Day 5 at sea from Australia to Vanuatu

01:15 UTC May 30, 2009
S 26 degrees 7 minutes
E 163 degrees 39 minutes
COG: 56 degrees
Speed: 7 knots
We are still motoring along. The weather is actually very beautiful and the seas are so nice and calm that it makes the trip easy (relatively). It is amazing that we have not had wind since the first day and we are now starting our 5th day at sea. The grib files promise a good wind should pick up later today and then we should have at least a couple of days of wind in our favor. We need three days to get to Vanuatu so it looks like things should go well. We are both now in the rhythm of the trip and have actually been able to do 7 or even 8 hour shifts, allowing the other to sleep. It is amazing how much sleep one needs at sea. The first couple of days were very hard – just in terms of natural rhythms being thrown off – rocky seas and not enough sleep. But for the last 2 days it has been much better. You adjust to anything – and the days go by so quickly. We are both listening to good audiobooks at night and there are lots of stars. No sea-life at all except for the phosp
horescence in the water at night. The sun sets before 5:00 p.m. and isn’t up until 5:00. We have a radio net set up twice a day with another boat “Wombat of Sydney” – and we keep track of each other’s positions. Our friends from the boat Priscilla left Australia yesterday and they will join our radio net starting tonight we hope. All is well….. L

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Depature from Scaborough Marina

We are departing in one hour (Tuesday morning local time, which is 0000 utc) from Scarborough Marina, heading for the island of Anatom in southeast Vanuatu. The course will be far from a straightline. We will start off heading northeast but then turn due east after a day or two when the wind switches and go about 400 miles or so that way until we turn northeast again. It we get tired, or the forecast changes, we will divert to Noumea in New Caledonia. The trip to Anatom will take 7 or 8 days, a day less to get to Noumea. The weather forecast looks good. The winds will start off as moderate SE with a largeiish swell leftover from the past weeks storms. We will zigzag with the wind shifts.
We are excited at beginning another season of adventure in the South Pacific. M.

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Waiting on weather

We are still in Scarborough Marina north or Brisbane. It seems that whenever we enter or leave this area, record-breaking storms herald the event. The headline in today’s Brisbane Courier-Times says “Queensland towns brace for more bad weathers [sic]”. The article notes that:

STRONG winds and high tides are expected to batter the Gold Coast today in a final burst of wild weather from the low that swamped southeast Queensland this week. The weather bureau said there could be a “sting in the tail” of the depression that deluged Brisbane and then crossed into NSW to flood Northern Rivers centres. Authorities there estimated up to 14,000 people had been told to evacuate their Grafton and Lismore homes as the Clarence and Wilson rivers rose to major flood levels after falls of up to 350mm in 10 hours.

We Skyped our friend Mike on “Wombat of Sydney” located in northern New South Wales and he said the wind was “blowing the dogs off of the chains.” The good news is that this weather should start to clear sometime tomorrow and we are looking for a Tuesday morning departure a few days ahead of the next low pressure system. “Wombat” will be heading north around that time as well, so we will have an SSB radio net between the two of us.

The boat is pretty much set to go. Every system now seems to work and all of our provisions and other stuff are stowed. We will update our departure plans on this site.


Arrival in Australia

15 May 2009

We arrived back in Australia one week ago and have been busy preparing to go to sea ever since. Thunderstorms around Atlanta caused us to miss our connection to LA, as our Providence to Atlanta flight circled for two hours waiting for the weather to improve. We got booked onto another flight but it left 90 minutes late due to the weather. Consequently, even though our itinerary showed a 4 hour layover in LA, we still missed our flight to Brisbane. Virgin Australia put us on their last flight to Sydney with a connection to Brisbane. The flight was less than one-quarter full so both of us had a row to stretch out on and sleep. Amazingly, our bags made it to Sydney even though they were tagged onto flights we did not take. The flight to Brisbane provided nice views of the eastern Australian coast.

We always underestimate how much effort is required to make Sabbatical III seaworthy, and this time has been no different. Everything that was “put away” in December has to be put back into place in May — sails, gear, canvas, transducers, etc. In checking out the main sail furling system, I noticed that two of the four bolts that attach the outhaul gearbox to the boom had sheared. The gearbox and motor had to be removed from the boom, and then the remains of the bolts has to be drilled out and new bolt holes tapped. I had professional assistance from Scott of MRE, and used the opportunity to open the gear box and clean and regrease the gears. It took almost two days, but the outhaul is functioning again.

We had a nice Toyota Rav4 SUV for the past week, returning it this morning. We had ordered a little Hyundai but got upgraded for free. A good thing too, since we had our friends Tom and Suzie from “Priscilla” with us on almost every shopping expedition. We shopped every day, often more than once. We bought enough dry goods to keep us supplied for five months, plus wine and beer, Coke Zero, frozen meat, and all of the other necessities of life aboard. We always returned to the marina with the car stuffed with stuff.


In addition to Tom and Suzie from Priscilla, who we first met at a marina bar in Panama, we have been reunited with Kip and Denise of Adelia, who we first met in French Polynesia.

We still have about 2 to 3 more days of work before Sabbatical III is ready to go. However, it is likely that we will be here for at least one week more. Although the local weather has been great ever since we arrived, it has not been good out at sea and it looks like we will get a strong low pressure system bringing 35 knots of easterly winds, large seas, and rain starting early in the coming week. The weather looks unsettled even out more than one week. But forecasts that far in advance are often wrong and we will be checking the weather daily looking for a window to head north to the tropics.