Cruising Lady Kate Cruising and sundry vignettes of Bolger's AS29 new
Text (c) TJ Fatchen.  Photos (c) TJ Fatchen or NJ Fatchen
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Cruising...AS29 Lady Kate (centre, moored houseboat style), Martha Jane Shirley Valentine (tucked into the willow) and modified Tennessee Umli Gumli in a SquareBoat convocation at the Wellington Hotel landing on the Murray River. (Well of course it'd be a hotel landing...) Waiting for the steam sidewheeler Oscar W to arrive!

Cruising...the view of the Murray River from the cliffs at Tailem Bend, with Lady Kate at the hotel wharf (no, it wasn't a pub crawl...or at least it didn't start out that way...).

Finniss River Cruising...sailing under mizzen only in a strong breeze up the Finniss River, which gets narrower and narrower as one winds between vast swamps and water meadows each side.  At the head of navigation is a small wharf (Wally's Wharf), with a R/T to the Currency Creek winery for transport to winetasting, grogging on, restaurants etc. (plug)

Mizzen on duty  Despite the pub and winery crawls above, Lake Alexandrina and the Coorong are Lady Kate's main cruising grounds, with forays up the Murray River only occasional.  Until late summer 2001, it hadn't been possible to get to sea through the river mouth, as upstream irrigation and storage has reduced the flow to almost nothing and the mouth had been solid sandbar.

The Lake is big enough to be reasonably demanding, even in a big boat. But it's more exhilarating than disconcerting.

In this photo, Lady Kate is returning from Narrung to Goolwa, with the Lake starting to turn nasty.

It's a truism that one should cruise to the weather's requirements, not to a timetable. If we'd been able to, we would have spent this day still tucked in comfortably in the reeds past Narrung, and come home the next day in beautiful weather.

Sailing in harm's way.  Martha Jane Shirley Valentine photographed from AS29 Lady Kate motorsailing in the dying early-morning light into an oncoming front on Lake Alexandrina, trying to catch the paddlesteamer Oscar W.  Shortly after this photo was taken, Shirley Valentine was knocked down in a line squall and the sloppy reefing pendant on Lady Kate jammed the mainsheet. 

In winds way above 40 knots, Graham Cheers was crawling forward with a large knife to try to cut halyards while the Tadpole was being knocked flat by his own boom, having freed the jam.  This, after all, is why one wears a harness when singlehanding...
We fled to cover to lick our wounds. (Out of Macho Mode and back to Cruising Style).

And after the mess of just described....

On the other side of those willows, it's still blowing a full gale, gusts to 45 knots according to the G Cheers handheld windspeed thingy which normally treats a 20 knot wind as under 10 knots...AS29 and Martha Jane are snuggled in out of the wind, in a 20-metre radius semicircle of protected water. But the lake rollers are still refracting around the nearby point and the two boats are rolling at nearly 180 degrees out of phase...for the AS29, MM=110 (tick,tock, ask your nearest musician!)

Nice summer day In this case, coming back from an overnight Coorong fishing expedition, Lady Kate is racing under motor and sail to get home before a westerly change hits, but contrary winds have eaten up most of the time margin.  The boat is now in what are usually very protected waters at Goolwa. 

Only the mizzen is up. The wind is gusting to 40 knots, with the boat heeling up to about 20 degrees (10 in this shot). She did get home before the change hit, with a 50 knot line squall leading...

It's 4.30am, the barometer has risen so the tide hasn't, but the Lady Kate crew has no desire to leap into action, preferring to impersonate the Creature from the Black Lagoon/Jolly Swagman...the view is the saloon, with the head (uncurtained) in the distance.  The galley dresser hides the port-side berth from view...

We're stuck on a mudbank in the middle of the Coorong.  Lady Kate was late in getting through the self-operated Tauwitchere lock, and attempted to negotiate the mudbanks and channels at dead slow in the dark on a falling tide.  The rationale was that, were the boat to ground, then we could float or kedge off at high tide (hence 4.30am).

Unfortunately, the high tide didn't actually float the boat.  Nearly, but not quite (below the knees).  So the skipper ended up doing a Volga Boatman operation to deeper water (above the knees), following which Lady Kate returned to the lock and moored there awaiting the dawn... be greeted by dead foul winds which remained dead foul for the whole 25 miles back to Goolwa...
The AS29 tends to fill the small lock up.  We last used the lock nearly a decade ago, with Flying Tadpole II... Locking 2
The chop from the Lake comes straight into the lock once the gate is open, there's only a concrete wall and rip-rap to moor to outside the gate, there's shallow mud immediately to port, and there's a patch of reeds forming a water chicane to block fast exits.  Of such things are cruising challenges made... Locking 3

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