Harry Atkinson 1049 Views

Four nights on faceboat

As I was keen as mustard to do some more sailing, Mark allowed me to bring Kayle hard up on the wind. This is when we noticed that we had a new introduction to the crew behind us. We don’t know when we caught it but on our trawling line there was a beautiful Spanish mackerel, 1 metre long and it got everyone very excited.

I arrived aboard Kayle on a crispy winter’s night on the Gold Coast. The crew were in high spirits and I was introduced to Mark Goode who I only briefly met before at the SWD get together. It was quite a different experience coming aboard Kayle and seeing her in a home away from home arrangement. I was surprised how doable it was.

The following morning I arose to the sounds of water boiling and footsteps as other crew members carried out their routines. We had two different schools coming aboard before heading north to Bundaberg at 1600. The kids arrived at the boat and it was lovely to see all their beaming smiles. I was the designated swimmer and introduced myself to all. The different personalities that the children have were so interesting. I had a lovely chat with one of the teachers who gave me a brief background into all of them. I found it very enlightening and really wonderful to interact with them. I hope that I was able to create change. I said to a few that maybe in the coming years, they could be on Kayle, heading to Hobart as a member of the SWD Crew.

The afternoon try sail school arrived in a beaming Gold Coast sun. It definitely didn’t feel like winter. They clamoured aboard and again I was met with the different personalities. I wanted to try and invigorate some of the introverts and get them excited for coming out on Kayle. I asked them questions and told them some facts.

After a quick shower and a coffee, we were casting off and heading out on our path towards Bundaberg. Unfortunately for us, the wind was 10 – 15 knots north – easterly and that was the direction we had to head. We motored throughout the night in very calm seas. With sailing out of the window for the moment, I turned my focus onto learning navigation. Mark Goode taught me how to plot our position on the chart using a few different methods. Gauging our position with the use of a compass was interesting for me. I surprised myself by getting it right the first time. Doing that in rough seas would be a completely different story altogether though.

The sun rose in spectacular fashion the following morning. We had Mooloolaba to our west and the sea was calm. That day we were lucky enough to get a quick jolt of easterly breeze so we sprung into action and took advantage of the small window, which unfortunately didn’t last as long as we would’ve hoped for. In the afternoon the weather got worse and we were confronted with a downpour. We thought that the wind may increase but it didn’t so we went into the night under motor. The engine is very loud and made the cabin very uncomfortable. I had an abundance of ear plugs because I thought the snoring would’ve been quite unbearable but they worked great in dampening the engines grumbling.

The following morning Kristi and I were woken up for our morning watch at 0300. We were confronted with sheer darkness as we edged nearer to the top of Fraser Island. The sea was like glass and the stars were out in full force. As we sat, scanning the sea ahead of us I noticed a change in the wind and thought I would experiment by trimming the main sail. We both were excited to see that the main captured the wind and heeled Kayle over to her starboard side. We quickly pulled the jib out and it felt like we were in luck. Kayle increased speed by a few knots but because of the last two days, being disappointed with the wind, we thought we best leave the engine on to wait and see. I decided that I would reduce engine speed and we didn’t lose speed so we turned it off altogether.

The sound of silence was welcomed by all crew who all awoke because of the change in circumstances. Kristi came up from below deck and told me that Mark cracked a beaming smile before falling back to sleep which made us both happy. As we turned west, passed the Cardinal marker, signifying our rounding of Fraser Island, we maintained our passage under sail but then the unfortunate turn towards Bundaberg put us back into the wind on our nose and the grumble of the engine reverberating again.

I decided to catch up on sleep and went back to my rack. An hour or so later I was awoken to the sound of silence and realised that we were back under sail again! I was so excited and I jumped up on deck to lend a hand. As the winds were low we decided to shake the second reef and everyone was happy to have a bit of a sail again. I had the chance to jump on the helm, which really didn’t need much movement at all. Kayle was practically sailing herself on the starboard tack.

As we still needed to head for Bundaberg we tacked a few times to try and get a better track. The wind changed direction and we trimmed for the change but unfortunately the wind was so light that we lost a lot of boat speed. As I was keen as mustard to do some more sailing, Mark allowed me to bring Kayle hard up on the wind. This is when we noticed that we had a new introduction to the crew behind us. We don’t know when we caught it but on our trawling line there was a beautiful Spanish mackerel, 1 metre long and it got everyone very excited. I was still trying to sail the boat but all hands were on the fish so I was trying my best to keep Kayle’s bow into the wind.

We sailed under motor the rest of the way into Bundaberg and showed off our big catch at a few local fishermen fishing off of the markers. The sun was beaming down and it was lovely to have finally arrived in the small town. I have never been here before so I was keen to have a really good look around.

That night we had Spanish mackerel for dinner and I slept like a baby. The next day we were introduced to the children and teachers of Bundaberg High School who came out on the morning try sail. There was practically no wind but all the kids had a really good play on the helm and enjoyed being on Kayle.

I felt very sad leaving the crew and Kayle. I had a great time and really wanted to stay aboard and continue the adventures of the Northern Campaign. I am looking forward to sharing some of my short stories with the Sydney Community at the boat show and getting out on the water with SWD as I try my best for a Sydney to Hobart crew position.

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Harry Atkinson

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