New Caledonia to Australia – Last ocean crossing!

Our last ocean crossing! It still blows me away every time I look at a globe and see how far we’ve come. It also blows me away how quickly almost two years off work has gone!

For whatever reason the last crossing had always taken a backseat on this journey. It was just something that would happen and then we’d be back in Australia. Turns out (of course) the trip can be pretty major with fronts hammering you this way and that.

As we wanted to head directly to Newcastle, which is about 60miles north of Sydney, to clear into Australia the chances of making it across without a major system smacking us was quite unlikely.

We’ve never really enjoyed the large offshore passages if we’re totally honest. Some people love them but for us they always follow the same pattern…

4-5 days before setting off: Stressing about weather forecasts (which normally change every few hours as you’re looking so far in advance). Talking with others who are thinking of leaving and getting more stressed and confused.

1-2 days before setting off: Feeling completely unsure about your decision to go. Thinking what if… What if we stay another week? What if we can’t go fast enough and that 40knot front catches us?

First day out there: What was that noise? I hope we’ll be ok. What the hell are we doing out here and seriously- what the HELL is that noise? Everything is just heightened I think. You’re picking up sounds and vibrations that are perfectly normal and getting nervous about them.

During the passage: Are we there yet? Are we there yet? There’s another book read (if you’re lucky and reading is even a possibility). Are we there yet?

1-2 days before arrival: Feelings of excitement. Hard to describe if you haven’t done a big passage but tend to focus on weird material things your brain seems to be missing. ‘I can’t wait for a good coffee, burger, glass of wine, buy that new thing I probably don’t really need, etc.’

Day of arrival: Sense of achievement of making it over, but also worrying that you don’t stuff it up coming into the marina. Once tied up and safe, an overwhelmingly sense of how tired you are but want to push on and celebrate anyhow!

1-2 days after arrival: Telling everyone how easy that passage was and thinking you’re an idiot for worrying about it at all.

Of course we try to arm ourselves, we look at as much info we can, we use a weather router who gives us a detailed go, don’t go, report. I think I’d rather be worried but over prepared than carefree but caught out when it comes to this stuff.

The first 24 hours we knew were going to be tough and they were. 30+ knots. Horrible sea state that never let the boat, or us, settle. Rain. Not nice. We had the boat setup well though and, as always, she performed amazingly.

Our router said to keep pushing South and sure enough after 24 sloppy hours we popped out of the system into lovely conditions! The middle part of the passage was perfect. Flat seas. 12-16 knot winds. Sunny skies by day and stunningly bright stars by night. Give me a lot of time to think about this trip and all we’ll seen and done. Who we’ve met and the highs, and sometimes lows, that sailing around a good chunk of the Earth provides.

It’s going to be interesting in a few months to see how we both feel back on land. I know we’re going to miss the freedom of it all but doing a trip like this takes so much planning, thought, and energy, it’s going to be a relief to be done with it as well. Short term I’m just going to be content with feeling we’re all safe. Helen, myself, and Interlude. I’m not going to miss that… that constant fear, which ranges from mostly background noise to extreme panic. It accompanies you everywhere and while we’ve been extremely lucky on this journey, it’ll be good to leave that side of it at the docks.

After a few days of good winds they dropped for 24 hours forcing us to run under engine which we hate. Not only were we under engine but the crazy current systems around Australia were pushing back against us at almost two knots. Something we said Oz? Oh well, at least the sunsets were nice while we slowly made our way home.

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After a very slow day the winds picked up, the current turned favourable, and away we went.

500 miles, 400, 300… The features of the seabed were interesting on the chart as we sailed over huge underwater mountains shooting up from depths 5000m to 400m below us.

We kept up a good pace with the mighty EAC system helping us then all of a sudden we were on our last night, and oh what a lovely bunch of tricks Australia had in store for us.

We had high winds give way to double troughs, electrical clouds chipped in barking lighting, dark squally clouds raced towards us, then stopped and turned away thinking better of it. Cold fronts advanced. Warm ones retreated. Now I personally have no idea what half of that means but the conditions kept our wind dial truly happy as it danced around in all directions at random speeds ranging from 2-22 knots. Our weather guy summed the madness up well I thought saying something along the lines of…

‘So all in all an interesting days weather lies ahead, although it could be much worse. In July a similar front hit Newcastle with 60knot winds, although tomorrow this seems unlikely.’ We debated his definition of ‘unlikely’ for longer than I care to reveal. :/

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Also overnight that strange phnominom ‘land smell’ kicked in. After a week at sea the sudden smell of a new country as you draw near is powerful. Of course after a few hours it just becomes part of the norm but that first waft can be striking. Australia, I’m sure you’re dying to know, has a lovely scent, very earthy and inviting. Compared to some countries that will rename nameless, Oz smelt great!

Helen raised the Q flag once last time, a job I’m sure she’ll miss, as we approached land. It’s always exciting to see land but this was something very special.

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As we pulled into the Marina in Newcastle and it really did hit us. We’d made it. We were home and safe! Almost 24,000 miles under our belt. Almost 2 years of sailing a big slice of the Earth. Cue celebrations you might think? Nope Customs wouldn’t let us off the dock until tomorrow and we were desperate for sleep. Rock and roll!

14 thoughts on “New Caledonia to Australia – Last ocean crossing!

  1. Well done.. been reading your posts from way back… “that constant fear, which ranges from mostly background noise to extreme panic. It accompanies you everywhere”, John Irving called it ‘the under toad’ (in “World According to Garp” I think??) but never a true’r word said.. scares me to death every time I drop the mooring… amazing we still do it really… :o))

  2. Welcome home you and Helen and the amazing interlude 1 it is sad it is all over and interlude is sailing new waters with a new crew .but I am sure you will have a lot of adventures a head of you.
    Carol p x

  3. Having bought a new 385 about the same time as you, Windcraft alerted us to your blog – and what a great read it has been! Well done Helen & Simon, we’re glad you made it back safely, and thank you so much for detailing and sharing your adventures. I hope you’ve got your land legs back and relax and enjoy the Sydney summer ahead :)

    • Hi Helen,

      Yeah not too shabby being back in Sydney for summer! Enjoy your 385. Amazing boat! We keep seeing a few around Sydney which tugs on the heart strings.

  4. Congratulations! What an adventure and amazing accomplishment. My husband and I have followed you from the beginning and have enjoyed both your and Helen’s writing. We will miss your blog posts.

    • Thanks! There’s a few more we have left to finish and then who knows… Maybe Interlude 2 in a few years if we can save back up again! :)

  5. Congratulations and well done – I have enjoyed reading your blogs since you set off from Guernsey . Looking back at the picture in my marina it’s hard to imagine you’re all that way from here now! Interlude
    has done an amazing job. Hope you have some more travels in the future.

  6. Congratulations Helen and Simon on a great adventure and arriving safely.
    Interlude 1 is now safely in her new home port of Brisbane ( Raby Bay actually) and we are enjoying sailing on Mortensen Bay. We will head up to the Whitsundays next May and explore those waters. I don’t think we will be undertaking a voyage that Helen and Simon took for some time, if at all.
    Thanks for taking care of her. All that come on board say she is in great condition. The marine surveyor in Pittwater in fact kept saying you had shipped the boat out as he couldn’t believe the condition it was in.
    Steve, new owner of Interlude 1

    • Hi Steve,

      So glad to here she’s in good hands! We enjoyed every moment on her and tired our best to look after her as much as she looked after us.

      The Whitsundays are amazing, have a great adventure!

      All the best,
      Simon

  7. Congratulations, Simon and Helen. Well done. I’ve been following you avidly since we met in San Cristobal. What an achievement…

  8. Congratulations with your achievement, what a great trip. I loved your posts.
    The combination of joy and fear is very recognizable. Thank you for taking us with you virtualy.

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