Oct 9th - 2009
Howdy people, stuck in the country town of Woolgoolga (230 km into our journey) due to gale forced south winds and figured it a great time to catch up some of the highlights thus far.
Departure - After a few days of all out preparation, the team found our way to Byron Bay for a 9 am send off. In fine hippy town styles we were met by hundreds of amazing locals who passed on love and blessings for the long trip ahead. After a great ceremony and departure speech from admiral Rastovich, we hit the water and were escorted around the cape by paddlers, kayakers and none other than George Greenough on his recently designed rescue boat. Our first day went smooth; 10-15 knot North winds allowed us to make 60km in just under 6 hours. Everyone was relieved by the first days successes and happy to know that the 700km seemed attainable.
Trailed by a 12 foot Tiger - Day two had similar North winds and great waves to ride at sea. We got to know our crafts quickly and were escorted by close to 20 humpbacks, joyfully showing off with breaches, spy hops, tail slaps and graceful clapping. It's amazing how quickly you drift into an altered state as you sail, stress quickly fades and clarity of thought becomes key. As I rolled down the line I noticed someone watching me from behind, at first I thought it was Will, then a small whale, then realized I was being tailed by a 10-12 foot tiger shark. I had told myself to embrace this experience before the trip and did my best to stay calm, after a minute or so the large fellow lost interest and vanished. In many ways the encounter gave me strength and tested my cool under pressure.
Risk Takers Reward - After surfing a fun bounce wedge all morning, we dove into a bang up beach/dune trash pick. Christy Theisslingy the GM of Surfrider Australia was traveling with us and has inspired us to collect marine debris whenever possible. It's truly unbelievable how much trash we've found on desolate stretches of paradise.
As we worked under the blazing sun, we spotted the tall black Sea Shepherd ship on the horizon. The wind had just picked up strong form the south and Dave decided he and I would be the only boats to sail 2 km out to sea to meet the ship. As we exited the sketchy harbor, victory at sea hit down and we were instantly flying. Dave's router pin snapped from the pressure and his board flew into the wind, I chased it down and he quickly fixed his problem. When we finally reached the Steve Irwin, the boat was much bigger and blacker than expected. A rag tag group of volunteers peered over at us as we tied off behind the boat and climbed the wooden ladder. We were served hot tea and chatted with the crew about there upcoming campaign Waltzing Matilda aimed at saving the whales in the Antarctic waters. After some good time on board we needed to head back due to deteriorating wind conditions. As Dave and I sailed back, we were met 30-40 knot winds with side on waves pelting our ammas. I was completely laid over to keep from capsizing and was as focused as a pilot landing a 747. We both narrowly made it past the angry jetty and as we did I realized my ama arm was about to snap, I pulled sails in and limped to shore. It was by far one of the scariest seas I've ever navigated and by far the most exhilarating events of the trip.
In the mean time rest assured that the Transparentsea team will be sailing south towards Sydney, sleeping on the earth and doing our best to raise awareness regarding oceanic issues currently faced. To stay tuned to daily activity, video updates,etc.... Follow us via transparentseavoyage.com.
Peace, Chris 111