June 1, 2009

Fraser Island and Bundaberg

New article in the Bundaberg News Mail!


Bargara State School


From Mooloolaba we were escorted by dolphins up to the Wide Bay Bar where we went into the shallow Great Sandy Strait.


We used all our navigational skills for the Strait, because our draft was just on the limit.


On Fraser Island Klaus Krieger from SUPERWIND www.superwind.com joined us for 5 days to Bundaberg.

Port Photos 0001.JPG

The Bundaberg Port Marina gave us a free birth and like this we were able to visit the schools in the area.


The Marina is currently working to gain its accreditation as a "Clean Marina" under the clean marina program.
In the Marina I was busy fixing our toilet and our dingy. Klaus was of big help installing the new solar panels.


Finally we had to say goodbye to our friend Klaus who went to the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show to promote his Superwinds.


The kids had a last game on our friends on Shining Light, before we set sail together with SY Magnum to Lady Musgrave Island and Great Keppel Island early next morning.


Here an update from our TOPtoTOP diver team about the Indian and Atlantic Ocean:

In 2007 the White Princess crossed the Indian Ocean to Mayotte, a French possession near Madagascar. This was the only place in the Indian Ocean we were able to dive, but it proved a pleasant surprise as the reefs all appeared healthy with a varied collection of marine life, which provided some very enjoyable diving in the sheltered waters of the lagoon.
Unfortunately, we couldn't explore the other areas as we had to head down to South Africa to round the Cape of Good Hope. From South Africa we sailed north to Namibia where we saw the most spectacular displays of bio-luminescence we have seen anywhere. Sailing along at night, each fish within each shoal was clearly outlined in brilliant luminescence and the fish were so numerous that almost we could have walked over the water to the shore on their backs (if they'd stay still long enough). This is due to the nutrient-rich waters coming up the coast from the Southern Ocean. In the daytime we were surrounded by seals & penguins - we were even boarded by a large bull seal while sailing along.
From Namibia we sailed north-west to West Africa and on to the Cape Verde Islands. Here we found plenty of problems. The first is that the government has sold fishing rights to some European countries, who with their advanced fishing techniques have been able to strip the surrounding waters of all the fish. There are few fish left for the small local fishermen to catch, but what struck us most forcefully was the absence of birds. In the southern group of islands we found virtually none, but even more appalling was when we anchored off some islands that were supposed to be a nature sanctuary and the home of millions of breeding sea-birds, and found them deserted. There were no birds here, and no sign that any had been here in recent years (no guano, no abandoned nests).
We left the Cape Verdes and crossed the North Atlantic to Barbados. We last sailed this route 5 years ago and the deterioration since then is worrying. The only fish we caught on the trip were small & undernourished, the flying fish were almost gone, with only a few solitary fish flying from our wake, there were no squid, no dolphins, no birds and only very weak bioluminescence. We are not sure what this means, except that it indicates a shortage of plankton in this area.
We are now taking a year out for a re-fit, and when we return we will be fitting ourselves out to run some tests on the water quality and the health of the environment as we cross the Pacific - so watch this space!
Best wishes,
Mike & Dawn Dorsett on White Princess.

Posted by dario at 9:35 AM

June 15, 2009


Latest media aricle in the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin!


Farnborough State School

From Bundaberg we sailed together with SY Magnum to Lady Musgrave Island and further to Great Keppel Island. There is an Environmental Education Center on North Keppel Island. The Keppel Bay Marina sponsored us a free berth so that we were able to visit schools in the area.


Farnborough State School is going to produce soon their own organic food. The students are going also to participate in the TOPtoTOP drawing contest:




All this was only possible to the coordination skills of Brian Hooper the architect of the "tree of knowledge" monument in Barcholdine, who we met in the Outback.


From Yeppoon we sailed up to Scawfell Island; Sabine's stomach getting bigger and bigger. The whole family can not wait to meet the newborn soon!


On the sail to Thomas Island (same name like our Webdesigner) we used the first time Matteo Miceli's gift: OUR NEW GENAKER!


Now in the Whitsundays we were still busy with our book that will be published in October. Thanks to Skype we were in regulate contact with our ghost writer Marc Zollinger in Rome.


Whitehaven Beach, along Whitsunday Island, is world famous for its incredibly fine, salt-like sand. It is 99% quartz. We took a bag of it with us as a memory...
We left Airlie Beach out and went straight to Cape Gloucester, where we anchored in front of a great Eco Resort with a big pool for Salina and Andri.


We often sailed overnight when the kids where as lip and made it finally to Magnetic Island in front of Townsville, where Jacqui and Ric with his to children Keshia and Jonah joined us. We hope to be in Cairns in the next days to visit some schools and do another SGS event.


Posted by dario at 9:48 AM

June 26, 2009

North Queensland

2009-06_au_dunk-cairns_068.JPGEdgehill College, thanks to the Cairns City Port Marlin Marina we are able to visit hips of students

The past week has been an exciting and busy experience for everyone onboard PACHAMAMA, who has been sailing up from Magnetic Island to Cairns!

The first stop on the way was the beautiful Orpheus Island, which was abundant and lush with all forms of life! The dense mangroves which surround the island provide all the crawly little inhabitants with a great deal of nutrition, and in low tide, as we walked to shore, you could see plenty of wriggling creatures on the shallow sea floor. We were even lucky enough to see a reef shark close up in the shallow water!

On the Island we visited the Orpheus Island Research Station, and met Dr Glen Burns, a lecturer with a student group from the USA. He was teaching a marine ecology course, and was more than happy to allow the TOPtoTOP to interview him about the station. The aim of the research centre, along with any field station, is to collect data in the wild to support or reject an idea or hypothesis. During the course the students would study the Great Barrier Reef and all the rich wildlife that lives in it. Dr Burns was extremely positive for the future, saying that the since the mid 70s when the Marine Park Authority was established, reef protection and conservation had improved substantially. Areas that were once heavily overfished were now being preserved, and many areas had finally managed to maintain a sustainable equilibrium.
However, Dr Glen burns still believes that Global Warming holds an immense threat to the Great Barrier Reef. "There is a chance that we could loose the Great Barrier Reef in the space of three decades!...If the planet lost this, the planet would be a lesser place"

Why? Well, The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef system on the planet, stretching along 2000 kilometres of Australia's eastern coast line. Amazingly, within this 2000ks, there is about 2900 different reef belts! The diversity and pure density of Australia's Great Barrier Reef is astounding, not to mention the alluring, rich colours of the coral and fish! Everyone working to protect the earth from Climate Change can look to this beautiful World Heritage site for motivation.

TOPtoTOP met one student, Scott, from Australia, who was helping Rebecca Fox with her research on Herbivorous Fish, using acoustic tracking. This kind of research is also very important to the survival of the ecosystem, as herbivorous fish help to maintain low algal biomass on the reef, keeping it healthy.

Dr Burns told TOPtoTOP that any research into the environment is important. "If you love and understand something, you're more likely to protect it."


After spending a night moored at Orpheus, we continued on through the Hitchenbrook channel to Dunk island. Dunk is famous for it's luxurious sandy beaches and electric blue tropical butterflies. (Although they must have been hiding while we were there!) We went for a wonderful hike around the island, under the cool canopy of the Rainforest. Salina managed to walk the whole way! About 15 kilometres! Which is very impressive for a young girl of four! That night, the wind has died down, and so we ended up staying at Dunk for 2 nights. We said good bye to Ric and his family, who caught a light plane from the island to Cairns, so they wouldn't miss their flight back to their home in Sydney.

PACHAMAMA continued north the next morning, and that afternoon arrived at Fitzroy Island. The coast was made up of dry segmented coral, not sand, which was interesting, although we had to be careful bringing in the dingy to avoid a puncture! It was getting dark, but there was just enough time for everyone to go for a quick walk up to "The Secret Garden". It was a nice track through some rainforest, following a silent river. (Where water runs underground beneath the rocks). You could hear a lot of birds become active as the sun went down, but they were very hard to make out in the darkness.


The next morning we headed for Cairns! When we arrived, we moored in to the Cairns City Port Marlin Marina. There was so much to do when we arrived! Organise the Media, School Visits, Doctors appointments... We were very pleased to meet Jon Dicker from SGS environmental services, and his colleagues Shay and Kylie. They were fantastic helping with shopping, printing posters, coordinating events, and just generally looking after us here in Cairns! Thanks to them, and the Marlin Marina for allowing PACHAMAMA and the TOPtoTOP expedition to do the project here.

We were very busy coordinating the Media, with articles from the Cairns Post and Bulletin. Coincidentally, Cairns had a big Sports Festival a few days after we arrived! With Triathlons, Running races, and family bike rides! Thanks to Malcolm Robertson and the Cairns Regional Council, TOPtoTOP was able to be involved, and met many of the locals, sharing their message, and the whole family even took part in the 2.5 run! After Dario had finished, he ran back to join Sabine and the kids as they crossed the finish line, with everyone cheering from the sidelines!!


At the festival, Dario had a great interview with SEA FM, a local radio station, and talked about the expedition, and why sport is so important for a healthy lifestyle and environment. All in all, the day was a wonderful success!

On Monday, the TOPtoTOP team, along with their friends from the Sailing Yacht "Magnum", went to experience some of what Cairns has to offer! They had been told to visit and climb "The Pyramid", which is a local mountain about 20 minutes from the City. While a very pregnant Sabine and the kids walked most of the way, then stopped for lunch and to enjoy the view, Dario continued on to the top with volunteer Jacqui and good friend Ann to see a different perspective of the City! From there, the fields of sugar cane were lush green, and you could even see the ocean and bay out in the distance.


The TOPtoTOP team met Suzanne Long and Melissa Jess from the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre. They were also happy to do an interview with TOPtoTOP, and explained what they did at the centre, and why the conservation of the Reef and Rainforest was pivotal to combat Global Climate Change. Suzanne and Jess showed TOPtoTOP that the research centre is a great example of people working together to find solutions to Global Warming. They not only work on the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical Rainforest of Australia, but they also extensively cover research throughout the Torres Straight. Rising sea levels have a devastating effect on not only the mainland of Australia, but also the many islands that surround it. The Torres Straight has a large indigenous population, which relies on the natural resources of their islands. If Global Warming continues to worsen, it may make it impossible for the germination of their crops. With rising sea levels, eventually many of the islands may become uninhabitable for human conditions.

Suzanne and Mellisa invited TOPtoTOP to come to a seminar that afternoon, which was an information session on rising sea levels to be given by John Hunter, an oceanographer from the ACE, - Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems - Cooperative Research Centre.

It was an interesting forum, and a chance to meet with many people from industries promoting sustainable and renewable technology and agriculture. John specified on Cairns, and the east coast of Australia, with the precautions investors will need to make with sea levels rising in the future. Although there are many uncertainties regarding the facts with rising levels, John and the ACE had developed a method for businesses to calculate the risks involved with buying/owning assets close to the coast of Australia. Regardless of the unpredictability surrounding rising sea level statistics, the community must be aware that sea levels will rise significantly, and that means that flooding may occur more often. More information.


Along with the Media involvement and Research that TOPtoTOP has been doing the past week, we've also been busy getting ready to do some exciting school presentations. Thankfully, we met a lovely couple Peter and his wife Terumi, whose daughter Tiffany arranged for us to visit her school; Trinity Anglican College. There we did a presentation to over 400 high school students! The kids thoroughly enjoyed the talk and were excited to hear about the opportunity to write an essay and take part in the TOPtoTOP Global Climate Solution Award!!
Peter is Swiss and is the owner of the watch and opal gallerie "Princess". He donated Dario a jewellery so he has a birthday gift for his godchild Flurina (Erstkommunion).

Jon from SGS also organised a presentation at his sons school, Edgehill College which was also a great success and a SGS public presentation at the Cairns Yacht Club.

After reading an article about the family in the newspaper, a Cairns local, Robert, offered to take the family to the Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve. It was a lovely day out, and the kids had a great time watching the lions at feeding time!


Roberts wife Leanne is a midwife, and was a great help to prepare Dario and Sabine for their next crew member!


Posted by dario at 9:23 AM