Sydney to Geelong for the Geelong Wooden Boat Festival

Blue Water Sailing Australia

Sydney to Geelong for the Geelong Wooden Boat Festival

‘Man overboard’ was the call.

The crew and voyage crew sprang into action as we completed another of our drills before leaving Sydney Harbour bound for the Geelong Wooden Boat Festival 2018 aboard Sydney Harbour Tall Ships’ vessel Coral Trekker.

It was the start of an experience that some of us had done many times before and for others it was their first taste of sailing in a real timber Tallship at sea.

After introductions, drills, climbing aloft instruction, anchoring, a great sail down the harbour and a wholesome home cooked meal we all slept well off Manly’s Quarantine Beach to end our first day.

That was to be our quietest night in as we then headed to sea catching the beautiful sunrise at Sydney Heads. Soon our timber started creaking and masts swaying with the ocean waves under Coral Trekker’s keel for the first time in 4-½ years!

The sails were set, the fishing line run, crew joined their watch groups and our seagoing life began. Our first day at sea tried us all as we motor-sailed southward waiting for a more favourable breeze to blow in as it did by Day 2. But not before we gave our humble donations to Neptune, human burley or simply seasickness that gave us all our sealegs!

Our second day with a glorious sail southward with all squares set had our crew joking about the burley day and why we hadn’t caught a fish yet!

A coastal sail without a stop is magic as it means you’ve got favourable winds. But if the winds don’t suit a Tallship then other great things happen – like anchorages in distant destinations, and this is what happened allowing us to stop over at that special nautical township of Eden. The whaling museum is of course a must see, and after some village victualling, some of the crew, with no night watch to stand, availed themselves to a quite ale at the local establishment.  This was followed some hours later by a wobbling wander back to our cosy home tied up alongside the wharf in this lovely fishing port.

‘Anchors home’ was the next call as the helm was spun to port and Trekker was headed out to sea in the direction of Bass Strait.

Our time in port had allowed the southerly front to blow through and now we had the favourable South Westerly. With all squares set, the dolphins greeted us before rounding Gabo Island with her many nautical stories. Next was Point Hicks, the first landfall of Captain Cook almost 250 years ago, and a place in which we hope to take our Tallship again with more adventurous souls for celebrations in 2020.

Our favourable breeze gave us a pleasant Bass Strait voyage rather than a memorable one! It was actually so ideal that we could set the long boat off to view the ship sailing at sea, rowing to keep up. In the end though, as the wind increased, our dinghy rower couldn’t keep up with a speedy Tallship Coral Trekker!

A 0200 the tidal race was perfect to cross ‘The Rip’ to get into Port Phillip Bay. A big merchant man (ship) was first cab off the rank and we followed with another coming out as we were coming in! More traffic in those short few minutes than in the last 10 days!

A quite transit through the Bay saw us safely arrive at the Geelong Wooden Boat Festival to join forces with two other Melbourne -based Tallships.

A great show was put on by the Geelong sailors at the festival. During the show Coral Trekker conducted daysails with our similarly-sized Melbourne Tallships, creating a spectacular and living backdrop to the festival.

With the successful wooden boat festival over, we said our goodbyes and received our invitations to the next festival in 2020. Fortunately Tasmania has their Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart in 2019, so we don’t have to wait that long to be at sea again!

With voyage crew staying on board for the return voyage to Sydney, we could stand easy for our emergency drills, ship familiarisation, climbing aloft instruction and the like. Trekker made her way down the quite bay toward ‘The Rip’ and the notorious Bass Strait once again.

Would Trekker have as favourable winds to get her easting to Gabo Island on the return passage?! The Rip was almost glassy calm and she made good easting using her main sail for steadying and her main engine to give her hull speed.

With Wilsons Promontory in her wake and the Oil fields looming ahead the weather turned less favourable for our Tallship. So a stop at Lakes Entrance was made for some well-earned rest and a crew swap over.

Underway again with Gabo Island rounded, Bass Strait had shown a small part of what she’s capable of delivering. The winds filled in from the South and with squares set Trekker made some of her best recorded speeds for many years. At times she reached the double digits, which, for a Tallship like Trekker, is very exciting.

Next port of call was Jarvis Bay and a beautiful anchorage was had on her southern shore. Jarvis Bay has had a number of Tallships visit there – the most memorable being the First Fleet Re-Enactment in 1988, when the whole fleet anchored in the Bay.

Dolphins on the bow and favourable winds got Trekker sailing through the heads and back to Sydney, completing her successful maiden voyage after her 4.5-year restoration.

The Australian National Maritime Museum’s Wooden Boat Festival was Trekkers next engagement. Coral Trekker spent the festival as a display vessel in Darling Harbour while her company sisterships Soren Larsen and Southern Swan gave day sails to the adventurous festival goers.

Trekker is currently under-taking indigenous maritime training on the east coast of New South Wales and Queensland venturing up to Cairns. She returns to Sydney to take part in Sydney’s annual Vivid light Festival in late May and June.

Keep watching our website, or better still, register your interest in ocean sailing so we can give you updates on opportunities to join one of our Tallships on a future coastal voyage. These voyages give you an incredibly real experience, not offered regularly and something you’ll never forget.

Hope to see you onboard one day……if your dare!!

Marty Woods
Owner, Master and Shipwright.

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