Friday 16 September 2016

No Louisiade Islands for Our Dreamtime this year.

16 September 2016

It came down to hard decision time. After spending two years and tens of thousands of dollars preparing for our first overseas passage on Our Dreamtime we have reluctantly had to accept the fact that our planned trip to the Louisiade Archipelago of Papua New Guinea is not going to happen this year. A combination of unseasonal weather and mechanical failures has defeated us this time.
Unfortunately the wind has simply continued to blow from the wrong direction for us to be able to cross the Coral Sea from Cairns to the Louisiades. Had we not had to turn back from Herald Cays we would have been fine on our planned route from Townsville but now, even if a weather window suddenly presented itself, we have simply run out of time to get there without having to virtually turn around and come straight back to get safely south before the cyclone season.
Our route from Townsville via Herald Cays was planned for South East trade winds. Since turning back and arriving in Cairns, the wind in the Coral Sea along the new route has been consistently blowing from the East or at best ESE which would give us a completely upwind passage. Not nice.
The weather is something out of anyone’s control but what should be possible to control are the breakages we experienced. The three major problems we have experienced, broken steering, a severe engine oil leak and failed refrigeration compressor, are all areas we had taken no shortcuts with during our preparations. We try to do almost all work on the boat ourselves but for those three areas of expertise we paid very expensive ‘professionals’ ridiculous amounts of money to make sure were absolutely ready for the passage.  
We were let down on every front by shoddy workmanship. Our tiller arm was damaged by the shipwright who worked on our rudder stock stuffing box in Bundaberg and failed dramatically in heavy seas in Upstart Bay. (Read what happened.) The valve cover on our motor was incorrectly fitted during the service we had done and allowed oil to pour from the engine whilst motor-sailing in heavy, upwind conditions on our way to the Louisiades and it turns out our refrigeration compressor was incorrectly modified by the company that originally fitted it new just 18 months ago at a cost of a couple of thousand dollars.

We were well on our way across the Coral Sea when we had to turn back.
These three issues are the real reasons we have not achieved our goal of cruising the Louisades this season. Not only have they robbed us of time but also of a large chunk of our cruising funds. We were really left with no other choice but to run up the white flag for 2016. We will now spend a bit of time exploring areas of the Great Barrier Reef around Cairns while we wait for the seasonal northerly winds which should arrive in October or November. We will then make our way back down the Queensland coast to Brisbane where we hope to be able to gain employment for a while to replenish our depleted cruising funds before heading north again.
Our Dreamtime is literally loaded to the gunnels with goods destined for the Louisiade Islanders.

Every hidden and not so hidden place to store our aid goods was filled to the max.
We must thank the very large number of cruising and other friends who supplemented the aid goods we had purchased and obtained through numerous donations of products and clothing. Our Dreamtime is still loaded to the gunnels with the medical and sanitary supplies, rice, fishing gear, rope, old sails, tools, sewing and educational materials planned to help improve the lives of the people of the Louisiades that you helped us accumulate through your donations and support. Sadly it won’t happen this year but it is definitely our plan to make sure it all reaches the people it was intended for.

Obviously we were very disappointed to have let down our super crew, Anthony and Lynda who joined us in Townsville for the trip to PNG. We may not have made it all the way this time guys but we did have a lot of fun and can't wait to have you back on board.
There is a saying ‘If you must make plans they should be written in the sand and only below the high water mark as tide and time will always cause change.’ There are no truer words when it comes to cruising.
Here and below are just some small samples of the goods on board Our Dreamtime that WILL improve the lives of the Louisiade Islanders just as soon as possible.

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  1. So sorry you didn't make the trip this year after all your planning to be let down by things that were beyond your control must have been devastating , but through it all, you are both such positive and inspiring people and it was a pleasure to get to know you both , and we look forward to seeing you and hearing more about your adventures to come in the not yo distant future
    Cheers Petra and Brian (Bella)

    1. Thanks Petra. Life goes on and we're still sailing the beautiful Great Barrier Reef. We're looking forward to catching up when we go south for the WWSA weekend. Maybe 'Bella' can come with us to the Louisiades next year.


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