For many years Tony Jimmieson was an architect and his wife Annie a psychologist. Then in 2008 once their 2 sons were grown up and independent they took the plunge and bought their Hanse yacht Sunburnt.
At that stage Tony had been sailing for about 15 years and completed the yachtmaster shore-based and offshore course. Annie on the other hand had never sailed and didn’t particularly like the water!
We had talked about driving round the world in a 4WD but first before we got too old and sick Tony wanted to sail round the world. I agreed to 3 – 4 years of sailing.
We both really like travelling and didn’t want to vegetate once we retired. We have never previously owned a boat.
After we bought Sunburnt, Tony and 3 others sailed her into the wind for 4 days (yuck!) from Pittwater to Mooloolaba where we fitted her out for the ocean. We then lived on board in the Brisbane river for 2 months while Tony finished work and we waited for the winter sailing. It is unbelievably handy right in the centre of the city.
We finally took off at 11pm on Friday 6th June 2008 and had a wonderful 2 months travelling up the Queensland coast using Alan Lucas’s ‘Cruising the Coral Coast’ daily. Along the way and many times since overseas we have had family and friends visiting us on our Hanse yacht – she easily sleeps another couple and many times we have had another person sleeping on the sofa for 2 weeks at a time.
My first overnight passage doing my own watches was 3 nights across the Gulf of Carpentaria. Fortunately the first night was beautiful so by the time the difficult third night came I was able to cope fine.
We then cruised pleasantly through Arhnem Land to Darwin where we had our first experience using a lock – it felt like there were millimetres to spare either side of the Hanse. I told the lock master I was scared and it was my first time and he was wonderful – it was actually quite easy.
Then we did something a little different and had 2 months crossing the Kimberley to Broome. It was wonderful, remote and well worth having done.
Broome is a difficult anchorage because the tides are so large you have to dinghy for about 2 miles to shore and can only go at high tide or walk across miles of mud flats.
From Broome we went to Rowley Shoals then Christmas Island (one of our favourite places) then Cocos Keeling. All went well and our Hanse yacht was really fast with the fantastic trade winds. We then made a mistake in our planning and tried to sail NW to Sri Lanka.
Crossing the ITCZ we had several storms a day for 2 weeks – the worst one was 54 knots. That night we used the para anchor as we were concerned about how we would steer correctly if another storm that big happened in the dark.
A couple of storms did happen that night but I didn’t look at how strong the wind was!
The Hanse yacht handled the hard going well – can’t say the same for me!
The wind was coming from the NW and there was a current – possibly 2 knots – heading from west to east so on one tack we were going 355 degrees then the other tack we went 170 degrees – not really viable.
We were going further and further up into the Bay of Bengal which has cyclones at that time of year (November) so eventually with some weather info from a friend we headed for Indonesia.
We made landfall at Sinnebang – a little island to the west of Sumatra – without an Indonesian cruising permit, visa or any cruising guide. I managed to make an Indonesian flag from some other ones. The authorities only let us stay for 2 days then we did a 2 night passage to Sebang also in Indonesia where we again had 2 days.
Then we headed off to Phuket for some wonderful sailing and great food. We hauled out for the first time in Phuket and it was cheap, they did a great job. We had delicious Thai food for lunch and a massage each day while the antifouling was done!
After a month in Phuket we got on the standard milk run and had a wonderful passage with NE winds to Sri Lanka leaving on 3rd January 2009. Again our Hanse yacht got a reputation with other cruisers on the HF radio net as being a slick boat.
We spent 3 weeks or so in Sri Lanka – you can only go to the port of Galle and then do land travel. Inland Sri Lanka is fascinating with some wonderful 5000 year old history. We did feel like walking ATMs with all the requests for money or medicine but enjoyed our stay there.
Then we sailed for 3 or 4 days to Male in the Maldives. This was the most expensive country to clear into and most cruisers miss it but we can’t drive there!
We sailed round 4 or 5 atolls – there is not a lot of info about anchorages and not a lot of places to anchor but we talked to a few resorts and some let us anchor nearby and buy exorbitant food and drink there. It’s very beautiful but not really set up for cruisers.
Next we sailed our Hanse yacht to Sallalah in Oman. They are very welcoming to yachties and lovely people. Such a lot to see inland. We met up with 3 other cruising yachts of a similar size and agreed to travel together up pirate alley – a 5 day passage to Aden in Yemen. The other boats were Danish, American and English.
The first day we were motoring with a current against us and we had a lot of trouble keeping up with the others but then we got a little wind and put up our gennaker and off we went. Many times we had to pull in lots of sail to let the others keep up!
Many nations had provided warships to patrol a security corridor mainly for the big ships but we chose to go within 30 miles of the Yemen coast so their coast guard could reach us if necessary.
Apparently the big ships were often travelling without lights or radar or AIS to avoid the pirates so we didn’t want to run into one at night.
We did register with the warships on e-mail and alerted them to our position each day. On the VHF we could hear a lot of traffic between the big ships and warships often sounding very frightened as boats approached them at speed and followed them. The big ships used their fire hoses to sweep the decks if people tried to board.
The night watches (with no moon) were really quite scary and we were really pleased to be always able to see the other 3 boats we were travelling with.
A fishing boat approached us at speed one day and turned abruptly away when we moved to within 40 metres of 1 of the other boats then 1/2 hour later he approached the back boat in our group again at speed until the 3rd boat turned around and headed back towards them. We will never know if it was dangerous or not but we eventually arrived in Aden just before the 5th night.
Yemen was another highlight for us as we travelled inland to Sanaii in North Yemen. It sounds like it would now be too dangerous to do that but we had a wonderful time. Every second person on the street said “Where you from? Welcome to our country” So welcoming.
2 months travelling up the Red Sea was wonderful even though it is noted for the headwinds. Because we had time to wait for the calms or occasional southerlies we really loved that time.We stopped at several islands in Eritrea then Sudan then Egypt. The best and worst of it was in Egypt.
Not only the wonderful sightseeing but the anchorages along the way made a lasting impression. Our favourite experience yet was at Dolphin Reef…