Jun 04 2011

Reflections on a Year

Tag: UncategorizedJonathon Haradon @ 4:39 am

Exactly six months ago Karen and Matt left Syzygy in my decidedly nervous, questionably capable hands. I was both looking forward to and filled with trepidation at the idea of being ‘the captain’ and with no other owner within 6000 miles.

I survived a flood, one of the more hair-raising situations of my life. It was easily the longest continuous amount of time I’ve had to walk the line of near catastrophe. I did some single-handed sailing. I ran aground. Twice. I made some bad calls, and some conservatively good ones. I began to wear with more ease the badge of captain and the load of responsibility that Matt correctly predicted I would feel with him gone. He was also right in knowing that him being gone and my captainhood would add a dimension to my Syzygy experience that I will forever cherish and be proud of.

I did more work on the boat in the four months between December and March then I had during the last three years of our ownership. And there is a sizable amount of work ahead in the next two months. For two years I mostly watched from afar in Colorado as Matt and Jonny worked on her, and then I spent another year feeling that I had somehow let down our enterprise and myself by not being able to contribute when I was slated to. Now, I feel absolved of my own torment on the issue and proud of what I’ve accomplished in upgrades and maintenance. And after a while, the neophyte actually started to know what he was doing. People were offering to pay me to work on their boat, fix this or sew that. Boomsticks!

I have had an outstanding time sailing the Australian coast. With Justin along, I’ve seen some beautiful places. Lady Musgrave probably tops the list; Bait Reef, the Whitsundays, Magnetic Island, and the reefs off Cairns were other beautiful places. The overnight sails that Justin and I did were noteworthy for how peaceful and contemplative I felt while looking up at the stars and out at a relatively calm sea. I’ve surpassed Matt and Karen in time spent on Syzygy traveling (though not even close in miles traveled). Dolphins, turtles, spear-fishing, diving, sailing with gorgeous islands all around; I’ve had a grand time.

And now, it’s time for my trip to end. I’ve decided after much contemplation and reflection that I’ve achieved for myself what I needed and wanted on this trip. Continuing on will not net me more of what I want. Yes, I could see more beautiful places, have amazing experiences, get into some more trouble. But in my heart, I know I’ve reached a point where there’s a next stage in my life to move on to.

At some point, I had thought my choices would make this trip an impossibility for me. And then, in the end, I had a second chance to go. I still reflect upon the wrenching of emotions that happened in those stages. For a significant time afterwards, the emotional wresting back and forth continued to inform my emotional state and choices, and because of those choices it affected, it subsequently still dramatically affects my life. The feeling that I needed to take advantage of this time, of the possibilities of this trip, has only recently run its course and abated. Now that it has, I am ready to start the next stage of my life. I am ready and excitedly want to give other aspects of my life a try. I don’t know what is going to happen, but I want to at least give it a try. New opportunities await and new adventures are possible.

I can point to many reasons for my reflections. I miss my family. Skyping doesn’t quite cut it and my niece is growing up. I want to see her, my sister, and my parents more often. I miss my friends and feeling as though I am part of a social network. Cruisers are great people, but it seems the social network is ephemeral and, as people sail where they will, transient. I want to be back in a tighter social fabric. I miss making money. Australia is abhorrently expensive and vacationing and cruising when trying to pinch pennies has begun to be wearisome. I miss a sense of purpose beyond hedonistic enjoyment. Which basically means I miss working. Or having something productive on my mind other than wondering how much fun or relaxation can I have. People with jobs may crucify me and perhaps I will regret thinking this 6 months after returning to the States, but I look forward to being enterprising and challenging my mind in ways the boat, even with it’s constant demand for maintenance and work that is either new to me or that I don’t quite understand, does not do. A catalytic reason, I miss my girlfriend, and have been gone too long.

So I’ll be returning to the States soon. The plan is to leave Cairns in about one week and sail the boat back to Brisbane, where we hope to berth at East Coast Marina in Manly. I’ll be doing some final work there, cosmetic really, making the boat look as pretty as possible for the next owners. There is also laborious process to go through in order to sell a boat in Australia. My Australian visa ends August 25th, so that’s my time limit.

For perspective buyers reading this, please see our ‘Syzygy is For Sale‘ page for detailed information on all the systems of Syzygy, equipment lists, photos pertinent to prospective buyers, and an asking price. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or to set a time to either see Syzygy or take her out on a sea-trial.

So now I am transitioning into a new phase of my life. A whole myriad of options are possible and my excitement is palpable. I will be continuing to blog through the sale of the boat, and to our readers, I can only say thank you for your time and thinking that Syzygy’s little corner of the blogosphere was something worth paying attention to.

The entire experience of Syzygy has been extraordinary for me. It has tested my in ways I would have never thought possible. My path over the last six years and particularly the last two has been stupefyingly unpredictable. I am a different person than I was six years ago; a better one I hope. And with that evolution in hand, in hand to depend on, in hand to reflect and smile upon, in hand to be proud of, and in hand to remember the mistakes and learn from them, I’m heading home to a new phase. And I’m excited as ever.


Jun 03 2011

Dolphins!

Tag: Australia,Justin,sea life,wild lifeJonathon Haradon @ 1:57 am
A week or so ago while sailing from Airlie to Townsville, Justin and I saw about 20 dolphins all jumping and playing at the bow as we cruised along at 7 knots. It was a lot of fun to watch. I had never seen that many at the same time around the boat. Here are some pictures.

May 28 2011

Maintenance Updating

Tag: Australia,boat workJonathon Haradon @ 4:29 pm
I’ve just put up 21 blog posts on our companion maintenance site, where we list all the upgrades and maintenance we’ve done to Syzygy. The 21 posts concern all the maintenance that I’ve done over the last five months since Matt and Karen left me to my own devices aboard Syzygy. They are mostly not particularly interesting stories, but for those of you who enjoy all things Syzygy, I thought I’d share.

May 14 2011

5 days, 7 dives

Tag: Australia,diving,fun activity,Justin,route,scuba diving,wild lifeJonathon Haradon @ 1:07 pm
Our first three dives were off Bait Reef, 30 miles from the Airlie Beach, on the outer section of the Great Barrier Reef. Here the water was clearer than near shore. Bait Reef stays entirely under water. Our first dive was at night, a disconcertingly amazing experience. Never really knowing where you are, or what is just outside the beam of your torch is eerie. We were surrounded by a school of 3 to 5 foot long tuna. They would dart into the light and just as quick burst away. They would playfully dart into the light, come right up next to you, and then quickly burst away and after five feet they would be out of the light. Second up was a wall dive. A sheer vertical wall took us down to 90 feet; Justin sunk to 100. From there we meandered and drifted along the wall, slowly making our way shallower and through gullies and overhangs and swim throughs. Third was a shallower dive around what are called the Stepping Stones, seven pillars that vertically rise from 15 meters up to within 1 meter of the surface. We then had to unfortunately leave Bait Reef without visiting nearby reefs, as a front moved in bringing with it 25 -30 knot winds. The winds whipped the water across the reef and made for a terrible place to hang out. Bobbing and swaying, we labored to get the dinghy out of the water and make for calmer anchorages. At Hook Island, we dove the Western tip of Butterfly Bay, an enjoyable outing, where Justin spied a small shark. We then dove on the eastern side of Manta Ray Bay, unfortunately spying no Manta Rays. The season for them is May through September, but we haven’t been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one yet. The west side of Pinnacle Bay was next, adjacent to a rock-cliff named the wood pile that begs to be the site of some cliff diving and which I spent an afternoon scrambling and doing a little climbing on. An awesome 10 foot roof crack juts out over the water; a better climber than me would love having a go at it. I just admired it and wished I was a better climber. This dive was a bit disappointing with respect to fish, coral and visibility, given it’s hype in various guidebooks. It did have, however, some fantastic coral formations, huge overhangs, deep slots to swim through and a couple of tunnels. I spied one tiny tunnel with a sliver of light coming through it. I motioned for Justin to come check it out and jokingly hand signaled for him to swim up it. To my surprise, he took me up on it and started to gingerly make his way through. Soon, his fins had kicked up a cloud of dirt as he angled up and through. I ascended along the coral watching bubbles filter up through what seemed to be an impenetrable mass of coral. Justin was nowhere in sight. I then crested over a hump of coral and there was Justin, his upper body poking out of the end of the tunnel, as he gingerly twisted and squeezed through the last, tightest spot. Finally, we dove the eastern side of Pinnacle Bay, around the Pinnacles. This dive, combined with the previous one, are supposed to be the best in the main islands of the Whitsundays. On both, as in most dives in Australia, I continue to be disappointed in the visibility. Live coral was also not particularly present on this dive, but formations within the coral were. High narrow slots abounded, two in particular were reminiscent of the slot canyons of Utah, 8 feet wide, 25 feet high slices through the coral made for fun exploring. Another big highlight was seeing the 6 foot long turtle. I immediately thought of Finding Nemo as it glided along in the current. I saw a Moray Eel, a disgusting looking creature. And I nearly had to adapt a fish; an angel fish, sometimes accompanied with his three friends, swam within 10 feet behind and around me for over 20 minutes of our dive. Huge thanks to Brian on Furthur who has been filling our tanks for us. Diving and hanging out with him and Susan has been a great time over the last five days.

May 13 2011

What to do while sailing along at 2.5 knots

Tag: Australia,fun activity,humorous,Justin,picturesJonathon Haradon @ 4:08 am

This post backtracks and refers to events that happened on May 2nd.

We left Middle Percy Island noon on May 2nd. Anxious to get to the Whitsunday’s, famed to be the best sailing grounds of Australia, we had spent only one night on Middle Percy, a beautiful though nearly completely deserted island. It’s one claim to fame is a hut with various sailing paraphernalia from the last 50 odd years. Every boat it seems, leaves a little artifact and quite a collection has built up.

Anxious though we were, the wind was not so in a hurry. With both the drifter and jib up we slowly putted along on the glassiest of seas barely breaking 2 knots. We already knew we were in for an overnight sail, and so I didn’t feel like turning on the engine.

We spent the time in various ways.

First and foremost, Justin cracked a beer at precisely noon to celebrate our speedy passage making.

spent some time grinding on our new (for a second time) anchor windlass handle. A welder in Bundaberg charged me an obscene amount for a new handle and then attached a piece that was 50% too thick to fit into the windlass. Alas, I discovered this 50 miles away at Lady Musgrave when we tried to anchor. To date we’e made do with our dilapidated rusting back-up until now. No more. With no rocking and no boats around, I set about to grinding.

Justin made me lunch.

We relaxed with more beers at two in the afternoon, a gentle breeze at our backs, enough to keep us cool, but not enough to push us any faster than 2.5 knots.

Justin played some video games.

And finally, I set about to thinking how I could rig up the hammock. I normally set it up on the forestay, (the wire holding up the mast in the front of the boat) but since the jib was rolled out, this wasn’t possible. See pictures below for my set-up. As I lazily swayed in the hammock, drinking a beer and watching the water meander underneath me, I may or may not have thought about how things couldn’t get much more relaxed.

 

May 06 2011

Lady Musgrave

Tag: Australia,fun activity,Justin,pictures,wild lifeJonathon Haradon @ 4:02 am

This post backtracks some and talks about events that happened April 21st to April 25th.

The first truly tropical awesome place that we’ve been to since Justin arrived was Lady Musgrave Island. It is at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, a mere 30 miles offshore, 50 miles from where we sailed from Bundaberg. A tiny cay of sand and trees 600 yards wide juts up out of the ocean with a small two mile wide fringing reef surrounding it. The Tuomotus, where I first joined the boat were similar (though this was even smaller) and as I wish I could have spent another month there, I was in love with the place before we even got there.

The entrance through the coral reef was rumored to be blasted out with dynamite years ago by guano harvesters. Goats were introduced on the island in case of shipwrecks. Jonny would be glad to know they have since been eradicated. I was nervous entering the coral ring, the pass felt extremely narrow, much narrower than anything in the Tuomotus or anywhere I’d been. Running aground here would be disastrous as it would mean impacting and potentially sinking on hard, sharp coral, not the soft forgiving sand I’ve hit twice now in the last month. I had left the drifter pole up after pulling the sails down and I swear it seemed like it’s 20 foot length was able to overhang the obvious shallow edge of where the pass had been blasted out. Nerve-wracking, but we made it through.

Inside was beautiful glistening water. The Pacific Ocean crashed all around against a ring of fringing reef that, save the tiny cay, remained just two or three feet underwater. The water was brilliant turquoise and blue. We relaxed. We snorkeled. We spear-fished. We meandered around the island. We lazily swung in the hammock.

Our spear fishing adventure was short. I bagged one smaller sized fish within a few minutes. Justin then said he had spied a bigger fish. I asked if he wanted to take a shot at it. He dove down to within three feet of it… the fish didn’t budge… and then Justin surfaced without firing. He had forgotten to undo the safety!  Back down he went, the fish hadn’t moved an inch, and with one shot from three feet away, one-shot wonder Justin bagged what is easily the biggest fish that someone on Syzygy has caught. King’s to Justin today!

Justin, however, doesn’t really eat fish, so I spent the next two hours trying to gut and clean them. My fish only produced a small amount of meat, but Justin’s… Justin’s provided two beautiful large fillets. He gamely tried a few small bites of what I cooked up, but in the end sided with Ramon for dinner that evening. I dined on fish in a lemon butter sauce, fish in a sweet chili reduction, and fish teriyaki. Thank you Justin!

 

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