Final days in Australia

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July 25th 2014
Published: July 25th 2014
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The sun has just set over the 93 boats here in Fannie Bay and a little pop-up reminder generated by iCal appeared on my laptop. It reads “Tomorrow. Sail to Indonesia”. A pop up reminder, usually as harmless as “go to hairdresser”, that has much more gravitas than normal - I didn’t really need a reminder as the last 10 days days has been a frantic mess of getting ready for this trip. Our longest sail and our first crossing into international waters.

Our first day in Darwin we took thing pretty easy. I arranged for a mechanic to come the next morning to check it was the injector pump that was causing problems and then we relaxed with lunch at the Yacht Club, presenting ourselves to the really organisers, a visit to the Fannie Bay Goal museum and then to buying treats at the local IGA supermarket.

The next morning I picked up Stuart from the beach - friendly relaxed guy in his 50s who reminded me of Geoffrey Rush. We spent an hour or two by the engine, rebleeding the fuel system and he came to the same conclusion. He wanted to contact a couple of friends of his, one to remove the pump and another to fix it and said he would call us back that day.

We headed into town, and met the crews from CD Dream and Chapter Two (another from the Brit boat contingent) at the bus stop. Arrived at the Indonesian consulate to find it closed for lunch but would open at 2:30 only to close early at 3pm as it was ramadan. We got our usual McDonald’s fix and came back to complete the forms - normally this is done only in the morning but since they close at the end of next week for 10 days at the end of ramadan they bent the rules so that it could be processed in time. We didn’t hear back from Stuart.

Saturday when I got through to Stuart he hadn’t been able to contact either friend but said he would let me know as he was leaving for a holiday in Bali on Monday. We never heard from him again. That night was the rally BBQ at the Yacht Club. We turned up about an hour after the start to avoid landing the dinghy in the mud at low tide. We ended up eating with an international table of Spanish, Belgium and French cruisers and had a big panic when Alex disappeared from the playground. Later spoke to the crew from Revel who happened to have a good mechanic visiting their boat in the morning and offered he visit us too. This ended up being a huge blessing.

I was half taking the pump off myself when they called to drop him at Luna Ray and was I in two minds as to whether he should visit as he wasn’t an injector pump specialist - but he might be able to put us onto to someone. The egyption immigrant got stuck straight into to retesting the system and within 20 minutes had fuel pumping to the injectors and soon after the engine was running (by holding a petrol sodden rag to the air intake!). He told us the pump was fine and we had good compression - the fault actually came from the “off lever” being stuck internally - perhaps with dirty fuel. Also our glow plugs were not working which may have not helped.

So Nafa was a miracle worker for us and now on top of that he offered to drive me to Repco to see if we could buy some glow plugs. We visited 2 branches and neither had our type. He gave us 2 contacts to try tomorrow when they were open - and it turned out there were only 2 plugs in Australia available so we had them posted express from Adelaide.

On wednesday Nafa returned and finished the repair - although one of the glow plug rods was stuck in the engine he felt three would be enough, but then it turned out they were not getting power anyway - rigged up some wiring so I can power it of the started motor cable if need be BUT the next morning it started from cold without them.

We abandoned our hopes of visiting Kakadu National park for a night or two as there was too much to do. We had another visit to immigration to pick up our visas, the technical rally briefing afternoon, doctor visit for vaccinations, 2 visits to customs, shopping, filling gas bottles, numerous rounds of clothes washing, even hired a car for day get boat supplies and food pick up from Woolworths - this ended up being 6 trolleys full and took 2 car trips and 4 long dinghy rides. I could park on the boat ramp but it was still a laborious process of carrying it down the beach to the dinghy, then the long ride out to Luna Ray and then lifting up onto the deck. A lot easier when the water was calm but the afternoon sea breeze picked up and the shopping was getting sprayed with seawater on the dinghy ride on the later trips. So transferring the goods between two rocking boats in soggy boxes became a challenge.

Today we went down to Cullen Bay fuel jetty - topped up on diesel and petrol and the tap there gave us a chance to wash the boat down, and fill all our water tanks. Then back to Fannie Bay and the yacht club to see the customs people to make our final check out - especially good of them considering it is Darwin Show Day public holiday today. Had our last Australian lunch and picked up our box of booze delivered by the duty free shop.

So all that is left to do is to try and find space for all our new provisions (at the moment we have 30 2lt cartons of long-life milk down the side of the saloon chair) , a last shop for fresh food/meat at the IGA/butcher in the morning, a couple of things they might have at the chandlery, and stack the dinghy on the deck and await for the siren marking the 11 am start. Then across the start line with the 60 other boats and ride the last 2 hours of dropping tide out of Darwin and out to the open sea. Its about 480 miles to Kupang (West Timor) which is our entry port and should take about 4-5 days. Our longest trip comes obviously with some feelings of trepidation, but of course we will have lots of company-at the start at least, and added to that we will be in the different country and culture away from the sanctuary you expect from a first world country like Australia. All daunting stuff but also the stuff of adventure!

Goodbye Australia, Luke


25th July 2014

Fair winds, smooth seas.
I wish I was going with you, a great adventure enjoy.
26th July 2014

good luck Luke , NAMOI,Alex, you are following your dreams, have a great trip, love Ginny xxxxx

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