01 Sep 2007




Diary Dates



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Losing sight of paradise

Taia's eye condition is treatable if she can get to Australia  BW Media
Sail-World Crusing Editor Nancy Knudsen. heading west from Bora Bora in the South Pacific has just left Palmerston Atoll and is sailing west to Tonga with husband Ted, they expect to arrive there mid-next week. Today Nancy has sent is news of a young 17 year old with a treatable eye condition sending her blind… here is an extract from Nancy’s story..

'Palmerston Atoll, part of the Cook Islands, is situated midway between Tonga to the west and Bora Bora to the east – about six hundred miles in each direction. A freighter comes but once every three or so months and medical help is almost nom existent...

It's only yesterday that we sailed into this atoll in the South Pacific, but already the young woman stands out, impressive, languorously graceful, moving like a young deer, alert intelligent eyes. Her name is Taia. She's seventeen, smart, serious except when she smiles, and then it's a transformation, like a sunrise – warm and golden and lighting up the world around her– but then, bit by bit, the daunting, horrifying truth begins to emerge from small comments dropped in passing. Taia is losing her sight.

So what about Taia? I talk to Jock Marsters, the only nurse on the island – there is no doctor. 'I am quite angry with the doctors and the hospital in Rarotonga' she tells me frankly. 'I told them about Taia's condition more than a year ago when her sight began to fail, and they would not do anything about an operation. Now, there will be no eye surgeons in Rarotonga until next April, April 2008. A quick calculation tells me that's eight months away.

Jock goes on explaining. 'About eighteen months ago, Taia began to have shadows in her 'lazy' eye. Now she has lost all sight in that eye, and her 'good' eye is starting to fail – she can only see out of one corner of that eye.' She shakes her head in sadness, but there's no empowerment here – she accepts that Taia will 'just have to wait' until April next year.

I talk to her parents. 'Yes,' her mother tells me, 'we understand that Taia can have eye surgery, and we are hoping that she will be able to have this next year, and then go to nursing school.

'Last time we went on the freighter to Rarotonga to see the specialists, we waited and waited, but they didn't come to Tonga, so we had to come back here without Taia getting any medical attention. We are now hoping next April...' Taia's mother's voice drifts off, leaving a worried trail across her forehead.

However, since writing this story, Sail-World's Cruising Editor Nancy Knudsen has been able to arrange for a top Sydney eye specialist to treat Taia pro bono. Now all it remains is to raise the two or three thousand dollars or whatever it is for her airfares to and from, and work out how we can quickly as possible get her from the island to Rarotonga where she can catch an aeroplane. (freighter? yacht? Australian Navy?) to Australia for treatment.

She has a grandfather in Armidale, where she can stay during any necessary recovery period.

If you feel you might be able to help Taia, please read Nancy's full story and please email Nancy at cruisingeditor(at) sail-world.com. When Nancy reaches Tonga (mid-week) she will respond.


By Sail-World Cruising



Taia - Losing sight of Paradise
By Nancy Knudsen,
It's only yesterday that we sailed into this atoll in the South Pacific, but already the young woman stands out, impressive, languorously graceful, moving like a young deer, alert intelligent eyes. Her name is Taia. She's seventeen, smart, serious except when she smiles, and then it's a transformation, like a sunrise – warm and golden and lighting up the world around her– but then, bit by bit, the daunting, horrifying truth begins to emerge from small comments dropped in passing. She is going blind.... [more]


Palmerston Atoll - the Cook Islands
By Nancy Knudsen,
It's so silent here. So quiet, with just the soft wind noise whirring through the halyards. I can hear our tiny courtesy flag trilling a flat song in the 25 knot breeze. It's almost dark now, shshsh, don't make a noise, one solitary light towards land, three anchor lights from the other boats here. We're in Palmerston, in the Cook Islands.... [more]


Escaped Aussies at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week
By Helen Hopcroft,
They’re the sort of people you would expect to be unbearably arrogant: wealthy young men with high paid corporate jobs in the world’s richest cities. Every year they get together and sail at an international regatta or two, choosing an event on the basis of location and reputation. They call their network of friends the ‘Escaped Aussies’ because they all have some kind of connection with Australia, either as citizens or they were posted here for their jobs. This year they sailed on board a Beneteau 47.7 chartered by Mariner Boating in the Premier IRC Division at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. It’s the kind of activity that you would expect to be popular with this demographic.... [more]


Sometimes the Eject Button looks attractive
By Nancy Knudsen,
I often wonder if it is just an ironic coincidence that the lifelines on a yacht so closely resembles the guard rails round a boxing ring. It happens after we've left Bora Bora on our way to Tonga. Its thirty-three degrees in the shade and the wind has veered. We need to put the pole up........ [more]


Sea Stallion arrives in Dublin
By Preben Rather Sørensen/Henrik Kastoft,
The crew spend the entire Thursday making the Sea Stallion ready for its journey through the streets of Dublin. The ship was emptied for equipment, cleaned and late Thursday night a big truck drove through Dublin with a magnificent cargo. Many crew members were in the streets to follow the ship on its last journey through Dublin city.... [more]


Lost in translation - Barrabas faces gales
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I have been anchored off Ostrov Peschanyy for a week now and during that time have had to move position eight times. There is, as a rule of thumb, a gale per day lasting between 8 and 12 hours.... [more]


Tip toeing to Tonga from Tahiti
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Sail-World Cruising Editor Nancy Knudsen reports from the South Pacific by Iridium satellite phone.... [more]


Synthetic Rigging - System of the Future
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Both racing and cruising sailors have benefited over the years from fantastic innovations, making racing sailors sail faster and faster, and cruising sailors sail easier and easier across the world's seas and oceans. Now here's another one, which promises rewards to both racing and cruising sailors.... [more]


The ultimate sailing holiday
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One of the great things about sailing is the friendships that the sport generates. You end up becoming friends with people that you probably wouldn’t ordinarily have met. In yesterday’s racing in the Cruiser/Racer Division at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week an Elan 340 called G-Whizz had eight people on board who had all met because of a common interest in sailing. They were different ages, nationalities and work in unrelated occupations, yet the common goal of racing a beautiful little yacht had drawn them all together for Race Week.... [more]


Letter from the Med: Finisterre in Bilbao
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Some days are just beautiful and we wouldn’t trade for anything else, but then you get a bad day and we are just in the wrong place!... [more]


The Borneo Cup - for Cruisers too..
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Blackwattle - Small Tales of Schizophrenic Bora Bora
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'Securite, securite, securite... it's a far distant voice in my sleep...'....wave of one to two metres...' maybe I am dreaming... but the voice drones on, French accent, .'stay away from the shore...' but now a small alarm..I'm not dreaming.. it's the VHF radio..... [more]


Rescues - When, Why and Who Pays?
By Nancy Knudsen, Cruising Editor,
.... [more]


'I didn't want to be rescued'-Says Rescued Sailor
By Sail-World Cruising/Daily Mail,
A recent story in London's Daily Mail again illustrates an issue which is constantly bubbling below the surface in sailing and non-sailing circles. Should good taxpayer's money, which finances rescue organisations, be used to rescue sailors who deliberately put themselves in danger, whether they be racing or simply adventuring where others would not dare?... [more]


Capsized Hooligan V Damning Report
By Sail-World Cruising,
Britain's MAIB (Marine Accident Investigation Branch) has now published a report into the capsize of the Max Fun 35 yacht Hooligan V, whose keel became detached while sailing from Plymouth to Southampton on the night of 2nd February this year.... [more]


Survivors by choice : Liferaft Test
By Sail-World Cruising,
Yes you do (or should do) a SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) course, and you bumble around in the swimming pool with hard hearted tutors spraying you with cold water while you scramble clumsily into the raft; but the rest of the time that liferaft sits mysteriously under its cover on the deck, and you hope that you'll never have to use it in a real-life situation.... [more]


Letter from the Med-Les Sables D'Olonne to Bayonne
By Andrea Treleaven,
The morning of the 9th August we wake to high winds whistling through the rigging and not what I wanted to hear on our first sail down the coast. I tell myself it sounds worse than it is but there is no holding Ian back, as we have to be in La Rochelle the next day.... [more]

Fastnet crews break free from freeze dried
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The meals are easy to store, ready made meals that are not freeze dried or dehydrated. They are nutritionally balanced and designed to be used by adventurers in various fields including mountaineering, trekking, canoeing and sailing.... [more]


So you Want to Go Chartering
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It won't be news to you that a sailing holiday like this with friends can be either a disaster of a triumph. You'll either go on to many happy future holidays, or maybe you won't ever speak to each other again. But what makes the difference?... [more]


World Cruising Designs for the Future
By Brian Eiland/Sail-World Cruising,
With most yacht designers going for the leading edge of racing sailing, it's refreshing to find a yacht designer who is concentrating on the best yacht design for exploring the world's oceans. So here we present the ideas for world-roving yachts of the future from US designer Brian Eiland of Running Tide Yachts.... [more]


Blackwattle and the Floating Coconuts
By Nancy Knudsen,
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Sailing the Atlantic on Ice-Block Sticks
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