Thursday, 5 January 2023



I know this post is long overdue!. We've had a very busy year and I will endeavour to bring everyone up to date over the next few weeks. Going right back a whole year to catch up so here's the first instalment.

On the 7th of December 2022, we departed Boatworks bound for WA. 2500nm The Queensland borders were due to open to the rest of Australia and Omicron outbreaks were inevitable. Passing up the opportunity to cruise Morton Bay we instead elected to head on south, directly to Tasmania. Tasmania was still Covid free and Tasmanians were still welcome in Fortress WA. 

The trip downriver to the Seaway at Southport, where we had decided to Anchor for the night, was without incident and the boat was skimming along smoothly and quietly under motor. After the Gearbox rework this was encouraging. Electing to carry on instead of anchor, we left the Seaway on dusk and headed south expecting to forge on directly to Tasmania. 1500nm. The seas got rougher the further south we went and with it the engine noise increased to a point we knew we had a problem. There was a serious knock coming from somewhere. Not the gearbox but we suspected one or more engine mounts were broken. At Port Stevens, 325nm south, we went in for further inspection.

Some nice sailing.

Dave and Pattie Bowden, cruising friends from back in 2002, live in Port Stevens and they spotted us from their balcony, phoned to offer advice re anchorages and to arrange a catch-up. We had established that the exact 4 engine mounts we needed were in stock in Newcastle about an hour's drive south. Dave immediately insisted on driving down to pick them up, so within no time we had moved into Soldiers Point Marina, with new engine mounts aboard, and with no idea how to go about fitting same!!. All the mechanics were.. "flat out until mid March at least" So armed with spanners and a lot of patience David carefully measured the mount placements and numbers of threads showing etc and then one by one using a small hydraulic jack, he undid and raised the engine off each mount enough to slide out the old one and slide in the new one, tightening each one just so.... each time. 

Wonderful Sculptures dockside at Soldiers Point Marina

There were lots of bits of the engine to be removed including, at the last, the alternator and heavy mounting and big Jabsco damage control pump. It took 5 long weary dirty days to complete the work and Dave and Patty fed us and fettered us on several occasions as well as providing much largesse from their amazing vegetable gardens. We were in Port Stevens for 10 days and pleasant as it was, we needed to get moving. Tasmania was due to open its borders and that would mean WA closing the gate on Tasmania and anyone who was coming in from there.

WA had announced it would open the borders on the 5th of February but we had serious doubts based on the rapid spread of Omicron which was now occurring. On the 19th we set sail south again with the noises all gone. There was some pretty serious weather off Sydney and Pittwater but even in the roughest conditions, the engine was still purring away quietly. Port Hacking provided shelter for a night during a strong southerly wind shift and the next day we were able to continue to Eden to await weather for the Bass Strait crossing.

Unable to go ashore for fear of compromising our entry into Tasmania, we stayed aboard and were able to continue on south on the 23rd, 222nm, arriving at Lady Baron Flinders Island on the 24th of December. Looks like Xmas alone in Flinders Island while we try to negotiate the G2G pass bullshit. These passes are issued electronically and are only valid for 24 hours. Einstein!! you can't sail from Eden to Tasmania in a small boat in 24 hours. So eventually we negotiated permission to enter. God it's worse than all the international borders we've negotiated in the past 18 years!!!

Xmas 2022 at Lady Baron Flinders Island

A very quiet Xmas was spent at Lady Baron, also not going ashore, then the wind changed and we had to go for cover to a pretty doubtful bay at Orchard Point on the north of Cape Baron Island. Nothing there. It may have been nice walking but the weather was foul and it was blowing dogs off chains so we tucked in for a couple of nights. We had also discovered that the alternator bracket had loosened and was hanging on only one of its 7 bolts. It transpired that when one replaces these bolts after removing them one must use new bolts as the act of tightening them originally stresses them too much to reuse. Lesson learned.

Flinders to the Tamar River Tasmania

Fixing stuff. Missing bolts!

Beautiful Port Dalrymple Yacht Club

On the 27th at the break of dawn, we crept out and headed to The Tamar River  85nm. First decent sailing day in weeks. Made it into the anchorage at Port Dalrymple before dark and had a very nice quiet night's sleep. The Port Dalrymple Yacht Club is super friendly and has one of the best fuel docks anywhere. Here we managed to get a taxi into Launceston and locate and purchase the wretched bolts for the alternator. We took the opportunity, not being in any hurry now that we were in Tasmania, to repaint the bracket and over a couple of days we got everything back together and shipshape. 

Tamar River

Gift of preserves from the lovely manager of the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club

Remember WA was going to open to the rest of Australia on the 5th of Feb. Well by now it was just the 3rd of Jan. The announcement came that the border would remain closed indefinitely and Tasmania was moving to Extreme Risk meaning there's no way to proceed to WA from Tasmania unless you are a football player or tennis player or the Premier!! We had to leave Tasmania before midnight Friday the 5th

There wasn't much in the fridge, cabbage, beetroot a few carrots this and that, and the fuel situation was not ideal but rather than risk any further shore forays we elected to bolt. This proved easier on paper than in reality. Gale forecast for the eastern Bass Strait waters forced us to backtrack and seek the shelter of broad shallow beach west of Stanley. An 0100 arrival time is not ideal in 30+kn. Having re-anchored the following morning, a little further inshore, we settled in to sit out several days with gusts over 40kn. Bouncy, noisy, and generally unpleasant.

On the 7th we were able to motor out in calm conditions, albeit with a somewhat rolling swell remaining. Another pleasant day's sail, passing quite close to King Island and sadly not allowed to visit. In the late afternoon, a fog swept in and it wasn't long before visibility was extremely poor. These conditions continued on and off over the next 12 hours. We were relying on Radar and AIS for ship positions

Holed up off the coast near Stanley Tasmania

On the 9th, just north of Portland Victoria, we caught a darn cray pot line around the Rudder!! It was pretty calm and we were sailing so it didn’t get around the propeller. After a little manoeuvring into the wind, it eventually dropped off. Pots are extremely heavy. No chance of pulling it up. We probably dragged it a couple of km before getting rid of it The night was all sailing and the stars were stunning. They felt like they were falling on you. Can’t remember seeing such bright stars.

With a strong Easterly system bearing down. We had to find a safe gunk hole to wait it out. The sea state gets too sporty with the wind of 30+ against the current. So we headed towards Kangaroo Island to spend a couple of nights on anchor somewhere isolated.

Kingscote King Island

Several anchorages were available in various wind conditions and we used them all over the coming week as the wind swung around the compass before settling to a steady westerly.

American River Anchorage King Island

Kangaroo Island anchorages

Kingscote provided respite although again we were not able to go ashore. Eventually, the wind died and promised to become easterly again so we chanced a couple of light days and with dwindling fuel headed into the Great Australian Bight and made a beeline for Albany, 960 nm west.

The Great Australian Bight.

January 14th. The first 24 hours were slow. Reluctant to use fuel we waffled about making as little as 3 knots at times. While the autopilot would steer, we sailed. The wind arrived and conditions became pretty sporty with a decent following wind wave and a good cross swell from the southern ocean to keep our attention. Cold. It was extremely cold. Fladden suits were absolutely necessary on watch.

Fladden Suits.

We stopped at Middle Island, east of Esperance, on the 19th of Jan, riding big swells into the nice protected anchorage to sit out a few more days of sporty weather. Seriously pretty spot and plenty of squid, but we were still dealing with border control and trying to get permission to enter WA W'ed been isolated at sea since the 18th of December! Stupid Covid rules.

Middle Island

Fortunately Lisa Blair arrived in Albany without permission and someone saw. fit to recognise the fact that shed been at sea alone for 18 or so days so she was granted permission to enter. Lisa kindly gave us her contact in the Police Department and. we were also advised that we were permitted to enter and Quarantine Free. Yipee!! Arriving in Albany on the 22nd of January we were welcomed by many family and friends and escorted in by Jason and family in their little Penguin. Weather couldn't have been better and we were relieved to be finally home with Taipan 19 years since her last berth in Albany.


Wednesday, 17 November 2021


Our new Swift 3.1m RIB Australian made. Our first one lasted for 15 years.

we were Medivaced back to Australia from Tahiti. The process was protracted by Covid and the inevitable delay was frustrating and very stressful. After quarantine and several specialists appointments in Perth, we went back to the farm. David underwent endarterectomy surgery in Perth to clear out a blocked Carotid Artery and 6 weeks later we were given the all-clear to fly to Queensland, and back to Taipan. 

Airlines, more specifically QANTAS pissed us around, canceled our flight, and made no endeavor to recompense us or make an alternative booking so we caved in and took a VIRGIN flight direct to Brisbane on the 29th of September. It was great. Stayed a night at an airport hotel and had a driver take us to BOATWORKS Coomera, near the Gold Coast, the following morning. 

Arrival on the 30th of September and inspection of Taipan left us somewhat deflated, as the extent of the damage and dirt were unexpected. The cleaning and repairs we had entirely underestimated.  Now 6 weeks into it with 2 of those weeks back on the water we are mostly back in shape. The major job was the gearbox, which was ominously empty of oil on inspection. Sure enough, the gears were all case hardened and we had to wait 3 weeks for very costly repairs and new parts. The skipper was very lucky to have made it into port in that condition. 

We didn't get the Gyprock finishing done.
Labour was scarce with the building boom.

A new Swift dingy arrived, having been ordered a month or so earlier. We knew the Walker Bay was stuffed. A useless thing it was! A new mast track was installed for the spinnaker pole, a new boom bag replaced our very shabby 12 year old one. Drive Shaft and Propeller were inspected and the Propeller was re-pitched and Prop Speed applied. New cutlass bearing, flexible coupling, and Dripless Seal were fitted. We replaced the air conditioner we installed in Thailand in 2009, after many years of service it finally died in Tahiti just before we left.  The bottom was in good shape and didn't require a lot of prep as they have a great high-pressure wash down here. 

The Boatworks is an outstanding facility staffed by professionals. The best we have ever encountered in all our travels. Proper stairs to each boat deck. No ladders!! Clean facilities and lovely gardens. The service providers are also excellent, prompt, friendly, and effective. Outstanding amongst them was Rene Airconditioning & Refrigeration and Watsons Engineering. Da Met did the Gearbox restoration. 

BBQ area and Yachtie meeting place.

There are 6 vehicles available for patrons' use. A simple phone call will secure one for up to 3 hours at a time during the week and all weekend if you get in early enough. We have secured a car for all but one of our weekends here and have been able to visit cruising friends in Manly, about an hour's drive north, a couple of times. We took a drive up to Mt Tambourine one weekend for a break from the yard. There is no cost for the car. A donation or fuel in the tank suffices. The laundries are free, there are several decent restaurants and cafes, a gym and beautiful BBQ facilities where we meet most nights.

We are still on the dock at Boatworks but looking forward to moving on to anchor soon. Then we will move north into Morton Bay and Brisbane to catch up with friends.

Boats are a lot of work but you have to do something so it might as well be boat work! David's recovery is complete. He shows no signs of having had a stroke. Counting ourselves very lucky.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021


COVID has run away with our freedoms and unrelated health matters have caused a major re evaluation of our sailing plans.

Wandering about beautiful French Polynesia for over a year waiting for the end of the cyclone period, (May) we had gone to Papeete to do a few maintenance jobs and prepare to haul out before setting off westward to complete our circumnavigation.

Having a quiet coffee aboard Taipan in the Papeete Marina when David suddenly declared that his left arm was behaving strangely. Good friends, Grahame and Janakie from "Leela" were aboard and we immediately called the ambulance and they helped walk David to the marina gate. Rapid response by Fire Brigade in the first instance, then Ambulance shortly afterwards, meant that David was in the Tahoe Hospital in Tahiti in about 20 minuets and straight into Emergency where they performed many tests and scans and administered drugs. David had suffered a stroke!!! The event was caused by a shower of tiny particles coming loose from plaque in his right Carotid Artery. He was admitted to the Neurology Ward and to cut a long story short spent the next 9 days undergoing treatment and preparing for Medical Evacuation to Australia.

New Zealand Air Ambulance

The Australian Government in the early chaos of the pandemic outbreak closed Australian Borders and forbad Australians from leaving the country. At the same time they prohibited Australian Travel Insurance Companies from renewing, or writing new policies for Australians. Our Travel Insurance Company could not renew our travel insurance so in desperation we took out a little Evacuation and Rescue policy with a company called GEOS for a mere $125 each.

Goodbye Morea

With the Pandemic raging the Evacuation process was protracted. The Australian government had to give permission for us to return and Air Ambulances had to get international permits to enter etc. The whole debacle took 7 days of negotiation to arrange our repatriation to Perth. At A$10,000 a day in the hospital with no medical cover it was altogether a very stressful process I never want to relive. Geos only cover the Repatriation.

On the 28th of March at 700am we were collected by a team from New Zealand Air Ambulance, and aboard a nice little Beechcraft Nexis we were flown to Brisbane, with refueling stops at Nui and Nauru, New Caledonia. There were 2 pilots and an emergency nurse aboard and we touched down at Brisbane at about 4pm after a 9 hour flight in beautiful weather. The whole team were outstanding, caring and fed us amazing food!!!

Customs and Immigration processed inbound clearances and we boarded the Life Flite Ambulance, a Challenger 605: all leather and mirrors apart from the 2 intensive care stretchers. There were 2 pilots, a doctor and an emergency nurse taking care of things. Food was great too! It was the ex-prime ministers plane and let me tell you they don't slum it!! We touched down in Perth at 6pm, Perth time and I was chauffeured off the Hotel quarantine and David was transported by Ambulance to Royal Perth Hospital Quarantine. I don't know what it all cost but we were very grateful to the whole team at GEOS for getting us home. I am never flying cattle class again!!

Queensland Coast. Australia!!

We were extremely lucky to be right in Tahiti. The biggest hospital in the Pacific outside New Zealand right on the doorstep. A highly skilled team of cardiologists and neurologists from France meant David was in very good hands very quickly. Had we been in a remote island anchorage the outcome could have been much different.

Since arriving back we have done the bloody quarantine without catching Covid in the hotel! Corinne and Michael, our illustrious Panama to Galapagos crew, among others were instrumental in making sure we didn't die of starvation in the hotel. David has, after multiple consultations had an Enterectomy. That is, they open the carotid and scrape out the crap and close it all up. Good as new... Well nearly.

After being homeless and imposing on numerous friends and rellies for nearly 2 months we moved back into our farm house in Albany. It took a month or so to catch our breath at this point.

Taipan on the hardstand at Boatworks

Meanwhile back in Tahiti, Taipan was in the capable hands of Paul Stratfold an Australian delivery skipper. Grahame and Janakie spent days previously putting Taipan back together as David had just completed an entirely new Lifepo4 battery installation. There were still some unfinished issues to be tidied up. Between them they returned Taipan to working condition for Paul to take over. Paul agreed to return Taipan to Australia for us and was hoping to come with at least one other crew person. After protracted and frustrating liaison with the Australian Immigration it became apparent that he was going to have to go it alone. The intransigent authorities refused to let his Australian crew leave the  country again to return to Tahiti to his work. If he entered he would be forced to remain. So Paul came from Tahiti to Brisbane, 3500nm, 25 days, alone and was put into 14 days quarantine on arrival!! Taipan had to be anchored in Southport uninsured. There are no facilities for arriving yachts. The marinas are unable to accommodate unless you arrange for a deep clean of the boat and a local delivery skipper to move it to a marina. There are not even any moorings for the quarantine anchorage!!! Paul has since moved Taipan to Boatworks and she's on the hard awaiting our arrival. Covid permitting.

Knocked out a few ceilings walls and a fire place

Life goes on on the farm while we wait for the East Coast to get its sh## together so we can fly to Queensland, pick up Taipan, perform maintenance and set sail for WA. That's on the other side of Australia for the foreigners out there. Australian border rules are going to make it very tricky. Sailing down the east coast to Bass Strait in one hit may be the only option. 860nm south from Southport Queensland to avoid New South Wales which is a Covid disaster area right now and may be closed  till Xmas or longer. To cross the Great Australian Bight we need to be positioned in Bass Strait or South Australia by mid Janurary. Then the Easterly winds will be steady for the run west. The shortest distance is about 480m but that relies on being able to enter South Australia and work west along the coast. The distance doubles if that's not possible. Bloody COVID!!

Raptor. The stump grinder

Goodbye stumps.

Meanwhile on the farm we've knocked out a lot of tree stumps, knocked the gardens back into shape and knocked a few walls and ceilings out of shape. As we speak there are 2 electricians in the roof and a builder fixing stuff and installing a dropped ceiling in the kitchen. Between us we have removed a big old brick chimney and all the interior wall finishes of 3 rooms. The gyprock will be replaced with big loads of insulation behind it. Its been a very cold and wet winter in Albany. The work has been exhausting causing us both to fall into bed knackered each evening. Its a good test of David's strength and recovery.

Roughly the proposed route.

I will update on progress sooner next time.

Farewell beautiful Huahine. FP

Monday, 30 November 2020



Beautiful Avea Bay Huahine. Drone photo by Jocke PerssonFurusten

We're back in Papeete Marina after a 900nm round trip to nowhere! It'd have been OK if it had at least been a successful fishing trip but we didn’t have a single bite. Squalls, of which there were many, were our only source of wind so rather than avoid them we were chasing them. The night squalls were unpredictable as we couldn’t see them without the radar which had decided to go AWOL in spite of having reported for duty prior to departure!. So the trip was main up…furlers out... furlers in..furlers reefed...main reefed…motor on… motor off. Repeat….repeat for 8 days

Trip to nowhere.

Leaving beautiful Tahaa on the 6th of November bound for Australia was a risk we decided to take in order to make it home to WA this year. The cyclone season had commenced, although it's very unlikely a system would develop this early. We planned to make a straight run for Southport on the southern Queensland coast. 3200nm. All our ducks were in a row. We had clearance to arrive in Oz and Quarantine Exemption permission. The new Mainsail and halyard were installed and ready to go sailing. Extra fuel jerrys were filled to get us into the wind, which was possibly as long as 4 days away. 

The first 4 days were predicted to be very light and it fulfilled that prophecy, but we watched in dismay as weather systems develop ahead of us with the potential wind dying and continuing to die ahead of us for the forthcoming fortnight. (The extent of forecasting.) There was a Tropical Depression forecast to develop just at the extreme of the forecast and unless we could make 140nm a day our weather router advised we would be caught in it. With the lack of wind, we couldn’t guarantee 140nm a day motoring for 12 days so 400 miles out we decided to turn around and head back to Raiatea. The only wind we saw on the trip was that night with an unpleasant 20+ over the deck on the nose whipping up a short steep sea in the inevitable counter current. The rest of the return trip was slow and rolly to begin, but settled as we approached Raiatea south pass on Friday the 13th! After a 24hour rest, we decided to head onto Papeete overnight.

The Staysail furler had detached during that first night we turned back and we needed some welding done. In order to get to the tang, we needed to disable the windlass, which meant anchoring was risky. Papeete marina had pens available so on Sunday the 15th we tied up and plugged in the airconditioning!!!

A month previously we had to abort our departure to Oz. When we hauled the anchor, the windlass stopped with the anchor just 4 meters from the deck. So we re-anchored to repair the solenoid failure. When David was packing the main away the aft edge of the sail came away in his hand! We also noticed a wire coming adrift on a forward lower!! Things happen in 3s!  The sail had done 36,000nm and had been on the boat since South Africa 7 years previously. It showed no signs of wear so we were quite dismayed. In hindsight, we did get a very good run out of that sail and it was good to the death. No repairs or money spent on it.  The forward lowers, 7 years old. Not so happy. The windlass solenoid was just 2 years old. Not happy. 

A new sail was ordered from North Sails in South Africa, who built our old and we had it aboard in 3 weeks. An excellent outcome. The shrouds were replaced with new ones made up by Fenua Rigging in Tahiti and flown into Fare, Huahine. While we waited for the new Main we wiled away time in Avea Bay with lots of swimming and snorkelling. "Sea Rose",  Brian and Sue, very old friends from way back in Thailand, caught us there and after a week or so we moved on with them to circumnavigate Tahaa and Raiatea The new sail was shipped over to Huahine from Tahiti and we went back to pick that up and fit it.

Highlights of the circumnavigation of Tahaa and Raiatea were BBQs on deserted Motus, snorkelling the Coral Garden, Rum Distillery, Taputapuatea Mare: a World Heritage site, and a wonderful day upriver at the Botanic Gardens and fruit farm. Excellent company and lots of interesting experiences to fill the days.

Covid numbers increased as tourists and French workers were permitted to re-enter French Polynesia back in May. As I write French Polynesia has the most active cases per head of population in the world. Tahiti is the worst island, closely followed by the remainder of the Society Islands. Extreme vigilance by ourselves and most yachties means that socializing has been quite limited. Our cockpit is not big enough to allow the required social distancing so our friends list as shrunk considerably. 

Taputapuatea The cradle of Ma'ohi civilization Link to more info

Some of the beautiful heliconia  and  ginger at the Botanic Gardens
More about Heliconia

We now plan to wait out cyclone season and have another go at it next year. Not such an onerous undertaking. Plans going forward as to our whereabouts are sketchy. Cyclone season here is predicted to be mild with a well developed la Nina. Possibly we will head east again to the Marquesas via the Tuamotos …. or we may just go and hang out in Avea Bay. If you get curious you can always check our map or tracker 

Tuatau anchorage at the south end of Raiatea.

Taipans Anchorages

Taipans Tracker

Meanwhile, we await the completion of a few repairs whilst enjoying some air-conditioning and a little very careful retail therapy and social interactions with a couple of other boats. 

Best wishes to everyone for a jolly ol' festive season wherever you may be. Be safe.

Raiatea Southern End

Andre and his family farm a little further inland and opposite the Botanic Gardens. He welcomes visitors and sells fruits and vegetables in season, as well as providing an interesting free tour.

Cruising Guide by Dream Yacht Charters for Raiatea, Bora Bora, Tahaa, Huahine.