Another place to come back to

Tomorrow morning we set off on a roughly 4-week voyage up to Sanya in Hainan Province, through the Coral Sea, Solomon Sea, round the north of the Philippines and into the South China Sea. I’m actually looking forward to this trip; not entirely sure why but maybe it’s an interesting route.

Although this stopover in Airlie Beach was 11 days, I only managed a couple of half days off, one to go skydiving (which was awesome again) and one for a flight over the reef. We were supposed to land and go snorkelling but it was too windy. I spent the rest of the time working on the boat, and still not having enough time for me to get everything done, which all in all was really a bit disappointing. Even Bill managed one day off and she works more than anyone on the boat (with team coordinator and victualler jobs currently it’s mostly unexciting off-boat work). Not much tends to happen when I’m not on the boat either, unless I leave detailed instructions for jobs.

I could really do with a week off.

Anyway, here’s some photos from our flight that didn’t land.

Up the coast to Airlie Beach

We arrived in the hot & sunny Whitsundays a couple of days ago after an 11-day sail up from Hobart in Tasmania. We were delayed a little on the way due to many wind holes; the Bass Strait again being kind to us. On this leg we’ve sailed across it three times, each time the wind being relatively gentle and excellent for sailing. I’m told it’s usually rather more enthusiastic!

It was mostly upwind for the first few days; I may have spoken before on this blog about the (un)comfort of these boats upwind!  A few days before Airlie Beach however a major front passed northwards up the coast, passing over us at night. We went from tacking upwind, to a slight backing (moving anticlockwise) of the wind direction, to a dropping of wind and some drizzle (all accompanied by an excellent light show of continuous lighting coming closer), to — 10 minutes after my watch went to bed and the other watch came on — a sudden increase to 30 knots of wind from the opposite direction and pouring rain! Altogether an exciting night, and the last few days were then downwind under spinnaker, sailing up the coast behind the shelter of the Great Barrier Reef.

Now I have some days off here in the tropical paradise (it says here in this brochure) of the Whitsundays, with plans — along with a lot of boat jobs! — of visiting the reefs, some skydiving and maybe some diving or snorkelling.


Coming in at twilight (photo by Clipper)


View from our balcony!

Tasmania – what a wonderful place

We arrived here in Hobart on December 29th after a very fast downwind Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race.

It’s nearly time to leave again; tomorrow morning we’re racing up to Airlie Beach in the Whitsunday islands on the Queensland coast. It should take around 10 days, and I’m told the Whitsundays are amazing.

They’ll have to be pretty special to beat Tasmania though. Hobart is a lovely little city, with a very eccentric private modern ‘art’ gallery (the Museum of Old and New Art, or MONA) which is definitely worth a day’s visit. I managed to get out to a couple of the national parks here too (Freycinet and Mount Field) – the former on the east coast with exceptional beaches, and the latter in the middle, with mountains and temperate rainforest. Lots of wildlife too – we saw wallabies, plenty of birds and a tasmanian devil in the forest – although the only kangaroos so far have been roadkill examples. ☹️

Tassie has great food, nice wines and many excellent ciders too. It also has a lot of climbing, so I definitely foresee coming back here on a climbing trip. In fact the only downside is its rather inconvient location on the opposite side of the world to the UK.

This leg will probably be mostly upwind sailing; we have chosen to play our joker, doubling our final points. Hopefully the weather favours us and we keep on working hard!

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