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Published: November 6th 2008
The standard view
This is Rivendel. South Pacific Ocean.
Rivendel II is a 43 foot yacht and has been in the Project MARC family since the beginning. In the early days of the organization, Rivendel II served as the main office, main transport, main storage facility, and main clinic. Together with the Henk and Nelleke Meuzellar this boat was a founder of Project MARC, and like the retiring human founders it is time for her to get a break. While Rivendale will not be decommissioned as a sailing vessel it will be taken off the front lines of Project MARC's expeditions and sold to a good owner in Australia.
To facilitate this farewell, I was privileged enough to sail the yacht from Port Vila to Brisbane with the owners Henk, Nelleke, and one crew member, Lan Thai. The passage lasted ten days and despite a few mechanical issues we had some great sailing.
On the fourth day at sea we celebrated Henk and Nelleke’s 44th wedding anniversary. Henk stayed up after my watch and took Nelleke’s turn at the wheel so that she could sleep in. My job was to make cinnamon rolls for breakfast. The stove ran out of gas, but after a quick bottle swap the
Henk and Nelleke 44 years of craziness.
breakfast was finished up. We all were sitting in the cockpit enjoying the morning when Lan (who was steering) heard a loud sound that perked her ears up. As it turned out, the rudder on the wind vane had taken too much of a beating and gave up the ghost. Yes, you heard right, the rudder on the back of the boat was ripped clean off (leaving holes in the fiberglass hull where it had been mounted). We had to heave-to for repairs but upon inspection we saw that there was no repair to be done. This break was far beyond the point of a simple fix.
The whole rudder weighed over 100 lbs and had to be hauled aboard like a prize fish. Next, we started to plug the holes in the boat, but found that we didn't need to. All we could do was hope that things could be fixed in Brisbane. There were several parts that needed to be removed from the rudder for easier storage, so I took those off (including the heavy steel plate that is used to mount the thing to the boat).
Nelleke got an old yellow sailbag to wrap up
Giving up the Ghost
Here's the rudder getting ripped off the boat.
the smelly thing and Henk sleeved it on like a condom while I held it erect. It was quite the sex-ed lesson as Henk put the thing on. He was clowning around so much that he had us all in stitches. As we lashed the thing down there were plenty of jokes about “tying the know” and we all had a good laugh.
The following day the weather was nice, but the water pump needed repair so once again I found myself tucked into a small cubby space with a fist-full of tools. Being upside down in a cramped space on a rocky boat made me a little seasick, but I got over it and Henk got the pump repaired.
On Halloween Friday we were becalmed for a brief time in the afternoon. Since Rivendale can afford it, we cranked up the iron staysail and motored on. I made banana pancakes.
Then came another of sailing’s little adventures we like to call “engine failure.” Apparently the fuel line got clogged and the engine stalled itself out. It took a few hours to take the thing apart, but Henk fixed the problem pretty well. I got to hand
Here's the cinnamon rolls we ate while the rudder was getting ripped off the boat.
him tools and ask questions. We got the motor running alright but had to keep bleeding air out of the fuel filters to keep her running smooth.
Despite the little problems, we still managed to make good headway all along the way. We made our way up the Brisbane River and cleared customs on Sunday evening, ten days after leaving Port Vila. Here in Brisbane, Lan and I jumped ship. Henk and Nelleke will stay on to sail Rivendel up the coast to a broker’s marina in Scarborough. For the next month I will be here in Australia to attempt some fund raising and planning next year’s expeditions.
For those of you back in the states, I’ll be back in December and begging for money. Hopefully we’ll raise enough to accomplish our goals for 2009, and help the hundreds of people we plan to visit. As always, thank you for your support. Without you I’m just one man with a single pair of hands, but together we make a “benevolent steamroller.”
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