Christmas on the equator
Wednesday 26 December 2007
It's 7.35am QLD time and we are becalmed. The captain is having a well earned sleep after handsteering with the motor since 4am this morning. We had some strong wind early Christmas morning (20-25knots) after which the small electric tiller autopilot refused to work. Bill pulled it apart and saw that the small drive belt was broken (probably a $5 part). So now we have no self steering in calm or light winds. The wind vane works after about 5-8 knots. I can see some rain clouds ahead which may bring some wind. The boat is very rolly (things sliding back and forth in the cupboards) and we're drifting in the right direction at about 1 knot. So huey wherever you are please send some wind. We've given lots of presents to King Neptune including left over Christmas chook carcass so come on guys!
The alarm going off every 20 minutes when on watch is torture. We just drift off into that unconscious world (which was even more colourful and dreamlike after lots of Christmas pudding ) when BEEP BEEP BEEP until we push the middle button. After pulling oneself up into a sitting then standing position and crab walking hanging on to the boat then wrenching oneself up into the cockpit to do a 360 scan - ok 'no ships' - another 20 minute catnap.....that's 9 times in 3 hours...But it is important to do this because Bill did sight a big ship early this morning - first one since leaving PNG on Saturday. He said it took 40 minutes from the time he saw a light on the horizon to it actually passing us - 20 minutes if on collision course. So I am glad the 20 minute torture is worth it!
Christmas was just like home with all the rituals but not as many people!
- Presents under the tree (6 each). The tree is a pineapple decorated in a green plastic champagne bucket. I got 2 laplaps (sarongs) - 1 with PNG motifs, a head torch, shell bracelet, woven purse, tiedyed T shirt (Linda bought to match Bill's)
- Bill got - yes you guessed it - 4 pairs of underpants! They are suitable colours such as army green, grey and brown. They are a strange fit (Chinese and PNG) and made of thin cloth. One pair has 'TATA 2008' on its band. Bill says it is brand of car/truck? He also got 3 T-shirts - one with 1977 on it (our wedding anniversary), a tourist 'Kavieng one with a big colourful fish and pidgin) He also got some black bata thongs and a huge water pistol. He liked the water pistol best.
So we did quite well considering the limitations of the Chinese trade stores in Kavieng.
- Daggy Christmas carols on CD including Myer xmas special from 3 years ago and the kids 'rusty holden ute' version of jingle bells.
- Kerstkrunts - I have had this every Christmas since I was born - traditional Dutch Christmas cake. (pastry ring filled with ground almonds and sugar topped by apricot jam and glace cherries) My pastry (using the last of the butter) wasn't very good but it was still important to have this treat at Christmas
- Roast chook - we bought one in Kavieng frozen which was nicely thawed out by Christmas eve. Substituting crushed rye biscuits for bread crumbs in the stuffing with bacon and onion was delicious. We also had fresh beans (snake beans) and sweet potato bought at the market just before we left.
- Christmas Pudding - this is in a big tin and says serve 12. Warmed up with longlife custard is delicious! We didn't have dinner last night but I do confess to having some more pudding and custard at 1am. We also had some for breakfast this morning
- Candles - I have small t-lights in safe glass holders hanging in the cabin and one on the table with Christmas dinner.
- Wine - no shortage here. Before we left I bought a carton of white Semillon blank called 'Long Row'. It is indeed a long row from anywhere here! Bill also enjoyed the tradional sherry with the kerstkrunts
- Phone calls to family members not present - quite a lot of those this time! Thank you Iridium satellites! Nice to hear everyone's voices.
We always feel insignificant out in this big ocean. It is comforting to have our safe cocoon and haven. It is easy to sometimes forget where we are when cooking, emailing, reading etc within our compact home. Yet when on deck it's only a metre from the cockpit to fathoms of water all around.
We are conserving our fuel as we still have over 600nm to go. Drifting along like this I am losing hope of getting to Palau for New Years eve. The boat is creaking and rolling, the rigging banging, the water slapping against the side. The captain says it is impossible to sleep. I'm sure there will be some strong wind soon associated with the dark clouds I can see ahead. Then it's all sytems go - Bill adjusting the sails, the boat suddenly healing over and whooshing over the waves once more. Yesterday morning we were doing over 9 knots when the wind came! Our 24 hour mile count hasn't been too bad so far. 1st day = 149 nm 2n day = 143 3rd day=130. We do this at 3.30pm each day as that is when we left PNG last Saturday. Today will probably be less I imagine. Most yachties are happy if the 24 hour count is at least 100nm.
I still haven't done any art. It's a bit difficult when feeling lethargic most of the time. The guitar is also waiting to be picked up and played. ( I bought a beginners CD for Bill - alas no song for me yet - I was hoping......)
Nothing else to report. At least we had events such as crossing the equator and Christmas to make the days different to each other. I hope you liked the King Neptune & mermaid photos. Even at that small size it takes a long time to send but being such a significant occasion felt it was worthwhile.
All well on board
Kavieng PAPUA NEW GUINEA
18 December 2007
We arrived here yesterday at 11.30 am after motoring all day and night from Rabaul. First impressions were very favourable and still are. We are anchored outside a resort which caters for mainly surfers. It has a relaxed atmosphere and very beachy ambience not unlike the resorts Linda used frequent in Zanzibar, East Africa, The buildings are all made of local materials - palm thatching, handhewn poles, sand floors, carvings everywhere, crocodile skeletons and tame exotic birds. An Aussie couple Adam and Danielle who charter a catarmaran out to tourists have a gorgeous 2 storey thatched beach house. I have asked Bill to renovate our house in the same style when we get back! Perhaps we can bring back a house girl and garden boy to assist.
Danielle and Adam have been really welcoming and extremely helpful. They joined us at the restaurant and bar at the resort next door. This is where we exchanged information, drank pina coladas with fresh coconut milk and played with the horn bill. We have a mudmap of town, more local cruising info etc which Adam and Danielle kindly gave us. We also have a 2 week old Australian newspaper that someone form Lihir mine gave them which we will enjoy later.
Apparently many yachts come here but again we have missed them and are the only cruising boat here. Jesse Martin ("Lionheart - youngest to sail around the world) has sold his catarmaran and now has an Indonesian built schooner which is huge - 70ft. This is the other boat anchored here. (with just a local boy on it at the moment bailing it while Jesse is away)
Fruit ripens very quickly here especially when next to bananas so sadly had to throw out a beautiful huge avocado this morning. As usual we are eating well and enjoyed a delicious buffet at the resort including fresh local crab. I gave a huge pile of smelly washing (since Australia) to Danielle and Adam's house mary who will do it for us for a few kina.
So as you can see life is very hard here. We are pleased the optus phone works so we had a nice chat to Vashti. Our grandson Joe is being kind to his mother and allowing her to sleep for 4 hours stretches. Last night we finally received photos of this most handsome baby with his proud big sister and now they are plastered all over the boat .
It is hot and we still have to go into town. I will try and update the website.
Love to all
Linda and the captain (he now has a big bushy beard which he says he will shave off when we cross the equator)
Rabaul volcano PNG
Friday 14th December 2007 Rabaul PNG
We were only 2 hours away from Rabaul after leaving Put Put harbour early yesterday when I was suddenly and rudely tossed to the other side of the boat. We had been motor sailing in 5 knots of wind when suddenly we had 20-25 knots from the NW (worst direction!!!) The computers were saved but the flowers the mission people gave us in Puput ended up on the floors as well as other things that were lying about. Whilst Bill reefed the main and Heath (our little autopilot attached to the wind vane) struggled to keep on course I made sense of the mess below. One can never become too relaxed even after weeks of no wind!!! We had been receiving weather forecasts from sailmail as well as our friend Jerry in Oz and which only indicated E-NE 5 knots - WRONG!!!! Forget the weather forecasts as one old yachtie said 'look out the window'!
The seas became rougher and at the same time my Optus mobile came in range! Whilst gripping on I smsed the kids and my sister who all immediately phoned back (cheaper that way) The volcano could be seen in the distance spewing smoke. So we were shaken out of our lazy reverie controlling the boat, taking photos of the volcano, answering the phone and trying to steer into Rabaul harbour. As luck would have it yes you guessed it a SHIP started coming out towards us. Bill steered as far to the starboard side of the channel as we could. Meanwhile Valiam was doing 8.5 knots and heeling right over. As we headed closer into the harbour the seas and wind calmed and ship passed us at a comfortable distance.
Our impression of Rabaul as we entered: VOLCANO still erupting billowing smoke from its crater as well as down its sides some steamy bits too, SHIPS - at least 7, dilapidated buildings and sheds, some green on the slopes of old volcano (not the one that's still alive). Bill phoned the Rabaul yacht club and spoke to a woman who sounded a bit vague but said we could anchor just outside the yacht club jetty. We assumed the yacht club was still in the same location as Lucas' 30 year old mud map we had. We saw something that looked like a mast which turned out to be a decoration on the grass which was next to a dilapidated double story building with 'Travelodge' painted on it. As we got closer (no other yachts in the harbour) we indentified the jetty and saw a small sign that said Rabaul yacht club.
After anchoring and putting on some clean clothes (and taking toiletries for a shower) we wandered ashore. The kids at the jetty couldn't understand English nor our terrible Pidgin. (Pidgin is spoken here) We walked through black sand (actually soot/ash from the volcano) and found ourselves in an open air shed type construction with benches and a bar at one end. A beautiful girl with intricate braids welcomed us and we enjoyed a beer and gin and tonic or 2. The place was deserted but she said the 'members' would come later after 4pm. I asked about a shower and was given directions to an outdoor besser block amenities building. (pink for ladies, blue for men). A rusty leaky shower with a fine spray in one corner and a wooden barn door completed the shower cubical. I do remember from our times in PNG in the 80s cleanliness in public amenities is not important (even if it's the yacht club). I place al my items on a plastic bag on the floor and had my shower. It was still a shower and did not matter it was cold and I washed my hair. Feeling 100% I went back to Bill sitting at the bar. A couple of older Australian men had entered the premises, social skills not being one of their assets staring into their beers at the bar. One fellow who looked a little more sprightly than the rest (younger than 60 and the smallest beer gut) made conversation with us as he has a yacht moored at the Botanical gardens in Brisbane. His name is Darryl and he wants to sail it up here. He even offered to transport Bill this morning to get diesel.
At 6pm we wandered next door to the Travelodge for dinner. This was to be our first meal out since Townsville. The Travelodge has seen better days. It looked like it was barely functioning with cracked concrete, faded walls and curtains, dilapidated furniture and 60s type decorations including artificial flowers. Nevertheless we were determined to have a meal in the restaurant (the other clientele were watching TV or smoking glued to a newspaper out side) We were the only ones in the restaurant and it felt clean enough if a bit dusty and musty. A nice young girl wearing shorts was our waitress. (Rabaul must be much more modern - no shorts on women anywhere else we've been) Turned out she'd lived in Queensland and had stayed in Byron Bay (even named her child Byron) and loved hearing about the Sunshine coast as she hopes to go back one day. She is the same age as Vashti a single mum with 2 kids (one baby having an Aussie dad) and working for 100 kina a fortnight. (that's $50) Her English is excellent and I'm sure would have no trouble getting a job in hospitality back home if someone sponsored her.
Anyway we had a very nice meal. I had fish and Bill had chicken both with salad and chips. What a treat! The salad was better than the Kawana pub! A security guard called Nelson walked us back to the jetty. We felt this was unnecessary but anyway we enjoyed talking to him NEWSFLASH! Vashti has gone to hospital!!!!!!! The baby will be born today I am sure of it. We have cold champagne ready............
Now where was I?? As we were walking back to the jetty I said "Oh look it's raining' (It was sort of misty) Nelson said "That's not rain it is ash". I can't get over this volcano still spewing out stuff and the people here take it all for granted!! Many of the locals are a bit sad as Rabaul used to be a beautiful town green with frangipani flowers. Now it's a black dust hole.....Many services have relocated to Kopoko.
Anyway we are off shopping/walking looking around this morning so will close now.
Rabaul Papua new Guinea
16 December 2007
enroute to Kavieng PNG
Rabaul was a memorable stop over for many reasons mainly because this is where we heard the news of the birth of our grandson Joseph Andrew Walker born 8.56am 15 Dec 3.9kg in Townsville. Vashti and baby are doing well. Craig and Caylan (and the grandparents!) are all very excited. I immediately had to go out 'shopping' finding an artefact shop and found the only teddy bear in Rabaul (It's black with a PNG flag!) As Vashti was born in PNG it seems very appropriate!
We continued to explore Rabaul yesterday after hearing the exciting news. After walking in the intense heat into town we had a look at the colourful market. Unfortunately the camera battery died so we made a promise to visit again. The women were dressed in colourful 'Mary' dresses - long flowing with puff sleeves which the Missionaries introduced a while back to cover bare breasts. These dresses are now traditional and seem to be worn by all the women in Rabaul. They do look comfortable but surprisingly are often made from polyester fabric. We even saw one with sparkly sequins. The fruit and vege were beautifully displayed under the permanent market structure or under umbrellas. It was extremely busy in the heat. We caught a PMV (small mini van) to Kokopo. This was fun squashed in with all the locals and only cost 1.50 kina each (60c). It was at least a half hour bouncy drive through lush vegetation and villages by the beach. Beautiful big fish were for sale beside the road suspended on big sticks.
We arrived in Kokopo outside an even busier market than Rabaul. The heat was very intense. Shops and commercial buildings that we have seen in this area are very industrial and dilapidated made of steel usually. The exteriors and interiors are not particularly attractive and the goods are displayed in a very basic manner on wooden trestles, cardboard boxes etc. The lighting is poor and it is often dusty. We wandered down the road towards the water to see what the wind was like outside the bay. As we got closer we spotted a sign not far away saying 'restaurant'. Not wanting to get our hopes up too high we entered the establishment through 2 carved columns. We were pleasantly surprised. A lovely beachy place with matting on the walls and a verandah over looking the sea. We were ushered to a front table and were the only white people. A cold beer and gin and tonic later we were in heaven. The burgers we ordered were very nice and even had the Aussie influence of beetroot. The restaurant started with the letter 'V' and we do highly recommend it to anyone visiting Kokopo! We asked the waitress about internet and she gave us directions. We found the place again a funny little room advertising telecommunications. It was air conditioned and we were given a computer with 'broad band' straight away. We were able to look at weather charts and print one off, check the bank and send a few photos to family. We met a couple of Bougainville guys in there. They were really lovely and were making comments about their black skin - supposedly the blackest skin in the world. They had gorgeous white smiles. (no beetle nut stains)
Everywhere we go everyone is so friendly and pleased we have visited in our yacht. Always lots of handshaking and sharing of information.
Feeling retail therapy withdrawal Linda was determined to find the artefact shop mentioned by one of the women at the yacht club. We walked and walked in the hot sun following the directions to the 'Diabetic Centre'. We found it down a back street. It was a house with a big mural of animals and locals in native dress painted on the fence. The sign said it was open but to knock on the gate if the gate is closed. We knocked and banged and knocked and were ready to give up when a man named Paul with a German accent came out dressed in a towel. He apologised saying one of his staff had 'buggered off'. Paul is helping the local people identify and treat diabetes and has received a medal from the PNG government for his services. He has lived in PNG for 40 years. The artefacts is a side line. We walked into a crowded room filled with carvings and beads and all sorts of lovely hand made things. Linda was in heaven. 900kina later (We had to go back to the ATM to get more money) we now have beautiful carvings and basketry to decorate the boat as well as gifts for loved ones. (including the little black teddy for Joe)
The yacht club in Rabaul deserves a special mention. They have looked after us really well. The members were pleased to have an actual yacht outside using the new jetty just built. (usually has lots of kids using it as a diving board for swimming) Every time we went out we left the oars there and the staff kept an eye on the boat for us. The meals there are very nice and the beers nice and cold. (very cheap too.) A stubbie of SP beer is 5 kina (at the moment 38c to 1 kina) so $1.95. Gin & tonic with whole can of tonic 10.50kina ($4) The meals were 15 kina ($6) Usual pub fare and very tasty. The yacht club was rebuilt after the volcanic eruption where the 'hauswind' was. It's basically a big open building with a high roof with a bar and kitchen at one end. Wooden benches and stools at the bar complete the décor.
Outside everything is covered in black volcanic soot. The dinghy and the decks of Valiam were covered in it. Most of the time a haze of cloud with volcanic particles cover the town. However the people both local and long time Aussies love Rabaul and wouldn't dream of going anywhere else. It was interesting hearing first hand how some of these people lived through the major eruption in 1994. There was also another one last year. (I don't remember hearing anything of it on the News in Australia) The 1994 eruption caused damage not because it was particularly big but because of the direction of mudflow and ash. No-one was killed. One woman said when she went back to her house everything below waist level was damaged by the mud. She said only the clothes she didn't like that were stuffed at the top of the wardrobe were saved! Interestingly the Aussies whose houses were damaged didn't really speak much of looting and thieving. I think the media likes to play up these things. There are several world renowned vulcanologists living in Rabaul. There seems to be really little warning for the eruptions and that the other volcano next to Rabaul is about to blow and could be quite big. The one that is smoking at the moment is more of a nuisance and wasn't as big an eruption as the next potential one. Perhaps this is why Kokopo is more of a business centre these days. Many of the expatriate community live there also.
Last night we met some interesting people - local business people and a government politition. (All Australians with residency) I was surprised to learn that there are 4 Australians in Government. The local people like them because 'they don't steal their money'! Everyone made us very welcome and were very interested in our trip so far and how we found PNG. The main drift of the discussion was how much bad press PNG gets. We believe Rabaul is fine for anyone to visit and doesn't pose a threat any more than towns and cities in Australia. We have been welcomed everywhere and everyone is extremely friendly. We feel that we should write an article in yachting magazines to dispel the myths. Even ABC programs (according to our politician friend Peter) exaggerate the problems. The general consensus seems to be that the new government lead by Kevin Rudd will be good for diplomatic relations between PNG and Australia. In fact when we bought the PNG newspaper several articles alluded to that. There was one photo of the new Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd shaking hands with Mr Somare in Bali at the Climate Change conference. The newspaper article stated that diplomatic relations would definitely improve under Australia's labour government. One of the yacht club patrons said that Downer talked to the media too much and didn't seem impressed with what he used to say about PNG. We met another local business fellow Nick (he used to work for the government) who is a sheet metal fabricator and has lived in PNG for 30 years. His children grew up running around with the local children and they all have citizenship. He bought himself a freehold property - a house on an acre on the beach north of Rabaul for $45,000 10 years ago. Nick loves it there. There is of course a downside of living here in regards to medical facilities. Nick's daughter and her fiancé were involved in a serious car accident hitting a tree near Madang and were flown by air ambulance to Cairns. This cost $45,000 (same as his house!) for the 2 fathers to fly their children to medical facilities that could cope with the extensive injuries. The young man is of mixed race with a German father. He is doing well and will probably walk with a limp but his life is saved and he can actually walk. The daughter is now fine. Their wedding has had to be postponed.
We also were aware of being accepted as part of the 'old crowd' when we mentioned living in PNG in 1980-1982. I compared notes with the women managing on a plantation with a baby with no communication but surviving and actually loving it. (no phone, no internet, no TV) Only mail when someone went to Moresby. Nick knew of BNGDC (British New Guinea Dev. Co) the company Bill worked for in those days. He said we had P.O. Box 2 and his organization had P.O Box 1! I do remember writing that address so many times!!! Apparently there's a sawmill at Doa now where we used to live harvesting the rubber trees. I'm sure if Bill went there he would get a job!! In fact I think we would both get work here in PNG even if I was teaching voluntarily. (Perhaps when we get back??!!)
Nick has kindly given us his business address in Kavieng to use his internet. I have promised to send a photo of our yacht outside the Rabaul Yacht club. But the main reason is so that I can view photos of our new grandson! We look forward to Kavieng. It is supposed to be a bit of a holiday place with an abundance of fresh crabs and crayfish - yum!
Irish cove PNG
11 December 2007
New Ireland PNG
From Alan Lucas "Cruising Papua New Guinea" given to Bill Christmas 1981 - yes we are actually using it!
"English and Irish Cove: These two anchorages have a rather romantic history as they were the chosen site for the Utopea of the Marquis de Rays who, in the 1870's distributed prospectuses throughout Western Europe advertising it as already settled and established land of promise. He induced 3000 shareholders to part with 300,000 pounds sterling, many of who sold their properties, presuming their share to be protected by title deeds to land in and around English and Irish cove. A rather remarkable reaction when it is remembered that the Marquis de Ray's total knowledge of New Ireland came from his reading of ships' journals. In 1879, 150 people sailed from Holland aboard the the ship Chandernagore to be dumped ashore at their Utopia where only the scenery fulfilled their impossible dreams. There was nothing else. Needless to say the venture failed after a misery of starvation and disease although a start was made in building jetties and houses. None of these tragic reminders of Marquis de Ray's confidence trick remain today. He by the way spent 6 years in jail for his part in the fraud."
When we went ashore we did see some evidence of a low stone wall bordering the beach. Bill read somewhere that a ship full of bricks was delivered here but because it was abandoned a business woman from Rabaul grabbed it all and built herself a mansion which was to become famous for the elite to have parties drinking champagne etc...
> > I am standing in the sweltering heat in my bikini at the chart table
> > typing this. the satellite connection was non existent a moment ago
> > but has come back in. I wonder how many satellites are buzzing around
> > out there? Never mind i love them as i can communicate from the wilds
> > of PNG. After 3 days of motoring in calm seas and occasional lightening
> > and storms in the distance we have arrived at the bottom tip of New
> > Ireland at a place called Irish Cove. I'm glad we didn't come in the
> > night relying on the electronic chart as it would have had us sitting
> > on the land. Some areas around PNG haven't been charted very well we
> > were warned. We will write to c-Maps and tell them of the .3 mile
> > discrepency. It feels like deep jungle here. Tall hills with
> > rainforest and coconut palms. The little bay we are in is still and
> > deep. A couple of guys in canoes went past at first not that
> > interested in us waved and said they were off for a bath. I think it
> > is a waterhole not far from the boat which we will row over to once we
> > are rested. About 4 guys in canoes stopped by for a quiet chat. It is
> > SO HOT and steamy!! They said there are crocodiles here. I can
> > imagine it as there are mangroves and a little creek running off this
> > bay. Eventually one of the fellows asked for matches which we gave
> > him. Then he plucked up the courage to ask for a magazine. I only
> > have a few womens magazines left. I gave him a glossy Madison. He
> > giggled when seeing the gorgeous blonde on the front. They left soon
> > after. I imagine the underwear ads will get a good look in!
> > Tomorrow we will head accross the channel to Putt Putt bay (New
> > Britain) then the day after Rabaul. We need to go to Rabaul for fuel
> > and maybe a bit of civilisation.(and beer!) The volano has wiped out a
> > lot of what Rabaul was famous for (beautiful well appointed harbour) so
> > we don't know what to expect. As we were not originally planning on
> > going there we have absolutely no information except a mention of being
> > able to anchor near the yacht club (I wonder if it was rebuilt?) If
> > you can find out anything about Rabaul today we would appreciate it.
> > We'll be fine if you can't and we will definitely arrive in the day
> > time watching the sounder. This morning just before we arrived here we
> > witnessed a magnificent sunrise. Next thing a huge pod of dolphins
> > came over and swam/dived/jumped around in the bow wave of the boat.
> > Beautiful - i made a movie. After 3 dyas and nights at sea we could definitely smell the land
> > - a mixture of earth and vegetation and campfires. Also a sulphur smell
> > (volcanoes)
> > The sweat is getting to me - I have put wet washers in the ice box to
> > provide a little relief.
> > It feels a bit like the wilds of the Amazon here - pit helmet and khaki!!
11 December 2007
It is really lovely here - beautiful protected bay and were pleasantly surprised when we went ashore to find a little rock pool the size of Paul's spa with icey cold fresh water. Glorious! There is no village here either. Some people go past occasionally in canoes and don't really bother us. Bill also rowed us down a little creek beautifully shady (no crocs) and again -cool fresh water. We are very tired after 3 nights of not much sleep so we are having a lazy afternoon reading and resting.
It's going to take us longer than we expected to get to the northern part of PNG - Kavieng - New Ireland before making our longest ocean crossing yet to Palau. It is important for us to stay in Kavieng for the right weather. We are almost out of the cyclone belt (phew!) - only 4degrees south of the equator.
It will be interesting to see Rabaul - re the volcanic eruption form years ago. It wont be as peaceful as here and we will have to be a lot more security conscious - yay for the Dick smith alarm!!
It's weird not to have seen any other boats or tourists so far and only 2 other white people at Samarai. (except for the boat load of tourists from a distance)
There's no-one around here except locals. One of the guys we spoke to this morning did say that other Aussie and American yachts had anchored here. It is on the way from the Solomon Islands....
Sorry if you are bombarded with emails. Every day seems like a week to us as lots happens - so different to a week of should I say it - (w.o.r.k)
I have a feeling we'll be having christmas in the middle of the ocean on the way to Palau. I have bought kerstkrunts ingredients and will buy some treats before we go.
It's a bit hot and boring out here. No wind again. Motor is droning (se attached) thank god for Heath - the little autopilot strapped to the wind vane. We wouldn't have been able to hand steer for so long.....
We're reading books and just watched a movie. Another night at sea by the look of it - that's when the exciting light show starts (female crew doesn't like lightening) and we will probably get a bit of wind blowing from different directions....maybe..
current position: 5.50.96 S 152.07.439 E There's 8 km of sea under us!
> > 9 December 7am
> > Position: 7.47.4 S 152.11.5 E (getting a bit closer to the equator!)
> > We are in the middle of the Solomon Sea - no wind, no land, blue skies,
> > soft white clouds, just the engine droning. Last night there were a
> > few storms about with lightening flashing from 3 different directions.
> > We had an uneventful night - no ships this time. We decided to do 2
> > hour shifts - both a bit tired. The beeping of our little alarm every
> > 20 minutes when on watch (we dozed/catnapped between) is torturous at
> > times...One thing I love seeing at 2am or there abouts is the big star
> > to the east that reflects on the water like the moon. Also the
> > phosphorescence is magical to watch going past the boat. At least we
> > have a rest from visitors out at sea!! Although a sea bird did circle
> > the mast a couple of times hoping to rest on top for the night.
> > Thankfully it didn't because the wind instrument up there was damaged
> > by a bird once before and I don't want to hoist Bill up the mast out
> > here to repair it. I've just put the coffee machine on but I think the
> > captain has gone back to sleep. Just before sunset last night I saw a pod of dolphins
> > jumping in sequence
> > parallel to the boat. Their silhouettes looked just like the typical
> > image of a dolphin jumping mid air.
> > We enjoyed our 2nd meal of lobster last night. Might have to put the
> > lure out - see if we catch anything to day.We still have heaps of fruit
> > and veg. Does anyone out there have a recipe for pawpaw salad? (maybe
> > using it green??)
> > The last lot of bananas we traded are a bit strange - maybe they are
> > cooking ones too.
We are down to the last half doz stubbies. Have plenty of wine but beer is better in the heat. W e should be able to get some beer in Kavieng or maybe Rabaul if we stop there....
Solomon sea PNG
Monday 10th December
Position : 6.15.80 S 152.01.00 E
Bill says its 8 kilometres deep here!
It's the third day since we left Egum atoll. It's been mostly calm so we have been motoring most of the time. Last night we had a bit of wind but from the wrong direction. Bill decided to change course (making a dog leg turn towards New Britain), use the sails and turn the motor off. Aah nice an peaceful.... The wind kept changing so this meant more work adjusting the sails and autopilot for Bill. As with the previous night we could see lightening in the distance coming from several directions. We could also see the stars. Bill reassured his crew that the lightening was a long way away. Last night's meal consisted of mashed pumpkin with garlic, tin of stew and corn on the cob. After boiling the corn for ages it still tasted awful so we decided it must have been pig food or the locals aren't as fussy. The corn is still sitting there - no pigs out here to feed - only flying fish!! All along the trip we see heaps of flying fish. Some of them fly for ages before returning into the water. Fun to watch.
5am this morning no wind again. It's so hot during the day. I have now started putting wet washers in the little fridge to put around our necks - nice.... We are down to our last dozen beers - Pure Blonde. It is really nice to drink in the heat with a wedge of lime. I also made a pot of tea, the remains of which I have put in a plastic jug with lemon juice and sugar in the fridge. Haven't tried it yet. I have also been making yoghurt which has been great. Our fridge is just our little icebox with a condenser about the size of an esky. It has been essential (I think) in this heat to have cold drinks and keep food fresh. When we were in Noumea a couple of years ago we came across a young English couple in an old wooden boat who had sailed from England without refrigeration. They said they kept cheese in olive oil etc. I love our fridge.
It really is becoming a bit irritating with the engine droning. We are only averaging 4.5 knots (to conserve fuel) and we have 1 knot of current against us. It will be another night at sea at this rate. Bill is thinking we may have to go to Rabaul to get more fuel. We might go to Put Put harbour, New Britain first which is on the other side of the channel from English cove (New Ireland). There is very little up to date information about these places. The Alan Lucas book I gave Bill in 1981 on cruising PNG is still the most informative but out of date. Dolphins and DimDims didn't document up this far. Because we weren't expecting to go to Rabaul (we still may not - will know tomorrow) we have no up to date information on the harbour since the volcano erupted recently. The electronic chart plotter will give us accurate depths and the lie of the land if we do decide to go to Rabaul. There may be other yachts there and maybe the yacht club still exists...
It's too hot to do much except lie about,read, doze, eat, drink, navigate, put more fuel in the fuel tank etc. The emails are a great distraction even if they are expensive!
As the galley slave I plan and prepare most of the meals. Yesterday I made Nachos for lunch with one of the 2 packets of corn chips we have. I tipped tinned spaghetti mince, a jar of salsa, tin of artichokes, sliced onion, garlic,chillie topped with grated cheese. It was delicious but our oven tends to burn things on the bottom so next time the griller might be better.
Yesterday we had a shower on deck and washed some clothes. After washing 10 pairs of my own undies I asked Bill where his was. He held up one pair! They looked disgusting so I threw them in the sea! He said they were his favourite, comfy pair.....
I will go back to my trashy novel now - it's set in the Viking days when Princesses were stolen from different kingdoms.
The sea is still oily and glassy to the horizon 360 degrees.
Yanaba Island Egum Atoll PNG
8th December 2007
On route to Kavieng
Left Yanaba Island - Egum atoll this morning
We arrived at Egum atoll yesterday morning after sailing all night from Pitt Bay. Pitt Bay was a good anchorage and we slept well. Several people in canoes came to visit us there . We traded clothes (the baby clothes are a big hit) and books (as well as womens mags) for pawpaw, pineapple, pumpkin, 4 eggs, and a local green vegetable we've never eaten before. The lovely thing about the people we've met is that they speak beautiful English - no Aussie accents even though we hear Aussie teachers often teach here.
We have taken to having our baths at night under the stars by using a bucket and wash cloth - very refreshing after sweating all day. The heat is quite unbearable in the middle of the day when there is no breeze. We've become used to rivers of sweat dripping from our bodies. Our clothes have had a couple of quick rinse outs but because we are conserving water our most comfortable items are looking and smelling quite bad. Anything that has been in sea water just doesn't dry and then takes on a musty smell!
The night before we arrived at Egum atoll started off quite calm and sedate. We enjoyed a sundowner watching yet again another magnificent sunset. The islands we pass around here look like the pictures in Treasure island - lush, green, hilly, white sandy bays lined by coconut trees. Everyday we watch sailing canoes in the distance going from island to island. I was on watch for the first half of the evening and as luck would have it I had to wake the captain due to the close proximity of ships. The last occasion at 1am in the morning we had 3 ships around us and couldn't work out which way they were going. One had big yellow lights which were the front of the ship. I flashed the torch on the sails (read that in a sailing book somewhere) but this didn't make any difference. We turned the radio on and heard heavily accented men telling each other they would go 'port to port' which didn't help us at all. I was going to pluck up the courage and call them up on the radio but Bill said with 3 of them out there it would be impossible for them to identify themselves and tell us which way they were heading. It was very confusing and stressful. We put the engine on and went full throttle changing our course dramatically. We could finally see the side of the closest ship but still couldn't work out the back from the front or which way it was going. Eventually it seemed to get further away from us and the other 2 ships were going in the same direction. Looking at the paper chart later we discovered we were in the middle of the shipping channel and we were lucky enough to have 3 of them there at once.
The electric chart plotter is amazing - we navigated our way into Egum atoll through an entrance between Yanaba island and Egum islet. The depth goes from hundreds to suddenly 7.5 metres over the top of coral bommies. A sailing canoe with a couple of guys sailed out to us and sailed alongside waving. What a beautiful welcome. We followed the directions of 'Dolphins and Dimdims' and anchored in almost the same spot recommended by them.
We had barely put down the anchor when we were visited by a couple of young men with children in canoes. We explained that we had sailed all night and needed to sleep! Bleary eyed we chatted for a little while and eventually got down to the subject of their wish list! I guess Bill does look a bit like Santa with his grey beard. They wanted batteries mainly and fishing line. We asked if they could get us some lobster (crayfish) and they said yes they would. When asked what time they said 8 or 9 pm. Bill also gave them some fishhooks. I gave the kids balloons and biscuits (yes the gingernuts are slowly diminishing) Another young fellow came by with some pawpaw and a wooden carved sword like piece. (They are really used for houses at the entrance or on tables) I gave him a t shirt and cigarette as well as shorts Bill didn't want. After the first visitors left we thought we would put the Dick Smith sensor alarm in the cockpit as we needed to go to sleep. An hour or so later we were rudely awakened by a piercing siren. Bill staggered out trying to remember the code to switch it off and saw a very frightened man on his sailing canoe next to the boat. He thought when he touched the boat the alarm went off! 'For rascals?" Yes said Bill 'We were just testing it!' Most of these guys just want to talk to Bill about the boat and what/how it is made. They know quite a bit about boats and thought fibre glass over plywood (as in Valiam) was pretty good . This fellow asked if we could help the village with medicine and bandages. We don't have a lot of that sort of thing and gave him some panadol and bandaids.
A little later as we were pumping up the inflatable and lowering the outboard, we had another visitor. This time he was the local school teacher named Tassie also asking for medicine for the village. We said we would like to visit and that we had books and clothes to give and a box of panadol. We ended up towing him ashore along with a couple of kids paddling a canoe. We didn't realize we were so far out! It was a fun ride for all and I could see a crowd gathering on the beach. A couple of young blokes helped drag the dinghy through the waves on to the beach. With the whole village looking at us in front of their gorgeous thatched houses we started opening the bags. We had only 2 packets of biscuits so I asked Tassie the teacher to tell just the small children to come forward. It was so difficult with so many little reaching hands. I gave Bill some to help me. We both ended up breaking them in half to make them go further. Knowing I only had a handful of baby clothes I asked where the little babies were. Mums or Dads with little babies came forward hurriedly to collect the clothes. The rest of the stuff (my old clothes, mags, books etc) we kept to give to Tassie the teacher. He took us on a windy path with sharp coral (ouch!) and mud past vege gardens and huts to the school and his house which was next to the playing field. The school was an open bulding without windows with very traditional maths/English lessons on the board. The maths looked fairly advanced actually. The trail of children that followed us spoke excellent English once again. We all sat on the grass ( a bench was fetched for Bill and I) while we chatted and gave the rest of things out. We also showed them photos of us living in PNG in 1981 with our "first born." Daughter born in Moresby. It is nice to chat to the locals when we visit but it is so obvious that we have so much more in material things and opportunities than they have. But when we explain about mortgages, cars, credit cards and everyone having to work to pay for everything they realize our lives aren't as easy as they think. The men spend much more time with their children here. I explained that many parents have to work long hours in Australia and don't see so much of their children.
We haven't seen another cruising yacht and only 2 other white people (at Samarai). We've seen no cars, shopping centres, no stressed people or people being aggressive or beligerant. On the islands out here life appears so peaceful. The Yanaba people live in thatched houses right on the beach, grow fruit and veges, raise pigs and chickens, go fishing and don't seem to need much. The problem of course is when someone is seriously ill - there are no facilities to deal with it. There is a hospital /clinic at one of the larger nearby islands but I believe their resources are limited.
We were given a wonderful send off by the village waving and helping us launch the dinghy. Watching the people on the shore waving to us made us feel humbled and overwhelmed.
The scenery is gorgeous and I have of course taken 1000s of photos and short movies. I haven't given myself time to paint or sketch what I have seen. I might have to break my self imposed rule of working from photos.
The young man who gave us the carved sword came by again just before dark with his young 10 year old brother and naked baby girl sitting in the bottom of his wet sailing canoe. She sat their quietly her little hands hanging on to the edge of the canoe whilst her 'uncle' kept bailing. (They are pretty leaky!) She must be a good little baby sitting in there on hard wet wood whilst the boys sail, paddle and bail out the boat! No life jackets, baby restraints here! I gave the boy a couple of picture books and some baby clothes for the baby. (I think she was called Belina) I have forgotten the young man's name but was aghast when he said he was 15 and had been married for a year! He did look young but I thought about 18-20. He said he was at school but his mummy got sick and died so now he looks after his younger brother. He said he liked being married. His sailing canoe he said he built in a week. It is made from a hollowed out log and sticks held together with fishing line. The sails are made of black builders plastic sewn on to the sticks that serve as mast and boom. You can see the big tacking stitches on the black plastic - looks like string. These sailing canoes sail quite well and the boys know how to make the most of their design. The canoes are double ended and the outrigger is always on the windward side so tacking is done by steering it from the other end.
This lovely young man gave us pawpaw and another long carving " For you Mummy Linda because you give clothes for my baby" (get your hankies out....)
He also asked for medicine for his sore back. (I've nearly run out of panadol!!!)
We were very tired last night but knew the lobster boys may be back later so we got the trading goods ready - Bill's red Lowes board shorts, my batman t shirt, a 'valiam' shirt, some kitchen knives, more panadol, a few cigarettes and some cheap rope. We put the Dick Smith alarm back out.... Just as we dozed off I heard voices. Bill crawled out, tried to switch off the alarm and I heard him say " You've got some crayfish!" When I went out 3 guys and a boy were in a sailing canoe with 10 wriggling lobsters in the bottom of it! They proceeded to pull the heads off the live lobsters so they could give us the tails. They made a funny squeaking sound during and after the beheading. This almost made me want to be a vegetarian but memories of the succulent birthday lobster over ruled this momentary desire. After giving the boy some books and a glow stick (should have seen his grin!!) Justin one of the lobster boys pulled out a couple of old carvings. One was for the prow of a canoe and the other a carved bailer. He said they were very old. I asked what he wanted. He said 'trousers'. I fished out some long pants of mine (Bill didn't have any spares) and a polyester long sleeved work shirt of Bill's. I was surprised they were happy with them. Feeling guilty I gave them a Marie Claire magazine and another kitchen knife. The boys loved the mag!!! We put the 10 lobster tails in a Tupperware container in the 'fridge'
We were getting ready to go this morning after a rolly night, ( a couple of rain squalls too - Bill put out containers to catch the rain water for the batteries.) when more visitors showed up. I was in the middle of making the marinade for the lobster and Bill was hoisting up the wooden dinghy. The fellow who wanted his reference copied showed up. While I was attaching all the right plugs and cords to get the computer,scanner and printer working (and dripping with sweat!!) Bill talked to the fellow. Apparently he has done some interesting work around the place including turtle conservation, crewing on a yacht, driving a boat in Alatau and is currently the local Magistrate. He has authority to impose a fine of up to 300kina but cannot get involved in marriage disputes. He showed Bill a diagram of the PNG legal structure with his position at the bottom as village magistrate. He has 5 children and when they are high school age they have to go to boarding school which costs 500 kina a year. (not sure of accommodation maybe 'wontok' system ie family/tribe system) I asked how he pays for that and he said he gets sea cucumber and shark fins for 'business people'. I asked 'Chinese?" He said yes. He said they don't eat the rest of the shark and just throw it in the water. I said many Australians eat shark usually cooked in oil with potato chips! He said they only have coconut oil..
I finally got all the "white man magic" working and gave him 6 copies of his reference. Bill explained that its like an outboard motor - you just buy it and use it - not magic!!
Just as I had packed away the computer gear and we were ready to go Justin the lobster guy turned up with a letter for us. It was from Rose the wife of a resigned school teacher. The letter is beautifully written and addressed to 'William and Linda". She asked that we could teach new cooking and sewing skills including baking cakes, bread and sew a graduation suit! Parts of the letter :
"....I am very glad to know your names from this young man who came to your ship today....I saw my chance of learning something new........my interest of learning new way of cooking and sewing is very high so I therefore write to seek for your kind help of teaching and showing me....I would very much appreciate if you come to the land and show me.......with this thank you for your kindness.....I look forward to hearing your kind response....Yours sincerely Rose Vepet.....Corrections under your care thank you."
Well what to do??? I decided to scan some recipes for cakes and bread and send her a handwritten card. Out with the'white man magic' again. In the card I gave her our Australian address. I wouldn't be surprised if a letter arrives from PNG!! I still feel a bit guilty for not going ashore but we really couldn't spend another day if we are to get to Palau by Christmas. (that's our goal)
We are currently sailing to the southern tip of New Ireland - "English Cove'. It will take us a couple of days. We've had a couple of rain squalls. At one stage Bill was steering and sailing with 25 knot gusts the boat going at 9 knots on flat water. He was grinning from ear to ear while I was panicking a little. We'd only eaten half our lunch (grilled lobster). Once the boat settled we finished them with some chilled white wine. We're back to sailing at 4.5-5 knots now. Tonight we are having lobster AGAIN! They are still delicious and we aren't sick of them....
All is well on board Valiam
Current position : 8.36.4 S 152.05.4 E
Linda's 50th birthday Rogeia Pata PNG
Rogeia Pata Bay, near Samarai Island 4 December 2007
Position 10.38S 150.39 E
What an amazing day! Not just because it is my 50th birthday but because we are so happy to be here experiencing all that we are. Still anchored at Samarai with our yellow flag up, we were beginning to feel like part of the surroundings after more than 3 days! We actually saw Felix the customs officer arrive back from his 'compassionate leave' yesterday late afternoon. He arrived by speed boat accompanied by many sacks and bags carried off the boat by numerous children after being in Moresby for several weeks. Earlier yesterday we spoke to Justina his wife who described him as short with a beard so we recognized him when he arrived and he even waved to us, (the only yacht in the harbour conspicuous enough with our yellow flag still up.) Being late in the day he was caught up with family so we resigned ourselves to a morning visit to customs. It was so hot when we got up this morning I immediately put on my bikini to have a dip off the ladder at the back at the boat. I discovered this to be the best way to cool down. We hadn't cleared up after breakfast yet and just as I re-entered the cabin after my dip I heard Bill say "Customs!") I said "Wait! I have to get dressed!" Women cover up their thighs and tummies here so I hastily put on a dress over my wet swimmers. Bill had been cooking a chocolate cake for my birthday so the cabin was unbearably hot with the oven on. There was not a breath of fresh air when Felix arrived. He chose to do the paperwork in the cabin whilst we were dripping with sweat. I ineffectually waved a hat to try and create a breeze. It was the untidiest the cabin had been in ages - dishes, clothes everywhere, unmade bed and Bill didn't have a shirt on. On our previous unsuccessful trips to customs he had put on a buttoned shirt. Nevertheless Felix was calm, respectful, shy and called us Captain and Madam. We paid 200 kina each for clearance and 50 kina quarantine. (a little more than we had heard). He wasn't worried about what we had on board in relation to alcohol and foodstuff. We explained all the fruit we bought had been at the market. As were really not supposed to go ashore he just nodded. I think he was just anxious to get the paper work done and leave. As Bill rowed him ashore he said 'You can take the yellow flag down now". Felix said the previous year 40 yachts came through but this year 20. I guess his workload has been reduced somewhat but we were pleased we were keeping him in a job!
After receiving lots of birthday messages and phoning Vashti & Caylan on the sat phone we cleaned up and went ashore to give the clothes and photos I'd promised and a bit more shopping at the market.. Bill left me in the sweltering heat at the little market while he went off to get diesel. I made my way towards the little hospital and ended up stopping at the school on the way. I spoke to some kids as well as their very young teacher Georgina (with her baby) as they were cleaning up around the place for the end of year. I gave them a few books and fished out a little outfit for Georgina's baby. I looked at the student list and noticed a girls name 'Yolinda'. I said my sister is Yolanda and I'm Linda - what a co-incidence! Teenage girls here are quite shy and embarrassed by the smallest things and Yolinda didn't feel comfortable being the centre of attention. I left soon and began to walk towards the hospital. Along the way I bumped into David the Reources Officer we met the first day. He walked with me to the hospital and he told me many things about his life including his previous 'defacto ' marriage and 9 year old son he never sees. At the hospital I wandered past the Labour/Maternity ward and saw 2 young women and 2 tiny babies in their cribs. I gave them the baby clothes I had which I think they liked but seemed a bit shy about accepting. The photos of the kids I gave David to distribute. We went back past his house where I met his wife, sister and all the kids. I showed them photos and movies on my camera of our family in Townsville as well as our boat arriving at sunset into PNG. Even though PNG people are curious to some extent of our life I think they are quite happy with their lot. And why wouldn't they? They have everything they need , the land and sea is bountiful and they don't have to worry about where they live.
My biggest acquisition today was lobster! Talking to David's offsider about getting some lobster (crayfish) for dinner for my birthday he said he would get me some. He sent a boy off with my last 25kina and came back with 12 lobster tails! (A$12.50) I was quite pleased with this when I got back to the wharf to wait for Bill outside the Pearling office. The big Australian guy was there and I asked if we could buy some pearls. I said it was my 50th birthday and my husband hadn't bought me a present!!! Unfortunately he said he couldn't sell me any. As I was waiting on the bench a little boy came by. He said he had a pearl and held out a tiny one to me. He said he'd found it outside. I paid him 1 kina for it so now I have my pearl!!!!
After lunch we motored off across the bay to where we are now. During the afternoon many canoes came by selling/trading fruit, veges, woven baskets and shell necklaces. Bill did not have to move far to go shopping for me!!!! He was very impressed with the lobster tails and proceeded to marinate them in lime juice, garlic and herbs. Just as he was doing this another canoe came by offering more fresh lobster! We had to say no !! After a feast of grilled lobster, fresh cucumber ,cold champagne followed by mud cake we felt fully satisfied. It was the best birthday anyone could have. The stars are out. We can see camp fires on the beach and some occasional singing. We are indeed in paradise.
The People and Beetle nut and coconuts
5 December 2007
The people here are so nice and 'pushy' would be the last word to describe them. The first person who visited us in his canoe yesterday was a young man. He greeted us quietly and complimented the boat. Everyone seems in awe of it - especially when we say how many years it took to build and refurbish. In each instance when we meet someone we notice the red stains around their teeth and some cases the teeth literally ground to stumps from chewing beetlenut. I feel it is a shame because it detracts from the attractiveness of these people. Nearly everyone has red teeth - beautiful young women, older men, even Felix the customs man and his wife. The only people who didn't seem to be afflicted by beetlenut stains were David the Resource Officer and when I met his wife she had a lovely smile with white teeth. Even the school children chew beetlenut. I noticed on the classroom school rules that chewing beetlenut in class was forbidden. The beautiful young teacher also had red teeth and gums. For us it can be disconcerting. Yesterday we lost count how many canoes came by. After the young man there was a talkative grandfather. We traded baby clothes, books and some money for shell necklaces and hand woven baskets. Many shy children came by (with instructions from their parents I suspect) with coconuts, pineapples, chillies, little white fruit etc. We love the way the coconuts are prepared for drinking the juice. The outer skin is cut off except for a small area around the top with the vine like branch left on for carrying. When ready to drink the juice (to alleviate the 'big sun' as one man said) the top part is cut off and the little holes speared with a knife. The juice is delicious! Needless to say we traded for a few of these. Pity we didn't bring any rum to make pina coladas!
It's so nice to be here and we feel we are under a spell. A gentle breeze blowing over our faces as we woke this morning and fresh fruit salad for breakfast. We will be sailing about 20 miles today before we plan the next big leg of the journey.
Email to the children in Oz
03/12/2007, Samarai Island PNG
3 December 2007
Dear Caylan (also Geordi and Emma - thought you might like to hear about
> > the PNG children) also all the Melbourne kids - Isadora, Jack, Noah,
> > Otto,Tristan, Saskia. Also Chayse and Declan
> > I just got a message on the sat phone that you have sent me an email.
> > I have to write one before I try and connect because it takes a long
> > time sometimes and it is better to have the emails all ready.
> > I was going to tell you about the children here on Samarai island in
> > Papua New Guinea. They are beautiful children with brown skin and are
> > very happy. There are no cars on this island. The children stay on
> > the island which isn't very big. It's about the same size as
> > walking/riding around pt Cartwright. I see the children all the time
> > playing together without any mummies and daddies watching. There are
> > big kids and little kids always together swimming and jumping in the
> > water. Many of the little boys are naked! When we were at the beach
> > yesterday we watched the children play. No hats. no sunscreen. no toys
> > from the shops. no mummies and daddies watching. They were laughing
> > and splashing running in and out of the water. Some naked little boys
> > were laughing and rolling in the sand - even their faces! They looked
> > at us laughing so I said 'Dim-dims!". That's the name they have for us
> > white people! With the white sand sticking to their bodies they looked
> > white! The island is beautiful with lots of little coral beaches and
> > bright tropical flowers. Everything is really green and lush. The
> > families if they want to go anywhere have to paddle their canoe. The
> > canoes are carved out of logs from the trees on the island. Some
> > families have small motor boats. There is a school here but my little
> > friend Nelly who is 9 said she goes to school on another island by
> > boat. The families live in old houses made from tin and timber. There
> > are no fences and everyone goes wherever they want. Some houses have
> > beautiful views accross the water. I think they are very lucky.
> > When Pa and I went for a walk yesterday we met a little girl all by
> > herself who looked only a little bit older than you - maybe 6. She was
> > wearing a skirt by itself and some beads around her neck. She was
> > carrying a huge knife almost as big as a sword or dagger. She also had
> > a small piece of green fruit. I asked her what it was. She said
> > 'guava'. I think she is allowed to cut the fruit off the trees by
> > herself with the big knife!
> > Every time I see the children play I never see any mummies or daddies!
> > The big kids look after the little kids I think. They all know how to
> > swim. The children here don't have toys unless they make them
> > themselves out of what they find. One little boy had made a small boat
> > out of polystyrene ( some white foam from a rubbish trip probably). It
> > was really good and had something to balance it when he made it go in
> > the water with a string and a stick. There's no TV here. There used to
> > be a supermarket but it's closed and broken. There is only a small
> > tin shed called a trade store that sells boring things like soap, tins
> > of fish etc. When I was talking to a little girl called Nelly the other
> > day she asked me for hair clips. I didn't have much on the boat so the
> > next day I gave her what I had - as well as a necklace, a writing book
> > and pencil as well as prints of photos I had taken. She seemed really
> > surprised by all the things I gave her.
> > Today we are going to another island which won't have many people. I
> > will wake up on my birthday somewhere really beautiful. I feel really
> > lucky.
> > I miss you heaps. Caylan: I bet you are having a lovely time with Nanna and
> > pop. The baby will be here soon! How exciting!!!
> > Much much love always
> > Your loving Nanny (and Pa too - he's lazy reading on the bed.)
> Nanny Linda (or aunty Linda) and uncle Bill
LAND HO! Samarai Island Papua New Guinea
Samarai Island PNG
30 November 2007
We first sighted land at 1.10 pm. As we got closer to PNG we were greeted with a magnificent sunset. We could smell campfires and saw a couple of lights in the distance. This did not detract from the multitude of stars, one which reflected on the water. We had to motor all day so the sea was very calm. We celebrated our arrival in PNG waters with the Chandon bubbly saved for this day. One glass and the rest upon arrival.
Linda watched from the bow with the gentle warm air blowing over us whilst Bill navigated with the assistance of the chart plotter. As it got dark we turned the plotter on to night mode and peered ahead to make sure we wouldn't bump into anything. As we rounded Kwato Island (This is where the story of Sinabudalily originated - Vashti being a 'papuan meri' born here grew up with the book and now Caylan loves it) we could see a multitude of lights that was Samarai island. With the chart plotter, Alan Lucas' 30 yr old book and the more recent 'Dim dims and Dolphins' book we worked out where we were and where we should anchor. As we got closer to the township we looked for the correct anchorage as marked in the 2 books. What we didn't see was an unlit beacon right in front of us - phew! near miss. It really isn't a good idea to anchor somewhere unfamiliar in the dark. After 3 attempts (the first one , we caught an old car tyre in the anchor!) we finally anchored without moving with the tide or bumping into a boat at the wharf. By the looks of things we are the only yacht here so I expect we'll be on display tomorrow. A canoeist has already circled us a few times quietly in the dark. It is very quiet here and the boat is lovely and still. Time to go to bed and face civilisation tomorrow.
Our prior communication with immigration has been a bit vague (from PNG end) so we used the sat phone earlier today to ring customs here at Samarai. Bill spoke to him explaining who we were and when we would arrive. I heard him say at least 3 times that we can't send a fax because we are on a boat in the ocean. Bill said he seemed a bit confused. We have the quarantine flag up as well as the PNG one I made so I guess we'll be paid a visit tomorrow. It's Saturday so we'll probably have to pay overtime...From reading other cruisers logs a fellow called Felix is supposed to handle all the paper work. We are not allowed to leave the boat until customs, immigration and quarantine have checked us out. Hope we aren't ship bound until Monday!! There's a supermarket here and a P.O etc. We'll also need to buy fuel.
It feels strange to be in the middle of a small town when we've been at sea for nearly a week.
We couldn't face the tuna curry for the 3rd meal in a row so fed the fish with it and ate (you guessed it) tinned spaghetti bolognese instead accompanied by the rest of the Chandon.
Stay tuned for the next episode!
Saturday 1st December
> Samarai Island PNG
> We haven't been able to clear customs yet so we are marooned on the boat
> watching the local scenery.We phoned and radioed without success this
> morning. Bill rowed ashore to the wharf and spoke to 2 little girls who
> spoke perfect English. They said the customs man is on leave and that
> they saw our yellow flag and we were'nt allowed to leave the boat until
> our passports are stamped! They ran off and came back with a woman in her
> thirties who also spoke excellent English. She had tatoos on her cheeks
> and stumpy teeth with beetle nut stains. she told Bill that Felix the
> customs man is on compassionate leave to attend his brothers funeral in
> Moresby. He is due back this afternoon.
> Since we woke up we have been watching canoes and runabouts arriving from
> all directions from other islands to go to the market area we identified
> on the maps from Lucas and Kerr's books. All morning we have heard the
> sounds of a local band playing modern islander type music interspersed
> with speeches on a microphone. We are curious to know whether its a lcoal
> community council thing or religious (7th day adventists?). The scenery
> is lush and tropical. Samarai has a wharf, a pearl farm/production
> shed(I've given big hints for pearls for my 50th!!!haha), old tropical
> type dwellings made from timber and iron. What we can't see from the boat
> is a supermarket, P.O. etc.It is very hot and sticky. The locals seem
> friendly but I expect they aren't allowed near us until the yellow
> quarantine flag is gone. So in the meantime we are studying charts, books
> and cruisers logs to plan where to go next. ( and drink cold beer....)
> It really is so cool watching the locals get around paddling their canoes.
> Lots of happy sounds of laughter, music etc
> I wonder when Felix will arrive. Hope we don't have to wait on the boat
> until Monday!!!
> keep those emails/messages coming in. Connection is much improved since we
> put a cake tin under the small external antenna to serve as a ground
> plate! (Our helpful GMN guy Luis suggested it. He and his wife cruised
> for 10 years before starting up their business - ie compressed emails for
Sunday 2nd December 2007 Samarai Island
This morning we woke to the sound of 'church bells' - a gas cylinder being hit with something!
Yesterday we waited around on the boat drinking beer watching the locals going past in canoes to congregate at the end of the beach under some trees. Linda wanted to get off the boat after being on it for a week so we decided to become illegal immigrants and go ashore and say to anyone we met we were looking for Felix the customs officer. Bill rowed us over to the wobbly jetty attached to a decrepit wharf and we unofficially landed on PNG soil nearly 26 years after we left in 1982 with our infant daughter Vashti who was born in Moresby. We approached a couple of guys sitting nearby asking for the 'customs man'. Looking confused they pointed to a fellow walking towards the jetty with a small child in his arms. We approached this fellow who could speak beautiful English and he didn't know when Felix would be due back. The description Bill gave him of the woman he'd spoken to earlier matched his wife. This nice young man turned out to be David the Rural Development Officer with his little 2 year old girl Freda. Time seems to have no consequence here and David kindy showed us where the customs office is. It's a tin shed with an old dilapidated house behind it (Felix's house). David seemed in no hurry for us to go and seemed to indicated that it was ok for us to wander around. Bill talked to him for ages. David has a tropical agriculture degree which he gained in New Britain. He said that developers have tried to do something with the land and islands around here but it's too difficult to prove who owns the land. It's complex and has belonged to families forever and there's nothing on paper. The cute little tropical island opposite us was purchased by the ex prime minister however.
As Linda wanted to stretch her legs a little she left Bill chatting to David and wandered over towards the end of the jetty. She said hello to a small group of children and sat on a bench. The oldest girl who said she was 9 and called Nelly spoke beautiful English and referred to white people as 'dim-dims'. She talked a lot about the island saying there were 38 children at the local school and they had their lessons in English. More children joined our little group. The smallest little girl with a serious face is called Joyette. I took some photos which I promised to give prints of the next day. Nelly asked if I had any hairclips. I said sorry but I didn't think to bring any. Thinking of the huge pile of beaded jewelry on board I asked if she would like some necklaces. She said yes. I asked if the smaller children would like some picture books which I had brought with me (ones thrown out by Currimundi kindy where I used to work in OZ) She said 'yes'. After a while we walked further down the dirt road (no cars - just people wandering around and a couple of pushbikes). It was a pity we missed the market earlier in the morning but we were being good not breaking the rules! The supermarket referred to in 'Dolphins and Dim-dims' book is no longer - just a derelict shed. There was a small tin trade store just like we remembered when we were in PNG in the 80s selling basics such as flour, soap, tins etc. A small church had its door open. Peeking inside it looked clean and orderly even if it needed a coat of paint (as the whole place does!)
There's a pearling industry here run by a big Aussie 'who drinks all the time' according to David. He lives above the office and was leaning out the window when he said 'hi' to us. Still feeling concerned that we still hadn't 'cleared in' he said not to worry about it and that we didn't look like we were bringing in any diseases.
The children here have a simple life with no adults constantly supervising there every move. A bunch of kids mostly boys with the youngest no bigger than Caylan (about 4-5 yrs) were jumping off the decrepit jetty into the water. This jetty has big rotten pieces of timber sticking out everywhere. In fact the smallest child was balancing on a piece of wood that was perched at a 45 degree angle and used it as a gang plank. No safety rules or pool fences here. The water is deep so the kids must all be pretty good at swimming.
The wind suddenly picked up from the west and we observed Valiam bouncing about in suddenly choppy water. (It was calm before) As we went back down towards the dinghy the floating pontoon that we had to get on to was further away - in fact a huge leg stretch that Linda wasn't keen on. One of the boys who Linda had been talking to pulled the jetty closer and after she said 'Thank you' he reminded us of the photos the next day. It was a wet and bouncy hard row for Bill against the tide and wind to get back to the boat. Just as the strong wind and choppy waves appeared from nowhere it disappeared again making the harbour calm once more. At the far end past the wharf is a long timber jetting with a couple of outhouses ("long drops') perched over the sea. They must be the public toilets marked on the map! Watching the passing traffic of canoes and runabouts we noticed a huge power boat come towards the island. As it anchored on the other side of the 'long drop', we noticed it had a helicopter on its roof! Not long after that 2 large dinghies with outboards full of people visited the island taking photos. The helicopter then took off taking a few people for an aerial tour no doubt. After a quick visit ( an hour?) they went back to the boat and disappeared again into the sunset no doubt getting dressed in their cabins while the chefs prepare their horsdouvres.... It seemed quite incongruous in this simple laid back setting. It must be a rich persons 'wilderness tour' of PNG?
Still needing to catch up on sleep we slept soundly last night.
Today we plan to go for a walk around the island again, find the kids (or they will find us) to give them the photos and presents. We don't expect to be officially cleared in until Monday. The yellow quarantine flag is still flying!
125 miles from PNG
29th November 125nm from Samarai Is PNG
Position : 12.26 S 149.46 E
Its hot and sticky. We are definitely in the tropics. We motored most of today. No wind. We had an exciting start to the day however
Our sleep patterns are crazy due to one of us being on watch all the time. It's about 11am,no wind, sails flapping, motor droning. The sea is almost glassy. Our eta in PNG is more likely Saturday now.
Bill has just handed me a cold pure blonde beer in my favourite hot pink stubby cooler with a mermaid and Byron bay on it. I like beer with slice of lime now, especially sailing.
It was so exciting early this morning when I looked behind the boat and saw a fish on the line. I pulled it most of the way in and it wasn't hard as it had been there a little while so had drowned. I woke Bill "A fish! Afish!".( We had put out Phil's home made lure which was cut out from a piece of aluminium. We weren't sure it would catch a fish because it looked like a disabled fish that couldn't swim. Bill said the tuna must have been a really stupid one to think it was a real fish!) Bleary eyed he said 'It's a tuna!" and began cutting it open getting the blood and guts out. I can't watch this bit so I looked at the seafood cookbook Robyn gave us instead. There are 5 recipes for tuna so our biggest decision is how to cook it for the next 3-4 meals.(Bill cut it up in steaks, chunks and fillets)
Breakfast : tuna steaks fried in a little olive oil and salt & pepper. Serve with lemon wedges.
Lunch : 1. Tuna Sashimi with soy and wasabi.
slice tuna in thinslices
combine wasabi and mirin (I brought with us all these ingredients but wasabi not much left)
Stir in soy sauce and place in dipping bowl
place tuna on large serving plate with dipping sauce. Serve with chopsticks
suggested wine : unoaked chardonnay
2.Tuna tartare (CRASH! Boat rolling. My favourite small serving plate broken on floor! Didn't put plastic plates in front cos boat was steady before. I said some rude words)
onions, capers,parsely (have dried),olives, lemon juice,cucumber (will have to pickled intin) lemon wedges
Dinner: Kawati Fish Stew with black limes (thanks to Ruth for spices and recipes from Herbies - she hasn't got email so I
will send a card from PO in Samarai)
several spices, garlic, tomatoes (will use either sundried or tinned), onions, large green chilli, coriander leaves (have some in a tube) tomato paste, water, 2 tableps flour
Tomorrow :Aromatic Fish curry
Sound good? You probably aren't as keen on raw fish but fresh tuna is excellent.
Rolling around a bit now. Better take a seasick pill......to think there was a cyclone right here a week or so ago...
I started making the PNG flag yesterday with material, craft glue and sewing. The bird of paradise looks demented and the stars are wonky but never mind.
We are pretty happy living in our cocoon. It feels like a space ship at times but we are very comfortable. The only thing that is a real bother is the mast rattles and squeaks when we are sailing. As it as the foot of the bed in the main cabin it prevents the captain from sleeping. He's even talking about chopping it off at deck level.......
I've started reading my aunt Nancy's book 'Rhythms and cycles'. It's quite philosophical and just the right sort of book to read when in a meditative state of mind. It explores different religions, emotional health etc. Nancy said she would meet us in Europe. I wouldn't mind turning our trip into a book and I thought Nancy might help me. I know we were constantly looking for books about cruising....lets see....
I love Annika's words especially 'Bugger' for kookaburra!! Darlings your children are so precious to me - We opened Caylan's letters she wrote us as we sailed away from Townsville.I had a lump in my throat and felt that emotional pull that almost makes my tummy feel like it's tied in knots. I will miss them so much but this adventure is something we must do. I will be able to tell them lots of funny stories for years when I become and old Nanny in a rocking chair!
I am so happy to have the sat phone for communication. We haven't tried phoning on it yet but I am assuming it works. There have been a couple of call attempts but failed. I know Bill's father tried to ring and my brother Roy said there's a sat phone at the fire station. The signal sometimes weakens which is what happens when I email it takes a few goes. If you ever need to ring and it cuts out just keep trying. We've attached the car aerial that came with it through the toilet hatch which seems to have improved the signal.
Our GMN friend Luis says we really should have an external aerial with a particular type of cable. We did get one when we bought the phone but couldn't get a cable for it. We'll address this next time we are near a city.
I have to plug the computer into the data cable attached to the sat phone and keep trying till it connects. Fist it sends mail then receives. The receiving seems to take longer and takes a couple of goes. I am so glad we bought a spare lap top as it is the one that works. The original one seems to have a fault which can't be fixed until Philippine, Malaysia or Oz when we fly home. We are not sure when we will fly home. Probably Jan - Feb to see our new grandson. He's due next week! So is my 50th birthday....
I'll send this then start preparing the tuna.
I did prepare the above recipes. We felt like kings. Delicious!!!
We think that our timing for arrival may be not the best - most likely in the dark tomorrow night . This is not a good idea in a strange place we haven't been before. Anchoring in PNG will be challenging as the charts are not that detailed and typically there is very deep water abruptly becoming shallow with big tides too. We have Alan Lucas' original book of PNG from the 80s which is useful as well as 'Dim Dims and Dolphins'. Both have detailed drawings of anchorages.
More emails along the way:
28 Nov 2007
We are almost half way there! It's so cool to type and send emails from the middle of the ocean. It's not as easy as at the marina. At first we thought it wouldn't work at all but it does on the 2nd hand spare laptop we bought the day before we left! Lucky.... It's connected to the sat phone with a cable going up through the hatch with a little flat thing that sits on the roof of the cabin. It's meant for 4wd cars going to the outback. We have to wait for full strength signal before we hit 'go!". Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. It requires a lot of patience but hey I don't have a lot to do out here except cook the captains meals and give him cold beer! I do occasionally hold the tiller and pull on a rope. Night shift out here was wearying last night. The wind was much stronger than during the day. The main cabin with our new rubber/latex top of the range queen size bed became a trampoline as Valiam punched through the waves. There is also an annoying noise rattling in the mast which Bill can't stand. So last night we had catnaps in the main cabin. The narrow bunk which was roomy for Caylan was a bit like an ironing board! The spare quarter berth needs rearranging because when Bill tried to sleep in there he had my art easel and guitar for company.
Whilst we weren't heeling yesterday we had a nice cold shower on the stern. Bill took sneaky pictures which I promply deleted!! I'm glad I am the communications officer!
Townsville to PNG
28 November 2007
Our current position 14.21 S 149.28 E (I meant to buy Caylan a globe or map of the world!) It's been a comfortable day with no motoring. A smoother ride tonight hopefully without bouncing off the bed!! I started making the flag for PNG today using the materials I bought from Spotlight. The bird of paradise is hard! Mine looks a bit strange... It's a courtesy to fly the country's flag that you are visiting. (as well as our own Aussie flag so we are identified) Bill says we might get to PNG late Friday. Knowing us it will be knock off time and we'll have to pay extra! A fellow called Felix is supposed to clear yachts in as well as half the village apparently! I'm looking forward to the excitement of arriving. Hopefully the locals wont hang around too long as we will need some sleep!
Tonight we had another Prodin meal which was delicious- sweet and sour chicken(I added fresh capsicum). These meals are in sealed containers and taste better than tins. We've used the last of the fresh salad items apart from cabbage. I wish I had bought more apples as they keep quite well and are nice to eat if feeling a bit 'off'
We watched a movie Tequila Sunrise with Mel Gibson with a cold beer. It's hot in the middle of the day. Heath, the small electronic pilot lis doing a great job keeeping us right on course for Samarai Island. We'll be crossing the shipping lanes about midnight tonight so we will have to keep even more of a sharp lookout. The kitchen timer is set with an alarm every 15-20 minutes. It's quite hard getting up this often in the wee hours when either dozing or watching a movie. Worse than getting up to a baby!
I've been experimenting with sea sick pills and travacalm is definitely the best. Avomine makes me very sleepy and extremely thirsty with a funny taste in my mouth. Quells are ok but if I am doing computer stuff or have my head down in the galley I still feel sick. With travalcalm I can do anything.We'll start taking the malaria pills tomorrow too.
Coral Sea (about where the cyclone Guba was a week or so ago!)
28 Nov 2007
Our eating habits have changed whilst sailing to some extent to include tinned spaghetti on the menu. Although I take sea sick pills the spaghetti helps. (must be something in it that lines the stomach!) Fishing hasn't been successful on this leg of the journey so last night we had chicken curry from a longlife sealed container that we just heat in (sea) water. These meals seem to taste better than tins. We have so much food on board, I think we have enough for several years! Because it's hot we tend to drink beer. (I now have this with a slice of lime) I haven't felt like champagne whilst sailing. We bless our refrigerated ice box!
My little cappucino maker is great but it doesn't really froth longlife milk - how terrible!
Valiam is presently cruising at 6 knots and the wind is SE 5-10 knots. Yesterday and the day before we motorsailed most of the day. The drone of the engine isn't as peaceful as just sailing and it's pointless playing music.
We love being out here. The sea is so blue and glides along under us with a soft swishy sound. Yesterday we had a close look at Flora reef. The sea over the reef is a gorgeous turquise colour not unlike Valiam's hull. All we'll see for the next few days is the changing moods of the ocean and sky. We did have a bird try and hitch a ride. It was trying to perch on the mast which Bill wasn't happy about because there is a wind instrument p there which is rather delicate. I have taken lots of photos an movies (how unusual). The sunset last night was fantastic - a big glowing orange ball sinking into the glistening sea
27 Nov 2007
We are just about to go through Holmes Reefs and are about 1/3 of the way there. We had a close look at Flora Reef. Beautiful aquamarine water with a few breaking waves in the middle of the ocean. Gorgeous to look at. We've been motorsailing a lot today - very light winds. I suppose the SE will be here soon. No luck with fishing even near the reef.
We are going well but fairly tired. We only manage short naps here and there. I've almost finished reading a book so the saesick pills are working.
I better prepare for PNG by making a courtesy flag with my sewing thins. I don't know how I'll go sewing on a bird of Paradise! At least Palau is just a blue ball on yellow.
It's hot outside - we had a cold shower in the cockpit! Bill has enjoyed looking at the reefs with his binoculars perched at the front of the boat.
The small tiller pilot is working well so so far we haven't needed the big expensive hard to install autopilot we didn't buy.
Lucky we bought a spare lap top because our original one has a problem with receiving mail. It's blue skies out here. Not much wind. We're a bit sweaty and smelly so we might rig up a shower today.We've both had only about 2 hours sleep + 15 minute catnaps when on watch. We ate the last of the fresh meat last night so we'll put the line out but I think it's too deep out here but maybe there's some fish near Holmes reef and Flora reef 20 miles away which may give us our dinner.
Current position 1710.9South 14740East
We got our first saildoc weather forecast last night after hours of trying. I hate to think what our internet bill will be like. Typing messages for us is easier on the computer. The sat phone takes ages.
Skipper is getting frustrated with lack of wind - fickle 8 knots.....
26 November 2007
We are well and so is Valiam. She is presently sailing along nicely. 15knots NE. She's healing a bit so I am wedged in with cushions with grippy mat under the computer. Email worked last night only after we reinstalled the program on the spare second hand laptop we bought just before we left. It's tricky getting a signal poking the sat phone antenna up near the hatch while connected to the computer with a cable.
We left Palm island this morning at 8.30am. It is now 9pm and we have passed the barrier reef. position 17.57 S 147 E. We've seen a couple of ships but didn't catch a fish. We motored for most of the day due to light northerly (5 knots) The small auto tiller pilot did a greatjob connected to the wind vane. I have christened him Heath (aka Robinson!) Bill pulled the anchor winch apart greased her up and put it back together so hopefully it will work when we get to Samarai.
We are more relaxed today (our 30th wedding anniversary) and have both had a small nap. We are eating well - had to polish off the rest of the bread as it was already going mouldy. The cold Chandon is waitingtill we get to Samarai.
The conditions seem pretty good. Thanks kids for the weather update - we may need you assistance again. If this email works we should get free info from saildocs free weather service.
With all the babies being born in both families we will definitely have to fly back to view them all and make appropriate comments "he's go my nose. He's got Bill's eyes etc etc hahaha
Bit tired. Hope this works.
Holmes Reef 30th wedding anniversary
26 November 2007 outside the Great Barrier Reef (no land in sight!)
Position: 17.48 S 147.19E
Our 30th wedding anniversary today. How nice to be out here and not working! We watched the islands disappear after long time including Hinchinbrook where have ad many happy holidays bushwalking and sailing small boats in the past.
We had more luck tonight and last night receiving emails. The connection to the satellite needs improving! We used the little car aerial tonight waiting for full reception before clicking 'GO". It usually cuts out before it receives but we had some success after 2 hours of intermittent trying. The boat is heeling at the moment so it takes 2 of us carrying the laptop connected to the sat phone and aerial with cables dangling everywhere to find the best position. We finally got a weather report from saildocs. It would have been cheaper to phone the bureau in Oz! I'm sure we'll get the hang of it. It's great to be able to use the technology but not so great when it doesn't work and you are relying on it! It's fantastic to get emails in the middle of the ocean when they finally do come through. It makes one appreciate them more....
We motored most of today as the winds were light (NE 5 knots) past Pith and Kelso reefs. Now it's about 15 knots so we are sailing very nicely at about 6 knots with the mainsail reefed. I have christened the little tiller auto pilot Heath because it looks like a heath robinson device attached to the wind self steering. I admire the way Bill works things out and solves problems. He also pulled apart the anchor winch whilst conditions were calm, greased it up and put it back together. Hopefully it wont get stuck when we are in PNG because we will be doing a lot of anchoring.
The months and years of planning and we are finally here. The ocean is much kinder today than the night we arrived in Townsville. A gentle breeze to cool us down waiting to catch a fish but alas none today. We ate the last fresh meat (mince) as burgers with the last cucumber and 2nd last loaf of bread. (It goes mouldy very quickly) We have several thousand packets of biscuits/crackers on board as well as flour if we feel inclined to bake. (which we don't at the moment.
Our provisioning should last months even years for some items! We filled 2 trolleys at the supermarket before we left which created some interest: " Do you live on an island?" after noticing hundreds of long life milk containers, reams of toilet paper etc. It feels good to be loaded up with all that we could possibly need and more. Maybe we could set up a trade store in PNG??!!
It's a full moon tonight shining on the water. It is just amazing to look around and just see the sea all around glistening in the moonlight. The stars seem brighter out here too. We have a little kitchen timer set to sound a beeping alarm every 15 minutes for whoever is on watch. We saw some ships earlier in the day near the reefs but none tonight. Ships are always a worry. We are so small in comparison and even though sailing boats should have right of way I doubt very much ships would alter their course. One ship was on a collision course with us today so Bill slowed the boat down. 15 minutes is just enough time to check if any ships come over the horizon.
Oh there is another thing to fix - some of the bolt holes leak drops of water on the starboard side. We only noticed today as we are sailing to windward for the first time since Mooloolaba and splashes go along the decks.
It's a beautiful peaceful place to be out at sea. We are lucky we can take our home with us wherever we go..
Palm Island Queensland
PALM ISLAND NorthEast Bay 25 November 2007
Position: 18.44 S 146.38 E
We are almost ready to throw gadgetry away!! After spending many hours on computers (we have 2 on board now) setting up email through the satellite phone we have belatedly discovered that we can't receive emails just send them. The signal from the sat phone changes so in the meantime when the minutes are ticking away ($2.16 per minute) and it cuts out with all these error messages with codes ---aaaaarrrggghhh! We have even been smsing our contact in USA for the service. He says there is a problem with our communications port. As we have decided to do this instead of a radio we have to get it working. In the meantime we have sent sms messages to our kids in the hope they will be able to give us weather up dates.
We had a beautiful sail here - light E-SE winds. Actually one gadget did work today. The little tiller autopilot worked in light winds strapped to the self steering wind vane. It should be good when there's no wind and we have to motor.
The anchorage here is a bit rolly and we are breaking the rules by being on a lee shore. (wind from east) Bill was a bit unhappy as the anchor chain is stuck in the winch and it is difficult to let out more chain. He thinks it may have received a jolt at Pancake creek when the anchor clip broke and the wind was against the tide. We did hear a nasty thump and the starboard bow has gouges in the paint.
Vashti Craig and Caylan came for breakfast to say goodbye. We had a bit of champagne and splashed some on the bow as we were leaving. We could see them waving from the shore and Vashti later text messaged me to say Valiam looked beautiful sailing off.
At least the satellite phone sends/receives messages. We haven't made/received calls yet. We hope the lows around the place wont develop. Just got a message from the kids saying all fine and winds not too strong.
The best thing we can do is enjoy sailing and not worry too much about gadgetry unless they are necessary for survival.
We have a lovely comfortable bed as we decided to splash out on a wonderful mattress with layers of latex/rubber etc that moulds to ones body. Bill had to do some woodwork to make it fit - queen size mattress!!!! I call it a princess bed as it is so comfortable and soft. It is calling me now. Good night!!!
Townsville 21 November
We have had a really nice holiday in Townsville seeing the family and eating out at all the restaurants along the Strand. The cyclone has finally gone so we are aiming to leave for PNG in the next few days.
Townsville is a busy progressive city with lots of construction and development going on. We noticed that there are more young people out and about than the Sunshine coast (where there seems to be a predominance of retirees). We went out for dinner on a Monday night and were lucky to get a table. It was as busy as a Saturday on the Sunny coast.
Bill's parents came for a visit for a few days which meant we spent lots of quality time with them and Vashti, Caylan and Craig. It was so special to have 4 generations together. Caylan's kindergarten teacher was amazed when we all trooped in to pick her up! Bill's parents Peter and Gwen stayed in a motel right on the Strand overlooking the water and Magnetic Island only a stone's throw from the Marina. They managed to get on the boat and we had a lovely lunch pouring over charts of where we are going. We were so pleased they made the effort to come. Peter is 80 and Gwen in her 70s. Peter booked the tickets on the internet but made a small error with the departure time this morning. Thinking we had plenty of time to get them to the airport (we were in 2 cars) imagine our surprise when Bill phone to say they were about to board in 10-15 mins (half an hour earlier than they thought) when Vashti and Linda were still on the road...... Vashti is 2 weeks off giving birth so finds it difficult to run! Linda remembered to remove her tweezers from her purse in the car knowing that would be a hold up at security. As we got to security we bumped into Peter, Gwen and Bill. With 5-10 minutes to go poor Granny (Gwen) got chosen for an explosives test! Gwen who is not known for hurrying proceeded to have a 'chat' with the explosives officer about time and daylight saving. She needed to visit the Ladies before boarding so Grandpa (Peter) decided to go ahead to let them know at the gate that Granny would be there soon. Vashti and I went with Grandpa to the gate to see the tail end of the queu disappearing into the plane with 2 agitated airline staff waiting for Granny and Grandpa. 'Where is she?' Grandpa says she will be here soon. A few more minutes and the fellow with the fluro vest and walky talky was getting more agitated. Very pregnant Vashti went off to find Granny. She finally appeared. The airline man said 'You must hurry Mrs A!" Poor Granny tried her best to walk faster. Quick hugs and kisses and then their boarding passes wouldn't work in the machine! The less agitated airline lady fixed the problem and off they went......
Bill's role is constantly changing. Yesterday he was a plumber - the toilet got blocked.......needed a new pipe....the old one had calcified with unmentionable something..... Today he, with the assistance of Admin/Communications officer Linda was a computer technician. We have spent a lot of time on the computer lately. We have now signed up with an American company who have provided us with software/programs to quickly/easily use the internet at sea with the satellite phone. Their support and communications with us have been wonderful - answering our silly questions and assisting us on weekends and evenings within minutes. Our contact person already feels like a friend! I wish I could say the same for our Australian phone company with whom we have had to deal with through a call centre in India........
Now Bill is a sailor preparing ropes on deck. Linda is still the Communications officer. Our roles are fairly clearly defined depending on our level of skills in that particular area. I think it's fairly balanced. Provisioning, storage, organizing domestic/personal affairs seem to fall into Linda's area while technical/physical workings of the boat is Bill's domain. In some ways it's a more traditional partnership with the skipper having ultimate responsibility of the 'ship'.
We have a couple of parcels waiting for us at the Post Office - spare wind foils we ordered (to replace the one that broke on the self steering vane the night we arrived), more charts and software to help us load the electronic ones on to the lap top.
We have to do lots more shopping including a spare laptop, new harness clips and line, a more comfortable mattress for our bed (FIRM foam!), and lots more bits and pieces as well as more BEER! (and a bit more food)
We've heard that customs may come down to the boat but I don't think they are far away to stamp our passports. We're booked into the Marina until Friday but we'll extend until Saturday. A sailors tale says we must never leave on a Friday!! Instead we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary and Linda's 50th birthday (again!!)
Not long now. It seems whenever we are in port we get caught up in a huge amount of jobs and errands/shopping to do........... It's great cyclone Guba has gone. We've read some more stuff on the internet about Samarai and where to go from there. Kavieng (New Ireland) seems the best spot to leave PNG from for Palau. It was surprising to find out that there are resorts there and boats that take surfing /sailing safaris. Jesse Martin ('Lionheart')runs trips from his catamaran there. Linda found a treehouse place that looked delightful and jokingly said to Bill that it would be a great place to have her 50th birthday. (Would we get there by 4th December?!!!!)
Stay tuned. Thanks everyone for your messages to our Iridium phone and calls while in Townsville. We appreciate your support of our adventure. Linda's aunt Nancy in New York who is an established author suggested writing a book....... Lets see if our journey is interesting enough to others!!!!
Until next time. All is well on board Valiam
Wave dumped in Valiam's cabin!
14/11/2007, Whitehaven to Townsville Australia
Wednesday 14 November 2007
We arrived yesterday at 11.52am after a rigorous overnight sail. We left Whitehaven beach at approx 10am with overcast weather and SE winds. Passing the islands we were able to get mobile phone connection outside Hayman where we had a quick conversation with Vashti our daughter. The winds were directly behind us which made it difficult for the wind vane to steer the boat. Bill put up 'butterfly' sails again which worked well. Later in the afternoon the winds increased so he took down the jib keeping up the staysail. We were still averaging 7 knots. As it got dark and further into the evening the seas became larger and the wind continued to increase. It was getting more diificult for the wind vane to keep its course and we had a few obstacles and islands to avoid. There was no sleep for either of us that night. Linda made endless cups of tea and we nibbled gingernut biscuits. Everything always seems worse at night and the conditions were challenging. Still getting used to the electronic chart plotter we found it difficult to trust it completely but looking back it really made navigating easier in the dark. The wind and waves increased and Linda was scared to look at the big waves coming up behind the boat. At around 11pm Linda was standing in the saloon when a huge waterfall of water came down the companionway into the cabin. Normally a very dry boat we were both in shock. Bill was standing in the companionway when it happened. He saw 2 waves build up upon one another before the last one decided to dump itself on us. Standing in ankle deep water we immediately put in the wash boards (now we know to do that in a huge following sea) and Bill proceeded to pump out the bilge. We rolled up the soggy carpet and put it in the cockpit. The rest of the night wasn't much fun. Bill handsteered most of the way. As we approached Townsville the winds died down a little but we were still sailing along at around 6 knots with just the staysail. We phoned Breakwater Marina and made sure there was a berth for us. The water in the bay outside Townsville was choppy and murky not like the blue clean water were used to. Bleary eyed we negotiated our way to the fuel dock and were very lucky that a helpful fellow took our lines. Valiam is now ensconced in F finger at the Marina. It's noisy with dredging works and we have a lovely view of Jupiters casino. We will now be concentrating on getting the jobs done to improve things before go offshore again. We were disheartened to see a big Low hovering over the Coral sea. Knowing we have left it late to go north we will have to wait for a weather window to get to PNG then the northern hemisphere as soon as possible.
We spent the evening with our daughter and family. Our granddaughter Caylan was excited to see us pick her up from kindy. After catching up on much needed sleep we will start attacking the jobs we have to do today.
All is well on board Valiam
Monday 12th November 2007
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday islands 20.17S 149.03E
After almost a week at sea we are finally beginning to relax. We enjoyed another enjoyable sailing day with the wind behind. Linda can now read without getting sea sick - still downing 'travacalm' every 4 hours or so. Bikini weather and gourmet lunch. As we had the rest of the fish to eat for dinner (marinating in coconut milk and spices) we ate the Spirit house' meal which had defrosted (famous Thai restaurant on sunshine coast). Duck dumplings in red curry with cold beer. We eat better on board then we did on land! Just before coming in to here before Solway pass, the waves were nasty, confused and had breaking crests when Bill had to take down the poled out jib. Linda was a bit worried as usual when he is out on the foredeck especially as the harnesses need replacing. It got a bit tangled but he didn't have to cut the ropes this time and no expletive language either!
We had the tide with us coming in which mad for a beautiful entrance into Whitehaven. Although a couple of tourist boats were there they soon left taking their passengers back to their resort. The beach is long with white white sand. The vegetation is wild and mystical always with swirling dark clouds behind. The weather is always windy, gusty with occasional showers here in the Whitsundays. We have visited the Whitsundays many times before camping or sailing small boats when the children were small. It is luxury to be here on 45ft Valiam with only ourselves to please.
We launched the dinghy and got to shore without getting wet. It was only our second time off the boat in a week! A charter catarmaran is also here anchored only a couple of metres from the beach. A large ex racing boat(70ft) now full of tourist/backpackers (Bill counted 26) named Boomerang came in at sunset. The anchorage was a bit rolly but not too bad. We both got some reasonable sleep. Today we are going to keep heading north until we get to Townsville. It will take around 24 hours if all goes well. It will be good to see our granddaughter Caylan, our daughter Vashti and hubbie Craig there. Bill has brought 2 baby hoop pine trees for them. They have even appeared on deck whilst at anchor previously for fresh air and rain! We are grateful for the continuing southeasterly winds.
Mooloolaba to Middle Percy Island Australia
Sunday 11th November 2007
Scawfell Island 20.51S 149.35E
We left early yesterday at 6.22am from Middle Percy knowing we had a long day ahead of us to get to Scawfell Is. Middle Percy is very pretty and the typical image of a tropical island. Linda made coffee below whilst the skipper motored out. Bill put the jib and staysail up at the front like butterfly wings (no pole) and we stayed like that all day. It was the most beautiful day we had so far sailing - very easy, relaxing with blue skies. We passed several islands and could finally see Scawfell in the distance. We averaged about 5 knots and Bill was so relaxed he didn't feel the need to go faster by putting more sail up. Bill put the lure out at some stage during the day and around 4pm Linda was lulled away from her trashy novel by "It's a little fish!!" Bill pulled on board a "small" spotted mackerel less than .5m. It flapped around in the cockpit making it fishy and slimey and then dribbled blood when Bill stabbed it with his swiss army knife. Yuk! Our first 'fruit de mer'. After cleaning and filleting our fish we had enough for at least 2 meals.
We finally got to Scawfell about 8pm watching a gorgeous sunset on the way. We could see several boats including a fishing boat lit up like a Christmas tree. Even with the chart plotter, depth sounder and Lucas' book it was difficult to see where the best place to anchor. It looked like the other boats had the best spots. We eventually dropped anchor in 10 m of water a bit further out than the other boats. There's nothing worse than drifting towards other boats in the middle of the night. Linda made coleslaw with the last of the fresh cabbage and Bill cooked the fish in butter. Delicious with a freshly squeezed lime! (and cold white Semillon) This morning we woke to wind howling around us and discovered we were anchored in the worst spot where the wind funnels through a gap between 2 hills. (Too lazy to move we pored over what little charts are available on PNG whilst enjoying freshly made espresso coffee with our you beaut capaucino maker which works on the gas stove) We are not sure where we are going today apart from towards Townsville and where the wind will work best for us - somewhere in the Whitsundays. Life on board Valiam is very comfortable and we enjoy all the little luxuries we have become used to on land. We even had a warm shower in the cockpit last night using our solar shower and big plastic bathtub. (not that this is a luxury but a necessity as far as Linda is concerned)
Friday 9th November 2007
Middle Percy Island 21.39S 150.14E
We have finally arrived in paradise! After a grueling night particularly for Bill navigating at night trying to stay on course using the new electronic chart plotter through islands and protruding rocks we greeted the morning with blue skies and sunshine arriving at this delightful island at 11.30am. Alan Lucas describes this anchorage as 'abominable' in his Cruising the Coral coast book for rolly conditions. We are finding it anything but 'abominable'. It is paradise! We have the place to ourselves with gorgeous clear turquoise water (matching Valiam's hull) white sand beach and swaying palms. West Bay is famous for it's 'yachtie museum' of memorabilia of yachts and crew who have passed through in the last 50 years. Just back from the beach is an A frame structure filled with items placed by yachts over the years with names, dates, comments etc. We placed a purple 'Valiam' shirt with our names and today's date written on it hanging amongst the myriad of other interesting items including paintings, carvings, bras, plastic eagle, life jackets, champagne bottles, flags etc etc. It was eerie seeing evidence of so many people on yachts who had been there yet we were there entirely on our own.
After a nap and catching the sunset over the little islands opposite, we enjoyed a steak for dinner with fresh salad and cold white wine. We felt very lucky sitting under the stars while Valiam gently bobbed on her anchor. Tomorrow we will leave early for Skawfell island, the southern end of the Whitsundays.
Thursday 8th November 2007 at sea north of Gladstone
We were trying to leave last Saturday but due to numerous jobs yet to be done to the boat and the winds blowing from the north we didn't leave our home port until Monday 5th November 3pm.
With a fresh SE wind behind us all the way we sailed until Wednesday 7th November arriving Pancake creek at 9.30 am. (position 2400.559S 15144.29 E)
We experienced a few mishaps along the way as Valiam and her crew got used to one another again. Afterall we hadn't been out at sea since January. At one stage the jib got tangled around the furler so Bill had to cut off the ropes and stow her down below. The Fleming self steering wind vane is marvelous but sometimes doesn't work as well with the wind from straight behind. We had some problems with the electrics blowing fuses several times. As the marine electrician wasn't available before we left Bill did the wiring himself. The new chart plotter is marvelous as we only had a hand held GPS and paper charts before. We still have small scale paper charts and pilot books so if the plotter fails we can still work out where we are.
We sailed around Fraser Island until we got to Pancake creek. This was 2 nights at sea with Bill and Linda doing approximately 3 hour shifts. We have a little kitchen timer that we set with an alarm every 20 minutes to stick our heads out and check for ships. Bill prefers to doze and check things while Linda does movie marathons on the lap top. It has been rainy and overcast the whole trip so the solar panels haven't been able to charge the electrics much. We anchored just inside the beginning of the channel with a beautiful view of a little sandy beach with a palm grove. We celebrated our first anchorage with a chilled bottle of wine and chicken curry. It was too rainy and windy to go ashore. The new anchor (Manson supreme) worked well but we heard a nasty jolt in the middle of the night when the wind was against the tide. The clip that holds down the anchor chain is broken so we will have to fix that in Townsville among other things.
This morning Bill put the jib pole out and we put the repaired jib back on the furler. We currently have the jib poled out on the port side and the staysail on the starboard side. We are cruising along quite nicely trying to stay on course. The staysail keeps flapping and so far the wind vane corrects the boat and the staysail goes back out where it should be. Occasionally a big wave makes us slew sideways and one got us both wet! When we are surfing down a wave we go 9+ knots averaging 7.5 knots.
The new satellite phone with Iridium (Motorola 9505A) has been fantastic for sms messages to family and friends to keep in touch. We asked Vashti our daughter to text us an up to date weather report which we received immediately. So far we have been able to reply to sms messages sent to us but not so successful at sending new ones. Family and friends can send us a free message up to 160 characters long by logging on to the www. iridium.com website. All they have to do is type in our satellite phone number and we receive the message on our phone immediately. This is free for them and costs (I think) 65c for us to reply. I have received one message from a mobile phone but this is not guaranteed. (sat phone people said 1 in 5 success) Vashti has also received a message I sent to her mobile. As time goes on we will learn how to use all the facilities it is capable of. We have yet to connect the data cable and modem to access the internet. As this costs $2.16 a minute (for us to make voice calls too) and the internet will be very slow we will only use it for important stuff (like the weather). We are looking into a service that filters out all the rubbish that comes with websites and emails so that we only receive text. So far we have only discovered one GMN which is based in the USA.
We are quite comfortable and have all we need on board - cappuccino maker, cold wine/beer, adequate communications, flushing loo etc. Linda has to keep taking seasick pills every 4 hours.
The motion of the boat with the wind behind is a bit wallowy and the seas are a reasonable size at present.
We are aiming for Scawfell Island at the southern part of the Whitsunday Islands. We may also stop at Pearl Bay before then depending on how we are going and how tired we get. We should get to Townsville the middle of next week.
All well and happy on board Valiam
Monday 5th November 3pm
Waiting for William
03/11/2007, Kawana waters Marina
We were going to leave today but (a) Bill hasn't finished all the wiring jobs (tiller pilot and solar panels) (b) the wind is a strong northerly. It's been an exhausting couple of weeks preparing and spending oodles of money. We have enough food for a grocery store and enough medicine for a chemist!
I still have to finishe the cover for the extended settee and make the crockery and glassware safe in the galley. I spent most of today itemising the bathroom/cosmetic/sun protection items into tupperware containers so they wouldn't fall off the shelves making a big mess.
We had lots of nice dinners with friends and family this week. We've purchased a satellite phone which is great. If you send a message via the iridium.com website to our phone it is FREE! (160 characters) If you didn't get my email with the satellite phone number leave a message on this blog drive.
Not long now............xxxxxxxxxxxxx
October 21 - 27 th 2007
It was Bill's last day of work last Friday 19th. (He's officially on leave for a few months.) His brother John phoned from Vienna enquiring when we'd be in the Med. It's a long way from here but we do aim to get there! John has a friend who could arrange a mooring for us in Croatia. This may be a good place to leave the boat if we want to travel around Europe. (maybe buy an old van with a bed in the back) It feels like we're getting ahead of ourselves! I'm sure we'll be in Townsville soon then PNG and SE Asia before know it. (as long as the wind blows from the south!)
Well, we got some quotes on recovering the settees! Cloth was double price of a lounge suite and leather was 4 times the cost of a lounge suite so we will forget that idea for now. The pink velvet looks fine and feels nice to sit on. I have some left for the extra seat being mad by Steve. Perhaps when we get to Thailand we can have the settee recovered at a reasonable price.
We want to come back to see our new grandson at some stage early in 2008.(He's due 7th Dec after we plan to leave Townsville). Unfortunately we have to leave as soon as possible so we will miss the birth. We are already leaving a bit late in the season but feel confident we can get to PNG without bumping into any cyclones. Langkawi, Malaysia will be a good place to leave the boat and fly home for a few weeks. (probably Jan - Feb)
It's been blowing from the south all week! Hopefully a southerly will return when we are ready to head off. We finally got some of the rigging parts we need and Steve is giving Bill hand to get it all set up. This is so Bill can adjust the sails from the cockpit rather than always having to go on the foredeck. We had all our appointments with the travel doctor (They wanted to know which countries we were visiting - the receptionist was astonished and had writers cramp after our conversation) Several vaccinations and half the chemist shop later we carried 5 bags of medication back to the boat. (visa got another bashing). We sorted the medication into Tupperware containers in categories (stomach diarrhea nausea, wounds, sea sickness, painkillers cold and flu etc) We will be each others doctors! We also went to the solicitor. We don't plan on dying but thought we'd better have something in place before we go.
The sail maker arrived on Saturday with brand new sails! Bill says the new mainsail will go well in light winds. (good for up north) Gary Saxby the sailmaker said we could trade our old mainsail in PNG for a week's worth of lobsters!! It is too big and heavy so we are leaving it behind.
Next week we'll be doing the final preparations (including a lot of purchasing - ouch!) I just bought a portable sensor alarm from Dick Smiths for $27. This will be handy when staying in harbours where some locals may have sticky fingers. Placed in the cockpit it will sense human (and animal!) movement and send off an earpiercing sound. It worked for some other yachties with the intruder dropping everything and disappearing with 'Sorry madam...sorry madam... when the the lady crew appeared.
It looks like we've sold the Ipswich house. It should settle just before Christmas. The only thing left is the motorbike!
We are so looking forward to finally getting going. We've been living on the boat so long and it is now so full of our possessions we'll have to do some serious tying down and stashing away so we can sail! Next time I update the website I will be saying we have left for Townsville! (and drinking champagne)
Its count down time now! We hope to leave by the end of October. It's a bit risky at this time of the year with the threat of cyclones November on wards. Hopefully all will go well. We have read a couple of other cruisers logs who have successfully made it to SE Asia at that time of the year. When we get to Townsville (which would be interesting in the current weather conditions of strong northerlys!!) we will watch the weather carefully to get accross to Samarai Island (usually about 4 days). We are particularly interested in seeing PNG again as we lived there in the early 80s. Vashti was born in Moresby when Bill was a rubber plantation manager on Doa Plantation. We have heard that on the islands the locals like to trade for lobsters, fish, pawpaw, bananas etc. Items suitable for trading include clothing, batteries, smokes, fishing/snorkelling gear etc. A t shirt for a lobster sounds good to me!The plan is to get to Palau as quickly as possible as it is north of the equator. Palau looks really interesting - great diving, fishing and snorkelling.
We have a list of jobs to do and have engaged the services of our good friend Steve who has helped us over the years building and maintaining the boat. We've decided to enlarge the settee and shorten the table. This will enable us both to have a comfortable corner to lounge in! We are toying with the idea of recovering in leather. We'll see what the quote comes in at! It would be nice - considering we'll be living and looking at it for several years!
We've had a delightful time with our granddaughter Caylan who was down from Townsville. Our daughter Vashti had to go back for Uni exams. Caylan went back at the end of the week with her Daddy. Nanny Linda took her to Brisbane to the theatre, the city and to Ipswich to stay with Pa Bill for a couple of days. Whilst in the city we went to Boat books to purchase several hundred dollars worth of pilot books. It's so exciting to to have them on the boat - SE Asia, Red Sea, Turkish waters & Cyprus, Mediterranean France and Corsica. It feels so much more real now!
It's quite pleasant living here at Kawana Waters Marina. Although we are so close to the pub and boat yard it is much quieter than living on the river. It's a bit of a walk to the amenities block but hey we need the exercise!
My little blue MX5 is sold and we're also trying to sell the motorbike and Ipswich house. Liam has a new housemate - old school friend who plays the drums in his band. (neighbours may not enjoy that!!) The boys are happy and enjoying our house at Point Cartwright. We are lucky that Liam is there to oversea the house and mind our stuff. Sometimes I wonder why we have so many THINGS!
Goodbye Party Point Cartwright
We had a wonderful celebration last Saturday afternoon at the Rock pools Point Cartwright. Our friends and family were there to officially farewell us as well as celebrate my 50th (a bit early but who knows where we'll be in December!?) A great time was had by all with much champagne, delicious food and frivolity. The highlight was the humpback whales who entertained us in the bay breaching and leaping about. I had never seen them do that out there before. They were there behind us in this photo :
It looks like I have sold my car. A passing yachtsman saw the for sale sign on it in the marina carpark! I don't know why I bothered with internet/newspaper advertising! Our van is going to Townsville in a week to our daughter's so I will be carless but I have a very reliable pushbike. Lucky we are so close to the shops and boat yard. Even the travel doctor is around the corner - very handy.
We are looking at a satellite phone system for emailing and weather reports rather than installing a vhf. This will be cheaper and easier.
We've just had our 5 year old granddaughter staying with us on the boat. She just loved it! She had her own bunk up in the saloon and her own locker to put her things. Caylan was particularly impressed with the dolphin curtain in the showers and the concrete whale in the garden! She climbed about like a monkey and watched a movie with us on the lap top in the evening. It was 'Stranded' - version of Swiss family Robinson - a great movie especially the resourcefulness of the family on the island. I personally liked the wine glasses made from bamboo!
It's count down time now.
Sunday 15th September
Just spent this weekend talking to agents to rent out the Ipswich house, getting the car and motorbike ready to sell etcetc. Anyone want to buy a lovely blue Mazda MX5 or a BMW motorbike? Crucial to our cruising funds!
Thursday 20th September
Today was my last day of work - what a great feeling! A glass of champagne or 2 were definitely deserved! Bill has decided to sell Ipswich instead of renting it out - less responsibilities while we are away. We received some great advice from ed on yacht Doodlebug currently in Turkey. (We met them in Noumea 2 years ago) We are seriously thinking of getting a satellite phone to hook up to email instead of the vhf radio. We'll be on a learning curve with that one! Vashti, Craig and Caylan have arrived from Townsville and we'll have the pleasure of having Caylan (gorgeous granddaughter extraordinaire) staying with us on the boat for a couple of nights. She is looking forward to sleeping in the saloon on the pink cushions. I organised a 'ships stamp' (with Valiam's port and rego number )yesterday. It will be round like a common seal - self inking unfortunately and not with the red wax!
Kawana Waters Marina
September 13th 2007
Well, here we are still at Kawana Waters Marina, Buddina, Queensland, Australia conveniently located to Linda's work, shopping centre, boatyard, our house (with Liam and boys renting it) the beach etc...
It's a pleasant change here from being moored in the river. Linda was not used to the vigorous exercise rowing ashore in freezing July weather (it did get down to 1 degree!) getting wet landing avoiding sharp oysters as well as hurting her back dragging the dinghy up. Putting dry clothes on in the park like a hobo trying to look respectful for work was not amusing. So the marina is luxurious! No rowing, hot showers, no noisy pilot boats going past in the night etc etc. I guess it makes one appreciate things that are often taken for granted. Bill is mostly in Ipswich working and staying in the house there. We've spent the last couple of weekends there doing a few renovations before we instal tenants. Linda has enjoyed the TV and usual conveniences found in a house. The problem is now that Linda's back and hip are needing physio. We better get going before she needs a hip replacement or needs a wheel chair!
Many friends and family have been asking about PIRATES! Rest assured we are fully prepared. Linda has an assortment of costumes with false beards etc so it looks like Bill has a crew of several men. We will also try to acquire some form of pepper spray . I believe it has been used to scare off grizzly bears in Canada so should work quite weel in the event of unwelcome visitors. This should do the trick. Flares are handy too especially those parachute ones!
We are rethinking very carefully the need for a lot of electronic gadgetry. Yachty friends of ours lost theirs twice during lightning strikes. Insurance seems such a waste of money - you can buy an awful lot of food, beverages and entertainment for $5000. A new mainsail and storm jib are being made so Valiam will be sailing at her best. Other purchases will include another big anchor, spares for the engine and anything that might break. A quick haul out for a final clean and antifoul and we'll almost be ready. A trip to the travel doctor is also booked to have any vaccinations we need plus lots of drugs for any kind of ailment or emergency. (and also loads of sea sick medication for Linda) A few more jobs on the boat include shelving for books and 'things' as well as extra fuel tanks. (we will probably have to do a bit of motoring in the tropics and the Red sea)
Linda has been buying interesting tinned food. Bill can't wait to try the cottage pie! This will be supplemented by the many fish we will catch and fresh food traded with the indigenous people. Linda's surplus clothes will be good for trading as well s torch batteries, elvis cds and anything else we find we wont need. (eg shoes)
Our plan is to head for Townsville as soon as the winds are favourable. Townsville has the added advantage of being where our adorable granddaughter Caylan lives (oh yes and daughter Vashti, husband Craig and their delightful dogs Belle and Charlie. Belle and Charlie were so helpful last time taking my clothes off the line and leaving them in the garden beds so I wouldn't have to reach up so high. So thoughtful)
It should be around a 4 day trip to PNG (Samarai, Louisaides) if we wait for the right weather. If we successfully arrive in PNG we will head for Palau - great place for diving and snorkelling. (If for some reason the weather is unkind to us we may have to wait until after the cyclone season and go across the Indian ocean instead........keep fingers crossed)
We've started stocking up on Lonely Planet guides, pilot books etc. We will probably get electronic charts as well a some paper ones. The laptop will be very useful for logs, photos, movies, charts, emailing (when we get to port) etc. Lets hope it keeps going and doesn't get wet and refuse to work.
Hopefully these last few weeks will be stress free. I have a case of champagne - that should help. Looking forward to catching up with everyone around here before we go.
Until then..................all is well on board Valiam!