The Great Escape

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Sat 6 Sep 2008 17:09

Well, after a deeply frustrating week in Mackay marina, we finally escaped just before lunchtime yesterday (Saturday). We are currently on passage North! Not yet decided where will be the next port of call!! WE are now in “catch up” mode, and have to be in Darwin some 1400nm away from our current position. 19:52:90S  148:30:43E by the 23rd September.


There was very little wind to start with today, but we sailed and after a couple of hours we went from averaging 3 to 4 knots, up to 6 to 7 knots on flat water and a lovely bright sunny day, albeit quite cold.  The winded died at sun down, so faithful Perkins has once again been pressed into service.


The boat had splashed over a week ago and we had high hopes at that time of getting way on the Tuesday, and spending at least a couple of days in the Whitsunday Islands. Alas, this was not to be. We had two major issues that just could not seem to get sorted. Toilets and my old favourite the Fischer Panda Generator. One of the toilets was brand new and had a leak, The other “the Vacuuflush” toilet had a vacuum leak. The company working on this changed pipes,  changed joints, serviced the motor, replaced all the duck bill valves and even changed the plastic base. In the end the key problem was a rubber grommet that joined the exhaust pipe to the vacuum tank. Once that as sorted it then turned out one of the new plastic joints had a hairline fracture and once that was sorted….the water seal on the toilet base was leaking. FINALLY, Jeff came on board on Friday and fixed the last issue. Phew, a fully operational vacuuflush toilet. First time it has worked 100% since Nick Henderson “fixed” it, back in Dartmouth. Hard to believe such a basic item could prove so demanding.


The generator problem was as a result of all the work we had done on it to vastly improve its reliability. Although at times over the last week I felt once again that the best thing for it would be to chuck it in the sea! WE had new injectors fitted, full service. Also fixes for the raw water leak  involving all new raw water hoses. A well as fixed for the “slight” fresh water coolant leaks. Then a new bigger, more accessible remote diesel fuel filter. Day after day they tried to get it to run reliably. But to no avail. In the process we also discovered that water had managed to find its way into the electrical connection box, low down on the genset side. This had caused a serious electrical fault that had burnt back the cables and destroyed one of the terminals. So I had to strip back the cables, clean up the mess and then reconnect it all with new connectors. I then had a water tight gasket fabricated for the terminal box cover to ensure that this problem could not re-occur. (Should have been one fitted in the first place!!)  WE then discovered that the seals in a near brand new Jabsco water pump on the genset had ailed. So this too had to be fixed. Meanwhile work continued on the fuel side of the genset to sort it out. We then discovered that the filter element in the Racor filter was the wrong mesh size. This had made it very hard for the pump to force diesel through the system. Then an air leak was found on the new pump….it was endless. Finally, finally by 4pm on Friday, Rick and Mat of Marine Engineers had all the problems were sorted (or so we thought) and we went to bed, just knowing we would escape yesterday. There was loads more work done on the boat, but it would be all too boring for you to have to read out the full list here…………….


We were in Mackay for exactly one month. Half of that was back in the UK for us, but the rest of the time was spent working with Annette at Boutique Marine and the many subcontractors to get the mini refit finalised, and to get all the damage caused by Penelope III,  to our boat back in Cooks Bay, Moorea , sorted. This sadly has now toured very sour. John from Penelope III had at the time of the accident, admitted liability and lead me to believe that his insurance company would pick up the bill. He has now reneged on that and so I have had to make a claim on my insurance company. They in turn are now saying I have compromised my position on a claim by not informing them at the time of the incident. So, if they are unable to recover the claim from Penelope III’s insurers, I may be forced to sue John & Jane to recover the costs. Which are significant. To add insult to injury, my insures are now looking to increase my premium because of the claim. Great. Thank you John!!


Now for Mackay…well sad as it may seem, I never ventured outside of the Marina. Except that is to go to the doctors to get a prescription for our anti Malaria pills. Malerone.  I spent my whole stay, focused on getting the boat in tip top condition for the remained of the BWR. Jennie at least had the privilege of going to “down town” Mackay to provision the boat.


We DID have fun in Mackay marina. WE got to know the staff well in all of the restaurants in the complex. We enjoyed some excellent food & wine. As this picture of a fresh Coral Trout attests, some of it was truly novel.



We also enjoyed the fact that everyone we met in Mackay seemed happy. There was none of the cynism you get in Sydney. They were genuinely happy, sincere and content people. So it was very pleasant being with them and dealing with them. There is full employment in the area and due to the omnipresent mining industry, salaries are high and there is a can do attitude in the place. This goes right from the hotel staff, particularly to the Marina yard contractors and a very special mention for Annette Hurley. She was charming to deal with, always positive and did her very best to make things happen. This despite some health problems and the fact that her dog was run over and quite badly hurt. So thank you, to you all, for making Mackay a memorable experience.


Finally, one word on Australian phrased and names. There are legion, but I was tickled by the name used for the ladies toilets………………………….



Until the next one…………………….wherever we might be!!