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3 October 2001, 12:58 pm
Grasshopper Jumps into Lord Howe Race
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Gosford to Lord Howe Race

The Nantucket 31 Grasshopper from Gosford is the smallest boat in the 408 mile G.Gray Motor Body Repairs 28th Gosford-Lord Howe Island on October 27, New South Wales, Australia.
It earned its name because she was built in Western Australian and trailed to her East Australian coast home during a grasshopper plague, arriving with the entire volume below decks full of dead grasshoppers.

Skipper Graham Jackson explains that the 2000 Lord Howe was a tough race for the little 31-footer but she's going again this year. "Grasshopper has done four trips to Coffs Harbour so she is no stranger to the ocean but the 2000 Gosford to Lord Howe race was not one of her best races. The first 48 hours was pretty good sailing, but on the second evening the weather turned foul.

We had consistent 40 knots of wind with gusts sometimes up to 60 knots. The seas came up and we found a multitude of leaks in the topsides, particular a brand new air- vent in front of the companionway and through the supposedly
waterproof hatch covers. Before long we had three inches of water in the bottom of the boat and we found the regulator for the solar panel battery charger had been destroyed by the water.

In the middle of the night we started the engine to charge the battery and the nauseous smell of diesel fuel filled the cabin. We found the high-pressure fuel line from the fuel pump to the injectors had burst and the water in the bottom of the cabin was awash with diesel. We cleaned it up as much as possible, but the smell just wouldn't go away.

The diesel and water made everything slippery and the next morning as I climbed out of bunk after the standard 3 hours rest, we fell off a big wave, I slipped and was catapulted shoulder first into the cabin post and I dislocated my shoulder. I spent the next 48 hours in my bunk breathing diesel fumes promising myself I'd never ocean race again.

Every wave we fell off caused stabbing pains in my shoulder. Seasickness became the norm for most of the crew because of the diesel smell. Everything was wet including clothing and bedding. The other five guys did it tough, helming a little boat in a heavy seaway. Finally after almost five days at sea we reached Lord Howe Island.

It's just a great place, we have to go again. By the time we finished our first beer we had begun planning our next Gosford to Lord Howe race. We had a good Pittwater to Coffs race and have been sailing hard during the year. Now its time for the Gosford to Lord Howe 2001 and hopefully Sydney to Hobart 2001.

We figure that aboard the mighty Grasshopper, we tried wet now we are going to try dry. We've replaced all the hatch covers and worked hard to make sure we have a dry boat. It's not easy to test for water leaks in a heavy seaway in the calm of Brisbane Waters … but we've been blasting the topsides with a fire-hose, looking for tell tale dribbles of water, which in a big seaway mighty become a torrent."

Rob Kothe/News Editor
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