Monday, 17 July 2017

We're leading a Charter Flotilla in the Greek Isles

16 July 2017

We are very sorry our blog has been a bit quiet lately but we have been very busy since arriving in Poros in Greece in mid-June to spend the northern summer leading a Charter Flotilla.

Our Greek Sails Flotilla all rafted up for a beach party at Dhokos Island.

It all happened in a bit of a blur as we responded to a Facebook post a friend sent us about what turned out to be a great family company called Greek Sails that was looking for a couple to lead one of their flotilla groups. On a whim, we sent of some details about ourselves and our sailing experience and before we knew it we were booking tickets to fly to Athens.

Our job is to lead a flotilla of up to ten charter yachts around the Greek Isles, assist with berthing and deal with all port police details etc and generally make sure the charterers enjoy a safe and very enjoyable sailing holiday.

Karen at the helm of 'Enigma' our 37ft Jeanneau Flotilla lead boat.
We are now on our fifth week and have to say while the seven day and night a week nature of the job is a little full on, we are having an awesome time and meeting a very diverse group of incredible people from all over the world. 

We plan to post a lot more detail about what it's like leading a Charter Flotilla, the awesome places we have been visiting, the amazing food experienced in harbour side tavernas and some of the funny incidents along the way. In the meantime please be assured we have not dropped off the planet and enjoy some photos of our Greek adventure as a taste of what's to come.

One of our Flotilla dinner's at Nea Ephidevros
Sunset on 'Enigma" at Angistri.

This fixer upper may be a job too many.
"Enigma' in the beautiful little harbour at Vathi
The harbour fortress at Nafplion

The unbelievable ancient theatre of Ephidevros


Beach party on the Island of Dhokis.

Our clients quickly become our friends and it's so sad to see them head home.

Another raft up.
Dinghy race organised for the younger ones on the latest flotilla.
Another group of happy Greek Sails clients.
Good night from the Greek Isles.

We love to receive comments on our blog from readers. If you do leave a comment and you also have a blog, please leave a link as well. We'd like to click over for a visit and leave you a comment too.
To stay right up to date with what we’re up to  and see lots more photos check out and 'like' our Dreamtime Sail Facebook page at DreamtimeSail
If you have only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, or work through our previous adventures, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

What Do We Carry in Our Ditch Bag

You know we often say we have spent a lot of money on items we hope we never use. The Ditch Bag is just one of those items onboard Our Dreamtime.

Our Dreamtime's Ditch Bag is set up incase we need to use the tender as our life-raft. We have a fully equipped life-raft (see life raft story) but having a second option and or to take extra supplies with us in the life-raft was the added benefit of us kiting out a Ditch Bag. Our bag is the size of an overnight bag, it is a life proof watertight 50 litre bag in safety YELLOW. Our Ditch a Bag is located on the aft deck in readiness. In addition the tenders full tank is always kept full and there is a spare Jerry can of outboard fuel on deck.

Our tender is another option for an emergency evacuation

We have our Ditch Bag packed and ready to go at all times

A basic emergency Ditch Bag could include the following recommended items:
  • Water two litres of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. We have protein shakes and dehydrated protein and vegetable packs. (available from survival stores). Small caned food with ring pulls. If using dehydrated products add extra water to your rations,
  • Matches in waterproof container.
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio/torch + extra battery
  • Spot-tracker with emergency alert button and extra battery
  • PLB. We each have Personal Location Beacons + MOB Beacons
  • Life vests.
  • Foot operated Air pump to keep tender inflated
  • Torch and extra batteries
  • First aid kit (see listing)
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Flares
  • V Sheet
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to use as shelter or water collection.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and nappy bags for personal sanitation
  • Leatherman tool, Wrench and pliers 
  • Hand held compass 
  • MOBILE phone with extra battery pack, inverter or solar charger.
  • Pencil and paper.
  • Hand operated desalination kit.
  • Fishing line, hooks a small can of prawns. 
  • Rehydrating powder. We carry sports drink rehydration packs.

The boats portable EPIRB 
would be taken with us.

First Aid

Unfortunately in a situation such as abandoning ship, accidents and injuries are likely to happen. Knowing how to treat minor injuries can make a difference in an emergency. You may consider taking a first aid class, but simply having the following things can help you stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination.

Our first aid kit in the Ditch Bag contains the following items, of course If time permits we can always grab the main first aid kit. (See Separate Blog on First Aid Kit) 
  • Two pairs of Latex or other sterile gloves if you are allergic to Latex
  • Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
  • Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Burn ointment
  • Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
  • Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant
  • Thermometer
  • Prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
  • Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure supplies
Non-prescription drugs:
  • Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
  • Sea sickness tablets
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Antacid
  • Laxative
Other first aid supplies:
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
Once you have gathered the supplies for a basic emergency kit, you may want to consider adding the following items:
  • Prescription Medication (other)
  • Prescription glasses
  • Sunglasses
  • Hats
  • Denture needs
  • Cash 
  • Important family documents such as copies of boat papers, identification (passports, birth certificates) next of kin details or emergency contact details for family and or friends and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. 
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book.
  • Light weight warm blanket for each person. Hyperthermia blanket.
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per 3 litres of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits,  cups, plates, paper towels and utensils. 

Personal Medication, Boat Papers, Copies of Passports etc. are sealed by cryovacing.

Remember the unique needs of your family members, including growing children, when making your emergency supply kit.

For Baby:

  • Formula
  • Diapers
  • Bottles
  • Powdered milk
  • Medications
  • Moist towelettes
  • Diaper rash ointment

For pets:

  • Food
  • Water
  • First Aid
  • Leads
  • Medication

If you are sailing in a cold climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible that you will not have heat. Think about your clothing supplies. Be sure to include one complete change of clothing and shoes per person, including:

  • Jacket or coat
  • Long pants
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Socks
  • Thermals

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Beating the Bugs Afloat.

Have you ever arrived in the most amazing anchorage settled down for Sundowners and been bitten (or eaten alive) by those pesky bugs known as mosquitos, midges or sand flies?

Well it isn’t pleasant.

Rob suffers from these little blighters chasing and biting him and many of our guests have been their target. While it is unfortunate – it happens to most cruisers we know so we thought best to share some tips and tricks that we have tried to help keep the little buggers away, or at least at bay. 

Different preventatives work for different people so give them a go. You may even find some of the unorthodox methods work best for you. 

Fast facts

  • About 1 in 10 people bitten will react in an allergic fashion.
  • The bites will linger for different amounts of time in different people.
  • And can vary in the itching intensity from time to time, and person to person. 
  • Bites will vary in size, appearance, and itch, due to differing amounts and impact of individual allergic mediators.
  • Only the female midges, sand flies and mosquitoes bite, as they need blood protein to make eggs.
  • Some people seem to get bitten more than others. 
  • Biting insects seek heat, CO2, and ammonia to find their victims. 

Myth or Fact

The myth of the moon for sandfly/midge activity is actually correct! Sand flies are much more common on spring tides and not neap tides. The extra movement in the tides stirs them into action and as we know, tides are affected by the moon. 

It is said that midges/sand flies and mosquitos actually urinate on you to break down the skin .... so we thought we should investigate that further. Contrary to belief it is NOT correct. According to the Department of Medical Entomology of the University of Sydney, it is not urine that causes the discomfort. They are blood suckers and inject acidic saliva into the skin to break it down allow easy extraction of the blood. 

Midges live in the sand and mud of coastal habitats such as swampy waterways, lagoons, estuaries, tidal flats and mangroves. They are very small and even though they do look like a fly, they are too small to see their wings. Because they are so small, they can easily fly through normal insect screens. Midge screens are available, and are worth fitting if you intend on cruising through areas such as Hinchenbrook Channel, Far North Queensland and Northern Territory. 

On Our Dreamtime we have a fully enclosed cockpit.  But we have also installed screens to our companionways.

Midges and mosquitos will attack all animals, so you will sometimes notice birds reacting to being bitten. For those of you with pets, you may have noticed the same.

The biting activity of midges and mosquitos is mainly limited to periods of dawn and dusk, with their activity significantly increasing in higher humidity and temperatures between 27-32 degrees Celsius. Midges often remain inactive through windy weather, finding shelter amongst shady vegetation. 

Many species of mosquitoes are not blood eaters and of those that are, only the females bite. Of most concern is the fact that some mosquito species carry diseases.  By passing from host to host, some transmit extremely harmful infections such as Malaria, Yellow Fever, Chikungunya, West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, Firariais, Zika and other arboviruses, rendering it the deadliest insect in the world.

Female and male Midge/Mosquito/Sandfly will both feed on vegetables fluids and nectar for energy, but again only the female will bite. The female has piercing and sucking mouth parts, which suck blood and cause the classic allergic response. A bite is made in the skin and saliva is injected to prevent blood clotting, thereby allowing the blood to be sucked up.

For both midges and mosquitos the females use the blood they obtain as a source of protein for developing eggs.

The classic allergic response to their bites is a small, inflamed spot. Despite the size of these insects. the bites can cause acute discomfort, irritation and severe local reactions. Itching may commence immediately after the bite or a delayed reaction may occur.Generally if you are going to have reaction you will find once bitten – the first few days/nights can be a challenge. The bites are often not itchy straight away, they then can become unbearably itchy, can weep and also form small blisters – this is not uncommon and obviously varies to the individual. After a few days, the bites decrease in size and become a darker purpley-red colour and are not as itchy and they become bearable. 

Blisters can form

They have their greatest impact on people arriving and visiting an area. Local residents tend to build up an immunity to their bites. But some do not, Karen's parents lived in Airlie Beach for over thirty years. Her mother never walked out the door without applying repellant. However Karen and her father rarely, if ever, got bitten. 

We recommend that all our guests on Our Dreamtime take preventative measures (and stock up on remedies), just in case! A bite can ruin your holiday!

A large number of bites around the lower legs/ankles usually indicate sand fly (midge) bites. A lot of bites can be accumulated in a short period of time. The "Sand fly" is a group of different tiny insects, not one species. Different sand flies will be prevalent in different locations, and at different times of the year. Some people will react to one type, but not others. In Australia, biting Midges/Sandflies are not known to transmit any disease-causing pathogens to humans.

Mosquitoes will often be seen, felt, and sometimes heard. They will bite anywhere they can access flesh and have been known to bite through fabric. As some species of mosquitoes carry viruses, such as Ross River Fever, Barmah Forest Virus, and Dengue fever in tropical North Queensland, prevention is far better than treatment wherever possible. 

Authorities have been developing spraying techniques to eradicate mosquitos in urban areas. However where we mostly anchor in remote locations this is not an option and it is up to us to protect ourselves. 

Remedies fall into three categories.

* Stop the insect biting – apply before you are likely to be bitten.

* Neutralise the toxin – apply immediately you have been bitten.

* Relieve the itch – apply after the bites have developed. 

Australian First Aid practice encourages you to:

* Avoid localities that are known to be frequented with biting midges, especially at dawn and dusk.

* Anchor a minimum of 100 meters from these areas.

* Wear protective clothing in the early morning, late afternoon and evenings. This includes long sleeve pants, long sleeve shirts with a collar and closed in shoes. 

Some preventative measures you can try:

- Start burning mozzie coils just before dusk.

- When indoors, use ceiling and pedestal fans as a deterrent. Most insects don’t like air currents and will normally avoid them.

- Close up with the boat up with screens/nets and stay below during these high activity times.

- Apply tropical strength spray/lotion repellents to exposed skin. Most contain DEET (15-20%) There are many commercial options available

- KAKADU BLUE, Aussie Blue An Australian made tropical repellent.

- Apply 1/2 tspn Bushmans 80% Deet mixed with your favourite sunscreen or moisturiser.#

- Ozzie Mozzie Repellent is highly effective against most biting and annoying insects including mosquitoes which carry Ross River virus, Dengue fever and Malaria.

For those conscious about using toxins on the skin, you may prefer the natural options listed. Focus on areas such as your ankles, neck and scalp.

- Daintree Naturals offer a great mosquito and sand fly repellant. #

- Apply baby oil - This can very effective against midges/sandflies as the oil creates a barrier on the skin preventing saliva of the insect from reaching it. No saliva = no bit - no itch. (Some people alos suggest using baby oil mixed with Dettol) 

- Para Kito is an all natural pellet system that you can wear in a wrist/ankle band. They also have a system for hanging off your belt or in your cabin.

- If you do a search on the web for sandfly or midge repellents you will come up with Avon Skin-so-soft, I haven’t tried it but have read many glowing reviews, stories of use by UK Special Forces. It seems it works on the same principle as baby oil.

- Apply Lemon + Eucalyptus Oil. 

- Take high doses of B12 [1000mg] daily, at least two months before going to the location.

- Eat lots of banana, or rub inside of Banana skin to bites.

What you can do to relieve the itching once bitten:

- Camomile Tea bags heated applied to bites.

- A few drops of lavender, lemon and eucalyptus essential oil mixed with coconut oil as carrier.

- Showering before bed.

- Applying SOOV cream to the affected area/s – the “cool” in the gel takes relieves the itch.

- Calamine lotion. Ok for kids but maybe not the most suitable option for adults.

- Numbing spray for instant, short term relief.

- Tea Tree oil.

- Aloe Vera.

- VapoRub rubbed onto bites.

- Rainforest Rejuvenation If you have been bitten, this product neutralises the toxin and relieving the itch – it is a combination of natural rainforest oils and sea salt made in Kuranda, near Cairns Qld.

- Lavender oil is great for neutralising and soothing mozzie bites. 

 - Aah the wonders of vinegar – not only is it a powerful mould killer, cleaner, neutraliser of jelly fish poison and fabric softener but vinegar is an excellent neutraliser of biting insect toxins. This works for sandflies, as the toxin is in the urine they leave on your skin you can wash it off.

- Hot spoon applied to bites. The heat takes the itch away and neutralises the toxins. 

- Apply Apple Cider Vinegar to bites.

- The application of a cold compress, such as an ice pack or wet cloth will provide some relief.

- Stop Itch or Stingoes lotion from the pharmacy.

- Antihistamine. You need one specific for bites – speak to the pharmacy on which would be best. 

Some unusual remedies we have heard of:

- Liberally covering bites, with Windex,(window cleaner), it is suppose to neutralise the toxin.

- Deodorant . It seems to have some power to neutralise the bites, but mainly it stops the itch by sealing the bite from exposure to the air.

- Blue gel toothpaste, Squeeze a little bit on each bite and the menthol from the blue gel takes the heat and the sting out of the bite.

- Bicarbonate soda + water = paste applied to the bite. 

- Vegemite applied to bites. (Only in Australia we say... Seriously though some people believe it works.)

- Rub with garlic ... Apply only if sleeping alone.

- Onion rub into bite 30 minutes before a shower.

- Turmeric root rubbed into bite.

- Listerine mouth wash rubbed onto bites.

Don’t Scratch! (even if you feel it's driving you insane)

The complicating factor of sandfly and mosquito bites is they can be very, very itchy and often get infected when people scratch them excessively. Medical advice encourages you NOT to scratch your midge bites as secondary infections can occur (blisters and weeping bites which will persist for days or weeks). When first bitten, medical advice says to wash the affected area in cold water, pat dry and apply Antiseptic ointment. In many cases this will remove the initial need to scratch. If you do continue to scratch and cause blisters you may require the need for hydrocortisone cream, systemic antibiotics, as prescribed by your doctor.
If bites are itchy, and persist for more than an hour or two, they are allergies. 

If you are not treating the allergy, you will not be minimising symptoms, or minimising their duration.

Local anaesthetic creams are very helpful symptom relievers, especially when used in combination with antihistamines, and hydrocortisone cream, if required. Hydrocortisone is an invaluable adjunct to antihistamines if there is any fluid/blistery look to intact bites.

For severe or even allergic reactions – seek a GP’s professional opinion.  

Very bad cases (e.g. lots of blisters, unresponsive to effective pharmacy treatment, unbearable itch etc) need to be referred to a doctor for systemic steroids, and checked for secondary infections.

In the past, we have had crew members bitten badly which resulted in welts –special medication and steroid cream is needed to assisted them with the bites.  The cream/lotion that the doctor prescribed, once applied to the affected areas – using glad wrap put on the area, to allow the cream to really soak into the bite – leaving this overnight and it worked very well.
We had a crew member in Asia that was hospitalised for ten days. He had scratched the bites and the combination of tropical waters caused infection, resulting in blood poisoning.
Trying a number of remedies might be required as everyone is different ..... so do what is best for you!

Remember – prevention is the best medicine and go natural where you can!

For more information ... Better Health

Congratulations Dianne and Susie you have won a copy of 
Our Galley's ebook ..... Sundowners and Starters 

A perfect end to the day is with a glass of Champagne watching the sun go down across the water. The last thing you want to be doing is slaving away in the galley preparing the prefect accompanying food. Let Karen share with you her simple, easy recipes. which will set the scene for a wonderful night, whether you are entertaining a cockpit full of cruisers or a romantic night for two.

Buy it here for $4.99AUS

Friday, 2 June 2017

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Preparing to leave your boat for an extended period.

We are preparing to leave Our Dreamtime  tied to the dock for the southern winter while we flit off to lead a flotilla charter in the Greek Isles during the northern summer. While we are looking forward to our Greek adventure we fear we may suffer some separation anxiety being apart from our floating home that long.
We will worry about her while we are gone but are taking what we consider to be the basic precautions anyone leaving their boat for an extended period should. Here's what we have done.

We are fortunate to have great sailing friends we can call on for help. A few extra hands
certainly made getting our sails off easier.

1.       Our boat is moored on a friend’s private pontoon berth in a canal estate. We have left him with two contact numbers of people who know how to start the engine and move the boat if the need should arise, although highly unlikely in our case. In a marina situation this would be much more important.
2.       We have arranged for one of those friends to check on the boat and run the engine each month.
3.       All fuel tanks have been filled. With very little exposure to air, they are less likely to get much condensation and suffer from any diesel bug.
4.       We also filled  the water tanks but added a small amount of bleach to each to prevent any nasties growing. Our Queensland winters are way too mild for any risk of freezing lines to worry about.
5.       We have removed both headsails from their furlers, the main from inside its Liesurefurl boom along with the mizzen and its sail bag. Why have them out in 4-5 months unnecessary UV  exposure.  June to October is certainly not storm season here in Brisbane but that does not mean an unseasonal big blow couldn’t occur while we’re gone.  The disastrous outcomes of Cyclone Debbie in the Whitsundays just a few months ago reinforces how important it is to strip the sails off your boat when leaving it for any length of time.
Our friends Bob and Lyn plus an obscured Brett, carry the mainsail ashore for flaking and bagging.

6.       We removed all the running rigging that was practical. This includes sheets, preventers, furling lines, spinnaker pole lines and running backstay lines. They deteriorate quickly laying on the deck and, again, we want to avoid unnecessary UV  exposure.
After as many lines as possible were removed, they spent a day soaking in fresh water before being rinsed and spending another day floating in a water and fabric softener mix.

Our daughter's back fence was great place to dry all the lines before they were coiled and put into storage. Yes - ketches do have a lot of line.

7.       Everything normally stored on deck, such as fuel jerry cans, crab pots, dive tank etc, has been removed and put into storage.
8.       The dinghy and outboard is off the davits and stored under a tarpaulin at Karen’s parent’s house to avoid UV. 
9.       The fridge and freezer are emptied, turned off and left open to air.
10.   We have also left all lockers below open so they too can air and hopefully avoid mould.
11.   All seacocks have been closed except those for our scupper drains.
12.   Everything  electrical except the bilge pumps are turned off.
13.   Some people isolate their batteries but as we have good shore power and solar panels, we prefer to leave them connected and let the smart regulator cycle them. We have done this for a month at a time before and everything has been at 100% on our return.

14. We have an LPG shutoff valve at the stove plus a solenoid activated shutoff in the line but always turn the gas off at the bottle whenever we are leaving the boat.
15.   We contacted our insurance company and advised them of our movements and preparations to make sure nothing adversely affects our cover.

Our Dreamtime with her sails off and almost ready for her winter slumber. Dinghy and kayak yet to be removed.

We are going to miss Our Dreamtime while we’re gone but are very much looking forward to spending the summer meeting many new friends as we lead a Greek Sails flotilla charter based in the port of Poros south of Athens.  Maybe you’d like to join us. Have a LOOK HERE.


We love to receive comments on our blog from readers. If you do leave a comment and you also have a blog, please leave a link as well. We'd like to click over for a visit and leave you a comment too.
To stay right up to date with what we’re up to  and see lots more photos check out and 'like' our Dreamtime Sail Facebook page at DreamtimeSail
If you have only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, or work through our previous adventures, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway.