Below is a message from Robin, WA6CDR (member of the VP6DX team) who is in Tauranga now and who will sail with Braveheart to Mangareva to meet the rest of the operators there. We hope you find the insight given useful. Enjoy!
from the VP6DX crew
We did not sail this noon. There is a Typhoon off the northern tip of NZ whose track is not certain. If it takes it normal path and bends west toward Australia, we will sail tomorrow. If not, we will probably wait another day. It is overcast here from the edge of the storm, and does not look inviting. Needless to say, we all agree that we would much rather watch a typhoon on TV in port than try to sail through it!
There are several buffer days built into the schedule, another example showing these people know what they are doing. The schedule calling for us to sail at noon today would have gotten us to Mangareva Friday, and we would have waited at anchor until Tuesday for all of you to arrive. Obviously, we can arrive on Saturday, or even Sunday and still have enough time to unload and wait for you to arrive.
The day was spent sorting and moving some things around. I have my hands on the case with the laptops, and some of the cases intended to hold K3 radios, and I am sorting through them a little at a time. The rest of the cases are in one giant block on the aft deck sandwiched between Diesel bladders and some Petrol barrels. We will dig into these, weather permitting, while enroute.
The crew sorted through the cables stored in the “Lazarette” and moved the Cat 5 reels out to where I could climb down and get at them while under way, but, until I unearth the tools and connectors, there wont be any point in that step. Pretty much all of the cables I shipped are in the lazarette, and thats all the feedlines, all the beverage lines, all the beverge feedline and control cable, and all the radial wire.
The ship is loaded completely, there is no space for anything more. There is no room to sort and stage cases & boxes. What will happen is that we will burn the diesel fuel that is in the bladder tanks on deck & it will all be burned before we reach Mangareva. When we arrive, as many as 10 of the bladder tanks will be unloaded and stored on Mangareva. I hope they all will, and for certain, the ones on the helicopter deck where our cases are stored will be offloaded. This will make a reasonably clear space to sort things out. It will NOT be completely clear as there are a couple dozen barrels of petrol, as well as some of the tables and related items still present.
We have discussed, or more accurately, Nigel and the caption (his son, Matt) discussed and I listened about the landing spot and the landing process. The anchorage and landing spot MAY turn out to just off of the north east tip of the island rather than a few hundred meters west like we all have been thinking.
In any case, it is intended that we arrive about dawn, and circle the island and look before dropping anchor. Once the anchor is down, the two boats - one a new one with quite a lot of load capacity - will be set over the side and unloading will proceed. Nigel says that with normal weather, that he will have ALL of our equipment, including tents and generators on shore by noon! They will then begin setting up the tents..
The loading and unloading process is a bit different than we have visualized, I think. On the Braveheart, they will collect 2 or 3 of the largest cases, or a collection of smaller items into a sling bag that is several cubic meters. That will be lifted over the side by winch and set into the waiting boat. No manhandling of gear to get it off the ship. At the shore, the boats will be able to fully ground, and depending on which (one is an outboard, the other a jet boat), will be set prow or stern on shore and we lift cases & boxes out while standing on a stable shoreline and with the boats stable aground.
Of course, weather can drastically affect this. If the seas are rough, it will take longer. If the seas allow, they will take the small boat inside the lagoon where we can use it to move items - and people- between camps. The lagoon is not “clear” and the boat will have to follow a circuitous route each time, and will be significantly affected by tides.
The outer shoreline is a steep coral bank, and is not suited for walking, and even less suited for moving material. Braveheart is supplying two wagons for use moving material along the inner shore. The inner shore is rarely a beach, more commonly is a coral cliff a couple of feet above water. The route is along the top of that cliff.
With the crowding on Braveheart enroute from Mangareva to Ducie, we will be limited in what we can pre-stage, but, with their ability to get EVERYTHING to shore in a few hours, this is less critical.
We will stop at Pitcairn in the middle of the night just long enough to unload some medical and mechanical supplies they need. We drop anchor and they come out to us in a longboat & collect a sling full of items, and we then get under way again.
Enough for now
see you all at Mangareva