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.