Arctos stays in Hobart for another 2 weeks and I’m jumping on another boat on the way back.
“Breakthrough”, is a First 40.7 and well equipped for racing . She finished the race with a ranking somewhere in the first quarter of the fleet. I know the First 40.7 from my Fastnet race in 2009. A boat with good pointing potential but it is not a solid boat as Arctos is. You can feel on the helm that it is a much lighter boat.
Breakthrough is based in Sydney and there is a group of sailors enjoying her in offshore races on the Australian east coast. Most of the racing crew could not sail her back and there was need for one sailor to bring her home to Sydney.
Well, I was available for doing exactly that.
Usually there are always some skippers looking for crew to sail the boat back as often crews from the race have not enough time and then they rather fly back.
The team around Breakthrough hired a professional skipper for the Sydney Hobart race.
Berry Hirley from Ireland has an amazing sailing experience. He did a lot of solo sailing and he also did the Ostar Transatlantic race via the Northern route. There are not many sailors in the world crazy enough for this extreme race from Plymouth/England to Newport in Rode Island, USA sailing through waters full with icebergs. This year he also did the Rolex Middle sea route in October and he won the Round Rockall race in May…single handed!!!!!!!
Berry was flown in from Malta to train and skipper the Breakthrough-crew in the Sydney-Hobart race.
Berry should meet with Jason, our solo sailing expert on Arctos. These two Irish lads would have a lot to talk about.
Wlodek from Poland lives since many years in Sydney. He was doing already his 2nd Sydney-Hobart race and has a lot of offshore experience with Breakthrough and is very experienced in sailing the bass strait.
Gerry, also from Ireland, is another member of the sailing group on Breakthrough and unfortunately could not join for the race itself but is sailing her back now. Beside a lot of inshore races he has also some offshore experience and is looking forward to do his first Sydney-Hobart next year. This passage will help him to gain valuable experience.
Katy, our nr. 3 from Ireland (Irish dominance on the boat), is the only girl for the delivery. She is a friend from Berry and is using the opportunity to collect her first offshore sailing experience. She lives in Dublin and sails there with a group of people in a J111. She proved to be very talented on the helm.
Katy and I did one watch and Wlodek and Jerry the other shift while Berry kept himself out of the shift system. We did 2 to 3 hour watches depending on the weather conditions.
We started in good weather but soon have been hit by winds up to 40 kt. Luckily we have been on a broad reach course which made the wind much more pleasant as on a beating course. The problem which came up was breaking waves of 3 to 4 meters coming from about 150 degree astern. To avoid being knocked down from one of these bastards we had to steer her so that the wave was coming directly from behind. But we couldn’t turn the boat too much out of the wave or we would have had an accidental jibe, which in these wind conditions would surely mean some broken rig. We have been twice close to a knockdown. How exciting.
An hour later the wind and the waves settled to a more enjoyable ride and we sailed into a night with 20 to 25 kt of wind with moderate waves.
We made good progress and the next afternoon we entered already the bass strait with almost no wind at all. We motor sailed to make sure we make it in time to Eden Harbor for shelter before a Northerly storm is coming down the Australian coast. The plan is to wait 1 day till the worst of the storm is through and then we continue back to Sydney.
In the afternoon the wind picked up enough to do sailing again. It started with a 7 kt breeze building up later to 12 to 15 kt. Unfortunately the wind came the first 10 hours from northerly direction, our course to Eden. We sailed the boat close-hauled and then the wind started to change to a northwesterly wind which brought us on a course direct towards Eden. The conditions stayed like this all night and far into the next day. The Northeastern storm is expected to build up next night.
We have been 80 NM off the coast and did a tack to work our way closer to the coast as our rudder quadrant broke!!!! The boat did 2 full turns till it settled down in a heave to position as it is supposed to do. Wind around 20 to 25 kt.
We managed to disconnect the remaining pieces of the quadrant and kept sailing with the emergency tiller to Eden 80 NM away. It was not easy to get used to the new steering feeling but finally we managed to steer the boat quite well into Eden which we arrived in the evening. Eden is a small town with a fishing harbor. Not many sailing boats there. We tied up to another sailing boat which also had rudder problems, but unluckily during the race down to Hobart and they had to retire.
Evening in Eden