It all started when a group of friends met up on for a sail on a J/122 called ‘Marta Jean’ in Newcastle, and the J/Boat bug hooked Ian immediately.
The new owner, Ian, is currently based in Papua New Guinea so this J/122 was going to travel some serious distances just to be delivered. PNG doesn’t have the facilities to commission new yachts, so the J/122 needed to be put together and fitted out in Sydney and sailed nearly 2000nm up and over the east coast of Australia.
The J/122 was shipped from J Composites France, and met by Yachtspot at 4 am in Sydney in early August.
The commissioning went like a dream at Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club where Yachtspot has commissioned many new boats recently. With the excellent service from Geoff and his team at RPAYC, and Kian and John from Stewarts Shipwrights, two days later the keel and rudder was on, then soon after epoxy and antifoul applied. After standing for a few days to allow the paint to fully cure, the J/122 was christened ‘Joss’ and launched. Later the same day the mast was fitted and dockside tuned, the day after the impressive sail wardrobe by Ian Short Sails arrived and a quick test sail to ensure all was well. The B&G triton instruments were fitted and other electronics took some days to wire in and check. Custom stainless steel and canvas work completed and the artwork for Joss applied c/w Chinese symbol complimenting the name and meaning Good Luck.
Joss is equipped with twin plotters, the 12 inch Simrad in the cockpit accommodated within custom s/s binnacle and a 8 inch B&G grib in the nav station, B&G radar and pole mounted port side aft, further custom s/s and canvas work to add a bimini frame essential for the climate in Joss’s final destination. Other electronics included twin VHF handsets, Icom HF radio and Fusion stereo, Simrad autopilot, twin water tanks, dodger and many other features.
It was soon time to set sail and take Joss to her proud owner – destination Royal Papua Yacht Club, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The NSW weather system was also beginning show signs of veering north after the predominant winter southerly and westerly winds.
Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club presented Ray Entwistle from J/Boats Australia with a club burgee for Ian, as Ian is the commodore of Royal Papua Yacht Club. Ian had done the same on his recent visit to the famous Pittwater club when seeing his J/122 “Joss” during commissioning.
The first shake down sail was a mere 70 miles up the coast to Newcastle. Ray & Sandra of J/Boats Australia joined by long term sailing friends and experienced cruising sailors Dave & Sue. The easy day sail to Newcastle was a great shake-down sail and offered the opportunity to have some canvas work details finished off by East Coast Marine. Sue then returned to Sydney to man the J/Boats office, while Steve (fellow J/122 owner of “Marta Jean”) joined the crew.
The time pressure was on to exit the NSW weather system before the northerly winds started. The next leg of the journey was 190 nm to Coffs Harbour. Leaving on the 3rd Sept and arriving at 1730 on the next day, Joss was sailing well with good boat speed. Whales were abundant as they frolicked in their migration south, and the crew spotted over 30 in the day and took avoiding action 3-4 times. However the last 25 miles approaching Coffs Harbour a strong Nor’ wester began to form, Joss was beating with full mainsail and a # 4 jib. It was good to get into Coffs before the full force of the 35 knot + nor’ wester began to dominate the weather system. The following days saw cruising and racing boats pull into Coffs returning from the famous Hamilton Island race week. Even though they were heading south many crews were exhausted, the high winds and 4 metre seas were taking their toll on the crews and their boats.
For four days the 35 knot nor’ westers howled through Coffs marina, and though it was frustrating, it gave us plenty of time make ourselves familiar with the impressive instrument package chosen by the owner.
On Saturday 8th Sept the strong northerlies abated and we let go the mooring lines and were off like a shot, very light winds so running in the engine gently during the morning was the best way forward. Our destination was Rosslyn Bay near Rockhampton (648nm). By evening we celebrated with a glass of red with dinner as Cape Byron was abeam, Australia’s most easterly point, and we were exiting the NSW weather system and heading for more favourable SE winds. Another days sailing and Joss and her crew were approaching the largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island. No time to enjoy the views and tricky navigation of the ‘inside passage’. We approached the 66 mile long island at dusk and therefore gave it a wide berth. We were making good speeds 11 + knots with the code 0, but dropped it for the night. The next morning Fraser was well in the rear-view mirror, Joss once again making superb progress. On the 11th Sept @ 0815 Joss tied up in the marina at Rosslyn Bay having covered the distance in just 3 days.
Rosslyn Bay was chosen because of its “on the way” seaward location and a good place to call in. It was also time for a crew change, with Steve and Dave both leaving Joss to attend to other duties. Craig and Derek friends of Joss’s owner, joined the boat and after re-provisioning and making sure the departing crews flights were organised, Joss set sail again, destination Cairns, 630nm miles further north.
J122 Joss In Whitsunday Passage – Craig and Derek settled in immediately and were a great asset to the team. Both thoroughly enjoying the comfort, speed, and ease of sailing this thoroughbred yacht has to offer. This leg took us through the famous Whitsunday Passage, within the protection of the Great Barrier Reef, one of the ‘seven wonders of the world’. It was very tempting to call in at the many islands in one of the best cruising grounds in the world, but the inclement weather in Coffs Harbour had cost us time. The crew only had the opportunity to view the many sandy beaches and turquoise blue bays through the binoculars, wistfully thinking about the cocktails they could have been drinking by the pool at the island resorts.
After dodging the dozen or more freighters who were making the tide to enter Mackay and making good use of the large green 155 mtr running spinnaker, Joss arrived in Cairns early in the morning with yet another beautiful Queensland sunrise, having covered the 630 miles in 3 days.
After a good rest and some local sightseeing whilst re-provisioning, “Joss” left Cairns on the final leg to Port Moresby, 500 miles of open ocean lay ahead. Joss motored out between the long Cairns channel markers, toward Trinity Passage and into deep water, then set the sails in the gentle south easterly. The wind slowly built to 15 knots and the miles ticked away. The next day the sou’easter had built to over 20 knots. Joss was starting to build speed and occasionally track into the low teens. On the last day the wind was gusting into the mid 20s and Joss with a reefed mainsail and #1 Jib was starting to hit 14 knots going down the waves. The memorable part of this leg, was that we were on starboard tack the whole time. The winds were consistently South East and we were heading basically due north. We didn’t see another ship (or whale) for the entire leg, and it turned out to be the easiest leg of the whole journey.
Before we knew it, it was late afternoon and we were in mobile phone contact with the owner, Ian on the PNG mainland. We tried our best to make landfall in daylight as we knew the entrance was tricky. Despite the great sailing we took the sails down early and concentrated on entering Port Moresby under engine power slowly and accurately. There were many reefs to negotiate and the nav lights were blending into the bright city lights in the background.
At 8pm ‘Joss’ made her final destination and we tied up at Royal Papua Yacht Club. What a joy it was to meet the owner Ian (and his jubilant welcoming party) and hand over his beautiful J/122 ‘Joss’, which had delivered us safely, comfortably and quickly over the 1928nm journey.