Owner:  Bob Norson
Skipper:  Bob Norson
Design:  Catamaran
Home Port:  Darwin
Division:  Premier Cruising Multihull

All the boats have left.. except us. BareBones and me. We worked too hard to get here and spent the week before making repairs to a rudder stock whilst the rest were out sight seeing.

Our entrance into the D2A was spontaneous  as all things we do are. Claire was somewhat incredulous when I told her I was singlehanding but processed the application anyway. She did send some details to me for people who had expressed interest in crewing and one finally paid off. Tim Hill had a little sailing experience and could keep an appointment on time, the latter important to me. We went out sailing a couple of days on the weekends preceding the start to help Tim understand the workings of a cat. His first experience.

The day of the start was the zoo we expected with very little wind and a clog of lower performance boats piled up and helpless between us and the line. John Punch on Nautilus gave a better idea of strategy but minutes too late. He was next to the line and powered past the mess with those beautiful laminate sails. We saw him for a while in the bay and only saw him again at the finish with Nautilus resting on her mooring. Antipodes we hardly saw at all as she was on her way to an all time record having caught the last of the wind at  line and road it’s tail right out to the Timor sea where we all had some fun!

By the next morning we saw two boats under spinnakers behind us and one blew as we watched. That was Mango Madness. The battle of the big Beneteaus continued right to the line. Just after clearing in we had the opportunity to watch from the jetty as they suffered the hit and miss air that we agonised through hours before.  What a battle! Six hundred miles and right to the line. Great racing!

But back to our horror show after the Timor sea. The rudder stalk had split and when force was applied it opened the split and jammed the stock in the tube, killing an innocent autopilot in the process. It took some4 time to work out what was happening (the split was only visible when stress was applied)  and then the inspiration.. the vague recollection: didn’t I see a hose clamp in the junk box?  I did and it was the right size. With it clamped around the top of the stock, preventing the split from opening we were able to nurse the thing into harbour. With literally a ton of spare things, including autopilot, we were saved by a 20 gram hose clamp.

But hours lost.

We came into the harbour in fine style, flying everything we had. Our oversized MPS, genoa and main and they were all working until they weren’t. When we hit the first hole the MPS collapsed and was stuffed into the bag. Then it was a fight for every inch, Tim holding the foot of the genoa out to keep it working and me holding the tiller with one hand and controlling the boom with the other. We oozed over the line.

But that is just part one of this story, the rest is the fine time shown us by the government and the people of Ambon. The gov flew in a very popular act from Jakarta and she rocked!!!  As we were honoured guests, we had premium seats but when the lady started singing I made room for a local mum and her two young ones to squeeze in next to me. After the singing the mum made a few words of English and I got the idea. She wanted me to hold her baby so she could take a picture of us together. So who the hell am I!? I was very honoured and this kind of respect and friendship was repeated over and over, ever since.  So has the Aus government ever flown in Kylie Minouge to entertain the Sydney Hobart fleet? Well there you go….

I’m going to use my time well here, there is a lot to learn and plans to plot. My original plans, such as they were, didn’t include anything past the next week but now I am settling into the idea that another D2A is in my future. And part one may not be as important as part two but worth it on it’s own. I really would like to know how well we could do with out a failure of a rudder and with the experience gained from this first ever (for BB and me) race.

For more on the adventures of BB and Bob in this race and beyond, see the next edition of The Coastal Passage,  and click through to the download page for your free copy (PDF).  Expect the unexpected and don’t be surprised to be surprised!

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