Saturday, 7 December 2013

Break Free and the Boys reach Brisbane

Bran and Steve exploring Ebon Atoll
and then being taken ashore by the entire Police force !
The first leg of the trip was 2 days down to Ebon Atoll, the most Southerley in the Marshalls. A great stopover even with the "greeting" from the entire Police Force of  six. Dave , a Mormon missionary from Oz helped us stock up on fruit and veg.
But the Acting Mayor was happy with the permit (and $25)
The Big Blue Sail near the equator

Temporary gooseneck repair
 The second leg across the equator and the Doldrums was pretty easy going but some days of rains qalls made for a bit of excitement. But a reasonably fast couple of days (170 miles in 24 hours!) saw us near the Santa Cruz Islands (Solomon Islands) after 8 days when a missing pin at the gooseneck saw a 24 hour repair stop to replace it. At Graciosa Bay Moses, Titus, and Luke made for an interesting stop, and we topped up the fresh food supply.
Active volcano near Nendo Island in the Solomons

Titus in a typical dugout in Graciosa Bay SI
Luke the Quarantine man with Titus and the crew

Beautiful fresh water spring
The only sign of human occupation at the Chesterfields
Finally a fish rather than broken gear! A Barracouda

What a beautiful baby face

But I need a nap
The Chesterfields were our next stop and great to have 2 nights at anchor, The reef complex is under New Caledonian (French) control but open for yachts to visit. We finally caught a fish rather than losing lures! Barracouda do not have the best reputation but we found it great eating (about 8 meals for the 3 of us over the next week!), The highlight of the stop is however the bird population who show no fear of humans, David Attenborough, eat your heart out, And on top of that turtles all round the boat. Excellent.

Showing no fear   (Brian is very brave!)

Break Free at anchor

And still more
From the Chesterfields it was a 4 day sail South West to Brisbane. The 25 knot forecast trough turned into 24 hours of 30 plus knots and pretty ugly waves but except for the three of us not enjoying the rough close reach it was actually quite safe and as it calmed down we had an easy sail into Moreton Bay. In fact the last 27 miles took less than 4 hours as we screamed across the bay and up the Brisbane River in flat water at 8 to 9 knots. What a finish. The next day Customs and Quarantine were efficient , even if a bit expensive at the $330 minimum charge.Then Brian and Steve flew home and I am on the boat resting up for a few days waiting for Jane to fly in on December 11.
For those interested the trip was 2450 nautical miles done over 20 sailing days at an average speed of 5.2 knots (122 NM per day) and we used about 130 litres of diesel by motoring for just more than 100 hours.
No damage other than the pin that fell out of the boom and dry decks 80% or more of the trip.
A big thanks to our friends on Westward 2 and Imagine who kept in daily contact on the HF radio with forecasts and just that feeling of "we know you are out there"

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