We were really glad to get out of Adelaide. Buying the boat in Adelaide, and getting it ready for the trip to Sydney, had proved to be anything but a pleasant experience. You can read all about that experience here. We had however met some wonderful people in Adelaide. Gill and Chris had been our neighbours at the Marina and we couldn’t have asked for better neighbours. Gill was a mine of information and every time we came unstuck with the repairs, Gill was only too happy to help and point us in the right direction. It was with some sadness that we said goodbye to them and hopefully our paths will cross again someday.
We had planned to leave Adelaide soon after buying the boat in August 2017 but, between the misrepresentation and the incompetent tradesmen, only managed to leave in April 2018. It was the wrong time of year to leave and we knew that it would be a tough trip. The alternative was to leave the boat in Adelaide for the winter and we had had enough of Adelaide. We feel about Adelaide the same way we feel about Mexico, now that we have been there, we have absolutely no desire to return.
The prevailing winds and currents would be against us and the night time temperatures had dropped considerably. We were also acutely aware that we did not have the experience necessary for this trip and would need some help getting the boat to Sydney. We advertised for a delivery skipper on a few of the sailing websites and had some interest. The only problem was they wanted a small fortune to help us sail the boat to Sydney. The trip would take anywhere between 14 to 30 days depending on the weather. We were in no rush and would only sail when we had a suitable weather window. Sailing to a timetable with little regard for the weather is a recipe for disaster.
Margaret put a post on the Sailing Australia Facebook page and we received a reply from Geoffrey Tapper. Geoffrey had recently retired from the Army, had some free time and offered to help us sail the boat from Adelaide to Sydney. He was an experienced sailor and had, in addition, been involved in sailing in the Army. He was part of the Army team that took the gap year students sailing up and down the Australian east coast. He sounded perfect for two newbies like us. We got a referral from Cal Lippiatt (the Administrator for the Facebook page) who spoke very highly of Geoffrey. He wasn’t doing it for the money – all he wanted was for us to cover his expenses and if at the end we were satisfied with his help, he wouldn’t be averse to us giving him some money. Geoffrey proved to be invaluable to us.
By the time Geoffrey arrived at the end of March 2018 we still hadn’t taken the boat out of the marina. The contractor who was supposed to replace the standing rigging had, after a period of 4 months, told us at the beginning of February 2018 that he couldn’t finish the job as he was having surgery to his eye. It was a mad scramble to find someone to finish the standing rigging and Gill referred us to Luke Barrows from Bravo Sails who finished the rigging shortly before Geoffrey arrived.
The first order of business once Geoffrey arrived was to take the boat out. We had no idea how well the boat sailed. The first outing was a pleasant surprise. Great Escape is a big heavy boat built for blue water cruising and, whilst she would win no prizes for speed, she was solid and easy to sail. With all three sails up and properly balanced, she sailed herself and we returned to the marina feeling confident that the boat was ready for the trip. The euphoria was short lived. Margaret had spent weeks provisioning for the trip and when we opened one of the lower cupboards in the saloon there was dirty muddy water everywhere. Most of the tinned food was covered in muddy water and it took hours to clean the mess. Finding out where the muddy water was coming from proved elusive and would be a problem for the first half of the trip.
It was evident that the water was only coming into the cupboards when the boat was heeling and after looking around for a few hours, the first theory was that the water was coming in from the bilge pump through-hull fitting. It would be the first of many theories. The seacock for the through-hull fitting was rusted solid (one of the many problems not found in the survey) and we theorised that when the boat was heeling, sea water was coming into the boat through the through-hull fitting, finding its way through the bottom of the boat where we couldn’t reach to clean, picking up the years of dust and grime as it passed through and landing up in the cupboards. We replaced the seacock and also replaced the bilge pump and put in a one way valve. Problem solved we hoped.
With a satisfactory test sail, a competent skipper and all the provisioning done it was time to head off to Sydney. And so it was on the morning of 2 April 2018 we filled up with fuel and headed down St Vincent Gulf headed for Robe. The weather forecast wasn’t perfect, winds between 10 and 15 knots gusting to 20 knots, but not bad enough to keep us in Adelaide.