Preparation for the trip

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October 5th 2015
Published: October 9th 2015
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Indian Pearl 2Indian Pearl 2Indian Pearl 2

The lady herself!
Sunday, 4th October 2015

Our big adventure commenced today. Ian, Graeme,Mark and Rags left Perth Airport at 2300 arriving in Prosperine, Queensland via Brisbane. Here we were picked up by Barry and driven to Airlie Beach, arriving about 1.5 hours later.

Barry and his wife Diane have an apartment here where they live for several months of the year. The apartment overlooks the Port of Airlie marina where their boats Indian Pearl and Indian Pearl 2 are moored. Indian Pearl 2 is a new Horizon 72 power yacht and the reason why we are here. The four of us are joining Barry and over the next 3-4 weeks intend to drive it around the top of Australia to Fremantle, Western Australia, a distance of 3500 Nm. Ports such as Cairns, Thursday Island, Darwin, Broome, Port Hedland, Dampier and Exmouth have all been mentioned as possible stops, all dependant on what happens. As the boat is expected to average about 240 Nm/day, with stops for fuel, weather delays and rest stops, we may manage to cover the distance in 3-4 weeks.

We met Diane and she and Rags started discussing provisioning the boat for 3 weeks, Rags having been "designated" as the "chef". The other 4 spent the afternoon poring over the boat manuals, checking out the motor, pumps, generator, etc. Everyone has shared responsibilities and enthusiastically went about their business.

As we were all suffering from lack of sleep due to our "red-eye" flight the later part of the afternoon was spent settling into our new home. Rags was rapt to be allocated the crew cabin which is on the lower level near the stern, with its own shower and toilet. The whole boat is air conditioned making it most comfortable.

Diane had supplied us with a tasty lunch from the on-premise "Coffee Club" and prepared a delicious meal for us for the evening. The rest of the evening was spent planning the trip, checking weather forecasts, and generally getting to know each other. The weather is causing a little concern as strong SE winds have been blowing for some days and it doesn't seem to be abating.

After dinner and a bit more socialising we called it a day and had an early night. All slept very well!

Monday, 5th October 2015

By 0630 we were all up and about having gone to bed so early. By the time Barry joined us we had all had breakfast and dressed, ready for the day. Whilst the other 4 started fitting several large bladders, to hold extra fuel, to the boat, Rags started making a list of provisions required to feed us on the trip. Luckily we are able to purchase more as required at the ports we stop at, but as there are 1large and 3 small freezers and refrigerators on board it makes sense to take as much as possible.

Diane arrived and she and Rags soon had a long list ready for a trip to the local Woolworths. Diane again came to the fore, preparing lunch for all. Rags is a little worried that the others may expect the same quality after we leave port! Meanwhile the others had completed the fitting of the bladders and we motored over to the fueling jetty. Here we topped up the tanks in the boat, plus 2500 litres in the stern bladder and another 500 litres in a bladder on the bow, giving us 9000 litres in total. At 10 knots we should burn about 80 litres/hr, increasing to
Crew's CabinCrew's CabinCrew's Cabin

Rags has this cabin. Sleeping in top bunk.
over 200 at 14 knots. These figures should become more accurate in practice but the speed travelled is obviously the most important factor.

On returning to the pen we had our lunch before setting off for the food supplies. Unfortunately we didn't take into account that today was a public holiday, all shops closed. We'll try again tomorrow! The others continued the setting up of the boat and discussing the best route.

Dinner was at the local yacht club where we bought our own meals and drinks, everyone happy to do this as we have been so well fed by Diane. Rags is a little worried that he may not be able to cater to the standard being set by her, but everyone seems quite confident that it will be ok. We'll see!

Tomorrow may be the last day here, Barry seemingly keen to set off. Lets hope the wind that has been blowing so strongly over the last week starts dropping.

Tuesday 6th October 2015

It was an early start to the day with most of us up and about by 0600. The wind was still blowing but as we are running before it there shouldn't be any problems. After breakfast we all went about our chores with the guys continuing to set up the fuel bladders and tidying things up. Rags went out shopping at Woolworths with Dianne.

That was quite an experience! Rags had made up a shopping list of what was needed, Diane followed this but added extras as they walked up and down the aisles. After loading up 2 trolleys they unloaded them into the car, then returned to the shop and filled another two! We now have many frozen meals, instant noodle cups and different instant curries etc as well as various meats and vegetables. If we were to run low on anything they can be picked up at one of the ports we go to on our journey.

An electrician spent the day wiring in extra 12v powerpoints for spotlights and the pumps for moving the diesel from bladders to the ship tanks. After a sushi lunch, again supplied by Dianne we received the news that the electronic charts hadn't arrived and wouldn't until some time tomorrow. This meant cancelling our plans to leave in the early hours of tomorrow, we needing
Fuel bladdersFuel bladdersFuel bladders

Guys readying the bladders. Note Indian Pearl in background.
these charts later in the trip.

We all walked into town where Rags had a short haircut and we stocked up at BWS for a little celebration this evening. Dinner was again at the yacht club as we enjoyed it so much last night.

Wednesday 7th October 2015

Another day of frustration, waiting for the map memory card giving the route from Thursday Island onwards. We spent a productive morning, with Ian and Barry sorting out the refuelling system and Rags repacking the cupboards, freezers and fridges, collating what we had and where it was stored. Rags felt even though we have a large amount of food we didn't have meat suitable for a curry and as he enjoys cooking them he walked into town to buy some.

Lunch on the boat consisted of leftovers from the last couple of lunches, there being more than enough for the 3 of us left on board. The early part of the afternoon was spent tidying and storing of loose items into places where we can find them later into the trip.

The card didn't arrive. Barry rang to find out why and where
The CrewThe CrewThe Crew

Mark, Rags, Barry, Ian & Graeme
it was, they promising to ring back! Except for Mark, who had gone sightseeing in town, we sat around reading, typing, and generally killing time. By the end of the day it became evident that the card wouldn't arrive for another couple of days; we can possibly pick it up en-route at Cairns. Ian & Barry went off into town to pick up a new satellite phone and on their return we had a discussion regarding the weather.

The forecast was for the strong winds to continue until Saturday/Sunday with seas 2.5 to 3 metres. Consensus was that this would be most uncomfortable for us and the boat and as we weren't in a hurry, to wait until conditions in the near future were better. Barry offered us his vehicle to go to Mackay as tourists, three of us taking up the offer, Ian choosing to stay back and possibly going for a bike ride with Barry.

The late afternoon, early evening was spent talking and getting to know each other more, Diane and a friend Ann and her partner, joined us. We found Ann an interesting person as she was the skipper of a large yacht which took tourists on overnight trips up and down the coast. Some good yarns were heard from many people.

Rags did his first bit of cooking for the trip, cooking some rice to go with the apricot chicken prepared by Diane. It was voted to be very edible which augers well for the rest of the trip. By 2200 hours the fresh air and activities of the day had us all ready for sleep.

Thursday 8th October 2015

At 0430 when Rags woke the wind had dropped and all our worries seemed unfounded. This misconception continued only for a short time and by 0700 was blowing strongly and getting stronger.

After breakfast, Rags, Mark and Graeme left Ian and Barry to fiddle around the boat and drove Barry's Lexus 470 up the coast to Mackay. Mark had never been there, Rags passed through 4 years ago and Graeme had spent much time there in his employment. It is a large town, spread out and divided by a mangrove into East and West Mackay. It is surrounded by fields of sugarcane with the occasional pineapple farm. The port at East Mackay has a fishing
2500 litre bladder on stern.2500 litre bladder on stern.2500 litre bladder on stern.

Note stern entrance to Rags' cabin
fleet and further south is a large port from which coal is shipped. The most attractive sight was the new marina and groyne which was built around the original.

Lunch was local fish and chips, from the cafe recommended by one of the fish wholesalers we spoke to near the wharf. Very enjoyable! From here we drove around a little more, becoming a little lost, but we did see more of the town than we expected to.

We swapped drivers on the way home, Rags had driven up to this stage, and on our return to Airlie we refueled the car before returning it to its garage. Thank you, Barry and Diane. Back on the boat we found that the wind was as strong here as it was north, all of us hoping it will drop very soon. The plan at this stage is to leave the berth at 0400hrs tomorrow and to start off on our journey. If it becomes rough there is a bay 40 Nm away where we can shelter. Townsville (Dunk Island) would be our next shelter if necessary.

Further discussion on what we will do will be discussed tonight at the bbq
BBQ at the penthouseBBQ at the penthouseBBQ at the penthouse

Great evening, good company and delicious food. The leftovers allowed Rags to skip cooking for 2 days!
at Barry & Diane's penthouse.

Friday 9th October 2015

At 0330 hrs all were up for an early start but after feeling the strength of the wind and from the boating weather reports it was decided to stay in port. Everyone went back to bed, snuggled under doonas as the airconditioning was so efficient. We later realised that we had separate controls so most turned their units off. Sleep continued until 0730, Rags changing to the lower bunk as climbing in and out of the top bunk wasn't as easy as he expected.

After breakfast all did different chores but after hearing radio reports from yachts and boats in the near vicinity it became apparent that plans had changed. On the starting of the engines it was found that the side thrusters weren't activating and as the electric winch for the anchor was connected to this circuit the boat was immobile. Much testing and to and froing went on, eventually the electrician who had been working on the boat for the past 3 days was called. Many hours later the fault was found, a wire had become disconnected during the additional wiring work
Engine roomEngine roomEngine room

Twin motors plus 2 generators
done over the last few days.

It was now a little late and as the weather had come up again we had another meeting. The forecast for Saturday was not good so the departure day was set for Sunday.


10th October 2015

Perth weather is hot, hot, hot,hot for the next 4 days with a possible Thunder storm thrown in !! But I'm beginning to wonder just how good these weather blokes are !! Looking forward to your next blog ! Good luck to you all from the Dreaded Mother-in-law !!
10th October 2015

Wow!!! What an adventure...
it's good that you have so many friends to share the cost of diesel.
12th October 2015

Thought about ordering provisions online in advance of getting to port? We ordered all ours for six people for a week (including drinks) and had them delivered to the boat free of charge at Airlie. Beats pushing trolleys! Fair winds and calm seas!
12th October 2015

Best wishes
Sounds like a great adventure and guess we will have to settle with a drive around the top end towing a little caravan sometime. Hope you manage to iron out all the problems in port during the delays.

Tot: 2.568s; Tpl: 0.055s; cc: 32; qc: 127; dbt: 0.0873s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.7mb