Illywhacker Heads for Home
A CCC Article written in Sidney BC, May 2003
Greetings from Sidney BC on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
At last the sun feels warm and the days are noticeably
longer. The increasing number of smiling people bustling
around this marina suggests summer is on the way and cruises
are being planned. Time for illywhacker to be underway
too, no more excuses to enjoy the wonderful hospitality
of our new Canadian friends or to dream up more jobs for
do” list. It’s time to punch in waypoints for
our 7,500nm passage, to stock up on 6 months of supplies,
check the weather sources and radio nets, meet the crew
at the airport – then set our course for Oz.
Sidney has been a good place to bring the boat up to scratch
for a long passage. There are large numbers of chandleries,
sailmakers, diesel shops etc and efficent haulout facilities.
As the Canadian dollar is in a similarly parlous state as
our own, the cost of these services has been manageable.
had our sails, liferaft and windgen overhauled and have threatened
the diesel with replacement if it misbehaves. The heaters
have been decommisioned and our winter clothes stuffed into
the bottom lockers – tropical climates here we come!
It’s been a great stop for seeing something of the
NE Pacific coast as well. People we meet here are just fantastic.
We’ve driven in borrowed cars and been driven all
over Vancouver Island, Vancouver itself and many places
along the coast of BC, Washington and California to the
south of San Francisco taking in Las Vegas in Nevada and
the Grand Canyon in Arizona as well. We enjoy listening
to local radio and following world events through Canadian
eyes. I don’t
think though we’ll ever understand the fervor accorded
ice hockey, let alone the sport of curling! We’ve
also partaken of the Canadian activity of attending a “You-brew” shop.
By sprinkling the yeast into a carboy of grape crushings
of your choice, you are considered to have made it yourself
and thereby avoided wine taxes and duty (15%). Bottling
is almost automatic and at a resulting $4 a bottle it is
a very entertaining pastime.
Our route will take us from Vancouver
to Hawaii, then to the Marshall Islands and hopefully to
Vanuatu via Kiribati and Tuvulu before we head to Queensland.
A slightly shorter route would take us from the Marshalls
to our favourite North Solomons Western Province thence to
Townsville. Our Voyage Passage Planning software (version
2) has calculated the optimum course home for maximum speed
and minimum wave height so we have a series of waypoints
curving their way across the Pacific. It tells us we can
expect favourable winds at Force 4 –
sounds too good to be true? We’ll let you know. For
those who can’t wait until we get back and want regular
snippets, we plan to update our website www.illywhacker.com
as we go – something to keep us amused in the middle
of the ocean. A break in the regular web diary column
will surely indicate rough weather and that we’ve
lost enthusiam for computing below decks.
We have a berth in Townsville and
plan to spend a few winters there while we build up our strength
for the next adventure. With some luck, we’ll be there by early December and
might even make the CCC xmas party in Sydney. See you all
Written in Townsville September
I guess the passage went pretty much as planned. Our Pilot
program VPP2 predicted the average weather conditions with
surprising accuracy - the squalls and storms that occur on
any voyage gave us wind shifts and increases in strength but
we experienced nothing above 35 kts. It was generally a "downhill
run" with our sailplan anything between a tight reach
to a run. We motored or motorsailed for 9 days out of the
50 total, 6.5 of which was crossing the North Pacific High
en route to Hawaii where we ventured a little too far west
in our quest for calm seas (we overdid it a bit there!).
The 7000nm passage from Victoria to Townsville took 50 days
at an average speed of 5.71kts. We consider illywhacker our
cruising home and at 22 tons she is very heavily laden, well over
her design weight of 16 tons. I always sail conservatively,
reducing sail whenever she shows signs of being unbalanced
or generally when the speed increses to over 7 kts. I learnt
on this trip that she is capable of more and appears to enjoy
the faster passages. There has been no sign of any changes
to rigging tension, wear or chafe and the sails were unaffected
by the journey. As always it is us that weakend first, not
illywhacker - we were quite pleased with her performance.
One of the important aspects aboard for us is keeping in
touch with other cruisers and keeping informed about weather
and conditions in the ports we intend to visit. For us this
means Amateur radio and the wonderful people who dedicate
their time to making life better for cruising yachties. Nowhere
was this illustrated so well as over the 50 days of this passage
when we checked in to the Pacific Seafarers Net. Our position
was recorded daily and entered into the "YOTREPS" website where friends could see our progress. To these good
people, Dick, Larry, Jamie and the gang - we offer a million
So here we are in a marina berth and not at sea or in a foreign
port. It will take some time to adjust but for now we are
focussed on the task of improving Lyndall's health - then
we can set sail once more.........
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