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Archive for the ‘Bad weather’ Category

Greetings Everyone,

We are back in Oz but …. this would have to rank as one of our worst trips home. During the first night out the halyard holding up the roller furler on the big headsail broke and left us sailing underpowered and unbalanced (well maybe the admiral was unbalanced but the skipper is quite balanced, typist) with main and staysail. The winds were light and we limped along averaging 2-3 knots. When a southerly change was forecast we decided to change course for Mackay and go through Hydrographers Passage. The change came in earlier than forecast hitting us with driving rain and 25 knot winds on the nose as we navigated that strong tide passage. The wind against tide kicked up huge short steep waves and we motored flat out to do fifteen miles in twelve hours!! It’s now on my list of passages NOT TO DO.

When we exited and could have used the wind it died completely and we motored all the way to Mackay finally clearing customs nine days after leaving PNG, almost double our usual time.

Today Phil and our friend Bruce spent the morning replacing the halyard … not his favourite job as he had a couple of trips up the mast.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we are heading for Bundaberg for a couple of days and then making for Iluka when the weather permits.

God bless you all,

Pam and Phil

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Greetings Everyone,

We’ve had a quiet week — at least activity wise. Phil has been busy doing repairs. He brought the HF radio back from the Bible College on the south coast to repair it. He fixed the problem and Peddy took it back over the mountain (a six hour walk) to the college. It worked for a short while then stopped altogether so Peddy walked back with it. The second problem couldn’t be fixed so Peddy walked back with a replacement radio which seems to be working well. It’s a harsh environment for the radios but generally they are going well. The main problem has been the solar regulators — four of them have failed which causes the batteries to eventually go flat and die. We are amazed how much use the radios get. They pass messages all around the Milne Bay Provence with them –school information, health information, trading boat movements, personal messages — there is a constant stream of people coming to the church asking for a message to be sent.

Since then Phil has repaired two generators, the schools whipper snipper (all working), a chainsaw (not working — needs parts) and repaired (fibre-glassed) holes in two of the local’s dinghies. In return two men spent three hours diving on our boat to remove the forest that was growing on it. So much for Fiji anti foul!!

Meanwhile the weather has been anything but quiet with bucketing down rain and bullets off the mountains that keep us spinning like a top around the anchor chain.

They had plans for us to go to another outreach this week but a death in the village has put our trip on hold but I think they will send us to a village on the opposite side of the bay for this weekend (nothing confirmed as yet). We are looking forward to moving and catching some fish. It has been a very lean year fish wise.

Please pray for some better weather and some relief from the Rossel mud. Phil has his soccer boots out to negotiate the slippery slopes.

Radio Australia has been dead for a fortnight so we haven’t had much news from home except what we get from our friend Bruce when Phil talks to him on the HF radio.

God bless you all,

Pam and Phil

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Greetings Everyone,

Again we are holed up waiting for the weather — this time in Pearl Bay, a small bay forty miles or so north of Great Keppel Island. The wind is gusting 25+ knots coming all the way from the north east to the south west. We are swinging crazily around our anchor but we watched another poor yacht drag almost into the rocks. He didn’t answer his radio and Phil got out an old bugle and blew it and the skipper finally popped his head up just in time.

We cleared customs in Bundaberg and the plan is to sail to Scawfell Island tomorrow (weather permitting) and head out through Hydrographers Passage on Wednesday. But it all depends on the WEATHER. It has been a very strange weather year. Please pray for the right conditions for us and the wisdom to know when they are right,

We are loaded up as usual with a couple of hundred Bibles, 500 special designed MP3 players for the SIL Bible translators in Misima, stacks of clothing including six bags of school uniforms, three large boxes of school library book, and two large boxes of medicines, three HF radios and antennas (in case the cyclone damaged any that we had put in), a couple of guitars and sundry other things. As usual the waterline has risen!!

God bless,

Pam and Phil

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Greetings Everyone,

In case your are concerned for us sailing through these catastrophic weather patterns — on the worst day we were holed up behind a mangrove island (Turkey Island) in the Great Sandy Straits. While Bundaberg got one of its strongest winds ever and it blew like crazy on the other side of Fraser Island, we watched a lovely sunset painting the sky gorgeous colours with a clear reflection in the still water (wind speed 5 knots) except where an occasional turtle chose to raise its head.

We left Iluka with a 15 knott westerly on Tuesday 31st and decided to keep going past Southport to Wide Bay Bar before the weather broke. The wind turned fickle, gusting to 20 knotts then dying to next to nothing and going around the clock so that we spent day and night doing sail changes. We reached Wide Bay bar an hour before dark just before hight tide (perfect time to cross it). The next day we went through the Sandy Straits and tucked in behind the mangrove for the forecast bad weather.

The weather was so lovely we found it hard to believe the forecast of gale force winds. We waited a day there and then continued through the Straits to Big Woody Island where we started getting strong wind on the nose so decided to anchor behind that island for the night. Not a nice night as it rolled a lot. Yesterday afternoon the wind and swell dropped and we left Big Woody and motor-sailed (wind very fine on) straight to Bundaberg and anchored here at 3.40am this morning.

Thankyou for your prayers for us. We do feel we were protected with so much devastation around us. Also, Phil received a good report from his operation — no problems at all.

We have some things to do in Bundaberg and hope to clear customs by the 16th June.

God bless,

Pam and Phil

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Greetings Everyone,

From time to time I mentally book my ticket home on the next plane. This time I was wet, sick and terrified. We had heard that the waters along the Colombian coast were always wild due to strong winds bouncing off the Andes and a cross current colliding with the NE wind patterns. It certainly lived up to its reputation and we had winds at 35 knots gusting to over 42 knots and gigantic swells — Phil says five metres or more.

I was sound asleep at 2am and woke to BANG!! CRASH!! and the boat shuddering. A split pin holding the roller-furling head-sail to the deck had broken and the whole caboose was pendulumming across the deck and crashing into and even over the guard rails. Phil was trying to catch it and I was terrified. It would hit him and take his head off. Cool and collected as always he threaded a rope through the deck fitting, caught the furler and threaded the rope through the hole where the pin had broken — all in the dark with it bashing like crazy. He then managed to furl the sail and we motored into Curacao for the night.

In the morning he fitted a new pin and we set off again. Phew!!

But no — there’s more (I know — corny). This time I was on watch and BANG! CRASH! The pocket-handkerchief size jib we had out was fully unfurled, loose and whipping the boat rails with a fury. In retrospect, Phil thinks the earlier accident weakened the furler rope which broke and released the whole sail which whipped along the pole and broke the jib sheet. The big jib tore completely in two. Phil managed to tie the bottom half to the guard rails and the top torn sail we left up and sailed at six knots under it alone till morning when he was able to remove the sail completely and limped along in those horrendous conditions under staysail only.

We anchored at San Blas — some delightful coral islands about 80 miles from Panama for a few days rest and then to Panama where we have booked into the marina for a fortnight to lick our wounds and repair our damages before exiting via the Canal to the Pacific — oh I do hope so! — Ocean.

Please keep praying for us. Life does seem unusually harsh some days.

God bless,

Pam and Phil

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Greetings Everyone,

A yachties nightmare!! — a dark night, storm and pouring rain, a gale in excess of 37 knots blowing, a lee shore, the anchor starts to drag and the engine won’t start. Phil disappeared below, prised up the floorboards and discovered the starter solenoid wasn’t working (turns out a micro-switch in the solenoid circuit which prevents the engine starting if the propeller shaft brake is on had failed) and shorted out its terminals with a piece of wire to get the engine started — all in less than a minute. It gets worse; between us and the shore was a roped off swimming enclosure with small floating buoys every metre or so. We went over top of them into less than a metre of water under the keel. The dinghy was down and the enclosure rope got wrapped around the dinghy outboard. All this in the anchorage highly recommended for the prevailing conditions at Bodrum.

I backed the engine off and Phil got in the dinghy and worked it free. You can imagine how much fun that was in the dark. We re-anchored — five times. Each time the anchor dug in and held for an hour or so until the wind went over 37 knots then off we would go again. The bottom was mud, weed and kelp and after it dug in it would lift out whole chunks of the kelp then drag.

About 1am a Turkish man from another boat came over in his dinghy and led us closer to the shore near his boat where the holding was slightly better. He stayed talking for over an hour. Needless to say neither of us slept all night.

Early the next morning we took off for another bay a few miles away and dropped anchor in SAND. Thankyou for those who pray constantly for our safety.

Regarding the Louisiades — the HF radios I installed at Misima and Rossel are working. Bruce and Dianne Bentley who used to do similar work with us over there have been keeping in contact with Misima. Dianne has organised to raise funds to send to two of the pastors we trust so they can buy food and other necessities to distribute to the more remote islands of Sudest and Rossel where the worst of the damage was. It is very important over there to make sure funds go to people who will distribute it to the really needy and not just to their own “one-tok” (family). If anyone is interested Dianne’s number is 0409693171.

We are waiting on Warren and Jan Jolly (friends from NSW Central Coast) to arrive on Monday to spend a few weeks with us sailing around the area.

God bless,

Pam and Phil

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Greetings Everyone,

Just an update on the situation in the Louisiades following cyclone Ita’s damage. The placed marked ** are where we have been working and have friends.

The following is the official government report as of two days ago:-

“The preliminary assessment report from the outstation confirms massive destruction to food gardens as well as dwelling units and local water supplies. No loss of lives was reported from the cyclone. However communication through Digicel mobile had been a problem with HF radio forming the bulk of communication throughout some parts. A report from Bwanabwana LLG also noted a missing boat MV Saga carrying 23 people on board still at large.

Table 1: showing number of homes destroyed by TC Ita. These figures are preliminary and the estimated number of houses destroyed is about 1160 and destroyed gardens about 5390.

  • ** Panaumala – Population affected 501, 18 houses destroyed,all food gardens destroyed
  • Bagaman – Population affected 335, 12 houses destroyed, all food gardens destroyed, VSAT communication affected
  • Motorina south – Population affected 295, 28 houses destroyed, all food gardens destroyed
  • Motorina North – Population affected 416, 7 houses destroyed, all food gardens destroyed
  • ** Brooker Island – Population affected 556, 25 houses destroyed, all food gardens destroyed
  • Panapompom – Population affected 675, 11 houses destroyed, all food gardens destroyed
  • ** East Panarati – Population affected 1024, 9 houses destroyed, all food gardens destroyed
  • ** West Panaeati – Population affected 843, 10 houses destroyed, all food gardens destroyed
  • ** Kimuta – Population affected 695, 15 houses destroyed, all food gardens destroyed, aid post building destroyed
  • Sabra – Population affected 1183, 39 houses destroyed, all food gardens destroyed
  • Grass Island – Population affected 970, 5 houses destroyed, all food garden destroyed
  • ** Western Point – Population affected 548, 23 houses destroyed, all food garden destroyed
  • Tagula station – Population affected 69, 4 houses destroyed
  • Nimoa – Population affected 789, 15 houses destroyed, all food gardens destroyed
  • ** Rambuso – Population affected 783, 2 houses destroyed, food garden destroyed
  • ** Rehuwo – Population affected 721, 23 houses destroyed, food gardens destroyed
  • Jinjo – Population affected 1084, 1 house destroyed, food garden destroyed
  • Njaru – Population affected 645, 2 houses destroyed, food garden destroyed
  • Pwambwa/** Saman – Population affected 744, 4 houses destroyed, 10 gardens destroyed
  • Ware – Population affected 955, 57 homes destroyed, all food gardens and classrooms partly destroyed
  • Kwaraiwa – Population affected 575, 7 homes destroyed,  all food gardens destroyed

There was no report from the south side of Sudest Island at that time but the latest information is that Jelewaga has been totally flattened. Nor has there been a report from Damunu on Rossel Island

The most critical problem is the fact that all the food gardens have been destroyed. These people are subsistence farmer and have virtually no access to alternative food supplies if their gardens fail or are destroyed. The pastor at Kimuta Island reported that the people were eating the coconuts that had fallen from the trees during the cyclone and when they are gone there is nothing else.

God bless,

Phil and Pam

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