Are you talking about ‘BC’?
Have you noticed that people are beginning to drop ‘BC’ into conversations these days? The BC that they are referring to is Before Covid and definitely not the BC we learned about at school.
At the beginning of 2020, as in ‘BC’, our friends Martin and Gwen enjoyed exploring Tasmania on their sailing vessel (SV) No Soucy. Gwen became pregnant and experienced debilitating morning sickness. Ken and I didn’t think that sailing home to New Caledonia, as planned would be much fun, so we suggested that they fly home and that in April, we would sail No Soucy home to New Caledonia for them. We would fly back to Brisbane, where we keep a small car and enjoy a road trip back to Tasmania. It seemed such a simple and fun thing for us to do.
Martin and Gwen flew home to New Caledonia.
Then came Covid-19
Martin and Gwen arrived home in New Caledonia two days before all borders were shut and international travel of any kind ground to a halt.
We all kept thinking that things would get back to normal, and shortly, we would be able to sail their boat back home to them.
The consequences of Covid were significant for our friends. Usually they lived full time aboard No Soucy, however, because their vessel was stranded in Tasmania, they had to find somewhere else to live.
Covid-19 also meant paying marina fees for No Soucy every month she was stranded in Australia. A big financial drain for our young friends.
Unfortunately – there is more.
After thousands of nautical miles, many different countries, marinas and islands, and never having any issues with theft at all, in George Town, Tasmania, things changed dramatically.
First, their outboard motor was stolen.
Next thing, a rat got on board and succeeded in eating all dry provisions. It also soiled everything inside the vessel, chewed a hole in the mainsail and was very difficult to eradicate. Fortunately it didn’t chew any electrical wires.
The final straw was when low life people used bolt cutters to break into No Soucy, and after removing anything of value, they left her in a dreadful mess. We were very disappointed in the police deeming the crime was one of ‘opportunity’.
In order for the criminals to get into the vessel, they would have had a dinghy to get into the marina and strong bolt cutters to break the locks. The list of stolen goods includes a laptop, all tools, electronic equipment, a drone, all drugs, and wet weather gear. Interestingly, all the drugs were labelled in French and included the usual anti-biotics and pain relief customarily carried on board.
A last, international traveling resumes
In April, 2022, New Caledonia became open to sailing vessels and Australia permited her citizens to travel overseas again.
22/04/22 No Soucy departs George Town, Tasmania
My partner, Ken, and I left York Cove Marina, in George Town, Tasmania, at 2:20 pm on Thursday, 22nd May. Our departure was delayed as we had to obtain clearance from the Australian Border Force (ABF) to move No Soucy, a foreign vessel, out of the Launceston Port Authority.
The plan is that Martin will fly from New Caledonia to Sydney, then he will take the train and meet us in Coffs Harbour. The three of us will sail No Soucy home to New Caledonia together.
The route – York Cove to Eden
Thursday, 22nd April
We left York Cove in George Town, Tasmania, at 14:20 on
We had no wind so used the motor until we dropped anchor off Bellingham, Norhern Tasmania. We had covered 24 nautical miles.
Friday, 23rd April
We woke at 04:00. We had trouble with the anchor winch so pulled the anchor up by hand. This delayed our departure and we got underway at 05:00. We were exhausted before the day had begun!
Saturday, 24th April
Again, there was no wind, and so we motored 73 nautical miles and dropped anchor off Polana, Flinders Island. We often sail around Flinders Island; our yacht, SV Nichola, has a mooring there at Lady Barron. We enjoyed sailing past places we often visit on land. We had a good night’s sleep as there was minimal swell.
We were underway at 05:40, after pulling the anchor up by hand.
We covered 144 nautical miles in 24 hours. Again, no wind and so used the motor.
We arrived in Eden, NSW, just before 16:00 and were very lucky to pick up the last courtesy mooring available.
We had to check in with ABF (Australian Border Force) Eden in order to get permission to continue sailing No Soucy on to Sydney/Coffs Harbour.
Our friend, Ian came and picked us up from shore and we spent a very enjoyable few days with him and his wife, Maria. Ken and Ian enjoyed a game of golf and Maria, and I went walking.
Ian kindly took us back into the Eden ABF office where we were able to get clearance to move No Soucy on to Pittwater.
Friends are invaluable
Eden to Pittwater
We left the mooring at Eden at 16:45, we figured the it would take us about two hours o get to Merimbula where we hoped to pick up a mooring for the night. We picked up a mooring at 19:45 and it was lovely and calm after a very large and choppy, side-on swell.
We left the mooring at 02:15 and picked up a mooring at Bateman’s Bay at 17:00. Fifteen and a quarter hours to cover 70 nautical miles, averaging 4.7 knots. We were sailing against the current with very little wind to assist us.
We left the Bateman’s Bay mooring at 07:45. Raining, windless and very much against the current again.
We picked up a mooring in Jervis Bay at 16:45. Fifty-four nautical miles were covered in eight and a half hours.
We left Jervis Bay at 01:15. Mild weather with no wind in the bay at all.
At 16:20 we picked up a mooring in Bundeena, Port Hacking.
Ken’s birthday. He was thrilled to have landed two good sized tuna before we were out of the bay.
We arrived at the Broken Bay refueling dock in Pittwater at 14:15. Always easy refueling this way, unlike having to fill drums with deisel and transport them in the dinghy back to the boat.
We picked up a mooring at America Bay at 16:20 and enjoyed a good night’s sleep.
Pittwater to Coffs Harbour
We woke early, as usual, however we were fogged in and unable to see much at all. The fog began to lift around 09:00 as we made out way out of Pittwater, past the Barenjoey Lighthouse and northwards towards Lake Macquarie.
At 17:00 we picked up one of the three courtesy moorings available close to the Swansea Bridge in Lake Macquarie. Seven hours of sailing and 42 nautical miles were covered that day. Again, no wind and so motor sailing.
We took the dingy ashore and met friends, Suzanne and Trevor for a meal at the local RSL club next to the jetty.
We were very aware of the fuel costs building as we made our way up the coast and used to send Martin daily videos of the conditions. On one occasion we sent an image to show how calm it was, twenty minutes later we sent another one to show the change from not much wind to ‘glassy calm’ conditions.
Lake Macquarie to Broughton Island
At 05:30 we left the mooring at Lake Macquarie and headed to Broughton Island where we dropped anchor at 14:00.
Sailing past Sydney, or any other major port, one has to look out for other seafaring vessels. Not only the huge tankers but also small fishing and other recreational vessels.
There are the added hazard of craypots one needs to avoid. A craypot line around the propellor is a serious thing to be avoided.
Broughton Island to Coffs Harbour
We pulled the anchor up by hand of Broughton Island and got underway at 06:15. There was a glorious double rainbow before the sun rose. Despite a wind forecast of between 10 – 15 knots northerly, it was blowing from the east at 3 knots. No wind in the sails yet again.
We tied up to the Coffs Harbour International Marina at 13:50.
We have motor sailed about 800 nautical miles in 15 days.
Martin arrived on Friday night and he and Ken spent the past few days ensuring No Soucy is ‘ship shape’ and ready to sail the 900 nautical miles across to New Caledonia.
For more photos and stories about our adventures, visit Facebook.com/SailWithUsAWhile
The next blog will be posted once we have arrived in New Caledonia.