Return of the Pirates

The UN Millennium Development Goals provide the core objectives for Vega's work.

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals are admirable and bring hope to the many isolated communities Vega assists. But hope and good will are not enough. These small subsistence level communities often understand what is needed, but cannot afford even the most basic of tools, supplies, or drugs. Without carefully targeted outside assistance these goals will remain only dreams for the very people who can benefit the most from them.
To learn more read this: »

The UN Millennium Development Goals provide the core objectives for Vega's work.

In keeping with these goals Vega’s 2012 Missions of Mercy will continue to target the reduction of maternal and infant mortality, better nutrition, and improved education by delivering donated tools, supplies, and training information for teachers, midwives, and health workers in the communities we assist. It is estimated that in those communities these Midwives and Health Workers kits alone reduce maternal and infant mortality by as much as 40%.

The following is an overview of the Millennium Development Goals and how we integrate them into our work.

1. Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

Poverty is usually rated in monitory terms, how much cash money a family sees in a year or even a day. But that measure is not a true indicator of real poverty. One dollar in America is not at all the same as one dollar on an island without a single shop to spend it in. For many of the places we support money is an unreliable indicator. In fact for several of the islands we assist their entire economy is based on barter trading. Real indicators of poverty are the nutritional value of a community’s diet, how well are they able to meet their health and educational needs, is housing adequate, is clean water available? Poverty is not at all about money; it is about standards and quality of living, it is about access to opportunities for community improvement.

Our approach to poverty is quite simple. Most people given the chance and inputs will gladly provide the labor to improve their living standards. We provide the tools, and other inputs needed to make community improvement possible. Simple inputs that have a major, long term, effect on a communities overall health and well being. A community that is well fed will always be healthier than one that exists on a poorly balanced diet this is the basis of our Seeds For Hope program.

2. Achieve Universal Primary Education

Education is the key to individual and community improvement. We often see communities that have used their own resources and labor to build a school then staffed that school with local volunteers in an effort to provide their children with what education they can. We have visited small schools that were spotlessly clean with lovely village made tables and benches for the students and hand made school uniforms for each child. In front of the class stood a proud village teacher, yet that teacher had absolutely nothing to teach with. No pencils, exercise books, pens, chalk, maps, books, nothing. Children were being taught to write by wetting a patch of sand and marking in it with a sharp stick. The village had gone as far as they could to provide their children with an education. More they could not do for lack of the most basic of educational supplies.

Vega provides those supplies to the schools we support. Every year we gather lists from the teachers we assist of the supplies they need to do their jobs. Every year we deliver what we have been able to gather from their previous list along with our School Kits and Kits for Kids. The inputs are modest. The results are amazing to see. New in 2012 we will be providing each of the schools we aid with a basic School First Aid Kit.

3. Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

Equal education is an important part of equality and empowerment. Often when educational supplies are limited it is the males who have first chance. By providing easier access to supplies and better opportunities for education Vega's efforts encourage a subtle social "change from the inside". We also encourage women to learn and practice new skills by providing inputs such as sewing machines, vegetable garden seeds, and other tools or supplies as requested by the women of each islands communities.

4. Reduce Child Mortality

Every year millions of children under the age five die from easily preventable causes. Almost 85% of all infant deaths are attributable to just five easily treated or prevented conditions: neonatal causes, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and measles. Effectively reducing child mortality requires efficient, affordable, and above all practical improvements in care for newborns, infants, and young child feeding; vaccinations; prevention and village level treatment of pneumonia, diarrhea and sepsis; and malaria control. WHO believes that these measures can reduce the number of deaths by more than half.

By providing comprehensive School First Aid, Health Worker, and midwife kits Vega makes a powerful contribution to the health of the communities we assist. Each kit not only contains the implements, drugs, and expendable supplies required, but also local language training and reference publications. These kits contain the implements, drugs, and materials for general community health, female health, and valuable contributions to children's health. An important aspect of this assistance is our commitment to upgrade and re-supply the expendables for those kits on a continuing basis.

5. Improve Maternal Health

Every year millions of women giving birth die from easily preventable causes. Most women who die giving birth could easily be saved by the most basic of medical skills, implements, and drugs. Effectively reducing maternal mortality requires practical improvements in pre and postnatal care, better training for rural midwives, provision of proper drugs and medical supplies.

By providing comprehensive midwife kits that contain everything a rural midwife needs to properly do her job Vega makes a powerful contribution to the health of women in the communities we assist. Each kit not only contains the implements, drugs, and expendable supplies required but also local language training and reference publications. These kits contain the implements and materials for general female health examinations and other valuable contributions to woman's health. An important aspect of this assistance is our commitment to upgrade and re-supply the expendables for those kits on a continuing basis.

6. Combat Malaria and other diseases

Most childhood diseases can be easily prevented or treated provided the proper vaccines, drugs, and knowledge are available. Many of the small isolated islands we assist do not have official health providers and those who are doing that job are not properly trained. They are simply local islanders who have taken on the responsibility relaying on past experiences and "best effort" for results.

Starting in 2012 Vega will not only be providing the extremely useful and well proven books “Where There Is No Doctor” and “A Book For Midwives” in Bahasa but will also have a young Indonesian doctor on board between East Timor to the Banda Islands providing health services for the general community and immunizations for the children on the isolated islands we assist. Some of these islands have not seen a health worker since 1978.

For all of them this will be the first time ever that a doctor visits those islands. The doctor will not only hold clinic but also provide useful instruction for his local health provider counter part. In combination with our Health Workers and Midwives Kits it is hoped this effort will provide a marked improvement in community health and health services. Vega has a special dedicated cold storage to maintain "Cold Chain" for the vaccines.

7. Ensure Environmental Sustainability

Vega's yearly route visits a wide variety of island communities ranging for very isolated to relatively easy to reach. The needs of those communities vary as much as their degree of isolation. The most isolated communities are well aware of their integration and dependence on the environment where as the "more developed" communities are the more they seem to drift away from that understanding. As artificially driven impulse consumption enters a community rubbish, sanitation, and many other important problems seem to accompany it.

Education that includes environmental awareness starting before consumer driven waste becomes a problem is one logical approach for the communities we assist. Rather than wait until the problem develops these communities can learn from the experiences of others and start now to prevent the problem arising. We assist this effort by providing educational materials that place an emphasis on maintaining a natural environment rather than cleaning up one that has already been spoiled.

 


A special thanks to Alexis Marsh and Joanne Har

Alexis and Jo both joined us in East Timor this year and thanks to their hard work and dedication we were able to make many of our deliveries to the more isolated places.
... read more here »

to be Alexed

Both are developing into good sailors, and great helps in procuring the supplies we need for our deliveries. Alex managed to find several thousand disposable syringes and needles as well as other badly needed supplies in Oz. Many thanks to the Darwin Dili regatta boats who delivered those supplies from Darwin to Dili for us. Joanne worked wonders to find the Doppler fetal heart beat monitors and natal clips for the midwives kits and in general has always been a big help. Jo Always seems to make time to help out with everything from the boat show to carrying bamboo poles down the sides of active volcanos.

Thanks guys without you last year would not have been the success it was. All the long days in land cruisers to deliver school supplies to isolated mountain village schools, the long night watches in the rain and wind, and the hardships of islands like Nila, Oh and the work you accomplished up the mast on the main yard, you did it all and even managed to have some fun along the way.

They will both be back again this year from Dili to Jakarta and very welcome they will be. Good shipmates and great friends doing a difficult job helping others. True Vegabonds.

timor leste

Pak Indradi Soemardjan joins the Vegabonds

Another new Vegabond joins the crew. Pak Indradi Soemardjan, better known as Indi, saw the boat in Jakarta one day and stopped for a look. After that we couldn’t get rid of him. Indi is a bundle of energy that is active in several community service projects including the Sea Scouts. At the time he was preparing to take his coastal skippers license – which he since did successfully. He also fell in love with Vega. As it turned out he not only helped us quite a bit with solving problems in Jakarta, but also sailed with us to Singapore. Thanks to that trip Indi now holds the record on Vega for traffic lights spotted at sea.
...read more »

Pak Indradi Soemardjan joins the Vegabonds

Indi has continued to help out and was the driving force behind sourcing the important books “Where There is No Doctor” and “A Book For Midwives” both translated into Bahasa. We had been looking without success for those books for several years. You cannot imagine how useful they will be as part of our Midwives and Health Workers Kits. Thanks to Indi - and our friends at Jotun Paints Indonesia who sponsored them -there were 100 copies of each waiting for us when we arrived in Jakarta this year. Those went into the midwives upgrade, new midwives, and health workers kits. I do not exaggerate when I say they will save lives.


French school & TV 5

Our congratulations to 11 year old Mathias LeBlanc, a student in the French School of Singapore, for being recognized by France’s prestigious TV5 for his project gathering educational supplies that were then delivered by Vega to schools along our route....read more »

French school & TV 5

Mathias organized the students in his school to donate pencils, pens, markers, exercise books, and many other important items. The students then sorted those items into different boxes and delivered them to us on Vega. We sorted them into our school kits and delivered them to the schools we assist. The students also gathered crutches that they had no further use for which we delivered to Dr. Dan’s free clinic in East Timor. They filmed their class project from beginning to end and were rewarded by recognition from Frances prestigious TV-5 and by seeing their footage aired on a major Global TV network.

September was the month of long distance sailing – 1,500 miles with only one stop in Pulau Medang

– and a visit with our friends in Jakarta. It seems that once we arrive back in Jakarta the delivery season ends and we can relax a bit. That is unless we have a broken generator, dead battery bank, and quite a few other problems that cropped up this year all demanding attention right away. Thanks to our friends in Jakarta we were able to repair most of what was amiss and get back to sea in much better condition than we arrived. Some of the people who helped the most ask not to be named so we will not, but rest assured we know who you are and remember you with the fondest of memories.


Generator Repairs

When first our main battery bank, then our generator went down we were having a very difficult time of it as we struggled along to make our deliveries. 4 months later we staggered into Jakarta using candles and paraffin lamps. But, thanks to our friends we soon had the genset working away like new.
...read more »

Vega is a pretty power hungry boat what with the freezers, autopilot, and navigation gear all going at once. The new solar panels from Hooray Energy were lifesavers but they could only take up part of the load. The rest had to come from the main engine and our lovely Balmar alternator. I know I have ranted on about Balmar before but those alternators are simply the best you can get for marine use - bar none. Do not waste your money on anything else. Here is their website www.balmar.net

Now, back to the Westerbeke mess. If Westerbeke wants a reference best not ask me. I own one so have seen how badly they are made. Try heat exchangers with 5 different types of metals none of which are for marine use and cost a fortune to replace. Bye the way there is a Canadian Company making true marine heat exchanger replacements if you are tired of problems, damage, and being ripped off every year or so.

It turned out that thanks to the faulty raw water pumps recalled parts that KUT in Singapore kept selling us (they admit knowingly selling us recalled parts known to cause damage to the engine but refuse any responsibility) and the raw water leaks this caused damaged the stator coil taking down most of the rest of the generator.

Well long story short some amazing friends in Jakarta took it to their shop and brought it back in full working order. That was one big worry solved. For months we had feared being stuck buying a new generator or almost as bad paying a fortune to Westerbeke for some silly special part.

That only left the main battery bank to worry about and thanks to the people at LifeLine / Concord Batteries the replacements were already sitting in Singapore waiting for us.


Jet ski café and our friends at HOG

In Jakarta we are very lucky to be the invited guests of Pak Jusli at the Jet Ski Café on Pantai Mutiara Island – with his private pier -and the Pantai Mutiara Harley Davidson Owners Group. What an amazing place that is with good food and companionship, and fantastic bikes and other toys. Over the years the HOG group there have become an important part of our support network helping with fuel, and many other necessities for our work. I can honestly say our work would not be as effective as it is without their help.

Keppel Bay Marina

After 5 months of bad anchorages, hard work, things breaking down, and struggling to make our deliveries we were ready for a bit of rest and The Marina at Keppel Bay proved just the place. Hardly a day went by without Meggi saying, "I just love this place‚ can we stay a bit longer". ...read more here »

Keppel Bay Marina

For several years Raffles was our Singapore marina of choice. We liked Raffles and over the years built up a nice group of friends there, but it does have its draw-backs being so far from anything that even going out for a loaf of bread was a major expedition. Until the new Marina at Keppel Bay opened and simply stole the show from everyone.

Easy in and out, centrally located, excellent management, totally professional but friendly marina staff, crystal clear water‚ so clean I can make water while in the marina, and a location that is the envy of all the others. Nestled within the luxurious and secure Keppel Bay waterfront complex, Marina at Keppel Bay is situated on its own private island within easy walking distance to Harbour Front - the largest mall in Singapore -, Vivo City, and the MRT. No longer is going out for some small part, a good meal, or for shopping a major expedition. It's also only a 5-minute drive to the impressive Integrated Resort at Sentosa, the Universal Studios theme park, and Resorts World hotel.

The facilities are simply first class, little wonder The Marina at Keppel Bay was chosen Best Asian Marina of the year and awarded 5 Gold Anchors accreditation along with a string of other excellence and green awards. Meggi says not to forget the fresh baked bread every morning from the bakery at the head of the pier and the great jogging routes with never a sign of traffic to disturb her enjoyment of the well maintained gardens. It is easy to understand why this marina has consistently been chosen as the site for Singapore's prestigious Boat Asia Boat Show considered by many to be South East Asia's most important yearly luxury lifestyle and yachting event.

And before you start thinking the prices must be in the ‚"astronomical Bill Gates only class"‚ let me say they are not at all expensive. For what you get, this must be the most reasonably priced marina in Singapore. Visit their website at http://www.marinakeppelbay.com and if you have any questions or need information about arriving in Singapore, contact Roy Ng and his Team at mailto:rngsk@kepland.com.sg. Roy is the Marina Manager and one of the most helpful people you could ever wish to meet.


While in Singapore we added 2 more Hooray Energy Solar panels to Vega.

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The Captain’s Log


The Banda Islands to Singapore
& beyond

The captain's log

It seems like every time I write one of these I must begin with an apology for it’s being tardy. It is very tempting for me to make excuses or joke about it. After all Steam took over from sail simply because it was possible for steam ships to keep to a schedule.

We do try to get these newsletters out on time, but when you consider Meggi and I are doing just about everything from painting the boat to begging for medical supplies and fuel perhaps you will forgive us for our perpetual tardiness. So much happens so fast that it often seems we are caught up in a whirlwind of events beyond our control. Of coarse our ethos of always trying to do better, accomplish more with less, and in general push the limits further often creates even more work for us.

When our last newsletter ended we were safely anchored – more or less – about a half-mile off of the island of Nila a semi active volcano and one of the most isolated islands we assist. We had made our deliveries of educational and medical supplies and the island community had just given us a great farewell party as well as adopting all four of us into different village families. This newsletter takes up where that one left off.

Leaving the island of Nila was one of the hardest things we did last year. It is such a lovely place and the people are so friendly. If it were not for the anchorage with its bad holding ground, baumies, and reefs everywhere the place would be a paradise. Once we had cautiously edged our way out through the reefs and into open water again we all breathed a great sigh of relief.

One after another Vega’s red sails filled with a study South Easterly monsoon breeze. Perfect for sailing to the Banda islands. The only problem was that we had to run the engine in idle the whole time to provide power for the boats equipment and navigation gear. Lovely sailing weather seems to be rare for us so it was painful that when we did have it we had to put up with the noise and fumes from the engine.

Several days after leaving Nila we arrived at the Banda Islands a small archipelago of 6 islands . We have been gradually expanding our assistance to these islands and hope that by next year we will be able to assist all of them. I must admit the Banda Islands have always been among our favorites. Good food, friendly people, amazing history where ever you look, a very peaceful anchorage, and a vast scope for our work all combine to make them a stop we look forward to.

Read here more about our mission in the Banda islands»
... view images from Pulau Banda Naira »
... view images from Pulau Syahir »
... view images from Pulau Ai »
... view images from Pulau Rhun »

The Banda Islands

As soon as we entered the bay word spread that Vega was back and friends were waiting at our usual mooring place. Moments later we were safely ensconced in the shadow of towering Gluing Api Volcano with a dinner invitation from our friends Abba and Dilla. Dilla is a magnificent cook so any opportunity to sample her art is always an excuse for making hopeless gluttons of ourselves. How Abba maintains his trim appearance with her great meals every day is a wonder to me.

Speaking of food we had the unfortunate experience of arriving at a culinary paradise in the middle of Ramadan when the whole island fasts during the days and eat themselves silly at night. Every evening just after sundown there was a plethora of wonderful culinary specialties all ready and waiting to break the fast.

One of the most rewarding aspects of our work is returning every year to see the effect our contributions have on a community. It really is encouraging when we see the equipment and supplies we brought hard at work. The people we assist are not beggars. They are proud honorable people who when given a chance will usually make the most of it.

Last year we assisted 5 of these islands with educational and medical supplies as well as one midwife kit to each of the 5 islands. Hatta Island we were forced to miss out on this year due to the rough seas and difficulty of landing through the surf. Most of these islands have no anchorages suitable for Vega so we employ local island boats to make our deliveries. It is always a pleasure to see our friends again, get the latest gossip, and make our deliveries. We can see how communities are improving and hear many a tale of how our support is making a difference. I say “ours” but I really should say your support.

To detail each of the places and what we did there would take more space than I have here so we have created an image gallery with the pictures of the Banda Islands and highlights from our deliveries there.


2011 Vega Humanitarian awards

Vega Humanitarian Awards

For years we have searched for a way to thank the people who so generously make it possible for us to deliver the supplies and tools others need to improve their lives. We get to see directly the results of this assistance and wanted to recognize the people who make it possible.
This is what we came up with »

Each year, on behalf of the people, organizations, and communities we assist, the Historic Vessel Vega recognizes and awards outstanding groups, companies, and individuals who have saved, improved or enriched the lives of others or society as a whole, through generous donations and selfless service. These annual Humanitarian awards recognize outstanding individuals and companies who go above and beyond the call of duty to help others through an affinity with their fellow human beings, exceptional examples of what a humanitarian is - those who help improve and enrich the lives of others less fortunate than they are.

The Vega Award Categories

Humanitarian Service: These Humanitarian Awards are given to individuals who have shown unusual understanding, empathy, and devotion to those less fortunate than they are. We on Vega are privileged and proud to pay homage to these exceptional world citizens who have demonstrated their dedication to the cause of humanity and have devoted a part of their lives and resources to the betterment of mankind.

Exceptional achievement in Corporate Social Responsibility: These awards recognize and honor companies or organizations who have demonstrated their dedication to the cause of humanity and have devoted a part of their lives and resources to the betterment of mankind demonstrating leadership and sincerity as well as an on-going commitment by incorporating ethical values, respect for individuals, communities, and the environment into their way of doing business.

Each award category is divided into Educational, Public Health, and Public Service categories.

You can find the whole list as well as this years winners on our blog at www.sailvega.wordpress.com


Meeting with our friends and reporting on last years successes

One highlight of our year is when we at last finish our deliveries and make it back to Jakarta. From there we have the pleasure of meeting with the people who provided the supplies we delivered, showing our collection of pictures, and telling our tales of that years mission. Many people forget that we only deliver supplies provided by others who believe as we do that just because a place is small and hard to reach does not mean those people should be condemned to lives of poor health, ignorance, and misery.
Read more »

One of the most rewarding aspects of what we do is sharing the excitement, adventure, frustrations, and heart-warming moments of our deliveries with the people who make it possible. When someone goes to the trouble of providing resources to help others they deserve to know how, where, and to whom those supplies were delivered. But there is so much more. Something past simple numbers, it is the emotional intensity when we hand over those supplies to people for whom they are veritable treasures. When we get back from our deliveries we invite those friends to the boat see and hear first hand all the tales we accumulated during those deliveries. It is our way of sharing the adventure, the high and low points of the year, the successes as well as failures with our friends who made it possible.