FROM 1-33. Sydney-Hobart Race 2005

Jan 02, 2006 - 1900hrs EDT │Hobart

1900hrs 02 Jan 2006 EDT Hobart

The day after the day before…

Fenwick – lovely bloke – went back to the boat to sleep last night after a big meal up here at the Sutherland’s and it was lucky he did. Some idiot – and I don’t say that lightly and we think we know who it was – had left Constitution Dock and taken our stern anchor line with them – uprooting the anchor and dumping it close to the little channel under the bridge at the entrance. Berri was left with Polaris attached to her starboard side bumping against the dock in a bit of a blow – Allan started the engine and managed to get the anchor out a but further but not enough to hold both boats off the dock so he sat there with a nice Kiwi who failed dismally to see the charm that oozes from the Fenwick persona but she did latch on to the bottle of Bundy that was on offer and she sat there with him all night holding both boats off the wharf until Polaris’ skipper arrived at about 0900 and helped them to reset the anchor and sort out the mess.

And then another idiot – and we think we also know who this one was – departed from up the line of boats without properly re-attaching the boats that were tied to his own back to the wharf. One of these has a varnished wooden hull. Inexcusable incompetence. Result – several more boats adrift against the wharf and in danger of severe damage.

End of diatribe. There’s a front due through tomorrow morning with a few days of westerlies behind it, so we’re hoping to get away tomorrow evening and out into them for a quick trip to Eden. Unfortunately, it means we’ll miss a visit to Port Arthur on the way but you don’t get easy miles down here and you grab them when you can. We will fill up with mussels in Eden and perhaps get a lazy cruise up the NSW coast from there. With a beer as we pass Wollongong at 37 S.

We have a lot of gear to squeeze into the boat – we left lots here before we left for the Falklands last year and a lot more when we got in from Falmouth – was it only a couple of weeks ago? With five on board, it will be tight.

From Duncan Wells

Dear Both,

This may be too long for you to receive on sailmail and so I expect the webmeister(s) may well wait until you are on dry land and forward it to your land based email.

My apologies if I am commenting on history but as you know I am still reading and thoroughly enjoying the logs (I started late) and am up to 10th Oct.  I only have up and until the 18th Oct to go before I am on to logs which I read live as it were.


Your observation about the little boat you sent off to Henry Knight in memory and how it was just 2 minutes before it was on a different wave and Berri and it went out of synch is very valuable.  We teach people about this which is why we have a danbuoy with an enormous extension and light on top for when we are offshore and in conditions but even that is unlikely to be successful if the wave height and length are too great.  I have never been in the position of having anyone fall off, let alone in a big sea but I suppose if the conditions allowed it the option would be to send someone up the mast – not an enviable job – but possibly the only way of finding someone without a helicopter.

Pete’s dive for the briny was alarming and thank goodness he was able to swim to and catch the turbine cable and that you were on deck to stop the boat.

I came out in a cold sweat as I read that because it reminded me that when I singlehand which I do quite a bit, I am vulnerable.  If there was a sea or the wind was up I would be wearing a lifejacket and lifeline on the foredeck (probably) but if conditions were reasonable while I might have a lifejacket on I probably would not have a lifeline.  The boom would not be prevented and if the autopilot went mad for a moment there is every possibility of an unintentional gybe.  In local waters I don’t trail a polypropolene line or any sort of tripping device for the autopilot and even if I were lucky enough to be swept down the side of the boat so that I could grab the bathing ladder (unlikely and highly difficult to grab hold of as the bathing ladder is stowed in the up position on passage, meaning that the rung available to grab would be about 2 feet from the water), how on earth could one hold on, let alone climb out of the water.  3 knots is enormous force against the body let alone 6 knots.  I am always careful and have never had any problems or indeed encountered any fears when out on the water.  It is only sitting in the comfort of my office that I get the sweats… ‘what if…’

If I was going long distance I would trail a line which in turn would be set to trip the windvane.  Of course we don’t use windvanes on coastal stuff, just good old reliable electronic autopilots.


Have you ever tried those mugs with lids and a drinking hole ?  I don’t use them but given that I have on several occasions lost the entire contents of the tea mug when helming in a bit of wind I might have a look at them.  It’s interesting that no matter how much or little you fill a tea mug if you are exposed to a bit of wind, as you raise the mug to your lips the proximity of lips and mug and the strength of the wind cause a suction which whips the entire contents of the mug out and over the rail.  Not a drop is splashed on the deck or the gunwhale, or about one’s person.  The lips are hardly even moist !  Ducking down out of the wind is the only answer to this for me.  Which only goes to show that there is many a slip twixt cup and lip.


Yes indeed, very useful I find and often forgotten.  I use one of these to tidy away the flag halyard on the starboard spreader.  Instead of tying it to a cleat on the mast where it can interfere with lazy jacks etc I tie it with a rolling hitch to the stainless steel shroud and despite being lanyard on steel it holds tight very well.  A little tweak here and there.

Another use for the rolling hitch we discuss in class and rarely use in anger on the water is for the occasion when tied to a fixed dock in port and a storm is brewing.  There is no option but to stay put and yet one doesn’t want the boat to be ground against the dock wall.  So laying an anchor/kedge out amidships with the main part of the rode attached to the forward cleat and a rolling hitch to the rode and back to the aft cleat and tightened can hold the boat off.  This is not much cop for UK tidal waters, or rather it is but you will spend all day long adjusting the lines.  It works well in the non (or very little) tidal Med.  Of course if the anchor rode is chain rather than rope then an anchor bend/fishermans bend would be better suited than a rolling hitch.  Please do not think that I am trying to teach my grandmother etc, just trying to relate.

And this brings about another thought.  You mentioned how you had used the rolling hitch and that it was an oft forgotten knot.  The beauty of being an instructor is that one is constantly going through all the procedures and eventualities which each new group of students.  There are always new questions (nothing like teaching something for finding out what you don’t know, eh?) and so one is kept on one’s toes.  If one didn’t instruct, while one would aim to beahve in a seamanlike manner, I expect that habits might creep in which might not always be for the best.  The thiong about boating I find is to be flexible and having a number of options under one’s belt is always useful.  The best option that Tom Cunliffe told me about, well reminded me really, is that if conditions are unfavourable for a departure from the dock, go and make a cup of tea and wait until things improve.  The RYA and their training are rather like that, there are systems and best practices but at no time are these a substitue for thinking one’s way out of a situation and adapting and that’s what we are trying to teach people. 


Tom also taught me this one – very useful.  I am sure you know it but it is the only knot where a bight does not actually go around the post, grabrail, guard rail etc that you are tying the rope to.  It is secure and yet you can get it off with just a flick.  We use it to attach our big fender on the coach roof to ther grabrail.  The assumption being that we will need it in a hurry and don’t want to have to unravel a clove hitch or round turn and two half hitches.  It works too and the knot has never come undone in any of the conditions we have been out in.  These of course have only been coastal, cross channel, channel island or Brittany conditions but you can still get fairly mouldy seas in these areas.

A friend with a boat called an Elling – about 44 feet single screw, displacement motor boat and very seaworthy – occasionally asks me to help him.  He does the driving and I do the lines and I always tie the bow line to the guard rail with a Rustler’s hitch and the same for the stern line so that I can climb down onto the dock, reach up for them and with a flick I have both in my hands.  The fact that the boat has a bow thruster and a stern thruster means that my hitches are somewhat academic as I have all the time in the word to attach the boat to the dock but nonetheless…


If you care to please would you let me know how and why you chose each other for the trip.  It’s a hell of a long way to go in an awfully small environment with two and I know that you didn’t see a great deal of each other but suppose one of you put a winch handle back into a pocket in a way that the other didn’t like ?  How do you resolve that ?  I know it is not important but it could become so.

Anyway, I guess you are making your way back by now, very well done.  My admiration for what you have done and the way in which you have communicated it is boundless.  You have shared something special with all of us and we are enriched for this.  Thank you.

Duncan – thanks for great feedback – I’ve googled the highwayman’s hitch and will practise all the way to Sydney.

From Nigel H.

Congratulations guys.

Remarkable achievement.

Alex ………… For God’s sake …………….. get a bloody haircut.  You look like a bag woman !

Nige – tha Bag Lady is no more – I look like a scrofulous cat from the neck up now. Jane did a great job and I’m back to normal.

From Bill W.

Congratulations and Happy New Year to you all! We are so pleased that the entire plan has been seen through. I shall continue to think that Berri and the Berriphiles hold the Hobart to Hobart record, line honours and a handicap win as well – seems obvious you showed the way for Wild Oats really! All the very best.

And Bill – I like the idea of line honours, record, first on handicap and inaugural winner of the Hobart to Hobart race. Thanks. Any takers for the future will not have much to beat in real terms but they’ll need all the P’s.

Peter, Hugh and many others, thanks for your kind words, I will try to reply to everyone, but it may become too much – we’ll see.

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