Saturday, May 3, 2014

Adventures on the Great Barrier Reef

I have been out of town this past week and fell a little behind on my postings.

Let's see, where is AMARA?
Picking up more crew in the Whitsundays.  
Well, to say the least, AMARA and gang have been busy sailing off the coast of Australia.  After a few nights at sea, they arrived at Hamilton Island.  The moorings opposite Hamilton Island were a bit tricky since many of the "pick up" lines were tangled around the moorings because of the strong currents running up and down the pass.  In typical David style, instead of finding a mooring that wasn't tangled, he just jumped onto the actual mooring and untangled the lines himself.

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The beautiful spinnaker that I helped to design.  (Thank you very much!)
After a few days at Hamilton Island, AMARA took off again to pick up more crew and arrive at the Great Barrier Reef.  Martin sent me a wonderful email describing their arrival to the "Reef" that I thought that I would just share.  It reads:

"We are 30 miles out to sea and spent the night here on the Great Barrier Reef tucked in a little sheltered lagoon.  It was perfectly calm.  On the way here we had dolphins playing on the bow on two different occasions.  We also caught another yellow fin tuna, and everyone loves your beautiful spinnaker!  Last night, for dinner, we had a wonderful tuna sashimi as an appetizer, and tuna steaks with sweet potatoes and green beans for dinner.  Sue is up to her finest.

The day before yesterday, we stopped at an ancient historic site and saw cave paintings made by the Ngora people who were early aboriginal people who lived here on the coast about 9000 years ago.

We also lost another cushion off the fly bridge.

I can't believe it has been over 40 years since I have wanted to get to the Great Barrier Reef, and now I am finally here!  We are Scuba diving today and I will let you know how it goes.  Can't wait to get in the water.   We will also be testing out our new dive compressor to refill our scuba tanks.  No more trips to the dive shop!  Dave made a nice home for it mounted in the port engine compartment. 

We are anchored here with a 360˚ view of just the ocean and yet there are no waves or swells.  The wind is only at 5 knots.  One beautiful day!

I'm off to get wet."
A giant and colorful clam in clear waters.  Breathtaking!
This picture documents the first
 fish caught off the stern for this leg of the voyage.
When in Australia... eat Vegemite!  John's first try.
I can't tell from the photo whether or not it was a success.  
"Anchored on the Great Barrier Reef in the best
conditions you could ever dream of!"
Fish #2.  Spanish Mackerel.  Dinner!
Bat Fish in the Whitsundays.
The best part of this whole voyage is that Martin has been within cell coverage most of the time while they have been sailing.  It has been great because all I have to do is check to see if Martin is on Skype and 9 times out of 10 he is! It has been easy to stay current and talk with one another two to three times a day.  I love this little luxury.

Martin told me a great story today.  They stopped in Townsville just for two hours in order to try and get some parts for the engine.  Martin went ashore to try and get to the place that would have the parts that were needed for AMARA.  As he turned the corner at the marina, he ran into some LDS (Mormon) missionaries.  He stopped and talked to them and in the course of the conversation, he found out that where he was headed for boat parts was actually clear across the island.  In true Martin fashion, he asked one of the missionaries if he could borrow his bike (since they were about to give a lesson in a park close by) and then he took off on the bike to cross the island.  After retrieving the parts, he came back to join the missionaries in the park and helped to teach three college-aged kids about the church.  Martin quickly joined in on the discussion and spent another hour sharing his testimony about the church.  After the discussion, Martin headed back to the boat with his parts in hand.  Never a moment wasted when it comes to my husband.

While in Townsville, David and Sue were able to visit with David's sister, Megan, who lives there along with his dad (who lives with his sister).  Martin said it was a lovely afternoon in spite of them only being there for a few hours.

Tomorrow AMARA leaves for Cairns (pronounced Cannes) and Lizard Island.  They'll need to spend a few days in Cairns provisioning the boat and waiting on more parts.  I had planned to join AMARA and the crew in Cairns, but as luck would have it (which doesn't seem to be on my side), I had another event come up that requires me to stay for another week or so in the states.  Lily and I hope to join the crew before the end of May.  I would hate to miss David and Sue, and of course, I REALLY miss my husband!  Speaking of which, Martin reminded me today that currently AMARA has 3 couples on the boat that are helping to crew, meanwhile Martin remains the odd man out.  Man...This is killing me... and him!

More adventures to come.  Stay tuned!

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If you want to know where AMARA is at these days, you can click on the section titled, "Where In The World" on the righthand side of the front page and you can zero in right where AMARA is anchored or sailing at all hours of the day.  I am loving it!  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

And they're off... FINALLY!

On Monday, AMARA was set to leave "Boat Works" (the marina where AMARA had been docked) in Brisbane and head to the Whitsunday Islands only to find that the generator wouldn't start.  

Everything was working fine right before they were to leave.  Following proper protocol, Martin went down to change the engine oil and turned off the engines before he proceeded with this routine procedure.  After changing the oil, he went to fire up the engines and found that the generator wouldn't start no matter how hard he and the crew tried to troubleshoot the problem.  This then turned into a long session of the men trying to figure out how to fix the generator.
The troubleshooting session begins...
The worst part of this whole scenario was that it was a holiday in Australia, so the crew had to sit around for a day to wait for the mechanics to come in to work the following day.  The next day went smoothly with the mechanics fixing the problem (and figuring out that when we had the generator repaired back in October in Fiji it was, in fact, not fixed—just patched.)  It was actually a blessing that it broke where it did so that they could have qualified mechanics come in and actually resolve the issue and fix the generator.

....And they're off!   Well, kind of...  AMARA set sail Tuesday evening, once the generator was fixed, and continued sailing the 700nm toward the Whitsunday Islands.
While pulling out of Boat Works, the straps to the tender got stuck in the cradle.  Here, John holds onto David while David grabs the straps.  Yep, this should solve the problem!

However, about 86nm's (about 100 miles) into their sail, they soon figured out that the water maker wasn't working. They hadn't turned on the water maker in the marina because there was too much sludge in the water and it would have just clogged up the filters.  So once they got out into the open ocean, they turned on the water maker only to find out that it wasn't working.  Now another problem that needed to be troubleshooted!  The solution?  Martin was going to need to hitchhike back to BoatWorks in Brisbane, pick up the part that was needed to fix the water maker and then hitchhike back.
David still trying to pull the straps out from under the tender while trusting Sue to hold on so he doesn't go overboard.
So, they had to pull AMARA into Tin Can Bay and anchor her while Martin began his trek back to Brisbane.

Martin called me on his way back and didn't seem to be the least bit bothered about the "planes, trains and automobiles" experience and was just glad that they were able to resolve the problem, get the part and fix the water maker.   Soon they were underway... again!

AMARA's Crew.  Sue, Tamrika, John, David and Martin.
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Today, AMARA motored up the Great Sandy Straights past Fraser Island (which is the largest sand island in the world).  While motoring, a dinghy came up behind them and gave them a bucket of prawns!  Now, their luck is finally looking up!
John and Tamrika showing the spoils from good neighbors on the water.
Bucket O' Shrimp
When in Australia, it's only appropriate to throw some "shrimp on the barbie" and as Sue said, "Show some yanks a real taste of Australia!"  I'm a little bit jealous... that sounds good right at the moment.
Tamrika enjoying the impromptu BBQ
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Today was also ANZAC day in Australia and New Zealand.  

ANZAC day is a national day of remembrance that commemorates all the Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all the wars.  It was originally about the troops who fought at Gallipoli during World War One.  

In 1915 allied tools set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula as part of Winston Churchill's campaign to open the way to the Black Sea and capture Constantinople troops.  They were met with fierce resistance in a 8 month battle that had no victory.  Unfortunately, 8,000 Australians died in the process.  At the this time, Australia had a population of fewer than 5 million people.  It was a huge loss to the newly formed country.  

In order to commemorate this day, throughout Australia and New Zealand, people gather at local war memorials and pay their respects at dawn.  On AMARA, the crew gathered on the top deck for their own commemoration.  They played the song, "The Last Post" which is a haunting trumpet solo played on this occasion, followed by a minute of silence to remember the sacrifice paid by all those who served and died.  Then they read the poem:

"They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn, 
At the going down do the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them. 


Following the service, the crew celebrated with tea and ANZAC cookies.  They are a kind of cookie that women made and sent in by tins to the troops during the war.  

David didn't get to join in on the festivity as he needed his sleep.  Sue says he will be attending the traditional "family service" usually held at 9 am.
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Well, I have already gotten a list of around 15 boat parts that I need to focus on now and track down and try and send back to AMARA with the next visiting crew member, so I need to call it a night for now and start working.  I'll keep you posted on the crew's progress as I continue to get updates.

I can't tell you how happy I am that they are FINALLY underway!  Let the adventure begin!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

AMARA's 2014 Sailing Schedule

I had a chance yesterday to update AMARA's 2014 Sailing Schedule.   Take a moment and check out where AMARA plans to be sailing over the next year by clicking on "Our Route" at the top of the page.  I can't believe how much ground...err...ocean AMARA will be covering.  It will be so fun to visit all the countries and islands that we plan on seeing during this voyage.  After typing up the schedule, it seems like it will be forever before AMARA makes it to the Caribbean in December.  However, December will be here soon enough and there is so much to see in between.

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Since Lily and I aren't joining the crew just yet, Sue sent me some photos of how they are celebrating their Easter weekend in Brisbane.  The menu for Saturday night included fish pie and hot cross buns.  A perfect dinner to celebrate Easter.
The rest of the photos are of AMARA under construction.  Sue has been busy cleaning out cabinets and swapping out old cans of food with new cans of food.  Martin and David are busy swapping out the Eplex system (all the electrical units that keep AMARA moving forward).  Sue reports that it all seems to be going well.  From the pictures, it makes me secretly happy that I'm not there having to deal with the mess!

All 9 of the Eplex modules that had to be replaced.  
These do not come cheap, so let's hope we don't have to replace the new ones for a long time!
The headliners down...AGAIN! They had to be taken down so that the guys can get up into the ceiling to replace an Eplex module. 
Martin working on the now infamous Eplex System.
I love this picture of David with his head up in the ceiling.  This is a typical photo of him.
David is usually coming out of some hole or stuck in some nook or cranny in the boat fixing something.  

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I spoke to Martin this morning as he was on his way to church.  He reported that John and Tamrika arrived safely and have already gone in to check out Brisbane.  In fact, while they were walking around the city, they were lucky enough to see Kate Middleton and Prince William who are currently visiting Australia.  Can I tell you how jealous I am right now?

Martin says that they went to the grocery store last night and brought home 5 grocery carts "trolleys" worth of food.  I am now content knowing that Martin won't starve.  Since provisioning is done and the electrical system is now up and working, Martin says that they will be ready to pull up anchor on Monday and start the first leg of this journey.  I feel bad that I am not there for this part but Lily and I will be there soon enough.
Lot's of provisioning!
I hope everyone is having a wonderful Easter weekend!  I am just settling down to watch The Ten Commandments... it never gets old.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hot Meals and A New Crew!

Sue has arrived and a hot meal is finally on the menu!
I received an email early this morning from Sue with a photo of Martin enjoying his first hot meal in 2 weeks.  She was letting me know that Martin is finally off PBJ's and canned beans thanks to her being back in the kitchen.  FINALLY I can rest easy knowing that he is being taken care of by our sweet Sue.  A hot meal and a tall glass of water is all that man needs to be happy.  Plus a little greenery as a centerpiece is starting to make AMARA look like home again.  It also looks like Sue even brought Martin some easter treats.  Those were probably meant for me. :)

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Meet Our New Crew!

We have the luxury now of having more crew join us on certain legs of our voyage while we sail AMARA back to the Caribbean.  After a few presentations that we gave around town about our sailing adventures,  Martin and I had lots of people come up to us and ask if they could volunteer to help crew.  Martin and I were overwhelmed by the inquiries.  After a few dinners and conversations (and me sizing people up to make sure they weren't bonkers), we now have more crew that will be joining us on various legs of our journey! We are super excited that we get to share some of our adventures with other folks from Utah.  For the first leg (Brisbane, Australia to Sorong, Indonesia), John and Tamrika will be joining us.  They are in the air, as I type, on their way to meet Martin in Brisbane.

John and Tamrika are the owners of the famous Blue Plate Diner (featured on Food Network's, "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" hosted by Guy Fieri) in Sugar House—a suburb of Salt Lake City.  John is not only a foodie, but he is also a fellow sailor and lover of the ocean.  So, now Sue has someone to swap recipes with in the kitchen, and Martin has people that will finally want to stop with him and David at every single dive spot from Brisbane to Indonesia. AMARA is now set!
I made an early morning run to the Blue Plate Diner today.  
The timing couldn't have been more perfect for John and Tamrika to join us on this leg of the voyage.  To say the least, we are pretty psyched to have them on AMARA to mix things up a little bit.  We can always use more company.  The other added bonus is that more people will be available for watches—which is always welcomed when doing long legs.

Early this morning I was FaceTiming with Martin (he was going to bed on a Thursday, while I was just waking up on a Thursday...go figure the confusion in that!) and he asked me if I had purchased all the items that he had requested for me to send with John and Tamrika when they arrive on Saturday in Brisbane.  Then he mentioned, "You know, they are taking off this morning."  I was like, "What?  They are leaving today?"  For some reason, I thought they were leaving Friday, not Thursday!  I quickly blew Martin kisses over the phone and wrapped up the conversation.  Then I called John to see if I could make a run over to the diner to drop off the items that Martin needed.  I had to scramble!
John with my bag of goodies to take to Martin.
Luckily, John was at the diner (Tamrika was up at the University of Utah wrapping up some paperwork for her doctorate) and I was able to meet John with the items that Martin had requested.  Plus, I threw in my foul weather gear and my new swanky wetsuit (Both mine and Martin's wetsuits had slipped off our back deck 3 days before we arrived in Brisbane in November.  They were never recovered.)

I'll be sure to post some more photos of John AND Tamrika throughout the course of our journey.  That way you can get to know Tamrika as well.  She is just as great as John!

Martin hopes to get AMARA ready to go so that they can set sail early next week to start the first leg of a very long journey.  My plans are still pending but I am hoping to meet up with AMARA and crew in the next few weeks in Cairns, Australia.  I am getting antsy to join the group and hope that I can get things wrapped up here in Utah so that I can join in on all the fun aboard AMARA.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Making a Splash and Other Updates

AMARA going back in the water.
Martin is in Australia while I remain in Utah.  We decided that he go ahead and get AMARA ready in Brisbane while Lily and I wait a little longer until we join up with him and the crew.  So, this past week, Martin has been working on AMARA in the boatyard for long hours getting her ready for the water.  Luckily our crew, David and Sue, will be joining Martin this next weekend and I feel comforted knowing that Martin will finally have a good home cooked meal prepared by Sue.  Yahoo!  It will be nice to know that Sue will be there to finally feed him a proper meal.  Martin, being the frugal man that he is, has been eating all the canned goods that he and his crew bought (before Sue's supervision) in France a year ago.  I think it has been a lot of beans and more beans.  

Another great thing about David and Sue coming is that David will be there to help Martin troubleshoot all the problems that AMARA has had due to her sitting in the boatyard, on the hard, for the past 4 months.  I feel a great sense of relief knowing that they will soon be there to offer him help... and a little company.  

Martin sent me an email today about the latest happenings with AMARA.  I thought I would share the email with our readers.  

In Martin's words:

"AMARA was supposed to be well protected here in Brisbane while we were home in Utah for the holidays.  Instead, she had a rough time of it. 

The temperature here reached 43.9 celsius, which is just over 111 degrees Fahrenheit and she sat sweating it out on the black asphalt.  She also endured a hailstorm with golfball to orange-sized hail blowing in winds of 60 mph.  In several places she looks like she has been through some type of military action with scars to match the story.

The worst of it was she had to endure another storm which caused a lightening strike to a nearby boat.  AMARA happens 
to have the tallest mast here in the boatyard.  Although I haven’t been up the mast yet to check, I don’t think Amara 
got a direct hit.  However she did perform some Benjamin Franklin type experiments with static electricity.   Nine of her 
electronic control modules were wiped out.  Fortunately, some of our other crucial electronics were off the boat for 
servicing at the time of the storm.  We are currently waiting for replacement modules from France.

The other thing that occurred was that AMARA, being a rather large girl and hard to move, got parked fairly close to the boat cleaning station for the other boats.  As a result she was covered in a black grime.  Every nook and cranny was filled with muck.   We even had to sand her teak deck to help recover her shine.  Now after 3 wash downs, she is starting to recover.  

In spite of the recent endurance challenges, AMARA has been successfully launched and she still floats.  She is happy to be back in the water where she belongs, and today she gets to wear some of her sails again and looks respectable for her crew who will arrive this weekend."
The famous electrical system on AMARA that got fried in the electrical storm.
I know that I promised an itinerary, which I will work on and get posted in the next few days.  It looks to be one fun sail!  Check back in a few days and I will get it posted.  

Right now I just feel assured knowing that AMARA is back where she belongs... in the water.