Sunday, 30 October 2016

We will no longer be using Iridium Go and therefore tracking services will cease. I will however update our position on the map and produce an icon showing our latest anchorage position. The link to Vessel Finder below will also be pretty accurate. 

Monday, 10 October 2016

GOING DUTCH October 10th 2016

First we had to go Belgium, an easy 56 mile motor sail across the surprisingly quiet English Chanel from Ramsgate to Nuiewpoort. We had heard stories of the masses of shipping in the  narrow, current affected channel. There were only a handful of ships, all with AIS, and easy to  avoided in the clear crisp autumn sunshine. We only made one course change. Singapore was far worse! 
The Nuiewpoort Marina has over 1000 berths, most vessels look well cared for and there were many out sailing when we arrived. We arrived in the marina comfortably before dark. 
Nuiewpoort Belgium

The following morning we pulled out and headed off to Vlissingen Netherlands. Being a Saturday it was as busy as we have seen it anywhere with many sailboats heading out to enjoy the last sunny sailing days of the season. There were boats going in all directions and what a beautiful day. Sailing just on the wind in 15 knots offshore and Taipan was frisky. We clocked great time but arrived way too early and had to cool our heels for a couple of hours before attempting to get into the marina.  As there was insufficient water we made two abortive attempts before successfully passing through the bridges and the very narrow door, (just 6 meters wide,) into our berth.

Michiel de Ruijterhaven Marina is right in the centre of a great little town. Everything we need just a short bike ride away. Two and a half hours to Amsterdam by train, Three and a half hours to Paris by train. What more could one want. Ah the price? Just 560 euro for the whole 6 months of winter. Looks like this is where we stop for now.

One of the first things we noticed in the Netherlands is bicycles. Everyone, young and old is riding a bike. The Dutch all look fit and healthy and the local fare is likewise, healthy and lean. Our trusty folding bikes are enjoying a revival here. Not since Asia have they seen so much action. It was a little confronting initially to not don the compulsory helmet but no one wears one here and they all seem quite normal. Bikes are the primary mode of transport round the city and the roads and drivers reflect their priority.

Vlissingen is  just a small town but has some interesting architecture.

The next outstanding feature is the architecture. The variety and creativity in design is evident in both domestic and commercial architecture. What a blessed relief after the US.

Taipan moored right on the Cafe strip.

There's lots of maintenance to catch up on. Its been a long and hectic sailing year with 9 countries visited in 7 months. We have many small jobs to keep us busy here until it gets too cold, then we will  bolt back to  Western Australia until the Northern Spring.

Vlissingen city square was once a dock.

First job off the list will be sealing the toerails. This is a job which we usually do every 5 years but its a little overdue. Not a particularly big job but we need to be alongside a dock to remove the stanchions and bases, remove all the old sealant, repaint and re-seal. 

Stainless rails round the whole ship!
Taipan has 600mm high stanchions with stainless rail around the entire ship. These were installed before we purchased her and although we didn't think they looked great, and we even considered removing them, we are very glad we didn't. They offer immense security when one of us is forced on deck in big seas in dark and dangerous conditions.

There is always the inevitable varnish, gelcoat and paint touch up to do. A boat doesn't do as many miles as Taipan without getting some knocks.

John Penningtons book Orca available on Kindle is an inspirational read.

Just after our arrival we heard a knock on the hull and it was Kara and John from Orca, with whom we crossed the Indian Ocean in 2012. They have just purchased another larger yacht here in this small harbour and flew in a few days ago to take possession. It never ceases to amaze us just how small the cruising world is, and how full of inspiring and interesting people.

Winterising Taipan will be a new experience for us. We have been informed that Vlissingen harbour, in which we have chosen to leave the boat, doesn't freeze as its salt water and there is very little snow in this area of southern Holland. We will however take precautions with the fresh water system, including boiler, engine coolant, WC's and of course Water-maker.
So now the weather is holding and the work proceeds.

Friday, 23 September 2016

FAREWELL OL' ENGLAND. 23rd September.

Beachy Head Lighthouse.

Portsmouth faded into the quiet misty horizon as we dropped anchor on the  coast just to the west in flat calm conditions. Steering repair is good and after a restfull night at anchor we set of early for New Haven, skirting in close to the coast we were able to take in some of the coastal scenery. 
Brighton came and went with its amazing new 450 foot spire,  up which travels a pod offering 360 degree views. It looked gorgeous from the ocean and another place to go back for.
Check out that spire. The pod is near the bottom but goes all the way to the top!
The coast after New Haven and on towards Beachy Head was spectacular in the clear early morning light. The distances sometimes giving a painterly effect to the photos.

The history along this coast line is amazing and is matched by the majesty of the beautiful chalk cliffs. 

Beachy Head.
Bosham in west Sussex claims to be the site where King Canute set his throne by the sea and commanded the tide to halt, and when it didn't he hung up his crown saying. 'Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.'"

Sailing on past Hastings where the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the death of King Harold by an arrow in the eye, marked the end of Anglo Saxon rule over England. 

Then Dover and there's Richborough, the impressive ruins of the Roman Township mark the point from which the Romans launched their successful invasion of Britain in AD 43.

Eastbourne Pier.

During the afternoon we were shadowed by a Border Control Vessel for quite a while. Eventually they launched their big RIB and came over. Politely requesting permission to board they went on to check the interior of Taipan and then to ask a million questions. All of which we had answers to. Not always the right answers however. 

Hastings Fishing boats and the The East Hill Cliff Funicular Railway with original wooden coaches.

Border Force.
It seems we had once again been given conflicting information. In Ireland we were advised that it was not necessary to check into the UK as we were already in the EU and nothing further was required. Well even now we are not too clear but the Border Force officers were very helpful and smoothed the way to us having the "proper" paperwork. This was all achieved on-line after the guys went back to their office and set the ball rolling. We needed to complete a GMRC Form to comply with immigration rules in the UK. 
Look! No Guns!
In Dover we anchored and caught up with some friends from the ol' home town, visiting in the UK. Deb and Kevin had been tracking us. 

Next stop Ramsgate, a bit shabby and the worst Greek food ever. Nevertheless it offered a sheltered haven in some windy weather and we were grateful.
Dover Castle.

Next day with clear skies and barely a breeze to bless us, we nosed our way out of Ramsgate Marina  The forecast was going to hold for just another 2 days. Not long enough to get to Southwold and make it in over the treacherous bar to see some very old and dear friends. Yesterday we got a taste of what just 20+ knots against current in the channel can kick up, and being cruisers, and not in need of any excitement, we elected to pass on the forecast conditions and make a dash  across the 56 miles of English Chanel to Nieuwpoort Belgium while the going was good.

Farewell Ramsgate.
 So next stop Netherlands! 
More photos from the UK East Coast. 

Monday, 19 September 2016


The Clipper Fleet resting after their circumnavigation this year.

Portsmouth, Cowes, Southport. all names synonymous with sailing and boating. The Isle of Wight just offshore is a major attraction for the boating populace. Around every bend and behind every breakwater there is another enormous marina bursting to the seams with boats of every description. Just like most places around the world though most of them don't appear to leave the dock. Many just provide an easy income for the Marina within which they reside. Boating seems like a grand idea to many but the hard work and dedication required to actually make it happen is mostly lacking. The result is marinas and moorings choked with forgotten dreams.
Yarmouth, a quaint little village on Isle of Wight.

We have sort of stalled ourselves since Poole, with David and I both getting flue separately. We had also postponed some repairs which we needed to catch up on. Not to mention Weather! 
After a week spent in Poole replacing domestic pumps and fixing sail slugs between heavy rain and squalls, eventually the weather cleared and we left for Portsmouth, stopping in Yarmouth on the Isl of Wight for a night. Its a cute little village and has some nice walking trails. We didn't get to see much of the island however as we need to keep moving. 

The remains of the Mary Rose and some clever graphics

In Portsmouth we went off to the Mary Rose Museum located in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The Mary Rose was built on the orders of King Henry VIII and launched in 1511. It was refitted in 1536 after service in wars against  France, Scotland and Brittany. While leading the attack against a French invasion fleet, she sank in the Solent, the straits north of the Isle of Wight. The reason for her sinking remains a mystery as there is insufficient documentation available today to determine the true cause. Conjecture has it that during the battle, with sails hoisted in almost no breeze, suddenly there sprung up a wind and with all her lower gun ports open she healed and filled with water rapidly taking with her a crew of sailors, archers, gunners and an assortment of other specialists, surgeon, trumpeter and officers from the gentry.

Part of the Galley. Rebuilt using all original pieces from aboard.

The Mary Rose remains were re-discovered in 1971 and  recovered from the Solents mud in 1982. About two thirds of one side of the hull was recovered. Other finds include weapons, sailing equipment, naval supplies and a wide array of objects used by the crew  The bones of a total of 179 people were found during the excavations of the Mary Rose, including 92 fairly complete skeletons. Analysis of these has shown that crew members were all male, most of them young adults. Some were no more than 11–13 years old, and the majority (81%) under 30. Loads of cannon, a dog and several rats. Even a flea! How thorough and painstaking was the recovery!!.?? It took years to stabilize the timbers. And 2 years ago she finally went on display. It's a truly amazing effort. Lots of clever projection work showing life aboard. Forensic science has pieced together the lives and faces of the bodies found and we even got to hold a piece of anchor rode which still smelled of tar! It was all buried in an anaerobic mud so was extremely well preserved. The excavation and salvage of the Mary Rose was a milestone in the field of maritime archaeology.
More from Wikipedia on the Mary Rose.
The HMS Victory some of the 104 guns aboard.

The HMS Victory also resides in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard. She is best know as Lord Nelsons battle ship and the one on which he died in the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. She has  been the flagship  of the First Sea Lord since October 2012 and is the oldest naval ship in the world, still in commission. They think it might sink if they put it in the water though! The Dockyard is very big comprehensive and impossible to get round it in the day. At 38 quid each it is expensive so 2 days was out of the question.

Steering repair.
Emergency Tiller
Steering problems surfaced as we attempted to leave Haslar Marina and head to Cowes with friends. The 8mm Stainless Steel steering cable had started shredding itself and threatened to foul the whole shebang! Luckily we had some warning when the steering didn't quite feel right so we picked up a mooring and checked!  Well we then had to set up the emergency tiller. Disable the cables and remove them so as not to foul and limp back to a dock. Jeananne and Ray, English friends we met in Perth (I went to Uni. with Jeananne). We ended up going driving with them to Bosham and lunched in Chitchester, then they drove back to London and we went back to Portsmouth on the train.
On Monday morning David found a rigger and he had cable and the swageing tool so he was back with all the new gear within a couple of hours and several hours it was all rebuilt. We left Portsmouth at 5 pm and anchored of the south coast in very still conditions with a benign forecast, just a little rainy drizzle.

 The season is drawing to a close with Autumn approaching and we would like to be across the Chanel by the end of the month. The destination is loosely Amsterdam.
Well that's about it from the Solent! 

 More Photos from the UK South Coast.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


The forecast was only due to hold for two days so we made fast work of the trip to Poole and didn't do any exploring on the way from Dartmouth. Only an overnight anchorage in the big man made harbor at Portland.  
Rounding Portland Bill

Rounding Portland Bill Lighthouse is a trap for unwary sailors and we were warned about the strong current and whirlpools by another yacht which had the misfortune to loose a nice big RIB when it broke loose as it was being towed. The current runs up to 4 knots so getting the wind over current there can be pretty nasty. We had wind with current but both against us which slowed us down but was not unduly rough. We had also chosen a route well south of the worst of the tidal race. Weymouth looks like a nice stop but next time!
 Old Harry Rocks (Chalk.)
Once past Old Harry Rocks its a short sail up the dredged channel and into Poole.
The weather, as promised, turned horrid so we were forced to remain in the Pool Quay Boat Haven. Its won lots of awards but the reasons escape me.
Poole itself was something of a disappointment. The towns main pedestrian street is poorly represented and most of the shops appeared to be second hand places. Many were boarded up. We did find a fantastic Indian restaurant. The city itself was heavily bombed during the wars and most of its historic buildings have been demolished and replaced with 50's rubbish. An area out near the bay has reputedly some of the most expensive real estate outside London. There must be something here? Poole Pottery has a long history of designing and creating ceramics and clay is still exported from Poole's busy port.  There is a small museum in town with a good display and history of the Ceramics production.
Brownsea Castle.

Brownsea Island is in the care of the National Trust and has the largest population of rare red squirrels in England. And that's about it!
Repairs were delayed by weather. The clevis pins were waiting for us.
Hurst Castle. Heavily fortified installation at the entrance to the Solent
 After a 5 day delay, in beautiful sunshine, we managed to make a break for the Isle of Wight.
More Photos from the UK South Coast. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016


Taipan in the Dart River.
Falmouth, seaward and onward, we headed out into the relatively smooth waters, east towards Dartmouth. Beautiful farmland laying like a patchwork atop the coastlines dramatic cliffs. Sailing in close in the rare sunshine we were able to appreciate this beautiful Cornwall coast. Pirate lairs and dark history now basking in benign beauty.
Coastline east of Falmouth.
A mere 36nm, and we managed to make it last all day. A detour into Fowey rewarded with the water view of this small, pretty  port town. Nestled on a narrow and crowded waterway bristling with the inevitable castles. 
In the late afternoon we anchored in Cawsan Bay outside the entrance to Plymouth Harbor, departure point of the Mayflower,  the ship that transported the first English separatist, known today as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth to the New World in 1620, and of Captain Cooks 1768 exploration fleet which subsequently found eastern Australia and then went on to circumnavigate. Plenty of history here to come back and explore.

Weather turned a bit rough overnight and when we pulled out at zero dark hundred the sea level cloud had shrouded the coast  in grey mush. We ploughed on east to Dartmouth, a further 33 miles.

Arrival well before dark enabled us to get anchored and dingy ashore to have a quick look around before the arrival of Pam and Jon Choate ex "Tweed", sailing friends from years together in Queensland and Asia. The harbor master charges twelve pound per day to anchor here because the river bed is owned by Prince Charles!!!.
Start Point lighthouse looms in the mist.

Pam and Jon arrived on Saturday morning so we sat round on Taipan and reminisced over victuals. Sunday was raining cats and dogs but we braved the weather, moved the car across the river and had a brief explore. In the afternoon we had a good look round this neat little village of Dart. Took a drive out to the Agatha Christy mansion "Greenhills" although we didn't go in, and generally enjoyed a little touring including Brixham and the replica ship Golden Hind which Sir Francis Drake used to circumnavigate the globe between 1577-80.
Replica of Drakes Golden Hind. Brixham.
Our good friends departed on Monday after a hearty breakfast at Al Fresco, and we readied the good ship Taipan for departure. 

Next stop Poole to get on with some of the repairs which have been waiting in the wings.
The 8 month old vane pump on the Spectra Watermaker has failed. This will have to be returned to the US before they will replace it with a new one under warranty. Spectra has always been one of our top 10 companies for service but since it was sold it has plummeted to the bottom of the list. 
Jon, Pam, David and Kris. in front of a Medieval house believed to have been built around 1380.
Our Tides Marine Sail Track system has been failing since we left the Bahamas. The clevis pins holding the slugs in the track have been popping off like the buttons on a fat mans trousers!. Tides marine have admitted they had a faulty set of pins  and they have agreed to provide replacement pins. They have also agreed to pay a marina fee to effect the repairs. We have been pretty hampered by the possible failure of these pins and have not had a full main up for several months except in very light conditions. Our original contact with the company was very positive but we will see how it pans out since we have been referred to the UK branch.
We will leave Dartmouth and stop over in Weymouth before making Poole on Wednesday. 

More Photos from the UK South Coast. 

Thursday, 1 September 2016

WE SAILED TO ENGLAND!. September 1st. 2016

A talking point at Mylor Yacht Marina. Much expert analysis on the side lines.
Lands End was glowing in the late afternoon sun on Wednesday as we rounded the south westerly tip of UK. We made the anchorage just off the Newlyn Harbor wall as the sun set after a 21 hour sail from Milford Haven. 
Lands End. The sun shone as we rounded the western most tip of the UK.

Not much wind and a bit of adverse current. Thursday morning we dropped into Penzance harbor to fuel up and top off the water as the water maker failed to start yesterday so another job as soon as we get time.
Penzance Cornwall

St Michael's Mount, a fabulous fairy tale castle rises up off a rocky island to the east of Penzance and we were able to take Taipan to the very edge to get a good look from seaward. It's a very impressive view. Still privately owned and has owners in residence, I guess when they are not in their home in Maiorca or Paris or New York or somewhere !!  However the National Trust does open it to the great unwashed so we could get a look inside one day. 
St Michaels Mount.

We spent and hour or so drifting around this spectacular castle admiring it from all angles.
 The weather was holding so we moved on to Falmouth arriving just before dark on Thursday 25th of August. Dropped the anchor in a spot between moorings for the night. 
In the morning we headed over to St Maws, just across the Fal River. Gorgeous spot  another castle and pretty little beaches packed with summer revelers. The Bank Holiday long Weekend is upon us and Sal n John Potter old sailing buddies from way back coming to visit so with weather threatening, we headed back to Falmouth to meet them on Saturday. 
St Maws.
Very little exploring but we spent a fantastic couple of days eating drinking and catching up on years of gossip. Sal and John traded the faithful JARAMAN in Sydney and purchased a new Beneteau 50 to be delivered to Spain. They are now enjoying the Med and will eventually head across the Atlantic towards Australia in "CAPALL MARA"..
Sally-anne and John Potter.

They left early from St Maws on Monday for the long drive back to London and we headed round to Mylor Yacht Marina to anchor off and await the tide so we could inspect the drying wall.
Next morning before dawn we motored slowly between moored boats and edged our way towards the wall. As the bow got to the wall and we secured a line we suddenly touched bottom. We can't make the wall! Urgent change of plan as we had to lay Taipan down on her Port side away from the wall. We couldn't back off because we had grounded on the concrete ramp. Just not enough tide.
Another way to clean the bottom.
Having dried out on our side twice before we were not too alarmed. At least we had the chance to inspect the ground below yesterday. The first time we dried out was in Crocodile creek in the Kimberley in a 9 meter tide. Now that was alarming....with no idea what the bottom was like and having no idea of Taipan's idiosyncrasies. By the time the 8 crew had grabbed life jackets and personal items and jumped into the dingy it was too shallow to motor so they had to tow it on foot to deeper water. Pretty funny to watch the chaos! We stayed aboard to wait. It got very uncomfortable at 45 degrees in the dark with crocodile eyes gleaming in the spot lights but we righted without incident on the rising tide and continued on our way into the anchorage.
Underwater service.

This time it was perfectly calm and sheltered, we knew what the bottom was and Taipan just gradually lay down as the tide went out. Instead of sitting aboard in discomfort we went ashore in the dingy for breakfast and waited until the tide went out so David could get round the hull to do the cleaning. The high pressure hose just didn't quite reach the whole way round but she was pretty clean by the time tide turned and we resumed the position! Upright. 
It's a tight spot so the yard supplied a tow boat to turn us round so we could head out and they made a dock available to enable us to wash decks of the over-spray from water blaster. They were extremely helpful.
Unless there is a spring tide that facility is really not suitable for 2.2m draft. We failed to take into account the fact that the drying wall was not at chart datum so even 4m tide was not high enough. 
Farewell to lovely Saint Maws.

So back to anchor before a run upriver and back to St Maws.
On Thursday we left and headed east into Fowey for a quick look then on to anchor at Cawsand Bay just outside Plymouth. Heading to meet some more old sailing buddies from Australia. This time in Dartmouth.