Australia to Christmas Island
As usual when we get to land there is mad rush for a long hot shower which is normally followed by an ice cream, the combination of which led to everyone looking and feeling far more human. After the immediate needs were taken care of most people headed for town which was about a twenty minute walk away. Jay headed for the flight centre to confirm her flight and Martin and Jack headed off in different directions to get a general feel for the town. Julian stayed on the boat to reassemble his bike before heading off to town and Noel took the opportunity to catch up on some maintenance work.
It was early evening before the first of the crew began to appear and as the sun started to dip below the horizon a beer call was heard and there was no objections from anyone. After dinner Jack produced a bottle of whisky much to the delight of everyone, and the toast was to Lista for the safe voyage.
The next day we headed for the supermarket to get the majority of the provisioning done before Jay left. Three and a half hours later we returned to the boat to start stowing the provisions.
There was of course a bit of maintenance to catch up with whilst we were in the marina. This included Julian being hoisted up the mast to give the shrouds a coat of Stockholm tar and Jack giving the main mast gaff a birthday in the way of a sanding and several coats of French polish.
Before we started off on the long run across the Indian ocean Noel and Martin decided to give the gear box a quick check over and make sure that it was aligned properly.
As Jay and Julian are leaving the boat here in Darwin there will only be three of us left. So we decided to post some adverts for crew around the local backpackers and in the marina. A couple of days later a young man called Gareth popped by the boat enquiring about the vacancy. After a bit of a chat with Noel he decided to take on a crew position and will be moving onto the boat the next day. We had also just got in contact with Amiria whom we had met in Opua and had just sailed to Fiji, and she agreed to fly out here and join us. There was still considerable interest in the positions and there was a regular stream of people enquiring about the vacancies. We however decided that five was an optimum number and had to turn the others away.
In order to get to know Gareth better we decided to all go and have a drink with him that same evening. So after a quick one for the road aboard ship we headed off to meet Gareth and Noel who were already in town.
As can so often happen with good company one round lead to another and one bar lead to another until it was the early hours and we were all slightly the worse for wear. It was a very slow start the next morning with more than one person nursing a heavy head. Still as work is supposed to be the best cure for a hangover we all put our shoulders to the grindstone and by mid morning the hangover was a distant memory. Martin had been thinking of investing in a guitar for several days now and much to everyone's surprise he returned to the boat one afternoon with a big smile on his face and a new guitar under his arm.
The day for us to leave Darwin was set for Sunday. As the diesel station, which was just outside the marina lock, did not operate on the weekend we went through the lock on the Friday to fill up with diesel and then went back into the marina till Sunday.
Amiria, who had flown into Darwin in the early hours of Friday morning accompanied Noel and Jack to the first of two markets on Saturday morning. We bought a large majority of the basic items with the intention of picking up the rest from the Sunday market before we leave. Having finished the beer that we had bought in New Zealand we also did a booze run later that day, purchasing our mandatory ten cases of beer and a few litres of wine that filled the booze locker near to bursting.
The next day Jack, Amiria, and Gareth headed for the market to pick the last of the fruit and vegetables while Noel and Martin finished of the last of the maintenance before we put to sea. At ten o'clock sharp we headed for the lock and the open ocean.
Once we were out through the lock it was just a case of running the bowsprit back out and tightening up the relevant stays. Then we worked our way around the many shoals that lay around Darwin and started on our course for Christmas Island.
Amiria and Gareth started off getting to know Lista Light by taking a trick at the helm where they could get a general feel for the boat and also be able to see the ropes and sails in active service. We started the first night off with a single reefed mizzen and a poled out staysail. Amiria and Jack who were first on watch had a close shave with a fishing boat who ignored our running lights and repeated calls on the VHF, and had to turn sharply to avoid him as he passed on the wrong side of us. The next morning we had a double reefed main up with the storm jib to balance us out a bit more.
Martin was now playing his guitar on a regular basis and was even heard to be muttering things about starting his own band aboard ship. Everyone admitted that he was improving dramatically by the day and it wouldn't be long before he would be called upon to entertain the crew on a regular basis. That same morning we had the rod scream off with a beautiful yellow fin tuna on the end, much to the delight of everyone.
The third day out we had a man over board drill. It took us three turns around the fender before we picked it up, despite Jack launching himself over the side with a rope attached to him and attempting to swim to it. He unfortunately ran out of rope before he reached it and had to drag himself back aboard the boat. After we retrieved the fender we came back on our course and had a beautiful sail for the remainder of the day with everything up bar a reef in the mizzen and the staysail. By the next day the wind started turning on us and we and to turn with it in order keep the sails full. We dropped the sails in the early hours of the morning and turned the engine on, as soon as it was light we hoisted the spinnaker and had a good days run.
We took the spinnaker down just before last light and motored on into the night with twin headsails and the engine ticking over. The next morning we had enough wind to raise the mizzen and the spinnaker. It had been very quiet on the fish front since we caught that tuna but the lull was broken when we had a take on the rod which resulted in a good sized Wahoo being landed.
The conditions stayed pretty much the same for the next couple of days with everyone keeping themselves busy with boat chores or little projects that they have taken upon themselves. Gareth started sanding and varnishing the heads hatch. Amiria started working on some protective leather sheaves for the topmast shroud, Jack restarted the work on the ratlines and Noel and Martin were on block maintenance duty. Noel and Martin were still doing their sextant homework on a regular basis and getting better by the day.
A couple of days later we were sailing along when a tanker came over the horizon and looked set to pass over our bow. After we hailed him on the V.H.F. he gave us a weather report and confirmed his intention to pass in front of us. Our fears thus allayed we settled back and waited for him to pass in front of us. A couple of minutes passed by and he was still on a collision course with us until we decided to take things into our own hands and turned sharply to come behind him. It was a mad rush to make sure that Jack was lowered down from the shrouds and everything was stowed before the boat was violently thrown around from his wake. After the danger was past Noel got onto the radio to ask what exactly his plan was, his reply to this was, ''just popped over for a closer look, have fun at Christmas Island.'' The most annoyed person from the encounter was Gareth who had had his tea spilt due to the boat being thrown around.
After a good squirt of adrenalin all around from our near miss, we all took a deep breath and settled back into the relaxed daily routine that we have all learned love. The wind stayed fairly constant from the North East so we flew the spinnaker through the day and twin headsails through the night, occasionally we had the mizzen up as well. We were all very happy as the wind stayed constant and we chewed through the miles. One morning, however, Jack was walking around the deck when he was accosted by what appeared to be a pirate, but later turned out to be Gareth who had taken to wearing some slightly unusual sun protection.
The fishing had been a bit slow really with only one yellow fin tuna, and one Wahoo so far. Not so good compared to the last passage where the only days that we didn't catch something were the days that we didn't put the lures out. So everyone was really looking forward to the next strike, it wasn't until the second day out of Christmas Island that we had a hit on the hand line. Gareth was the first one to it and he hauled in a beautiful sailfish to the absolute astonishment of everyone.
Jack and Amiria were still baking on a fairly regular basis with Jack baking the always popular banana muffins and Amiria making some absolutely beautiful carrot cake.
Martin was still playing his guitar on a regular basis and his hobby seemed to be rubbing off on people as Amiria took to playing it on occasion as well.
Pretty much most of the voyage was a down wind sail which meant we went into most nights with twin head sails poled out either side and the mizzen as well if it would hold. As we only had one roving lizard we would waste a good five minutes every sail change moving them around and re-roving the sheets, so Noel took it upon himself to make another with the help of Amiria. A little while later and after a good bit of swearing, he triumphantly displayed his masterpiece.
As Murphy's law dictates one day out of Christmas Island some grey clouds came over and it rained on and off throughout the night. But the sight of land the next morning cheered everyone up.
It was gone midday before we brought the sails down and motored into the bay. After Noel had had a quick chat with customs and the harbour master we picked up a mooring and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Five minutes hadn't gone by before everyone had launched themselves over the side into the crystal clear water.
After the mandatory post arrival swim we all relaxed in the cockpit armed with a cold beer to await the customs boys.
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