03 January 2014

Leg 1 -- Newcastle to Lord Howe Island

SV Chiara Stella set off from Newcastle NSW with myself and 4 crew -- Jon and Monika (from Norway), Rob (from Sydney) and Bandit (Ship's Cat).  Our sailing instructions were to head east until we pick up better winds, then use those to reach north east to Lord Howe Island.

It was a fairly rough trip -- not what I would call excessively rough, but with consistent 3 - 4 metre waves it was probably the most consistently rough trip I'd had out on the Tasman.

The first few days I had a recurrence of an old medical condition that kept me confined to my cabin for the first two evenings, but after some medication we got things under control (ably assisted by Jon and Monika who were coincidentally both doctors) and things were plain sailing from there.

On the evening of the 10th December it became apparent that we'd arrive at Lord Howe Island at about 2am the next day, which isn't feasible because of the lack of leading lights and the shallowness of the entry channel.  So instead of heading to the island that night and heaving to outside the channel we decided to heave to there and then and spend 6 hours sleeping, after which we then proceeded to the channel entry which we made about 9am on the 11th.  Entry into the channel was without incident but there was a bit of confusion about which buoy we were to pick up.

On Friday the 12th I headed for the meteorology office on the island to pick up a weather report, which read in brief "don't go anywhere for a few days, it's all gales out there" so we decided to stay for the weekend and into the following week.

Lord Howe Island is a very picturesque place, if you've never been.  It looks like this from up above (this photo taken from atop the Goat House Track, which leads about half way up the smaller of the two mountains at the south of the island):






In fact with beaches like this, one could wonder why we would ever leave:





Part of the fun on the island was meeting a guy called Blazz who runs the radio station on the island.  It's got a real 60's pirate radio feel to it, here is Blazz in his studio:





The studio is full of records, furniture that could only be described as "funky" and wall art left by all and sundry:





We ended up staying at the island until Thursday of the week after we arrived, which was the 19th. This was a bit longer than we'd intended to stay, but it allowed us to chill out and gave time for Jon and Monika to climb Mount Gower, plus time for us to explore various parts of the island.  Caroline and others might recall the fish feeding frenzy that is Ned's beach, I got a bit of video from that this time and I'll try to upload those once I figure out uploading them from my video camera to blogspot.

Anyway, that's enough of an update for this time, I'll continue with the trip details to Nelson and Lyttelton shortly.