We sail to the out-of-this-world Aeolian Islands, a chain of volcanoes extending north of Sicily. We sail to the live volcanic islands of Vulcano – where we swim through underwater sulphur vents and soak in a hot mud bath – and Stromboli, where we are treated to the oldest light show in the Med, exploding lava!
With just over one month to go until we set sail around the world (!) we’re visiting some of our favourite parts around Sydney before we head off.
Recently we went up to Myall Lakes National Park and the fantastic sand dunes of Dark Point. Our son Aiden wanted to jump off the sand dunes, and immediately realised that with his board in hand, he had the perfect toy for surfing down the sand dunes! With all the fun he was having, we couldn’t resist joining in!
It also gave us a great opportunity to test our drone and its aerial footage capabilities!
We had our last sail in Sydney last weekend. Like all good things, they must come to an end. It’s the last sail in Sydney – at least for a while – because it’s just two months before we head to Slovenia to pick up Tranquilo and sail the world.
We wanted to head out one last time to give our friends a taste of sailing before they join us in parts of our trip. Yes brave to commit yourself to sailing before you even know you will like it, let alone are prone to seasickness.
We chartered a sprightly little yacht, a 33-foot Dufour 335, from our regular charter company who has looked after us in the past, Eastsail. Eastsail obliged us by allowing us to keep the yacht overnight and return it the next morning, giving us a full 24 hours on board.
The morning started off with very light winds, barely enough puff to push us along up to Manly, our spot for lunch 12 nautical miles away. We took the opportunity to give the guys who’d never sailed before some helm time to give them a taste for sailing. Enough said that they loved it and caught on very quickly about the basics of helming and keeping a particular angle to the wind.
Lunch was a treat; we managed to find our own space in a very busy bay and immediately everyone stripped and dived in, frolicking in the cool waters. And we weren’t the only ones stripping, for some reason it seems to be the time of year for people to get married and we counted a number of buck parties hosted on yachts, hosted by ladies of dubious morals.
Following lunch the wind picked up nicely and we had some great tacts back up the harbor. Everyone in Sydney seemed to be on the water with lasers racing, ferries ferrying people around, and an imposing luxury cruiser heading out of the harbor. A quick exercise in COLREGS* ensued to make sure everyone was across who had to give way to who.
For the night we located ourselves in the one place only a yacht can stay – right across from the Opera House next to the Botanic Gardens! We popped some champagne to celebrate our last sail in Sydney, organized dinner and then headed off to our berths.
But before laying down for the night, as the forecast was for strong winds at midnight we double-checked that the anchor was holding and I set up the anchor watch app on my phone for good measure.
I can’t say it was a restful night, the wind funneled down into the bay gusting up to 30 knots. While the full 25m anchor chain in 4m depth gave us 6x scope*, a sufficient buffer over the recommended 4x – 5x, I would have preferred more. Especially as just downwind we had a – I can only guess – $5m superyacht. They didn’t seem perturbed by the wind blowing them around, watching the news on their 72’ tv. In the meantime there I was getting up every 2 hours to check we were still holding (if you’re wondering why I’m looking tired in the last scene of the video, here you go…). ***
The morning bought a gentle breeze, and we had breakfast with the opera house and the Syndey highrises as our backdrop, with the sounds of exotic birds who call the botanic gardens home. It wasn’t much of a day for sailing with winds too light to fill the sails. We gunned up the engine, pottered around on the harbor, headed up to Taronga Zoo to say hellow to the chattering gibbons, before making our way back across the harbor to drop the yacht off at Eastsail.
We’re happy to note that everyone had a great time sailing, first timers and experience crew alike!
*COLREGS: The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, covers a number of aspects to ensure safety on the water and prevent collisions between vessels, including navigation, lights and symbols and sounds.
**Scope: length of anchor chain vs depth. The greater the scope the better the holding power. A greater scope is recommended if the sea bed provides a poor hold or expecting strong winds. Recommendations change, when I did my Yachtmaster course it was anchor chain = 5x depth, we’ve had it at 3x for lunch time stops, and up to 10x when the forecast was for very strong winds overnight. Important to note, depth should be measured to account for high tide!
*** And hence our reason to get an over-specced anchor and 60m of chain for Tranquilo.
Jack would get sick just reading in a car, so when he came sailing with us in Sardinia he had several tricks up his sleeve. His primary weapon against seasickness was the pressure strap on his wrist. We were highly sceptical but it seemed to work wonderfully. Next was helm time, and many swear by this, which looked to help. Maybe it’s the focus. Finally, after 3 days most people get their sea legs and seasickness goes away. We heard ginger also helps.
Here’s what our followers recommended:
e_e_flandersI’ve read motion sickness is a disconnect between your brain & legs. Your brain expects your legs to be moving to cause all that motion. So walking in place is supposed to help.
vickiarbitrioFirst 24 hours in the ocean I need to drive or sleep–if racing and mesmerized by sail trim or looking for puffs, I’ll be okay.
albaHaving something important to do will take your focus off the motion. Also, try not to fill your stomach, only sips of water, no big meals, no stimulants, booze, cigarettes and coffee are a big no no if you are sensitive to seasickness.
Stay Outside, Look to the Horizon
vitormacIf any crewmates get sick, or put in the cockpit looking out of the boat, because nausea comes from the labyrinths where the eyes see different movements of what the brain registers …. if it does not work is to enter the water that heals immediately 😉
delamonicamillaNot drinking a lot of liquids, eating green apple…but for me what works better is the sea band…
403natashaI’m a yachtie with seasickness 😂 my tricks – ginger everything, chewing gum/mints. Sipping water with BCAAs. If you’re able… jump in the water when you feel you’re starting to get nauseous (works every time). And if you’re Canadian – gravol has a ginger lozenge that doesn’t make you sleepy and works wonders
We will be resorting to the first five, in that order as required – helm time and staying active, staying outside and looking out to the horizon, and if that fails using the wrist pressure bands, then ginger, and when all that fails, drugs (and rum) as a last resort*.
*We once sailed in the Cyclades with a crew member prone to seasickness. By the 3rd day of large waves coming from all directions he had enough and took some sea sickness pills. He was knocked out and slept through the worst of 6 metre waves heading into Mykonos. Not the kind of thing you can afford to happen when you’re trying to stay on top of the waves.
We’ve just placed our order for Tranquilo! It will be a Hanse 455.
The decision in the end came down to the Dufour 460 and the Hanse 455. It was a very close choice. Both yachts come from highly respected factories, designed by some of the world’s leading nautical architects. Both have the performance, quality, stability and safety we’re looking for to cross oceans.
Important to note, while the the Bavaria 46 Cruiser dropped off our shortlist, it’s still a fine boat. It also met the aforementioned criteria. It came down to aesthetics on deck (the halyards and sheets on the cabin top clutter up useful space) and down below (the open layout wasn’t ideal for crossing oceans).
The reasons for choosing the 455 over the 460 came down to, and you’ll appreciate the subtleties:
larger cockpit – let’s be fair, that’s where we’ll be spending the most time
the helm pedestals – provide easy viewing of the chartplotter and navigation instruments; the 460’s chartplotter location was fine, but just not as well positioned for easy viewing
helm positions – the 455 helms allow the helmsperson to straddle the wheel, which is a comfortable position providing solid bracing when sailing
solid toe rail – the 455 has a large, solid toe rail which will be useful when having to move forward in rough seas
spring cleats – how many times have you stubbed your toe on the cleats? Well we’ve done it enough times to appreciate the 455’s cleats that can be pushed down into the toe rail out of harm’s way
larger cabintop windows, letting in more light for a brighter saloon
traditional L-shaped galley – while an innovative feature, the open galley of the 460 would have made it rough to cook in heavy seas; the 455’s galley has good bracing spots for a rolling sea
very importantly, anchors! – the beautifully designed bowspit and bowroller of the 460 can’t accommodate a Rocna 33, maybe the best anchor in the world (if it’s good enough for Jimmy Cornell for his arctic sailing, it’s good enough for us!). We’ll have to wrangle something on Tranquilo but looks like it’s definitely do-able
Finally, some very respected sailors recently bought and are sailing Hanses, testament to their quality and performance.
Here’s our test of the Hanse 455. Note that with light winds we couldn’t test how the 455 handles in heavy seas. It did show us it has a very slippery hull in light winds!
And a more thorough review by Sailing Today!
Having selected the Hanse 455 we needed to decide on the dealer to place the order with. We appreciate the time and effort of both Windcraft in Australia and Inspiration Marine in the UK in working through the different options, providing suggestions and alternatives to standard factory options. They were both responsive and listened to what we needed. Most importantly, they both have a very strong reputation for supporting their owners in far reaches of the world, as attested for in online forums and by the awards they have received.
We placed the order with Windcraft. They put a lot of time into us, comparing the different models, arranging test sails, and working through the terms and conditions so we’re all comfortable with what we’re getting and how we will be supported when we finally sail. Being in Australia, we can work closely with them to understand all the ins and outs of the 455 and how to maintain Tranquilo in the far reaches of the world (well, at least far flung islands of the Pacific).
The Hanse factory in Greifswald, Germany, will be building Tranquilo over the next 8 months, ready for transporting to Slovenia where we’ll be doing the handover, ahead of our first leg down the Adriatic!
We’re now in final negotiations with the yacht dealers and factories. We have shortlisted down to three 46′ yacht models, based on the following criteria, in order of importance:
Water and food storage
The three options we’ve narrowed down to are:
We’ve been impressed with the Dufour 500 and 560, both Cruising World Yacht of the Year winners in the past two years. The Dufours we’ve sailed, the 36 and 335, have proven to be sprightly, very stable and fun to sail. We were excited when Dufour announced a smaller version of the 560 and 500 and more in line with our requirements, the 460. Key features we love:
Hard chines: the chines restrict the heal on the yacht when sailing into the wind, ensuring faster, more comfortable close-haul sailing. Someone recently equated it to replacing all the crew hanging off the side of the yacht on a close-haul.
Saloon: with the galley forward, the broader part of the beam is available for the saloon, providing more space. The long lounges should also provide good sea berths during inclement seas.
Cockpit: large with plenty of handholds, the convertible sun lounge and the BBQ built into the aft seating are nice extras. Like the other two models, it sports a folding transom.
Most importantly, the 460 looks to be very stable and safe, and current Dufour owners we have talked to confirm the very good quality build Dufour are respected for.
The Hanse have an ultra-modern look and are fast, as you’d expect from yachts designed by Judel & Vrolijk, who were the design team behind the Americas Cup winning yacht Alinghi. Features we like about the 455 include:
Cockpit: All lines including the main sheet lead aft to the helm, enhancing solo sailing, each helm pedestal has a chart plotter providing quick access to GPS location, the cockpit is large and comfortable with plenty of handholds. The BBQ under the aft seat is an added extra!
Self-tacking headsail: While we consider ourselves purists and there’s nothing better than maximising sailing performance by trimming the sails, a self-tacking headsail provides clear benefits for sailing shorthanded.While the 460 also has a self-tacking option, Hanse designs all their yachts around the self-tacking.
B&G Electronic Instruments: The only electronics specifically designed for sailing; the Sailsteer software provides a vast array of key data for maximum sailing performance
Bavaria Cruiser 46
We’ve been sailing Bavarias all our sailing lives – in the Med, Whitsundays, Sydney, and have found them to be solid, rather uninspiring vessels. They seem to be the workhorse of the cruising industry. But that’s all changed lately, with Bavaria bringing in the Farr team to design all their current models; Farr are famous for designing the latest Volvo Open 70 for the Volvo Ocean Race as well as Team Oracle Racing’s Americas Cup yachts and the highly successful Beneteau First range which has one many cups including the Sydney to Hobart. Features we like of the Cruiser 46 include:
Solid build, which has been highly lauded by the sailing press
Very large cockpit and the largest opening transom platform of the three
Very large owner’s cabin, almost palatial!
All three yachts also have the following in common:
Opening transom: the back of the yacht folds down to provide a large platform, essentially extending the livable space on each yacht by 2-3 feet. Modern 45′ yachts now have the same livable space as past 50′ yachts.
Drop-down saloon table: provides the option to have up to 8 people on board with the table dropping to make an additional double berth (bed) in the saloon
Storage: lots of storage space for food and water provisions, safety equipment and critical items like SUPs and surfboards!
Bavaria Cruiser 46
Total Sail Area
Sail Area / Displacement Ratio*
Displacement / Length Ratio **
Loaded Displacement / Length Ratio ***
Angle of Vanishing Stability
* SA/D Range of Values:
16 to 18 – Heavy offshore cruisers
18 to 22 – Medium cruisers
22 to 26 – Inshore cruisers, racing yachts
26 to 30+ – Extreme racing yachts
** D/L Range of Values:
Up to 100 – Ultralight
100 to 200 – Light
200 to 300 – Moderate
300 to 400 – Heavy
400+ – Very heavy
*** Added 1,700kg load for moderate bluewater use
What all three yachts don’t have is ultra-high stability. But we’re not heading to the high latitudes where yachts constantly face 10’+ seas and have a chance of knockdown. We’re going to be sailing in the tropics where such conditions are highly unlikely and we will have constant weather forecasts via satellite to enable us to avoid the worst. To put it in context, all three yachts would meet the strict safety requirements of the Sydney-Hobart, and we’re not going anywhere near the fearsome Bass Strait or its like.