Mooring lines attached for the last time

Tuesday 31 August 2010

There’s always the tidying up !!    And that’s what consumed this week-end just past.  Sorting out good from bad, cleaning, packing away, removing … you name it, we did it.  Then, when all that could be done was done, there was the final drive out of the CYCA, where we’d been generously allowed to tie up for a couple of nights, to Chimere’s new mooring around at Middle Harbour.

Now for those of you not familiar with the Sydney waterways, (like me from Melbourne), Middle Harbour is what you face as you enter the Heads.  If you sail left you end up at Sydney Cove, the Bridge, Opera House and all that and if you go right you land at Manly.  As the name suggests, Middle Harbour is kind of … in the middle.  The only problem with Middle Harbour, at least for those boats with a mast, is that there is this bridge!  The Spit Bridge, which has a clearance of just a few metres above the water.  Fortunately though, the bridge has a big hinge on one side and a few times each day the traffic each way is stopped, the bridge is lifted and the boats on each side are allowed to pass through.

On Sunday, our opportunity to pass came at 11:30am.

So there we were, milling around with a flotilla of other craft waiting for the lights to go green.  It’s kind of a watery version of the running of the bulls, but with no bull of course.  Out came the boats from the other side and then the call went up, “she’s green!!”, full throttle let’s go.

This is not a place to be late.  Not even a little bit late.  I could imagine the bridge-master delighting in closing the bridge as a distant yacht is seen racing in the direction of the pass.  He’d probably yell something like … “Sorry mate.  Gotta keep the traffic flowing.  You’re too late.  She’ll be open again in 3 hours.”

As you pass under the bridge you could almost feel the tension of the Sydney motorists as they sit in idling cars, the ever-increasing queue of traffic disappearing up the road in both directions.

Then almost as soon as the last boat’s mast is safetly clear of the raised bridge platform the sound of the bridge being lowered can be heard.

A very special thanks to David and Helen off the yacht Obelia who have been supporters of MSM right from the beginning.   They found us the mooring here on Middle Harbour, are moored just near us and even sailed out into Sydney Harbour to escort us through for the 11:30 Spit Bridge deadline.    Thank you for making it all so easy for us.

So the MSM Vanuatu 2010 mission is now officially at an end.  It’s a time to review the work of the past few months and begin to plan for the future.  We really would value your comments and suggestions.  Please email them to [email protected]

For those in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon, 17 October, a Vanuatu Celebration function is being organised where stories and video of the mission will be presented.  You are most welcome to come along.  Contact MSM for more details, or keep an eye on this website.

Thank you to everyone involved with this years mission.  The volunteer crew have done a wonderful job, along with those helping out in the “back rooms”.  Thank you Liz for doing such a fantastic job on keeping the website up to date.  To the spouses and family of the volunteers, Thank You for lendng them to us and for your support and encouragement.  In most cases your loved one was returned to you in good condition …

… Oh, while I’m on at topic, a special mention and thanks to Andy Black who copped a broken bone in the hand on the first day of Mission 1, in May, after earlier enduring the horrible 14 day delivery voyage from Sydney.  We can also thank P&O and the crew of Pacific Dawn (who just happened to be at the same island on that day) for providing much need medical attention.  It’s good to know that after being flown out a day or so later, Andy’s hand is now showing signs of recovery; but it’s been a slow, frustrating time.  A very special thank you Andy!!

To the Vanuatu Prevention of Blindness Project, their local Ni-van team members and the many Australia volunteers involved, it was wonderful to be able to assist you again this year and you do an amazing job under some very difficult conditions at times.   Keep up your good work.  As we have seen and documented on this website, what you do is truly life changing and is transforming people’s lives.

Finally, to the people of Vanuatu, we continue to be touched by your openness, generosity and resilience.  We enter your world as strangers, but we leave as friends.  We come to give, but in fact we take away more than we bring, through the effect of your smiles, laughter, faith and love.  Tank Yu Tumas!!

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Mission 2010 finally comes to an end.

Rob Latimer

Co-ordinator of MSM

Finally Here

As Bob said in his log the weather has been a challenge since Monday. Strong, cold SW winds. Right on the nose making it difficult to hold a straight course for Sydney. Seas braking over the bow constantly sending spray flying. Down below everything became wetter and wetter. In these conditions we thought Bob was right to think they wouldn’t be in till Saturday. However, late this morning we had a message to say they were only 30 miles from the heads. That meant they should be in this afternoon. They had made great time in spite of the conditions.

I got in the car and started driving from the Central Coast (about 100km north of Sydney) with the aim of getting to Bradley’s Head on the harbour in time to see Chimere come through the heads. Rob and I exchanged phone calls during the rest of the day. I also rang David Amy who I knew was on his yacht in the harbour and who was looking out for Chimere too. David was on radio watch, listening in for Chimere making calls. Around 1:45pm David rang to say he was listening to Bob talking to Customs. When finished, David made contact too. Chimere was getting closer. I picked up our daughter, Liz from Bayview and continued on to Bradely’s Head

We found the last car spot at Bradley’s Head. It was busy because a wedding was going to be held there today. The cold, gale force winds blasted the wedding party and they shivered their way throught the service. Once parked, a stretch limo parked across the parked cars locking us in.

Liz and I didn’t have long to wait and Bob rang to say they were tacking into the harbour. A few minutes later I could see them in the distance with the cliffs of north head rising behind them. The gallant crew tacked their way up the harbour, dodging the Manly ferries coming and going, and weaving in between the navigation markers along the way.

Chimere looked beautiful as she sailed past the city skyline, the opera house and finally the bridge en route to the Customs dock. Once Chimere was out of sight we got back in the car, did a multi point turn to manoeuvre past the stretched limo and drove around to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. Liz went to the city and I waited at the CYC.

One of the crew from last year, Jo Lewis, came down to the CYC too and we killed the time swapping stories of sailing in Vanuatu. Later a call from Bob to say they were 10 minutes away, had us leaving the warmth of the club house and scuttling down the jetty to where Chimere should be appearing any moment from somewhere out of the blackness of the night. Very soon we saw some navigation lights and knew it would be Chimere. Chimere quickly materialised and the guys brought her gently along side. With perfect timing other family members of the crew appeared on the jetty. A very relieved crew, bedecked in their wet weather gear and sporting big smiles, lined up along the gunwale to call out their hellos and pass lines ashore.

The delivery trip came to an end at that moment. We all crowded into the saloon and shared around the last tuskers for a toast.

A big thank you to the crew, Bob, Carl, Rhod, Tony and Rim.

Andrew Latimer

Home safe and sound!!

Friday 27 August 2010

Sydney Harbour

After a horrible few days of beating into high seas and strong winds Chimere has been guided safetly home by her gallant crew of five – Bob, Rhod, Tony, Carl and Rim

We’ll be hearing more from skipper Bob and maybe some of the crew later, but this is just a brief note to report that all is well as they prepare for the standard Customs and Quarantine inspections.

Stay tuned

Robert Latimer

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Are We Nearly There?

Thurs, 26th August   12:00 hrs 32 25’S  153 19’E

The past few days since the last update have delivered a mixed bag. Since Sunday, which started off with glassy sea & not a zephyr of breeze, we’ve had a bit of everything.  From what started out as a light Nth Westerly that moved slowly around the clock, died out again, then built to 25-35 kts from the North & North West for a rip-tearing 6 hour blast, before settling from the West but still blowing hard. As the sometimes gale force wind hovered in the SW quadrant, exactly where our course to Sydney is, this made for a pretty ordinary Tuesday. Double reefed main & staysail, lots of water breaking over the bow and cascading down the deck, some of which always finds its way inside the boat, an ugly, bumpy sea making it difficult to move about – and to add to the discomfort, heading not where we want to go! Still blowing hard, the decision was made later in the afternoon to tack and head for Australia rather than New Zealand.
After 20 hours of bashing away towards Australia  (Queensland, not NSW!) tacked back on to a course that at least ran parallel to the coast, not directly to Sydney, but at least roughly in the right direction. Not long after tacking, “Ray”, our autohelm gave up – not an electrical or electronic problem, but most definitely a dodgy installation job. Nevertheless, Chimere is well balanced enough to steer herself with a little help from “Oscar” (couple of cords lashing the wheel), as she did for several days on the way up to Vanuatu 4 months ago.

Still the usual jovial ship even under these conditions, due in no small way by Rhod’s endless cordon bleu presentations from the heaving galley.

Contact was made with Customs, advising of our ETA (VERY estimated) of Friday, only to find that Robert L had also passed on the same info; then twice in as many days, the same information was given via VHF radio to the Border patrol Lear jet that whipped overhead. I think they know we’re coming!
Since tacking South on Wednesday morning, it’s been a steady bash towards home. At this point in time, with approximately 130 nm to go in a straight line, we could possibly get in by close of business Friday. But unfortunately, we probably won’t be able to travel in that straight line! We’ll have a better idea by early tomorrow morning.
Until then – stay tuned!!

Fair Winds & Smooth Sailing (I wish!)
Bob B

Daggy Weather !!

Tuesday 24th August   14:00 hrs 30 23’S   156 09’E

Sorry no blog – after glassy sea & not a breath of wind Sunday night/Monday morning, gradually filled from N, NE then built to rip-roaring NWesterly for Monday night, but since early today, clocked even further round to SW at 20 to 25 knots, with gusts to 35.

Now punching into a dreadful sea state, slowly in the wrong direction (South). Even though it’s only been really bad for about 8 hours, it feels like a week!

Everyone a bit down, hence no blog. We will probably tack later this afternoon so as to get a bit of Westing in, and hopefully see the wind begin to clock further round to South, or better still SE. Fingers crossed!

Expect to arrive in Sydney on Friday … weather permitting!!


Saturday blog

Saturday 21st August 2010 0000hrs 25 deg 42 min E, 162 deg 37 min E
Which way to go?? Hard to know.  We want to go to Sydney but the SW wind (light breeze) means that we cannot get anywhere near or track at the moment.  There are compensations though.  Chimere must have been travelling at the right speed and there was Tuna for lunch (sashimi  style for the aficionados and pan fried for the rest).  Delicious!  You guessed it – from the hands of Chef Rhod, caught Bob & filleted Carl.  As for Tony and Rim, somebody had to get ready to eat
Yesterday’s run (Friday) was 127nm in a straight line to Sydney and this morning looked promising with the engine off and 7 knots through the water.  I guess tuna and fair winds at the same time are too much to expect so we must rely on Mr Perkins.  The up side is that no wet weather clothing has been needed yet.  Today it looked as though we might need to, but Bob’s rain coat together with the 2 emergency umbrellas strapped to the cockpit rail seem to have scared the clouds away.
Good luck with your elections.
Tony O
2000hrs   27 00′ S  161 21′ E

Been a strange sort of a day today. It started out this morning as a cruiser’s dream – sunshine, smooth sea, wind clocked around to the Nth East, mainsail and poled out Genoa (“goosewinged”) and 7 knts straight towards Sydney – just magic!  Ever so slowly, the wind continued to clock around to the North, then Nth West (still very pleasant), until an evil looking cloud band appeared on the horizon ahead. The air temperature dropped, wind came from the South, not particularly strong, but since around 15:00 hrs, very fickle, from Sth East then Sth West, back & forth, making it somewhat frustrating trying to decide whether to head for Australia or Antictarca!
Currently heading towards Lord Howe Is (motor sailing under Mainsail, Staysail & No 2 Genoa). The next couple of days are forecast to be a steady improvement, promising an increase to 20 knots out of the North – here’s hoping!
Just finished dinner – same tuna as lunch, though beautifully prepared & served by Rhod with home made chipped potato & veges, followed by jelly & custard and finished off with an Irish coffee. How good is that!!

Now 20:30, (my bed time)

Fair winds & smooth sailing.

Bob B.

Ahhh! Back on the Blue Pacific Ocean Swells

Thursday 19th August 2010   12:00hrs 23 26’S  165 05’E

The smell of freshly baked bread wafting throughout the yacht has brought everyone from their slumber; Carl has taken on the task and has excelled, so much so that the loaves are devoured in a flash. Rhod is in the galley preparing a gourmet evening meal, while the bread is cooling for a gourmet lunch. Tony is persevering with the chartplotter, trying to re-name Waypoints & re-arrange Groups; finding it somewhat frustrating at times, from the occasional expletives noticed from below!
Chimere is currently rolling along very smoothly under Mainsail, Staysail and No.1 Genoa, with a little help from the “iron tops’l” just ticking over to keep our speed around the 6 kt mark. Though still early days, the plan is to arrive in Sydney by Wednesday or Thursday next week, so we really have to keep good pace on at this point in time.
The temperature was noticably cooler last night, so it probably won’t be long before the “winter woollies” become the night attire – but for now it is still “shorts & tee” shirt daytime temperature.
Everyone on board is in good spirits, a far cry from the “not too flash” passage of 4 months ago, on the opening Sydney-Noumea leg.
Nothing more comes to mind right now, so
Fair winds & smooth Seas from Chimere.

Bob B.

Are We Actually Moving?

Monday 16th August 18:00hrs 21 38′ S 166 55′ E

The answer is yes and no.  Right now we have peace and quiet, 4 kts and stars to guide us but earlier Mr Perkins was required to give us the same speed.  Perhaps an adverse current was the culprit together with an hour spend at the fuel station due to a supect transfer pump.
Pancakes for breakie – another treasure from Chef Rhod had helped put us in the right frame of mind for another tough day at the office.  One of Martin’s beef creations provided a fitting end to the day.
Carl is currently making bread by numbers (Bob’s first delicious batch has been consumed) while Rim stands watch on a starlit night.
The run for the first day to noon on Sunday was 125nm in 21 hrs.  day 2 to noon Monday was 120 nm.  Total fuel seems to be only about 3L/hr so far.
We have passed the Loyaly Islands having passed between Atoll d’Ouveau and Ile Lifou and passed along the east coast of New Caledonia heading for Havannah Pass in the morning.

Tuesday 17th 11:45hrs 22 20′ S  166 35′ E

Tony’s short (very short) attempt at the blog must obviously have come to a halt, or with such smooth sea, maybe he nodded off on the job!
We are now approaching Noumea, about 10 nm ahead, after passing through Havannah Passage around 05:00 hrs this morning and thence through Woden Channel with company – 3 yachts and a small runabout, all under power with less than 4 to 5 knots of breeze. The plan is to overnight in Noumea, refill the main fuel tank with dutyfree diesel in the morning, then depart New Caledonia via Amedee when all is done. With the current lack of available wind “fuel”, we may well need the additional diesel. Time now for some soaking up the sunshine. Not really much more to add.

Smooth SAILING and SOME wind

Bob B

MSM Prayer Requests from Vanuatu.

Some of you may recall the MSM Missions discovery of a very sick baby Rowena with a ‘hole in her heart’.  In your prayers please thank God that the Mater Children’s Hospital in Brisbane has now agreed to undertake her assessment and heart surgery, and that ROMAC has kindly agreed to provide financially, for all her travel and medical costs! Please ask God that the final agreement documents and the visa applications will be processed without delay. Please also pray for her safety during the air-flight from her village in Abatwuntora on the island of Pentecost to Port Vila, and then to Brisbane; and for her parents Anika and Livingston who are very anxious and extremely grateful for this unexpected help.

Rexlyn is a 14yo shy but delightful and intelligent girl in the village of Tanbok, Pentecost Is, who was also mentioned (unnamed) in an earlier MSM post. She had become deaf from chronic ear infections, making life and schooling difficult. No treatment is available and there are no ENT specialists in Vanuatu. Both ear drums are perforated and so she cannot hear. Thank God that He had already arranged for a specialist ENT team from Melbourne to be in Port Vila this week. Thanks also that Don MacRaild was able to get a message to Rexlyn’s father Rev Willington (local Anglican Minister) to go to Port Vila to see the specialist. Rexlyn arrived in Vila last week and was seen by the specialist today. She is booked for delicate micro-surgery on Thursday. Please pray that the delicate graft to the ear drum will heal and she will regain her hearing.

PS If you would like to hear more miracles, come to North Ringwood this Sunday morning.

Dr Graeme Duke (Crew member and medico)

On The Road Again

Sunday 15th August 2010   17:00hrs 19 45’S  166 46’E

Just over 24 hrs out from Port Vila and rolling off the miles on the homeward voyage.
It was all a bit of a rush to get away yesterday, but had we missed clearance formalities before 11:00 am, we would not have been able to leave before next Tuesday. The 3 remaining inbound new crewmembers, Tony, Rhod & Rim arrived on board at 4:00 pm, so it was immediately off with 5 passports to Immigration to, at least, get our outward people cleared to leave – but not Chimere. At Immigration it was learned that Customs was now closed, do not open weekends, and Monday is a Public Holiday (Assumption Day), so no yacht clearance. However, there was a freighter departing for Noumea at 11:00am on Saturday, so maybe, JUST maybe, the customs might be around long enough to issue Port Clearance, if in a friendly, co-operative mood. So on the doorstep of what was a completely vacant Customs Office at 10:00am sharp, followed by some serious “Pevention of Blindness Project” pleading, success with the most important item to all seafarers – Port Clearance.
Back to Chimere with paper in hand to refuel at Duty Free fuel price before they closed at 12:00 (also until Tuesday) only to learn that the Clearane document alone was not sufficient to buy fuel duty free. A separate form, also from Customs (now closed) was needed. Time was running out. Less than 45 minutes before closing time for everything! What was more important? Fuel at full price or duty free grog (very cheap)? The decision came without too much deliberation.

So here we are, Bob (that’s me) & the pirate crew Tony, Rhod, Carl and Rim on the final leg of the MSM mission for the Vanuatu Prevention of Blindness Project for 2010. There is no doubt that those who have contributed to the 2010 mission have succeeded in their respective roles – the  Medical teams and the MSM crews who supported them.

All we aboard Chimere need now is your prayers for a safe journey home – and enough favourable winds (or fuel) to get us there!

Fair winds & smooth Seas

Bob B