Coffs Harbour to Brisbane
After a few weeks in Coffs Harbour, a southerly front arrived, so we took advantage of it to make the final passage up to Brisbane, and Puffin entered her home port for the first time.
It was a pretty fast passage, with 20-25 knot winds directly behind us. I unfurled the genoa and used the outboard lead block to give us a good downwind sail shape and Puffin was doing an easy 7-9 knots all the way up. We had a few areas where the East Australia Current was doing 3.5 knots against us, causing some lumpy seas and slow progress, but for the most part it was an easy passage.
We crossed the bar at Southport and followed the Gold Coast Seaway on the western side of the Stradbroke Islands up to Moreton bay. It’s always a bit tricky navigating the seaway as the water is very shallow in places. Less than 1 foot of clearance in some areas, but we made it through all the way without touching.
We didn’t have any problems with Puffin on the passage from Coffs to Brisbane, but there were a few things we needed to take care of when we arrived in Coffs Harbour.
I noticed the gearbox oil in the starboard engine was a bit milky. Outremer gave me the number to call Volvo Penta Support directly. This is a number in Belgium, so I was a bit concerned how well they would take care of us in Australia. I called the Belgium support line and explained the issue. Within 30 minutes, I had a call back from the head of Australian Volvo in New South Wales, who discussed the issue and referred me to Thwaite’s Marine in Coffs Harbour. Ben at Thwaites called me less than an hour later and we set a time to meet at the boat.
Ben checked the engine and dived the prop to look for any lines wrapped around the shaft. There were no lines, but he found evidence there had been a line that was no longer there, but had pressed on the shaft seal causing a small leak. The seal was undamaged, so he changed the oil and asked me to keep an eye on it. I checked again when we arrived in Brisbane, and the oil is clear, so all good.
It’s the first time I have used Volvo’s Warranty support, and I am very happy with their response and how professional and helpful everyone at Volvo was. This all happened during the Australian Christmas holidays, so the Volvo people in Australia were not at work, but they still took care of me right away!
The only thing I don’t like about Puffin is that we don’t have any shade protection at the helm. This is not a big issue in the Mediterranean, but in Australia the sun is fierce! It’s interesting to note the different reactions from people that see the boat. In Europe the first thing they usually ask me is how fast she sails. In Australia the first thing, is “Why is there no shade at the helm?” I knew this when I bought the boat, but there are so many great features I liked, that I decided to try and fix the shade issue after I got the boat back to Australia. I will be working with a boat builder here in Brisbane to try and come up with a design that adds shade without interfering with sailing, and will report back when I have a plan.
Speaking of Australian sun, how are you finding the black deck fittings? The cabin top handrails, lifeline stanchions, davits and so forth. You have the mast/boom/front beam/longeron in white which are usually black on 4X (looks great in white). Looks like you have silver vs the std black cleats as well. Ive always wondered how the black components do. I really love the look of the black stuff on a white boat but seems quick fry galore! Our silver/chrome here in Florida get toasty and they are reflective. Do you find the black gets too hot to touch or do they stay reasonable?
Thanks for the great blog!
The only fittings that are an issue now are the hand rails on either side of the salon roof. They are natural carbon fiber with a clear coat over them. They get hot, but not too hot to hold. The most important changes to the standard Euro spec boat are the longitudinal beam and the black helm seats, these would get way too hot for use in Australia.
Hey Doug, really great to see you sailing and blogging again. I stopped following when you hurt your shoulder and sold Wildling. I googled Puffin after seeing your beautiful new 4X coming back into Manly on Sunday (we passed you on the Lagoon 46 in the channel) and was pleasantly surprised to read it’s you back sailing. I’m looking forward to catching up on your adventures and following along.