ADAGIO's 2010 passage from New Caledonia to Australia

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We have arrived in Australia safe and sound, and are berthed in the MacKay Marina. We had a fast trip the first several days — excerpts from our passage log:

DAY 1: 07/26 01Z. We’re looking forward to a rare full-moon passage. Probably no moonlight tonight as we have 90% cloud cover. Wind 17kn TWS, up in the lulls, down in the puffs.

DAY 2: 07/27 07Z. We are slowing the boat down a bit for the night. Wind range has been about 19 to 25 TWS, typical 22 TWS. Because we are surfing up to 17kn, we put the first reef in the main, furled the reacher, and hoisted the jib. We are now surfing typically 11kn.

Showers ahead again. Would be nice to wash the salt off. Looking forward to moon rise, and hopefully actually seeing almost-full moon overhead tonight. At least we should get some cloud glow.

DAY 3: 07/28 14Z. Finally a beautiful full-moon night at sea – wish we had a camera capable of photographing what we are enjoying. We now have following seas, much more comfy. We may be able to open the overhead hatches come daylight — we sure don’t want another sneaker-wave attack like the one midday today which came in the starboard saloon roof hatch. We have sailed through several boat washes, but have thoroughly re-covered everything with salt twice over since the last wash.

We won’t set any speed records on this passage because we don’t want to enter Mackay before Monday AM. If we sailed at our normal speeds we could make Bundaberg Friday PM about when the officials close. Since AQUIS (Quarantine) charges almost double $600 on weekends we will be killing two days by just going slow. So we are flying just jib and 1st-reef main (and these waves do get rockier at higher boat speeds).

DAY 5: 07/30 08Z. Wind is down to 11kn TWS, so the wind wave sneak attacks seem to be over — at least that’s what I said when I opened both saloon hatches. Just easy light air sailing — reacher and main with pilot steering to 85 apparent wind angle.

Dorothy writes: … Today has turned into one of those glorious Pacific Ocean sailing days: sunshine, puffy fair weather cumulus clouds decorating the horizons all around, shedding occasional tears and rainbows from the flattened bottoms of the clouds; following seas which are not as high as they were yesterday (3 meters yesterday); a fair wind aft of the beam, … keeping our decks rather dry.

Steve again: Just after I came on watch at 1700 we had another booby visitation (our first was “Albert” enroute from Hawaii to New Caledonia). This bird was seriously determined to make a carrier landing. First he set up his approach, flaps down, then almost made it onto top radar arch — when he realized it was already occupied by various antennas. Repeat – trying for the lower radar arch – oops, same problem. Next he set up his circling approach for the starboard stern rail – for some reason he had not noticed there is an Alvey reel winch there – abort. Then he took two attempts at the port bow (under the rail). Finally success – he approached from ahead towards the forestay then angled off and plunked safely down on the starboard bow. Where he sits contentedly two hours later in the faint light remaining from our sunset.

DAY 6: 07/31 0400 EST. Oops, just discovered the port engine has no thrust. When the wind eased, we realized that we had been sailing not motor-sailing, as the port engine had been running, but not pushing the boat. Since engine and transmission checked out OK, we guessed we had wrapped somebody’s fishing gear around the port Max-Prop. Can’t dive the prop at night, so we are looking for a day anchorage without too much wind or current.

DAY 8: 08/01 0700 EST. We had motored slowly through the night to time our arrival near Mackay for daylight. All night we were maneuvering around dozens of bulk carrier ships who were sailing in or out of Port Hay, the busy coal-loading terminal just south of Mackay. As we approached Mackay at daylight the wind increased rapidly into the 20’s, so we decided a temporary anchorage behind Slade Island was not prudent, altering course for Refuge Bay at Scawfell Island.

I emailed Australian Customs and Border Protection to alert them we would not be clearing in as planned that morning — explaining that maneuvering ADAGIO on one engine in tight quarters was like “a seagull trying to fly on one wing”. And that we would make for Scawfell Island for repairs. When the Mackay Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) came on duty at 0800 we informed them of our change in destination to Scawfell.

I didn’t bother Customs with the additional fact that anchoring ADAGIO on one engine, in a lot of wind, is also precarious. As soon as her forward speed drops below about 1 knot the rudders are no longer effective and the bows blow off downwind at an alarming speed and angle. Of course the anchor chain will soon be under the weather hull and possibly jump off the anchor roller unless we are able to snub the chain “soon enough”.

Of course, by now it was blowing a solid 22kn gusting 25+ in the deep water of Refuge Bay. There were about a dozen other boats anchored there when we arrived. So to avoid “out of control cat does $500,000 damage in Refuge Bay”, we could not motor into the calmer shallows as we normally would. Still carrying about 2kn of momentum into the wind, we dropped the hook in 12 meters, running the chain out to 45 meters as fast as we could. It was a close thing, but the SPADE anchor bit smartly, pulling the bow back into the wind — just before things got very ugly between the anchor chain and the sideways, going-downwind ADAGIO.

Before we had completed this dicey anchoring procedure, a dinghy was speeding directly for ADAGIO, bearing two delightful men. Warwick and Graham had overheard our conversation with the VMR. To make a long story short, these “angels of mercy” from BAMBOOZLE and TUSI 2 not only dived down to discover that the prop had completely fallen off, they also located and borrowed a temporary prop of the correct size from another boat in the anchorage. They also scrounged the proper sized washers and nuts, etc. And they dived down and installed the temporary prop! We were flabbergasted to say the least.

Amazing, too, was that SANS SOUCI, the boat who lent us their spare prop, was another catamaran who could not maneuver properly on his one working engine. We learned that he needed an new impeller for his Yanmar engine. Fortunately, our Yanmar impellers are the same size, so we gave him our spare impeller, and he, too, was once again operational.

Doesn’t this epitomize the “mateship” among cruisers? Mateship is not just an Aussie trait. We feel very welcomed to Australia. We love this country! Steve has sourced a new feather propeller from New Zealand, which we hope to have in our hands tomorrow.

We had our Yanmar saildrives thoroughly serviced just last June at the Napa Valley Marina, including pulling the prop shafts, installing new lipseals, servicing the Max-Props, etc. Purely for preventative maintenance, to ensure that we had no “issues” with engines, saildrives or propellers crossing the Pacific again. Had we avoided that “preventative” maintenance we would still have both Max-Props, but would not have met our new mates aboard BAMBOOZLE, TUSI 2, and SANS SOUCI.

4 thoughts on “ADAGIO's 2010 passage from New Caledonia to Australia

  1. Hi Dorothy & Steve,
    We are so thankful that you had a successful trip, as
    well as meeting new friends.
    Love, Helen & Larry


  2. Hi Guys! Great to follow along a bit. Fantastic stories and great photos! Looks like you are having a fantastic time! We are still in Fiji ( 8.5 years now) and doing great with our wedding photography business. Have sold the boat, built 2 houses and are completely entrenched with work…….but a nice place to be doing it. We bought 9 acres of olives and almonds on a terraced hillside in Sicily and are renovating a little stone ruin also. Very slowly, though, as it is hard to get back and forth to Fiji and quite costly! If you are ever up in Fiji let us know, we would love to see you! All the Best, Diana and John (formerly of SV Nevermonday!)


  3. Dorothy and Steve,

    What beautiful photos! I enjoyed the last batch, too. Magical to see the whale breaching and the booby on board!

    Much love,



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