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Old 01-03-2015, 01:03 AM   #1
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Default Australis II wrecked in Indonesia

It is with a great sense of sadness and grief that I have to report that we lost our beautiful yacht Australis II a couple of days ago after we struck a reef on the small island of Pulau Panebangan south west of Kalimantan, Indonesia due to a steering failure.

Both myself and my crew are safe and unharmed and we managed to grab most of our personal gear before floating ashore in the life raft and dinghy.

We only got to the mainland of Kalimantan late last night and were still be interviewed by authorities at 2am this morning and have another round to go when we finish breakfast. Everyone including the authorities have been fantastic and very helpful but accurate information can be a rarity in this part of the world so I can understand that each department and authority need to go through the whole story again.

Iím posting this because we woke this morning with friends and family filling our in-boxes with concerns for us after the news appeared in the Australian media and is just starting to filter through in France (home of my crew member). We have made great and lasting friends in this forum and I just wanted to let you all know we are safe. One Indonesian media outlet this morning reported 4m seas and violent storms and that the vessel had been found but we were still missing.

Iím sure some of you have found yourself wading through waist deep water trying to decide what gear to grab while your pride and joy rolls and smashes on a reef. Itís a dull sickening horrible feeling but as I have mentioned, we are safe and unharmed.

Iíll post some more information after we finish our last interviews with immigration this morning and get a bit more sleep.

While itís something I would not wish on anyone, we did experience some amazing acts of hospitality, heroics and assistance from a small fishing village in the next bay and were just dumbfounded by the risks they put themselves and their tiny fishing vessels to attach lines to our bow in the surf and take our anchors out into deep water while I attempted to kedge Australis off the rocks when the tide rose again at 3am.

Attempting to swim through surf and reboard a vessel in the dark on a reef in a rising swell is no fun as you can imagine.

Eventually the hammering took its toll and we filled with water but the locals refused to give up even though I insisted the vessel was lost. In the end I had to cut the tow ropes myself when the first splits in the hull appeared and I did not want anyone put at any further risk on our behalf.

Fair winds everyone and hopefully weíll return to the water soon.


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Old 01-03-2015, 03:47 AM   #2
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Default it all makes sense now...

ahhhh - it now makes sense why we have been receiving all the attention and have been interviewed by the Indonesian army, navy, police, immigration and customs as well as embassies.

We had a third crew member join us in Kuching from Singapore who had only two weeks holiday before she had to go back to work so she offered to fly into Kuching in Sarawak and sail with us around to Pontianak in Kalimantan Indonesia.

I included her in our port control crew documentation and she was included in our immigration check out.

When we got to Pontianak we did port control arrival and immigration again and had all our documents stamped by the authorities. Two days later when we were due to depart I took a copy of the crew memberís return ticket to Singapore, her passport and also got her to write a letter stating that she was leaving the vessel and signing off as crew. I then took her to immigration and customs when we were checking out and gave them copies of those documents as well. If you are not already doing this. I would strongly advise you to get departing crew members to supply you with such a letter and take a copy of their flight details and passport as you will see below.

Unfortunately, through some confusion and miscommunication, the authorities here in Indonesia still had us down as being a total crew of three, not two. You can imagine when they heard that two crew had been found - they would naturally be concerned about the missing íthirdí

Fortunately I had a number of copies of the departing crew memberís letter and flight ticket and was able to clear up the confusion quickly with each authority.

Had I not had that documentation - I think Iíd still be under questioning.

The other significant part of the confusion was the horrible story of the Air Asia flight that crashed not far from here last week. We heard about it on the HF radio and discovered that we would soon be sailing directly through the debris field and were not sure of what we would find.

You can imagine then, when the entire Indonesian navy and airforce, along with many other participating countries had been out searching for wreckage and survivors from the air crash, suddenly got a report of two people rescued from the sea not far from the impact area how they might react given that they had only been recovering bodies until then.

Compared to the heartache and tragedy of those unfortunate passengers, crew and their families and friends, our accident was inconsequential but I can now understand how the first report of us on the island might have kindled some hope, if only briefly.

All the authorities here have been asking me when I will return to my vessel and try and repair her or strip her of all her gear. I have explained that she is lost and that in appreciation of the amazing generosity, courage and hospitality of the local fishing village, I made it clear to them and to the authorities here that the community had my permission to take anything off Australis and use it for themselves. This included a brand new outboard still in its box, fuel, food, ropes and everything else.

The amazing thing was that over the next day or two as the fishing boats returned from the wreckage laden with equipment and gear from Australis, each person still came to us to check if we wanted it before taking it home themselves.

For an isolated community subsisting on local fishing effort with few resources or facilities, their humbleness and generosity of spirit was overwhelming and I have made sure that the authorities here in Indonesia understand our appreciation and the fact that the local community had our permission to strip our vessel.

At least we now know that parts of Australis are being used by wonderful people rather than sitting on the ocean floor.

Fair winds,


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Old 01-04-2015, 01:03 AM   #3
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The worst imaginable occurrence I can imagine is the loss of my boat at sea. I am relieved to hear that all hands were saved with no injuries. The loss of the boat is one thing, especially given the amount of work you have put into her. The disruption to one's life and psyche, is another thing entirely.

Having got to know you through Cruiser Log, I know you are resourceful, optimistic and upbeat, with a good sense of humour. And whilst I know how adverse events can have a terrible negative effect, I also realise your character is such that you will overcome this tragedy and move forward in a relatively short time.

There will not be a single person in this community who will not be affected by your loss...equally there will not be a single person who will not be affected by the generosity you have displayed to those who were involved in the rescue and salvage effort.

In the past three years in South East Asia, I have faced severe trials and have come through them with very little negative side effects. There has been one major positive side effect; this has been the ability I now have to feel empathy rather than just sympathy. It has been a revelation to me and has opened up a whole world of emotional reaction which was supressed through a personal loss of several years ago.

Consequently, I admit I shed a few tears when I read your story. I am sure you understand the reactions of your friends and family which would have been spread across the emotional spectrum.

I will raise a toast with friends (mostly sailors) this evening in thanks for your safety, and in the knowledge that this event, though terrible, is just another part of the adventure and will eventually be consigned to your compendium of Tales of Extreme Interest.

Very best wishes.
"if at first you don't succeed....Redefine success"!

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Old 01-04-2015, 10:28 AM   #4
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Best wishes. Yes I was wondering if the vessel was one I knew -- it's been on the news here in Vietnam. Good to hear that all aboard are safe and well.
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Old 01-04-2015, 11:39 PM   #5
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Holy cow! Good to hear you're safe.
"The cure for anything is salt water... sweat, tears, or the sea" -- Isak Dinesen

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Old 01-05-2015, 11:33 AM   #6
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Default Thank you for your well wishes

'I will raise a toast with friends (mostly sailors) this evening in thanks for your safety, and in the knowledge that this event, though terrible, is just another part of the adventure and will eventually be consigned to your compendium of Tales of Extreme Interest'

There’s a sweet and sour feeling looking at these pics as we sit here in Jakarta awaiting flights home.

A tremendous sense of loss and sadness and a well-spring of grief and regret for what could have been……but also an overwhelming joy and delight at the faces and hugs from our new found island friends.

When the rescue vessel came to collect us the villagers were crying as much as we were as we said our goodbyes and I told the Rescue Commander that we were a bit disappointed that he wasn’t delayed for a few more days in picking us up. He laughed and said how surprised he and his crew were to tie to the jetty to find everyone blubbering away.

As you correctly point out David, we’ll grieve for a while about our loss but we’ll carry the unexpected joy and love extended to us forever

Late last night my crew and I got a call from the region’s governor inviting us to meet with him and his wife before we flew out this morning.

With an interpreter between us chattering away at ten to a dozen, we spoke for a good while about the generosity and compassion of his people and the overwhelming assistance and care we had received from the Indonesian government, military and rescue services.

When we expressed our gratitude for the assistance we had received from the local village who rescued us and their overwhelming spirt of hospitality, compassion and risks they took, you could see both him, his wife and his staff beam with pride for their people. There were tears all round as we shared supper together and watched as the governor grabbed his mobile phone and called the island to thank them personally and to re-affirm and support our decision to hand over Australis and her gear to the community as a gesture of thanks.

This morning the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue for the region paid for our hotel and meals and then drove us the two hours to the airport where we were met with the military commander and his officers who served us breakfast and carried our belongings to the plane.

Tomorrow I return to Australia while my crew Lovise continues her travels around Indonesia. Sure, both of us will part with some degree of sorrow but it will be the joys of our adventure that will stand the test of time.

Fair winds.
Attached Thumbnails
Reaching shore.jpg   Australis grounding.jpg   First night on beach with locals.jpg   Attaching lines.jpg   Captain and the girls.jpg  

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Old 01-05-2015, 11:37 AM   #7
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Default More images

Here are a few quick snapshots of our last moments with Australis and our new found friends.
Attached Thumbnails
Beautiful people.jpg   Captain and son.jpg   Family life.jpg   Farewell.jpg   First boat.jpg  

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Old 01-05-2015, 11:40 AM   #8
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One day, we'll return....
Attached Thumbnails
Girlies.jpg   Glad to be safe.jpg   He's actually drinking milk.jpg   I'll take this one home.jpg   Minimal cockpit.jpg  

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Old 01-05-2015, 01:40 PM   #9
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...and hopefully anchor in their harbour
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Rescue fleet.jpg   Returning vessels.jpg   Three tugs.jpg  
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Old 01-06-2015, 10:10 AM   #10
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I would like to echo the words so eloquently expressed by Auzzee
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Old 01-06-2015, 11:55 AM   #11
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Thanks Steve,

Sitting here in the transit lounge in KL already scrolling through Yachts & Boats for Sale in Australia & New Zealand | Yachthub

Not sure if that's a coping mechanism for trying not to think about it too much or if I really am a basket case

mmmmm - there's a rather tasty 42' Hans Christian there.......

Actually I think the next couple of months will see me deep in house renovations so that's probably just as well.....although we do still have our little 21' hartley trailer sailor if I start discovering my timbers drying out too much in the interim....

Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts and well wishes

Fair winds,

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Old 01-07-2015, 01:31 AM   #12
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You have been part of our community so long and I've been so HAPPY for you in your travels first with Mico and then Australis II.

I just read through your story and I was also shedding a few tears. David and I are glad that you seem to be in high spirits, all things considered. We are also so happy to hear that your experience with the local people who tried to help you was so positive even though the efforts to rescue Australis II did not succeed.

As you re-group and resort out whatever is going to happen, we'll look forward to hearing about your plans and sharing ideas, too.

Best regards,
"Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

What we're doing - The sailing life aboard and the Schooner Chandlery.

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Old 01-20-2015, 09:53 AM   #13
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I am so sorry to read this mate, Please know if you need a fix you are always welcome in Brisbane on Blue Lady.
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Old 04-18-2016, 07:48 PM   #14
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I have been away. I just read this sad story. I am very sorry for the loss of Australis Mico but glad that you are all safe.



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