When Steve & I first met we both had similar plans to buy a yacht & live a cruising life. To share this dream made it all so much more achievable, living & working on Coral Bay we managed to save some money while still really enjoy our work & lifestyle.
Many hours were spent searching the net for yachts for sale, our visions of the perfect yacht were a little different with Steve coming from a racing background & me have the image of the romantic wooden pirate ship with traditional lines (far from a quick boat). Narrowing down & 'compromising' on our search was fun but frustrating not being able to look at the boats apart from on computer, not only because we were living in Coral Bay, but we were also looking not only throughout Australia but worldwide (mainly on west coast of Mexico, the States & Canada) with the idea of heading out across the pacific.
We found Keira in the Philippines well set up as a blue water cruiser. When we flew into Davao in August 2013 we were 98% sure she was the one, just needed to see & touch her. We saw her & fell in love, excited & nervous both making the largest purchase of our lives & becoming home owners. The marina was the perfect place for us & get ready for our maiden Voyage.
9th Oct 2013
So many last minute preparations were still taking place onboard, but at 8.30 when those gates opened we hurried about, starting her engines, casting her lines, waving farewells to our friends we had shared many stories & even more san miguels with over the past 6 weeks here. The final stowing & organising of our home could be done outside of the walls of the marina in the calm waters of the Davao Gulf.
We were finally away the surreal feeling was starting to sink in, for many years I have dreamt of sailing my very own yacht into Palauian waters & I did not think it would be quite so soon, let alone our maiden voyage.
If the wind & sea gods treat us well we should be there by this time next week.
10th Oct 2013
Our first night at sea proved a little challenging for me once the excitement settled the tiredness set in, it had been a huge week for us both. Sorting out paperwork for Australian registration, insurance, immigration & clearing out of customs. Purchasing tools, spare parts - trying to be prepared for most scenarios. Also our nemerous trips into the city provisioning for the journey & the next few months with food & fuel.
By mid afternoon we decided it would be best to anchor in the gulf get a good rest & depart early in the morning coming around the peninsula bedore setting our course east 500+ nm to Palau, also giving us another opportunity to get another weather update. The weeks forecast to date was showing 20-25 knots southwest. Plan is to jump on the back end of a typhoon which typically track north of us to the north west.
By 4pm there was a change in the weather making it unsuitable to anchor in the unfamiliar location.
We reefed the sails continued on our journey dodging FAD’s (fish attraction device’s) which are incredibly anchored in 3000 meters , & small fishing boats floating about (some would kindly make themselves known by shining a small light when we came near.
I became seasick, nothing i had never come across before christening the side decks of the boat.
The winds had eased the moon was still bright in the dark sky. Steve was getting some well earned rest I was at the helm, I felt a connection with our beautiful ship that i had not yet felt.
11th Oct 2013
As day light broke we entered the open ocean there was a lot of slop around the peninsula, such a huge body of water with tidal movements, currents, swell & no more land protection from the wind.
We spent the morning playing with the sails, learning which configuration she like best. We hoved too & sat back waiting for the wind & more so the waves to ease. This was my first time hoving too. wow such a beautiful thing! to be in rough conditions & to feel so at peace & one with the ocean. The wind stayed up but the sea conditions became more favourable, we were away again with the breeze off our back quarter making great speed averaging 6 knots with a record of 8.2 surfing some waves.
12th Oct 2013
Its 4am with only a very small head sail out, we jibbed, next I saw the pin rail swinging about no longer held down by the forward starboard lower stay, Steve went out to inspect & discovered the whole chainplate had snapped at the deck line. It did not take us long to decide what our best option would be & that was to turn around & head back to Samal Island we were 90 mile off shore but still 150 mile from our original departure. Palau was now no longer looking so close still a good 400 mile to our east. Unfortunatly we were now pounding into the weather we anxiously watched the rest of the rigging & the mast. Steve tells me not to worry as he lifts the floor & brings out the recently purchased bolt cutters & hacksaw, which he told me when we bought them he hopes he never has to use them. It is now day 3 on our first journey & there they were laying on the end of my cot.
Getting back into the Gulf was not as easy as hoped either, the sea was like a washing machine, the sun was setting & it had been a full day of nursing our ship. We were still pushing constant 30-40 knot winds then on dusk she blew up even more, at one point I saw a reading of 58 knots. We were heading a straight course but n the dark it felt to me we were going in circles. I fond myself hyperventilating for some time & praying the mast to stay upright, in our minds also wondering how badly corroded the rest of the chain plates were & if they to were only holding on by a thread. My biggest fear was if Steve had to go back out on deck to fix something & I was at the helm, that i would do something wrong & endanger his life. Thankfully all remained together from here on in - this blow lasted for a good 3 hours & eventually we turned up into the Gulf feeling a lot more safe but still knowing we had at least 20 hours before we could properly relax. Without an auto pilot the hand steering can be extremely draining. We were so tired we ended up doing 20 min stints behind the helm, whilst still finding myself nodding off.
15th Oct 2013
The rest of the journey went relatively smoothly as we motored back to the north end of Samal. We slept so soundly waking the exact same way we feel asleep. We have a fair bit of work to do sourcing the best way to install all new chain plates. Also realising our engine treated us well on our short but eventful trip, but she too needed some love & attention. Alternator stopped working, the seals in the water pump were no longer & dirty fuel had clogged the filters.
But all I knew is that I wanted to get back out there as soon as we could & try again.