Farewell fair shores of Australia!!

I think Frank would laugh if anyone asked him if he was bored with life as a retiree!

We have both been so busy for the past few weeks from sun up to sunset, that we are actually looking forward to ‘Departure Day’ when we will have nothing else to do but HOPEFULLY sit back, relax and let the sails push us across the Pacific towards New Caledonia. It’s really all in the laps of the Gods, and we can but try to pick the best weather window and hope for the best.

Having said that, we had booked customs to clear us out Friday morning, May 1st, as the weather maps predicted westerly winds to give us a good push away from the coast of Australia. However, as the day drew closer, so the east coast has been hit with an unusually bad storm front for this time of year. Brisbane is experiencing a low pressure system bringing strong winds & torrential rain. We have been following the weather on various sites, but find http://www.Windyty.com the most comprehensive. (Unfortunately our internet data has run out so I cannot upload photos and we are operating on very slow speed.) See here for what we are experiencing ( the purple area shows winds of 41 mph/65 kmph!!) :-https://www.windyty.com/?-23.705,155.830,5

So we have postponed our departure now until Monday May 4th, when we hope the seas will have dropped as well as the winds.

On the plus side, the extra days spent here in the marina are allowing Frank to finish a number of jobs on board that otherwise would have remained ‘on hold’. It also means we can find time to say goodbye to more of our friends & can now attend the wedding of our good friend Lainy’s daughter, Kachaya, to Sean on Saturday.

It’s not much fun, trying to load the yacht or work on projects in these torrential downpours or rainy squalls. Venturing out from the yacht entails full wet weather gear and facing the full force of nature. I haven’t even managed to log our activity with appropriate photographs due to the appalling weather.

However, come Monday, the weather maps predicts light south westerly winds. With the prevailing winds this time of year tending towards sou’easterlies, we need to sail due east as far as possible before we use these southerly winds to push us north once we near New Caledonia- that’s providing they don’t decide to become northerlies and want to push us towards New Zealand!

As a result of all the hard work over the past few weeks, we now have smart new cabin windows, shiny new anchor chain ready to drop into those azure blue anchorages, a new VHF radio to keep in touch with the world out there, a new life raft perched up on deck, plus an emergency Epirb for the worst case scenario that can track us down to within 100 metres!

I have vacuumed sealed all my dry ingredients (like flour for bread making) to increase storage life, loaded the freezer with pre cooked meals to eat on passage, and filled the fridge with enough cheese to feed a plague of mice (it is hard to buy in Fiji). The ‘snack’ hammock is slung in the aft cabin, full of museli bars, healthy and not so healthy treats for those times on an ocean passage when you crave something to nibble on, especially in the middle of the night when you are on watch alone in the huge ocean.

Frank has fit a new motor to the refrigeration system that had to be revived recently, and I have securely stored the vast amount of donations and purchased goods to take across to Vanuatu. Stars End 2 is only a relatively small yacht with minimum storage (that is already full of our own gear, provisions & spares), and our water line has fallen several inches with all the added weight, but we are packed and ready!!!!

Once we reach Noumea, New Caledonia, we will stay there for a week or so before heading on to Vanuatu. Our friends, Deb & Alan on board ‘Divine Wind II’, plus the family on board ‘Periclees’ –  Isabelle, Dave & children Yara & Lanie are also bound for the Pacific, and will be leaving around the same time, so it will be good to share radio scheds en route & compare notes.

We have been also been co-ordinating with a local Nivan, Stephen, who works for the NDMO (National Disaster Management Organisation) in Vila & who has offered to organise for Frank & I to clear into Tanna after which Stars End 2 will sail to the island of Erromanga, to deliver donated goods and see how we can help the islanders rebuild their homes and lives.

So until we reach Noumea. please wish us fair winds and smooth seas, and may the force be with us!!

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