Sat 13 May & Sun 14 May 2017

Hasting Vic, (yes that’s right, still in Hastings)

As the saying goes … A place for everything and everything in its place … well the time has finally come for all the bits and pieces aboard Chimere to be put in their place.

First of all it was a case of putting Chimere back in the water, where she belongs, after nearly two months on the dry having all manner of jobs completed. Everything from new bilge pumps, canvass dodgers, welded steelwork, new roller furler bearings and reconditioned sails, to brand new electric [operated] toilet, satellite communications, cockpit lighting and deck boxes.

It really has been a frantic time and I take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to all the volunteers and trades people who have brought us to this point; the launch pad ready for cast-off at the start of MSM Vanuatu Mission 2017.

Co-owners Barry & Robert in front of a much tidier, ship shape Chimere, almost ready to set sail for Vanuatu.

For those who have been paying attention to the recent newsletters you’ll know that we were supposed to be away from the Westernport Marina here at Hastings on Saturday 13 May – yesterday – and on our way north to Sydney before making the voyage over to Port Vila, Vanuatu. Yet here we are Sunday night on the 14th, tied up at the fuel dock having made it a mere 20 metres from the service dock where we’d spent the last five days making last minute preparations.

There was nothing unusual about the trip to the fuel dock. It was our last minute chance – at least for the nest 500 miles or so, to top-up the tanks. All went to plan with the addition of 1,000 litres of diesel bringing us up to our full capacity of 1,400 litres.   The problem arose when we tried to start the motor for that all-important “step ashore”, “wish-you-well”, “bye-bye”, “wave from the dock”, moment. I turned the key and …”rrr … rrrr, rrrr …” No ZOOM, Brrrrrrrrr, like normal and within a couple of moments there was smoke from the bilge and a distinct smell of something burning.

Our mechanic-man Steve from professional Marine Management who’d come down to see us off yelled “grab the fire extinguisher, somethings burning” … as he gingerly lifted one of the floor panels. There was a lot of smoke, but mercifully no fire, as I crouched at the ready with one of the two new fire extinguishers donated to the cause by Fletch Findlay. I’d grabbed the fire extinguisher from the side of the fridge where it had been mounted, nice and close to the engine … “just in case of emergency”, a moment just like this.  With fire extinguisher in hand I fumbled to make it operational only to discover that in my haste I’d ripped the whole unit off the wall, mounting bracket and all. What a duffer. Either those screws weren’t strong enough, or my superior strength was in evidence as the adrenalin kicked in.

The failure of the motor to start was initially suspected to be flat batteries, caused from using the winch to load 500kg of anchor chin into the forward well from where it was piled on shore after being delivered a few days ago. Then it became clear that the problem was the starter motor, which had decided that particular moment to end its days.

So what do you do when the starter motor won’t go? In Vanuatu 4 years ago, with 15 people aboard for a lovely day sail, all wishing to get back to Port Vila after a nice day’s snorkeling and frolicking in the sun, our boating friend and supporter Ken Short used a long screw driver to extract one last start out of the unit for the return to port; much to the relief of all.

This time we simply lifted the floor panel in my cabin to reveal a brand new Lucas starter motor bought by me less than 6 days ago as a … “just in case”, spare-part unit. After spending 60 minutes head down in the bilge fitting the new one Steve had to admit that he really thought I’d be bringing a new starter motor back from Vanuatu in six months’ time.   “When you asked me to buy it, I really didn’t think you’d be using it”.

Again, thank you Steve for your amazing assistance, your attention to detail and cheerful caring attitude. (Being Mother’s Day we should also pass on apologies to your wife as well, as it was well and truly dark when you left the boat just a few hours ago)

With the new starter motor fitted and the engine purring away happily below the floor-boards we might just as easily have grabbed the last of the outgoing tide to head away tonight. Unfortunately the metal hinge on the anchor well hatch cover also decided to break in the course of us setting up the anchor, the new 120 metres of chain and stowing away all the lines and “stuff” needed.

So now, after co-owner Barry Crouch has spent four days welding new steel-work to the back of the boat we are in need of a welder to attach a couple of hinges to the lid of the anchor well.

Removing the accumulated “junk” from onboard

Two days late in departing and after literally dozens and dozens of tasks being completed, finding a welder to do a small job at very short notice, might
just end up being one of the last hurdle to cover before we really do untie the lines and head out to sea tomorrow.

Dinner tonight, prepared while tied up here at the (extremely calm) fuel dock was our first foray into the formal menu and massive reserve of on-board food supplies; prepared lovingly and in great detail by Edith West. The six month, day-to-day menu was to have started yesterday with Nachos, so it was agreed we could get stuck into them as an entree before the main course of Thai Butter Chicken and rice. Fearing that the Old Gold chocolate might start to “go off”, we relished a few squares over a hot cup of cocoa, or in my case a strong coffee to keep me going an extra hour or so; which is now starting to wear off.

So barring another “issue”, this really should be the last “sleep” before we untie the lines, at least for a few days.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and everything in its place.

Rob Latimer