December 16, 2004
Sydney for the season
We have arrived in Sydney and are anchored in Farm Cove. We have a view of the Opera House, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Botanical Gardens, and all of down town Sydney. Not your average anchorage but it's not your average city. Tomorrow we move into the marina where we will stay for several months. Mariah and Daniel arrive on Sunday night for a 3 week stay through the Holidays so we will have a busy couple of days getting Astor ship shape.
Merry Christmas from Richard, Lani and the crew of ASTOR
December 5, 2004
On the move -> South
I think we have finallly recovered from our inquisition by "CUSTOMS" and have returned to the simple and satisfying world of cruising. We are currently anchored in Port Stephens which is about 85 miles north of Sydney. We left Coffs Harbor on Saturday at about 2 pm for the 160 mile sail in moderate north east winds and had a great sail south arriving in Port Stephens at 1 pm the next day.
We had a nice stop in Coffs Harbor for about 4 days while we waited for good weather to go south. Coffs is a beautiful area that reminds me of Monterey, CA. but with good weather and sun. It has a small inner harbor with filled with old wood fishing boats. The outer harbor, where we were anchored, is not the best because the swell sneaks in and causes quite a roll.
Sailing in Australia has it's challenges because of the ever changing weather. The wind blows north east for several days and then blows south east for several days. The changes from north to south can be quite sudden and strong so you have to plan your movements carefully. The good news is that the forecasts are usually very good for about 3 days out. to give an example, while we were anchored at Coffs a southerly change was forecast for late evening. At 11:30 at night the wind went from 10 kts north east to 42 kts south in 5 minutes. This is lovingly known as a southerly buster here and can be very exciting even at anchor.
We will stay in Port Stephens for a day or two and then sail to Pittwater, about 70 miles, for about a weeks stay. Pittwater is only 16 miles from Sydney but is very quiet and relaxed so it is a good place get some boat projects done before the Holidays in Sydney. Mariah and Daniel are flying in on the 20th of December for 3 weeks so we have to get our rest while we can as it should be non stop fun while they are here.
November 8, 2004
Subject: Bundaberg to South Port
Date: 16 Nov 2004 09:35:00 -0000
All is well on board as we are headed to South Port. We have just rounded the sandy spit at the top of Frasier Is. and are now headed south.
Our crew consists of Jim & Glenda from South Port. They sailed with us from the Whitsundays to Cairns. We are thrilled to have them back on board. We also, have Jan our German crew so we are set. It should be an overnight trip of 260 miles. Right now we have no wind and are motoring so we will see.
Here's the information at 1346 Nov. 16:
Lat; 24 26, Long: 153 14 E, Speed 6.0, Wind 4k East, sea is calm & it is sunny skies
Thanks again for everything ~~~Lani
PS: 7:00 pm update, the wind has filled in from the east and for the 3 hrs we have been reaching along at over 10 kts. Our top speed so far has been 11.5 kts with long periods over 11.
Lat; 25 10 s Long; 153 25 e speed 10.8 kts Wind; East at 12-14 Seas flat
November 8, 2004
Subject: We're in Bundaberg
Date: 11 Nov 2004 12:55:00 -0000
Hi Byron: All is well - we are in Bundaberg. We are having a few days of R/R before we head off to South Port.
We are enjoying seeing some old cruising buddies that have been in different parts of South Pacific this season. Bundaberg is a nice as ever & the weather is cooler but still warm.
Hope all is well there in Orange County - sounds like you are working too hard?
We will let you know when we head off ~~~Lani
November 8, 2004
We are just 31 miles out of Bundaberg. Projected arrivalis around 8:00 a.m.. Hopefully, it will be a happier port than Cairns. It certainly has been in the past.
We spent last night at anchor at Great Keppel Island. We got in at 2 p.m. So we had a nice rest and BBQ'd some of that beautiful fish that we caught the day before.
We will be in Bundaberg for at least 2 weeks as we have to deal with quarantine. We have spent Thanksgiving here when we were in Bundaberg twice before and it was good. It looks as if our crew is happy & will probably stay on through Sydney?? Yes, Bob, Gordon & Jon are great crew: ambitious & cheerful.
Here's tonight's details: We are currently motor sailing but sailed all day until 11 p.m
24 20 S, 152 06 E, Speed: 5.1 in 8k wind from NE seas are .5 meter. Stars overhead but a storm along the coast.
November 6, 2004
We are having a pretty good trip south. We are about 300 miles from Bundaberg. We have been able to sail quite a bit which is a nice surprise. Usually these southern trips are mostly motoring but the NE winds have been okay.
We spent a couple of nights in the Whitsunday Is. as we had to get more fuel & fish 'n chips.
We just hooked up a real nice yellow fin tuna & earlier we caught a 40" Spanish mackerel - yum.
Here's our information:
21 11 S, 149 44 E, Speed 6.3, motorsailing. Wind E @ 4k, Seas calm.
November 3, 2004
Astor on the move
We are headed south to Sydney after a horrible go-round with the Cairns Customs & quarantine. For a long time it looked like we would be going to New Caledonia then on to New Zealand. It seems that the head of Customs in Cairns decided that since we had applied for a retirement visa that we should import (pay taxes & GST) on ASTOR. This is in spite of the fact that we do not have our retirement visa even though we applied for it in April. It took us a full month and thousands of dollars to get though most of the bureaucracy and out of the port of Cairns. Then AQIS (quarantine) decided that ASTOR should be fumigated even though we have been in the country for nearly a year. We fought that to the point that we are headed to Bundaberg to be inspected by the head of AQIS for Queensland. We have a port to port clearance for 14 days to get to Bundaberg. I am sure we will clear the inspection but we are pretty disgusted with Australia at this point.
The final outcome will probably be that ASTOR will be imported with no duty or GST as her duty was paid in 1928. But we had to hire a private customs agent (that is not cheap) plus wait in the marina at Cairns for 30 days at $120/day.
We were planning a lot of different cruising grounds as there was no way we were going to pay $38,000 duty & GST + fumigation cost of over $10,000.00. For the first time Australia was not looking good to us.
We did get to do some snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef before most of this happened and it was great.
We have good crew on board. Gordon & Bob are two retired guys about our age from Cairns and a 19 year old German, Jan backpacker/sailor. They are fun and it a real good trip so far.
We left on Sat. Oct. 30 but because of the SE winds did not get further than Fitzroy Island only 15 miles. Finally this Nov. 3 we left and motor sailed until 5 when the easterly filled in enough for us to sail. We are making pretty good time doing 7.4k in 11 apparent. The plan is to get as far south as possible and hopefully get to Hamilton Island, then on to Bundaberg.
We are at 18.64 S 147.01 E. Speed 7.4 Wind: 11 A. ENE
September 20 2004
We have arrived in Cairns after a fun 17 mile sail from Fitzroy island.
There is a long dredged channel to get into Cairns, the chart says it is dredged to about 26 feet, it is in the very center but at the edges there is about 12 feet and outside the marks there is 3 feet in places. When you sail a deep draft vessel this can give you some exciting moments when the boats going the opposite way want the center of the channel.
We are anchored across the channel from the downtown marina so town is close. Tomorrow we will explore the downtown.
September 18 2004
We are anchor down at Fitzroy Island just 12 miles from Cairns.
We had a great sail from Dunk Island in an easterly breeze so we had a 80 to 100 degree reach most of the way. We had to motor sail for about 2 hr in the early afternoon but the rest of the time we had about 10-12 kts on the beam. We got started about 6:30 am and were here by 3:15 pm with a total distance of about 65 miles. Top speed for the day was 9.6 kts with several hours over 9 kts steady.
We will sail into Cairns tomorrow morning to get ready for the arrival of Daniel's dad Rudolf & his girlfriend Linda who fly in on Wednesday.
September 16 2004
We are anchored at Dunk Island which is about 70+ miles south of Cairns.
The sail was perfect, 15 kts out of the south east with blue skies and puffy white clouds. We sailed with a full main, #2 genoa and the reaching gollywobbler. Could have used the asymmetric but we were lazy. The last 8 miles we ran wing and wing with the golly and the main. We have done this a lot racing but never just cruising. To my surprise the auto pilot steered a perfect course dead down wind and the sails never collapsed.
Dunk Island has a resort, airfield, camp grounds, artist colony, and cruiser friendly bar-snack bar, and a beautiful beach. There is supposed to be a shop that sells the arts, which includes jewelry, so we are going to stay here for a day and explore and relax. The majority of the island is park land with lush green forest with walking tracks. Size wise it is similar to Musket Cove in Fiji, but it is much greener and the hills are taller. The anchorage is an open roadstead on the lee of the island so it is good as long as the trade winds blow but not in a north,
September 15 2004
We left Magnetic Island this morning and sailed to Orpheus Island, about 40 miles north. We sat in Magnetic for 2 days waiting for the southerly to settle down, which it did, to 15 to 20 kts. We had a great sail, doing 8+ kts on a broad reach. We had to jibe 2 times to get here and we are anchor down at 4:30 PM.
The weather has been great, blue skies and puffy white clouds. There has been a daily prediction of possible showers but none so far. We are now about 110 miles from Cairns with one stop between, Dunk Island. The crew is getting used to schoonering so the sailing is going better and we are all having a good time. It is getting more tropical both in and out of the water, we have seen many turtles and sea snakes today.
September 12 2004
It's 5:30 PM and we are anchor down at Magnetic Island, just outside of Townsville, Queensland.
Today's trip was about 70 miles of motor sailing and motoring. Wind prediction was for 15 kts from the SE but we never saw more than 8 true directly from the stern so we got to exercise Roger the diesel. We would have stopped along the way but there are strong wind warnings for the next couple of days and this is the best anchorage for the 30 kt southerlies.
We will probably stay here for several days enjoying the "native" village.
September 11 2004
We are anchored behind Cape Upstart, about half way to Townsville, after a great sail in 12-15 kt following breeze. Tomorrow we will sail 70 miles to Magnetic Island, we'll see if the compass works there. We plan to spend several days there as the forecast is for strong south easterlies.
We caught a 32" black king fish today on our drag lines. It will be the center piece of our birthday celebration dinner for the absent daughter.
September 10 2004
Making our way
Since our last message we have been anchored in Nara inlet waiting for the southerly to come back. It arrived on schedule early this morning. By 8 am we had the anchor up and were on our way. The prediction was for 15 to 20 kts from the SSE but true wind has been 25 to 30 kts SSE. The good news is that we are going with, sailing about 130-140 degrees off the breeze. The main is double reefed and both staysails are up and we are doing 9-9.5 kts across the bottom.
It's a perfect blue sky day and a great day for a sail (at least for us). The charter boats, on the other hand, are in full panic looking for places to hide.
We are officially out of the Whitsundays and on our way north.
September 6 2004
On the move
Date: 06 Sep 2004 08:21:00 -0000
We are on our way to Cairns.
This morning we left Hamilton Island, in the Whitsunday islands, and are now anchored in Nara inlet on Hook Island Which is a long skinny fiord on the west side of the island. This was not a great passage (15 miles) but gets us going. The wind is supposed to go north tomorrow so we may stay here for a bit. I plotted a course to Cairns going from anchorage to anchorage and it is a little over 300 miles total. The longest passage is under 70 miles so we should be able to day hop all the way up.
We had a great time in Hamilton island doing Race Week, In the end, we tied for first on points and came in second on the count back. Not bad for an 81 year old gal with a new crew. We currently have Joe, a 19 year old student from Germany on gap and Jim and Glenda from the Gold Coast, about our age and semi retired.
We will keep you posted on progress.
A Busy Month
We are up in Barrier Reef country. Looking back on the month finds us busy as usual. The haul went well, out for 8 days, with no problems or surprises during the work or once back in the water. We were launched and immediately sailed to Mackay from Brisbane. It would have been nice to have a few days to rest up and check for leaks but there is no place to berth on the Brisbane river and the marinas in Moreton bay are too shallow for Astor. Also good news is that we had no problems on the 600 mile transit.
Australia is a big country, almost as large as the US, but there are not a lot of people in it. Once you get out of the major cities it is very rural. Mackay is a nice small town, typical of most OZ towns, that you can walk the whole shopping district of in about one hour. There is one post office, one theater (6 screens), 3 super markets and a dozen places to eat. The main industry is sugar cane which is at its lowest value in 10 years or more. The community service adds on TV warn you to watch out for the cane trains because they run 24 hours a day and are dangerous especially if you try to ride them. It's like being back in small town Illinois when I was a kid.
It was non stop here when Mariah and Daniel arrived on July 28. We had a great visit with lots of sailing, diving, and relaxing. We visited the Whitsunday Islands where there is a great anchorage every 5 - 10 miles. The sailing is in protected waters so there is no ocean swell, just wind chop and not a lot of that either... just perfect! The major thing to be careful of is the tides which can be as much as 5+ meters. One can't anchor too shallow or get caught in the currents in a narrow pass.
The weather was perfect for their visit, just one day of showers. The wind blows out of the south east at 10 to 15 kts almost every day with flat turquoise water, perfect sailing conditions. The air temps in the 70s are cooler than Vanuatu or Fiji, more like So Cal, but pleasant.
I thought that after they left we would have a moment but no, the craziness continues. After they left we had only a few days to get ready for Hamilton Island Race Week. This is the biggest regatta in Australia and this year they have a Classic Class, so in a weak moment we entered Astor. There are 6 days of racing, partying, drinking, etc. There are 6 boats in our class and we have raced twice so far taking a fifth and a third which is good considering that we have all new crew (well new to Astor and schooners) but also young in spirits.
Webjanitor Update: According to the POSTED RESULTS, Astor and crew did quite well:
Race 1 - Fifth
Race 2 - Third
Race 3 - Second
Race 4 - First
Race 5 - Third
Race 6 - First
For a Regatta week total of Second Place Overall! (Actually tied for first place at 492 pts)
Here is a nice article posted by-
Sail-World.com: Classic Schooner Astor Shows Her Class
The Hamilton Island Yacht Club has a great web site which has pics and info from race week.
http://www.hiyc.org.au/ - There has got to be a thousand pics, but all have a watermark overlaid(the photographer wants you to purchase the good copy). This is a bit disappointing to see as it spoils the smaller images. Here are some that I found, and I will put up more as I find them.
HIRW-04 Photo Album - This is the start of the album if you want to explore them all.
I spent some time going through the folders and picked a few of Astor out so those with a slower connection can go directly to them. The below links should take you to the pages. Until I get permission to post them myself, I will just send you there. Click on the image that comes up to see it bigger, use the arrows at the top to see the next ones.
http://photos.hamiltonisland.com.au/en/Photo/View.asp?P=103844278 - and the next 25
http://photos.hamiltonisland.com.au/en/Photo/View.asp?P=103844537- and the next 7
Have to go now, the partying calls.
Richard, Lani and Crew of Astor
July 10 2004
We have arrived
We motor sailed the last day. On the whole, a pleasant passage with no drama. We entered the breakwater at Mackay at about 8pm, dark night with no moon, but the leed lights were good. I took the dingy into the yacht basin to see where our berth was, only to find a trawler in it that claimed he belonged there. There was room on the next pontoon though so we tied up there for the night. He moved in the morning to his regular berth with no apology, no worries mate.
We now have a couple of weeks for boat projects before Mariah and Daniel arrive.
July 8 2004
We have 75 miles to go to Mackay. The wind went light at about 2 pm yesterday and we have been motor sailing since, currently with 2 staysails straped flat for roll and the advance winged out for push as we are running dead down wind.
The weather is finally getting warmer as the south wind is clocking slowly east, but still not tropical. This area has big tides so there is current every where, up to 2 kts in open water and more around island narrows. The islands in this area are very arid looking like SO-CAL in the summer. We are passing through Percy Island group this morning with blue skies and puffy white clouds.
Position: 21.39 S, 150.28 E, Wind 10kts SSE, Speed 6.2 kts, Sky: 20% cloud, Course: 280mag., Sea: 3ft
July 7 2004
Winds are up!
We have been sailing through the night, wind from 18 to 25 kts from the South with clear skies and a BAR of 1020.
We are well past Bundaberg, almost abeam of Heron Island, about 200 miles from Mackay. Astor and the crew are doing great. We have a double reef in the main and the two staysails up, doing 8-9 kts, great fun except for the lumpy, confused seas. We were going to hose off the boat yard dirt yesterday but got lazy so the wave Gods did it last night, at sea Astor is self washing. We hope to be in Mackay late tomorrow afternoon.
Position: 23.29 S, 152.22 E, Seas: 1.5 meter - confused, Course: 297 mag, Speed: 8.3 kts, Sky: clear, Wind 18- 25 out of the south.
July 6 2004
Escape from the boat yard
Ahoy to all!
Yes we can say ahoy because the good ship Astor has escaped from the ship yard and is once again on the move. The haul out was quick and without drama, no surprises to be found, just what you would expect from an 81 year old lady! The yard is modern, friendly, expert, honest and fair priced (unheard of it the yachting world).
We left the yard at 1 pm and did a slow motor out the river and through Moreton bay. There was not a breath of wind. We have been motor sailing through the night with very light westerlies, heading north to the Great Barrier Reef. The weather prediction is for clear skies and 15-20 kts south westerlies. We wait and hope.
Our next landfall should be the port of Mackay on the mainland by the Whitsundays, about 400+ miles from our current position.
Position: 25.48 S. 153.14 E., Speed: 7.5 kts, Course: 335 mag, Wind: 8 kts SW. Weather: clear, Time: 7 am local, 2100 Z, Seas: 1.5 ft
June 25 2004
We are offocially up the river. Up the Brisbane River, that is, tied up at the shipyard. I now know why we have never sailed into Brisbane before, it takes 7 hours to travel from the entrance of the ship channel to the river. When you "arrive" you find the river is very industrial, like the back side of Long Beach, but we are not here for the scenery. Astor goes on the hard Monday for a little tender loving care. She was last hauled in New Zealand 18 months ago and now needs new bottom paint. She should be back in the water in a week and then we will continue to sail north.
June 23 2004 0800 Hrs
Hi to all,
We are about 70 miles from the start of the north ship channel to Brisbane. The wind has been very light so we have been motoring all night. The good news is that the ocean is very flat and the air temp is up, so life is good. The weather man is predicting 10-15kts of wind but none so far. We are currently off of the Gold Coast enjoying the view of the high rise buildings in the morning light.
Position: 27.56 S, 153.38 E, Speed: 5.8 kts, Course: 329 mag. Time 8:00 am local (2200 Z)
June 22 2004 0730 Hrs
Ahoy to all from Astor,
It is 7:30 am and we are about 8 miles north of Coffs Harbor and motoring in light air. We had a great sail yesterday, starting out with a beam reach with the breeze out of the west and gradually going aft. We ended up going DDW with the main and jib wing and wing still doing 6 kts across the bottom. The wind gradually went east and we had to jibe, we carried on for another hour till it went light. We have been motoring since about 8 pm with just staysails. The weather is already warmer than Sydney, especially at night. We have about 185 miles to go and the forecast is still good and the high is holding (1028mb).
Position: 30.00S, 153.20E, Time 7:30 am local - 2230 Z, course 356 m, Wind: 6kt from the south, BAR 1028 steady.
June 21 2004 1030 Hrs
Hi to all,
Last night there was no wind so we motored at about 5kt to conserve fuel. At about 5 am the breeze filled in from the west on Dave's watch and held at about 10kt on the beam. At 6:30 we hoisted the main with 2 reefs, the #3 and the advance, the staysls were already up. As I write we are doing 8.5 kts over the ground against the coastal current. The weather is cool but very clear and the BAR is 1029, a perfect sail and day so far. We are 150 miles south of Coffs Harbor and 8 miles off the coast.
Time 10:30 am local (2215Z), Position: 32.11S, 152.45E, speed 8.5 kts, wind: 10kts out of the west, Heading: 357 mag
June 21 2004 1330 Hrs
Untied and Moving North!
Most of June has found us in the final stages of finishing up projects and preparing to cast off once again.
It's been cooling down here with the onslaught of winter (like January back in the states), but without the gray. So it is time to head North towards the tropics. This morning we actually untied Astor and headed out the Heads (entrance to Sydney Harbor). We cleared the Heads at 11am local time and are heading up hill to Brisbane, about 450 miles. We are going to haul Astor in Brisbane for a quick bottom paint and then sail up to the Whitsundays Islands and the Great Barrier Reef for fun in the sun. The Whitsundays are about 650 miles further North in Queensland, Aus.
Mariah and Daniel are going to meet us there on July 18 for about 18 days, their first return since heading home, should be great fun.
The time is now 1:30 pm local (0330zulu) and our position is 33.37 S, 151. 27 E, course 30 mag speed 5.6kts motorsailing.
Still Tied Up: Sydney
It has been a very busy off season for us here in Australia. We have enjoyed our surroundings very much as well as the people. There were many weeks spent exploring with visiting friends, and we managed to venture quite far across the continent, far away from Astor at times.
The time back aboard was spent in a constant state of stripping, sanding and varnishing. For the time being, I am known as the 'dust monster', but all the paneling in the main salon is all like new.
Current guests aboard are good friends Bob and Debbie Mashall form Newport. We are all having a wonderful time.
The time may is coming that we will be looking for warmer waters. Keep watching for a move.
8 Feb 2004 07:00:00 -0000 [UTC]
We have finally recovered from our guests/trip to Perth, almost had to go to Betty Ford after Jim & Marion left but it was great fun.
We have been working nonstop on Astor since. We have entered the old girl in the Sydney wooden boat festival which happens March 6-7 at the National Maritime Museum. After 6 months of fast sailing it's good to have the time to get caught up on chores.
Cheers, Richard & Lani
12 Jan 2004 00:13:00 -0000 [UTC]
Hi to all,
January found the crew playing tourist away from Astor. Hard as it is to believe there does seem to be places to go that do not involve sailing. Our dear friends Jim & Marion Jordan and Mark & Dee Vonarx arrived from the States For New Years in Sydney. Sydney is the best city in the world to celebrate the New Year. Australians really know how to party and their fireworks are spectacular. It would seem that they have set the town ablaze because there are fireworks everywhere.
On the 3rd of January, barely time to recover, we boarded the train for an extended trip across Australia. Not just any train but the Indian Pacific which is famed for first class accommodations, service and food. Because there were 10 of us (Jim & Marion, Mark & Dee, Ross & Lynette MacDonald, John & Meg Ringrose, Lani & I) we had our own private train car complete with bar, lounge area, dining table, TV, DVD, stereo, and private attendant to look after our needs. The private car was really necessary to protect the rest of the passengers from our party (and party we did). The trip takes 3.5 days (about 2700 miles) to travel from Sydney to Perth on the West coast with 4 stops along the way for tours. Australia is a vast country with lots of desert in the middle so the train is the best way to see and enjoy it. Upon our arrival in Perth we rented a 12 passenger bus for a tour of the Perth and Freemantle area. We spent one night in Freemantle in a beautiful hotel by the yacht harbor. The next day we drove about 200 miles south to Margaret River wine district. Australia is known for its wines and some of the best come from here. Margaret River is very similar to the Napa Valley in climate and look but without the hordes of tourists. We spent 2 days touring wineries and eating too much good food.
We are now back in Sydney, recuperating, after a 3.5 hr flight from Perth. Flying is quick and efficient but the train gives you the time to experience the country.
Cheers, Richard & Lani