It’s Sunday 17th January, 23.00 and it’s the night before we actually set sail for Vietnam. I am just sitting here at the Marina, Abell Point Marina Yacht Club and I’ve been out with some of the crew for some dinner and a beer, or three!
But seriously we will be taking it very easy tonight as it is race start tomorrow morning. Although tomorrow is not a typical race start as we will not be starting from the marina, rather we have to motor around 140 nautical miles out so that we get out past the Great Barrier Reef… YAWN…, sorry!
The actual start line is just East of the Great Barrier Reef and because it is quite tricky to navigate the coral of the reef the race directors decided we have to motor out beyond the narrow channels to an off shore start point. This modified start gives us a great opportunity to do our refresher sailing which we haven’t been able to do. The original plan was to do some on Saturday but now we will be able to test ourselves during the transition from the marina to the start.
Over the few days here at Airlie Beach there have been lots of repairs required on the boat and this morning we all met again at 10.00 for a debrief before heading up to emigration for final processing. We had to sit in a room with emigration officers while an administrator checked our passports. Our names were called in turn so I presented myself so the emigration officer could extensively assess if the man in front of him was one and the same as the man pictured in the passport. I was asked my date of birth and otherwise wished a safe trip. In fairness it was all very informal… YAWN…, sorry! (John is tired!)
After lunch we had a few jobs to finish up on the boat before another and very much the proper debrief from our skipper. The race organisers delivered a detailed race meeting at 15.30 covering the route, procedures, potential for piracy, which is quite low on this stage, update on cyclones, which can happen north of Australia in the Solomon Sea, which is east of Papua New Guinea, again low risk. All appeared in order, no major concerns.
Back on board another team chat with the skipper, aired some issues, what we expected from the race, what the procedures on board would be, who was doing what, allocation of watches, bunks and specific tasks and a discussion about other procedures.
On the marina this evening the organisers posted an A2 printout of our boat, a graphical illustration of each of the 12 boats which each team in turn signed and these were then auctioned off. I thought it was a bit of a poor showing but we did have about 15 or 16 of the Derry-Londonderry-Doire crew so a bit of craic, a few pints ourselves… YAWN…, sorry! (Poor baby is very tired!)
The poster of our boat went for AUZ400 (£200/€260) and as it happens… I was the one who won the auction! It was funny having so many of one crew there trying to outdo each other adding to the atmosphere and after it was announced I had won the bidding for the poster of Derry-Londonderry-Doire a number of the crew said they really wanted to get this for our Skipper, Dan saying he really wanted it. I asked well where is he so?, playing hard to get and eventually said cool, no worries, of course he could have it. The crew said they would bring it back to Derry to get it fully signed up and as it was about £200 they said all would chip in but as far as I’m concerned the auction was a bit of craic, it is all in aid of Unicef tonight, so another great cause. All good.
So that was today. As I said we are just done with dinner, which we went for after the auction. The Last Supper as it is called. Really nice steak was had that is it for now. Just back to hit the sack and thought I’d do one last report before I go. Thanks all and please keep the donations rolling in, pass the word and you will hear from me again in a month.
JC signing off.