Plastic in the Pacific Crusade – Part 4 – The road to our yacht.

Welcome to our blog for the Plastic in the Pacific Crusade.  If you missed Part 1, click here or Part 2 click here or Part 3 click here to go back and read them.  Over the coming year we will be writing regularly of our adventures and what we are seeing.  In this article we write about the long journey to take delivery of the yacht.

As the days counted down to my departure from Darwin, the mission started to seem more and more daunting. I think I took on a bit more than I should have to be honest. Not only did we have to pack up a house, we had to pack some stuff to go to Melbourne where it would stay in the van for the next year and a half, we had to pack other gear to go onto the pallet in Brisbane and then there was the gear we would be taking with us, including gear for a wedding and the first couple of weeks on the boat before we got to Greece where we would get the rest of the gear. We had a wedding to prepare for and I had a very long drive ahead of me. So much needed to go right for me to make my flight to Singapore just 9 days later.

Boat & Van

We packed up the boat a week before my departure. It would be going into storage in Melbourne along with the van. As June 14th approached, I was to work one final set of shifts at Darwin Port Corporation. My last night shift there was actually the evening of the 13th, meaning I would get off work at 0600 on the 14th, the day I would depart. The plan was to get home, have a quick sleep, finish packing up the house, go to the sailing club and hook up the boat and I’d be off. Of course I couldn’t sleep as much as I wanted to. I woke at 1030 and we finished the house packing. The van was packed to the roof, not much room left anywhere. I had left enough space across the front seats in case I wanted to sleep in the car. By 1330 I was at the sailing club and hooked up the boat. The lights weren’t working, they had totally rusted out. I kicked myself at not having checked this. I got a light board and finally hit the road at 1630 on a road trip of 6,000kms. I have to give credit to the van. It is just a 2.1 litre diesel but she handled the load incredibly well. O.K, we weren’t setting speed records but she plodded along at 90-100kms an hour. She didn’t like the hills though.

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The trip ended up an adventure. The road between Mt Isa and Townsville is very bouncy. The trailer was bouncing a lot. All of a sudden the mast wasn’t in the right position. I stopped to find the mast bracket had broken. I strapped it up and noticed the cover had a small tear in it but thought it would be O.K. 20 minutes later the cover was flapping everywhere, torn to shreds. I stopped and removed it to find a beam on the trailer had snapped and the entire left hand rear of the trailer was low, meaning the cradle supporting the boat was bouncing, supported by two central beams instead of the outside beam. So I supported the boat on a makeshift platform on the beam in front of the aft beam until I could get somewhere to weld the trailer. This was done in Airlie Beach and the weld lasted until just south of Rockhampton. I drove on with my makeshift support cradling the boat.

In Brisbane I ran around picking up all the rest of the gear and loaded it onto 2 pallets bound for Greece. Total cost was AUD$1071. Not bad I thought however I knew there were clearance fees the other end which I had been told would be similar to the clearance fees in Australia, so maybe $400 at worst. Thought that was O.K. I then had both rear tyres on the van replaced as they were damaged from the overloading of the van and probably the bouncing on the road up north. I arrived at mum’s place in Melbourne on the morning of the 20th , very tired and ready for a rest. I cleaned the boat and van and then was picked up by my brother Peter who took me to his place for my buck’s party that evening. A couple of days later I was on a plane to Singapore to meet up with Annika who was flying there from Darwin. We arrived in Sweden on the morning of the 24th June.

Volvo Trophy

One of the reasons for the timing of our wedding was that the Volvo Ocean Race was finishing in Gothenburg, just 20 minutes from where Annika grew up. We wanted to go see the boats and when I saw that Rob Kothe from Sail-World.com had been at one of the earlier pit-stops, I contacted him to see if he was going to be there. He wasn’t and he asked us to be there on ground reporters, of which we didn’t hesitate. For the first three days we were at the event and saw some amazing sailing. We eve got to hold the trophy.  Will Oxley, the navigator off Team Alvimedica showed us over one of the boats and introduced us to his skipper Charlie Enright who had shown quite a passion for the environment through the race. They told us about an Ocean Conference the was being held the next day. Better still, they organised an invite for us both.

The conference was good, with lots of positive ideas for businesses. The full story on the conference can be found at http://oceancrusaders.org/oceans/ The final in port race was epic and to be on the water right beside the boats was just amazing. After the racing we had a wedding to prepare for. We also had a week on a charter boat with both sets of parents off the West Coast of Sweden. That was quite a windy and cold week but nice to be back on the water again. The week of our wedding all our friends arrived and the day of the wedding was an amazing experience. It was at Annika’s parent’s property and it was a casual affair. It was perfect and so was the weather. We were quite privileged with how many of our friends were able to make it.

salamander weddingA week after our wedding, finally we were departing to get to the boat. The early morning flight was no issue. We landed in Split and were stoked to be back in a warm climate again. Having departed Darwin and the regular 30+ degree days, Sweden’s occasional 20 degree day was not so nice. We had booked a car to take us the 45kms from Split Airport to Grebastica where the boat was. Our driver was very friendly, a student in history, so he told us a lot about the region. As we drove along the coast, it was spectacular and there were yachts everywhere, making the anticipation build, our own yacht and a year of sailing. Perfect.

Arriving in Grebastica, we had only been told by the broker that the yacht was at a marina in Grebastica. We saw a few masts on the Southern side as we drove around to the north side where the driver’s GPS was taking us. There were no masts on the Northern side. Eventually we back tracked and found a steep and rough driveway down a hill to where the boat was. At the bottom was a little restaurant (Barba Kum Bar and Grill) and a few people camping, Whilst three yachts sat moored off the pontoons. Ours was sitting there. We were immediately welcomed by Zultan (Zolly) and his wife Josipa, owners of the place. They made us feel at home straight away. We had a drink and then went to the boat. Approaching the back of the boat, it was the first time we had seen the boat in person. We had seen lots of photos but never seen her in the flesh.

SUSKYAs we boarded, we were so excited. This was our dream coming true. We unlocked the boat and what we found was something we will remember forever, not for all the right reasons.

In our next edition, we start to prepare the yacht for its year on the crusade and start our journey south towards Greece.

Ocean Crusaders are out to change the way people treat our oceans.  Our online education program is free to download at www.OceanCrusaders.org/education where children can learn of the issues our oceans are facing and how they can make a difference.  The Plastic in the Pacific Crusade is about educating the South Pacific Islands, finding out what is happening in these islands and updating our programs.  You can join us in the Pacific and see for yourself what we do.

Ocean Crusaders Plastic in the Pacific Crusade is proudly supported by: Cressi Dive Gear, Gill Marine, Keen Footwear Australia, Barz Optics Sunglasses, Maxsea Navigation Software, Digital Diver Cairns, LED Dive Lights Australia, Boat Names Australia & Predictwind Weather