Location: Gibson’s Marina, Pittwater, NSW

Itinerary: to 1 May 2009 – anchored Gibson’s Marina

Crew members:  many helpers


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
– Navigation
– 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).

We hope to spend a couple of days at sea, just prior to Easter, around Tues 7/4 to Thus 9/4. Our main objective will be to test things like the autohelm, chartplotter and just check through everything on board.

The test sail on Thurs 9th April was successful, although with the mailsail and genoa, (big sail at the front) at the sailmaker for some last-minute alterations, we were limited to a brief “drive” on Pittwater with the jib and staysail (again, those sails at the front) hoisted for good measure.

The use of the engine coincided with the completion of work on the exhaust system, so it was very successful from that point of view.

As our departure date of 2 May looms, (weather permitting) the urgency of everything increases, but there is now a team of dedicated contractors finishing off the final tasks.

The last week of April, (that’s in about 14 sleeps) will see some more frenetic activity as the food is bought and stowed, along with the many boxes of optical equipment and stock we will be transporting for the medical teams.


2 April

Preparation continues

12 April

Test sail

23 April

Last day at work

24 April

Family farewells

25 April

Countdown – the final week

27 April

5 sleeps to go

29 April

All shopped out

30 April

The day before the big day

May 1

First south to go north east

Galleries: click to view

–  The Boat … Chimere

–  The Crew

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