In October 2010 Curt and Micheline, along with their two girls, Micah and Tasmin and new crew member Kate Sprogis, flew to the Southern Mediterranean country of Malta to take delivery of their new research vessel Whale Song. Dale Peterson, Peter Sandison, Gwen Penry and Jenny Shaw joined them at the Manoel Island Yacht Yard in Silema and preparations began for an epic journey back to Australia.
Following is a quick re-cap of this journey as written by Micheline.
When I was buying marine non-slip rubber matting the chandlery shop-keeper commented “My, you are going to be busy”, but my reply was puzzling for he and his shop-assistants, “No, I am going to be wobbily!” I laughed! “Where are you going?” they casually enquired, not really ready for my off-handed answer outlining briefly that we were travelling to Australia via Africa by boat. “To Australia!” they chorused! “Well, that’s a long way!”
After 6 weeks of hard work, 2 weeks on the hardstand and 4 weeks stern-to on a jetty in the boatyard, Whale Song had been returned to ABS Class with every valve and tank inspected and with crew members Resty and Fred back on board, we were all ready for her return voyage to Fremantle!
Ordering and purchasing six colour and six black/white printer cartridges from the local Silema stationer also caused consternation. “Why do you need so many?” His European tanned face began to pale as I casually mentioned our planned journey. “Please be safe! “ He made me promise, and with a parting hug and kiss (!), I skipped out of his neat and tidy little shop packed full of pens and pencils into the old, tiny winding steep crowded street making my way back towards the waterfront and to our awesome vessel Whale Song. Undeterred by the concern of the locals, we continued our preparations. I have decided some-one has to worry about these things, and it is probably best that is isn’t me! I salute and thank the worriers of the world!
The journey from Malta would take our ship and crew westwards to Gibraltar, south-west to the Canary Islands, south to the Cape Verde Islands, SE to Namibia, ESE to Cape Town (South Africa), north-east to Mauritius and SE to Fremantle, Australia.
Gently “hugging” Africa, but still keeping a good distance from known trouble spots on the west-African coast, seemed a safer route than transiting through the Suez Canal and passing the active Somali pirates in the northern Indian Ocean. Fortunately, the long route was the safe route for us! One hundred days after leaving Malta on November 18, 2010 we arrived in Fremantle on February 25, 2011. We had enjoyed 80 days at sea and 20 days ashore along the way, procuring fuel from interesting ports and gathering groceries and supplies at fascinating local markets!