Sunday, December 2, 2012

Exclusive: The Story of Pendana, Part 3

This is part three of an exclusive five part series spread out over the four months about M/Y Pendana, her passionate owners James and his wife Claire and the planned expedition that James and his family are planning, which is to cross the notorious Tasman Sea at the end of the year.

There is little doubt that James and Claire have planned meticulously for this trip and after speaking with him again to get the latest on his trip I find that he is full of excitement and anticipation as the trip nears. James is also keeping his fingers crossed for the right weather window to open.

James told me that his forecasting ability is not that great and while Pendana has been caught out on occasion in nasty weather it has only ever lasted a day or so. James said that as this crossing will take six days it is imperative that we get the forecast right. As such, he has engaged the services of Fleetweather in the USA to make sure he does. Fleetweather is used by both commercial and private marine crew as an aid to ensure forecasting and routing is within the vessel’s and crews’ capabilities. James mentioned that he really didn’t want to see seas greater than three metres or winds in excess of 20kts for any extended period. He did go onto say that he realises that the seas approaching the North Island of New Zealand can and often are between seven to ten metres. While he is prepared for this it is certainly not something he wants to face for the entire trip. James mentioned that he has a great respect for the power of the ocean as it can snap Pendana like a tooth-pick and, as such, getting the weather right is imperative.

James went on to talk about the customs’ clearance process and said that he was confident that all requirements for a successful clearance and arrival have been crossed off his ever growing list. As Australia and New Zealand have some of the strictest quarantine and customs laws in the world James said that making sure he gets this right is important. James went onto say that he had heard horror stories from mariners who entered New Zealand and Australia where the entire contents of the ship’s stores were removed and where overzealous customs and quarantine officials made life very hard indeed for mariners trying their best to enter or exit the country. That being said, he was adamant that his experience so far in dealing with both countries’ officials has been nothing but pleasant and highly professional. He went on to say that there is a process to follow and rules to abide by and so long as you follow them then there should be no issues or areas of concern. The rules are in place mainly to protect the countries’ agricultural economy and while ignorance is bliss it is certainly no excuse for not doing one’s homework and preparing accordingly. James went on to explain that he had a suspicion that most mariners who encounter problems only had themselves to blame.

James did go on to say that if you arrive unannounced, unplanned and unprepared in a foreign country there is no doubt that this will not endear you and your crew to the officials waiting to greet you on arrival. If you decide to drop anchor before clearing customs then it is no wonder you receive a fine and if you take strictly prohibited food into a country that clearly forbids it then one should not take issue at it being confiscated. James did say that while his experience at this stage has only been by phone he is confident that Pendana will meet all the requirements for exit and entry and will whiz through the customs process without any issues at all. We shall see!

Abi and Bianca (12yrs & 8yrs respectively), James’ and Claire’s children, are incredibly excited and are looking forward to the trip. James said that he and his wife made a mistake recently and have been fielding questions from the children ever since. The family decided to watch the film’ Titanic’ and while it is a great film the children were somewhat horrified to see the ship go down. Oooops! Questions like, "Daddy, will Pendana sink?" "What if it does?" "What if our life-raft blows away?" "How long can we survive in a lifejacket?" "Daddy, what if we don’t get time to activate the EPRIB?" These are just some of the questions coming thick and fast around the dinner table each night. James mentioned that the answers to these questions have been honest at all times and that the questions are slowly starting to ebb. It will be very interesting to see how two relatively young children handle what is a major trip across some potentially nasty waters.

Mega Yacht Global will bring you part four in early January as we re-join James and his family in New Zealand to find out how the trip actually went and what their experiences were. For more information on Pendana visit

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