Will I ever go back? No (gee that was easy)
What is my favourite spot on earth?
There are so many but I would say Broomfield Reef on the Great Barrier Reef.
I was on an island and I scabbed a lift to a reef with the University of NSW dive club and their diveboat. On the way we helped some professional fisherman to get their boat started (flat battery). In our general chewing the fat, it became known to them that I have a particular love for a very special fish, Spangled Emperor. The fisherman then began to describe a place where there were these fish aplenty. We had no maps or GPS and neither did he so the explanation was about lining up islands and reefs, and big chunks of coral etc to get to this mystical magical place. Early morning the next day we drove along way and I was dropped off by myself on this reef. The divers went off somewhere else but they were going to pick me up close to sunset.
This is when I was pretty young and foolish and when I think back at all the things that could have gone wrong I shudder a bit. But I was a get-by-er then too and quite professional at it and the thought of anything going wrong that I couldn’t handle never entered my mind.
I had 2 spearguns, 1 litre of water, a small amount of food and a fish float. I got dropped off in a stiff current that was going against me and the divers left as soon as soon as I was making headway against the current. The tide was dropping so that was likely to get less or more….hey I didn’t know I had never been there before and all reefs are different. But I made it to the reef edge where I could stand and trudge through the current although it was difficult since the water was above my waist and dead against me. But it was dropping and it got easier and easier but at the start it was touch and go.
What I was looking for was a completely enclosed lagoon somewhere on the reef. The sun was in my eyes so a whole section of the reef was a glaring blur. At that time I didn’t even know I was on the right reef although we followed the fishermans directions but they may have been tanked, you never know. The visible parts of the reef didn’t have a lagoon so it must have been in the glare. So I trudged on. And on. And on. The water was getting lower and lower and eventually I walked far enough ….and there it was…it was amazing. The colours were staggering even if I was colour blind. I mean the blue was the blue-est I had ever seen. As blue as Esperance….now that was some kind of blue. I simply can’t describe it….actually here is a metaphor, it was the Shangrilah of the diving world….
I entered the water and it was like being in an aquarium in a hotel. It was perfect. And because the tide had dropped low enough all the fish were trapped. Now it wasn’t like shooting fish in a barrel since it had the area of a football field, although highly irregular, but it was like your own private water park with the gates closed so no fish could get out.
There were turtles, crayfish, eagle rays, huge amounts of fish, manta rays, reef sharks, nurse sharks and 1 small tiger shark. On other occasions I have seen small hammerhead sharks, bull sharks, a half eaten turtle that was going through its final death throes and heaps more.
I shot 6 emperor that day since I had to feed 33 people but I could have shot more. In the end I was simply playing with the emperor
Far out. This was my heavan on earth. And the fish….they were everywhere. And spangled emperors they were everywhere too wooohooo.
Where will the journey end?
I’ll be stuffed if I know.
Why the “no fridge/freezer policy”?
I could easily have a fridge on the boat. There is a really large spot for it but I don’t need it. For starters I don’t eat any dairy. I also don’t eat meat that someone else unnaturally kills, I don’t eat wheat….so why do I need a fridge?
If I had a fridge I could stock it full of a range of foods and I wouldn’t have to leave the boat at all….I like the idea that I have to keep going otherwise I will go hungry. Also, it would be a pretty boring blog if you just saw me opening the fridge and eating in front of you wouldn’t it?
Why no water maker?
I will probably make one which is a bit of a compromise for me because it is fun finding water sources and gathering it. But due to the large number of ladies that come on board that have plenty of hair it is very difficult to keep the 400 litres for more than 2 weeks.
Maybe I will buy a broken one and repair it. Who knows, it is in the future somewhere.
What was the compromise I made when I purchased Long Reef.
The only compromise was the bridge deck clearance. I wanted at least 800mm but I got 760 in the middle and a tragic 550mm on the sides. Bridgedeck clearance is important since the higher it is the less slamming you have. This is mitigated somewhat because of the bow and hull shape. The hulls are not vertical but splayed out so when I get decent speed the boat tends to ride higher and so there is less slamming. I have had virtually no slamming sailing 60 degrees (apparent) to windward in 2.5m swell with 1m chop on top in 20 to 25 knots averaging 9.8 knots myself. Keep the boat above 8 knots and it seems to work itself out. Crowther, the designer of my boat, was a genius apparently.
The only problem is on the outer reef in winds above 30 knots. When I have decent fetch in front of me (or on high tide) the chop will slam under the boat at anchor. This doesn’t happen often and really is only noise but it can wake you up.
If the boat is holed in a number of places would I ever go to the liferaft?
No. My boat can have holes all over the place and it will still float. The inner Kevlar skin will assist in keeping the boat together. Understanding all this, there is little point in leaving a boat with food and water in it and taking to the liferaft. My boat may have water inside and be uncomfortable but it would be infinitely better than a life-raft.
Will I abandon my boat if it turns turtle?
No. 3 people survived 119 days in their upturned trimaran off New Zealand. If they can do it, anyone can do it. You could make hammocks to keep yourself above the water. You have access to food and water still in the boat. You are simply wet. Wet but all good.
Keep trying and inventing. In a breeze I think it is possible with block and tackle, a para-anchor, ropes and a kitesurfing rig to actually turn my cat back over. All of which is on my boat. There will be people out there that will say that this is impossible but I just don’t want to hear it. In an emergency situation, the day you stop trying and inventing is the day you die because you have given up….the worst thing in those situations is people that say CAN’T. CAN CAN CAN CAN CAN…. even if all the physics indicates no….there may be something that you have not considered….we still don’t know how bees fly…anything is possible.
In the first 7 years what jobs have been done on the boat?.
There are too many to list but the main ones are
The fairing was bogged with epoxy and q-cell above the waterline. Under the water line I used epoxy with phenolic balls.
Reconditioned parts of both motors
Repaired small amounts of delamination on the deck using a fridge compressor I got from a council cleanup.
Hulls above waterline painted. This was all done on the sand bank using tarps.
Replaced anchor winch.
Ripped out all the carpet, bogged the floors and painted them. I mean, who wants carpet on a boat? What a crazy idea that is.
Bogged and repainted most of the inside of the boat.
Ripped out the fridge/freezer and made storage space with large ply sheets as shelves. If my boat is holed, I will beach the cat, and cut the shelves to size and epoxy/screw these on for a temporary repair.
Reinforced with carbon fibre and epoxy inserts the 2 main cleats just in case we are anchoring in a violent wind or using the para anchor.
I used one bedroom door to make my bed bigger.
Cut back a small headsail to make a storm jib.
Replaced rigging. I did the rigging myself while on a mooring. I did one piece at a time and used halyard and other ropes to fix the mast. This took about a month. Yeah I know…I took my time
I replaced one Gori folding propeller. I hit a crab trap buoy that was below the surface. 3000 dollars later….
I ripped out the old kitchen and put in a stainless steel kitchen. A bit heavy but it is really easy to keep clean and there are no complaints from any ladies.
I made storm covers for all the windows in carbon fibre.
I made a Jordan series drogue
I designed and made a carbon fibre emergency steering system so that if my hydraulics fail I have a backup system.
I reconditioned my hydraulic steering, replaced all flexible hoses and got spares.
I removed the dagger boards and repaired them. This consisted mainly of removing some rotting timber, bogging up and fibreglassing.
I replaced one of my jabsco pump toilets with one I found outside a marina. It was just sitting there. I asked the mechanic and he said the owners couldn’t get it to work properly even though it was 6 months old so they chucked it out. I took it home and pulled it apart and found the large “o” ring was shredded and the pump was calcified up. So I bought a new o ring and some vinegar to remove the calcium. So for about $3 I got an almost brand new toilet.