Saturday 28 May 2016

Our Dreamtime is on her way to the Louisiade Archipelago

May 28, 2016
The Louisiades Archipelago is a group of tropical islands situated approximately 200km from the eastern tip of mainland Papua New Guinea. Most of the islands lay in a lagoon protected by a barrier reef.

This Google earth image shows the protected lagoon containing the majority of the islands we will visit.
We decided on making this area our first offshore destination on Our Dreamtime after speaking with a number of cruisers who have been there before us. They all describe it as totally unspoiled, incredibly beautiful and a fantastic cruising ground with good winds and calm seas inside the protection of the reefs. The area is comprised of sand cays, lagoon reefs, limestone outcrops  and continental islands with many safe anchorages.  There is snorkelling, diving and fishing galore.
Our fellow cruisers also couldn’t speak highly enough of the happy, friendly nature of the local islanders who live a very simple lifestyle there. They are exceptionally welcoming to yachts and will paddle out to welcome boats and, of course, trade.
The majority of these people live a subsistence lifestyle growing crops and fishing to survive. Some used to generate some currency income by gathering beche-de-mer or sea cucumber for export to Asian markets but years of over fishing has forced the PNG Government to institute a total closure in the hope of allowing the species to recover.
 A gold mine existed on the main island of Misima but it closed in the early 2000s taking its employment opportunities with it. The island still has an airstrip with some limited services to Port Moresby and there are a couple of shops. Villagers travel to Misima from outlying islands by sailing canoe to buy, sell and swap produce at the open market.
There was an annual yacht rally that went to the archipelago from Cairns for a number of years but this ended in 2013 and we are told that now less than thirty yachts visit the island group each year.  This means that the locals have a lot less opportunity to trade and benefit from the visiting yachtsmen.

Looks like paradise to us
Our decision to cruise the Louisiades was based on numerous recommendations that it is a fantastic place to sail. We then also decided that if we were going there we should do what we can to help the people whose home we are visiting.
Through the generous assistance of a great number of people we have loaded our boat with items that these people require in their everyday life. Many were gathered from items unused in people’s households while others were bought and donated. They are not extravagant or overly costly but will hopefully make a significant difference to some people’s lives.
They include a large amount of children’s and adult’s clothing in good condition and some even brand new. Cloth nappies, footwear, sanitary supplies, first aid supplies, educational material, torches, batteries, builders hand tools, nails and even old sails suitable for re-cutting to suit sailing canoes. The boat  has never sat so low in the water.

Hygiene and first aid supplies donated by generous fellow cruisers

We were able to by a lot of line cheap at an auction which should be good for use on sailing canoes.

Brand new nappies donated and soon to be wrapped around babies bottoms.

A fraction of the fishing gear we have loaded on board.

In a charity shop we found these brand new white children's polo shirts, perfect for going to church.

Educational materials donated by a friend

Some of the sewing gear on board.

Potentially lifesaving first aid supplies donated by a family member.

More sewing gear

Insect repellent provided by a generous company along with the rechargeable LED torches below

These torches have a handle on the side to wind a dynamo which recharges them. No flat batteries here.

A knitting group donated these new best friends for some Louisades children

Flash footwear for the kids.

Every locker on Our Dreamtime looks like this.

Our Dreamtime embarked on her  trip to the Louisiades from Brisbane in late May. After a stop in Bundaberg for a quick haul out to touch up our anti-foul we plan to enjoy a leisurely cruise through the Great Barrier Reef islands before departing from Townsville in August to sail across to the Louisiades. Please follow along with us via this blog and our Facebook page.

We plan on a similar route from Townsville as taken by the Catamaran Nimrod in 2014
We would like to thank all the generous donors who have supported this trip and the sailors and cruisers who have given us information and guidance about the Louisiades including Sailing Totem, Gail Grant, Brett Hodder from Seawind of Change, Hans from Louisiades Solar Light Project and the many others along our planning way .... Thank you.

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Where did that last five months go in home port

December 22 , 2015 – May 22,2016

Our tropical Whitsundays shakedown cruise was over and we arrived  back in our home base in East Coast Marina in Brisbane’s Manly boat Harbour. For us it’s hard to believe that was five months ago because the time has just flown.  We had really not been looking forward to life at the dock again but in reality we were so busy splitting our days between spending time with family and friends back in our home town of Ipswich 50 kilometres away and being on the boat working to get her ready for our next adventure, we didn’t have a chance to think about it much.

So how did we spend five months?

Karen embarked on a serious sewing program making good use of both her Sailrite machine and parents garage to transform Our Dreamtime’s interior and produce a range of new bits and pieces topside.

Recovering all the upholstery in the salon transformed below.  Karen did an awesome job as always.

A nice new helm cover

New covers for all our jerry cans that get stowed on deck

New spray dodgers for the stern tidied up the look

Our Dreamtime is now much cooler below with her new sunshade over the decks

The garage floor was a very handy workspace. Here Karen is marking out some Sunbrella fabric to make new bags for our folding bikes. They turned out great bags then we decided to leave the bikes at home this trip anyway.
Rob embarked on projects such as removing our non-working washing machine from the boat. We considered swapping it with the near new similar machine we had sitting in storage at our daughters house but decided against it. Firstly without a generator on board the washing machine is useless unless we are connected to shore power in a marina and we had no plans on being in marinas much once we got underway again. The second slightly more serious problem is that we could not work out a way to remove the old machine in one piece let alone get the new one in. We measured, remeasured and remeasured again every path out from where it was located in the companionway to our aft cabin. The maths simply did not work. The washing machine was more centimetres wide, deep and long than any possible exit. We surmise it must have been brought onto the boat when the cockpit floor was out through the engine room when the motor was not in place.

Washing machine deconstruction 101.

Rob literally dismantled it in place and removed it piece by piece. Even when we were left with just the light metal casing, it would not fit out until he cut it into bits.

The good news is Karen now has a lovely new locker in its place which is the perfect home for the Sailrite, all her sewing gear and art supplies. She also has a new set of 20 litre buckets with lids as her new washing machine. Very energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

During our time at the dock Karen returned to part time work a couple of days a week which covered our marina fees and Rob was also able to pick up some work in his field of motorsport commentary. It was like old times with him flying off to Perth and Sydney a few times as well as events at the local raceway. It’s great to put some extra dollars in the cruising kitty but he also loves the job.

Rob waiting for the cue to interview driver Steven Reed at Willowbank Raceway
We also embarked on trying to fathom the intricacies of Our Dreamtime’s non-operational watermaker. When we first inspected the boat as prospective buyers, we were surprised to discover the watermaker as it was not mentioned in the inventory. The broker explained the owners didn’t want it listed as it hadn’t been used in four or five years and they didn’t want to go to the trouble of recommissioning it. Basically if it wasn’t on the inventory we weren’t paying for it so couldn’t complain about its condition.

Hopefully our watermaker should be operational soon

We had left it alone until now but decided to investigate if it could be made operational at a reasonable cost. The issue was that we had no information on exactly what it was and the previous owner had made it a very custom installation with different components all hidden away in various obscure nooks and crannies, some of which we didn’t even know existed. The upshot was we think we have worked it out thanks to info emailed to us by the former owners and the advice of a number of fellow cruisers. A complete seals and refit kit for the high pressure pump is on its way from the U.S. at the moment, we have a new high pressure vessel and membrane ready to go when the pump is rebuilt and it should be operational again before we head offshore. Fingers crossed.

It wasn't all work an no play though as we had a fantastic visit by Emily, a Rotary Exchange Student we hosted 13 years ago who spent a couple of days with us out in Moreton Bay while visiting from Washington DC

In April we travelled south to Berrima in the New South Wales highlands for our daughter, Felicity's beautiful wedding to the love of her life Daniel or, as they referred to  the occasion, the ‘Oberg-Cooper Merger’.  We gained three fantastic new grandchildren out of that merger as Daniel’s Bailey, Tahlia and Darius joined our family

Our beautiful bride
Tahlia, Darius, Bailey and Kristian dressed and ready for the family merger

We even found time to check out the Bradman museum at Bowral before the wedding.
Jobs came in all sizes like fitting new drink holders at the binnacle.
They work well at sundowners time too.

$5 from Aldi but adapted to a much better use.
The BBQ was remounted to be over the water rather than deck. Much less mess now.
Our Dreamtime’s recalcitrant refrigeration took up plenty of time and money during our layup only becoming operational the week before our departure date. Our frozen food is currently rock solid and the wine and beer is cold. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Grandson, Kristian spent three weeks with us on the boat while Mum and Dad enjoyed their honeymoon. 
Rob celebrated a milestone birthday in April with lots of friends at the Manly Deck, a cruisers favourite.
We also celebrated our eldest grandson Caleb's 18th a few days later.
One of the final items we purchased and fitted for our next adventure was an IridiumGo satellite communications hub. This will allow us to stay in contact anywhere in the world and far beyond the reach of mobile phone coverage. It acts as a wifi hub connected to the Iridium satellite system through which we can use our phone to make voice calls and send-receive SMS messages, send-receive emails on our I-Pads and, most importantly, receive weather information regardless of location. There is also an excellent tracking app through which people will be able to see exactly where we have gone and our current location.  It was expensive but will be invaluable when we head offshore.

Last minute sewing to finish a sun shade for the aft deck before departure
The final weeks were very full days crossing off items on the to do list only to add more at the bottom. Provisioning for extended cruising  is a mammoth job as is finding storage holes for it all and making sure everything is listed on an inventory with where to find it. Believe us, you could never remember it all.

What now?

Well that’s the next blog but if you are a follower of our Facebook page you’ll already know.

 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 Dreamtime Sail

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. 
We hope you enjoy reading the previous posts to catch up on our story.