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Just after we left the coast of Tasmania, we had to cross the infamous Bass
Strait.  It is meant to be a treacherous piece of water, about 180 miles
wide.  And it had to be crossed to the mainland of Australia.  We got a few
miles in, and the wind just dropped.  It was really choppy, and we were
being tossed around from pillar to post.  But going nowhere.  In fact,
probably going backwards.  Derry was still in close range, and came on the
radio to make sure we hadn’t had a calamity and had to stop sailing.  They
were still in several knots of breeze.  Not nice!

Then the wind came back in with a vengeance.  Wendo shouted that she could
see the water “boiling”.  The wind was going from nothing to over sixty
knots in the space of minutes.  We had to get reefs in quickly, and be
prepared to be peppered.  And the wind did come in.  It was one of the
worst storms that we have encountered so far.  The sky was lit with
lightening all night, and the thunder roared.  All night.  Sergej got some
fantastic photographs – I have no idea how he can concentrate on
photography and hold on at the same time.
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Then came a new phenomenon for us.  Water spouts.  Wendo noticed the first
one and sent everyone below decks immediately, and told to hold on and
brace ourselves.  She was left alone on deck on the helm.  The water spout
passed with no problems.  We all went back onto deck, and in the distance
could see two more coming our way.  We were all sent back below decks
again, but this time Craig stayed on deck and manned the second helm just
in case.  The biggest one passed our bow about one hundred metres away.  I
think even Wendo was a bit scared.  It looked like a scene out of “The
Perfect Storm” except that we didn’t have George Clooney on board!
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The conditions that night were horrendous.  The waves were constantly
breaking over the deck, and everyone was exhausted.  A scary few watches.
The wind did die down, but it was back on the nose again.  So much of this
leg has been in that painful position of being heeled over at forty five
degrees.  It is getting really boring!

We got to the mainland of Australia, and thought it was going to be all
downhill from there in.  Not a chance.  The wind came in strong hitting us
head on, and the boat was constantly banging down into the waves.
Sleeping, eating, and even the most simple tasks become onerous.  Sleep
deprivation then takes over your body, and you survive on some kind of auto
pilot.  Hopefully.

The window for arrival into Sydney started on Saturday 12th December, and
although that would have been lovely we knew quite a few days out that
wasn’t going to happen.  But Sunday was the day we were aiming for.  And it
looked probably right up until Sunday morning.  When the wind just died
again.  The first few boats that finished zoomed straight into Sydney
Harbour on the breeze.  Us last few boats, about five of us, were all stuck
in the light breeze that was taking us to Sydney at about three knots an
hour.  Sunday lunchtime turned into Sunday evening, which turned into
Sunday night.  And Monday morning. Still bobbing around in the ocean.
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This morning had the most amazing sunrise – typically by the time I got my phone to take a picture the best of it had passed. Paul, Fran and Georgina are
already there waiting for our arrival.  They have waved all the other
boats in, so have got in lots of practice! It is meant to be a wonderful
day in Sydney – I hope we get there to see it!

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