Illywhacker - Canada to Australia


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Author Peter Aston
Date 2003
Map Ref Pacific Ocean

Here is our story of the planning and voyaging of our trip home from Canada. Click here for:

Canada to Hawaii

Hawaii to Tuvalu

Tuvalu to Vanuatu

Vanuatu to Townsville

A view from our Sidney BC berth - Why leave here?

Illywhacker Heads for Home

A CCC Article written in Sidney BC, May 2003

Greetings from Sidney BC on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. At last the sun feels warm and the days are noticeably longer. The increasing number of smiling people bustling around this marina suggests summer is on the way and cruises are being planned. Time for illywhacker to be underway too, no more excuses to enjoy the wonderful hospitality of our new Canadian friends or to dream up more jobs for the “to do” list. It’s time to punch in waypoints for our 7,500nm passage, to stock up on 6 months of supplies, check the weather sources and radio nets, meet the crew at the airport – then set our course for Oz.
Sidney has been a good place to bring the boat up to scratch for a long passage. There are large numbers of chandleries, sailmakers, diesel shops etc and efficent haulout facilities. As the Canadian dollar is in a similarly parlous state as our own, the cost of these services has been manageable. We’ve had our sails, liferaft and windgen overhauled and have threatened the diesel with replacement if it misbehaves. The heaters have been decommisioned and our winter clothes stuffed into the bottom lockers – tropical climates here we come!
It’s been a great stop for seeing something of the NE Pacific coast as well. People we meet here are just fantastic. We’ve driven in borrowed cars and been driven all over Vancouver Island, Vancouver itself and many places along the coast of BC, Washington and California to the south of San Francisco taking in Las Vegas in Nevada and the Grand Canyon in Arizona as well. We enjoy listening to local radio and following world events through Canadian eyes. I don’t think though we’ll ever understand the fervor accorded ice hockey, let alone the sport of curling! We’ve also partaken of the Canadian activity of attending a “You-brew” shop. By sprinkling the yeast into a carboy of grape crushings of your choice, you are considered to have made it yourself and thereby avoided wine taxes and duty (15%). Bottling is almost automatic and at a resulting $4 a bottle it is a very entertaining pastime.

Our route will take us from Vancouver to Hawaii, then to the Marshall Islands and hopefully to Vanuatu via Kiribati and Tuvulu before we head to Queensland. A slightly shorter route would take us from the Marshalls to our favourite North Solomons Western Province thence to Townsville. Our Voyage Passage Planning software (version 2) has calculated the optimum course home for maximum speed and minimum wave height so we have a series of waypoints curving their way across the Pacific. It tells us we can expect favourable winds at Force 4 – sounds too good to be true? We’ll let you know. For those who can’t wait until we get back and want regular snippets, we plan to update our website as we go – something to keep us amused in the middle of the ocean. A break in the regular web diary column will surely indicate rough weather and that we’ve lost enthusiam for computing below decks.

We have a berth in Townsville and plan to spend a few winters there while we build up our strength for the next adventure. With some luck, we’ll be there by early December and might even make the CCC xmas party in Sydney. See you all then.

Passage Summary

Written in Townsville September 2003

I guess the passage went pretty much as planned. Our Pilot program VPP2 predicted the average weather conditions with surprising accuracy - the squalls and storms that occur on any voyage gave us wind shifts and increases in strength but we experienced nothing above 35 kts. It was generally a "downhill run" with our sailplan anything between a tight reach to a run. We motored or motorsailed for 9 days out of the 50 total, 6.5 of which was crossing the North Pacific High en route to Hawaii where we ventured a little too far west in our quest for calm seas (we overdid it a bit there!).

The 7000nm passage from Victoria to Townsville took 50 days at an average speed of 5.71kts. We consider illywhacker our cruising home and at 22 tons she is very heavily laden, well over her design weight of 16 tons. I always sail conservatively, reducing sail whenever she shows signs of being unbalanced or generally when the speed increses to over 7 kts. I learnt on this trip that she is capable of more and appears to enjoy the faster passages. There has been no sign of any changes to rigging tension, wear or chafe and the sails were unaffected by the journey. As always it is us that weakend first, not illywhacker - we were quite pleased with her performance.

One of the important aspects aboard for us is keeping in touch with other cruisers and keeping informed about weather and conditions in the ports we intend to visit. For us this means Amateur radio and the wonderful people who dedicate their time to making life better for cruising yachties. Nowhere was this illustrated so well as over the 50 days of this passage when we checked in to the Pacific Seafarers Net. Our position was recorded daily and entered into the "YOTREPS" website where friends could see our progress. To these good people, Dick, Larry, Jamie and the gang - we offer a million thanks!

So here we are in a marina berth and not at sea or in a foreign port. It will take some time to adjust but for now we are focussed on the task of improving Lyndall's health - then we can set sail once more.........

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