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Report 47 +++ July 2008 +++ Passage to Australia

Unbelievable. We have done it. We reached Australia so to speak "over land" (on land and water) without using an air plane.

The last and most difficult hurdle we had to make was the 1.000 km trip over sea from the Indonesian island Timor to the mainland of Australia. Oddly enough there doesn't exist any regular ship connections, although this is the place where Asia and Australia are at their closest distance. But we were lucky. A team of the British BBC chartered a boat, the motor sailor "Oelin", for the passage to Australia for 10.000 AUD. The owner and captain was Warwick Hill from Australia. We worked as crew on-board and didn't pay any money for the trip.

The one mast motor sailor was only 5 years old, about 16 meters long and made out of wood. Because of lower costs Warwick built the boat in Indonesia, but he had to pay the Australian Government 20.000 AUD in quarantine costs. Warwick is skilled and a daredevil. Nobody travels by boat during this season from Indonesia to Australia because of the strong winds coming constantly from south-east. Many people say that it is not possible to do complete this passage during this season, but Warwick was convinced of his skills and was confident that his self built boat could make the journey. Even when the waves were very high he walked on the boat like an acrobat on a rope. He relied on his strong diesel motor and rarely hoisted the sails as to cross against the wind was almost impossible and would have cost too much time. There were six people on board: Warwick the captain, Toni his 1st mate, the BBC-Crew Mungu and Charley, and finally Lina and me. "BY ANY MEANS" was the motto of the journey of the BBC-people, and they followed almost the same route as us, "over land" from Europe to Australia. The difference was that they needed only 3 months for the trip and we needed almost 4 years. Besides they didn't use bicycles, but trucks, trains, buses, ships, donkeys and camels, and sometimes they used an air plane because of a lack of time. Fortunately, we could avoid air travel because our journey lasts so long. Mungu was the cameraman and Charley Boorman was a famous actor. We knew him from the successful movie "The Emerald Forest" from 1985, directed by his father John Boorman. He played the main part, the boy Tommy who was kidnapped by Indians in the jungle of Brazil. We remembered his intense shining green eyes, which didn't change, although his face got older. Every day Charley spoke in front of the camera about his experiences and his feelings. Meanwhile we did our job as the crew of the ship and prepared the meals.

When we got out of the sheltered zone of the island of Timor and onto the open sea, the wind got really strong and the journey was getting quite uncomfortable. Even the captain didn't expect such a rough sea. We got the wind from the front and the waves got about 4 meters high with white foam on the top. The spray squirted over the front deck against the windows and the captain had to throttle the motor. The boat moved awkwardly through the rocky sea, but we enjoyed sitting on the quarterdeck and observing the huge waves, high as houses, which seemed to threaten to engulf us. We danced like raw eggs through the boat, in danger of getting smashed or rolling over board. Up to 50 degrees the boat tilted on the right side. The captain did his best to calm us down, explaining that the boat can tilt up to 90 degrees and only then would it capsize. For 3 days we had to put up with these extreme conditions - where everything in the boat was in a mess and we had fallen out of the bed several times.

After 5 days we reached Darwin on the upper north of the Australian continent. We were not allowed to leave the boat because of Australian quarantine regulations and for us and under the observation of an Government officer we had to thoroughly clean our bicycles and the soles of our shoes. After this procedure we were allowed to leave the boat; the magnificent continent of Australia waited of us.    andreaslina@yahoo.de

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