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Train Whistle Blowing - 4. TWB Ch 4

When we arrived at Jaffa Marina, which is a new development, while Uncle Rangi remained with the yacht, we went for a long walk to stretch our legs, and to get Hunter tired, so that he will sleep well in his new surroundings.

At 6 am, with everyone else still asleep, I quietly motored out of the marina, before pulling up the sails, as we began our second day at sea, and Uncle Rangi appeared about half an hour later, with a cup of tea for me.

“Good morning nephew, any problems getting out of the marina?” he said to me as he handed me the cup. “Nope, all good, I checked the weather forecast before we left and we will have 25 knot westerly winds for most of the day,” I replied.

“Ok, that is good to know, when we change over at 10 am, which will be near Cape Banks, it will be about two hours before we cross the state border into Victoria. Just before the next change over, we will arrive at Portland, where I have decided that we take an hour or two onshore, to give your Mum and brother a bit of a break from the seas.

Our next overnight stop will be at Peterborough where there is a sheltered cove, and I will do tomorrow’s first shift, so you can have a bit of a sleep in,” Uncle Rangi announced to me, and Mum appeared shortly after and had a look around, before going forward and sitting down to enjoy the view.

Mum enjoyed the stopover at Portland, with me looking after Hunter during our stop and Uncle Rangi did some shopping for supplies. Once we had set off again, with me at the helm, and we headed for our second overnight stop of Peterborough, where we entered a sheltered bay in the late afternoon.

We anchored just ten metres off the beach, and decided that we did not need anything in town, so we just had a nice walk along the beach before dark. Over dinner that night, we discussed the next day’s sailing, which Uncle Rangi predicted would be our first heavy seas that we will encounter, as we cross the Bass Strait.

Before heading to bed for the night, I sent a text message to Jacob. “We are in Peterborough for our second overnight stop. All is going well so far, Uncle Rangi and I have been doing four-hour shifts at the helm. After we see all of the coastal sights tomorrow, we will change course, and head for King Island, with Burnie our last overnight stop, before leaving Australia, and we begin the journey over to New Zealand. Regards your friend always, Hunter.”

For the first 11 nautical miles, the next morning, we would be hugging the coast as we past some spectacular landmark sights, including The Grotto, London Bridge, The Arch, The Baker’s Oven, The Razorback, and finally the most famous of them all, The Twelve Apostles.

Once we have passed all of them we will follow the coast for another nine nautical miles, before we change course, bound for King Island, crossing the Bass Strait, with Uncle Rangi taking the first shift, which I was glad off, as it was a fair rough crossing.

When I took over at 10 am, we were just 11 nautical miles from King Island, and it wasn’t long before thee seas started to calm down a lot, but it picked up again as I left the shelter of King Island, as we headed for Tasmania. With Stanley to be our first destination, we had a good look around the small town, before setting off again, and Uncle Rangi decided on Burnie Yacht Club to be our next overnight stop, where there is a large marina.

This would also be our main departure point from Australia, so we would need to go through a Border Force check, before we leave the next day, which would be a little later than usual, and from there on it is a 1,350 nautical mile journey across the Tasman Sea to Wellington, New Zealand.

This will be a 3 day and 6 hour long journey, which would mean longer days at the helm, for the non-stop journey, and Uncle Rangi set out a six-hour shift for each of us for the next few days, with Mum having to feed and look after Hunter, while we were either at the helm, eating or sleeping.

We left Burnie shortly before 8 am, with me first at the helm, as we crossed the top of Tasmania, and entered the Tasman Sea, and I was 53 nautical miles east of Clarke Island when Uncle Rangi took the helm.

I was fairly tired after such a long shift, including dealing with open seas for the last two hours of my shift. Before we lost phone coverage, I sent one more text message to Jacob.

“Long six hour shifts now, just finished my first one; we are passing Clarke Island now, so no mobile coverage after this message. I am off to bed to get some sleep, take care mate, and farewell Australia. Hunter.”

After I ate a light meal, and had a shower, I headed to bed to get some well earned sleep. Mum woke me up, just over five hours later, with fifteen minutes before my next shift, so I the dinner than Mum served me, and after a toilet break, I headed outside to begin my night shift at the helm.

We were now over 200 nautical miles east of Tasmania, so we are well into the Tasman Sea. The seas and swell had calmed down a lot, and probably explained why I slept so well, and I had a six-hour shift in pitch darkness with no moonlight at all, with the yachts navigation lights the only lights showing, so now it would be more of watching the navigation screen a lot more than watching ahead of us.

I was pleased when Uncle Rangi took over at the helm shortly before 2 am, and after making myself some toast, I headed to bed to get some more sleep. When Mum woke me up at 7.45 am, she had some breakfast cooked and after going to the bathroom, I sat down to quickly eat, and drink a cup of tea, before heading up on deck to start my third shift since we left Burnie 24 hours ago.

So far we had travelled 650 nautical miles, so were are almost at the halfway point across the Tasman Sea, with our estimated time of arrival in Wellington to be around lunchtime tomorrow, if the seas continue to be good to us.

Mum served me some lunch while I was still at the helm, so when my shift ended at 1400 hours, I had a quick shower and went straight to be, as I felt the seas starting to rock the yacht some more. I woke up with a shock when I landed heavily on the floor, and after working out that I had just fallen out of bed, I realised that we were in the middle of a storm, as the yacht peaked over a wave, and came crashing down on the other side.

I looked at the kitchen clock, which read 1630 hours, so I had only been asleep for two hours. “Are you ok Hunter?” Mum asked me as she entered the main saloon, from her cabin, where I heard Fraser crying. “Yes Mum, just fell out of bed a bit heavily, is everything ok?” I replied.

“Yes, your uncle says we are in the middle of a storm but we will be fine. How about you go and lay down with Fraser in my cabin, that way you can get him settled and maybe both of you can get some sleep,” Mum suggested, as I climbed off the floor, and headed to the forward cabin.

Fraser stopped crying shortly after I lay down beside him, and we were soon both fast asleep. When Mum woke me up, the storm was still tossing the yacht around a fair amount, as I got up and headed to the bathroom, and when I entered the saloon, Fraser was happily playing with his toys, sitting on my mattress, which is now on the floor.

After eating, I put on my wet weather gear on, before heading up to start my next shift, and I saw that Uncle Rangi was fairly drenched with seawater. “Did you decided to have an ocean bath uncle?” I said to him smiling, which made him laugh.

As I took over the helm, Uncle Rangi gave me the direction bearing, and I looked at the compass, which was roughly on that heading, as I struggled to keep the yacht on that heading.

The floodlight on the mast was on, and was providing us with a view of any approaching waves, and Uncle Rangi detached his safety harness and clipped mine on, before heading below.

For the next four hours, I battled with the seas and swell that tossed the yacht around, and I was relieved to see Uncle Rangi when he arrived. “I have arrived two hours early, as I think you have had enough for one night, go and eat and get some sleep and I will see you at 0800,” Uncle Rangi said to me, and once I had unclipped the harness, I headed downstairs.

Leaving my wet gear to drip dry, over the kitchen sink, I headed to the shower to get warmed up, and changed into some warm clothing, before laying on the mattress on the floor and promptly falling asleep.

After a good seven hours of sleep, I woke up and smiled when I felt that the storm had passed, and I was feeling well rested, as I climbed up and put the mattress back into place as a seat cushion, before heading to the bathroom.

“Good morning son, how do you feel today?” Mum said to me cheerfully, as she was preparing breakfast, and Fraser was at the table already eating his breakfast.

“Much better that the storm is over, man it was quite wild out there. Uncle Rangi came out at midnight to finish of the last two hours of my shift,” I replied.

“Yes he has told me, I gave him a cup of tea a few moments ago,” Mum said. “Last day before we arrive at Wellington, I am really pleased about that. Will we be saying there for long?” I asked Mum, as I joined Fraser at the table.

“Not sure, you will have to ask Uncle Rangi about that, we have not had a chance to discuss it since we started the crossing,” Mum replied. After an enjoyable breakfast, I headed out to start my last shift of the crossing.

“Good morning Nephew, we are in the Cook Strait now, so we have some much calmer seas, and you can see the North and South Islands from here,” Uncle Rangi said to me, and sure enough in the distance, I could see the outline of the two main islands of New Zealand.

“How long will we be in Wellington, before we make the crossing to Rarotonga?” I asked, “Not sure yet, maybe a week, to give you all some time to recover from that storm that we went through,” was his reply, which I was pleased to hear.

Taking over at the helm, Uncle Rangi went inside for some breakfast and no doubt a second cup of tea, and I was happy to be at the helm at daytime again, and with much calmer seas to sail in.

After just three hours at the Helm, Uncle Rangi returned and said he would take over, since we will be approaching Wellington in approximately an hour, and that he had already notified New Zealand Customs, of our pending arrival.

When we pulled into the Wellington Waterfront Marina, there was two Customs Officers waiting for us at Queens Wharf, where we were instructed, to tie up and prepare for a customs inspection. For the past hour, I helped Mum with collecting all perishable food and bagging it up, ready for it to be disposed of by customs.

Once all the food from Australia was bagged, we placed it on the deck, ready to be placed in the quarantine bins. After a brief chat with Mum in regards to all foods, and a quick look at our passports, we were officially given entry into New Zealand, and we could move the 800 metres to the yacht pens, so we could be moored for the duration of our stay.

Uncle Rangi informed us that the Seaview Marina on the other side of the harbour has better facilities, so we sailed the eleven kilometres across the harbour to the other marina. While this was happening, I decided that I better let Jacob and his family know that we had arrived safely in Wellington, where we will be spending a week.

“Hello Atkinson Family, we have arrived safely in Wellington, NZ, with our last full day mostly been tossed around in a large storm, but we are all safe. Well mostly, I was tossed out of my bed landing heavily on the floor, but I received no injuries apart from my pride, LOL.

Fraser did very well during the journey, keeping busy with puzzles and games, with only a few grizzles during the storm, otherwise he was great. Mum was a real trooper, keeping me and Uncle Rangi fed and looked after as we did six hour shifts at that helm for 3 ½ days. Regards Hunter.”

Once the message was sent, I went and had a shower and changed into some fresh clothes, and gathered all of my laundry in preparation for a big wash session at a Laundromat, with the closest one being 5 kilometres away.

I agreed to look after Fraser, while Mum did all of our laundry for us, which she estimated would take about two hours to complete.

Copyright © 2021 Preston Wigglesworth; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

I get seasick on the Manly Ferry and on any ride at an amusement park (apart from the dodgem cars). I cannot imagine being in rough seas; I almost got "cyber vertigo" just reading about it.

I am enjoying the carefree and joyous relationship the family seem to have, but will it continue in what I imagine will be a quite different culture for Hunter and Fraser, although Fraser may be too young to be particularly aware of this.


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I’ve been on the ferry to the zoo at Sydney and had no problems with sea sickness.

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Just now, quokka said:

I’ve been on the ferry to the zoo at Sydney and had no problems with sea sickness.

@quokka I have a "weak stomach" and get motion sickness easily, always have had since childhood, but even more so following a head injury in 2010. I'm a bit of a wuss actually. 

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Another great chapter for the family as they move to New Zealand. They’ll be able to get to see some of the sights before making the final leg of the trip of the move. 

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Very enjoyable tale of a part of the world this New England boy wants to visit ever so much!!!

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