FROM 1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Jan 04, 2005 – 0700hrs │Bellerive Yacht Club.

Hard to summarise a race like that. Certainly one of the more difficult and interesting that I have done, with a bit of everything somewhere. Seldom do we ever get down to three reefs in the main in Berri but this time we were there three times, with the full storm gear up for around 24 hours and the #5 on its own for short periods. And I’ve never hove to in a race before, although we stopped to dry out in 1999 – but this time it was the obvious thing to do. The boat was handling the conditions really well and Eden was not an option except possibly as a last resort if James deteriorated, so once we found we could not make headway to the south west there seemed to be no point in going sideways fast when we could do it slowly and in comfort. And get some stugies [ed:sea sick pills] into James. And get some sleep.

Comparatively, most like 1977. I think, with a series of nasties and some parking and no let up. The 1998 storm was much more intense but very short and 1999 was a headbang in both senses from half way to the finish. Including our heave to, we beat our 1999 time by about 18 hours, if I remember correctly, but that one also included a stop in Skeleton bay.

Some interesting points in the tracker plot (haven’t seen it but they must be there).

Full stop north of Eden where we got the full force of the southerly and put up the storm gear, quite close inshore near a farmhouse. And the heave to around 70 miles SE of Eden – I think we drifted about 17 miles but I was way past logging it at the time. And the car park off Cape Barren Island where we waited for the north easterly that took all day to arrive. Storm Bay was something else again – really nasty and scary lee shore inside Cape Raoul with huge waves and then more gale round the Cape and calm and variables as well, just to keep everyone guessing.

We are now working on all the jobs on the list to get Berri into voyage mode. She seems to have suffered no damage despite some big crashes off waves and a lot of pounding. We have stripped hor out and James did a big clean and polish with soap and bleach inside and today we will fit the internal insulation and probably move from Con dock to Bellerive.

For the first time since all this nonsense started, we have all the gear together and it is now spread around the Sutherland’s yard in various heaps ready to be loaded. It will be a challenge stowing t all.

The aim is to leave on Saturday 8th barring major problems in the meantime.

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