sea to scribble something more detailed - in the meantime, if the winds are favorable, we're planning on taking off on Thursday or Saturday (never on a Friday) and anticipate a very conservative ten-day to two-week crossing to Noumea. Time to end this webpage, anyway, and start a new chapter of our cruise. Bye. :-)

[Joe Fibreglassing]Mixing some epoxy and getting ready to plaster a few things... nothing structural.

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3 September, 2000 -- Port Hull Mid-Aft Tour

This next series of photos will finish showing off the insides of the boat: this time, it's the middle and aft portions of the port hull, where the master stateroom and head compartment are located. Back in April, I had described the customized port-forward compartment, which is Kathy's boudoir - click here to see it.

[Port Bunk]View of the master stateroom looking forward. Note the custom-spec'd. beautiful wooden floor, which we normally keep partially covered with soft rubber-backed dark green bathroom throw-rugs (they are easily cleaned). The steps aid in climbing up onto the double bed, and there's storage under the lower step as well as underneath the bunk. The bed was widened from earlier Seawinds, but the many shelves under the windows are unfortunately now missing. Not shown in the photo is the fluorescent light I added, just above the middle of the two windows.

[Port Bunk]Another view of the master stateroom looking forward and showing the TV shelf at the foot of the bed. Actually, we primarily use this shelf for storing towels and I mount the GPS and compass on it when at anchor. Not shown is the my custom-spec'd. solar-powered vent just aft of the overhead hatch which provides continuous fresh incoming airflow 24 hours a day.

[Port Bunk Aft]View of the master bunk looking aft. We each have our separate reading lights. Overhead, I've Velcro'd a small clock, with its light easily reachable at night. On the bulkhead by the door are the barometer/thermometer and the CO alarm, and a fire extinguisher and flashlight are on the shelf below. One neat feature of the Seawind we've come to appreciate is the close proximity of the head to the master stateroom, with the ability to close off the passageway with the door when guests are aboard. Note more cabinet doors accessing the huge underbunk storage.

[Head]The head compartment (bathroom). This large room really works well. The shower head pulls out of the sink faucet and attaches to the silver thingy overhead. The shower is really useable, especially with the 400-litre onboard water storage. The shelving and cupboard don't get wet from the shower. Good ventilation overhead (which I can supplement with a 12v computer fan - a trick learned from former Seawind owners the Retinghouses). Good storage under the sink as well, and the toilet has a nice-looking and functional separate cover. The door above the toilet leads to the aft compartment.

[PortAft Compartment]This little compartment behind the bathroom contains the hot water heater, the holding tank, and the head plumbing. We're keeping it empty, except for storing the smelly old sea boots. The door leading aft provides access to the steering gear. The hot water heater was relocated for us (now standard?) and enables one to readily crawl in there for maintenance if needed.

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2 September, 2000 -- Cellphones and Internet Communications

Thought I'd share my experiences regarding two topics: Cellphones and Internet Accessibility - this is really boring, so don't waste your time unless you're really into this stuff (and there are no pictures). Click here to read it.

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28 August, 2000 -- Picture-Window Back Door and Grab Bars

A few comments about our back porch and back door... uh, cockpit and main saloon enclosure. Prior to purchasing the Seawind, one of my significant concerns was not having a solidly-enclosed main saloon, as we intend to travel to northern climes and my Alaska sailing experience indicated that a breezy open space might not be the optimum configuration. Rather than hassle with designing and building such an enclosure, I chose to ignore that for the present, and had specified the Sunbrella aft enclosure seen below, with full-width vinyl window and flap covering it, removable vinyl side windows in front of the steering stations, and an ovehead cover extension going all the way back to the targa bar for use in port (with a zippered closure down the middle to keep the rain out). This has turned out to be a wonderful configuration: lightweight, easily rolled up or removed completely, and certainly providing adequate insulation for warmth in the main saloon in this climate (heat from cooking in the galley warms up the main saloon very nicely). Rolling up the cover gives us a picture-window view out the back, or privacy in a marina when rolled down. This works out great, whether we're in a marina, at anchor, or sailing. We've even sailed downwind with the overhead awnings going out all the way to the targa bar, as the mainsail is held to one side with the preventer. I'm now happy that I don't have the solid rear enclosure, as indeed one of the great features of the Seawind is the openness of its cockpit/saloon. For colder climates I'm thinking that I might have some sheet insulation sewn into fabric panels to replace the existing ones, with Velcro to seal the air gaps. One other addition I would make is a detachable vinyl side panel in the winch area to keep rain from coming in from the side.

There are two downsides with the enclosure we've experienced so far: (1) It is almost impossible to snap it shut from inside - another zippered access hole should solve this (hint to Seawind). (2) The aft awning going to the targa bar sags and fills up with water when it is raining and then drowns the BBQ when a gust flaps it.

The other cockpit modifications I had specified are handholds: two vertical bars in front of each steering station by the companionways and the vertical bar right in the middle of the cockpit which goes to the overhead cover support. After four months of experience, I wouldn't dream of going to sea without these additions! The bars are extremely convenient and yet unobtrusive - I had originally spec'd the bar in the middle of the cockpit to be removable, figuring I would only use it for heavy weather. It turns out that this bar does not interfere with handling of the mainsheet or traveller and is simply such a convenience and safety feature that I've left it in place permanently. Amazing how often we grab these handholds. The only downside to this setup is that the two side bars aren't accessible when the enclosure is zippered shut.

[Enclosure]Closed off main saloon. The left vertical bar is my spec'd addition. The bar on the right (stock Seawind) supports the cover for the steering stations and is a great handhold when going forward.

[Enclosure Open]View showing window cover rolled up.

[Enclosure]Note the second autopilot I've added to the port steering wheel. Still haven't parted with my blue boxes - one is for the drogue, another for the parachute anchor, another for garbage, ... the knife is normally strapped at the bottom (but its sheath rivets were beginning to rust...)

[Aft view]View looking aft, just as the boat pitched up - normally, when seated, one can see the horizon underneath BikeBoat's upper hull quite well.

[Center Aft View]Dead-center view looking aft. The damaged BikeBoat leg is hanging off the aft railing for now. I set down the starboard horseshoe ring to improve the view a bit. The main saloon table is primarily used for navigation while coastal cruising.

[Awning Top View]Top view of the aft awning, showing it zippered down the middle. Very nice job. The boom is off to one side, held down with the preventer.

[Awning Bottom View]The awning covers quite a large area, providing sun and rain protection. It is even usable under sail when broad reaching or running.

[Stbd Grab Bar]The starboard grab bar provides a mounting for cleat for clothesline or coathanger (top) and horn and cellphone (bottom).

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27 August, 2000 -- Marathon Dash South

Having travelled north to Yeppoon, just short of the Percy and Whitsunday Islands, we realized that we were out of time and that we needed to prepare for an offshore passage as we have to soon be out of the country with the boat. After looking at all the options, we decided that a short ocean voyage to New Caledonia would make sense - it's supposed to be beautiful, is politically stable, and isn't too far. Most of the people we talked with recommended a much more southerly departure to New Caledonia than where we were, and so we decided to head back to Manly (by Brisbane) for our final preparations. A stalled weather pattern with a high over the Coral Sea was producing the relatively rare (at this time of year) northerly winds, which would mean a downhill run - we took advantage of this, and just completed a four-day/night jaunt down to Manly, pulling into port just ahead of forecast yukky weather. Whew!

[Night Nav]Stressful nighttime navigation through the many shoals of Hervey Bay. Note the headlamp, a trick learned from friend Doug Hooper.

[Night Nav]Zero stress open ocean nighttime navigation. Thank you for the sweater, Jacek. The vertical grab-bar is seen on the left of the photo - attached to it temporarily is the controller for the second autopilot.

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23 August, 2000 -- Fourth Reef

One of the modifications I had made to the boat for open-water cruising was to add a heavily-reinforced very deep reef to the mainsail - in addition to the existing three reefs in the main. The only hardware additions I needed to make were a couple of turning blocks on the side of the boom - the jiffy-reefing line leads down to the unused main halyard block located at the base of the mast, and thence along the deck back to the cockpit utilizing the unused main halyard turning blocks and rope clutch. Presumably, I will rarely be using this setup and thus do not have the reefing line permanantly going through the clew of the fourth reef.

Of interest, perhaps, is the photo below showing the base of the mast. The fourth reefing line is shown running alongside the boom and thence down to the turning block. There are two reefing lines already inside the boom (the first reef is left unused). A modification to the stock Seawind configuration is the main halyard winch I had specified (and very reluctantly put in by the Seawind factory) - I did this because I like to have the boat setup for singlehanding and one needs to go forward anyway to attach the tacks to the reefing hook, so I feel that (for me) it is more convenient to be able to directly control the sail oneself right at the mast [note: this mod is NOT something I would recommend for most people]. The winch is a two-speed #16 Harken which is just barely adequate - I wish it were larger so I could readily muscle up the sail when not pointed directly into the wind. The skinny little line is interesting: I added it and it serves a dual purpose: first, it runs alongside the topping lift and acts as a messenger line should the topping lift part (talking with other Seawind owners indicates that these things do break). Secondly, this skinny little line runs through the rings of the mainsail tack reefing straps (non-standard, I had spec'd these) and keeps these rings from both banging on the mast and (more importantly) keeps the straps from fouling on the mast diamond rigging - this had happened once and prevented lowering of the sail (for you non-sailors, this is not good). The photo also shows the routing of the spinnaker sheet (on the hull foredeck) which I use to pull out the clew of the jib when running (either normally or wing-and-wing).

[Reef Stbd.]Starboard view showing the reefing line brought back to the forward mainsheet block shackle.

[Reef Port]Port view showing the added turning block and the reefing line brought around it and leading forward alongside the boom.

[Mast Base]Believe it or not, this is a relatively uncluttered mast because most of the lines are brought back to the cockpit. Note the new stowage location for the Bruce anchor on the forward deck.

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22 August, 2000 -- Anchor Musings and GPS as Anchor Alarm (Updated 8/27/00 - see new text and photos below)

On board we have three anchors: a 35# plow (brand unknown - not CQR) with 30 metres of 8mm chain + 50 metres of 16mm poly rope which comes standard on the Seawind; a 33# Bruce which I specified but only came with 10 meters of chain and 40 metres of rope; and the 7# Fortress FX-11 (backup off my Telstar trimaran) which I brought with me and to which I simply attached a metre of chain and the rest rope. Australians seem to like polypropylene for both anchoring and docking, but I'll gradually replace that rope with nylon as I find bargains.

Our anchoring experiences to date have not been satisfying - in Sydney's Blackwattle Bay the plow anchor dragged - turns out it had snagged on some steel cable. In Brisbane on the river the plow anchor dragged - same problem. At Tangalooma (Moreton Island) the plow anchor dragged considerably before finally setting in sand. On Lady Musgrave Island in sand the plow anchor dragged (25-knot winds) until it snagged a coral head. On Fitzroy Reef it took three attempts to finally get the plow anchor to dig into the sand - it held well in the 25-knot winds and 150-degree wind direction variation, but by then I had the Bruce anchor down as well. In all fairness, the two city anchoring problems were due not to the anchor but because of snagged wire cables.

Mind you, I usually overkill when it comes to scope, and thus in the 25-feet of water on Fitzroy I had all 30 metres of chain and about 40 meters of rope out; in addition, I carefully let the anchor lay down and trail the chain while backing down and then test its holding by backing down with at least half-throttle after securing the anchor line to my custom bow bridle setup. The bridle is nothing more than a 40-foot [this is a correction, as I had previously said 40m] length of 16mm nylon line into which I had spliced a thimble in the middle and an eye at each end. The eyes go into the bow mooring cleats and I either shackle the chain to the eye or attach the anchor line using a double sheet bend. This bow bridle has eliminated the boat yawing at anchor and silenced the chain rattling. The Seawind has two bow roller systems, but each one has very sharp edges which could cut through angled tensioned anchor rope - the bridle eliminates this potential danger (and I cover the rope at the sharp edge with a piece of reinforced hose).

The plow anchor is very popular here in Australia (as it is around the world) and other Seawind owners I've talked with swear by it; however, after Fitzroy Reef I swapped out the Bruce anchor for the plow, putting the Bruce onto the 30 metres of chain and now making it my primary anchor. On Great Keppel Island we experienced 180-degree windshifts and some fairly strong winds - a subsequent snorkeling inspection showed that the Bruce anchor had reset itself and held with virtually no drag at all.

The one and only time I used the lightweight Fortress was carrying it out on BikeBoat in the Brisbane River as the plow was dragging - the Fortress not only held the Seawind, but subsequent attempts to raise it from BikeBoat proved impossible, and it was only after I had winched it vertically bar-taught with the Seawind's windlass that it finally broke loose after a couple of minutes and with the help of the wake from a passing ferry! Go figure. The Fortress is now my first choice as backup anchor, especially since it can be easily carried out on BikeBoat.

So far, based on my Alaska trip experiences, I have found that the Bruce's characteristic - ability to set and reset easily - outweighs it's perceived deficiency - that of lower ultimate holding strength than an equivalent-weight plow. The only problem I ever had with the Bruce setting was in a heavily-weeded anchorage in British Columbia. The situation I now have is that the large Bruce doesn't fit well onto either one of the Seawind's bow rollers - I'm still experimenting.

I just took a walk down the marina docks here in Manly, and over 90% of the anchors I saw are plow anchors.

Update 8/27/00
(See the photo below for the great new Bruce anchor location.) A couple of nights ago, during our rush south in the favorable winds, we pulled into Kingfisher on Fraser Island around 2:00am, having spent a harrowing evening navigating the channels of Hervey Bay - the predicted wind drop at dusk never happened, and we had 20+ knots to deal with, along with trying to find our way. Actually, it wasn't the navigation that was the problem - it was wondering if there were any unlit buoys or channel markers along the way, since it was a very dark (but not stormy) night... anyway, we pulled into Kingfisher Resort where we had previously anchored: this was now a lee shore, with nasty chop and the winds to boot, coupled with a tidal cross-current - no wonder there weren't any boats anchored there now! I thought about the shoaling as I hooked up the bridle and dropped the Bruce in 25 feet and waited to see what happened... the Bruce dug in immediately with a vengeance, bringing the boat to a very abrupt halt in 15 ft of water (it was low tide) - backing down confirmed it was locked solid! Aaahhhh, able to relax and sleep for a few hours before continuing at daybreak.

Update 12/01/01
For a further update, see Anchoring Perspectives

[Spare Anchors]Spare anchors now reside where the fuel tanks normally sat - good access for quick retrieval in an emergency.

[Bruce Anchor]The Bruce anchor temporarily sitting upsidedown on top of the primary anchor rollers. The secondary roller is on the forebeam.

[Bruce Stowed]8/27 update: The Bruce anchor fits nicely with the shank shoved into the channel under the deck. Another advantage is that the weight is moved off the bow. I'll need to make some custom chocks to protect the deck and keep the jibsheets from snagging.

[Gloves]These anchor-handling gloves were brand-new when I started this trip!

GPS As Anchor Alarm
The GPS, quite accurate now that Selective Availability has been turned off, provided an excellent anchor alarm system on Fitzroy Reef, as can be seen from the photo below - the swinging arc of our position around the anchor is clearly visible, and with the alarm set to 0.01nm, the windshifts moved the boat far enough to set off the alarm. Seeing that we were still on the arc gave assurance that the anchor was not dragging. Great feature! I now mount both the GPS and compass on the shelf at the foot of the bed when anchoring. The depth alarm is of questionable value when anchored by a reef (especially when desensitized to accommodate the tidal range), since the shoaling is so rapid that by the time it sounds off it may be too late to avoid crunching.

[Fitzroy GPS]The arc showing our night travels at anchor on Fitzroy Reef.

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21 August, 2000 -- Reefs and Islands and BikeBoat Woes

With the boys gone, we reprovisioned the boat in Bundaberg and set off for the southernmost Great Barrier Reef islands. Our first destination was Lady Musgrave, about 50 miles away, which is one of the few reefs with a passage into the lagoon - and it also has a small island. We arrived late in the day with strong winds so we anchored outside the lagoon instead of going in. Without the sun properly positioned overhead, the reflections preclude one seeing the coral heads coming up to bite the boat. Happily, we anchored in the lee of Lady Musgrave Island as the wind howled from the southeast all that night and following day - it was comforting to know that if the anchor dragged then the worst that could happen is we'd be swept out into open water. When I dove down and checked the anchor the following morning I found that it had not dug into the sand at all, but had simply snagged on a coral head after visibly dragging through the sand!

After a night at anchor at Lady Musgrave, we had a rough downwind sail to Fitzroy Reef - towing BikeBoat. The towed boat did ok until a hook securing one of its legs parted, allowing the leg to drop down into the water - the surging BikeBoat surfed over its bridle, snagging its leg over it, and as the towline tightened it dragged BikeBoat sideways - I cut the towline instantly and we spent about a half-hour maneuvering to recover BikeBoat. It turns out that I hadn't been fast enough, and the plastic propeller shaft bushing had been wrenched off, destroying the water sealing for the prop shaft. We came into Fitzroy Reef late in the day through an awfully narrow winding entrance channel with howling winds and a strong current, and dropped anchor as soon as we could because the lagoon is dotted with coral heads. The plow anchor dragged a couple of times before setting, and I put out my backup Bruce (which has since become my primary anchor) for safekeeping. Spent a very fitful night, as the strong wind shifted the boat numerous times, setting off the two anchor alarms.

By midday, the strong winds of the previous night had disappeared and, after securing BikeBoat to the targa bar, we left in mid-afternoon for what turned out to be a simply marvelous 70-mile moonlight sail with a 10-knot beam wind and the boat happily cruising at over half windspeed in the smooth seas. The stars of the Milky Way (I think), the warm northerly wind, no BikeBoat worries, and such a peaceful setting really had us enjoying this trip to its fullest. The GPS provided further peace of mind while navigating amongst the many reefs - they are invisible at night (although one can hear the surf crashing on them). The destination, Great Keppel Island, is another lovely place with again crystal-clear water and a beautiful setting - it is a very popular tourist spot. I missed getting a photo of the huge sea turtle that surfaced next to us at anchor - what a monster head on that creature! We took a long hike on the island and Kathy enjoyed her newfound sport: snorkeling while lying on one of BikeBoat's hulls while I pedalled along - she barely got wet (boy, was I tempted to give her a nudge!), and didn't have any worries about the critters as she stared at them. After a couple of days at this lovely island, we sailed the ten short miles to the mainland and are now in a marina at Rosslyn Bay, just south of Yeppoon. We are now evaluating our future options, as we need to leave Australia soon...

[Lady Musgrave]Just a wee bit windy behind the shelter of Lady Musgrave Island.

[Great Keppel]One of the many great views on Great Keppel Island.

[Great Keppel Beach]That's KatieKat in the center. Yes, the water really is that clear!

[Great Keppel]This sure beats staring at spreadsheets!

[KatieKat Under Sail]Finally, a photo of KatieKat under sail, taken by Kathy on BikeBoat.

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14 August, 2000 -- Bundaberg - Boys Head for Home

Well, it was time for the boys to return home, so we took some final photos and returned to Brisbane for a night out on the town before departure. Stopped at Australia Zoo along the way to see the crocodiles and Steve, the Crocodile Hunter, who was showing off the camels at the time.

[Alec Saloon]Hi mom - yes, they fed me.

[AlecJoe Saloon]Father and son - end of trip.

[Foredeck]Goodbye photo

[Mermaid]Graphic on the boat next to us, the Maria Rosa.

[Camels]That's Steve, the Crocodile Hunter, with the camels.

[Storey Bridge]Alec and Jon under Storey Bridge while on Brisbane's high-speed City Cat

[Airport Leaving]Alec and Jon leaving for home, accompanied by an exuberant Ansett Airlines staff.

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10 August, 2000 -- Fraser Island Fishing Fanatics

Alec's recent renewed interest in fishing was further reinforced as the boys went for a day guided fishing trip - came back so enthused that they promptly rented some fishing gear and stayed up to all hours of the night, first fishing off the Kingfisher Resort pier and then from the back of KatieKat. Thankfully, everything caught was returned alive back into the sea.

[Back from Fishing]Returning from the fishing trip - yes, the boat has a canopy.

[AlecJon SeaCycle]Getting ready for more fishing

[Shark]View looking up - something to think about when swimming out to check the anchor.

[AlecJon Night Fishing]Continuing into the night...

[Alec Night Fishing]It's 2:00am and still going strong!

[Alec BikeBoat]6:30am and returning the fishing gear prior to departure.

[Alec Asleep]2:00pm and he's still asleep under the table as we sail away from Fraser Island.

[Jon Steering]Jon steering on the way to Bundaberg from Fraser Island

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7 August, 2000 -- Mooloolaba to Fraser Island - Bar Crossing

This night passage (in order to arrive at the bar crossing at slack tide in daylight) with son Alec and nephew Jonathan proved to be the nastiest sail to date, with beam winds continuously varying between 12 and 29 knots and at least two intersecting wave patterns on top of a cross-swell. The targa-mounted BikeBoat came through with flying colors! Everyone opted for sleep as I continuously varied the sail area in order to keep our boatspeed constant for a timely arrival at the bar. The boys slept through the bar crossing excitement while Kathy clutched the handrail as the boat stood on end and surfed down a series of breaking waves - when I had called the local coast guard station they allowed as I was the first to go through that morning and they'd welcome my report - never having done this before, I have no way of judging the severity of this particular bar entrance; suffice it to say, it was an interesting culmination of a long sleepless night and I was happy to turn the wheel over to the boys as we then sailed up a wonderfully warm and protected Wide Bay. We ended up at Kingfisher Resort on Fraser Island (where we had been by ferry a week before with Jacek and Cheryl), where the boys enjoyed the 4WD bus tour, the fishing, and the resort's amenities.

[WB Bar]Looking backwards after crossing the bar - unfortunately, can't see much in this photo.

[Jon Binoculars]Jon doing an excellent job navigating us through the shallows of Wide Bay.

[Alec Driving]Alec forced to drive the boat - tough life!

[Fraser Bus]Kathy in front of one of the 4WD buses - rugged vehicles!

[Fraser Sunk Ship]Great motivation to be careful!

[Fraser Staghorn]That's a staghorn - growth on a tree.

[Dingoe]That's a dingoe - they kill and gobble things, so mind the baby!

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6 August, 2000 -- BikeBoat Targa Mount

The onboard mounting of our pedal-powered SeaCycle catamaran tender which we named BikeBoat has continued to intrigue me. Dismantling it and stowing the hulls forward works very well (see 21 June 2000), but requires about 15 minutes to reassemble. Stowing it assembled on the forward deck is possible, but the various protrusions easily foul the jibsheets and access to the anchor becomes restricted though not impossible. In the back of my head is this worst-case scenario which would require access to BikeBoat while KatieKat is upside-down, and so I've continued to search for a solution which leaves BikeBoat fully assembled. First of all, we've come to find that BikeBoat tows extremely well on all points of sail using her bridle (after all, I did tow an identical SeaCycle to Alaska behind my Telstar trimaran for 3000 miles a couple of years ago); however, when running, the length of her tether needs to be adjusted to prevent runaway surfing - not something I'd care to be doing in storm conditions. Bringing BikeBoat close in and towing her between KatieKat's hulls works in smooth water, but in rougher conditions there isn't enough slack to avoid violent corrections. Raising just the bow of BikeBoat and affixing it to the aft rail while dragging its transom does work, but I feel it puts an undue stress on the molded-in bow grab handles of the SeaCycle. I'd been contemplating mounting BikeBoat directly onto the Targa bar for some time, with two options available, each having one hull nestled into the crook of the aft step railings. The one I discarded had BikeBoat up at about a 30-degree angle with the seats forward just touching the aft railing - there was a lack of elegance in that cantilevered solution, although I may consider some variation if the present one doesn't work out. What you see below is the current solution which we are about to try out on our sail up to Fraser Island. I bought some webbing and made four straps with D-rings sewn into them - they hold the whole works in nicely, with the 150# load of BikeBoat vertical and reasonably distributed amongst the four hulls. Raising BikeBoat into this position was effortless using the boom topping lift, and in an emergency a sharp knife should quickly cut through the lacing cord holding the D-rings together (yes, the bow bridle is tied off to a cleat with a tether). Visibility aft from the cockpit is still quite good, though I shudder to think of what this is doing to the air flow - definitely not something to have while racing.

[Aft Hanging BikeBoat]Alec & Jon, the two blokes who helped raise BikeBoat into this position.
How vulnerable would this setup be for an ocean crossing?

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5 August, 2000 -- Starboard Hull Tour

Continuing to show off the boat, this series of photos details the starboard hull interior, which is factory stock except for the aft cabin mod. Forward is a double bunk and a small dinette with folding table - Kathy and I were surprised at how much we are using the dinette, as the cooler weather and early winter darkness makes this nook very inviting for breakfasts. dinners, and evening lounging. Under the bunk are huge caverns where I'm storing the parachute anchors, drogues, sails, and spare lines. Amidships is the stock Seawind 1000 galley, with stove and double sink inboard, refrigerator and freezer (solar-powered) outboard, and lots of counter and storage space everywhere. The only visible thing I've added are the two small railings for hand towels and lots of dc outlets. We didn't opt for a built-in oven, but have the option of using the enclosed BBQ or a Coleman stovetop oven. Above the galley there is an opening hatch, as well as a solar-powered air-extractor fan which runs 24 hours a day. Aft of the galley outboard is more storage, primarily for dishes and cutlery, with a wine cellar below. The aft cabin standard layout consists of a bunk with storage underneath, which is fine for an additional crewmember or friendly couple. I had really wanted this cabin to be a study, yet convertible into a sleeping cabin, and can claim that what you see is my design concept, with the Seawind factory doing a wonderful job of implementing it - most professionally done! It looks quite elegant, with the wooden flooring, additional shelving, molded fibreglass with accessible cubbyholes, and matching textured table which is secured with quick-disconnect hinges. When removed, the large cushion fits perfectly onto the aft cushion. All those plastic storage containers can be stored in the caverns below should this room be needed for a guest. This little room is meeting my needs perfectly, serving as a study and nav station and light-duty workshop, and to me has dramatically improved the liveability of this boat. Perhaps in the future I might add an eye-level (when seated) opening port on the aft bulkhead and some built-in cabinetry which still won't affect this study's convertibility into a sleeping cabin.

[Stbd Fwd Cabin]The table folds down and the curtain provides privacy.

[Sink]Lots of storage behind the sliding plastic doors. Stove has a grill underneath.

[Counter]The refrigerator and freezer are under this large counter. Our eyeball TV roams around the boat.

[Hutch]Room in the hutch for dishes, books, a wine cellar, and cutlery drawer.

[Aft Cabin]Joe's inner sanctum. Perfect seating for one, squeeze for two.

[Aft Cabin Low]Note the unobtrusive printer location.

[Joe in Study]Kathy just took this photo as I am writing this.

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4 August, 2000 -- Friends and Family Onboard

First, friends Jacek and Cheryl (J&C) Kugler came for a week's visit and then Joe's son Alec and nephew Jonathan (A&J) arrived within minutes of J&C's departure. Travel has been stymied by the weather - first, adverse winds prevented us from continuing our northward trek to which we had planned to subject J&C; thus, we ended up beating from Brisbane to Tangalooma in Moreton Bay and then sailed downwind to Manly with them. With A&J on board, the winds had reversed and we had a marvelous downwind sail to Tangalooma, followed by a full day's sail to Mooloolaba, where we're now holed up due to strong wind warnings with rain thrown in for good measure. With J&C we had rented a car and driven north for a 4WD bus tour of Fraser Island. With A&J we visited Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the Aquarium here in Mooloolaba, and we're watching with interest as offshore racing powerboats set up for the big race on Sunday. Hope to leave here on Sunday evening, heading north to Fraser Island.

[A&J Koala]Cute animals!

[AlecJoe Kangaroo]Father and son.

[Alec Kangaroo]Marry me?

[Jon Kangaroo]Jon making friends.

[A&J Chillin']Chillin'

[A&J Airport]Happy faces in Brisbane Airport.

[J&C Spin]Jacek and Cheryl enjoying the nice winds and weather returning from Tangalooma

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24 July, 2000 -- Brisbane Dinghy Musings

Imagine being new to town and anchoring on the Brisbane River, then hopping into your dinghy and trying to find a dinghy dock. The only things around are the ferry docks, which have this warning sign on them:

[Dinghy Notice]Uh, officer, BikeBoat's not a dinghy...

Feeling like criminals, but not having any other options and seeing lots of other dinghies tied up, we do the same, but always nervous that BikeBoat might not be there when we return, confiscated by the authorities. It turns out that it's a matter of semantics: "Tenders" are not classified as boats, and thus it is ok to tie them up to this public dock (away from the ferry)

[Kathy Scaling Fence]Great exercise, the first step to accessing our, uh, tender.

[DinghyDock]The scramble over dinghies to get to BikeBoat - undignified, but fun!

[Kitty Kat]KatieKat, meet Kitty Kat, the low-speed cat ferry.

[City Cat]Kathy, Cheryl, and Jacek, with the high-speed City Cat ferry in background.

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21 July, 2000 -- Brisbane Tourists

We motored 14 miles up the river right into downtown Brisbane, where we anchored. Two instances of the anchor dragging over a couple of days caused me to finally seek out a marina right in town. There are many varied ferry services providing access everywhere, which is certainly convenient for us yachties as well as the locals. It turns out the anchor dragged because a length of cable had wrapped around it, preventing it from digging in - I should have rigged a Bahamian Moor - two anchors holding the boat in the tide-induced currents; also, I should have checked the anchor itself the first time it dragged! Anyway, we're making like tourists, enjoying the Koala Sanctuary, the Maritime Museum, catching up on movies (no, I won't let Kathy see 'Perfect Storm'), and wandering around this mall-infested city. We were commenting that malls in this country are truly huge and spectacular (there's even a roller-coaster inside Myers Mall here in downtown Brisbane!). Two friends from California will be joining us on Monday, and we hope to take off and sail further up the coast with them.

[Brisbane]Anchored right in the middle of town.

[Kathy Koala]Watch where you put that paw!

[Birds Table]Who needs a garbage disposal?

[DuckKatieKat]Hi!

[Weatherfax Monkey]KatieKat's mascot studying hard, anticipating the future.

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17 July, 2000 -- Where Are We?

I haven't had time to continue expanding my programming knowledge into stuff such as java map control, so I thought I'd simply start by taking photos of maps or charts that we're using - the top and bottom photos below are from an excellent series of cruising guides by Alan Lucas "Cruising the New South Wales Coast" and "Cruising the Coral Coast", whereas the center photo is from Crawford's "Mariners Atlas" - a compendium of official charts in book form.

[Australia Map]That's Australia :-) We're on the East Coast.

[East Coast Map]We started in Sydney and are now in Manly just east of Brisbane.

[Moreton Bay Map]Today we will sail/motor up the river into the City of Brisbane. Peel Island is EastSouthEast of Manly.

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15 July, 2000 -- Peel Island - On the Sand

Undaunted by the unsuccessful lower unit oil change in the port motor, I bought a hand impact driver and a hatchet (to use as a hammer), talked with some locals about what was really the best place to beach, and set off at dawn for Peel Island's Horseshoe Bay - a lovely spot, as you can see from the photos below. In addition to changing the oil in about five minutes, I took the opportunity of the beached boat to install some padeyes on the side of the center forward decking and clean up the hull a bit. We enjoyed a lovely day on the beached sand, and sailed back to Manly (about a two-hour sail) later that night under an almost full moon and starlit skies. A great experience contrasted with the muddy Manly one. Sorry for boring you with these photos, but it should be a rare sight to see the boat out the water like this.

[BBQ Joe]French toast for breakfast, waiting for the tide to go out.

[Portside View]On the sandbank

[Starboard View]Not as deserted as it first appears.

[Front View]Note the curve on the inside of the hull.

[Aft View]The port horseshoe lifering has a long tether whereas the untethered starboard one has an attached light and drogue. Note the excellent cockpit sunscreening.

[Repairing BikeBoat]Greasy operation to replace a major part on one of BikeBoat's legs.

[Beanbag]Relaxing the day after with brunch and the beanbag.

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13 July, 2000 -- Manly - On the Mud

There was a nagging maintenance issue that needed to be taken care of: the gear oil in the outboard motors' lower units needed to be changed, a ten-minute job which necessitates that the motor be vertical when filling, because the process is to squirt oil in the bottom drain hole until it runs out the top. The problem is that, when mounted on the boat, the vertical motor's lower unit is 18" below sea level. No worries, I thought, there are dozens of Seawinds around here, so I'll just go to an outboard motor maintenance mechanic who undoubledly has fashioned a bucket-like arrangement to access those drainplugs whilst under the boat - Wrong! No one I came across had fashioned such a device (I'll have to do a displacement calculation to see if it's even feasible), so there are four other options available:

Lifting the motor inside the boat is relatively easily done with the aid of a block and tackle, but with a danger of losing bits and pieces into the water as various control mechanisms are undone - besides, it probably takes a couple of hours per motor. I couldn't justify the cost of either hoisting or slipping the boat just to change the gear oil, so we decided to park the boat on the sandflats and see what happens

At high tide in the morning I ran the boat up, not onto the promised sandflats, but onto soft squishy, oozy, yucky (but clean) mud. The boat gently sank down into this mud as the tide went out - we lowered the gangplank (a great built-in ladder under the forward deck of the boat that I had previously considered a nice ornament) and stepped ashore and sank down into at least a half-foot of the ooze. Walking in this muck was extremely difficult(!!), as Kathy can attest to since I had screwed up and didn't have enough gear oil so she had to wade up to the marine store to get some more as I worked on the motors.

To make a long story short, despite having a very large screwdriver, I couldn't undo the port engine's drainplug! The situation wasn't helped by the difficulty of getting a good foothold to be able to push against the screwdriver. Oh, do I miss some of my tools from home, such as the impact screwdriver! The starboard engine oil change went ok, but the oil container was so hard that I couldn't squeeze out enough gear oil to make it come out the top hole. Most unsatisfying amidst all the muck.

There were, however, some positive things that came of this exercise ... first, we confirmed how feasible and easy the grounding process is. Secondly, I was able to clear out what had been a continuously plugging-up galley sink drain: a large wad of sealant (leftover from the boat construction) was stuck inside the drainhole -this had effectively been trapping stuff (even coffee grounds) - you don't want to know about the successful drain-clearing system I had devised. Thirdly, I slogged around the underside of the boat with a tube of Sikaflex sealant attacking anything that looked like it might be a hole as I have (had?) in rough water a saltwater leak coming from the steering cable passageway and into the starboard aft cabin cupboard - there was nothing obviously wrong, so in the future we'll see if my gooping did any good.

The photos below show off a number of features of the boat. The front view shows the retractable forward ladder assembly which is primarily useful when the boat is nosed up to the beach. This photo also shows off the inside hullshape of the forward end of the boat which provides a very rapid increase in displacement as the hull buries. This shape sure looks like that of an Australian J-Class submarine (circa 1915). The underside photo shows the various appendages down there. On stock Seawinds, the center bulge normally houses the fuel tanks. Notably, there has been almost no wave slapping to date. The waterline hullshape is quite slippery, and the retracting motors eliminate a significant source of drag.

[Mudflats Front]Note the built-in ladder and forward inside hull shape.

[Mudflats Joe]Note how deep the mud is in which I'm standing.

[Boat Underneath]Still a shiny new boat.

[Mudflats Boat Side]The "San Francisco, CA" is a Coast Guard documentation requirement.

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11 July, 2000 -- Gold Coast to Manly - Waterfront Living

We motorsailed up from Southport through protected waters up some narrow channels amongst a multitude of islands and a mainland with beautiful waterfront properties.

This area is teeming with multihulls - sail or power, cruise or race, I have never seen such a concentration of beautiful cats and tris and occasional proa. I keep forgetting to take pictures so you'll have to take my word for it, although I was fascinated by the huge powercat you see below.

We're working our way up to Brisbane, where we'll meet friends from California who will be joining us for a week. In the meantime, we've stopped in Manly where I'm further upgrading some of the boat's systems. Hope to put together a boat description in the near future and maybe some maps/charts of the areas we're covering...

[Waterfront House]Although most are new, this is one of the older gracious-looking waterfront properties.

[BeanBag Stuffing]Kathy coming back from shopping, with a beanbag and stuffing. Note the stranded monohull in background.

[PowerCat]Multihulls come in all shapes and sizes, with this being one extreme

[Grounded Monohull]The efforts of four combined Volunteer Marine Rescue, Coast Guard, and Police boats failed to budge this stranded monohull.

[Bowling]Lawn bowling is very popular here, with Bowling Clubs fronting for casinos

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4-5 July, 2000 --Coffs Harbour to the Gold Coast - Dark Sloshing

Well, the one-day stay in Coffs Harbour turned into a week, as changing weather culminating in two days of gale-force winds kept us from proceeding up the coast. A neighboring catamaran which went out for some heavy-weather practice was promptly dismasted. Climbed up on top of Muttonbird Island (now a peninsula formed by the boat harbor) in the horizontal rain to view the carnage only to see the cat calmly motoring back home while the accompanying police boat was rolling wildly in the waves.

We finally left Coffs Harbour on July 4, and logged 155 nm downwind, sailed almost entirely on jib alone in 15-25 knot winds with a chop remaining from the preceding-days' nasties. Flew the small red spinnaker for about a half-hour, but the boatspeed creeping up to ten knots left me just a little uncomfortable (after all, we're cruising, not racing) - as it was, we averaged seven knots under jib alone for stretches where the wind picked up. Kathy's description for this leg of the trip was a memory of dark sloshing - no moon that night.

Arrived on Queensland's Gold Coast at Southport (couldn't enter our initial destination - Tweed Heads - because of waves at the bar), with a noticeable increase in sun intensity and daytime temperature. This place looks like Florida, with tourist prices to match. Next stop, Brisbane.

[Kathy Pointsetta]"Duh, I always thought Poinsettas came in little pots" - photo in Coffs Harbour Botanical Gardens.

[Solitary Island]One of the Solitary Islands we passed on the way from Coffs Harbour.

[Gold Coast]Approaching the Gold Coast - Miami Beach?

[FloatingChurch]A self-propelled wedding chapel - cute and not tacky.

[SouthportYC]In front of the Southport Yacht Club on the Gold Coast

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26 June, 2000 -- Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour - Towing BikeBoat and Flying Spinnakers

Left early in the morning from Port Macquarie, intending to only sail about thirty miles up the coast; however, the short-term weather forecast was very favorable (read: tailwind!), with a forecast adverse windshift for the following day, so we decided to continue on up the coast to Coffs Harbor. We arrived around four in the morning and very slowly groped our way into the inner harbor where we lucked out and found a sidetie for KatieKat, having sailed 75.9 nm.

Rather than disassemble BikeBoat again, I decided to try towing her (after all, it was going to be a brief hop). As I had successfully towed this type of SeaCycle up to Alaska and back for 3000 miles in 1998, I wasn't too worried. It seems that at the higher speeds of the Seawind (compared to my Telstar trimaran) the SeaCycle does get a little unstable (yaws a bit), but I can't tell whether this was also due to our point of sail (running). Anyway, I kept BikeBoat on a fairly short leash to keep her from surfing away and the whole trip was uneventful (but I did attach a blinking bicycle LED light to her just in case I needed to cut her loose...).

This great downwind heading also allowed us to try out the two Telstar spinnakers which I brought - they're symmetrical chutes with the red heavy-weather one being much too small for the Seawind. Both chutes worked out beautifully, as each one has its own sock which means absolutely no trouble to hoist or douse (the sock merely slurps up and captures the sail). Each lower corner of the spinnaker goes around a turning block on each bow with a single line (is it a sheet or a guy?) which is brought back to the cockpit. Since the Seawind has no backstay and the shrouds come back a fair amount, this means that when the boat is running before the wind the mainsail rests against the shrouds, and even socking down the preventer doesn't eliminate this contact - the solution is simple: douse the main and leave unobstructed airflow for the spinnaker. This proved to be a very simple and straightforward configuration which has worked so well for me in the past on the Telstar and which I'll be employing henceforth on the Seawind for our downwind legs. The simplicity of this system proved itself when I inadvertently dropped a bag I was affixing to the railing - we doused the spinnaker and retrieved the bag very very quickly (no drama, as they say here) - a great MOB exercise. We continued flying the spinnaker throughout the night until the wind shifted shortly before arriving at Coffs Harbour. In the future I'll be experimenting to see over what points of sail these spinnakers are useable.

[Joe Spinnaker]First flight of the red spinnaker - happiness.

[Kathy Spinnaker]Kathy's first reaction to the spinnaker (she has since come around to loving it)

[Night Spinnaker]Spinnaker at night - no worries, mate!

[Munching Lettuce]Munching away at the mustard lettuce we have growing on board.

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23 June, 2000 -- Port Stephens to Port Macquarie - Minor Excitement

Departed Port Stephens late at night after some delay - I discovered that my VHF radio didn't transmit (the receiver worked perfectly). It took a while to figure out that when this new Standard Horizon Intrepid radio is set to International, it doesn't transmit! Only after reprogramming it to USA channels did it finally put out - this consumed a little time which meant I was pushing the boat slightly the whole time in order to arrive in Port Macqaurie before dusk - and we just barely made it. 105.8nm logged.

When cruising coastal Australia, there is a Volunteer Marine Rescue Coastal Patrol network which keeps tabs on boats. One checks in with them over the radio when leaving and arriving - they pass on the basic boat information to stations along the route, and it's a comforting diversion to stay in contact with them. In addition to emergency services, they also provide the much-needed weather forecasts (there are no marine weather channels like we have in the US) and are very helpful in providing navigational information as well as simply items of general interest for their area. I've taken to visiting their stations, and they are all very pleasant and professional with their operations.

In the middle of the night this passage gave me (Kathy was asleep) some excitement as the winds briefly kicked up to 25 knots gusting to 30, testing my singlehanded reefing ability - this worked very smoothly, as one of the mods I had installed was a main halyard winch mounted on the mast (instead of having the main halyard brought back to the cockpit). Anyway, the lowering and attaching of the reefed sail tacks was very simple and fast, with clew tensioning accomplished once back in the cockpit. The subsequent re-hoisting provides a great arm-muscle workout with the #16 halyard winch (now a two-speed) - guess I'll always have to fully head up into the wind to hoist that main. Later that day, we ended up on a very windy close reach, with a nasty chop quite reminiscent of San Francisco Bay - a screw fell out of the ProFurl jib furler, separating the foil from the furling mechanism - happily, there was a spare screw in the kit of parts which came with the boat which fixed this minor inconvenience. Kathy was beginning to wonder about this supposedly-idyllic cruising business. Anyway, the boat carried us through all this with aplomb.

We arrived in Port Macquarie at dusk, crossed the shallow entrance bar in smooth water (the bright blue-purple glowing range lights were wonderful) and groped our way up to a mooring and crashed again into an exhausted sleep.

We unshipped and assembled BikeBoat and spent a wonderful couple of days in this very nice town with great waterfront walking paths, culminated with a fantastic buffet dinner at the Port Macquarie City Bowling Club.

[Waves]A little windy on the way to Port Macquarie

[Waves Aft]View looking aft with the reefed-down boat cruising at around 8 knots.

[Kathy Navigating]Kathy practicing her navigation while super-comfortable in her Mustang suit.

[Port Macquarie Stream]A BikeBoat cruise up the stream in the middle of Port Macquarie.

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21 June, 2000 -- Pittwater to Port Stephens Nightsail - BikeBoat on Deck

Departed Pittwater at night with a gorgeous almost full moon in order to arrive in Port Stephens during daylight. 75.3nm logged for this passage. After we arrived in Port Stephens late in the day we tied up to a mooring, took hot showers on board and slept for twelve hours straight!

We had hoisted Bikeboat up on deck in Pittwater with the spinnaker halyard and disassembled it, as I didn't want any surprises during this first night sail. The hulls beautifully nestled into the mothership's pulpits, and I didn't bother further disassembling the bits and pieces as they all fit on the spacious aft cockpit seats and railing and didn't interfere with anything except access to the BBQ.

I've created a database for the Logbook, and one of the fields I've put in is Lessons Learned, some of which I'll be sharing as we go along. The first one is rather mundane - e.g., always put clothespins on stuff put out to dry or it WILL disappear (Kathy was very nice and didn't do an "I told you so!" for my negligence in losing one of the new large towels).

[BikeBoat on Forward Deck]In Port Stephens, with BikeBoat still nicely secured.

[BikeBoat Pieces on Aft Deck]View looking aft, with all of BikeBoat's pieces out of the way

[BikeBoat on Deck]View of one of BikeBoat's hulls, snuggled nicely out of the way.

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18 June, 2000 -- Start of Cruise

Finally moving! We sailed up the coast to Pittwater, and are currently exploring this beautiful area whose entrance from the ocean is through Broken Bay, with Barrenjoey Lighthouse on the headland above it. Hope to sail up to Port Stephens this coming week, weather permitting.

[Broken Bay]Broken Bay entrance, view from Barrenjoey Lighthouse

[Isthmus]View south from Barrenjoey Lighthouse

[Barrenjoey Lighthouse]Barrenjoey Head Lighthouse

[America Bay]I asked Kathy to take off her ever-present hat for these photos.

[America Bay]Peaceful seclusion (because it is winter!) of America Bay.

[BAMA Burgee Sydney]San Francisco Bay Area Multihull Association Burgee flying in Sydney harbor.

[Boat Christening]The formal (?) Christening of KatieKat on June 12.

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