Gunfleet 58/04 blog from South Pacific
A bit delayed, but here is a summary of what we have been doing since taking possession of Argenta. This is the first day of rain in 2 months, which gives us an opportunity to catch up on a few things, but more importantly gives a good indication of the weather in North Queensland in “winter”. Temperatures hover between 24 and 28 degrees, wet or dry, it is still cool enough to sleep without air con at night, and there are no pesky insects to spoil the experience, truly a sublime place at this time of year. Being Australia, however, there are still plenty of things to kill you in the water and on land.
We began our adventure on Argenta in mid July, as we made our way up the coast from Sydney. James had prepared the boat, and she was in great condition. The first few days were pretty cold and we had a strong SW wind to get us on the way.
Argenta thrived in the reach / broad reach, easily maintaining 10 knots with mainsail and solent jib, and as the wind increased so did our speed. We saw 14.6 knots for a short period, which of course we noted! In these conditions (30 to 40 knots) and speeds she became a bit of a handful and we reefed more heavily to keep things comfortable. Pretty soon the wind died out, and the motor got a great workout for the rest of the first stage of the journey to Mooloolaba (around 500 nm). A rookie error (mine) ended up with a ripped main as we tried to unfurl, and we got this repaired. James’s experience, and knowledge of the boat was invaluable for these first few days, the boat and it’s systems are pretty complex.
From Mooloolaba we travelled another 500 nm to Airlie Beach in the heart of the Whitsundays. Very little wind, so again a good test for the motor. We found that at 2100 revs we could comfortably cruise at around 8.1 – 8.3 kts, which was reasonably economic (11 litres/hour) and very quiet. Bucking the East Australian current of up to 2 to 3 knots was frustrating but the cruising speed available under motor and motor sailing enabled us to make good progress. Argenta was comfortable and all systems worked well for a stress-free life at sea.
We stopped at Lady Musgrave Island, a coral cay around 200 nm north of Mooloolaba. This is magical – a reef and small coral island miles from anywhere – the start of the tropical paradise. The variable shallow draft of Argenta made this no problem. From here we island hopped to Airlie Beach, with some good sailing at times.
The boat was a delight, deceptively quick (no real feeling of speed due to weight and volume) and comfortable, if not a bit hungry on battery power. The solar system kicked in during the day and took some of the load off the batteries.
After arrival at Airlie Beach our crew and James returned to the real world and we set off on our own to explore the Whitsunday area. So far this has been relatively incident free, with the marina at Abell Point providing good service and facilities, and the outlying islands providing good shelter in a range of wind conditions, and beautiful beaches and water. We have also moored at the outer reef which was a great experience in the right weather. There are a number of charter companies operating from here, but our biggest surprise is how few boats there are out here, it is relatively deserted. Coming from Auckland where it can be very crowded, this is a pleasant surprise.
So, that is our story so far, lots of travelling, and a growing respect for the quality, comfort and performance of the Gunfleet 58. (as a side note we are in our 60s, and my wife is not a sailor, so that says something for the ability of the boat to be sailed short-handed).
Greg & Karen Russell – new Owners of Gunfleet 58/04 ‘Argenta’.