We have arrived back into Cairns!

Sadly after all our efforts to have email access whilst away. . as you may have guessed. . . .it didn’t happen!

But we have returned safely but somewhat exhausted but we have had the most amazing experience.

Here is Part 1 of the story, over the coming days I will endeavour to get the rest posted.

Our Lousiades Adventure

11th September 2010 The day of departure had finally arrived after a year of planning. The final weather briefing and breakfast was being held at the Yorkeys Knob Boat Club at 8am on the 11th September. All 25 yachts and their crew had been gathering the past few weeks and we have enjoyed many drinks and meals on the verandah restaurant overlooking the marina and the entrance to the small boat harbour whilst discussing the trip.

The pace had increased to frantic on the Thursday and there appeared to be a lot of the yachts with main parts of their vessels pulled apart, either installing new systems or servicing old ones. We were no exception as the watermaker was still not performing well. It had become noisy and the water quality/ salinity meter gradually rose every time we used it so as we had discussions with the company as to the cause of the problem they decided that they would send us another motor (had to come from the U.S) and a new set of membranes, which was great except. . .Alan then had to install it all. The days were extremely hot and humid, 30-32 degrees and 90% humidity!! Plus the watermaker is located in the lazarette, no air or hope of a breeze. Perspiration was dripping off him, even though he started at 7am!

The packages with the new parts arrived Tuesday, yes only 4 days before leaving! Finally on Thursday I saw a grin of satisfaction on his face as it was all back together and working! Total elation from him!!

The leed up week invoved seminars on First aid courtesy of St Johns, Epirb instruction from Christine who had flown in from AMSA Canberra, Liferaft deployment from the local Coastguard base, and lots of very informative talks from Guy, the organizer of the event. In between this I had to shop to provision the boat for 7 weeks, that was the easy part!! Coming home and packing it away was the challenging part!!

Following our hearty breakfast of bacon eggs and all the trimmings we headed back along the marina and said our farewells to our neighboring boats and headed out following a procession of yachts all flying their turquoise Rally Flag.

We all headed for Green Island, and then turn to port for the Euston Light Waypoint. Most were under power until they were able to bear away and hoist sails for the reach to the Duchateau waypoint, 520nm away across the Coral Sea. It was a requirement that we call on Channel 77 and declare our vessel and crew safe and capable of making the passage.

As the night crept on the seas and wind began to rise, the average wind speed was 24knts from the east and the swell was 2-3 metres. The first incident of the night came when Barrenjoey called to retire back to Cairns as their forestay had broken.

We wore the miles away and with the 1830 sked Stargazer reported that they were returning to Cairns to drop a sea sick crew member off and then departing again for Louisiades. They were also able to pick up Guys’ camera as he had left it in his car.

Throughout the night we had 2 Bobby Birds balance on our bow rail. Obviously very scary as it scared the s#$!# out of them!!!

It was now Monday 13th and we are halfway to Duchateau. This morning the wind rose to 30knts and seas were 5-6 m so we headed due east so the waves weren’t on the beam.

A VHF call from the cat Touche 5 alerted us that his wife had fallen and broken her wrist and sustained a head injury, he had deployed his sea anchor to enable him to stabilize her. With the help of doctors via the sat phone he was making her comfortable.

We have been extremely careful in this rough weather to stay seated all the times if possible! I’ve already broken my ankle at sea a few years ago and don’t wish to repeat the act!!

As the afternoon wore on the seas and wind lessened a little, still 22-25knts, but a little better! So we went back to steering to the waypoint. During the whole trip to date we have been taking ‘greenies’ over the starboard bow.

As night falls again we are 225nm from Duchateau and some uninterrupted sleep!

Tonight was the first time that we couldn’t get enough radio reception to get all of the sked details!

At 10.30pm I made contact with the Tasman Mariner, a cargo vessel that was coming up our rear at 14knts. He passed 2nm to port. We continued through another night of watches, one up and one down. As soon as the person on watch starts to get blinky, we do a swap! Sometimes 2 or more hours each!

Tuesday 14th September 0730 Radio Sked

Our elated leader, Guy, happily announced that he was 0.18nm from the Duchateau waypoint and would be entering the lagoon soon after the sked. There were many yachts that were due to arrive today, for us there will be another night at sea. ETA as of this morning is 15th 10.11am.


The final skipper and crew briefing.

Guy Chester at the Liferaft demo.

Above: Lets Go – Dannielle and Alyn, Port Stephens with crew, Greg and Carol, Wal and Tracey (Lake Macquarie people will remember the boat as it previously had COLLEX down the side!)

Opal Lady just leaving Yorkeys Knob Marina.

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