Master skipper Tim Edwards has captained hundreds of big and beautiful boats throughout his career but he even he admits to feeling a touch of sadness when he bade farewell to the majestic 75 Enclosed Flybridge Seabreeze in Singapore late last year.
Seabreeze was somewhat of a home away from home for Captain Tim since even before she was launched at the state-of-the-art the Riviera factory at Coomera on Australia’s Gold Coast – he had got to know her intimately over a period of eight months during her build process.
“I’ve been with the boat since we began pre-delivery engineering checks and sea-trialling,” he said.
“She’s certainly the best boat I’ve ever skippered,” said Tim, reflecting upon a journey from Coomera to Sydney, back to Coomera, then up the Queensland coast to the Whitsundays and Cairns, up and around the Gulf of Carpentaria and across to Darwin … and then a non-stop leg of 1850 nautical miles to Singapore, a journey of 193 hours at an average of 9.5 knots.
“Darwin to Singapore was the biggest trip I’ve done in one go – the last was skippering Riviera 70/01 to Noumea,” he said.
Tim was commissioned by Seabreeze’s owner to undertake the epic journey to Singapore in December, and it required extensive planning and provisioning, constant fuel calculations, and taking into account the threat of pirates in the Java Sea.
On board since Sydney was the Singapore-based owner, an experienced seafarer who shared every aspect of the journey, including taking care of a great deal of planning, regular engine room checks, keeping watch and persevering through continuous and severe storms south of Borneo where, at one stage, rogue waves were as high as the 75’s enclosed flybridge.
It was a long way from the magnificent scenery up the east coast of Australia, and the amazing fishing they experienced in their Top End trek across to Darwin, during which they also traversed the infamous “Hole-In-The-Wall” tidal rush, otherwise known as the Gugari Rip, to save 35nm off the journey.
“We had some great conditions in the Top End and then some great conditions from Darwin to East Timor … and then the monsoonal weather started to kick in,” said Tim.
“There were heavy, torrential rain squalls that reduced visibility down to about 30 metres … and wind gusts up to 67 knots.
“The tips of the waves at one stage were at eye-level with the flybridge and there was lightning cracking around us … as well as currents running at 5-6 knots … but Seabreeze didn’t miss a beat.
“The boat handled beautifully and I was never really concerned – the only scary part was knowing we were not close … to anything.”
Of course Tim, the owner and the crew, including Riviera’s Curt Goldring and crewman James Lin, were very well prepared, carrying 14,800 litres of diesel in Seabreeze’s two vessel tanks and the remainder in six “turtle pack” bladders positioned in the 75’s expansive cockpit.
“We had to be very disciplined about our speed because, although the MAN 1800s didn’t miss a beat and were very fuel efficient, we did not have the luxury of extra fuel,” he said. “We arrived in Singapore with just 700 litres … although we did pick up speed to 20 knots in the last five hours of the trip.”
Tim says there were many memorable moments since Seabreeze left Sydney.
“The whole trip was memorable,” he says.
“To be honest, it was great to have the owner aboard and see him enjoying the boat – he had been planning this journey since he bought her and he wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to get to know his boat better.
“It really was something special to see his dream come true.”
Anything else that springs to mind?
“The Gulf fishing – we were bringing in one mackerel of about 40-50 centimetres when it was taken lure-and-all by another mackerel of about 1.5 metres, which we managed to haul into the boat.
“We saw some amazing fishing off Townsville too – 40 trevally in one hour!”
And specifically on the eight-day (and one hour) leg from Darwin to Singapore?
“We saw some spectacular sights of the lava glow from active volcanoes near Indonesia’s Komodo Island … and the spotlights of the squid fleets on the horizon in the Java Sea.”
What about crossing the equator?
“Ah, well … it was my first time crossing the equator by sea so I was ‘initiated’ – I thought I’d swim across … but I was actually towed.”
The practice of inducting ‘Pollywogs’ into the fraternity of seasoned sailors as they first cross the equator is a long-standing naval tradition. The ‘victim’ (newbie) emerges the other side of this rite of passage as a ‘Trusty Shellback’, fit to serve in the court of King Neptune.
“It was certainly something to remember,” said Tim.
And if he was to do the same trip again, what would he do differently?
“I’d probably get Customs clearance to stop in Bali to top up food, water and fuel – but you need at least one month’s notice and a lot of paperwork to stop in the waters of Indonesia,” he said.
“I’d probably carry an extra 1000 litres of fuel too … just to be safe.”
Is that all?
“Well, to be honest, I’d also allow a bit of extra time … for fishing!”