By Alan Littlefield
Dreamagic (a Bavaria 44) has now successfully completed her voyage from Pittwater in NSW to her new home in Cairns. On the way we managed to fit in the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race, a few WAGS at Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, and we are now WAGging with Cairns Yacht Club while waiting for the start of the Louisiades Rally on September 12.
I have cruised and raced fairly extensively up the Queensland Coast but this will be both my, and Dreamagic‘s first true blue water sailing experience. There is a fair bit to be done to change a coastal cruiser into a blue water boat. Starting of course with Australian Ship Registration.
I have a dread of dealing with bureaucracy but AMSA, or the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, could not be more helpful when assisting you to complete their forms. However there are certainly an awful lot of them, and the answer to a number of the questions asked are not easy to find. “Who was the ship built for?” It was a stock Bavaria out the factory in Germany, and not built specifically for anyone but that is not the answer needed. The forms are obviously designed for one off, much larger vessels. However, I believe Dreamagic’s registration is nearly completed, just one more form.. ..
She now has an HF radio , which at $3,500 secondhand is an absolute bargain, or so I am told. I had to do a one-day course to be licensed to use it, and have my backstay cut in half to accommodate the antenna, but the radio now sits resplendent at the navigation table and I am able to speak to anyone, even the space shuttle if I want. I can’t speak to my friend’s boat, which I can see if I go on deck, and calling Coast Radio Gladstone and Coast Radio Sydney didn’t produce the desired results even though they monitor 24 hours a day. However New Zealand answered which was nice of them, and eventually Coast Guard Cairns did too. However, given they are at the end of the jetty Dreamagic is moored on that isn’t really a terrific result. In fact they may have just heard me calling into the microphone.
We also have an eight-man liferaft sitting on the deck. These things are hugely expensive, but in the event that the boat starts to sink it seems all you do is throw it over the side, pull a rope and it explodes into a capsule that will keep us all safe until help arrives. It seems simple enough but a couple of things do bother me. Firstly it takes three people to actually lift it let alone “throw it over the side”. Additionally, it is foreign made and the label states “Keep away from direct sunlight and store in a cool dry place”.
Finally we have a spinnaker, or “kite” as the rockstars who haunt the yacht club bars prefer to call it. Ours is an asymmetrical one that lives in a sock and comes out when needed.
Some people love spinnakers, usually spinnaker flyers that are on other people’s boats. I hate them, bloody vicious things. I think it was Sir Francis Chichester who described flying a spinnaker as an experience not unlike having a tom cat by one ear, one leg and the tail, and then wondering why it turns around and scratches you.
It had been on the boat about two weeks when someone mentioned that it actually hadn’t been flown. I gave a suitable excuse but the pressure was building from a motley crew and eventually it could be stalled no further, we had to let it out of the bag. One of my friends, Simon does race and is the spinnaker handler on a 30 footer so I drafted him With his natural exuberance for anything sailing that may kill or seriously maim you, Simon unpacked this thing and we sat on the front trying to work out how to actually get it up and open without sinking the boat. We ran the lines out, tweaked the tweakers, kicked the kicker, uphauled the uphaul, downhauled the downhaul, socked the sock and sh*t on the sheets. Or something like that. Finally when Simon had this plan firmly in his head, and I had no idea what was going to happen we hauled the sock up the mast and pulled the release halyard.
It is a seriously beautiful kite and was obviously keen to impress us with its ability. Dreamagic surged ahead and most of the crew stood riveted to the spot just watching. Fortunately not all and Simon and I managed to keep it under control until we were running out of water and had to get it down.
In hindsight, we should probably have discussed this before we put it up. It loved being there and really didn’t want to go back into its bag but we finally persuaded it to calm down. Maybe Simon offered it a saucer of milk.
So that’s the progress so far. I have ten more weeks to organize the wind generator, additional water, additional fuel, and provisions, sails to the sailmaker, engine serviced and of course Blue Water Insurance. Courtesy of entering the Brisbane to Gladstone we are at AYF Cat 1 safety already so at least that is one hurdle we don’t have to jump.
Now where did I put that passport?
ALAN LITTLEFIELD lives aboard Dreamagic, a Bavaria 44. Currently in Cairns he is looking for crew to do WAGS, Sunday sailing and The Louisiades Rally. Visit http://www.dreamagic.com.au/