Clipper level 1
March 1 arrived for Clipper level 1 training at Sydney. Met skipper Stuckey and 1st mate Lindsay, one other circumnavigator Angie currently living in Taupo NZ, 10 leggers from all over , nsw ,qld , Wellington Seattle , just 3 aussie born I think ,bunk allocated, familiarization ,allocation of duties ,brief safety brief ,dinner prepared by skipper and 1st mate , beer at Cruising Yacht Club of Australia . (Didn’t realize what a recurring theme that would be )
March 2 , breakfast at 8 ,all day alongside , allocated foulies, lifejacket tether , deconstruct life jacket and blow up , safety briefing above then below deck , lots of safety stuff and getting to know the boat and rig etc , we send Stuckey up mast to check rig , dinner ,just a couple of beers at cyca. We’re all itching to get sailing .
March 3 breakfast, then Brian ,an air traffic controller , and I are the day’s ‘engineers’ on the roser ,check engine generator , bilges , deck check ,then the fill the water tanks .
Get ready to sail ,yankee number 3 brought up on deck and readied . The sails are heavy . Boom tent disassembled. Last test we have to get on boat via a ‘spring line’ ,ie stepping on a rope -part of the agility test . We motor out of Marina into a busy Sydney harbour . Hoisted main in behind shark island ,hoisted yankee lots of tacking in a busy Harbour .
Was 1st trainee to take the helm just before open water , and steered us out through Sydney heads . Staysail was raised and we all took turns on the helm as the breeze gradually built up to 25 knots. Kept tacking up the coast . A reef was put in the main whick took a long time as couldn’t get a spare winch for the topping lift .
Went round Barrenjoey head into the Hawkesbury where we circled around in flatter water while the day’s ‘mummies’ prepared dinner. Then we went out for night sail . The noreaster was still blowing at 25 knots with 1- 2m swells and clear skies with the stars easily visible. After clearing Barenjoey heads I got to take the helm , fine reaching towards the Southern Cross. Every so often we hit a bigger wave and spray douses the crew further forward but rarely the helm. After a period of time we tack and find a course toward Barrenjoey lighthouse. We’re on a reach back now towards Orion’s belt. My first time helming a boat at night was one the trip highlights for me. Brian takes over the helm a bit before Barrenjoey head. We finally pick up a mooring well after midnight and are tucked in at Refuge Bay. We start an ‘anchor watch’ overnight.
March 4 we’re all day on mooring. Showed new engineers the ropes , have a swim . Most of uus do a ‘rig climb’ .It’s not really climb .You have a climbing harness to which are attached 2 halyards both with a bowline and a snap shackle. Then a couple of people on the coffee grinders winch you up the mast. Got to the top of the mast and the height(27.3metres) makes the big vessel look small and there are great views . I might finally be getting over my fear of heights. They have to know we can paddle a dinghy so we have dinghy time trials round the yacht . We do man overboard practice to get use to the mechanics and teamwork required for such an event. We rigged the storm jib and trysail so we get familiar with them. Anchor watch at 2.30 am tomorrow for me .
March 6 ,we get underway after breakfast and all have a go at steering with the emergency tiller. Sails go up and we throw Ruthy(our MOB dummy) in the water do a man overboard drill. We make few errors ,such as dropping the sails before Stuckey has heaved to . But we learn a lot from the errors . We tack out past Barenjoey head with our timing improving as we go. The seas on the exit a rather steep I presume due to some wind against tide. We set a reef in the main an activity that has to co-ordinate multiple crew- 4 at the mast,a busy pit crew ,one on the mainsheet. We ease sheets and sail downwind toward Sydney,again in 20-25 knots. We set up a preventer and do multiple gybes all the way. Once through the heads there is lot of traffic to avoid ,viz ferries ,49ers ,18 foot skiffs, before we get to the marina. Beer at CYCA.
March 7 ,no wind ,assessment et al on the dock. Beer and meal at CYCA.
March 8 deep clean of yacht. The 98 nautical miles we sailed has just whetted my appetite. An enjoyable week with a great and varied bunch of people. k