Big Ben

Big Ben
Mawson Peak, The highest peak in the Australian Territories

Tuesday, June 4, 2013



If my little project has a winter, I think in terms of activity, I am in the depths of it now. 

I think that I like the idea that Heard Island Solo started in the Autumn and those initial wins I had with sponsorship and the development of my yacht where the warm lingering days of autumn, with the dwindling warmth of summer still remnant  in the ground, warm water to swim in, gentle sun to warm your face during the day and cold easy sleeping nights.  The colour of leaves changing in the trees, and a few early frosts later and here I am with my yacht still stuck in Bundaberg, no more money to do anything about it with, and no time on my hands. 

Winter is tough and cold and living in it is harder and slower.  Things take longer to warm and there is less sun through the day, to cheer you with.  But winter is not without its beauty and going through it helps you appreciate the lush wet spring, and long wonderful warm days of Summer that are ahead.  Its times like this that I should remind myself that I do like the cold!

Yes I’m out of money, and my time is all taken up between my little mob and working for more money to pay off my huge debts that the expedition has left me with.  It’s easy to get down about my luck with the floods in Bundaberg, but there have been many more happy times in the last few months to keep me sain and occupied, so I have not been too worried about my predicament. 

The yacht (which I have officially decided to re-name after an abusive email from the previous owners son, damming me for not stuffing socks into the yachts hull in the floods,  and wishing that I had drowned with it…. I know a bit weird!!!) is still in Bundaberg awaiting me to inspect her and see just how bad she is.  I know it sounds crazy that I have not been to see her since the floods, but I really have not been able to afford either the time or money to get up there and check her out.

Things will need to get moving again soon because Russ and Lorraine want to clear the boat yard, so I am starting to think about my next move, which will be extremely tough without much in the way of funds to speak of.

My plan from here is:

1.    To grab a cheap flight up to Bundaberg and inspect the yacht for myself.  (possibly shed a few tears, and see how my friends are all doing)
2.    Lock in a truck company to carry the yacht South
3.    Hire a crane in Bundaberg to lift her onto the truck
4.    Confirm a location nearby (down South), to keep her
5.    Escort drive my way South with the yacht and truck and of course the truck driver
6.    Hire a crane (wherever I decide to drop the yacht?)
7.    Unload the yacht
8.    Work out how I am ever going to pay for all of this?

On the expedition news front, it has been quite as you know but there have been a few developments.

I had a great yarn with the legendary solo sailor and boat builder Kanga from Jarken boats the other day.  He had some interesting suggestions for my plans and we had a good chat about where to keep my yacht while I rebuild.  He filled my visit to his shed with yarns of his BOC round the world challenge race, and how he and the fleet got along through the Southern Ocean. Interestingly he raced the same year as Don McIntyre, and it was nice to hear him speak about someone I know, a little.

Speaking of Don, he has been busy again preparing for another season in Tonga, discovering and logging historic ship wrecks for the Tongan Government.  It sounds so idyllic over there; swimming with the whales as they calve, warm sunny days, living on the boat, fresh fish and happy well balanced local people all around, a far cry from my literal and metaphorical winter in cold Sydney.  I may have an opportunity to visit him later in the year, as I have offered to help him in the development of a Youth Pirate Camp and he has invited me over in September to start the ball rolling.  Here is a link to his blog and some information about our plans.

The Cordell Expedition looks like it may be on hold also. I feel for Rob and fully understand how hard these things are to get up and running.  It looks like funds are the big issue for him as well.  I don’t have any news on a new date for Cordell yet but I will keep you posted, especially if by chance it does run at the end of this year.

It goes without saying that my expedition plans have changed significantly, in both timing and structure.  Who knows what it will look like when the snow melts and spring graces the expedition with its first warm rays. I’m not sure when that will be but at the moment it’s looking like a long cold winter, from deep inside my little snow cave here. 

Before I go back into my hibernation hole, a big thank you and hello to my mate Kenny Koala, for keeping me focused.  I had forgotten that anyone was reading my blog, and interested in my little project, so it was lovely to hear from him asking how I was going.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Its Alive

Well Grahame got so busy saving Wallaby Creek that he didn’t write another Blog.  So I forgive him for not blogging considering all the hard work he, my brothers and Gary have been doing to get Wallaby Creek salvaged, which has been amazing.

Yesterday was a break though day.  After nearly two weeks of pumping, shoveling and wading through chest high, putrid mud in the hot humid Queensland weather.  Gary the genius diesel mechanic sent me a clip of Wallaby Creeks’ brand new Nanni Diesel engine, which has been submerged for a total of two weeks, through two floods.  Amazingly, the short clip shows the engine running. 

If you are looking for an engine that can take everything that the Burnett river can throw at it, twice, than you cant go past a Nanni! I can’t believe that the engine is running, and by all accounts, its running quite well.

I am not sure on the next move, but for now, my brother James and Gary will be the last remaining members of the salvage team, and they are working their way through the yacht gutting the flood damaged timber from the walls and ceilings.

In the meantime I am looking for somewhere in or near Sydney to keep the yacht, so that I can restore her to her former glory.  If anyone has a space for a 44ft Yacht in their backyard, slipway or paddock, and that I can get access to with a semi trailer, I’d love to hear from you!!!

I am also searching for a truck company that might be able to loan/hire their yacht cradle, low-loader trailer. Or that might need to fill a back load from Bundaberg heading South with a 44ft Yacht.

Length 14m
Beam 3.9m
Height 4m
Weight 15 Tonne

A huge thankyou to Gary! What a legend, he reads my blog and then volunteers two tough weeks of his life to helping me, a complete stranger with a crazy pipe dream and a buggered yacht. 

I’m off to spread some good Karma to a complete stranger, and I reckon you should too! 

Wallaby get a lift from a barg crane

She is finally sitting upright and flying the flag

Gary's mobile workshop, complete with a foam work bench 

Mobile workshop again

The Nanni Diesel engine running after being underwater!!
I am amazed

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Recovery of a wet wallaby

Hey followers
Hi im Grahame  ill be blogging on behalf of the recovery team up here from Bundaburg. We arrived in Bundaburg on Saturday the 2nd of march. The fight went smoothly from Sydney to Harvey bay. When we arrived in Harvey Bay there was a shuttle bus waiting there to collect us and drop us at the hotel. On the way we doped a lady just out side of Childers that is when the bus driver prepared the boys and i for what we were walking into he described it as a war zone. (i guess the winner of the war was mother nature)  
      We got to the hotel and freshened up than went for a walk to go to the slipways where we welcomed by Russ (the owner) he was sitting having a beer after a hard day of taking down half of all his walls in his house where the water came to. He sat James Shannon and myself down and had a chat about what we are up her for ....... the salvage of a very wet wallaby creek. He than continued to explain the ordeal he and his partner Larine went through the past month i was nearly in tears. To think that such good people had been dealt such a hard hand. He than he spoke about not falling into the depression of the town and to focuss on the job at hand which is helping my good mate Daniel and the recovery of the wallaby creek. After that we headed back to the hotel to get ready for work in the morning .
   When we woke in the morning we saw that the river had risen a couple of  metres which meant we couldn't reach the wallaby creek safely so we wait and wait. We waited for 2 nervous days while the river levels roes slowly than this morning to our delight we saw that the river levels went down not enough to get started on the recovery.Fingers crossed that we will be able to get started tomorrow...... ill keep you posted and tomorrow ill upload some pictures. Being up here just makes me feel lucky that i have a family at home and a home to go to which is more than most people of north Bundaburg .   

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Salvage Operation

Well its flooding in Bundaberg again.  This time it seems everyone is uneasy about where it will peak.  The Burnett River keeps rising above its forecasts peaks, and the hardy people of Bundaberg seem to be bracing themselves for what has become a familiar feeling of the uncertain possibility of loss and damage.

Wallaby creek is in the same position that the last flood left her in and she has just gone under water again, as the Burnett River has risen. She is stuck to the riverbank, anchored by tonnes of sand and mud inside her.  She should stay put until the waters subside, but I share the uncertainty of her fait, along with the Bundy people and their homes and livelihoods.

My brothers Shannon, James and mate Grahame have bravely and graciously headed to Bundaberg for me to head up the salvage operation.  They have been in Bundaberg for three days and are staying at the Young Australian pub in North Bundaberg.  They have been anxiously waiting since they arrived in town for the Burnett River to drop. But instead, with torrential and relentless rain, it has defied them, and every few hours, Grahame has walked down to the riverbank to see sticks that he has placed on the edge as a marker, submerged or missing.  The Burnett River keeps rising.

Grahame will be doing a few blog posting for me while he is up in Bundy.  Shortly, Grahame will be joined by another fellow called Gary.  Gary found my blog on the web and has volunteered his help, in restoring my lovely new Nanni Diesel engine.  I am touched that he got in touch with me.  He has been very helpful, and proactive, in organizing Wallaby Creeks salvage. 

My thoughts go to Russ and Lorraine from the Slipways, who have been affected so catastrophically from the last three floods, in the space of two years.  Selflessly they are more worried about their staff, and have been finding them jobs to do in their house, to keep them in wages.  They are lovely people, and the support that they have given me over the last two years, I will never forget.

The plan for the salvage, I will let Grahame explain.  However the after plan for Wallaby Creek will depend on the yacht engine and its state.  There are two ways forward from here.

  1. Steam back under motor to Sydney, find a hard stand, haul out and start again, or.
  2. Truck Wallaby Creek to Sydney, find a work site, and start again.

I’ve already been in touch with an old Rugby/ Uni mate Jack Lopez, from Lopez Trucking, and I’m waiting to hear back on the feasibility of option 2.

Either way, It all depends on the hard work that my mates and brothers are putting in for me at the moment.  This adventure is far from over for me, and already far from being a Solo Adventure.  But to be honest, I don’t think any adventures are truly solo.

Stay tuned (here) for Grahame's Blogs, and check out Grahame's Facebook for picture of the flood.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wallaby Creek Update

My mate Ash, took some shots of Wallaby, for me.  Ash has survived the floods on his yacht, and is back in the middle of the river on his mooring.  He went out in his dinghy the other day for me and took these shots of Wallaby from the river.

She is not looking too good.  Looks like the hand rails have gone, as well as the Solar panels, Wind Generator, and the most horrible, is the noted absents of her mast, self furling head sail and boom.

I cant imagine the pressure it must have taken to de-mast her.  It is terifying .

Word from the slipways is that we still cant access her yet.  As you can see from the pictures she is still in a precarious place, and safe access is still not possible.  I just hope that the water stay around the engine, until we can get to it and try and repair the damage, before  rust sets in.

It is tough thinking about what to do next.  Part of me is thinking about selling her for what little she might be worth, and starting again with another boat, in a while when I have time and money.  But part of me wants to repair her and see her floating again.  The only thing I am sure on is that rebuilding will take lots more time and money.

Not sure what to do??

Thanks Ash for the pics!

Wallaby lying down without her mast

At least the paint is still shining

The slipway and sheds destroyed

View from the water

Friday, February 1, 2013

Wet Wallaby Found!

News just in from, Lorraine.

Wallaby Creek has been spotted somewhere near the slipways.  News is still very vague, but she was spotted lying in a hole in the ground, somewhere near where she was previously seen. The Army has still restriced access to most of North Bundaberg, which means it will be a wee while yet before we can get to her. Lets hope she is structurally ok, and that I can get to the engine asap.

Spoke to a lovely bloke yesetrday called Gary, he emailed me, out of the blue, offering help and advice about Wallabies engine rescue.  Thanks for reaching out Gary, I'll chat to you soon.

Well done Wallaby for hanging in there. I cant wait to see what she looks like.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wheres Wallaby?

The reality of losing Wallaby Creek in the 2013 Burnett River flood has sunk in. 

It has been a tough few days emotionally.  I have been running through a lot of "what ifs" in my mind, which I have finally put to rest.  I spent the first few days working through a lot of negative (but also valid) emotions and I have thankfully started to focus on the positives of my situations.  I have prepared myself for the worst case scenario of not being able to find Wallaby, or that she might be damaged beyond repair, and I strangely feel ok with that.  I have decided to focus on the good things that she has brought me, which when I think hard about, has inadvertently brought me all of the good things that I have in my life to date.  So for the purposes of thinking positively I have listed the following positives that I have gained from Wallaby Creek, where ever she is, at the moment.
· I know lots more about boats now!
oI can weld better
oI know more about diesel engines
oI understand electrical systems
oI can Navigate at sea
oI understand boat fuel systems
oI know how to spray paint
oI have learnt lots of cool carpentry tricks, Like the poor man’s plane (an angle grinder)
oI have learnt more about water and plumbing systems
· I have got to work with my hands lots more, which I really love
· She has given me a project to concentrate on, (concentration is not one of my strong points)
· I got to spend a heap of time with my dad and brothers, all of whom I feel more connected to now.
· I have met the most amazing people in Bundaberg and have lots of new friends, (which I am worried about at the moment).
· I have met lots of new yatchie mates, who have taught me patience, simplicity and ingenuity.
· I have got to spend a lot of time with my mate Graham, who has been a great bloke to hang around.
· I got to explore Bundaberg and its beautiful waterways from my kayak.  Places like has Kolong and Burnett River estuaries.
· I know I can build something from nothing, and I feel like I can  start again
· She has given me something to write about in my blog, and has given me a sense of progress in relation to my expedition.
· She has allowed not only me, but all those who have worked on her, to develop a sense of achievement.
· I have learnt the importance of keeping track of my finances, and reading the fine print in insurance policies!!!!!!!
· Working on her has been dam good fun, and a great excuse to be living in Queensland and to have a beer at the end of the day!

So thats it for me with the negative thoughts, Wallaby has been a good experience, which Im hoping will continue, all the way to Heard Island and back.  I just need to find where that bloody flood has put her?