Leg 3: storms and rain

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De­par­ture: Ar­rival: Du­ra­tion:

Wind hit us from ev­ery di­rec­tion. The seas of the Aus­tralian Bight were as bad as any we’d en­coun­tered, and the wind pushed us fur­ther south.

As the days went on, we were be­sieged by storms and heavy rain. In­stead of the reach we’d hoped for across the bot­tom of Aus­tralia, we were on the wind yet again, be­ing pushed down to the west coast of Tas­ma­nia. Each day the fore­cast as­sailed our hopes for a swift trip to Syd­ney. Nav­i­gat­ing our way through the cur­rents off the south-east cor­ner of Aus­tralia was an in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ence; we logged sea tem­per­a­ture to de­ter­mine where we were in the ed­dies that formed. As the tem­per­a­ture of the sea inched up on port tack, we’d pack up our be­long­ings be­low and tack back to­wards the coast. The at­mos­phere on board was buoy­ant.

On watch in our fi­nal days at sea, I came up on deck at 0200, drowsy with sleep, and was sud­denly hit by a new smell... trees and earth. “Land!” I ex­claimed, re­al­is­ing that we were scent­ing the coast of Tas­ma­nia. I passed the watch gaz­ing over the star­board side at the sparsely pop­u­lated land­mass to our right. The oc­ca­sional twin­kling light was a signs of life on a coast to be avoided. We weren’t stop­ping.

From that night on­wards, the coast was al­ways within sight. The weather grad­u­ally im­proved, and the six of us on board be­gan fi­nally to al­low our­selves to en­vis­age the end of the voy­age.

had housed us for nearly three gru­elling months. We thought we’d ex­pe­ri­enced it all: been soaked through, too hot, hun­gry, too full. We’d been on the wind for what seemed like an eter­nity. We’d en­dured the pri­va­tions of close liv­ing, the smells, the con­tin­u­ous de­mands of the boat, the con­stant stream of pump fail­ures, while her­self doggedly trucked on­wards.

We ar­rived at Syd­ney ex­actly three months to the day af­ter we’d de­parted from Ham­ble. The boat was in­tact, and we were all still speak­ing to each other. was fi­nally back in Aus­tralian wa­ters 46 years af­ter her vic­tory in the Syd­ney Ho­bart race. For most of us in the crew, the voy­age was the ad­ven­ture of a life­time, but for it was only the be­gin­ning of a new life.

Paddy and Keith now in­tend to re­store her to her for­mer ocean rac­ing glory. She com­pleted the Rolex Syd­ney Ho­bart Race last De­cem­ber, and she is now en­tered for the Transpac 2019 from Los An­ge­les to Hon­olulu, so next is a de­liv­ery voy­age to the US west coast, and af­ter­wards the long jour­ney back to Aus­tralia.

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