Bass Strait 2017

I know not to leave port on a bod forecast and being in Bermagui ment I was safe and sound until the forecast looked good.  Now the lesson to learn is which forecast to rely on.  I usually check two or three.  The BOM model and then the USA model.  On this occasion I followed the BOM model but relied on the Predictwind app on my phone here  It showed three days of northerly wind then a swing to the west.  All good.  The westerly would come off the land and make the sail down the Tassie coast nice and flat.

Track to Tassie

I left Bermagui at noon and set sail for Bass Strait down the coast southwards.  C-star left soon after me. The wind was from behind and the current was with me.  I passed Eden late that afternoon and set off across the strait.  Had my first meal on passage and settled down for the night knowing there may be ships.  the following morning I tried to call C-Star as arranged but only a short disjointed message.  I heard Painsville calling C-Star so I spoke with them and said they were behind me and not lost as a result of Marine Rescue initiated search.  They had not checked in with Lakes entrance miles out of their range.

The wind was increasing so I put the second reef. Then it hit a front from the South. Totally unexpected and with winds more than 40 knots.  I dropped the main and furled the genoa.  I raised the main with the 3rd reef in and started to beat into the wind as the sun set but the wind continued to increase.  Not a great start and so unexpected but Malua was going well into a rather calm sea.  Then as I watched looking forward with my spreader lights and my forward facing splot light the wind rose to more than 45 knots.  The waves were no building and malus was moving forward nicely.  Malua started to rise over a wave and then it hit.  A big one over the starboard bow.  White water filled the the staysail and bang the stay parted and I watch as they say in slow motion as the sail and furler went over the side into the water.

Spring into action. Let go the main hallyard and drop it but it jammed before totally furling.  It stuck flapping in the now 45 knot wind. I finally pulled it down and moved forward to try and get the stay sail on board.  It was at this time attached to the halyard up the mast and the base was secure.  The sheet was holding it onboard but a lot was in the water.  then the base came loose and went over the side.  I was able to secure a line to it and via a block and the winch pull it over the lifelines and up to the bow anchor area.  It was secured but the head was over the port side supported by the halyard.  If I let that go that was dangerous so I passed a line around the sail and pulled in alongside the boat but up in the air just above the furiously spinning wind generator.  Stop think. Ok stop the wind generator by using the electric brake and tie off the blades.  Completed so now lower the bent and twisted Proful furler along side the boat.  Done no secure the sail etc Done.  wow that was close what was the wind doing. I looked at the gauge and found the wind was still in the 45 or more range.  I am not going anywhere this evening.  Unfurled a bit of the genoa, pulled hard on the sheets and turned the wheel into the wind and secured it.  Malua was no heaved to or lying a hull.  It does not matter what you called it but Malua was sitting nicely in the water.  There were very few large waves and none like the Tonga storm from the southern ocean.

I was 50 nm from Frazer Island and moving in a south eastern direction at about 2 knots with very few waves disturbing me.  I climbed into bed and set the alarm for 27 minutes and slept.  Woke and looked out the portlight. No change wind still at 35 knots or more. Back to sleep.  and so it went until the sun rose. Wind still at more than 35 but the warmth of the sun was a good sign.  At about noon almost 12 hour after the staysail came down I started the engine and turned south for Hobart.  The sea had become more confused and we made only slow progress.  Then the radio went off:  All ship all ships etc Has any one seen C-Star.  I communicated with Painsville again but this time on HF and told then about the storm last night and I was OK heading to Triabunna and would try calling C-Star on VHF.  no luck.  I subsequently heard they had telephoned Marine Rescue with their sat phone so say they were returning to Eden.  Nobody told me this so I was keeping a look out and sked for them for the next two days.  Not good seamanship.

The wind dropped as suddenly as it rose and I continued to motor down the coast for the rest of that day and through the night.  At 5:00 the following morning I switched from the forward diesel fuel tank to the aft tank.  As I switched I watched the vacuum gauge go from yellow (good) to red and the engine started to splutter as I could not get any fuel through the line.  I could see in the fuel filter a dirth black mass.  Quick switch filter to the alternate and switch tanks back to the forward tank.  Now I have a problem. No wind and little fuel in the forward tank and about 80 nm to destination .  I always keep 40 l in two containers in the aft cockpit locker.  Lift the first, full so into the forward tank.  lift the second -- empty.  What went wrong?

So get fuel from the aft tank but not through the block lines. So use the outlet at the base of the bank.  Drain some fuel into a container but it is full of black fungus from the diesel algae.  Black sludge like jelly.  Try again and again till finally it started to run reasonable clear.  How to filer it.  Through  a funnel with a coffee filter.  Slow but I would have enough fuel to make it to Triabunna if the wind did not come up.  Slowly the container filled, drop by drop until I had about 5 more litres.

Still no wind as I rounded the southern arm of the Freycinet Park.  The sun was started in set and I had not reached Prosser bay near Orford.  But no worries there is a full moon tonight and I will be able to see the land which I know.  I motored at the optimum speed to save fuel as it got dark.  The moon in the east just above the mountains as I passed north east of Maria island and toward the bay.  Then the moon disappeared behind the mountains and I was left in total darkness.  The light of Orford my only guide along with the chartpoltter and radar.  Eased into the bay and dropped the anchor.  Pulled back to see that it was set well and turned of the engine. Silence.  Food and sleep.

Woke after a great nights sleep to find I was right in the middle of the bay a long way from the shore.  Cleaned up and followed another yacht up the channel of Spring Bay to Triabunna.  Arrived with the smell of a oil rag as the only usable fuel left.

Here are a series of pictures.  The storm was of course at night so no pictures here...

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