2 April 2009
Like most cruising boats, Chimere was always ready for a day’s sail, or a short hop down the coast, but an extended voyage was another thing altogether. This meant more detailed preparation and provisioning.
The remoteness of the Vanuatu region, the crossing of the Tasman Sea and the responsibility of transporting teams of medical volunteers has just added a further layer of care and duty.
So, in adequately preparing Chimere, we have progressively worked our way through the many systems on board to either, service, fix or replace, whatever needed to be done. The main systems include:
– The engine and 240v generator
– Batteries, their charging, plus emergency power
– Radio communications
– Water storage
– Sail wardrobe
– Dinghies, plus their safe storage and retrieval
– Ground tackle – anchors, chain and rode
– Safety, including liferafts, lifejackets and harnesses .
– Galley, toilets (that’s right 2 of them) and food storage
– Storage of spares, tools and the many boxes of equipment
and stock for the medical service we are supporting
– Plus much more…
Then there’s the paperwork. Including:
– NSW ships registration details
– Australian registered ship documentation
– EPIRB registration
– Insurance papers, plus the necessary Bluewater Extension
– Aust Maritime Safety Authority Sail Plan
– Copies of crew passports, including ship’s letter for those doing a one way trip
– Manifest of all cargo being transported
– Australian customs clearance papers (we get these on the day we leave)
Whilst the above preparations will continue right up until the moment we leave, the biggest area of preparation must surely have been the finding of a suitable crew. From having no crew three months ago, to having 15 wonderfully enthusiastic crew now, has been an exciting journey in itself.
The plan is to have 5-6 crew aboard at all times and because none can spare the whole 4 months away in one stretch, it means rotating crews at key points along the way. Each volunteer crewmember is paying their own way, including air travel, so as not to be a burden on the medical service budget.
We have a good mix of youth and experience, energy and poise, but of course life aboard will be a test of compatibility as many lifelong personal habits – both good and bad – are “shared” within the confines of a space probably smaller than the average lounge room. Little wonder that extended life aboard has variously been described as a cross between Big Brother and Survivor. Maybe it’s a good thing there are 5 separate cabins and 30 metres of deck space to walk around (that’s up and back).