7 September 2015 – 18 September 2015 – Passage from Vanuatu to Mackay, Australia – Lively Seas, Lively Birds and We’re Almost Half Way Around the World! By Anne
Almost half way around the world!
This remarkable passage marks the completion of our successful voyage across the South Pacific on Joyful! Of course there is still the rest of the world we will sail across to reach Key West, Florida, where we began our circumnavigation on 15 March 2015! We are only about half way around the world right now. That’s Key West, Florida to MacKay, Australia. To complete our circumnavigation we still must sail across the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. All the glory goes to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Because of God’s blessings, we succeeded! Thank you Lord! Now, we pray that God helps us sail the rest of the way around the world back to Key West via the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa so we can continue to spread the Gospel to all countries we encounter during this circumnavigation.
If you are a bird lover, you might enjoy this blog entry. It is filled with sea bird encounters on the high sea! Sailing on the open ocean between islands or continents on Joyful, no matter if the voyage is 40 days long as between Panama and Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas, or 11 days, as this short passage between Vanuatu and Mackay, Australia, is always thrilling! It’s thrilling to me not only to contemplate what it will be like, but to see it develop, hour to hour, sunrise to sunset to sunrise, day after day after day. Clearly, the sea state, the winds, and the forecasted weather start to form part of the essence of the time at sea, but there is another element, which to me, can make the voyage extra special. That something special is animal life from the tiniest phosphorescent phytoplankton to exotic sea birds in the sky, to huge humpback whales. During this passage from Vanuatu to Mackay, Australia, we encountered many seabirds of various types, flying fish, and a pod of dolphin, who kindly escorted us into the Great Barrier Reef through the Hydrographer’s Passage!
When you look at the photos of this passage, you’re bound to notice a couple of interesting subjects. I’ve captured many pictures of seabirds soaring around Joyful, from the day we sailed away from Vanuatu right up to the Great Barrier Reef. There were many birds which did not take the time to pose for my camera, but the ones who did, will give you an idea of the diversity of the species in these waters, or should I say air? Jeff, Bill, and I were always mesmerized at the perfect and amazing aerobatic maneuvers the birds utilized as they hunted for squid and fish around Joyful. The other group of photos I imagine might tweak your interest, are those of the sea’s state. It ranged from flat calm to 5 meter waves. The more white water you see, the windier it is. Better put your oil skins on before you see the photos! You may get splashed with salt spray!
I hope through the rest of this article, as well as through the photo collection, you will have a great impression of what a delightful voyage we had on Joyful from Vanuatu to Australia! So get your bird identification book ready, and see if you can identify Joyful’s playmates!
As always, please read the captions under the photos that catch your interest. They explain a lot more than this article does of what occurred during this interesting and lively passage between Vanuatu and Australia, including one of the most challenging waters to sail through, the Great Barrier Reef!
Scientists at Cornell University’s Department of Ornithology are studying the migrations of birds from all over the world. We send them any photo of a bird we take during this circumnavigation, no matter how blurry it may be! They told us they can identify birds even if the quality of photo is poor. This a relief, because it is quite challenging to capture the image of birds, especially from a boat on the ocean, with a slow digital camera!
Observing Other Marine Wildlife
The Great Barrier Reef is a huge network of coral reefs and islands off the North East Coast of Australia, the largest coral reef in the world. In order to sail Joyful from Vanuatu to Mackay, Australia, we chose one of the passes, called the Hydrographer’s Passage, to follow in order to not run aground on the treacherous coral beneath the surface of the water. Shortly after we entered the Eastern end of the pass, a pod of dolphins suddenly zoomed up from behind Joyful as she sailed through the marked pass. This made us very happy, as usual, to see dolphins, and I immediately grabbed my camera and went up to Joyful’s bow to hopefully take some photos of these amazing critters! I hope you enjoy looking at their photos. Dolphins are even more difficult to photograph than birds because you cannot predict when a dolphin is going to leap out of the sea, and once they do, they are only out of the water for a split second, and digital cameras are quite slow! So this photo is the best one I could manage on this passage.
Monitoring Radiation Levels
One of the scientific projects with which Joyful is involved is that of recording the radiation levels that we experience along our sailing route. Radiation is a form of energy that comes from various sources (e.g. x-rays, radon gas, nuclear power plants, etc.), which, if the levels are too high, could cause a health hazard. On Joyful, we use a GQ Electronics GMC-320 Geiger Counter to take radiation level readings. The data we record is sent to the Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center (NETC), a world wide volunteer radiation reporting site. NETC posts radiation readings from numerous sources, including the US Environmental Protection Agency and volunteer reporting sites, into a data base; the summary is shown on http://www.netc.com.
The levels from Panama all the way across the South Pacific Ocean to Tonga, ranged between 7 to 23 counts per minute (CPM). The range of counts per minute on Joyful’s passage from Vanuatu to Mackay, Australia, was 6 to 16.
As many of our avid readers know, among Mission Joyful’s goals are to:
Obey the Lord as noted in:
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
Obey the two greatest commandments, as noted in:
Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Using our gifts and abilities, as noted in:
1 Peter 4:10 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
One may wonder how we can serve the Lord while on passages between landfalls. We pray! We pray for his hedge of protection for Joyful, all aboard her, others at sea and on land. We pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us to areas on land where we can offer music and art ministry events, as well as other services to others, and ways we can proclaim the gospel to people. We offer our thanks to the Lord, and we always marvel how He helps us throughout every nautical mile on our journey! We know that when we reach land, His wonders will continue, and He will lead us to do work for Him and to serve others. It always happens, and is always a delight to us!
Artistic Inspirations from the Lord About this Passage from Vanuatu to Mackay, Australia –
An inspiration came to me for the Bible verse I wish to incorporate into the design of a painting I will make. I plan on putting the painting with others I will create into a book, which I plan to publish after the conclusion of Joyful’s circumnavigation. The artwork will reflect an important part of each of Joyful’s ocean passages and landfalls, and will have a Bible verse, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that I will weave into the design of the painting. I’ll use watercolor, and gilding from gold and also silver, and hand ground sandalwood ink to create the art work.
The Bible verse for this passage will be:
Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
As you observe the birds in my photos from this passage, perhaps you, too, will be inspired to contemplate how greatly valued you are to the Lord!
What’s Next on the Blog?
Stay tuned for the next two blog entries! They will be two articles we wrote for the Blue Planet Odyssey, one on Science and Education and the other on Community Works. Those two articles actually summarize our Science, Education, and Community endeavors as well as activities regarding Mission Joyful for the first part of this circumnavigation from Key West all the way through part of Australia and Bali.
As soon as I can, I will continue to add more text and photo entries to this blog pertaining to our passages and land based activities while we waited out the cyclone season in Australia and Bali. We will be setting sail from Cairns, Australia, in the late Spring of 2016, bound for Darwin, in order to cross the South Indian Ocean to arrive in Cape Town, South Africa before the next cyclone season begins. So keep watching for my blog entries! We are having an amazing time, and are looking forward to continuing to share our news and photos with you! Thank you for being our sailing buddies in spirit!
God bless you!
1. A fiery sunrise was enjoyed on my early morning watch.
2. A brown booby bird tried to land on Joyful’s Hydrovane steering vane at sunrise.
3. Another gift from the Lord on our passage from Vanuatu to Mackay, Australia. You can see the moon and Venus with the loom of the sun!
4. Another extraordinary sunset on passage from Vanuatu to Mackay, Australia.
5. Flat Mr. Davis enjoyed a Beaufort Force 7 meal in Joyful’s cockpit. That means the sea was so rough we had to eat out of a plastic bag in a bowl!
6. Flat Mr. Davis stands by when Jeff and Anne opened a beautiful card made by a Round Hill Elementary School student! Thank you so much! We love you!
7. Bill harvested fresh vegetables from Joyful’s cockpit nets.
8. When the wind speed increased to a certain level, we would decrease Joyful’s sail area to keep her from getting knocked down or her sails ripped or worse!
9. The sea began to get choppy but Joyful’s reliable Hydrovane worked well. We had to put tape on the red cloth because sea birds tried to sit on top of the vane while crossing the South Pacific, and their toenails ripped the fabric. Also UV damage occurred to the fabric. When we reach Australia we will install a new red fabric cover. One cover lasting for half of the world, especially in the tropics is really great. Meanwhile, the clear tape works perfectly well!
10. Most of the time Joyful had dry decks even in rough seas like these. When the wind is high, we reef down the sails in order to allow the boat not to get knocked over or have ripped sails.
11. The sea and sky were constantly changing every minute here, as they did all over the South Pacific.
12. The water was alive with white foam and blue, turbulent waves and swells.
13. The sea was getting lively! Sometimes we had to take over the helm if the wind stearing system got off track due to high, confused seas.
14. “Will”, Joyful’s trusty wind powered back up steering system, usually didn’t care that the waves were five meters high. Joyful has three steering systems – the Hydrovane, the electric-hydrolic auto helm, and hand-on-the-helm.
15. Five meter waves were starting to break.
17. Joyful was an attraction to seabirds on every passage, including this one from Vanuatu to Australia.
18. Who is this approaching? Faster than a speeding bullet… Able to gulp down fish while flying… Soars and swoops more easily than the Dow… It’s Superbird!
19. This sea bird flew around Joyful for around an hour.
20. Waves can be sea birds’ friends because as the bird flies closly to the water’s surface, the bird can fly almost effortlesly.
21. Two seabirds soared close to Joyful’s masthead.
22. This sea bird liked the way Joyful helped stir up fish!.
23. This sea bird flew around Joyful for around an hour. Sometimes they would turn their heads and take a really good look at us!.
24. This magnificent seabird flew around Joyful by itself for about an hour, soaring and diving as it hunted for sea creatures to eat.
25. This beautiful seabird tried to land on top of Joyful’s Hydrovane steering system for at least an hour!
26. This bird, as well as others on Joyful’s circumnavigation, tried to land on Joyful’s Hydrovane. A few succeeded in landing on her solar panels, bimini, pushpit, inside the cockpit, inside the galley on the stove, and even on top of Jeff’s head.
27. This seabird tried many times to land on top of Joyful’s Hydrovane. It did not succeed, unlike another bird in the Eastern South Pacific, who punctured the rip stop fabric while landing on the top of the Hydrovane!
28. This bird attempted to land on Joyful’s Hydrovane for about an hour.
29. Another bird that was unsuccessful in his many attempts to land on Joyful’s Wind Vane.
30. Magnificent sea birds appeared from over the horizon and flew around Joyful, welcoming us to Australia!
31. On passage from Vanuatu to Australia, a feathered aviator skillfully flew by again and again, getting closer to Joyful every time!
32. A seabird kept trying to land on Joyful’s Hydrovane. One bird punctured the fabric with its claws and we had to apply clear tape so the rip-stop cloth would not split!
33. Birds – A bird’s silhouette can help identify the bird.
35. The bird attempted to land on Joyful’s Hydrovane for about an hour.
36. The seabird was absolutely mezmerizing! How can anyone at sea take their eyes off the sea or sky? There is constant change, constant beauty of one sort or another, even during the darkest night.
37. Sea birds sometimes dropped squids onto Joyful’s decks.
38. This is where we were at sunrise when the seabird circled Joyful.
39. This magnificent bird tried valiantly to land on Joyful’s wind vane while Joyful was underway on passage from Vanuatu to Mackay, Australia via the Great Barrier Reef.
40. Some sea birds have huge wingspans, others medium size! The little land bird in the Caribbean Sea off of Panama who sailed with us had a tiny wing span, but a big courageous heart!
41. Birds loved soaring around Joyful, sometimes landing on her solar panels, on top of her mast, on her standing and running rigging, on her pushpit, once even on top of Jeff’s hat!
42. Joyful attracted countless seabirds of all types on her circumnavigation. This magnificent creature soared around Joyful for almost an hour from Vanuatu to Mackay.
43. It was so much fun observing birds such as this low flying powerful white seabird who flew for about an hour around Joyful as he hunted for food in the water.
44. Joyful’s spare diesel and water tanks were lashed on securely. At least well enough for half way around the world!
45. Look closely at this photo and you will see two magnificent seabirds who soared around Joyful with great finesse.
46. The Blue Planet Odyssey flag cast a beautiful shadow on Joyful’s mainsail!
47. Joyful, many times, had flying fish land on her decks as they flew to save their lives from large sea creatures wishing to eat them.
48. Flat Mr. Davis and Anne prepared to hoist the Australian courtesy and yellow quarantine flags when Joyful sailed into Australian national waters.
48.1. The sky around Joyful was always remarkable in some way. It was unbelievable!
49. Every sunset and sunrise was a real treat to see! Every minute the sky and sea changed colors!
51. Flat Mr. Davis and Anne hoisted the Australian curtesy flag and the quarantine flag when Joyful sailed into Australian waters.
52. Joyful was escorted through the Great Barrier Reef by a pod of dolphins! The plastic bag contained some tools I was using to remove a rope which kept Joyful’s two bow anchors from clinking while on open ocean passage.
53. The first day sailing through the Great Barrier Reef via the excellent Hydrographer’s Pass; the water was flat! But that night, the winds picked up to gale force!
56. At sunrise, an island in the Great Barrier Reef as seen from the Hydrographer’s Passage on passage from Vanuatu to Mackay.
57. A fiery sun arose with strengthening wind during Joyful’s sail through the Great Barrier Reef to Mackay, Australia.
58. As we sailed through the Great Barrier Reef, several huge ships were also utilizing the Hydrographers’ Passage. Not counting near land, crossing the entire South Pacific we only saw around 10 ships including fishing boats and maybe 4 yachts.
59. A ship leaving the Hydrographer’s Passage passed us as Joyful entered the Passage to sail through the Great Barrier Reef.
60. Approaching landfall at sunrise is a favorite thing for me. It is a dawn for a new country, new people, new blessings! Look at the ships in the lower right lying at anchor a mile from Mackay, Australia.
61. Joyful successfully sailed through the Great Barrier Reef, and, at sunrise, approached Australia as seen on the horizon! Thank you Lord!
62. At a ship’s anchorage at the west end of the Hydrographer’s Passage through the Great Barrier Reef near Mackay, ships quickly weighed and lowered anchors, & at night, the only way to know what they were doing was to look at their nav lights.
63. While sailing through the Great Barrier Reef to clear customs in Mackay, the Australian Border Control airplane made a low pass over Joyful. They did this with every vessel entering national waters.
64. A friendly Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection airplane flew about 500 feet over Joyful to make certain she was who she said she was! They do this to every vessel entering Australian waters.
65. While at sea anywhere in the world, a ship can approach rapidly, and it is both boat’s duty to avoid a collision at sea!
66. Joyful’s Blue Planet Odyssey flag arrives in Australia, half way around the world with this fabulous rally!
67. We welcomed the sunrise as we approached waters near to the Mackay Marina where customs officers awaited to welcome Joyful and us to the intriguing country of Australia!
68. While at the Australian custom’s dock in Mackay, Joyful’s Australian courtesy, and quarantine flags flew with the MaiKai Yacht Club Pennant (Bora Bora).
69. Joyful had an excellent berth next to the new stone breakwater in Mackay. The sea was very rough on the seaward side of the wall. I removed her yellow quarintine flag a few minutes after docking here, as Joyful had cleared customs. Now we will begin to experience being in this fantastic country of Australia! We are really elated, and thank the Lord Jesus Christ for getting Jeff, Bill and me here safely! All the Glory goes to God!