07 January 2018 | Redland City Marina, Brisbane, Australia
07 December 2017 | Brisbane, Australia
16 November 2017 | Brisbane, Australia
03 November 2017 | Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
01 November 2017 | behind Moreton Island, Queensland
31 October 2017 | Somewhere else in the Coral Sea
28 October 2017 | Somewhere in the Coral Sea
15 October 2017 | South Pacific
08 October 2017 | Yasawa group, Fiji
03 October 2017 | Makogai Island, Fiji
28 September 2017 | Vanua Levu, Fiji
08 September 2017 | Vava'u Tonga
01 September 2017 | Alofi, Niue
20 August 2017 | Palmerston Island, The Cook Islands, South Pacific
10 August 2017 | Mauphiaa, French Polynesia
02 August 2017 | Bora Bora, French Polynesia
26 July 2017 | Tahiti, French Polynesia
21 July 2017 | The Tuamotus archipelago, French Polynesia

High and dry in Brisbane

07 January 2018 | Redland City Marina, Brisbane, Australia
On a marginal high tide we managed to navigate Monkey Fist up the Eprapah Creek to Redland City Marina ......I think when we relaunch we'll do so on a bit higher tide.

It's the first time that we've been hauled out using a Sea Lift and I must say that we were both very impressed. We felt Monkey Fist was very safe and at the same time handled with kid gloves.

Our plan is to leave Monkey Fist out the water while we drive to Tasmania and along the way do some fund raising and presentations. If any one would like a presentation at your club or for any group, just contact us via our website, we'd be more than happy to oblige. Upon our return in early April we'll start preparing Monkey Fist for the Eyeglass Assist project to the Solomon Islands.

A huge thank you to Ken, Lauren and staff at Redland City Marina for their support of Eyeglass Assist as well as their professional approach to their work.

Eyeglass Assist - presentation at the QCYC

07 December 2017 | Brisbane, Australia
Last night we had our first public presentation for Eyeglass Assist at the Queensland Cruising Yacht Club in Brisbane. We were received well and the audience asked quite a few very good questions at the end of the session. So it was a great start. If there is anyone out there who thinks their club or other organisation or company would like to hear our story first hand we are more than happy to oblige. The presentation runs for about 45 minutes followed by question time. We plan to drive south in January as far south as Tassie, so if anyone along the way is interested you can send us an email via the contact form on our website www.eyeglassassist.org and we'll sort out our itinerary accordingly. If you need a break from all the bad news in the world today, we can share with you a story to shine a little light.

Eyeglass Assist - visit to Lions R4S centre in Brisbane

16 November 2017 | Brisbane, Australia
Frances and I visited the Lions Recycling facility in Brisbane yesterday and met with the Chairman of R4S, Ken Leonard OAM. Ken has confirmed that our 10,000 pairs of spectacles will be ready for us whenever we want to take them. I reminded him that we wanted to take sunglasses with us also. He said "how many?" I said "10,000". He said "not a problem!". Now we've just got to work out where we're going to fit them on Monkey Fist.... keeping in mind that our long time friend, experienced sailor and nurse, Caroline Phillips, is keen to accompany us. Won't be an issue we'll have Frances the expert packer on the job.

Back in the Land of Oz

03 November 2017 | Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
We arrived at the Customs Clearance station at 3 am and tied up to the dock, sat back and had a quite glass of our favourite poison. This is the first time that Monkey Fist has been back in Australia since February, 2011 and only the second time for us personally. It will be interesting to see how much has changed since we left. Time to hit the bunk as we have to be up in 3 hours to be cleared in after only 10 hours sleep in the last 3 days. I'm not really sure how that happened but that's how it goes sometimes and I'm not complaining, it's all a part of a life on the sea.

And just in case you are wondering... no, we are not finished yet.

Photo: Moonset under the Gateway Bridge in the Brisbane River

Fun and Games in Moreton Bay

01 November 2017 | behind Moreton Island, Queensland
After 700 miles finally we reached the Australian coast. Experienced sailors will say that the most dangerous part of any passage is when you are near land and such was the case as we entered Moreton Bay. The tide had just started ebbing and so the current was against us as well as against the 20 knot North Easterly wind that was behind us, so conditions weren't ideal as we approached the sandbar at the entrance to the North East channel.

....And it was night of course.

This is a small craft channel and I would guess is not dredged and is not surveyed regularly but is charted and marked with beacons.

We pulled down most of the sail and turned on the motor just in case things went pear-shaped crossing the bar. Keeping one eye continuously on the depth sounder, the readings were as expected, dropping down to around 6 metres with some wind verses current conditions on the surface creating some smallish breaking, standing waves. Then we dropped over the bar and into the channel and the depth gradually increased to the charted depth of around 12 metres.

All over bar the shouting .... or so we thought. About a mile (two kilometres) along the channel I was preparing to hoist more sail when the shallow water alarm sounded on the depth sounder which we had set at 5 metres. No it wasn't possible. I raced back the helm and saw the depth still reducing. So my first thought was that we had drifted out of the channel but both chartplotters showed that we were still in the channel (the top green arrow). Frances worked liked a madwoman furling the mainsail while I took the boat off autopilot and tried to work out whether we should go port or starboard to find the deep water. You can see from the screenshots how the peaceable passage down the channel turned suddenly into a nightmare. The depth shoaled to 3.9 metres, less than 2 metres under the keel so we didn't have a lot to play with and didn't know just how shallow it would get. After less than a mile of frantic searching, the water finally got deeper and we again found the channel (the lower green arrow) and were back into 12 metres of water. What a relief but it took some time before the adrenaline levels returned to normal. It was a very unpleasant situation with the potential for disaster - if the tide had been low we would have been lucky not to go aground and, under such conditions, we may have caused some damage to Monkey Fist. But we escaped unscathed. I later reported our finding to the relevant authorities in Brisbane for what it's worth.

Death of our Code Zero

31 October 2017 | Somewhere else in the Coral Sea
Sailing to Australia adds an extra level of complexity to passage planning due to the insane costs of clearing quarantine so whatever you do you DO NOT want to arrive in Australia on a weekend when penalty rates apply. We appreciate and support the strong quarantine laws but this “cost recovery” concept is a rip-off. So we had to try and work out what sort of speed we should expect to maintain with the conditions that were forecast and also not to arrive near the coast of Australia due to troughs and low pressure systems passing and on top of that not to arrive on a weekend to keep a lid on costs.

The first couple of days on passage we had light winds and smooth seas but were still able to sail which is all that matters. Our light weather sail, the Code Zero again earned it's keep, maintaining reasonable boat speed. Little did we realise that the CZ was doomed. As expected, the wind died and we motored for around 30 hours but then the pre-frontal Northerlies filled in followed by the Southerly buster of around 25 to 30 knots that then turned into a north easterly towards the Australian coast. Unfortunately in about 15 knots of breeze that briefly back-winded our Code Zero, it gave one flog and blew itself to smithereens. It was made of some exotic materials which have fantastic performance but no endurance. When we reached Brisbane we cut the rope and fittings off and binned the rest. When we buy a replacement I don't think we'll go for something quite so fragile.

Beware the circling Booby

28 October 2017 | Somewhere in the Coral Sea
The day after we arrived in Noumea the wind it with a vengeance so we were very happy indeed with our decision. But our stay in Noumea was only very brief a few days and then Frances caught the flu which put her out of action for a week or so and then it was time for the final 700 mile leg back to Brisbane, Australia. For reasons unfathomable, I managed to avoid catching the same lurgy which I was very grateful for. We have learned the hard way that it is a recipe for misery to take to sea when someone is not well.

A couple of days out we were joined by our old adversaries - Boobies, i this case Red-Footed Boobies. 99% of the time it's wonderful to see them skimming over the waves but, in some places, when dusk arrives, some recalcitrant beasts circle your boat, staring longingly at that wonderful perch atop of the mast. Short of shooting them I don't think it's possible to stop them landing and usually if there's one there then others have an insatiable desire to join them. Then, not to put too fine a point on it, the shitting begins.... down the sails and on the instruments atop the mast. One bird tried to land on the solar panels and collided with the wind generator and as you can imagine came off second best. Not much we can do about them but they do make for good photographic subjects.

Fiji to New Cal

15 October 2017 | South Pacific
We left Fiji a little earlier than planned due to one of the two things that governs what we do – the weather. There was some strong wind coming and we would prefer not to have to deal with 40 knots so we figures if we maintained reasonable speed and left straight away then we could make it into Noumea the day before the it hit, assuming the forecast didn't change.

So we cut our Fiji visit short and cleared out of Lautoka and once outside the reef we were into 25 plus knots foreward of abeam but we figured it's back and settle down a little which it did. But we did manage our fastest passage for some time covering the 700 miles at an average of 7 knots. Haven't done that for a while.

As we were heading past the Loyalty Islands Frances saw some targets on the AIS and was able to piece together the scenario. A 185 metre cargo ship “Kea Trader” was aground on a very small and isolated rock. The nearest other obstacle to navigation is Ile Mare 40 miles to the north west. We thought that the ship must have recently run aground because you will see the other target near it is a 75 metre tug – that is huge !! A monster sea going tug from Singapore. Exactly what they were doing there we don't know as we found out later that the ship had been there for 3 months already. Perhaps they were trying to refloat it but apparently we found out later that it was most likely going to be cut up and sunk.

So the person on watch managed - against all odds to hit this small rock in the middle of nowhere. How on earth is that possible ????? Two words – Exxon Valdez.....
Vessel Name: Monkey Fist
Vessel Make/Model: Jeanneau 43DS
Hailing Port: Darwin
Crew: Paul and Frances Tudor-Stack
About: After spending over 20 years in the NT Paul and Frances returned to the sea in 2008. Their first trip was into the Pacific via West Papua and over the top of PNG and then back to Australia where they sold their old traditional boat "Sea Spray" and bought "Monkey Fist"
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