OLD FRONT PAGES 2011
 
 
Hout Bay, SA - 18. Dec 2011 - Pos34°03S 18°20E - sailed dist.from Oslo 51598 nm


We did not get the chance to see Cape Agulhas since we rounded the cape at night. But Cape of Good Hope we saw...
EASY SAIL WESTWARD

When we departed Port St. Francis Friday morning we were prepared to anchor east of Cape Agulhas to wait for the next low pressure system to pass. Under way westward new grib files showed that the low moved east slower than first expected. We rounded Cape Agulhas Saturday night – with the engine running and on an almost dead calm sea, heading toward Hout Bay.
Sunday afternoon we sailed past the more known Cape of Good Hope, which is not the southernmost cape of Africa, but the southern cape of the peninsula south of Cape Town.
The life in the ocean was fantastic. Whale swam around us as biiig dark clouds in the water. Sometimes we could see 5 shadows around us, each of them much bigger than Empire! Two Yellowfin Tuna was towed in to Empire`s cockpit and something really big pulled out 200 meter of fishing line in 5 seconds before we lost the hook.
Sunday afternoon we sailed in through the breakwaters in Hout Bay, a small fishing harbor just south of Cape Town. Just past midnight we also welcomed the Danish yacht eXabyte to Hout Bay.
Tuesday Swedish Rebecca is signing on, to crew onboard Empire toward warmer waters. But before that we will celebrate Christmas - and maybe New Year`s Eve - in South Africa.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
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"The Boys" are quick to climb onto new laps. Kirsten and Jens and their two sons Kresten and Jørgen in s/y eXabyte are popular playmates.

Sea lions had fun at the surface, using their fins as sails.

Eirik is guarding his blueberries, even though he normally is good at sharing...

Port St Francis, SA - 15. Dec 2011 - Pos34°11S 24°51E - sailed dist.from Oslo 51255 nm


Santa Claus came on an early visit just before Heidi`s parents signed off in East London. Marius was not too happy about his visit...

LONG TIME

We departed East London last Friday and got a windy voyage south. The plan was to head for Port Elisabeth, but underway we got to know about Port St. Francis 44 nautical miles further west southwest. The first attempt to enter Port St. Francis was aborted before it got too exciting. Braking waves were rolling across the entrance... A few hours later the sea had calmed considerably with the rising tide. Eddie came out in a small RIB to read the waves. After a set of big waves he gave the sign and we drove quickly the last meters toward the entrance!
Marianne, Heidi`s friend from early school days lives in Jeffrys Bay – between Port Elisabeth and Port St. Francis. We had a very nice and fun reunion. Marianne, Robert and their daughter Maya (1½ year) invited to ”braai” (South African barbeque) and sleepover. Later Marianne and Maya visited on board, also with sleeping over. Eirik has fallen in love with Maya and he wants to stay in Jeffrys Bay…
We will throw off from Port St. Francis Friday morning. If the weather allow us we will sail all the way around Cape Agulhas to Hout Bay near Cape Town.

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Marius` favorite place is near the winch!

The entrance to Port St. Francis is dangerous when the swell is from the east!

Jeffrys Bay is known for its great long waves. We were happy only watching the surfers...

East London, South Africa-7.Dec 2011-Pos33°01S 27°53E-sailed dist.from Oslo 51083 nm


Eirik is happy when he can see the fish through a glass wall. Eirik and the diving mask are not best friends yet...

A LITTLE BIT WINDY

The best part with sailing back to Durban, was that we got time to know Chris and his family. Our South African friends in Yamba put us in contact with Chris when we were in Australia. Before our first departure from Durban we only met Chris very quickly...
With grandparents visiting we have been tourists in Durban Aquarium and Wet and Wild. The Grandparents also got time for some shopping, before we threw off heading for Port Elisabeth.
Forecasted wind from the south made us sail in to East London. The north easterly stayed around 36 knots for some time, and the current gave us at the most 4,5 knots. Empire sailed south like a speed train. The highest observed speed through the water was 14,7 knots and 18,6 knots over the ground!
East London is a small and quiet harbor. Only Mercedes Benz sometimes makes a little bit of action in the harbor, when the C-300 series produced in East London are loaded on to big car carriers. The small craft dock is under rehabilitation, but still we are tied up there.
Most probably we depart East London Friday, with only four on board. Heidi`s parents will sign off in East London and fly back to Norway.

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Grandmother Vigdis thought it was a bit too windy out on the ocean...

Granddad Tore most probably agree with Vigdis...

Marius and Eirik don`t care too much whether it is windy – or not!

Durban, South Africa - 30. Nov 2011 - Pos29°51S 31°01E - sailed dist.from Oslo 50844 nm
We threw off from Durban already after the one night tied to the pier in town. We hoped to sail a bit further south while the weather was still good. We knew that there would be small southerly breeze through the first night on our way again. Short after the departure “the little breeze” from south turned in to 30 knots on the nose. That was a bit more than wanted, so we altered the course back to Durban. We are safely moored in Durban Marina – until the next weather window shows up. Now we will explore some more of Durban.
Durban, South Africa - 27. Nov 2011 - Pos29°51S 31°01E - sailed dist.from Oslo 50816 nm


"The Big 5" - elephant, rhinoceros,
buffalo, leopard and lion - and
hyaena
.

THE AFRICAN ANIMALS 2

Heidi`s parents signed on board in Richards Bay after a long flight via Istanbul, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Finally they were again able to hold the grandchildren in their arms...
We visited Dimazulu village with a hire car and learned about African dance and culture. Near St. Lucia the hippos were swimming freely in the river. It gave us a taste of what we were going to experience the days to come...
Hluhluwe ("sluslui")-Imfolozi was established at the end of the 18th century, and is one of the oldest game reserves in Africa. We explored the park driving around in the car. Close up we saw lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo – and many more of the African animals.
The highlight was the overnight stay in Muntulu bushlodge inside the reserve, where we from the terrace could see down to the waterhole by the river. The morning bush walk with the armed ranger Xolani as guide was very exciting. We did not meet any dangerous animals, but we know they were hiding in the bushes…
Before we headed off from Richards Bay we also drove 1400 km tour/retour the capital Pretoria to order new passports at the Royal Norwegian embassy. The 1. Mate`s and the Captain`s passports had – after some years out sailing – only 2 blank pages left...
Safely back in Richards Bay we threw off. The night sail - 90 nautical miles southwest to Durban - finally gave fish in the cockpit.

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Sometimes the big animals came even closer...

Marius was as excites at the little bit older ones!

Married zulu women must wear a red hat - always. The not married ones, on the other hand...

Richards Bay, SA - 18. Nov. 2011 - Pos28°47S 32°05E - sailed dist.from Oslo 50727nm


Somewhere between Madagascar
and Richards Bay - photo:
Jangada, French 51" catamaran
.

THE AFRICAN ANIMALS

The passage to Richards Bay in South Africa turned in to an easy voyage. The strong southerlies “everyone” was afraid of getting when they were crossing the Agulhas current did not show up before a few days after we had tied up in Zululand Yacht Club.
The first impression of South Africa is very positive. Hopefully this impression will stay as we learn to know the country.
The days after arrival in Richards Bay have spent getting new sailor friends to know, and to reunite with ”old” ones – locals and from overseas. Both the Swedish yacht Satumaa and the Norwegian yacht Pomona – and many many more – are tied up in Zululand Yacht Club or in Tuzi Gazi marina. And ”all of us” have plans for visiting some of the many Game Parks in the area. ”The Big 5” – buffalo, elephant, lion, rhino and leopard – is what we all hope to see.
Saturday morning we are expecting visitors from Norway – then we will head out on safari...

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Marius is doing his best to get past the different child stoppers on board.

Marius did not quiet get what was so interesting in the water in front of/under Empire...

Eirik brought many very small "friends" back home - and we had to de-lice the whole family...

Richards Bay, SA - 12. Nov. 2011 - Pos28°47S 32°05E - sailed dist.from Oslo 50727nm
DAY 10
12. November kl 0800 (UTC +2) Pos 28°470S 32°05E, course -, speed 0,0 knots,
sailed dist. from Reunion 1427nm - dist. to Richards Bay 0nm.
After a night with good winds and some current the last part as we passed the Agulhas Current, we arrived in Richards Bay this morning. It is some time since we have had so nice sailing as this passage gave. Immigraation and Customs are so busy with all the yachts arriving these days, that when they first arrive (which can take some time) everything goes VERY quickly. No problems, no nothing, just welcome to outh Africa! Ship OHoi! Right now safely tied to the pier in Zululand Yacht Club.
DAY 9

10. November kl 2100 (UTC +2) Pos 28
°10S 36°20E, course 263, speed 6,0 knots,
sailed dist. from Reunion 1199nm - dist. to Richards Bay 227nm.
Good wind the last few days, but a current against us on about 1,5 knots. It looks as we will arrive in Richards Bay Saturday - just before it starts blowing from the south... Marius is troubled by two new theeths, a could and eye catar - but else everything well onboard. No fish!
DAY 6

7. November kl 2000 (UTC +3) Pos 27
°08S 44°02E, course 262, speed 6,0 knots,
sailed dist. from Reunion 755nm - dist. to Richards Bay 640nm.
Day 4 and 5 gave changing winds, from perfect sailing conditions to motoring for several hours. Yesterday afternoon, on VHF channel 16 we received a message from a ship said to be under pirate attack. Later it was said that it was a drill and that it was a mishap that it had been transmitted on channel 16...
This morning we sailed in to a weather front with lightning and thunder. We manged to stay outside the worst of it. South and east of us it was lightning and thunder more or less the whole time.. This afternoon nice conditions with 20knots of breeze from SSW. We have even encountered some current running with us! The Danish yacht eXabyte is sailing somewhere in front of us, behind us there are at least 15 yachts sailing in the same direction. Norwegian Pomona is about 30nm behind!!
DAY 3

4. November kl 2000 (UTC +4) Pos 24
°35S 50°57E, course 230, speed 6,5 knots,
sailed dist. from Reunion 308nm - dist. to Richards Bay 1045nm.
We sailed from Saint Pierre in light winds, gradually increasing - then easing off totally during the night. The morning the 2nd day gave light winds and good sailing conditions. The afternoon gave small rain showers and a wind change. Day 3 has given "perfect" conditions with from 8 to 5 knots speed in the boat. No fish on the hook so far, but a good porsion was thrown over from the Danish yacht eXabyte when it passed us the first afternoon. Today we have celebrated Heidi`s birthday.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Mummy, Heidi, Wife and Girlfriend.

DAY 1

2. November kl 1150 (UTC +4) Pos 21
°20S 55°28E, course - , speed 0 knot,
sailed dist. from Reunion 0nm - dist. to Richards Bay 1350nm.
Finally we were able to check out Wednesday morning. At 1150 local time we threw off from Saint Pierre, Reunion heading for Richards Bay, South Africa. During Wednesday 8 yachts left Saint Pierre for South Africa.
Saint Pierre, Reunion-1. Nov. 2011-Pos21°20S 55°28E-sailed dist.from Oslo 49310nm


With the Swedish yacht Satumaa
nearby it was easy to do Marius`
one year check. Pauli is a doctor
and found everything "OK" - also
the one year immunisations were
done when Marius was in the
"doctor`s office".

"STUCK" IN REUNION

We are ready to throw the lines and head for Richards Bay in South Africa, but can`t depart. Tuesday 1. November is a holyday and  an extra day off  is created for Monday 31. October – and it is not possible to check out before Wednesday. The grib files (weather forecast) look good and we hope they continue to do that, even though we leave two days later.
The car sightseeing around the island showed us that the scenery in Reunion is marvelous. From one of the crater`s edge (2200 m) we saw straight down in to the bottom of the crater (600m). Several towns in the crater do not even have road access. Helicopter is the only way of transport, except for walking.
It was a great party in Saint Pierre Saturday. The finale of the week long Dipavali Festival (Tamil light festival) was great. In the afternoon there was a big parade downtown Saint Pierre and in the early night there were big fireworks.
We are using the “waiting days” to fix small things on board, that maybe should have been fixed long time ago. Marius and Eirik are also enjoying small walks to the beach, either with Lisbeth and Vegar from Pomona or with mum and dad. Maybe Eirik soon will learn how to swim without support?

Nice view from the edge into the Mafate crater.

As long as someone coverd Eirik`s ears he enjoyed the fireworks.

The cover for the dodger that was ripped to pieces underway to Rodrigues is repaired ready to use - in case the new dodger should receive the same "treatment".

Saint Pierre, Reunion-22.Oct.2011-Pos21°20S 55°28E-sailed dist.from Oslo 49310nm


21. October - Marius one
year in the ship!

CONGRATTULATION WITH 1 YEAR!

Again we have celebrated a birthday on board Empire. Marius has during his first year experienced a lot that “shore children” never do.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Marius!!!
Time flies also in Reunion. Without doing too much suddenly a week had passed. At Marius` birthday we started what will be three days with car sightseeing around the island – and the scenery IS incredible.
The whole island is one big volcano. The last eruption was in 2010, and the biggest eruption for a very long time happened in 2007. Despite this it seems like people are pretty relaxed to what could happen if the volcano really “takes of” again… The car trip Friday took us across lava fields from the eruption in 2010. When it is raining steam still raises from the ground.
The only ”safe” route for yachts on a long voyage is – because of the still spreading pirates from the Somali coast – to sail south of Madagascar. Both harbors in Reunion are full of yachts heading toward South Africa.

With help from his big brother Marius managed to blow out the light on the birthday cake.

To see more of the scenery we have to start early. The fog is coming in already around 1100.

On top of a little volcanic peak inside the crater is a little town. The view is magnificent with the crater edge almost 360 degrees around...

Saint Pierre, Reunion-13.Oct.2011-Pos21°20S 55°28E-sailed dist.from Oslo 49310nm


Two fine "doys" - is what Eirik
calls him and Marius.

NEW ISLAND, NEW POSSIBILITIES

"Suddenly” we had been 20 days in Port Louis. It was time to sail on. It is incredible how fast time flies...
The port of the Mauritian capital was getting filled up by more and more yachts on their way westward. The Finish/Swedish yacht Satumaa with Lasse and Pauli arrived in Port Louis a few days before our departure. We got to know Lasse and Pauli in Buenos Aires in 2006. Since, we have met in Valdivia in Chile (2007) and in Thailand (2009/2010). With both Satumaa and Pomona present, it looks like all three of us will keep the ”pub-appointment” in Richards Bay in South Africa – though a year later than “agreed” upon in Thailand…As we all know plans are made to may be changed.
Very early Thursday morning we closed in on Reunion. We could almost see the top of the active volcano (3000m) in the light from the full moon.
Saint Pierre reminds us of New Caledonia. The language confusion is total, since the French speaking people is afraid of speaking other than their mothers tongue. .Luckily - there is exceptions.

Fun in Port Louis market. It was surprisingly clean and without to much smell!!!

Scandinavian brotherhood in Port Louis - crew from Finish/Swedish Satumaa, Norwegian Pomona, Go Beyond and Empire.

Maybe a good thing that we were far offshore? "The children`s big songbook" was out during the early night shift...

Port Louis, Mauritius-5.Oct.2011-Pos20°10S 57°30E-sailed dist.from Oslo 49170nm


Who would not have been a little bit skeptical?

NORWAY HAS TAKEN OVER

With Bjørnar on a quick visit we have explored Mauritius alone – and together with friends. First we walked to the top of the mountain Le Pouch (The Thumb). Again Eirik showed his endurance, and walked all the way to the plateau near the top on his own legs. Later Bjørnar and Eivind and other sailors climbed the mountain Pieter Both. Eivind, Johanna (Norwegian s/y Go Beyond), Steve (local taxi driver) and Dario (Swiss s/y Patchamama) even climbed the last bit to the top including the rock on top. Finally there was some climbing exercises for the Captain. It was long time since last the climbing equipment was out of its locker.
Together with Lisbeth and Vegar (Norwegian s/y Pomona) we visited the ”animal park ”Casela” south on the island. Interaction with lion and tiger were the highlights for the adults. Eirik and Marius got to know less dangerous animals…
It is getting crowded with yachts in Port Louis. 3 out of the total of 25 yachts on a long voyage in the little yacht harbor are flying the Norwegian flag.

It was quiet gusty at the plateau near the top of Le Pouch (812m) – crew from s/y Pomona, s/y Conversations (Canadian) and s/y Empire.

We climbed all the way to the top of the rock – of the mountain Pieter Both (820moh).

Bjørnar enjoyed a little bit of everything during his 12th visit on board Empire – and did not get too scared of baby noises...

Port Louis, Mauritius-23.Sep.2011-Pos20°10S 57°30E-sailed dist.from Oslo 49170nm


The Captain`s 19th 27-years birthday was easily seen in the port.

BIRTHDAY IN NEW WATERS

We had a very nice and relaxing two days sail to the island of Mauritius. After all the long passages lately, the voyage felt almost like an afternoon sail…
Empire arrived in Port Louis Wednesday evening, but too late to be allowed to sail in to the harbor. After a little bit of waiting Thursday morning because a tanker had to be shifted around in the very narrow port, we tied up along the customs wharf. People from four different offices visited on board Empire – all smiling and welcoming – for a lot of paperwork. Later we shifted around to the little “marina”. Many sailors we got to know in Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Rodrigues welcomed us. When the Norwegian yacht Pomona arrives Saturday, 5 of 15 long voyaging yachts in the harbor will be from Norway and Sweden!
Port Louis is full of life – we look forward to explore the island.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY,
Dad, Husband, Captain!

"All flags on display" to honor the jubilee - from many of the long voyaging yachts in Port Louis. Not one single grey hair on the Captain`s head - maybe two... 30 guests were maneuvered in to Empire`s cockpit - and the party lasted to well past midnight!
Rodrigues, Mau - 18. Sep. 2011 - Pos19°40S 63°25E - sailed dist.from Oslo 48829nm


After 13 days underway Eirik was happy to use his tricycle on deck - and on shore.

ONE WEEK BECAME TWO IN RODRIGUES

Time flies slowly in Rodrigues. But the days pass quickly. Monday we hoist the anchor and aim for the islands of Mauritius.
With limited access to fresh water it takes time to rinse (and dry) everything that got wet when we had saltwater in the aft cabin enroute Rodrigues. Luckily we can see an end to all the washing. The small amount of things still not cleaned have to wait until we get to Mauritius.
We have seen Rodrigues from the road with a hire – something that is pretty quickly done due to the small island. The Captain has also attended basic training for kite surfing – together with the crew from the Canadian yacht Conversations.
Many sailboats that we knew from before – and several new ones – have dropped their anchor in Port Mathurin. The Norwegian yacht Pomona arrived Wednesday evening and the Norwegian yacht Go Beyond is expected any day from now. It is good to see more Norwegian yachts around, because the Swedes have been very dominating lately.

When the yacht Top to top showed up with four - read 4 - kids on board, Empire turned in to a kindergarten. The turtles were extinct on Rodrigues. A lot of effort is done to bring them back on the island. We are not the only Norwegian yacht in these waters anymore. Lisbeth and Vegard in Pomona - we last met in Thailand 2010 - found us in Port Mathurin.
Rodrigues, Mau - 5. Sep. 2011 - Pos19°40S 63°25E - sailed dist.from Oslo 48829nm


Empire`s special fishing hooks
gave good results: 1 x 13kg
Wahoo, 4 x ca 7 kg Dorado/
Dolphin Fish/Mahimahi and 1 x 7
kg Yellowfin Tuna, a broken line
and a damaged hook...

PORT MATHURIN, RODRIGUES, MAURITIUS

Except for the unpleasant experience the third night under way from Cocos (Keeling) Islands, we had a fantastic voyage to Rodrigues. Luckily the episode gave us only lots of extra work – no damage to the crew – and only minor damage equipment and ship
During the 13 day long voyage, we saw 2 freighters, one unidentified ”light” – and the yacht Rhythm that we overtook a few days before arrival in Port Mathurin.
For dinner Heidi has cooked differnt meals including fish - evey day except for two. When we arrived in Port Mathurin the fridge was still full of freshly caught fish – easily given away to sailors that had already been in port for some days.
During the voyage our youngest sailor learned to wave and clap. He also took his first steps without support. No one can say that Marius has been practicing in easy conditions...
From the little we have seen of Rodrigues so far, the island and the people seem very friendly. When we meet someone on the street, there is always a nod, a smile and a ”bon jour”!

This is what it looked like when Eivind got up in the cockpit after the sudden wake up... A little bit of this and a little bit of that got wet when we had water in the boat! After cleaning up for 5 days, we had time to hoist the new Norwegian flag on the new flag pole.
Rodrigues, Mau - 3. Sep. 2011 - Pos19°40S 63°25E - sailed dist.from Oslo 48829nm
DAY 13
3. September kl 0810 (UTC +4) Pos 19
°40S 63°25E, course  - , speed 0,0 knots,
sailed dist. from Cocos (Keeling) Islands 1969nm - dist. to Rodrigues 0.
The last day we sailed with the "brakes" on. We wanted daylight for the arrival in Port Mathurin, Rodrigues. Smiling officials welcomed us on the dockside. Five different instances were waiting to get on board...


DAY 11

1. September kl 0400 (UTC +4) Pos 18
°36S 68°48E, course 258, speed 6,4 knots,
ssiled dist. from Cocos (Keeling) Islands 1635nm - dist. to Rodrigues 312nm.
Yesterday afternoon we caight up with the English yacht Rhythm, that left Cocos a day before us. We had planned to give away one freshly caught fish, since we earlier in the day caught two 6,5 kg Dorados - but since we caught up with Rhythm after dawn, we had to cancel the transfer project.
The wind is now 24-26 knots from the SSE. Most probably we will arrive in Rodrigues 3. September.

DAY 9

30. August kl 0830 (UTC +5) Pos 17
°44S 73°47E, course 257, speed 6,8 knots,
sailed dist. from Cocos (Keeling) Islands 1354nm - dist. to Rodrigues 602nm.
Finally we could declare the ship "dry" - and a new Norwegian Flag was hoisted on a newly made flagpole. Everything that got wet is now dry - and has to be rinsed and dried (again) when we get access to fresh water..
The last days we have had nice sailing conditions with wind about 20 knots from the ESE. A biiig fish ran away with our fishing hook - but we have made a new one... We haven`t seen even a single ship since we left Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

DAY 6

26. August kl 2200 (UTC +5) Pos 15
°36S 82°26E, course 250, speed 5,7 knots,
sailed dist. from Cocos (Keeling) Islands 888nm - dist. to Rodrigues 1114nm.
3 days with lots of work have passed since the wave hit. About 24 hours after we had the yacht filled with 2-300 liters of seawater, the bilges were again dry - and we had brief view of the damages. Luckily it does not look like the water manged to do too much damage on its way, other than keeping us busy for some time...
Damage report - so far: 2 very wet mattresses in starboard aft cabin, 8 big plastic bags with clothes and other things that are wet, water in starboard cockpit locker, a 12 to 240 volt inverter not working, dodger in pieces, broken flagpole over board, 2 plastic buckets over board, one missing drinking bottle and a book...
In daytime Empire now looks like a real textile racer - with clothes drying everywhere possible! Marius and Eirik don`t seem to bother too much about the incident. They slept through the happening itself - the only thing they are "complaining about" is that they do not get enough attention as cleanup work is in progress.

DAY 3
- KNOCK DOWN
24. August kl 0310 (UTC +5) Pos 13
°53S 89°32E, course 262, speed 7,0 knots,
sailed dist. from Cocos (Keeling) Islands 435nm - dist. to Rodrigues 1540nm.
The Captain was woke with a big bang - and lots of running water 40 minutes before he was supposed to be on watch at 0400... A breaking wave turned us sideways over - and the ocean on lee side turned the dodger into pieces. Water poured down the hatch (which is normally under the dodger) to the starboard aft cabin. When the Captain - after emptying his mouth for water - ran up to the cockpit, Heidi was not there... Luckily, just before the wave hit she was gone below deck to the port aft cabin to look after Marius.

DAY 3

23. August kl 1800 (UTC +5) Pos 13
°40S 90°44E, course 260, speed 7,2 knots,
sailed dist. from Cocos (Keeling) Islands 394nm - dist. to Rodrigues 1608nm.
The two last days it has been blowing 25-30 knots from SE. Empire and Crew is enjoying the bumpy seas. Eirik thinks the waves are big as they travel past us, some of them also find their way into the cockpit. Waiting for the 13 kg of fish in the fridge to be eaten, the Captain is not allowed to fish...

DAY 1

21. August kl 1000 (UTC +6,5) Pos 12
°05S 96°53E, course - , speed 0 knots,
sailed dist. from Cocos (Keeling) Islands 0nm - dist. to Rodrigues 1982nm.

Luckily nobody seemed to mind that Heidi´s visum for Australia only was valid until 13. August. After two wonderful weeks at Cocos (Keeling) Islands we hoisted the anchor and sat the course westwards. After only 3 hours of sailing we caught the first fish - 13kg Wahoo. Winds around 15 knots from SE gave perfect conditions and good speed.
Cocos (Keeling) - 10.Aug. 2011 - Pos12°05S 96°53E - sailed dist.from Oslo 46893nm


They are lucky, the ones visiting
Cocos (Keeling) Islands. We found
signs from many yachts we have
met earlier in our voyage...

COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS

It is fantastic to be here - on an atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The seabed rises from about 5000 meters to a sharp peak - and on the top, that`s where we are...
We still do not know for how long time we are allowed to stay, since Heidi`s visa for Australia ends the 13. August. Anyway, we can`t do much but enjoy the days we get!
White coral beaches, clear water, 27°C in the sea, more than enough coconuts - and a calm beautiful anchorage inside Direction Island.
Eirik (2½) and Marius (9mnd) made the long voyage without any problems. The first week was a bit more difficult for mum and dad. Eirik showed tendencies of being in the "terrible two`s" - and Marius had four new teeths coming out... Luckily after a while we all found the rhythm, and also got time to enjoy being underway.
In total there are 8 yachts on a long voyage anchored at Direction Island. All of them are heading toward South Africa before the cyclone season (normally starts in the beginning of November).
2 of the islands in the atoll are inhabited. 600 souls call Cocos for "their home". Here there is no rush. If it doesn`t happen today, it - might - happen tomorrow...

The 1. Sailor ready to anchor - as we are approaching the anchorage off Direction Island. Young sailor also has to rest - while big brother, mum and dad enjoy the pot loc on the beach together with other sailors. Dad is still allowed to drive the dinghy, but that won`t last for long...
Cocos Keeling - 6.Aug. 2011 - Pos12°05S 96°53E - sailed dist.from Oslo 46893nm
DAY 14
6. August kl 1030 (UTC +6,5) Pos 12
°05S 96°53E, course - , speed 0 knots,
sailed dist. from Darwin 1917nm - dist. to Cocos Keeling 0nm.
The breeze  faded out when we had 200nm to go. The grib files told that there would be only light breeze for several days, but were luckily wrong. On the final leg we got 20-22 knots of wind from SSE. In the morning we could see trees in the horizon. A few hours later we were anchored in coral-sand. We are back in paradise! It remains to see how long we are allowed to stay...

DAY 10
2. August kl 2200 (UTC +7) Pos 12
°29S 106°40E, course 275, speed 7,5 knots,
sailed dist. from Darwin 1351nm - dist. to Cocos Keeling 611nm.
Finally we got the speed up. The last two days the wind has been 24-26 knots from ESE. It looks like our junior sailors have found themselves, and life on board is back to its normal - relaxing rhythm. We still haven`t caught any fish. Though, we have lost some big ones, but that does not fill the stomach...
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO GRANDFATHER, FATHER IN LAW and FATHER, PER-JOHAN !

DAY 7
30. July kl 2300 (UTC +8) Pos
12°48S 114°37E, course 269, speed 7 knots,
sailed dist. from Darwin 896nm - dist. to Cocos Keeling 1044nm.
It was just luck that all went well. "Suddenly" a big green fishing boat was just 200m almost dead ahead. Captain Empire on duty had been to busy with other activities than keeping a look out. Luckily we had the margins on our side.
The last nights we have seen several Indonseian fishing vessels lying for their drifting anchor. There is more than 5000m of water under the keel and we are 250nm off the Indonesian coast. Maybe it is the not so good fishing along the Indonesian coastline that have brought these small fishing vessels this far out to sea?
We have lost another fish off the hook. If the fishing luck doesn`t get any better, we soon have to start on the tinned food. The last nights the wind has shifted to more southerly. The spinnaker is temporarely stowed away.
Eirik and Marius have found their own watch scedules. Eirik is doing the 12 hours on and 12 hours off, plus a forced rest in the middle of the day. He finds the ocean`s creatures as flying fish  very exciting, and has become a keen fisherman. Marius is for the time being doing his own watch schedule, as tooth number 5 and 6 are on their way...


DAY 4
27. July kl 2200 (UTC +8) Pos
12°37S 122°38E, course 275, speed 6 knots,
sailed dist. from Darwin 464nm - dist. to Cocos Keeling 1509nm.
After warming up for a couple of days, the spinnaker was hoisted this morning. The first day`s nice wind only lasted until the afternoon, when the wind eased to 10 - 15knots. To
little wind to set the full mainsail - which only bangs in the rigging as the boat is tossed around by the seas. One or two reefs in the mainsail and the genoa on the pole to the other side, gives the best conditions on board. Until this morning, when the big colored piece of fabric was hoisted...
As the spinnaker filled, the first fish hooked on the line - a 5 kilo Great Barracuda. Finally, because we were wondering if also this ocean had been emptied for fish. Australian Coast watch is flying low over us now and then. We feel well "looked after". In addition American warships are conducting live fire exercises in the area. This afternoon an enormous - probably American - aircraft carrier passed at a distance of 5nm, with all its planes on deck!

DAY 1
24. July kl 1000 (UTC +9,5) Pos
12°25S 130°49E, sailed dist. from Darwin 0nm
- dist. to Cocos Keeling 1990nm.
Empire lies steady in the sea. 550l water, 430l diesel, food and beverages for 2 months, washing powder for 2 months of nappy washing... There are many things to stove away for such a long voyage.
Almost no wind gave motor sailing first day and through the beginning of the night. When the wind first arrived, we started to hope for a quick sail toward Cocos Keeling. 20 - 25 knots of wind until late afternoon gave a false hope. The fishing lines are trolling behind the ship, but we haven`t caught anything but seaweed. Our two youngest sailors are looking for their ocean-legs after long time coastal sailing. Marius don`t know yet what ocean sailing is - Eirik will pretty soon find his old skills.
Darwin, NT, Aus - 24.July 2011 - Pos12°25S 130°49E - sailed dist. from Oslo 45440nm

We are thinking about you in Norway, regarding the attack in Oslo and the shooting at Utøya.

UNDER WAY ACROSS INDIAN OCEAN

We did not stay as long as we thought in Darwin. The Australian Immigration stopped that plan. Heidi`s visa is valid until 13. August. Cocos Keeling is a part of Australia – and the authorities would/could not extend the visa with a few days. If we should enjoy any days at all at Cocos Keeling, we had to hurry up. It takes about 14 days to sail there...
We have had busy days with Empire anchored in Fannie Bay outside Darwin Sailing Club. Only the dinghy ride to the shore takes about 15 minutes. The tide is about 7 meters – and it shallows very slowly from the beach.
Luckily we could drive down the beach to the water`s edge the many tours with the fully loaded hire car – and load the goods quickly in to the dinghy, before the rising tide made the car to wet.
Empire lies heavy in the sea. She is fully loaded with food and drinking water, diesel and all the other stuff that is necesarry to take us across The Indian Ocean. The few places we plan to see enroute, will most probably not give us the best possibilities for provisioning.
Sunday at 0800 Darwin time the anchor was back on the surface. The course was set out the Beagle Gulf. We hope that steady trade winds will give us good winds and a pleasant sail. Ship OHoi!

Huge quantities of food and
beverages have to be packed
away. The Indian Ocean is
bigger than you think...
We are lucky to have wheels on our dinghy - it is a long way to be safe for the rising tide... She was anchoring close to quickly take on board the good - but was a bit slow to get back into deeper water! Despite busy days - we also got time to be tourists. At Crocosarius Cove there were lots to see.
Darwin, NT, Aus - 17.July 2011 - Pos12°25S 130°49E - sailed dist. from Oslo 45434nm

LAST ANCHORAGE IN AUSTRALIA

We are back in Darwin – where we two years ago left for Asia. When we in a week or two again leave Darwin, we will be heading west – toward the Indian Ocean and South Africa. We are not planning to return to Australia shortly, to add on another crew member…
From Gove we sailed through the Hole In The Wall. We found nice anchorages among the English Company Islands, in Port Essington and in Alcora Bay at the entrance to Dundas Strait. The last day`s sail contained a lunch stop to wait for the tide to change – before we sailed through the Howard Strait doing 10 knots – 5 of them because of the tide…
As we approached Fannie Bay in Darwin to anchor, Eirik ran back and forth on deck. He was so excited to see all the yachts anchored off the yacht club – many of the yachts participating in the Sail Indonesia Rally. When he saw yachts we had met earlier, he screamed ”besøk, besøk” (”visit, visit”).
On our ”to do list” in Darwin the main tasks are to stock up and to prepare for the long voyage – and maybe we manage to behave like regular tourists in between

Marius is as eager on the winch
as Eirik was at that age - and
still is...

More than 100 yachts are taking part in the "Sail Indonesia this year - starting from Darwin the 23. July. It does not look like the work load is getting less the nearest months... The view from the anchorage in Fannie Bay is not too bad...
Port Essington, NT, Aus-12.July 2011-Pos11°12S 132°03E-sailed dist. from Oslo 45289nm

A SMALL WORLD

A few days in Gove turned in to one week. Meeting Frances in s/y Kaylie again, meeting “a Norwegian” in s/y Fram – and four weeks of laundry – kept us busy. The only thing that is not so pleasant in Gove is that after a few days, the yacht is covered in a thin layer of red dust – from the bauxite mining.
Again Frances took Heidi to Nhulunbuy for food shopping. It is fantastic to experience that kind of service.
At the beach in Gove Eivind met "Harold" – who turned out to be Harald(75) from Norway. Harald told that he grew up near Gjeving at Sørlandet (in Norway). As Eivind is about to tell that his father`s family lived in Dybvåg for many years, Harold continues “or Dybvåg, if that’s a more known place…” Eivind tells that his father`s father was a priest in Dybvåg, and Harald says “oh, Mr. Bogerud, yes, he performed my confirmation, and I knew his son – Per!” that actually is Eivind`s father!!! Sometimes the world turns out to be much smaller than you think!!
Harald left Norway as a sailor in the merchant navy in 1951 when he was 15 years old – and has been living an exciting life. Three years ago he sailed back into Gove after a five year long singlehanded sailing voyage – to Norway! Now Harald is a retired sailor in Gove, with plans for a new sailing adventure – to Alaska!!

The "shortcut" from Gove toward
Darwin is through Gugari Rip or
The Hole in The Wall - the tide
can set with up to 10 knots..
.

Frances is practicing to be a grandma - but may have to wait some time since her son Bjørn is moving out of the ship these days... With crocodles lurking around the play is on the beach, not at the waters edge... Eirik is still checking out new facilities on board the Ship. In Australia Harald has been digging for gold and opals, been working as a cowboy and as a boilermaker – and he has been managing his own company.
Gove, NT, Australia - 3. July 2011 - Pos12°12S 136°42E - sailed dist. from Oslo 44982nm
   

The plan was to be about 5 year underway on a long voyage. Today we are celebrating 6 years underway - and we are still a bit away from home! The crew is doubled since departure...!!!
Gove, NT, Australia - 1. July 2011 - Pos12°12S 136°42E - sailed dist. from Oslo 44982nm


OVER THE TOP FOR THE THIRD TIME

When we for the second time arrived in Australia, in 2010, we arrived in Gove. Most probably the visit in Gove this time will be the last visit for some time. When we soon leave Australia from Darwin the course will be set westwards – towards South Africa.
The trip north along the east coast has this time been in calmer conditions - both compared with the northbound voyage in 2009 and the southbound voyage in 2010. This year the wind has only been stronger than 25 knots a few times.
Portland Roads, Margaret Bay, Cape York and Possession Island are visited also this time. We have also met many sailors – most of them underway toward Asia but also a few underway westward to South Africa – as us.  But we haven`t met any yachts with a Norwegian flag.
This time we have given our selves more time along the northern parts of the east coast. We have also become a bit braver, and gone for a walk ashore a couple of places – at least the Captain. It feels a bit scary to “drag along” on two small ones in crocodile country…
Safely anchored in Gove we again met our Swedish/Australian friends in s/y Kaylie. Most probably they are ready to throw off for their next long voyage the next season…
The fascination is the same every
time dolphins show up - both for
young ones and not so young
ones!

Bigger...  18,5kg is high score since we left Norway. This Spanish Mackerel hooked on just south of Margaret Bay in 30 knots of wind. As a freshman Marius has an experienced teacher in Eirik. Eirik has already sailed along the cost of Australia two times earlier. Cape York, the northernmost point of Australia, for the third time - this time with four on board!
Lizard Island, Australia - 12.June 2011-Pos14°39S 145°27E-sailed from Oslo 44325nm


EMERGENCY OFF CAIRNS

Luckily we found new seals for the autopilot in Townsville – without any trouble! With our Townsville-friend Terje Dahl as chauffeur it was ”extra very easy”. Hopefully the autopilot now lasts all the way to Norway...
A 38” motor boat called for help on VHF channel 16, when we one night passed Cairns on our way north. The boat had trouble with its engine and was drifting towards a reef. Last minute the anchor held the yacht off – in 50 meters of water. We were about 8nm away from the motor boat when we received the emergency call – and we were the only one to respond, even though there were several boats in the vicinity. After 1½ hours sail westward we found the boat in trouble – and there we stayed stand by for three hours until the Coast Guard finally arrived. Luckily the weather was calm!
With the disabled vessel under tow from the Coast Guard, we resumed our course north toward Lizard Island – and the last crocodile-free anchorage before we leave Australia.
There was a lot to see at
Townsville Aquarium....
It will probably not last long until there are 2 small ones capable to move around by themselves! Anchored off Cairns we met Kai(4) - he was also on a long sailing voyage with his (Australian) parents. This is not the biggest Giant Clam we found when snorkeling at Lizard Island! The knife only to compare size...
Townsville, QLD, Australia-1.June 2011-Pos19°14S 146°49E-sailed from Oslo 44031nm


FIIISH

We had a ”real” celebration of the Norwegian National Day the 17th of May in Rosslyn Bay/Yeppoon, together with Margrete and Reidar. With Norwegian flags on the balcony and salmon on the menu, it was as we could hear the school bands marching…
The island group Whitsundays is the favorite of many Australian sailors. These islands are also a natural stopover sailing north along the east coast. This time we took our time through the Whitsundays, and dropped the anchor a couple of places. Beautiful scenery, nice swimming (without crocodiles) and calm anchorages. Luckily the charter yachts and the tourist look were not as bad as expected.
Even though we are now situated north of the Tropic of Capricorn, the air is pretty cool – at least to an at this stage spoiled Norwegian. But, it is winter at this side of the world. The sun is about as low in the sky, as it is in the Norwegian sky – in summer time...
The last night sailing toward Townsville, the autopilot had a breakdown – despite it was overhauled when we were in Yamba. Hopefully we will find new seals in Townsville. With 2 kids and only two adults on board, the autopilot is essential to the life on board...
Biiiiig....
Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island is a "must" when passing through the Whitsunday Islands... Thanks to the Monitor wind vane we still had time for "education" after the autopilot broke down! At one of the anchorages Eirik found a very faithful friend.
Rosslyn Bay, QLD, Australia-16.May 2011-Pos23°09S 150°47E-sailed from Oslo 43625nm


BACK IN TROPICAL WATER

In Moreton Bay outside Brisbane we again met our sailor friends Donna og Ian in s/y Idyllic. We got to know them when we arrived in Australia the first time – in Bundaberg in 2008. Also on board Idyllic they have welcomed a new crewmember since then. Including Ian there were now five boys on board…
When we a few days later hoisted the sails again, we were formerly thrown out of Moreton Bay. Very nice wind from south west gave us good speed. We headed offshore also this time, east of Fraser Island. Even more wind made us skip the planned stop at the beautiful atoll Lady Musgrave. Late Saturday night we anchored north of Curtis Island, downriver from Rockhampton - after crossing the Tropic of Capricorn.
In a gale, we today headed north the 25 nautical miles to Rosslyn Bay. There we will celebrate the 17th of May - the Norwegian National Day – together with Norwegian Margrete and Reidar.
Marius has taken Eirik`s place in the stroller chair in the cockpit, and Eirik is very happy to run around – in his harness attached to the boat with a safety line.
The Empire Family - two young
ones and two not so young ones
on a loooooong saiing adventure.

Practicing for the 17. May celebration - anchored in Southporth.

Very nice to meet Australian sailing friends Donna and Ian again. Eirik was very happy to find four play mates.

The first "longer" voyage for Sailor Marius. More will come... Eirik patiently waiting for the fish to bite...
Peel Isl, QLD, Australia - 7.May 2011 - Pos 27°29S 153°21E - sailed from Oslo 43233nm

FINALLY UNDER WAY

Tuesday morning we sneaked out toward the mouth of Clarence River. “Now you have to make up your mind” the Captain said to 1. Mate as we approached “the point of no return”. Heidi was allowed veto whether we should cross the bar or not. “I don`t want to look” was the answer – so we steamed across the bar.
Big swell and light breeze left the mainsail banging in the rig. With only the headsail out, we had a calm sail through the night – with arrival in Southport the next morning.
Since we think it is a government task to dredge the shallow waterways between Southport and Brisbane – and not ours... (to get through near Jacobs Well – even at high tide – we have several times before been forced to drag our keel through the mud) we headed out to sea again Friday afternoon. We had a nice sail north through the night, around Moreton Island and then south in to Moreton Bay just outside Brisbane.
Fresh sailor Marius is looking for his sea legs – and the experienced able seaman Eirik seems to have found his old track. It feels good to be underway again.
Green is Eirik`s color these days -
but the fishes did not agree. Not
a single bite from Yamba to
Southport.

Eirik is ready for new "adventus" and prefferes to be where it happens. Anchored in "the Spit", Southport. Nice anchorage - but not very quiet.

2 cool guys...

Hickey Isl, NSW, Australia-1.May 2011-Pos 29°25S 153°21E-sailed from Oslo 43002nm


SEE YOU AGAIN, YAMBA

We threw off from Yamba Saturday 30. April at 1345. With friends waving from the pier it felt extra sad to leave. We do not know when we will meet again.
Even though – except from Heidi`s two-child-mummy nerves – we are looking forward to the adventures to come. Safely out of the marina we anchored in Clarence River, with a good view to the river mouth. The plan was to head out to sea Sunday, but the bar did not look too tempting. The bar is the shallow area often found just outside the river`s mouth acting like a barrier. The seas often breaks over the bar. Anyway – we will not sail directly over the bar, but with the weather that has been south of Yamba recently the seas now and then even break in the lead.
We are safe where we are anchored – and just have to wait and see what tomorrow will bring…
We did not manage to sell the car before we threw off, but our Norwegian/South African friend Pierre happily took the job as acting car salesman – look here >>>
"Bye bye, Yamba" Eirik shouted
as we left the marina. Obviously
he understands that we are
heading out to sea...
Sail away dinner with good friends. Gingerlily, Eirik`s best friend, and her mother Tanya dropped by for a last play before we threw off. Gingerlily wanted to "join Eirik`s adventure".

Anchored near the mouth of Clarence River, we have a good to toward the bar - where the seas at the moment are breaking...

Yamba, NSW, Australia-18.April 2011-Pos 29°26S 153°20E - sailed from Oslo 42998nm


BY THE END OF APRIL

It is Easter holydays, but we haven`t noticed too much of that. The work on board is still under progress. Soon the Ship will be almost like new.
The part for the sewing machine finally arrived. New bimini is in place. The old bimini fabric will be used other places. To work with two small ones over the shoulder have as usual taken longer time than wanted. Still we will claim that our two young crewmembers have been very patient.
Our faithful hard working car the time we have been based in Yamba – the Ford Falcon 1997 station wagon - is for sale. Follow the link to the right.
The duvets are out. It is not longer enough with only a light blanket as cover. “The winter” is on its way at southerly latitudes.
We are planning to be on the move north before the end of April. Slowly in the beginning, since the cyclone season has not yet come to its end.
We are looking forward to be under way ”for real” again – now we have been in one place long enough… - still it will be sad to leave all our friends behind!!!
Thanks to our Norwegian Yamba
friends, we have been able to
work without bothering with the
weather. While Nina and Pierre
have been away on Easter
holydays, we have spent several
hours in their garage.
Luckily we still remember some of the tricks we learned from Rolf at Kapell & Annat in the beginning of our tour... In between all the maintenance works we also have time with friends. The paella at the beach was really great.

Eirik is a good helper. The diesel tank is checked for sediments - luckily there was nothing!

Yamba, NSW, Australia-5.April 2011-Pos 29°26S 153°20E - sailed from Oslo 42998nm


SOON READY TO SAIL

The on board work is continuing - so that we can leave Yamba with the "must be done-", "could be done-" and "nice to have done" lists as short as possible. With 2 small children on board we assume we will have enough to do underway.
It is lovely to again be able to hang almost dry clothes on the drying line, after being without our eminent spinner for a couple of months. To wring out the water by hand is heavy work - and damaging for the clothes. We hope this spinner will last all the way back to Norway.
All work involving the sewing machine is on a hold after the needle plate broke. We had hoped to be done with our new bimini, the making of new fender covers and the repairs on the zippack before heading north. The new needle plate is supposed to be in the mail. We hope it fits - and that it arrives in time for us to reach the goal...!
1½ year since last time polished -
in Thailand. Empire will look
almost like new before we in
the end of April head north.
Just another day on
Empire`s railing...
Eirik was 3 months old when we left Yamba in 2009. Marius will be 6 months old - he has already started eating his first spoons of porridge. Jummy!

Small problem - It has taken some time to localize where the water entered. A lot of work had to be done to seal it. Maybe the cupboard in the galley now will be dry?

Yamba, NSW, Au - 21. March 2011 - Pos 29°26S 153°20E - sailed from Oslo 42998nm


PEACE RESTORED

After all the excitement with the christening, the birthday celebration and the wedding peace is restored on board Empire. Peder (Eivind`s son), Heidi`s parents and Eivind`s mother have landed safely back in Norway after the one month visit in Yamba.
In addition to the mentioned happenings our visitors also enjoyed the show ”The Australian Outback”, the animal park “Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary”, an Empire-picnic on Clarence River and Circus Stardust in Lismore. We have also finished sewing a new dodger, started sewing a new bimini and enjoyed several afternoons at the beach. We have had a really good time with the family visiting – and there is no doubt that they have enjoyed their time in Australia, especially with our latest arrived crew members!
Thank you very much for all greetings to the christening, Eirik`s birthday and our (for most people surprising) wedding.
In about a month`s time we will throw off heading north – toward warmer waters!
Peder found many new friends
in Australia - before he flew back
to Norway we celebrated his
9th year birthday, a few days in
advance.
At the first test on the yacht, our new dodger looked at least as nice as the original from "Kapell och Annat". From left Eivind^s mother Irene and Heidi`s parents Vigdis and Tore with Eirik - in Yamba, NSW, Australia. The boys - Dad, Marius, Eirik and Peder.
Yamba, NSW, Australia - 4.March 2011-Pos 29°26S 153°20E-sailed from Oslo 42990nm



2 X CHRISTENING, A BIRTHDAY
AND
A SURPRISE

With the priest and many guests on deck we threw off. Shortly after, anchored in Clarence River everything was set for a big day - and that is what it turned out to be!
Stella and Marius was Christened in saltwater from the Pacific Ocean with the priest Lena from the Norwegian Church Abroad on deck.
After the Christenings the priest continued with the next ceremony - and suddenly there was a bride was on deck, looking very beautiful. Heidi`s name is not longer only Heidi Våge, but Heidi Våge Bogerud... Only the best men knew what was going to happen before the cermony startet.
After the little voyage on the river the celebration continued ashore until the small hours, just as "last time" (Eirik was Christened with a similar ceremony the same place two years ago).
Thank you very much to all the guests for joining us in the celebration of the Christenings, Eirik`s 2 years birthday and the wedding - and making it to a beautiful and memorable day.


˂˂˂ VIEW THE ARTICLE IN THE LOCAL NEWSPAPER



Empire anchored in Clarence
River Friday 4. March 2011.
The Norwegian family de Billot are currently living in Yamba. The daughter Stella was aso Christened during the ceremony 4. March, The Godfather Kalle had the honorable mission to hold Marius during the Christening. Surprised family members after the wedding ceremony.
Yamba, NSW, Australia - 25. Feb 2011 - Pos 29°26S 153°20E - sailed from Oslo 42986nm
CROWDED IN YAMBA

Heidi`s parents, Eivind`s mother and Peder (Eivind`s son) landed in Brisbane last Saturday. After another four hour drive by car to Yamba our guests were introduced to Marius and the rest of the Empire-family. It did not take long before Marius was tossed around between grandparents. Also for Peder this was the initial meeting with the little brother.
The flight from Norway to Australia took 35 hours. Our visitors took the 50 degree raise in the outdoor temperature with a big smile.
Tuesday almost turned out like Christmas Eve. Parts for the anchor windlass – with good help from Seatronic in Norway and Quick in Italy – and seals for the autopilot hydraulic pump all arrived by mail. With lots of babysitters around, fitting the parts where they belong was (pretty) easy match.
A few more guests are expected from Norway for Marius` Christening the 4.th of March. We hope for nice weather and calm conditions on the day, as the plan is that the ceremony will take place anchored somewhere in Clarence River.
Big smile when parts for the
yacht arrives
!



Ragnar Thorseth (Norwegian adventurer)(in the middle) visited Yamba - and Empire - and had a few words of visdom for the crew! Peder signed on board for the 6.th time since we threw off in 2005 - but this visit wil not give him many nautical miles of sailing... The three brothers - Eirik, Marius and Peder - soon became good friends.
Yamba, NSW, Australia - 14. Feb 2011 - Pos 29°26S 153°20E - sailed from Oslo 42986nm
ALMOST OUTBACK AUSTRALIA

After 7 hours driving south west from Yamba we arrived in Bundella Creek Road Thursday afternoon. Alistair and Kate, our Australian boat neighbors in Yamba marina, manage a big farm south of Liverpool Plains.
We had wonderful days at the farm in very hot surroundings – together with Norwegian and South African friends.
The farm is about 22000 acres with 1000 cows and 1000 calves. Of course there are also several horses on the farm. Seen through Norwegian eyes the farm is huge. We did not get the chance to meet all the animals...
In addition to all the “tame” animals there are plenty of game on the property - among them Red Deer, wild pig and Blackaroo.
Also Kate`s children Jillian and Gordon takes part in the farming - when they are not at school. Every day Kate drives 200 km to get the children to and from the school bus stop...

Thank you very much for a great weekend with many experiences!
Alistair has always been a
cowboy.

Eirik had lots of fun at the farm - Riding or leading the horse was one of the favorites! Cowboy picnic along one of the creeks on the property - with lots of good food - and maybe one beer... Kate`s daughter Jillian became the clay pigeon shooter of the day!!
Yamba, NSW, Australia - 3. Feb 2011 - Pos 29°26S 153°20E - sailed from Oslo 42986nm

BACK IN NEW ZEALAND

Not Empire, but Eirik and the Captain. With Eivind’s visitors permit about to expire in April, it was time for a trip abroad. Eirik joined in for the fun of it – and we got very nice days in Auckland.
Our friend James picked us up at the Airport. From then it went on non-stop. With the last pieces of a cyclone passing New Zealand Saturday evening, the weekend races were cancelled. The Auckland Anniversary Day on Monday gave nice wind and new opportunities.
On board Thelma, an 112 year old classic gaff rigged yacht that we used to race when we visited New Zealand with Empire 3 years ago, we had a windy race. With up to 35 knots during gusts we managed pretty well. This time Eivind did not get the chance to do much deck work, since his main task during the race was to take care of Eirik’s safety.
Tuesday we headed back to Brisbane by air – allowed to stay for another 12 months.  Tough we are not going to stay that long in Australia. We are planning to leave Australia from Darwin in the middle of August.
We will not get in touch with cyclone Yasi terrifying northern Queensland. It will be 2000 km between Yamba and the eye of the cyclone when it hits the coast..

Back in known territorie.



We met Fiona and Tony Blake first time in 2008. They lodged us in their home. Thank you for the hospitality! It is difficult for a young sailor to sneak out on the lunch nap - even when it is race day! Safely back in Australia Eirik wouldn`t let Marius out of sight. First Mum got a hug, then Eirik wanted to cuddle Marius again and again...
Yamba, NSW, Australia - 20. Jan 2011 - Pos 29°26S 153°20E - sailed from Oslo 42986nm
ALL CLEAR - FOR NOW!

For us by Clarence River/in Yamba the flood is over, for this time. The clean up and rebuilding process is well underway most places – where new floods don`t stop that work.
On board we are giving all equipment a thorough check. When checking the windlass, we found that the seal was no longer sealing – with following dismantling of the windlass. A check of the autopilot showed a small oil leak, also for this parts have to be found. All standing rigging have been checked – and found to be in perfect condition. The ship is slowly getting ready to throw off.
Empire is 12 years old. It is god to look everything thorougly after - now that we got the time. With two small kids on board the boat work takes longer time than before. The work allocation is set – the Mate looks after the children and the Captain takes care of the boatwork.
Empire has also been s short trip on the hard so that we could replace the seals in the sail drive. We knew that a fisherman north of Southport lost many hooks, when we sailed south in the narrow channels…
At last we have updated the calendar – take a look! Soon you will also find a new ”letter” on the web.
After Marius was born Eirik moved up to "second floor" - and dad provided some shade.



The water quality at Yamba’s beaches is not the best after the flood - especially not for kids using the water to rinse their mouth... We expected to find some fishing line inside the propeller, but not this much... Luckily the seal were still sealing! Why does it always have to be so cramped - when maintenance- or repair works are to be done in a boat?
Yamba, NSW, Australia - 11. Jan 2011 - Pos 29°26S 153°20E - sailed from Oslo 42986nm
FLOODING ALSO IN NEW SOUTH WALES!

Of all days, today was the day we had an appointment with the Norwegian Consulate in Brisbane. After an evaluation of the weather situation this morning we took the chance – and drove by car to Brisbane. Despite severe rain in the Brisbane area, we had a nice drive without trouble – with two small ones in the back seat.  First as we turned of the Pacific Highway to drive the last 12 kilometers back to Yamba, we got in touch with the flooding. As we turned in to the local road, the water from Clarence River flooded to the edge of the bitumen.
Safely back in Yamba itself, the water level seemed to be at about normal height. At high tide to night it is expected that Yamba will be cut of from its surroundings – because of flooded roads. Still - as long as Clarence River does not float the pontoons above the pillars, we feel safe.
The flooding in Queensland has reached unknown dimensions. In the surroundings of Brisbane it is expected that 10000 houses and businesses will be flooded in the days to come…


Latest flood warning for Clarence River >>>
Eirik exercising in the salt water
pool in Yamba, to get back his
water skills - after being too long
tied up in the marina...
Pierre (Norwegian for now living in Yamba) and Eivind out fishing in Clarence River - before it flooded. If Norwegian authorities approve our application, also Marius will soon have a Norwegian passport... With the risk of Yamba being cut off, the bread disappeared quickly from the shelves in the supermarket.
Yamba, NSW, Australia - 1. Jan 2011 - Pos 29°26S 153°20E - sailed from Oslo 42986nm

WELL DONE - AND HAPPY 2011!!!

While Empire have been berthed in Yamba, we have been back on Madeleine`s and Bror’s farm in Cawongla for Christmas celebration. Together we have had an eventful and nice Christmas, with a good mix of Norwegian, Swedish, Finish and Australian traditions. Bror`s mum Rita from Finland and Madeleine`s and Bror`s daughter Nina from Brisbane have also been visiting, so we have been many around the table.
Eirik was before frightened of Santa Claus, but not anymore. When Santa Claus arrived just before Eirik`s bedtime at Christmas Eve, he only pointed at Santa shouting “Dad, dad”…
Back in Yamba in the days between Christmas and New Years Eve we have been enjoying more good food – with new sailor friends visiting on board.
New Years Eve was celebrated together with Tanya and Steve and their daughter Gingerlily (Eirik`s girlfriend) – that we met during our first Australia visit – in Wooloweyah just outside Yamba. Eirik and Marius were both sleeping well when we lit the “fireworks”. We will have to celebrate a pretend-New Years Eve an afternoon early in January, and use the last sparklers…


>>> View article from "The Norseman" nr 4 2010

Stars and New Years Eve comes
together - Marius will most
probably not remember his first
New Years Eve...


The Christmas Koala at the farm in Cawongla showed up despite all the rain. When nearest city Kyogle went under water from the floods, we were back on board Empire... Nina and Eirik meeting Santa Claus al`a 2010. Note that Santa managed to take of his long warm underware when he arrived in Australia... New Years Eve in Wooloweyah, New South Wales, Australia.

Happy New Year!!!
 
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