The Voyage


Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

The Position

Bali, Indonesia

The Pictures

The Voyage of Spectacle

Archive for June, 2009

Getting Back to Normal Means Boat Work

Posted by: melissa

We said “Goodbye” to Ryan yesterday evening, and then went out for pizza and beer with Jason.  He stayed on the boat with us last night, and was off to the airport early this morning.  And so Andy and I are left by ourselves with our thoughts.  We both still don’t really know what to think about the passage.  Every time we tell the story, some new detail comes out or some new emotion bubbles to the surface.  It doesn’t help that we both still feel very tired.  It’s hard to sleep soundly after a passage anyway because you’re so used to sleeping in 3-4 hour increments depending on the watch schedule, but adjusting this time is proving especially difficult.  I think we are both suffering from an adrenalin hangover of sorts, and coming down is a real bitch.  The whole experience feels quite surreal.

One way to shake such a strange feeling is to get back to normal things, and for me, that means boat work and check lists.  First on the list is dealing with the head sail.  It needs a new shackle for the halyard, but unfortunately, the halyard and furling drum did not come down the forestay when we dropped the headsail at sea, so someone will need to go up the mast to retrieve it.  The furling line is looking a little haggard as well so I’ll look into replacing that while we’re at it.  The staysail blew out completely.  It seriously looks like it was shot with a shotgun, but the sail loft thinks it may be repairable and will pick it up later today.

I’m also going to find someone to service the autopilot.  If you’re a boat person, or if you follow our travels or the travels of any other cruiser, you realize the importance of the autopilot.  During the crossing, poor old Otto was working really really hard against that huge, following, Tasman swell, and he was making some pretty sad noises.  It was also making a “thunk” noise as if it was slamming into something when turning sharply and completely to port.  Whatever’s happening, it can’t be good.  The loss of the autopilot was a secret fear for the entire crew, but never articulated out loud in an effort to keep everyone’s stress level as low as possible.

At some point during the crossing, a loose jib sheet was whipping around and whacked a big hole in the plastic window of the dodger.  The boat trim guy will come by later this week, and I’ll probably get a quote to re-do the bed cushions as well. 

Additionally, we have a ton of exterior lights that are burned out – anchor light, tri-color, starboard deck light, and starboard running light.  Other than that, I would like to hire someone to help me scrub the deck, work on rust removal, polish all the metal, and sand and oil the teak.  Bayswater Marina in Auckland was a stickler on not allowing exterior boat work, so much of the deck desperately needs attention.

Going Up the Mast

Posted by: melissa

As I mentioned, the furling drum did not come down the forestay when we dropped the halyard on the headsail, and as such, someone needed to go up the mast to retrieve it.  I suspect there’s something wrong up there since theoretically, it should be weighted enough to slide down on its own. 

Going up the mast is a boat task that is simultaneously mundane and terrifying.  You attach a seat, called a bosun’s chair, to the mainsail (or spinnaker) halyard, and use a winch to lift the seated person just as you would raise a sail.  Intellectually, it’s easy to understand that the load on a huge sail, in big wind, involving a 69-foot mast, far exceeds your body weight.  But you just can’t help but wonder if this might be the one instance that the shackle fails.  I was especially thinking this since I was going up the mast because of a failed shackle, but whatever.  And yes, I volunteered to go up the mast because in a way, running the winch is far more nerve-racking … the ascent isn’t that bad as the winch does all the work and there’s a brake preventing the line from feeding out should the winch fail or slip.  But, on the descent, that brake is open, and the line is manually let out.   

I’m not afraid of heights and I didn’t find the whole experience particularly scary, but the very top of the mast is fairly unnerving.  Past the highest set of spreaders, there’s nothing really to hold on to except for the big tree trunk of a mast that I wrapped my legs around.  And it’s weird to see the halyard, with which you’re being hoisted, become so short and then feed into the mast. 

Once I was up to the spreaders or so, I pulled extra slack of the headsail halyard out of the mast, and swung out to the forestay to inspect the furling drum.  That was a pretty strange sensation, but really, holding onto the forestay really freaked me out because it’s pretty loose, that is to say, definitely not as rigid as the mast.  The furling drum was definitely stuck, and no amount of muscle or slack in the halyard would budge it.  One of the connecting points on the forestay’s sleeve appeared to have some bolts sticking out that have loosened themselves. 

I reported down to Andy that the furling drum would not come down, and that I didn’t have the tools to try to fix it.  As such, he lowered me slowly down, and I was a snit for the rest of the day because he forgot to take my picture while I was up there.  Dammit!

Kings Cross, Sydney, New South Wales

Posted by: melissa

The wifi in the marina is pretty unstable, and I have a lot of high bandwidth projects that need to get done.  As such, my last chore on the shaky wifi was to find an Internet café that I can walk to.  The closest was in the Sydney neighborhood called Kings Cross, which is the red light district.  This part of town is on a fairly large hill, so historically, wealthy settlers moved up the ridge away from the city slums and waterfront squalor.  Kings Cross developed into a pretty snazzy neighborhood, but as always, slums spread and the rich migrate to the suburbs.  By the 1920s, Kings Cross earned a bohemian reputation providing safe haven for artists, immigrants, and drifters.  Pubs, clubs and cabarets started to spring up, and by the 1970s, Kings Cross was a seedy and crime-ridden combination of drug addicts, mob bosses, and prostitutes. 

These days, Kings Cross has been cleaned up quite a bit, and appears to be trending upward.  The iconic symbol of the neighborhood is the huge glowing Coca-Cola sign at the intersection of William and Victoria.  While there are some sketchy pockets, I found the Cross to be very “seedy chic” and pretty much safe in a “just keep your wits about you” way.  There are lots of shady bars, sex shops, massage parlors, and of course, strip clubs, and several are quite humorous … Two Hands Required, the Bada Bing, the Pleasure Chest, the Landing Strip.  One displays a banner out front proclaiming “No NRL Players Allowed.”  The NRL is rugby league, and many rugby league players are notoriously badly behaved while fans and management look the other way.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of street people just milling around.  There’s no mistaking the drug-addicted prostitutes who hook to support their habit … they are very haggard, bruised and battered, and frequently heartbreakingly young.

There’s the occasional odd ray of hope in Kings Cross as well.  There’s a former drug addict turned street-cleaning janitor who walks Darlinghurst Road everyday bidding “G’day” to everyone and tending to those in need.  There’s the famous Russian hawker at one club who has been greeting customers at the door and protecting the strippers employed there for over 30 years.  There’s the alcoholic who sits at the bus stop on the corner of Darlinghurst and Bayswater every single day screaming four-letter-word insults at passersby.  Okay, that’s not the greatest example.  Nevertheless, the Kings Cross neighborhood appears to be improving with the appearance of higher end establishments catering to a normal crowd (restaurants, grocery stores, etc.), rather than the street crowd (strip clubs, massage parlors, etc.).