2017 Return Voyage

Back at last

“A Row”, Westernport Marina, Hastings, VIC

Wednesday 8 November 2017

The last “Official” Ships Log from Refuge Cove titled “One more sleep and Chimere is home” did kind of leave things up in the air a bit.

Well, as Cam’s brief mission-by-numbers post confirms, YES we did make it back to Westernport Marina; our old berth once more.

Before officially tying up, however, there was a brief stop at the Marina Service Wharf to unload a trailer load of gear, including lifejackets, wet weather gear, clothing, bedding and all that stuff that accumulates tropical salt and stickiness and which needed a good hose-down on the Hills Hoist at home, or wash in the machine.

Here’s a photo of the return crew. The “After” shot of the gang of four, me, Edith, Bruce and Ray.

It took six days to get back from Sydney. Not quite your Sydney-Hobart jaunt, but if Chimere was a car, she’d be more in the Holden Kingswood class, or maybe even a Ford F100, whereas yachts that enter ocean races are more along the lines of a Formula One, or a V8 Supercar. That said, I’d rather be transporting medical teams around the islands of Vanuatu aboard Chimere than Brindabella or Wild Thing; so each to their own I suppose.
For a brief summary of the MSM Vanuatu Mission 2017mission you might like to click on the following link

As life gets back to ”normal” … my bed has stopped rocking, the lawns at home get cut and the daily commute to the office resumes … it’s time to thank all the many, many people who contributed to the success of this year’s mission.

We set ourselves some very ambitious goals this year, and as I’ve said before, there were a lot of “moving parts” to the program, any one of which could have derailed us if it had not gone to plan.

The analysis of the data for the National Oral Health Survey will continue for a further 6 months or so, with this set to become a lasting legacy from this year’s mission. A report, produced in conjunction with the Vanuatu Government’s Ministry of Health that will inform the establishment of a National Oral Health Plan. Hopefully this will go some small way towards arresting the unfolding national health-disaster caused through the adoption of an increasingly sugar-based western diet.

As we enter this time of Advent, with the busy-ness … not to mention the business of Christmas well upon us, may you find time to enjoy life’s simple blessings, and have a safe and joyful time.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and back at last

Rob Latimer

One more sleep and Chimere is home

Refuge Cove, Wilsons Prom. VIC

 

Tuesday 7 November 2017

 

The wind comes in sustained gusts, vibrating the rigging and rattling whatever it can find on deck to rattle; shackles, clips, hand rails and halyards.  All comforting sounds as we soak in the blissful stillness of this most aptly-named piece of Victorian coastline – Refuge Cove.  Not in an easterly wind to be sure, but today, and from mid-afternoon yesterday, it has been blowing from the south west, and at those time, this is most certainly the place to be.

Like most things, it could have been worse, but still, 25-35 knots, with building seas over a long fetch are things we try to avoid – particularly when they are coming from where we actually want to go.  

Thanks to the wonderful weather forecasting from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) – and I mean that most sincerely – and the ability to receive their regular updates via my iPhone, (even miles offshore) we were able to track a more southerly course from Gabo Island, (at the southern tip of the NSW coast and the entrance to Bass Strait)  in order to have just enough sea-room to aim north towards Wilson’s Promontory as the worse of the change arrived.  Certainly not what you’d call a “great-circle” route, but in the end a prudent move because with nowhere to hide the last thing we wanted to do was tack our way to the day’s finishing line. 

When I say finishing line, more correctly – and to continue with the racing theme, this being Melbourne Cup Day an’ all – we are actually well down the home straight, just a few short furlongs (what’s a furlong anyway?) from the tape.  If all goes to plan, mid-morning tomorrow we will reach the entrance to Westernport Bay, just as the tide turns so as to take the “flood” all the way up to Westernport Marina, Hastings; ETA around 1:00-2:00pm tomorrow afternoon.

So tonight will actually be Chimere’s last night at sea.  Tomorrow her six month mission, which saw us depart Westernport on the night of Monday 15 May, will come to an end. 

As comfortable as it is here in Refuge Cove, in a few hours’ time, when the wind outside the bay has hopefully abated somewhat, we plan to sail the short distance down the east coast of the Prom, around the bottom (that’ll be the lumpy part) then up the west side, gaining shelter from the rocky, off-lying islands to Great Glennie Island.  Here we’ll drop the anchor till around 10:00 o’clock tonight, at which time we’ll set a final course for the Westernport entrance. 

According to BOM, the southwesterly will remain dominant, but of lesser strength, making for a gentle romp to the finish.  Maybe that’s a bit aspirational, but in the end most sailors are optimists?!  

Chimere’s crew – the “gang of four”, comprising Edith & Bruce – parents of Cathy West (MSM’s “Miss Capability 2013”, who returned again this year as a volunteer nurse on Mission 4) Ray Clark and myself.  Each of us with such different backgrounds, yet each working together with enthusiasm to do what has needed to be done. 

At times maybe “enthusiasm” is slightly over-stating things, there have definitely been the quieter, more reflective moments – 3am watch-changes to name just one – but with Edith and Bruce mostly commanding the galley our stomachs and morale have been nurtured, to be sure!

When some of Chimere’s bits have broken, stopped working, or needed adjusting – Ray’s thoughtful analysis has been invaluable.  Closely followed, it must be said, by Bruce’s musing about possible solutions, or feasible “work-arounds”.  My familiarity with Chimere’s ways and moods, built up over the past 11 years, is obviously of assistance as I generally contribute to the deliberations with words like … “well the last time this happened we …”

Take yesterday for example.  After 10 minutes of flawless operation, the generator suddenly stopped.  Not even a splutter, just ground to a halt, leaving a red light glowing on the panel – strange.  At almost exactly the same time we turned on the pump to lift fuel to the “day-tank” from the storage tanks below deck.  At least we’ll top up the tank while we consider the generator problem.   And after a couple of minutes the pump just stopped, nothing – even stranger.

Knowing that bad things generally come in threes, I was immediately wary of what was to come … but maybe past experience has just been a stream of amazing coincidences.

Then there was the bilge pump “incident” two days ago. (Oh, maybe that gives me my “three bad things”)  I think everyone knows that bilge pumps are supposed to pump water OUT of a boat.  Not that water should ever really flow into a boat in the first place, but given the number of holes (all with taps on them mind) through the hull it’s probably surprising the sea doesn’t find a way in more often.  Anyway, we were sailing along, sunny sky, smiles all round, when the bilge alarm sounds.  (gee I’m glad I had that installed all those years ago) Naturally, I lift the floor panel, revealing water a foot deep (about 30 cm for you young-folk) where it shouldn’t be, the bilge pump surrounded by bubbles doing its best to keep up. 

Closer inspection revealed that instead of ONLY pumping water out, this particular bilge pump was allowing water to  flow back IN – but only when we were on a starboard tack and the port outlet was under water; something amiss with the one-way valve, or outlet-hose presumably.

The problem was quickly fixed using our portable submersible pump (housed in a box on deck –  oh that beautiful pump) plus a wooden plug (kept handy for such a situation as this) which was jammed into the hose once it was cut off the bilge pump itself.

Rather than simply share these “other joys” of life at sea and of owning a boat, my point in mentioning the generator, fuel and bilge pumps is to say that Ray and Bruce were good men to have around – reaching for the tool kit, lifting floor panels and probing with the multi-meter like their life depended on it; perhaps a bad analogy there.

Whilst the bilge pump is just a temporary fix, the fuel pump and generator were quickly repaired, by adding more coolant (I’m ashamed to admit) in the case of the generator and re-attaching a loose wire and replacing a connector in the case of the fuel pump.  All done with plenty of time to watch a late-night movie – Tanna – at the on-board MSM-DVD saloon-class cinema.

After arriving here yesterday around 4:00pm, having lunch (admittedly a late lunch), and launching the dinghy we were excited by the sight of a breaching whale, way out to sea beyond the entrance.  This naturally drew us out of the bay in the dinghy rather than towards the beach as initially planned.  Not too far out to sea, but far enough to see a repeated display of maybe three whales bashing their tales down onto the water lifting spray in all directions.  Every now and then a whale would still breach, up into the air, its white belly glistening in the late afternoon sun, landing with an almighty splash.  It was truly an awesome display, but eventually we needed to return to the beach.

Breakfast is now in full swing, the sun is out, it’s still amazingly calm, and pretty soon we will go ashore for a climb up a nearby hill where internet and phone reception can be found.  After all, it must be simply, positively, hours since I was able to check my texts, emails and look up the latest weather forecast.

Then it’ll be time to up-anchor (after lifting the dinghy back on deck of course) and head around the other side of the Prom in readiness for our last-night-at-sea and the finishing line for Chimere’s involvement in MSM Vanuatu Mission 2017

Smooth seas, fair breeze and one more sleep and Chimere is home

Rob Latimer

PS  Just checked the weather forecast … still blowing 20-30kts at the Prom lighthouse, (Southeast Cape) and gusted up to 51 kts last night I see from the observations.  It’s still expected to calm down later today and in the day ahead.

Heading away from coast for next 18-24 hours

In an attempt to take advantage of a gap between weather systems we sheltered 3 hours behind Gabo Island

Now we are setting sail for Wilsons Prom.

Draw a straight line between Point Hicks and Wilsons Prom, make a few allowances for oil rigs and that’s where we’ll be.

May not have the inter-web

See you on the other side

Rob

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Cruising home

Broulee Island, NSW South Coast

 

Friday 3 November 2017

 

The final leg home from Sydney to Melbourne officially began yesterday afternoon around 3:30pm as we eased our way out of our berth at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) in Rushcutters Bay, being careful not to take the corners off any other yachts parked nearby … like Brindabella et al.

Bob Brenac, our long-time, Sydney-based supporter and volunteer – plus 50-year CYCA member it must be said (like his father before him) – had arranged a morning meeting with the CEO of the club, Ms Karen Grega, so that I could officially say thank you on behalf of Medical Sailing Ministries; plus present her with an official (limited edition) “MSM Mission 2017 Shirt”

As I mentioned in my letter to Ms Grega…

“Access to a marina berth, along with the club’s facilities, at the critical before-and-after stages really is invaluable, enabling us to address the many, many “last minute” tasks that inevitably pop up, in an efficient manner.

 

It’s also a glorious part of the world in which to live, even for just a few days, here on Sydney Harbour, surrounded as we are in Rushcutters Bay, by so much Australian sailing history and “royalty”.

 

This is the fourth MSM Vanuatu Mission since 2009 and so this is the eighth time CYCA has extended to us their welcome.   Again, we appreciate this so much and Medical Sailing Ministries is greatly indebted to you.”

 

It was then back to Chimere for a wonderful salad-kind of lunch, with nuts, celery, tuna … prepared by Edith, along with some of the bread she’d baked yesterday. Great to have the actual author of the official Chimere Cook Book on board. And the one also responsible for compiling the very, very long shopping list, and then taking a leading role in the purchase and stowing aboard of same – was that just 6 months ago!?

The weather forecast had been a bit hostile to sailing south, since Cam and his gang of four docked mid-day Monday, but it was now taking a turn for the better.

Ray, who’d caught the train back to Melbourne on Monday night (for some home-comforts) was now back on board having caught the Wednesday night train back again.

Our plan was to get away around 2:00pm, after we’d caught up with Sydney resident Phil Ross, the editor of the sailing magazine Cruising Helmsman. Despite all our emails over several years, we’d never quite been able to arrange a face-to-face. As it turned out Phil just happened to be at the CYCA yesterday afternoon and it seemed an opportunity too good to pass up.

After waving good-bye to Phil, retrieving the lines, and mercifully NOT hitting anything, we took the opportunity to cruise up past the Opera House, under The Bridge and in-out, around, past and behind an amazing variety of craft – from an HMAS War Ship and an 18 foot skiff, to more ferries, yachts, and pleasure craft (some doing the same as us) than we could count. Even a three-masted tall ship doing their regular “Twilight Harbour Cruise”.

Soon enough we’d made it back past the Fort, around towards Manly (watching out for the ferry – each way) then out through North and South Head into the rising swell. It was now around 5:00pm and pretty soon we were clear of the rocks and setting a course south with an easterly breeze of about 15-20 knots moving us along at around 6-7 knots.

As is the custom, we took it in turns to keep watch through the night, with Bruce and Edith taking first shift, then Ray and I relieving them around 12 midnight. The moon was bright and with the glow of Sydney, plus the lights of planes, seemingly queued head to tail into the night-sky waiting to land and then taking off, we were rarely short of things to keep us engaged.

The wind changed throughout the night, first North-east, then to the north, then north-west, then west … all the while ol’faithful Perkins chugged away in the background doing 1600 RPM, enabling us to maintain our speed in the lumpy sea left over from three days of strong southerly winds

Dawn was greeting with many pairs of albatrosses, gliding and swooping close-by in their effortless, magestic way.

Keeping tabs on the changing weather forecasts, we initially thought we could make it to Eden, way down near the Victorian border, where we could sit out the next southerly blow. In the end, the 35-30kts southerly change came through earlier than expected and so in anticipation of this we had already started to close the coast, with a view to finding a snug anchorage behind Broulee Island, just south of Batemans Bay; 135 miles south of Sydney, but still 70-odd miles short of Eden.

A quick glance at our “vessel tracker” will show the hard right turn we made earlier this afternoon. There’s no hiding out here anymore and I must say, there are times I’m tempted to turn the thing off!

Two hours from the coast the southerly wind-change hit us, and after putting two reefs in the mainsail and reducing the jib by around 50%, we were soon loping along at 8 knots in a south west direction; the coastal detail – the trees, the rocks, the hills and buildings – becoming more and more distinct the closer we got.

The temperature also dropped and Ray, having crewed with Cam from Vanuatu, was finally seen to put on long pants and I’m sure I could see steam from my breath.

Our depth sounder shows the water temperature at around 21 degrees, which is a bit lower than the 29 degrees in Vanuatu. Can’t wait to see what it says when we finally make it around into Bass Strait

Anchoring here at Broulee Island was something of a text-book landing. Edith on the helm, Ray and I dropping the sails in the lee of the headland, then Bruce and I finally setting the anchor, all the while making sure we got as close to the coast as we dared while still keeping plenty of water beneath the keel.

And this truly is a wonderful spot. Flat calm, as the occasional gusts of wind shake and shudder the rigging above.

Soon after turning off the engine and everyone breathing a sigh of relief, the cheese and crackers appeared along with a hot drink of choice – coffee, hot chocolate, even English Breakfast if desired.

Out beyond the point white caps could be seen on the waves and as late afternoon moved into early evening Edith and Bruce set about preparing a tag-team culinary delight. I know it’s got potatoes, cheese, onions, bacon and many other things … all baked in the oven. “And lemon-slice for dessert!” I just heard Edith yell.

Yummy!!

So this must be what cruising sailors do. First, wait for the wind to blow their way. Second, set sail and go-with-the wind, then Third, seek shelter when the wind blows the wrong way – cool.

Our current plan, using the above “algorithm” is to stick it out here till Sunday when the wind is expected to blow from a northerly direction hopefully taking us right round the corner, past Gabo Island and into Bass Strait. Once there we will high-tail it to Refuge Cove on Wilson’s Prom before the next south-west change comes through Tuesday. Sounds like a plan !!

It’s funny, dropping anchor here on the south coast of NSW, memories of anchoring in a dozen or more Vanuatu villages come to mind. Will any canoes come out? If not, maybe we could buy or trade some paw paws, or pamplemousse in the village tomorrow morning? But no, a quick glance along the beach reveals signs of development, beach houses and street lights to name just two. Confirming once again that we are definitely home. Back to “normal” life once more.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and cruising home …

 

Rob Latimer

Alby !!!

NSW South Coast

Friday 3 November 2017

Must be in home waters…

Albatrosses!!! Lots of them
And we’ve even seen some mutton birds, not migrating south as we did in Vanuatu but now home and looking for a feed

It’s the first morning out of Sydney and we are off Batemans Bay with a steady NW wind on the stern quarter. Another southerly wind due this way around lunchtime

Currently heading for Eden 100 miles south. From there we’ll check the forecast in order to plan the Bass Strait leg home

Smooth seas, fair breeze and must be in home waters

Smooth seas and almost back

Rob Latimer

Bringing Her Home – final Blog

Hello All,

Well Chimere isn’t home quite yet, she’s in Sydney and our crew are all on the way home or already there. Since the last blog it is fair to say that a number of prayers were answered and a few surprises were thrown in.

The most significant answer to prayer was that a sweet combo of winds on the beam and the EAC. When we were in the current we were doing a solid 7 – 8 knots, and when we weren’t it was down around 5 – 6. So we did a bit of EAC hunting that brought us to about 15nm from land, and out to about 30nm. Our hope was to sneak into the Sydney heads before the Southerly hit on Monday afternoon, and through the good fortunes above we did and we were grateful.

Coming into Port Jackson is always fun because of the action. We arrived at the same time as a large ship which had a few tugs involved and as we dropped the main we saw a good number of ferries and tourist boats along with numerous pleasure craft.

The surprises I mentioned above were both pretty special. At about 3am Rob charged through Chimere telling us all to hurry and get out of bed. I thought he was pretty keen rousing us because it was our shift, but when I made it to the deck Rob was swinging about on a swing he made up talking away about something. I got to him and he was clearly disappointed. He had just seen a dolphin in the phosphorescent water of the bow-wave,  something super special that he had seen only once before, but it was gone by the time we arrived.

So Uncle Ray and I settled into a shift spent staring at the ships on the Chart Plotter screen and out into the dark night. And then I saw it racing around our starboard side to the bow. A large single dolphin completely surrounded by light in the dark water. The green luminescence covered the whole sleek body of the dolphin and curled off its fins and tail like green sparklers. It was like a constantly moving and changing fluorescent tube in the shape of a dolphin. You could see every swift move in detail as the dolphin swapped sides and surfaced for air. It was with us for about 3 minutes and then disappeared.  What a privilege to see.  Rob was over the moon that he was able to share the experience.

Later, as we approached Sydney we spotted a few humpback whales and enjoyed their fun slaps and splashes a few times in a few miles- icing on the rich cake of our experiences in this trip.


We had secured a pleasant berth at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia at Rushcutters bay and were heartily welcomed by MSM stalwart Bob Brenac. The afternoon settled into a progression of visitors including Border Force in their black uniform with guns, and Quarantine with their sample jars and big yellow bags. After an enthusiastic search they took all of the Vanuatu sourced fresh food and our garbage, all for a hefty fee. And then it was friends and rellies dropping in for a look.

Through the afternoon we split up as a crew as various members left for home, before Rob Latimer arrived from Melbourne to catch up and start preparations for the trip to Melbourne. It felt surreal to be on land and sad to end a very focussed time with a special bunch of blokes. I’ll take away some amazing experiences and some great friendships, all whilst feeling a part of a greater cause in Medical Sailing Ministries and in God’s plan for the Pacific and for us.

In the end we travelled 2123nm, or just shy of 4000km, in 12 days, with a 1.5day stop at Chesterfield Reef. I couldn’t count the number of birds and flying fish we saw. We have left 833 photos and videos with Rob Latimer for him to enjoy and share with you all.

Thanks for tuning in to our journey, and stay in touch with msm.org.au for the next phase of the ministry.

All the best,

Jonno de Puit, Cam Heathwood, Rob Lott, Gwylim Siebel and Ray Clark.

Bringing Her Home #9

Great News !! Chimere and her loyal skipper and crew have arrived in Sydney, just before the predicted SW change later today

Congratulations !!

Bringing Her Home #8

Sunday 29th October 2017
Hello All,

This morning we sighted the sweet shores of Australia for the first time on our trip. It’s amazing how much it means to us, in many ways really, such as:

  • A few bars of phone reception had us all diving for pinging phones and making calls and texts to loved ones, looking up the weather and trying to ignore work.
  • Access to the good old EAC! East Australian Current which gives us a knot or two advantage and right now contributes to about 8.5 knots on a broad reach with reacher out.
  • Sightings of numerous ships, mainly cargo but we have also seen a cruise ship and some smaller vessels. We spot them on the Chart Plotter which taps into the Automatic Identification System (AIS). This shows us actual paths of travel of vessels and at the click of a button gives us ship info, their speed and heading and it calculates true vectors to establish our crossing time and distance apart. If it’s less than a mile we just need to alter course by 2 degrees or so and you can see an immediate difference to our crossing distance pop up on the system. This will be particularly useful at night and as we head for busy ports like Newcastle in the dark.
  • Thoughts of home, wives, family and how keen we are to see them.
  • Reflections on the journey and what we have experienced together, both in adventure and in relationship.
  • The beauty of the Aussie coast – with ever changing headlands and ranges of hills and mountains fading into the distance.
  • Cooler air than the tropics we have got used to.
  • Flatter seas (at least at the moment) which is a welcome respite and just makes everything easier.
  • Planning how we will devour as much of the food supplies as possible before Sydney – particularly the fresh food bought in Vila. Thanks to Gwylim my ambition for losing a few kilos has not come to pass. The Mahi Mahi has now been consumed – it took the five of us six solid meals to do it. We have tried it in a curry tinged flour, light flour and nude in butter, which was our flavourite in the end.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Rob Latimer and Barry Crouch for the opportunity to sail Chimere through some very special places.
And particularly I’d like to acknowledge our Skipper and Crew who have been experts in different things, complimenting each other just like a team (or body) should:

Skipper Cam – for being the boss like a boss, but being a humble and patient one, always trying to eek out an extra half knot on her speed and being the epitome of organisation and cleanliness. He takes the record for number of baths on deck, hands down. If you want aviation or sailing racing and cruising or rescue stories, buckle up for the journey.

First Mate Rob – for being a constant character, mentor, story teller and teacher / evangelist. Rob is an ex hippie, global traveller and pastor with miles of sailing under the belt and his wealth of life experience and special testimonies are shared constantly, always coupled with a giggle or a smirk or a tilt of the head and a piercing eye. He knows Chimere and how to sail her well and passes that knowledge on in helpful detail.

Second Mate Ray – who cut his teeth working for BHP and is now a Management Consultant to small business. Ray learnt problem solving techniques before they wrote the textbooks and it is obvious he applies them every day. We have had many opportunities to solve technical problems and Ray works out the options and then says ‘you will find that piece of stainless steel in the bottom drawer on the right in the workshop’. He is methodical and practical, gentle and unflappable. He comes home having had a birthday at sea – congrats Ray.

Chief Cook Gwylim – who has the best and biggest laugh, the most jokes and the biggest heart available. The passion of this man in the kitchen was evident from the outset – he had plans for our food before he left Australia and has maximised the variety of our cuisine from fresh ingredients sourced from Vila and the sea, watching him in the kitchen right now I can say he knows his stuff. Not only this – Big G is our song leader and has by far the best voice in the Pacific Ocean.

Being the spring chicken of this group and more of a mountain biker than a sailor it’s been like having 4 dads on board, each contributing something different to my experience through theirs. I’ll be going home much richer than before I knew these blokes. Thankfully it will be richer in skills, experiences, relationships and in God – what a great combo.

Will let you know how we go once we get there – please pray for fair winds and an entry into Port Jackson ahead of that ugly looking Southerly, ta.
Almost there,
Jonno and the lads.

Bringing her home #7

27th October 2017

Hello Folks,

In the 24 hours to 9am this morning we achieved 196nm – quite a thing for Chimere as she would normally average 140nm. As mentioned yesterday this is courtesy of favourable winds and current and seas. Well the broad reach continued all night and into this afternoon. At 3am I got up for a shift and there is Rob, standing in front of the wheel. It’s dark but I can see a twinkle in his eye and a bit of a wry smirk across his mouth (both of which are pretty normal for Rob). I climbed the companionway and looked at the chart plotter – flop, 9.4 knots! “Yep, and I got her up to 10.2” says Rob “even got a photo…… she’s like a horse heading for home”


[best Rob L could manage 🙂 ]

The broad reach is the fastest point of sail and is around 135 degrees off the wind. Every windsurfer lives for broad reaches, that’s all you want. My Laser loves a broad reach, she gets excited and up onto the plane and hums a tune to me when we reach together. Yesterday we had a gentle broad reach all afternoon and evening, we were making good with 8 knots with the big reacher and main aloft, a current of about 1 knot which we measured when swimming, and good ‘ole ‘Perky’ assisting. It made for extremely pleasant sailing because the sea was pancake flat. Overnight that breeze picked up so Cam and Gwyl changed out the reacher for the jib and staysail.

After sunrise this morning the breeze picked up much more than forecast and the sea picked up a few notches too. We saw some fantastic little Storm Petrels today – dancing along the large moving waves with incredible skill – goodness knows where they live. Cam spotted a large shark in an adjacent wave, with fin out of the water – hmmm, half a day from our last swim. The waves were pretty big and rolling up behind us, sometimes breaking as Chimere slid slightly sideways down the face. At one point I turned to Rob to let him know I felt a bit scared – he said Chimere is big, heavy and well built, so we’d be alright. And then a minute later he said he’d be scared mountain biking downhill through trees and rocks which are hard when you land on them, that put it into perspective for me. Cam, Rob and Ray take it all in their stride and their confidence helps us newbies.

Today we turned on the water maker, which converts sea water to fresh water through reverse osmosis. It makes about 6 litres a minute. After an hour and a half Cam checked the water tank to find a fair bit of fresh water sloshing around the midship bilges because of a leak in the system. After a few ideas with all heads down holes we formed a chain and bucketed out what must have been close to 500 liters of water, at least the bilges got a rinse.

Fish for dinner again tonight, with sweet potato and onion mash – that Mahi Mahi will go a long way.

Heading your way,
Jonno and the gang.

Bringing Her Home #6

26th Oct 2017
Friends and Family,

Today has been a day of great progress on the water – despite the winds being relatively light we have had good wind angles and good current and some assistance with good ‘ole trusty Perkins (85 quality diesel horsepower). Right now we have the main and reacher filling with wind on the starboard aft quarter and are moving at 8 knots on a flat sea with virtually no rolling – gorgeous! It’s our first Starboard tack since Vanuatu.

Earlier today we were enjoying a calm sea when Cam noticed a large piece of white flotsam ahead – we headed over for a look while Rob enthusiastically lunged for the fishing line and had a lure in before you could say “who farted?”. On approach we could see that it was a large single use canvas bag and there were a few little fish hanging around under its shade. Suddenly we noticed some large flashes of colour below and Rob just went off – “Mahi Mahi ohhh look at that they are GORGEOUS ohhh”.

Mahi Mahi or Dorado or Dolphinfish are a deep sea fish known for their extreme beauty and great eating – their fins are iridescent blue, they are blue / purple on top with metallic gold sides with blue dots, these fish were about 1.2m long. They are known for living in groups up to 100 around even small pieces of flotsam – they are stunning really, look them up. They are a real prize for fisherman and Rob has been dreaming about them for ever. After a few laps around the bag Rob latched onto one and was reeling it in. It fought hard and jumped into the air several times. After a while he stopped winding and we had a go at wearing out the fish by driving the boat forward for 10 minutes or so. Eventually it was lying on its side so we got in to the boat, onto the gaff and on board. We tried the method of sedation using rum over the gills, and it worked a treat. After a photo shoot Rob spent about 2 hours preparing what is a lot of fresh fish, which we enjoyed tonight.

We stopped for another swim today – more amazing blue that seems to go for ever. This was after our more mature folk had a water fight with buckets on the deck.

Our Chief cook Gwylim has been treating us to a great variety of food so far including curried fish, chunky beef on pasta, vegetarian on pasta, coleslaw tuna salad, green salad, bangers and mash with onion gravy and Sri Lankan ‘Hoppers’ this morning – a combo of pancakes and fried egg. Today we baked some fresh bread and had hot bread and jam for lunch.

My sailing history is in dinghies, windsurfers and cats with a bit of yacht sailing with relatives in Sydney so this has been a real learning experience. It’s been great to sail with blokes who have raced the oceans and cruised the world and they are wise and patient in their teaching. I’ve learned about different bits and pieces like running back stays, the boom preventer and the barber hauler (which is not someone who pulls your hair out).

We are aiming for an arrival in Sydney before a Southerly which is forecast for Tuesday morning – will keep you posted.
Cheers!
Jonno

This image showing the Chimere doing 9kts, which must be close to maximum. I think they are riding the EAC … dudes!
Rob Latimer