Saturday, March 11, 2017

The End of the Voyage 08 July 2008

The idea of this blog was to inform family and friends whilst on our journey, I also hoped it helped some sailors doing the same crossings with helpful information. All these notes have been re-installed to this blog as the original two that I had it on died, fortunately I kept my scribbles after the first mob crashed and was able to get it in order and re-post it.
(Nancy and I in Bonaire)

The original blogs had many comments from people and unfortunately I did not have copies of those and they are lost. I have noticed since I started this new site that there are plenty of people viewing the pages either by accident or intention, whichever it was thank you for stopping by.

Once we got back to Australia we started the East Coast grey nomad sailing, we left Brisbane around April and headed north for the winter as far north as Lizard Island and then late in the year tried to catch the north east winds and sail south as far as Sydney and spend the summer months around that area and Lake Macquarie. In 2012 we went north and kept going on a circumnavigation of Australia. That year we sailed to Darwin and spent a very dry wet season in Darwin and once the cyclone season was over 2013 we headed for the Kimberly and then down the west coast of Australia and onto Tasmania, we then circumnavigated Tasmania in 2014 and then sailed back to Brisbane and due to health problems we reluctantly sold a beautiful Alana Rose. We now travel Australia in a motorhome. So all in all we had eight wonderful years living aboard Alana Rose and now two and a half years living in our motorhome.

I do have the other blog on the Circumnavigation the link is on the page top right.

Thanks again for looking in.


'Blessed Be' Lost at sea 2008

September 2008 Lost at sea

If you have been following this blog you may remember our friends on 'Blessed Be' that we left in Savusavu, Fiji, as the crew flew back to Australia for business.  Bruce (Skipper/Owner) returned some time later with a new crew member to bring the yacht a 42 foot Morgan to Australia. Unfortunately when he was sailing back to Australia he ran into a major storm and both he and his crew member was lost at sea.

(The late Bruce Glasson (RIP) on Blessed Be at Savusavu)

It was very sad for all that knew Bruce and unfortunately when a search was being made it did not go that well do to some circumstances many months later I wrote to the magazine Cruising Helmsman for the sole purpose of trying to ensure skippers are aware of shortfalls in the system and how they can ensure things may be better if they get caught in a storm and have to pass messages  on the radio that may end up being important.

This is the letter to the editor of the Cruising Helmsman magazine:

Dear Caroline
Before I start may I say that this article is not intended to lay blame on authorities, or anyone else that was involved in this incident. The idea of me writing this is intended to make people aware of the pitfalls in a system or systems and how we can help ourselves when in need.

On the 23 August 2008, a yacht by the name of ‘Blessed Be’ went missing during a storm off the coast of Queensland near Brisbane an extensive search was carried out over a number of days by 21 aircraft and a number of police boats but unfortunately nothing was found and after many days the search was called off. This naturally is very hard for the relatives of the two men on board not knowing what happened to their loved ones and there is no finalisation for them because they are still missing.

During the storm on the 22 August 2008, the skipper of the ‘Blessed Be’ contacted Australian Customs to tell them that they were about 150 nms off Maroochydore and is now less than two days from Brisbane, which is a requirement to notify Customs when bringing a boat into Australia. The next day 23 August they contacted Customs via email to notify them that they had a storm so bad that they had been knocked down and had now changed course to run with the storm and would probably end up in Bundaberg.

The skipper Mr. Bruce Glasson also contacted Coastal Radio Station Adelaide on the 23 August 2008, stating that they were in a storm, they had been knocked down and had now changed their course to 070 degrees, running with the wind and seas they had put out two long warps in an effort to slow them down. He gave their Lat/Long and stated they were 100 nms of the coast of Brisbane and said that they were safe on board but wanted their position registered. This was the last anyone heard from them.

On the 1 September 2008, a concerned relative of the crew alerted AMSA, AMSA stated that a call was put out by Southport’s Seaway Tower on the 27 August 2008 for Blessed Be, unfortunately a vessel with the name Placid P misheard and answered the Seaway Tower thinking it was them that was being called and in answering saying that they were sailing to Newcastle. Radio conditions were not good and this was very unfortunate as this delayed the search.

The search commenced on the 5 September 2008, after the yacht had not turned up but the weather conditions did hamper the search, the search was being conducted between Brisbane and Newcastle due to the radio message of the Seaway Tower. It was some days later that the search changed to Gold Coast to Bundaberg, I believe this was after the information from Adelaide Coastal Radio came to light. Nothing was found and the search was terminated on the Friday night 12 September 2008.

I was contacted on the phone from the Rescue Coordination Centre as my name had been given to them as we used to keep in radio contact with ‘Blessed Be’ when we sailed from Raiatea to Fiji. They had been told by a mutual friend that both ‘Blessed Be’ and ourselves on ‘Alana Rose’ had been caught in the same storm between Tonga and Fiji and was trying to gauge the severity of the storms that ‘Blessed Be’ had experienced. They informed me that they were now changing the search area. I also passed on other contacts that ‘Blessed Be’ may have used during the last leg of their voyage, one being Curly in Savusavu, Fiji and the other Jim, of Rag of the Air on 8173 HF radio at 1900 UTC. I am not sure whether that information was followed up.

With the information I have which is from the newspaper item Sun Herald 14 September, the copy of the radio transcript and talking to the rescue centre Canberra and other people involved I have noticed some pitfalls in the system that really should be addressed.

The information regarding the radio contact from ‘Blessed Be’ to the Adelaide Coastal Radio Station was not produced until some days after the search had commenced, the reasons for this is that there is no legislative requirement for these Coastal Radio Stations to pass the message on unless it is requested by the person giving the message, in this case the skipper of ‘Blessed Be’, or the information is requested by a relative or by the Rescue Coordination Centre.

The skipper of ‘Blessed Be’ probably thought that by giving his position to the Coastal Radio Station that if something had happened this information would be passed on to the respective authorities as he did mention that he was in a severe storm and the storm was getting worse and although everyone was safe on board at that stage he wanted his position recorded. It is evident that this is not the case unless the information that was given is requested by an authority or relative.

The other part of the concern re the message is that although the skipper stated that they were approximately 100 nms of the coast, the given Lat/Long actually places the 166.5 nms due east off the northern tip of Moreton Island. They had changed course from there to 070 degrees which would take them further away from Australian coastline that could result in more than 200 nms off the coast by the next morning. I believe the search area was only up to 120 nms off the coast going on the statements made by the search organisers on the radio news program.

The third point is the confusion in the similar boat name that was called by the Seaway Tower, we use our boat names as call signs and we are all guilty of that even those with correct HF radio call signs. This may be alright for normal conditions but we need to use the issued call signs when it is official. Unfortunately with no licensing for VHF boat names will be used but this could be replaced with the boats registration number in conjunction with the boat name, which brings me to the next point. Boat names, the marina I am visiting at the moment has two yachts with exactly the same name and it is not the first time I have seen it, this is possible with state registration but not so with Australian Registration this can cause confusion in troubled times.

What can we learn by this unfortunate incident? These are my thoughts.
  • If you call a Coastal Radio Station with an urgent message in a concerned situation, make sure you add your official call sign and boat registration and ask for that to be passed on to the Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra. Do not assume that the message will be passed on to anyone unless requested. Give a time that you will call back again, make it hourly when you are in a situation this should shorten the activation time if you run into trouble.
  • Many yachts at sea do not plot their course on paper charts on a regular basis they rely on electronic charts, we use both and we plot our course hourly when blue water and coastal sailing. Make sure when you give information that you give accurate position that the Lat/Long matches the distance you are giving.
  • Keep regular radio schedules with radio networks when blue water sailing, there are many out there run by volunteers, if possible make your own with other yachts travelling the same waters.
  • Local boating should log on and off with the VMR or Coastguard radio stations around our coastline when leaving and entering ports. Talking to the Coastguard only about 40% of boats call in when leaving port and entering port. Coastguard do a wonderful job trying to keep us safe use them.

The ‘Blessed Be’ was equipped with a new EPIRB, HF and VHF radio, a satellite phone and life raft. Bruce made sure that he was well equipped and he and his crew were experienced sailors having crossed the Pacific before. The only mistake he may have made was assuming that the message given to the Coastal Radio Station would have been acted upon if something had happened as it did. The Coastal Radio Station also did nothing wrong as they followed procedure and the legislation regulations. This procedure should be reviewed and changed.

We all sail hoping that we do not get into these situations and that we do not encounter the fatal storms, the sea and Mother Nature can be very dangerous and we know this when we leave the shores. My wife and I on our catamaran experienced some nasty storms crossing the Caribbean and the Pacific, ‘Blessed Be’ was in a previous storm with us between Tonga and Fiji that we would not like to experience again.

We met Bruce and ‘Blessed Be’ in Raiatea and sailed the same route catching up at different ports and we kept a regular radio schedule morning and night, Bruce returned to Oz from Savusavu in Fiji to complete some business and we sailed on ahead of him arriving in Australia in July. After ‘Blessed B’ went missing I sent a message out to all yachts that we know heading the same route behind Bruce to keep an eye out for anything and I put a message on the Noonsite website but unfortunately nothing has been found.

Our sympathies go out to the families of Bruce and Graeme the crew of ‘Blessed Be’.

Kindest regards

John Jenks


This letter is based on the information that I have received through the communication transcript, media reports given by the spokesperson from the Rescue Coordination Centre, the conversation I had with the Rescue Coordination Centre and what was reported by Graeme's son in the newspaper. 

(L-R, The late Bruce Glasson, me and an earlier Blessed Be crew member Charles)

July 2010

Just last week I received a copy of the report for the coroner that gave me more information, there was some search further out than the 120 nms but only on two occasions where the other areas where six to eight times. The main search was for the life raft calculated on drift patterns that were studied by dropping an indicating drift buoy. My belief is that they still did not go out far enough as I don’t believe they had all the information such as the radio transcript till late in the search. In fact there is no mention of when that message came into play. But they did calculate the search area from a triangulation from Global Star from when an email was sent to Customs. Due to the boat name mix up the search ended up being far too late when they got to the right area considering the incident occurred on the 23 August and they did not search the area out near their last reported position until the 7 September. My theory is that what happened, happened fast as there has been no report of anything from that yacht been found which also indicates that everything was still secured to the yacht when she went down.

I have been continuously in contact with Graeme’s wife as she has used me as a sounding board for some of her questions that may come up at the inquest. She like me is concerned of the pitfalls in the system this is what brought me to write the letter to CH was to make other skippers aware. I was pleased shortly after the letter was published that some skippers came and saw me and asked about what we did in blue water sailing as far as routine safety.

We must remember that sometimes we do things without thinking about what the outcome could be. I can remember when I had my hobby farm of 10 hectares (25 acres), I used to give the children a ride on the carry-all on the back of the tractor one day the lift lever vibrated into the lift position and the children were hanging on for dear life as it went into the air fortunately no one was hurt and the kids thought it was fun. That was the last day I ever took kids for a ride on the tractor because I realised what the outcome could have been.
The sea can be a dangerous place and the sea deserves respect and can demand it at times so we need to be prepared. Sometime ago on two different occasion in two different places two yachts ran aground on reefs off the coast of Queensland and had to be rescued. Both skippers wrote to CH stating that the reefs were not on the charts. The following issue of CH had a letter from the commanding officer of the Hydrographic office stating that he was surprised to hear these claims as the reefs are marked on the Australian charts and he listed the chart numbers of these charts. The skippers were referring to electronic charts. Many skippers today do not carry paper charts this is playing with danger.
Another skipper ran aground off Fiji he admitted that he had not viewed his paper charts for eleven hours and he had his chart plotter on the wrong projection resulting in not showing the contours of the sea below which would have shown the reef. These three incidents could have been avoided.

The world of technology is great it gives us a quick reference but we have to consider that some parts of our ocean was last surveyed by Captain Cook and there is still some areas unsurveyed. I must say though that Captain Cook’s surveyed charts are very accurate considering they were all done with a lead line.

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) is a great tool we can put in waypoints to guide us from ‘a’ to ‘b’ commonly known as the rhumb line and we set this rhumb line at the shortest possible distance. One thing to remember is that someone else could be doing the same coming from the opposite direction, if you are both lucky enough to maintain your course on the rhumb line you are on a collision course. This happened to us on one of the largest stretches of water between Galapagos and Hiva Oa (3,025 nms). One afternoon coming out of the setting sun was a Japanese fishing boat we had to take evasive action as the bloke on watch on the other vessel was out on deck watching the water go by. He did not know we were there until we had passed him and I ended up calling him on the radio. His vessel had two radar set operating but they are not much good if no one is watching them.

The list of things that can go wrong is probably endless, all I am trying to say here is think of the ‘what if’s’ when or before you do things and it does not have to only relate to the sea.
Sail safe.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Weather Info and were to get it. 2008

Weather and where to get it;

Many yachts with HF radio have a modem attached so that they can receive short emails and weather at sea. Unfortunately we could not purchase a modem anywhere without weeks of waiting so we relied on weather info gathered whilst in port or in few cases relied on our mate Rick in Oz who we contacted via satellite phone to give us a weather report.

Naturally the best is to have the modem pack with the HF radio and order your weather through Sailmail. However, many yachties know that even if you have the information at hand when you are out there, there is not much you can do about the weather if it turns bad. I know that when we were crossing the Columbian Basin and needed weather information to make a quick decision on a change of course I would not have been able to get that through the HF radio system as you have to order your weather report and that would not arrive until the next morning. I phoned Rick and got it within the hour and we were able to cut 50 nms off the passage.

One of the better ways is to get the weather that is broadcasted on the HF radio by a regular network or by another yacht that is remaining in a port whilst you are on passage and they keep a radio sched with you and give you the weather.

The other way is go outside and look at the sky regularly, learn the signs.

There are some good long forecasting sites on the internet for the Pacific one of the best is Metvuw from NZ. They have a good website and have 3 and 7 day surface charts.

Another good website if you have someone in a port that can obtain the information for you is buoyweather, this site one can select the customize button find the Lat/Long of the yacht and it will give the weather at that position for the next 24 hours, it gives wind speed and direction, wave height and direction and time intervals of the waves.

If you are waiting somewhere for the cyclone season to finish and you are trying to work out if there is anything happening there are two good sites. One is the Cyclone and Storm tracking and the other is the Madden Julian Oscillation Index.

I learnt more about the MJO waiting for this cyclone season to finish and the mongrel caught me out, we thought it was over it reached its eighth phase and was not measurable. We thought that’s it, but the mongrel got going again after we set sail and that is part of what we copped between Tonga and Fiji, it started a cyclone north of Vanuatu and created the convergence zone through Fiji and Tonga.
What is the MJO you may ask, the Madden Julian Oscillation is the low pressure systems that start off of South Africa and move eastwards across the top of Australia and through the Pacific to Southern America. It has eight phases. Phase 3 is just NW of Western Australia, Phase 6 is NE of Australia near New Caledonia these low pressure systems create the rain and cyclones in that part of the world.

There are many helpful websites and probably a lot more than I have found, the following is a list of what I have found or been given, they will help you plan you passages. Wait for the best weather window before setting off with careful planning the passage can be pleasant. But unfortunately sometimes the planning falls down because Mother Nature gets a little smarter than the weather forecasters and we get squalls and storms develop after leaving, but that does not happen all the time.

The list of websites for weather information;

Other weather information can be received on HF Radio on the following frequencies:

Frequencies:         13550.5                 Weather Pacific Wellington NZ (ZKLF) (1100 & 2300 UTC)
                                16340    Weather Pacific   (Analysis 1000 & 2200 UTC)
                        5100       Weather Pacific/QLD         Charliville (0015, 1215 UTC 2 parts)
                                11030    Weather Pacific/QLD         Charliville (0015, 1215 UTC 2 parts)
                                13920    Weather Pacific/QLD         Charliville (0015, 1215 UTC 2 parts)
                                20469    Weather Pacific/QLD         Charliville (0015, 1215 UTC 2 parts)
                                14315    Weather Pacific                   Tony’s Net 2100 UTC (Change to 14302.5)
                                14302.5 Weather Pacific                   at 2130 UTC John VK9JA Norfolk
                                8107       Pacific weather                    Panama – Galapagos Panama Cruiser Net
                                12365    Pacific Weather                   Marquesas- Coconut Breakfast Cruiser Net
                                6115       Weather                                 Russell Radio 1900 UTC
                                13137    Weather                                 Ritchie 2000-2100, 0400-0445 UTC
                                4445       Weather                                 Des 1930-2000, 0700-0800 NZ Time
                                14313    Weather                                 Fred KH6UY 0400 UTC
2201      Weather                                 Townsville 0003, 1203 UTC Qld waters
                                                                0603,2003 UTC
4426       Weather                                 As above Townsville
6507       Weather                                 As above Townsville          
8176       Weather                                 As above Townsville
12365    Weather                                 As above Townsville
                                8173       Weather                                 Jim, Rag of the air Fiji   1920 UTC
                                4030       Weather                                 Curly, Fiji 2000 UTC

When in any port there is often a local cruisers network on VHF radio, this can be on any channel so ask around when you arrive. They are usually run around 0800 to 0830 hours local time and they usually have a weather section along with other information. Many places will give you some warning that the net is about to start on CH16 and allocate the frequency that it will be held. The only port we have not heard a net was Rarotonga and I think that is because we were the only yacht in the harbour. We were the second yacht to visit for the season.

Purchasing a yacht overseas 2008


If you have read my other blog you will see we have had a bit of an adventure by purchasing a catamaran overseas and bringing it back to Australia. The place we started was the place of purchase Marigot Bay, St Lucia, in the West Indies, Caribbean. We learnt very quickly the two most important things everyone runs on island time (slow pace and late for everything), and to be polite and patient with authorities.

At the moment we are nearing the end of our voyage and we have found that island time and authorities are very similar throughout the Caribbean and the Pacific. From the Caribbean through to French Polynesia they have siesta time, everything closes from midday or earlier until 2 or 3 pm. However, they do open earlier and close later in some places.

Dealing with authorities:

Through these countries you may have language barriers unless you can speak Spanish or French, I cannot do either I have enough trouble with English. To make things easy I had noticed that all authorities ask for the same details so I made up a format that had these details and a few more to help in clearing in and out of ports. The form that I made up improved as I visited the different ports as some authorities needed more information. It started as the crew list and grew as the needs changed; see sample, usually printed A4 Landscape.

Crew List:

Name of Yacht:                                   Registration No.   Home Port:                           Flag:

Last Name
First Name
Middle Name
Birth Place
Birth Date
Passport No.

Master and Crew Address:
Contact:                Satellite phone:   
Boat Call Sign:

Leopard 12.62 m Catamaran, Weight 10.5 tonnes
Firearms - No
Outboard Motor – 15hp Yamaha
GPS – Yes, 1 chart plotter 3 handheld GPS
Drugs – Prescription medication only
Radios – Yes, HF and VHF
Animals - No
Radar - No
Tobacco - No
Epirb – Yes  (406 registered)
Alcohol –
Wine           1_______
Beer            2 Cartons
Spirits         2_______
Engines – 2 x 40hp Yanmar Diesels


This format has settled some of the toughest officers which were the French Gendarmes. This form answers all the questions authorities will ask and will help break the language barrier.

Purchasing a yacht overseas:

We purchased our catamaran through The Moorings Charter Company in St Lucia but had to deal through the Moorings Brokerage in Florida which is no problem other than delays in paperwork.

One problem we did have was that we had to have documents notarised so that we did not release the original documents. People that could normally do this in Australia like a bank manager, police officer; justice of the piece etc. is not available in St Lucia. We first went to the bank manager, she asked if we had an account there, we said we did not and she replied that she could not do it then. Next we visited the police, no they will not sign, and this was the same for other government officials. We were about to employ a solicitor and had help from the Marina Manager, he was going to take us to his solicitor when he had time. Then we went to our favorite bar, Chateau Mygo and visited Doreen we explained the problem we were having and she said Vandyke can do that for you I will ring him. Vandyke turned out to be her cousin and a Barrister practiced law in England, America, and St Lucia. He was a very nice man and signed the documents with his seal for us. The price was to ensure everyone new that the people are very nice in Marigot Bay, they certainly are, and I think I have promoted that fact in my other blog.

One thing to be aware of is that an Australian purchasing a boat overseas has the responsibility to register it in Australia as soon as possible if the boat is going to Australia. Provisional registration can be obtained from Shipping Registry Office in Canberra and Mr. Baker in this office is very helpful.

If you FedEx the notarized documents to this office you can get full registration and not have to pay provisional.

Once the paperwork was out of the way it was time to get going but we had to get some things for the catamaran. One has to remember these boats are bareboat charter, this means it is not equipped beyond the requirements of the laws in the country it operates. We however, are taking this yacht half way around the world. So on top of your purchase price allow at least an extra $20,000 for other requirements namely safety gear.

The yacht came with bedding, galley equipment, towels, cups, plates and some safety equipment etc. enough for ten people. They had harnesses and life jackets, the life jackets are the bulky type, we purchased inflatable jackets the slim type very comfortable to wear. The main items we purchased other than these were as follows:

Additional flares, Epirb 406, life raft, HF Radio, grab bag, additional torches, more first aid equipment, additional fuel and water containers, additional ropes and spare blocks/pulleys. If you are using GPS ensure you have a spare, you should carry one in your grab bag.

Navigation items such as charts, I purchased more than $2,000 worth of paper charts before leaving Australia and had to purchase more. You cannot buy charts anywhere; I had to order some in from Australia. As a matter of fact do not rely on anyplace to get what you want. I could not purchase the HF radio in St Lucia, Grenada had one and I purchased it after a friend said do not rely on buying one in the Panama. They were right Panama did not have one. Panama is a cheap place for items but they do not always have what you need.

You will require spares, nuts, bolts, screws, fuel filters, oil filters, oil, hoses, hose clamps, light globes fuses, tools, additional power source e.g. portable generator, or solar panels.

We found it easier to by a portable generator as with island time it takes forever to get work done and if you have a schedule it will drive you mad and give delays in departure.

Naturally if you are not a DIY person you will have to pay someone else to fit the equipment for you or try and find a friendly yachty to do it for you. But don’t stretch the friendship. Once you get sailing you will meet up with other yachties that need a hand and everyone helps each other.

You can make it enjoyable if you treat the process like a holiday but again this costs money some places are cheaper than others.

Once fitted out, fueled, watered and stored its time to set off but first plan the voyage, this plan may be changed from time to time as was as, this can be due to weather and sea conditions, but make sure you have some planning ask other yachties about the trip may have done it before or know someone that has already arrived and have received radio contact or emails with information.

Find out what radio networks are about many boats start a net to check each others safety and obtain information from yachts ahead of them. There are weather nets that can be useful I will list some of them later.

Make sure you get as much information that you can about the places that you are going to and information about the passage route. In the Caribbean for instance you will meet yachties that have been sailing these waters for years they are a wealth of information.

One important point yachts do have breakdowns even new yachts, we are putting these items through the worst environment, salt water, during the dark hours it is best to close the hatches if it is a damp air moisture will find its way through everything. Keep all wiring connections coated in WD40 or similar product.

Ready to set off:

Before setting off you have to clear out with Customs and Immigration, you will need the clearing in document for the yacht when it arrived in the country, the local Moorings Manager forgot to give it to us, and we had to go back and get it from Marigot Bay and clear out from there. Some countries have a departure tax that you will need to pay.

It is a good idea to get a couple of copies of your clearing out document, your ships papers copies of your passports etc. Some countries demand two or three copies of documents, if you do not have them they get upset and then you suffer the long waiting game. As I mentioned before it pays to be polite and prepared. Do not offer any other information other than answer the questions they ask. You can pay a price for being too friendly, you give them information that they can build on and cause them to ask questions that they would not normally ask. Once you have your paperwork it is required to raise your Q flag until you leave in some places. Do not overstay your clearing out time, you nominated the time of leaving make sure you go at that time. If for some reason you cannot, unexpected bad weather or something broke down go and see the authorities and tell them.

Getting underway:

We have found that it is better to sail later in the day, this helps with the settling down of crew off watch sleep patterns, set sail in the morning no one will go have a sleep, but they may have a nap in port. We all get a little excited when we first set off out of a port. It can take three days to get used to a new routine of watch keeping. This can depend on how many crew you have and how long the shifts are. In our case there were just two of us, but I have heard of crews of four saying the same thing.

In our voyage we saw many of freighters, they are very large and quite fast, and they can be out of site ten minutes later they are on top of you. Do not take it for granted that they will see you in some cases they will not. Shipping lanes can get rather busy. In some cases where you are not in shipping lanes you can come across other ships. We had the closest encounter in the open seas between Galapagos and Marquesas, 3,025 nms between ports and no other lands. A Japanese fishing boat came out of the setting sun on the exact opposing course we took the evasive action and had passed him within 100 metres. The person on watch was out on the open deck and only noticed us after I radioed him. He was only the second ship we had seen in those 3,000 nms.

Guide books and pilot books:

There are a lot of guides that you can purchase as we did and we have used them and found them very useful. A thing to remember is that the latest book has information that is at least four year old. Places can change dramatically in four years. Search the internet you will find some people like us that run blogs or websites that have more recent information that will help.

Noumea to Bundaberg 2008

03/07/2008 Leaving Noumea

We left Noumea and the seas were reasonably calm just a rolling swell from the south-east and very little wind, the sun was shining and it was rather pleasant, Dusty was out on the bow getting a bit of sun. Once we were outside the reef we hoisted the mainsail and rolled out the genoa, however, we still had to run the engine and motor sail for some time as there was little to no wind.

(Leaving Noumea behind)

We had a short wind burst at 0100 hours and I cut the engine, this only lasted for 30 minutes and the engine was restarted. Then around 0300 hours the wind came in from the north-east and it was cold and we started to get light rain. We sailed at times and motored at others during the Thursday. Once the wind picked up we went under sail and the engine was only started when the batteries required charging.

Thursday 4 July 2008, today was a special day it is I migrated in 1961 and landed in Oz as a 13 year old boy and today we clocked 10,000 nautical miles since the voyage began, the ride was uncomfortable the boat appeared to be getting a pounding more than in the storms we had been in before, this may have been due to the swell coming from the south-southwest and the waves and wind coming from the southeast or east at different times. The nights were black without any moon or stars which made it difficult to see the waves as they hit. Without a moon it’s just black you cannot see a thing and is a problem with not knowing what rouge wave will hit us and where.

My entry in the log for 0100 hours on Friday was Cold, Cold, Cold. The seas were also getting larger and I knew by the weather reports that I had studied before leaving that we were in for more rough times, winds would be in excess of 20 knots and they actually reached around the 35 knots at times. I was hoping to get in to Bundaberg prior to Tuesday as that day was going to be very high winds. Dusty asked me if I had expected this type of weather before we left, I said yes to a certain degree, I did expect winds of around 20 plus knots but not 30 plus knots. I knew we were in for a rough ride and probably fast at times. Dusty said his heart stopped a couple of times when he was on watch and we surfed a wave at around 12 knots.

We had to alter course away from our rhumb line to cater for the wind and the waves, with surfing some of the larger waves it can tend to push the boat around and put you in the situation that the waves will break across the beam. To prevent this we changed course so we surfed straight down the waves. Then when we ran the engine for charging the batteries we corrected the course or over corrected to allow for the deviation when the engine was again shut down and we had to surf straight down the waves again.

Dusty enjoyed his time with us although he admits some of the waves gave him a little fright in particular when a wave broke on the stbd side alongside him and it was higher than him sitting at the helm. It was getting a little wild at that time and I took the shift one hour early as it was not fair to leave Dusty with the responsibility under those conditions he being a new crew member and only just getting used to how the catamaran behaves under such conditions. Weather conditions continued to get a little worse until the last morning out, we had some or partially clear skies and sun now and again.
(Messy confused seas)

It was good having another crew member to keep watch it gave us more chance of rest in the uncomfortable conditions. Unfortunately as skipper you do not get to rest all the time when off watch, you have to get up and check that the crew are alright when conditions are rough and waves are at a frightening height. One also listens to the boat for any strange noises, things do break or come loose that have to be fixed.

Each morning we kept the radio sched with Rag of the air, HF 2173 so someone out there knew our location and that we were all safe and well.


It was near midday on Monday that we passed the North cardinal marker at the north end of the shallows of Fraser Island, this is around 22 nms north of the island and you cannot see land. Everyone is looking for the sight of land because we are so near, however land would not be seen for some hours later. Entering Curtis Channel then into Hervey Bay towards Bundaberg the track takes you through the centre so land is not seen until about 15 nms out from Bundaberg and now it was getting dark. We called VMR Bundaberg on the VHF radio and informed them of our arrival time, they in turn informed quarantine and gave us the coordinates for the quarantine buoy where we had to anchor until the next morning when the Quarantine Officer would contact us, VMR also informed us that they close down at 1800 hours and requested us to log off their books at 0800 hours the following morning. The last 40 nms from the northern marker seemed to take for ever as we got closer we started to push against the out going tide. The wind had dropped and we had been motor sailing for some time, when the tide started to work against us I started the stbd engine to keep our speed around the 7 knots that was when Murphy came aboard, you know Murphy? Murphy’s Law. As I mentioned in previous notes that when we got the parts for the stbd shaft clutch assembly in Fiji we decided that we would not change the parts as the worn clutch was hanging in there. Well it decided it had had enough and we lost the stbd engine drive. Fortunately the tide was on the turn so it did not hold us up too much, I had already given our ETA as 2000 hours, and that did not change. It just meant that we had to enter the channel at Bundaberg on one engine and anchor with one engine which is fun with a catamaran because it likes to go in circles when you go astern. We were about 5 nms from the channel; we could see the marker lights and the flashing white light on the south head. It was cold and to make things more interesting it decided to rain, (Good onya Murphy).

As we approached the channel I took a good look before turning in, I had the waypoints in the GPS and we had CMap running on the laptop, it looked good so we did another night entry. Fortunately the channel is marked very well, it again seemed to take for ever, we entered on a flood tide, and the tide was now coming in. When we finally got to where the quarantine buoy area we started search with the spot light and could not find it, we disturbed a few boats and Nancy called out to one and he shone a light at its location. It was no wonder we could not see it there was about four catamarans and two monohull anchored around it and they were not there for quarantine. We picked a clear area with ample room and dropped the pick, we checked and double checked that it was secure shut the engine down we had a shower and Nancy prepared dinner and guess what? We are no longer at sea so ‘dry ship’ rule went out the window. Out with a beer followed by a wine which was followed by a bottle of Amarula, this is similar to an Irish cream it has an elephant on the label which has some significance.

We did not take much rocking to sleep that night, I woke to my watch alarm at 0600 hours the next morning, this is where the elephant becomes significant, he and his mates were stampeding in my head, and I had to get up and change the clutch assembly so we could go alongside when quarantine arrived at 0800 hours. Anchoring with one engine on a catamaran is a pain, going into a marina berth with one engine is very bloody difficult. Three headache tablets, ten litres of water kept the elephants happy and a cup of tea and I was set to work. I finished the job at 0759 hours, a little slow but got there in time.

VMR Bundaberg called us on the radio, the Quarantine Officer wanted to talk to us on CH81. They directed us to go alongside at a quarantine berth, Red 16. We got out the lines and fenders, weighed anchor and went alongside. Quarantine and Customs Officers were there to meet us once we were secured. They came on board and they were very nice and helpful and have assured me that they will offer all the assistance I require to import the boat into Australia.

(At anchor in Port Bundaberg)

It is incredible the rumours and accusations that have been made in regard to these authorities, they could not have been nicer. Some of the statements that have been made to us about the Australian authorities are totally unfounded.

They did take some of our food stuff, raw meet, eggs, cheese etc. We expected that and we understand that it is a requirement to keep our country free of exotic diseases. The horse flu last year is a perfect example to what can happen.

We have to import the boat and that means paying 5% import duty and 10% GST, they have given us two weeks to prepare for that, they have the right to make us do it straight away. I think some people that have caused these rumours about these authorities in the past have probably created what problems they had themselves going on what we have experienced so far and I will give further information in regard to the matter as we go through the process.

Well I think it is good to be back in Oz, we are still in a bit of a daze now the voyage is over, and it is a little surreal, it seems like a dream now. It has been a wonderful experience for both of us and I think you all know by what has been in our blogs that we have met some wonderful people along the way.

We have also caught up with Karl and Sandi on ‘Fantasy 1’, you may remember last year in Raiatea I loaned them a GPS for them to get home after a wave had come through their hatch and damaged their computer and GPS connections. Their boat has been here since their return; they went home to Adelaide but have returned to do some work on the boat. It is good catching up again.

First night in we went to dinner at the local restaurant at the marina, very nice to, Dusty was leaving the next day for home, he developed a cold on the voyage and he was very generous he gave it to me before he left, thanks mate. The next day Angela our daughter came up from Brisbane with some of our gear that we had stowed at her place that we were very grateful for. It has been so cold here which we did not expect and she brought the downers for the bed. Ange spent the night with us which was great. The next night we had our mate Rick visit and stay the night, he brought a couple of bottles of wine to welcome us back on Aussie turf.

Well we have 10,473 nautical miles completed on this marvelous voyage. I have more to post on this blog before I finish which I will do soon.