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May 30, 2005

Faces of Hope

Yesterday we visited the HOPE orphanage in the nearby mountain village of Gleno, run by our new Timorese friends Ina and Isa. It turned out to a truly enlightening experience for all of us - an incredible story of how good can come from bad.

The orphanage was set up in 2001 to service the immediate needs of 25 children whose parents were either killed by the Indonesian occupation forces and militia in or around 1999, or who have since died of diseases such as tuberculosis. The moment we arrived the kids were flocking all around the windows of the vehicle, shaking our hands and welcoming us in both local Teton and English. They were perhaps the most polite and well-mannered children I have ever met, and right from the get-go we were all very much in awe of how much warmth and enthusiasm they were capable of showing complete strangers considering the atrocities many of them had witnessed against close family members at first hand.


Take Moses here for example, whose parents were hacked to death by machetes and left for dead himself with a 3-inch slice through the forehead. For all intents and purposes he should have died also, but somehow survived. His growth is stunted due to the injuries and trauma sustained, but you wouldn't know it from his smiling face and bubbly personality that captured our hearts instantly.


Or little Dulcita who was raped by 9 soldiers when she was just 4 years old. Today she is still suffering from recurrent infections, and her face bears a permanent reminder of the horror she experienced. Painfully shy of us newcomers at first, she slowly warmed to us and by the end of the day was feeling comfortable enough to hug and hold hands with the adults while on our afternoon walk through the nearby rice padi fields.


The longterm concept is to give these children a loving, nurturing environment until the point when they can fly the nest. The intention is then for the premises to be turned over to the local village either to continue as an orphanage or be used as some other community resource. One short-term goal is to raise funds to build a workshop and craft area for the kids to learn traditional skills and modern trades that would help them make a living later on.

Lourdes, Chris and I would like to thank Ina, Isa, the staff and the orphans themselves for letting us share a day in their inspirational lives. As we discussed when we returned to the Venture Hotel in Dili where we are staying, none of us have ANYTHING to complain about EVER!

If you are interested in pledging some money for their workshop via our 501 (c) 3 Organisation in the US, please leave a comment below. The place is incredibly well run with the kids sharing all of the daily chores and responsibilities. So I have no doubt it would be a worthy cause to support.

Posted at 9:39 AM | Comments (1)

May 27, 2005

Moksha pirates in the classroom

A big congratulations to the students of Ms. April's class in Colorado who recreated a life-size model of pedalboat Moksha in their classroom. Quite a project! I'm sure Ms. A's salty tales of life on the ocean wave of the Coral Sea crossing that she completed in 2000 helped to make bring it all alive.


Big news - we finally got to see our beautiful kayaks this morning! It's been a tortous wait these past months waiting to get our hands on them; first they had to shipped from the Wenonah Canoe in Wisconsin to Chicago by truck, then to Los Angeles by rail, then by container ship courtesy of Direct Container Lines to Darwin via Singapore, then back to Dili here in East Timor when Australian customs wouldn't allow us to work on them. But I think I can speak on behalf of both Chris and Lourdes when I say they were worth the wait. They're not only beautiful to look at, but more importantly are the best boats for the job in terms of strength, speed and storage capacity. The weekend will be spent boiling down our gear to what will realistically fit into the relatively small storage compartment.


At 3pm Chris and I went for his visa interview at the Indonesian Embassy. Immediately we were turned away because his trousers were 3 inches too short, so we found ourselves tearing around in Dili in a taxi (a relative term - taxi drivers here are the slowest in the world) looking for a pair of trousers. Anway, we got the visa in his passport so what with the boats and the visas in order we're almost good to go.

Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to Kenny this morning. He is on a plane as I write - heading back to LA and then staight onto New York to film a feature film. We wish him the very best and miss his rapier wit and dry humour already. Good luck with the screen test mate - hope you definitely get the gig!

Posted at 10:57 AM | Comments (2)

May 25, 2005

Dili Time

We pretty much hit the ground running, or rather stumbling, on arrival 3pm Sunday afternoon. Kenny and Chris had organised a truly wonderful welcoming committee with the aid of local help. A circle of youth dummers from the local Art-Moris Art School beat out a rousing East Timorese native rhythm while a row of smiling faces of all nationalities beamed down at us from the quay side. It was one of if not the best reception we'd had for any voyage completion.


It took just one beer for just both to be pretty much blotto. This combined with our sea legs still wobbling around beneath us had almost crawling off Moksha to shore along the gang-plank. It's a surreal experience making the transition from sea to land at the best of times. But add the elements of music, everyone asking you questions at the same time and a tipple of Tiger (a local beer) and things get very confusing very quickly.


After catching up on some much needed sleep in some air-conditioned containers that we're renting for $10 a day we've been thrown into the chaos of getting the next leg - kayaking and biking to Singapore - underway. First off was getting Moksha pulled out of the water which we managed to do yesterday. Not a very clean operation - we had a narrow window of opportunity to use the Perkins forklift truck at the container depot - but we managed to get away with it. The combination of large machinery, strong winds and not being able to communicate properly between 30-odd local guys, all shouting and yelling at each other, potentially made for a disastrous recipe.

Next up has been dealing E. Timorese Customs which is something of a merry-go-round experience. Before clearing our kayaks (that are sitting on the dock just feet away from where we have Moksha stored) I had to register with the E. Timorese Ministry of Finance and Planning for a Tax ID number. This took a day. This afternoon we find out when we might get our hands on the boats to start working on them at last!


This afternoon we have a meeting with the British and American Embassies to see if they can lobby the Indonesian Consulate to let us leave from Dili rather than having to travel to the border to clear Indonesian Immigration. I'm not holding out much hope but it never hurts to ask.

We're hoping to get away Monday at this rate, assuming clearance of the kayaks doesn't drag on for too many more days. One of the problems we're up against is the laid-back pace of things here (makes Darwin look like Piccadilly Circus). Business hours are from 9-11 am, then they knock off for a 3-hour lunch. The afternoon shift is from 2-4, making a grueling 4-hour working day for most people here. Combine that with how long one is sitting around in offices for bits of paper to be pushed around and one starts to wonder if we'll even be out of here in 6-months.

But overall it is really wonderful to be here and already we're getting to meet some truly remarkable people, both native East Timorese and the ex-pat crowd, many of whom have played integral roles in bringing about what has been a 450-year struggle for self-rule and autonomy from outside interference. We were welcomed as heros from pedaling to here from Darwin but it is quite clear that the real heros are the ones we are meeting on the streets, almost all of whom have seen one of their family members either killed or severely maimed sometime between 1975 and 1999, but who are quietly and with determination getting on with the quite enormous task of building their own country for the first time.

Posted at 5:03 AM

May 22, 2005

Arrival Dili

Day 11. 22st May 2005. 1300 hrs local Darwin
LAT: S 8 degs, 31. 07'
LONG: E 125 degs, 36.71'
Wind: SE2
Heading: 215 degrees M

So the wind gods finally took mercy on our plight yesterday afternoon and blessed us with a wonderful 10 knot inshore breeze that helped overcome the tortuous counter-current. At around 7pm the wind died, as we knew it would being a local phenomenon connected with the heating of the island of Timor in the day, but just 20 minutes later started up in the opposite direction as the outgoing offshore breeze. Magical!

Reinforced with this show of faith from the elements we cranked hard through the night. No problems keeping awake now! Dili was within our sites and making the high tide at or shortly after 11am was our next incentive, to avoid any undue difficulties navigating in around the reef systems.

At the time of writing we are making our final approach past the statue of Christ, with another 4 miles to go before making landfall, which short of a some unforseen blunder (like knocking the cork out the bottom of the boat) we should do in the next couple of hours. Our pedal unit #1 failed this morning, thankfully a good way out from any obstructions/lee shores so we had ample time to change it out for one of the spares.

A big thanks to all directly involved with making the crossing from Darwin a safe and surprise-free one: my father for weather forecasting and acting as point person, Kenny Brown our documentary cameraman for taking on the grueling task of sitting in Dili and drinking beer these past 3 days while waiting for our arrival, the Darwin Marine Fisheries Police and AUSSAR for standing by in the event of a drama.

After scraping off the salt we'll be thrown into the tumult of getting the kayaks ready for the next section up through to Singapore. We hope to turn things around and be out of Dili within the week, if not before. Watch this space!

Jason + Lourdes
The Moksha Motors

Posted at 4:09 AM | Comments (3)

May 21, 2005

Poseidon always has the last laugh...

Day 10. 21st May 2005. 1441 hrs local Darwin
LAT: S 8 degs, 21. 27'
LONG: E 126 degs, 13.71'
Wind: zilcho
Heading: 260 degrees M

I remember on the Hawaii to Tarawa voyage I thought I had it in the bag on day 71. The next day the last of the 3 x watermakers failed and thanks to bad usage of the water reserves on my part I was left with no water for the remaining 40 miles. I should have learnt something after this lesson.

Yesterday we thought we had this voyage in the bag also. Then the wind dropped this morning and we found ourselves pedaling on the same spot for 4 hours. The cause was quickly identified via the GPS - a 1-1.5 knot counter-current running against us from west to east; the remnants of the easterly set that predominates along the north coast of Timor during the wet season (Nov-April) and which can linger on into the transitional period of May-June. We'd been wondering why we hadn't been making better progress these past few days with such a strong wind astern, but hadn't thought anything of it until now.

So it looks like it'll be a 40-mile slog to the finish. At 2.5 knots under our own steam we're able to make 1 nautical mile good each hour against the 1.5 knot counter-current. This means it'll take 2-days to get to Dili, instead of the expected 20 hours (i.e. tomorrow morning). It's grueling on the knees and the legs, so we're down to 1-1.5 hour pedal shifts to keep each pedaler fresh. Plus the pedal unit is starting to make some interesting noises so I doubt it will last much longer before we have to change it out.

The bottom line is - there is no other option but to thrash it out. As I told Lourdes earlier, at least we're making SOME progress. I remember times in the doldrums on the Tarawa voyage when I was going backwards for days at a time. Ditto the Coral Sea voyage with April. So it's all relative. And once you've let go of the previous reality of scenario A happening (in this case getting to Dili tomorrow morning), accepting an alternative scenario (of getting there a day later) is really not such a big deal.

Our one chance of salvation lies in a forecast inshore breeze of 10 knots in the afternoon. We'll see if this comes to anything. Fingers X'd.

Posted at 6:51 AM | Comments (1)

May 20, 2005

A Challenging Night

Day 9. 20th May 2005. 1508`1 hrs local
LAT: S 8 degs, 16. 69'
LONG: E 126 degs, 50.75'
Wind: SE 25 knots
Heading: 260 degrees M

Just when I thought this was going to be one of the easiest crossings of the expedition so far, the wind freshed yesterday evening to 25-30 knots as we rounded the eastern edge of Timor, giving us one of the most challenging nightime pedals I can remember.

The shorter wavelengths in the shallower waters combined with increased wind, current and frequent black squall-like clouds (but actually yielding little rain) forming and overrunning us from the east meant were in for a lively ride! WIth these forces pushing Moksha from astern the pedaling was the easy part. The tricky bit was steering down the face of the 20+ft waves without broaching (when the boat slews around to either port or starboard and a possible capsize occurs) while keeping one eye on the red compass light and the other on the GPS to make sure we weren't getting pulled into land by any local currents. All this in the dark - very intense! We took 1.5 hour shifts to enable frequent rest periods. As a result we've been catching up on sleep during the course of this morning.

At the time of writing the island of Timor is 3-4 miles to our port beam. We can make out trees and wooded hills with larger peaks further into the interior. It's always exciting approaching a new island in Moksha. And with the 24 hours it will take to track westwards along the north shoreline to Dili our imaginations will have plenty of time to wander as to what unusual animals and plants live there, and what the people and their culture and language are like.

We do know from reading the guide book that East Timor has been through some pretty difficult times over the past few centuries. Formerly a Portuguese colony the country was most recently take over by force by Indonesia in 1975 and between 1976 and 1986 Amnesty International estimate that 200,000 people out of a population of 700,000 were killed. Sobering stuff.

Today (20th May) however is East Timor's third annual Independence Day, so we hope to see some smiling faces when we roll into Dili late tomorrow afternoon/early Sunday morning.

Posted at 7:16 AM | Comments (2)

May 19, 2005

Looks like we'll make it to Dili!

Day 8. 19th May 2005. 1446 hrs local
LAT: S 8 degs, 28. 69'
LONG: E 127 degs, 36.35'
Wind: SE 15 knots
Heading: 315 degrees M

We are about 12 nm from the eastern tip of Timor. It looks like we will be able to make it around the eastern tip at this point. The contour of the island resembles a crocodile which is part of an old myth on how the island was formed. To make a long story short a crocodile became the island ofTtimor and all its people call the crocodile 'grandfather'. When they cross a river they call out, "Crocodile, I'm your grandchild - please don't eat me!".

We have been learning a few words of Tetum which is the language spoken on Timor. It was brought over by the Portuguese in the 18th century. There are a few more languages spoken here as well but Tetum is the most common. A few words we learned for the day from the phrasebook, are: hello - 'halo', goodbye - 'adeus', how are you? - 'diak ka lae?', fine thanks, and you? - 'diak obrigadu, ita diak ka lae?'.

Each day I will learn a few words or phrases so I can feel that I'm putting some effort into communicating with the local people which I think will be appreciated. Before I go back to immersing myself with the sea, I just wanted to share what a glorius day it is and the conditions could'nt be any better.


Posted at 6:25 AM

May 18, 2005

Crunch Time...

Day 7. 18th May 2005 1500hrs local
LAT: S 9 degs, 03. 074'
LONG: E 128 degs, 17.552'
Wind: ESE 10-15 knots
Heading: 330 degrees M

So it's crunch time on the voyage. If we don't make it around the eastern end of the island of Timor to get to Dili we face the awful prospect of pedaling down the exposed coast of the southern edge and around to the Indonesia town of Kupang - another 7 days at least.

The problem with this scenario is not so much the extended length of the voyage (we have plenty of food and the ability to create fresh water from sea water on board), rather the logistical nightmare of having Moksha stranded somewhere with no shipping line to take her to Singapore. In addition our kayaks are already in Dili, so the only recourse would be to try pedaling Moksha on and around up the northern edge to Dili, an impossibilty I believe against the predominantly seasonal SE flow of wind and current.

The status right now is looking OK. But we certainly don't want to get complacent and let our guard down until we know for sure we will make it around the eastern tip. At 5pm local time yesterday we thought we had 10 miles 'easting' to our advantage - i.e. 10 miles in reserve to the east to ensure getting around the corner. But on checking the GPS shortly after the hour I noticed with alarm that this margin had been reduced to just 3. It took us the entire night pedaling an aggressive heading of 350 degrees magnetic to claw our 7 miles back again. Subsequently we are both very fatigued and our knees sore from hammering away consistently at the cranks. Lourdes had a bit of scare yesterday evening when her right knee became suddenly very painful. Some vetinerary liniment for horses that Sharon Kessler sent out seems to have helped though. Now the boat smells like a farmyard more than ever!

This is an interesting equation for those students currently participating in this week's lesson activities in Lat/Long. Our position as of 0800hrs local time this morning was 9 degs, 12.718' S/128 degs, 25.308'E. The eastern most point of Timor that we need to clear is 8 degs, 27.000' S/127 degs, 22.000' E. This gives us approximately 60 nautical miles we have to pedal west and 45 north. With the wind from from the SE and with no unforeseen changes in the currents this should be very much doable. But if the wind strengthens to 20-25 knots, which it is forecast for today, and backs to the ESE, we could have problems.

All will be revealed by this time tomorrow!

On a lighter note Moksha has been targeted by 3 or 4 small terns that have taken to riding along on the stern and the rudder at night...

Current ETA still Saturday pm.

Posted at 5:19 AM

May 17, 2005

Day 6 - Dashing for Dili

Day 6. 17th May 2005 1500hrs local
LAT: S 9 degs, 38. 225
LONG: E 129 degs, 47. 552
Wind: SE 15-20 knots

The wind freshened this morning quite dramatically to a force 5 (15-20 knots) from the South East. This has brought much needed ventilation to the Moksha engine room and a little extra help from astern in the form of the windage and wave action against the hull.

For me its like returning to a very familiar space being back on Moksha, even though it has been 5 odd years since April and I pedaled in from across the Coral Sea. I can truly say that I do love and feel at home on the ocean, especially days like this when the same placid water from the past two days is whipped up into a confused medley of waves that hypnotize the gaze for minutes at a time.

This might be my last major crossing in Moksha if the expedition goes direct overland through Asia to East and West Europe, so I am aware of how little time I have left in the old girl before making landfall in Dili, just 4-5 days from now. One part of the experience I will most definitely NOT miss is the dreadful night pedaling shifts. The act of levering oneself out of the rathole at 2am and pedaling for 3hours in the pitch dark is as grueling and exhausting on this voyage as it was 11 years ago on the Atlantic Crossing.

I havent really had a chance to thank all of you there in Aussieland who might be reading this for the remarkable hospitality and support x360 experienced D nownunder. Although there are too many to mention here I would like to pay especial thanks to John and Norlia in Cairns for their consistent support, James and Jo in Darwin, and most recently the Dinah Beach Cruising Yacht Association, Peter at Tipperary Waters, Leon from Darwin Ship Stores, Andy our tartan neighbour at Dinah Beach, Kris and Natalie, Curtis, Tom and Penny for weather forecasting et al.

Posted at 7:30 AM | Comments (1)

May 16, 2005

Update from Lourdes

Day 5. 16th May 2005. 16.28hrs local
Wind SE 3-4
LAT: S10 degs 16.033
LONG: E129 degs 25.460

We have just covered about 60nm since leaving Apsley Straights. The millpond conditions have been quite pleasant and HOT. On the voyage yesterday we spotted a small pod of dolphins, a turtle, snake and plenty of jumping fish swimming about.

Managed to squeeze in a few dives into the water which felt absolutely amazing. The water felt like pure silk which gave me the sensation of wanting to swim forever gliding through its softness. Thesunsets are an array of colors melting into the sky as the sun hides behind the clouds disappearing with its last sliver of orange. The night sky is another joy with all its interesting constellations. We sat on the back of the boat and learned some new stars from a chart that was given to me by an 80 year old captain who loves Viagra. I just the love how peaceful it is out here staring into the dark water and being mesmerized the reflection of the stars and moon. I returnto my pedaling and quietly disappear into my thoughts.


Posted at 8:05 AM | Comments (1)

May 15, 2005

Moksha Aground! Day 3-4

Day 3-4. Time 12.52. Sunday.
LAT: S10 degs 59.98'
LONG: E129 degs 59.34'

I awoke at 1am to the sickening sound of something shearing inside the boat. Something unfamiliar - metallic perhaps. Or the worst case - a mangrove root puncturing the underside of the hull.

Kenny and Lourdes were sleeping some 150 yrds away on the top of the bank away from the reach of crocs. I'd elected to sleep on board Moksha. Earlier we'd built a fire to cook a meal and combat the hordes of insects that inhabitat the mangroves. Their favourite food seems to be tartan flesh. With his sunburnt face and insect bites (many gone septic from scratching) Kenny resembles a 200lb tomato with acne.

As I was fumbling for my deadtorch there was another crack from somewhere near the centre of the boat. I realized now by the angle of the boat that she was going aground. This was not good. I'd completely underestimated the tidal range and she was slowly sinking into the mangrove roots.

I quickly sourced the cracks as coming from the pedal unit that was taking much of the weight of the boat as she sank lower. Two of the locking clasps had already popped off under the pressure before I could release the other two.

The centre board was already protuding up through the housing inside of the boat - the sicaflex seal now broken. My next thought was to dig a hole for the rudder to settle into. As I was poised to leap over the side into the muddy water something made me think twice. As I swung the high-powered beam of the dive-torch into the mangroves I saw a large yellow eye reflecting back at me. A croc was just a 20 metres away in the water, waiting...

It took most of the following morning (now yesterday) to effect repairs to both the pedal system housing and the centre board seal. Thank goodness for sicaflex - the stuff is amazing, sticking to literally any surface (especially human skin) even when wet. And that bag of old hardware that we've been dragging around the world for years finally had it's day, yielding the replacement clasps crucial for the effective operation of the pedal unit.

Later that afternoon we dropped Kenny off at Garden Point were he managed to catch the last flight out back to Darwin with just a few minutes to spare. Lourdes and I continued north and safely navigated the exit of the Apsley Straits out into the Timor Sea overnight with the benefit of the outgoing tide to our advantage. At the time of writing we are about 15Nms NNW of Bathurst Island on a 315M heading for the eastern point of Timor. Estimated jouney time to Dili - 5 to 6 days.


Posted at 5:01 AM | Comments (4)

May 13, 2005

Day 2 - Into Explorer Territory

1600 hrs local
11 degs 37. 684'S
130 degs 28. 556'

Well we missed the renezvous with Kenny, or rather he missed it with us, thanks to what can only be described as night from hell with Captain Crazy Trousers. Apparently half way into the trip they were well off course, having both fallen asleep. Equipment was starting to fail and the wind dropped, so they decided to make their way back to Darwin which took until 1am. At this point they rammed into a sand bar at 4 knots and Captain Crazy was forced to swim to shore with the dinghy leash in his mouth towing Kenny and all his camera gear (the outboard motor broken). I then managed to catch Kenny at 7.30 am on his mobile phone and plan B was launched - Kenny taking the ferry out to meet us in the Apsley Strait, which he duly did. By 10.00am we all three aboard Moksha northbound up the strait.

Good day for us in Moksha - we made the tricky crossing of Beagle Gulf OK, and at the time of writing have made 17 odd miles good up the channel. We're heading into explorer territory now, with the sides of the channel lined with mangroves and sandy beaches habitated by dozing crocs. At 4pm the tide reversed against us, so instead of fighting it we've decided to make camp ashore; cook a meal and get some much needed rest. This is a photo of Kenny and Lourdes acting as croc-decoys ('back a bit - that's it, a little more!') before the author gets out of boat. The insects in the mangroves are killing me as I write this so that's it for now...

Posted at 10:32 AM

We're Away!

We're off! After nearly four years of raising the money and a year of this spent in preparation, the current leg of the expedition kicked off yesterday morning at 0900hrs local time Darwin.

At the time of writing (0821hrs local) Lourdes, Moksha and I are actually approaching the southern edge of the Apsley Strait, the passage separating Melville and Bathurst Islands, having pedaled 40nms from Darwin overthe past 23hrs. Kenny was supposed to rendezvous with us at 0630hrs on a yacht chartered off Matthew (aka Captain Crazy Trousers). But on calling Kennys cellphone just now it appears their voyage was a complete debacle punctuated by equipment failure, no wind and sparse navigational knowledge. The ordeal was brought to an end at 0530hrs this morning when they ran aground on a sandbar outside Darwin harbour and had to swim ashore across Fannie Bay!

So Kenny is currently on the daily ferry out of Darwin bound for Nguiu (pronounced New-U) where we hope to all meet up after 10.00hrs this morning. Sounds like he has more hair-raising stories in store for us...

Otherwise things are going pretty smoothly at least on the good ship Moksha. The little craft feels as sound as she did the first time we pedaled here back in 1993. The lack of wind is good for us as far as being able to make it to the mouth of the straits without being blown west, but the flipside were both sweating nonstop and the small 12 volt fan retrieved from the junk-pile at the Dinah Beach Yacht Club is the only thing producing any ventilation. I regret now not getting a better one before leaving.

Lourdes is starting to get over an initial and somewhat inevitable bout of sea-sickness. We took turns pedaling through the night at 2hrs intervals sucking on the end of a bottle of scotch whiskey (now empty). As expected the tide pushed us west then east, then west again. But with the magic of GPS it was easy for us to know what the ocean is doing underneath us and to compensate accordingly. Information is everything.

The next 24hrs should be interesting pedaling up the Apsley to Garden Point. The region is home to the local Aboriginal Tiwi (meaning people) islanders and the strait itself stiff with salties apparently so swimming is out of the question. Hopefully well regain our appetites here shortly also so we can get some much needed fuel in our stomachs to soak up the scotch.


PS. For this who have written email in the past 10-days. Apologies for the lack of reply. The last week was utter mayhem as usual, getting everything ready for the voyage. I will however get to my inbox in Dili in about a week.

Posted at 12:32 AM | Comments (3)

May 9, 2005

Departure now Thursday morning

We heard back from the Indonesia Consulate today (Monday) that our visas have been given the pre-approval and can be turned around by Wednesday afternoon. So we'll be leaving Thursday morning around 06.30 local time Darwin. Please watch this blog for any changes.

The good news is the high pressure in the south of Australia is dissipating and we're coming into a period of 10-15 knots winds which is ideal.

Posted at 11:02 AM | Comments (1)

May 6, 2005

Delay to strong winds - Moksha has a new guide

We were originally looking to head off this morning, but a series of high pressures converging in southern Australia have freshened the wind strength to 20-25 knots in the north and especially outside of Darwin harbour, so we're putting off until Tuesday, 0600 hours local time.

This afternoon we launch Moksha on the high tide at the Dinah Beach YC boat ramp, then pedal around the corner to Tipperary Marina where Peter has kindly offered to sponsor us a few days on a free berth. Darwin has a very large tidal range, with the low tide drying significant areas outside the Dinah Beach YC, so the advantage of keeping her in a marina with a lock is she'll stay in the water until we set off. We can start to load the heavy gear and food without putting her under any undue strain if she was on dry land.

Our friends Kris and Natalie gave Moksha a new spirit guide yesterday to see her and the crew safely to Timor. The combination of a turtle, very much a local in these waters, and the powerful mandala in the middle will, I am sure bring us good luck!


Also finished all my vaccinations yesterday for Indonesia. Looks like a shopping list for a hypochondriac...

Yellow Fever
Hepatitus A
Hepatitus B
Japanese Encephalitus
Measles, Mumps Rubella

And of course the anti-malarials for when we're up in the exposed area.

Posted at 5:51 AM | Comments (2)

May 2, 2005

Things are looking up and away...

After a frustrating few days there when it seemed that nothing was coming together, an ABC TV report on Dateline produced a flurry of local interest down at the boat and a welcome offers of support. Darwin is finally coming around it seems...

We're into the final stages of getting things together. My 'do list' is starting to get shorter rather than longer. We're just waiting on the marine batteries from Sydney which we hope will arrive tomorrow Tuesday. Kenny then arrives in Wednesday evening and we'll launch Moksha on the high tide Thursday afternoon around 3 pm local time. Then it'll be the usual routine of loading her with enough food for the task in hand (3 weeks - a conservative estimate for the voyage) and taking her out for a spin around the bay to test the pedal mechanism and let Lourdes get a feel for her.

Estimate Time of Departure is currently Saturday 4am local time Darwin. This may change for those looking to come down and see us off, so please check back. And as our late friend Peter Bird once told us, 'Go when only when you're ready. It doesn't matter that people have to wait around. It's your own lives that are in the balance'. I've always kept these words close to heart, even when the media are showing up and pressuring us to go. I intend to continue this tradition - it's brought us good luck this far.

As far as weather is concerned we were hoping to get a narrow window of slack wind and current between the wet and dry season. But for some reason (being an El Nino year?) the trades have already set in at 15-20 knots. Not an impossible task for the voyage we are aiming to do, as long as it's not all from the east. To get around the eastern edge of Timor to Dili we'll need some help from the southeast.

Four days and counting...

Posted at 11:07 AM | Comments (2)