OK now it’s April the second its time to come clean, and possibly even ‘apologise’.
We’ve had such a great week with Sarah here in Fremantle this last week. Working on the boat, alfresco lunches in Fremantle, dealing with customs, alfresco eating in Fremantle, dealing with quarantine, alfresco dinner in Fremantle. Really its been all go, go go.
So when April fools day approached it was Sarah who wanted to do something “special” for all of us and when someone suggested we take a photo of her loading an outboard she just loved the idea. Honestly, we all had tears in our eyes as we ‘borrowed’ one from a friends yacht and then created a press release announcing that she was taking the ‘responsible course’ of carrying an emergency motor. We thought that by adding 600ltrs of fuel and 12 jerry cans that no one ‘close’ would fall for it but we ended up assuring one authority it was “big enough” for the boat and that the fuel was sufficient.
All good fun. But please be assured – Sarah is not going to explode mid ocean, nor is she going to give up due to blisters.
The biggest challenge for Sarah in Fremantle was with Quarantine. A lot of her food came from England and contained items not normally permitted into Australia. Being an island, Australia is free of many agricultural diseases and our strict quarantine laws try to keep it that way. So Sarah was granted special permission to bring in all her food so long as it all left with her on the boat. But when she returned from her “warm up” lap there were raised eyebrows and the boat was actually seized and bonded by quarantine. We kept this pretty quiet so as to not cause concern, but at one stage they announced they were going to destroy all the food. Sarah headed for the Perth hills in some distress but returned after the weekend to the sensible news that so long as she took it all back to sea then it would be all right.
So the concern at possibly replacing all the food simply became an inconvenience of doing some electrical modifications without disturbing all the yellow quarantine tape (or perhaps searching the shops for some yellow tape that almost ‘matched’).
We also modified the sea anchor system but otherwise everything was right with Dippers and the main task was down to eating. We’ve had Sarah out to some nice places around town and along the coast, fish and chips, wood fired pizza, steak house, chocolatiers, ice creameries. She’s been quite a celebrity and met some really nice people and I’m sure she felt very looked after without being smothered (except by Quarantine and customs and maybe some press).
Sarah was particularly excited to meet rowers gathering for the Indian Ocean Race due to start 200 miles north at Geraldton including the race favourite Brits, Guy Watts and Andrew Delaney, who turned up yesterday morning to see Sarah off plus Simon Chalk who has successfully rowed from Kalbarri in Western Australia to an Island near Mauritius on his second attempt (he sunk on his first attempt – why hasn’t someone told us its dangerous out there?). It is generally considered advantageous to set out further up the coast than Fremantle in order to compensate the Leeuwin Current and in fact we had very kindly been offered the use of a car trailer from former Commodore Carter of the Royal Perth Yacht Club (thanks again Tony) to relocate Sarah to Geraldton however this is basically what worried quarantine so in the end Sarah and Ricardo opted for a restart from Fremantle. (one of the negatives of starting further north is the risk of ending up too far north of Mauritius as the currents over there are northerly)
And that decision looks spot on. The winds are forecast east for 7 days and they actually determine Sarah’s travel more than current, provided they are strong enough. In fact it was west wind that defeated her more than current last time. She’ll have strong southerlies near the coast in the afternoons as the prevailing winds are drawn toward the land in typical seabreeze fashion on this coast, but overnight and in the mornings she will be getting pushed straight toward Mauritius and in a few days she will have easterlies all day. Easterlies being offshore also reduces the seastate and she will enjoy a week of less than 2m waves which is a third of what she had last time. And as if the planets are lining up for her, the Leeuwin Current even seems to have a bit of an opening at the moment – the big whirlpool that kept pushing her back last time has moved north and weakened.
I think Sarah would punctuate things here with a “Happy days”.
Sarah phoned yesterday two hours after heading off to ask that I put the outboard motor press release up as a blog. She described conditions as perfect and the send off earlier in the morning as just the way she wanted it. There was about 30 people all of whom had become close to the project here and it was a really nice feeling. Sarah stood on the cabin and made a sort of speech which seemed a little odd given how close everyone had become, but that just reinforced the goodwill surrounding the occasion and her. It really was very lovely.
So now the April Fools joke is over, everyone can start blogging their warm support and encouragement again – with all that extra weight on board Sarah will surely need it:)
One and all!