a Change of Plan


A Change of Plan

12 Feb 2014

Unfortunately Australian Quarantine laws has resulted in a change of route for Athena. The main issue is about the ship’s cat Thomas and the arguably high costs of regular quarantine inspections. Basically they want to come and check on him once or twice a week at around $94 per half hour per visit and take his waste ashore.

So instead Andrew and I have agreed we’ll be sailing to South Africa via Indonesia instead.  The plan now is to enter the country via Kupang in Timor and travel along the archipelago to Bali, from where we’ll exit the country possibly for the Maldives.

The Other Crew – Thomas

As mentioned previously the other crew member onboard Athena is Andrew’s cat Thomas.   He’s a well travelled fellow.  When he and Andrew left Durban in South Africa to go and pick up their yacht Athena in San Pedro, California they flew on different aircraft.

03 Thomas IIRight: Thomas the 2nd Mate.

Thomas flew British Airways from Durban to Johannesburg and Delta from Johannesburg, across the Namib desert and up the centre of the South Atlantic. Just south of Barbados his flight turned west and he landed at Atlanta, Georgia. He then changed planes and flew across America to Los Angeles, California.

In the meantime Andrew flew Emirates up the East Coast of Africa over Somalia and the pirates to Dubai in the Persian Gulf. From there he flew over Iraq, Southern Russia, Norway, Greenland and Canada following the great circle route to LA.

Both of them arrived in LA within twenty minutes of each other but it took an entire day for Andrew to find Thomas and liberate him from the red tape! They arrived at Athena in San Pedro, California late at night to a boat that had not been aired or cleaned in the year since Andrew had bought her, and it was black with mildew.

Thomas has since travelled overland across the Mojave and Sonora deserts to Phoenix, Arizona. Has sailed down the Pacific West Coast of the United States and Mexico and achieved a lifelong ambition to be a ship’s cat on the Spanish Main!

He’s spent 18 months based in La Paz, Mexico and has voyaged extensively in the Sea of Cortez before crossing the Pacific from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico via the Socorro Islands (Property of Mexico) to Hiva Oa in French Polynesia. On the crossing he encountered an Ecuadorian fishing boat that provided him with two enormous tunny. On watch one night he saw a huge molten meteorite crash into the sea not far from Athena.

Map 3 TahitiRight: Tahiti showing location of Port Phaeton where Athena is anchored.

Thomas encountered a six day storm just west of the Tuamotu Archipelago which he rode out, hove to. Against Thomas’ advice his negligent skipper left a large central hatch open for air. A huge wave swept Athena from bow to stern. Water cascaded through the open hatch drowning Thomas’ berth and the navigational computer. As a result Athena had to be navigated to Tahiti “by the seat of the pants”. By the time another computer had been brought in from London and the war with French customs duly waged, it was too late in the season to sail on.

Thomas is currently sitting out the hurricane season in Port Phaeton, Tahiti. This is a place of which he disapproves as the local fish are all infected with ciguatera from the coral reef and are inedible. Ciguatera causes paralysis in humans: it is fatal to cats – so sea food in any form is off the menu!



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