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Lord Howe Island - New Year 1993
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28th December 1993

Our third day at sea was much the same as the second with towering seas, more flying fish and dolphins. Ian had proved to be of some value as a cook and washer upper which saved the rest of us for more important things. Jodi was sicker than ever she hadn’t eaten anything for 48 hours and sat in the cockpit with a bucket on her lap straining to spit up that last little bit of green stuff. I was well past the point of getting sea sick and watched with interest trying to understand what she had left to throw up. Colin was disgusted and couldn’t stand to be near her. She was affecting the rest of the crew as we were all roped into getting her ice water or emptying her bucket occasionally. She was still too clever to take any advice from us. She had started out with sea sickness bands on her arm, fat lot of good they did her.
That day it calmed down enough to let us sort out the problem with the topping lift and to rig up some blocks to replace those broken on the main sheet traveller when the boat jibed.

29th December 1993

The fourth morning Colin and I were on watch as the sun rose and before long we could see Lord Howe Island in the distance. The island grew larger as the day went by and it was as though we were the first people to discover it. The day was mild with a comfortable breeze for sailing. 

A perfect day to arrive at such a place. The two mountains on the western end were awe inspiring as we saw more and more of the island we just wanted to get off and explore. We saw a few more dolphins and a big old lazy shark surfaced near the boat. We had expected to be there in no time at all but it was late in the after noon when we finally contacted the harbour master. We had to wait for high tide to get through the channel into the lagoon so we motored around for a while and Colin did some fishing with a hand line. He had trawled a rubber squid nearly all the way from Swansea to the island but had no success. This was a disappointment as we had expected him to be our fisherman, after his experience on the tuna boat. While we waited and he fished he did an odd thing.

Instead of casting out the sinker and bait he threw the hand line itself in. We all had a good laugh while he tried to retrieve it by pulling on the line. After 500 metres it ran out and he lost the lot. These things happen sometimes.

We finally got the go ahead to enter the channel and were directed to the mooring we were to use. As we went through the channel we saw a sea turtle that was far less interested in us than we were in it.

The harbour master (Clive) directed us to our mooring. There is no anchoring in the lagoon at Lord Howe and we had to use one of the permanent moorings they had there. It turned out that we were about a kilometre from the public wharf. Not very far from the island itself, although you could not land a boat on the island at its closest point to us because it was too rugged and there was no path to the inhabited part of the island. The closest we could land the dinghy was the public wharf, which was quite a trek. When I had booked the mooring months earlier they had warned me we would need a dinghy with a good motor, it was now fairly obvious why.

We were actually in the channel so while the wind tried to kept the boat pointing into it, the current tried to swing us around which put us at a bad angle to the chop and made the motion of the boat very uncomfortable. We had been tied up for no more than 10 minutes when Colin came up from below deck with his swimmers on and armed with his goggles, flippers and a diving knife strapped to his leg. He was not so interested in sampling the diving as he was in getting to the shore to go to the toilet. He confessed later that he hadn’t taken a crap the whole time we had been at sea, four days. Frightening stuff.
I went over the side as well to have a swim and a snorkel. Right under the boat were two big sting rays about 4 feet across each. The water was crystal clear and you could look up at the yacht and it appeared to be floating in mid air. You could see easily under water perhaps 150 metres.


It was now late afternoon and while Colin and I elected to stay on the boat the other four headed off in the inflatable dinghy to the island. They were intent on having showers and making some telephone calls. The four of them in the inflatable was quite a sight. They returned just before dark.

When they returned they told us that Jodi’s mum had been on to Clive about a dozen times in the previous 2 days. When they rang Glenn he told them that she had even been on the phone to him saying that something must have happened and that maybe they should call the authorities. Glenn apparently told her that if they didn’t hear from us in a week then it would be time to worry and she didn’t take that to well. She must have been a dill. We had told her we expected to take at least 4 days and quite possibly as long as a week. No wonder Jodi was weird. Col and I then got in my little hard dinghy and rowed across. We didn’t have the proper oars and couldn’t put the rowlocks in so we just used them as paddles. This was not highly successful but we managed.

We beached the dinghy, showered and set off to search for a phone and just check over the layout

After we had phoned home we got talking to a couple who were holidaying there. We got a rough idea of the place and they gave us a tourist map they had spare. We got talking about the lagoon and got on to the subject of sharks. They told us that there were no sharks in the lagoon except after dark. The locals hooked any that ventured in after hours and had actually got two big ones in there recently. We went back to the dinghy and started to paddle back out. We now had the tide and wind against us and the paddling was extremely difficult. The chop kept washing water into the dinghy and this made it sit lower which washed more water in etc. Of course we didn’t have a bailer and if we stopped to scoop water out with our hands we just went backwards fast.

We debated swimming but thoughts of sharks that only fed at night filled our heads so we paddled and paddled and paddled and after a very long time reached the boat. It is hard to describe just how hard we had to work to get back to the boat that night. That night was very uncomfortable as the motion of the boat was very confused. Col was to mention the following day, the fact that he had seen a big fin swimming around during the night when he had got up for a leak.



 

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