Navigation tips and tricks

The 3-2-1 Rules
Special thanks to Keith Jones from the yacht High Aspect for sharing this little tip with us.
... find out more »

Sometimes helping others is more than just providing supplies and tools.

Through the skills and talents of Vega’s crew, and our far-reaching network of friends and supporters, we are often able to directly provide solutions to problems that seem insolvable to those we assist. In reality this is just an extension of our philosophy of “directly from the hand of someone who wants to help into the hands of those needing help”. This type of assistance is a very important part of our yearly accomplishments.
...have a look here at some of our achievements so far this year »

Sometimes helping others is more than just providing supplies and tools.

High on our list of this year’s achievements – so far - is how we were able to assist Dr. Dan and Dr. Aida to find specialized medical treatment for two children, Alianca (age 9) and Anorito (age 7), from East Timor diagnosed with early Leukemia. (Learn more about these children here).

Still in the stages where treatment can be effective there were no facilities available for their treatment in East Timor. Requests for assistance to Australia, America, Canada, and Singapore fell on deaf ears. In the end one of our Indonesian friends came to their rescue and they are now in a first class hospital in Jakarta receiving the best of treatment.

Latest update: We just found out that thanks to our friend the two children maybe going to a top flight specialized hospital in Singapore for more advanced state of the art treatment. Only time will tell, but at least now they have a chance for a future.

Dr. Ruth Indira conducts oral hygiene classes at schools more »

Dr. Ruth conducts oral hygiene classes at schools

Dr. Ruth is proving to be a wonderful addition to the Vega team. Always ready for an adventure and never scared of hard work one could not ask for a better shipmate. Ruth was on shore every day in Medang helping solve problems and providing training for the midwives as well as giving classes in oral hygiene and general health in the schools. This teaching skill is a great benefit to all the communities we visit. On arriving in East Timor Dr. Ruth instantly established a rapport with Dr. Dan’s Barrio Pite Clinic and was there almost every day managing cases and helping teach the several medical students / volunteers from Canada, America, and other countries. She was out on every mobile clinic helping Dr. Aida with her intensive caseloads and also assisting in surgery at the clinic. As Dr. Dan said, “ That woman is fantastic you can bring her back anytime” The Med students have all commented on how well she teaches even the most complex topics in plain simple language.

On board Vega Ruth doctors the crew like a mother hen and it’s a brave soul who does more than nod and agree when she goes into “Doctor” mode. Ruth has also become our dedicated on board fishing expert. So far the score is a blistering Fish – 108 and Ruth – 0, but we do have high hopes and thanks to our friend Juan Carlos two lovely deep sea fishing rods that look like they could land whales. (Pic of Ruth with the new fishing rods)

Oliver Stapleton joins the Vega crew for this year’s deliveries more »

This year we are very fortunate in that our good friend and fellow sailor Oliver Stapleton is joining us for the main part of this year’s deliveries. Oliver will be lending a hand from Dili to the Banda Islands standing his watches, lugging supplies, and we hope helping us get some good film footage of our work.

Darwin to Dili rally 2012

Darwin - Dili yacht race delivers over 500 kgs of supplies to Vega.

Every year the Darwin to Dili yacht race brightens the port of Dili providing many Australian sailors with a chance to taste real blue water sailing and visit another country for the first time. For the past 2 years some of the yachts have volunteered to carry supplies we have gathered in Australia up to East Timor making this rally not only a sailing event, but a humanitarian effort as well. more about this wonderful assistance »

The Darwin to Dili yacht race was first run in 1974 just before all the troubles began. After a long period dormant it was revived 3 years ago and is becoming a great success. This year 18 yachts took part and all had a wonderful time. For the second year running the organizers of this rally have actively assisted Vega’s Humanitarian efforts by encouraging the boats to transport boxes of important educational and medical supplies. This year 5 of the cruising class boats delivered well over 500 kgs of supplies to us in Dili so that we could top up our loading for the next stages of this years mission. This support has become vital to our efforts and allows us to assist many more communities than we could with Vega’s capacity alone.

As a particular thank you each of the yachts that helped received a distinctive certificate of humanitarian service and a bag of the finest East Timor wild mountain coffee during the grand prize giving ceremonies. To that we would like to add our heart felt thanks to the organizers of the Rally for their kind assistance and hope they will continue to support Vega’s humanitarian efforts in the future. It was not easy to get all those supplies on board the yachts in Darwin so a very special thanks to the logistics crew who some how managed to make that happen without the loss of a single box.

Vegabond Alexis Marsh is back again

Just when we thought we were going to have the decks clear and some room to move around down below up pitches Alexis with over ½ ton of supplies.
 ... learn more »

Food for schools & orphanages

Vegabond Alexis Marsh is back again

This is the second year for Vegabond Alexis Marsh to join us during our long delivery voyage between the islands. This year Alex out did herself by not only taking up a collection to help out with Vega’s running costs but also gathering over ½ ton of educational and medical supplies. Those supplies were carried by the boats in the Darwin to Dili yacht race where Alex – true to form – hitched a ride as well. We hear she did us proud doing her watches etc like a “good’un”. It took us days to sort her supplies into the health and school kits, but the end result was well worth the effort.

RFD Life rafts in Australia make School First Aid kits possible

Thanks to RFD in Australia this year we could realize a long-standing wish of ours; to begin providing the schools we assist with proper first aid kits. In very small villages often there are no medical services at all, so when someone is hurt people go to the teacher - as being the best educated in the village – in the hope something can be done. By providing these comprehensive first aid kits for schools we are often also providing the whole village with a first aid kit. more »

First Aid kits

Not a single one of the schools we assist had a first aid kit before this year. That has bothered us for some time, but until now the logistics of providing those important kits was beyond our means.

This year thanks to RFD in Australia we were able to make a start at providing these kits. Most of the larger / better life rafts have a lovely first aid kit in its reusable plastic box which when combined with a resupply bag made the perfect first aid kit. This year we could make up 7 of them. I know that is a small number for now, but it is a beginning and we have high hopes for even more next year. Thank you RFD for donating these kits they really will help others.

RFD also contributed bandages and other important medical expendables for our midwife and health worker kits.

Ermera, Timor Leste

The Bakita Center that we have been assisting for several years ran into a serious problem last year

A problem that thanks to one of our friends we were able to help solve. more »

Bakhita Center

The generator they had was simply too small to provide for all the training facilities they have managed to implement (see the 11th issue of last years newsletter) » as well as running the rest of the center. Thanks to one of our friends we were able to find them a shiny new generator with more than enough power to run the facility for the foreseeable future.

East Timor mountain coffee

Bakita is working hard to become self-sustaining.

One of their dreams is to begin marketing their own brand of coffee. Bakita has some of the finest wild mountain coffee grown in East Timor. It is hand picked, sun dried, and slow roasted over spice wood fires This artisanal approach gives a product vastly superior to the factory processed coffee’s normally available. more »

This year Meggi was able to help them design simple packaging and promotional materials for their coffee. Materials they can produce from local materials and make themselves. No big fancy – and costly – machines needed. We tested this packaging on the Darwin to Dili yacht race sailors and the results were very satisfying. If you are interested in bulk coffee or know someone in the business here is a great chance to directly help these local farmers and have some of the worlds best wild mountain coffee. Feel free to contact us for more details. They would love to have distributors and all the profits go right back into the community.

We were very happy to continue supporting the Bakita Family Garden program more »

We were very happy to continue supporting the Bakita Family Garden program with a comprehensive selection of vegetable seeds pre-packaged into family size packages. These seeds will help improve the nutritional content for the families and hopefully provide a surplus to be sold in the local markets.

Madede village school

Kits-4-Kids school bags arrive to the mountains of East Timor

This year in East Timor we had the pleasure of hosting Frank and Heike Sauer from the German European School in Singapore on board Vega. Far from being a vacation Frank and Heike spent much of their time out in the isolated rural areas delivering the same Kits-4-Kids bags they had helped gather at their school in Singapore some months before. ).
...learn more about their experience »
...have a look at some of the pictures here »

Kits-4-Kids school bags arrive to the mountains of East Timor

In many of the places we assist, the community builds a school, tables and chairs, then staffs their school with a volunteer teacher from the community, but being poor and often completely isolated that is about as far as they can go. There is no money for such basics as chalk, pencils, pens, notebooks, and of coarse books to teach with. Before Vega came these schools were mostly using oral teaching. Now each year they receive a comprehensive school kit of teacher’s supplies and starting this year students in the smallest, poorest, schools also received a Kits-4-Kids bag full of supplies.

Earlier this year the German European School of Singapore managed to gather almost 400 kits 4 Kids bags - see the 14th issue of our newsletter each one well stuffed with note books, pencils, pens, toothbrushes and the many other things a kid needs for school. Most also had a little toy or stuffed animal inside. To these bags we added additional toothbrushes and several other important items. Together with Frank and Heike and our friends from the Bakhita Center we delivered the school bags directly to the kids in the isolated mountain region of Ermera to 2 schools who needed them most.

Madede Village School is made up of two traditional bamboo rooms that contain 77 children ranging between the ages of six to 12 years old while Olopana Primary School has 150 students ranging in age from six to 16 years old who are taught by six teachers, four of whom are full time volunteers. Both schools lack electricity and running water while the majority of children don’t have proper shoes. We look forward to continuing our support of these small village schools next year.

This years midwife and health worker kits are better than ever thanks to you

One of the most important things we do every year is to supply the midwives and health workers we support with the tools and supplies they need to do their jobs. ...learn more and hear what the people who receive our kits have to say here »


Every year we create more new kits to expand this program and must resupply the ones we already have in service. We now have over 100 kits in service on the various islands we assist.

Resupply is just as important as providing the initial kit. It does little good to take a kit to some one who needs it then forget about them. Expendables and drugs are used and things break or expire; things that need to be replaced if health care is to continue in a meaningful manner. Each year we also try and up-grade the kits we have in service by providing new or better books, expendables, drugs, and equipment.

This years kits were the best yet thanks to you and your kind donations. Everything you see in these kits was kindly donated by someone who believes in helping others. Have a look at the pictures of this years kits and I think you will agree they are very impressive indeed. Here are a few quotes from the people receiving those kits or their up-grades.

“This is amazing! Each of these kits has more of some supplies than we usually have in our main clinic. Now when the rainy season comes and those villages are completely isolated they will have all they need to treat just about anything that comes along. You are really saving lives with this.” Dr. Dan Murphy head of the free Bario Pite Clinic Dili East Timor.
Dr. Dan runs the free Bario Pite Clinic and trains outreach health workers from the most isolated rural communities. The kits we give him provide those new health workers with the tools, drugs, and supplies they need to do the job.

“This is like a dream. When we first met I had 5 rural midwives fully trained, but they had nothing to work with. Now we have over 32 each of which is as well equipped as those at the General hospital.” Dr. Aida Gonzales.
Dr. Aida takes carefully chosen women from the rural communities and trains them as lay midwives. The kits we provide her go to equip those new midwives with the tools, drugs, and supplies they need to do their jobs.

VEGA's alternative power systems working a treat more »

Our new combination of solar panels from Hooray Energy in Singapore and the two wind generators (400w Airex type) are working wonderfully. So far we have cut our generator running time by half in an area with very little wind for the wind generators – none at all at night. We only get about 3 hours at best from them right now and that at light winds so we are very excited to see what happens in the real South East Monsoon winds.

It is hard to decide which are the more dependable and provide the best power. In 15 knots of wind the 2 wind generators together are pumping about 30 – 40 amps and can do that 24/7 if there is wind. The solar cells give a good study 20-25 amps, but for only about 4-5 hours a day, with a few hours of lower output in the morning and afternoon. When it is overcast the solar cells are less efficient but that is usually when there is more wind so then the wind generators put out more. When there is little wind there is usually lots of sun.

I guess at this stage I will have to say the mix of both is not a bad idea - each having strong and weak points. One thing for sure is be certain you have good heavy cable between your panels or wind generators - the line losses at 12 volts DC with small cables can eat up your amps very quickly. The MPPT / PWM charge controllers we have are proving well worth the investment. The ones that combine the solar and wind control together are especially good. They are made for combination solar + wind powered streetlights and are not at all expensive.

If anyone knows where we can get real wooden buckets ... see a sample
the kind that actually hold water and can be used for work, not the ornamental type. Please let me know.

One of the most basic skills every one who goes to sea needs to know is how to cleat off a line properly on either a belaying pin or a cleat.

See how it should be done here »

Bosuns Locker

A walk down any marina pier will quickly show how few have bothered to learn this skill. It is well worth a few minutes and will last you a lifetime. Also helps avoid getting funny looks from people walking down the docks. Have a look at this simple easy to follow drawing of how it works on a belaying pin. The principal is exactly the same for a cleat. The first turn takes the load and lets you open it even under tension. The second locking loop is the one that keeps it from slipping. Notice how they both make a figure “8”? That is how you know you have it right. (Use the belaying pin drawing here)


The Captain’s Log

The captain's log

ur last newsletter closed with dolphins cavorting in our bow wave like clowns in a comic dance as we set sail leaving the Island of Medang behind. Occasionally one would launch straight up into the air pirouetting gracefully before elegantly arching back into the water. The weather was perfect if only the wind had been a bit more in our favor. That said we did manage a few good bits of sailing at 5-6 kts. along the north coast of those amazing islands with their rugged volcanic landscapes.

Our first scheduled stop was Sukur Island, a small island out in the Flores Sea miles from anywhere. Sadly this year a big swell from the North was so bad we couldn’t anchor so after trying for hours, and taking some really impressive rolls, we decided to continue our voyage and try again on our return from Banda.

Our next stop was to reconnoiter the large island of Adanara where we dropped anchor in Sagu Bay. This is a good anchorage, well protected from all angles except the north, and the people ashore were quite friendly. Dr. Ruth quickly made contact with the local health services while the rest of the crew went in search of fresh vegetables. The days we spent there were lovely and the people very friendly. Then it was off to East Timor and the real start of our deliveries. If you missed that issue of the newsletter you can find it here »

It has been a very busy and exciting 2 months for us on Vega and now we have settled into our normal delivery route we have quite a few successes to share with you. Some are from our deliveries and others are the successes that come from helping others less fortunate than we are in ways that are less easily quantified, yet just as important and rewarding. At times it is not the material things we bring as much as the experience and technical skills we can share.

In Timor Leste we support 4 programs.

Dr. Dan’s free Bario Pite Clinic, Dr. Aida’s rural midwife training program, the Bakita center in Ermerra, and Richard Daschbach’s Topu Honis shelter home high in the mountains of Ocussi. Delivering supplies for those programs can be rather exciting.

Especially when it entails a half-day trudge up rugged mountains through tropical jungles where often the only path is wading in a fast running mountain stream.

Bario Pite clinic receives 1st installment of health worker kits and more. For years now Dr. Dan’s free Bario Pite clinic has been training rural health workers to assist in his out reach program and to provide basic health services when the rains come. Many mountain communities are completely cut off from the outside world for months at a time during the rainy season. more »
Have a look at some of the pictures here »

Although Dr. Dan now has 12 trained health workers ready to return and help their communities his biggest problem was how to equip them with the tools, drugs, and other medical supplies they need to do their jobs. Last year he ask if Vega could assist. Together with Dan and several other experienced doctors we profiled the contents of a comprehensive health workers kit. Thanks to many of our supporters and friends we managed to create 15 of those kits for this years deliveries. Although many were already spoken for by islands like Nila, Teun, and Serua we did have 7 we could donate to Dr. Dan’s health workers. We will need more of those kits for next year as well as resupplying the ones we are distributing this year.

We also provided the free Bario Pite clinic with a long list of badly needed expendable supplies, basic tools, and drugs, along with a full set of up to date computers for the clinic donated by Keppel Corp in Singapore. Most of the old computers they had were dead or dying so this was a very important donation. One look at what we brought and Dr. Dan started calling us “Saints from the Sea”. So for all our friends who made it possible you are now saints – well at least to a few people who you have helped in their work saving lives. It always amazes me how our little group of friends can have such a big impact on the lives of others.

Bairo Pite Clinic

For several years now we have been supporting Dr Aida Gonzales and her training program for lay rural midwives. When we first met Aida she was in the process of training 5 rural women as lay midwives. Her biggest worry was how to provide the equipment and supplies they would need when they returned to their communities. more »
Have a look at some of the pictures here »

Dr. Aida’s rural midwives receive their upgrades, resupply, and some new kits

That first year there was little we could do, but since then our support for this program has grown. Last year she had 24 midwives trained and ready when Vega arrived with our first midwife kits. Dr. Aida was surprised and very happy, but we felt we could do much better. This year thanks to you we were able to provide complete comprehensive midwife kits in the form of new kits for her latest batch of midwives as well as a complete upgrade for last years kits that was included in the resupply sets for those kits.

We accompanied Dr. Aida and Dr. Ruth on a mobile clinic visit to the community of Assulau, high in the mountains of East Timor, where last year midwife Marcella received one of our midwife kits. This year we delivered a resupply / upgrade set for her kit. When she saw the books in Bahasa – Where There is no Doctor and A Book for Rural Midwives- she squealed like a young girl holding them to her chest tightly as she looked through the rest of the kit. The neo-natal resuscitator elicited another squeal of delight and soon her arms were so full she could not continue exploring the bag. People quickly heard about these new additions to their community medical supplies and the local traditional band was brought out to entertain us after the clinic finished. (See the pictures here) While Drs. Ruth and Aida conducted the mobile clinic we visited the local school in Assulau to deliver 50 Kits-4-Kids bags. As we arrived the children had just been let out of school. They quickly raced back to eagerly receive their new treasures.

Making our deliveries to the East Timor enclave of Ocussi and the Topu Honis shelter home is not at all easy.

The anchorage there is close in and such bad holding that it is not safe for Vega so we must send out a team from Dili on a local boat loaded with the supplies and deliver them that way. This year we were fortunate that one of the yachts going west delivered our team there. Once there the adventure has only begun. To reach the orphanage is 4 – 5 hour hike up into the mountains through dense tropical jungle. This year with hundreds of kilos of supplies and over 100 Kits-4-Kids bags it was even more difficult than usual.
... have a look here at how the kids themselves solved the problem »
... view some pictures of the treck trough the jungle »

The first light of dawn was painting the mountaintops thousands of meters above us a golden hue as the bluish mists lifted reveling a surreal landscape. After a breakfast of warm rice and sweat tea the 4 members of our team were still half asleep when we met with over 40 children, mostly in their teens, who had come down from the high mountains to help carry several hundred kilos of educational, farming, and medical supplies back to their home at the Topu Honis Children’s Home.

Amid laughter and good-natured banter the children divided up the loads of school bags, and other supplies in to bundles each could easily carry. This was not the surliness of most children forced to work, but happy young people glad to be able to do something that would help improve their entire family. In this case a family that consisted of over 115 children and about 25 abused or homeless women under the guidance of Father Richard Daschbach.

One by one the packages were hoisted onto heads and a line snaked off along a small path soon disappearing into the verdant growth of tropical jungle. The path morphed into a mountain stream as we began the ascent. This was not reality TV or some wild dream; we were actually setting out on a 4 to 5 hour climb through the high mountain jungles delivering educational, medical, and farming supplies to a small orphanage high in Oecussi’s remote hinterlands. The trek was not all-hard work as we often stopped to refresh ourselves in the deep pools of that cool mountain stream.

For almost 40 years now Fr. Richard Daschbach has struggled to maintain his Topu Honis shelter home in Ocussi. During the troubles in 1999 he and the children took refuge from the fighting high in the mountains often surviving in the open forest or in hidden caves. What started all those years ago when one hungry child appeared at his door has grown until now he is sheltering more than 115 children and 25 abused or homeless women. The Topu Honis has no official affiliation with the Catholic Church.

Father Richard

Forty years ago, one waif in need was helped. Soon there were two, then three, and Topu Honis shelter home was born. Topu Honis, which means, “Guide to Life,” was always small and informal. It began imperceptibly and grew gradually within the normal life of the mountain village of Kutet. more »
... view images from Mahata & Kutet»

Topu Honis Shelter Home

Topu Honis Shelter Home is really two centers ‘Kutet – high in the mountains - supports the younger children and Mahata on the coast houses the young adults. School fees up to 12th grade are paid for by the center and once a member graduates from high school and if the have the grades and desire, Fr. Richard attempts to secure outside funding for that student to attend university in Indonesia. Those fees, including housing and food for a student, are only about USD 2,000 a year. So far they have several students in university who are his pride and joy.

This year in addition to the health worker kits, school supplies, and seeds we also provided 108 Kits-4-Kids schoolbags - 58 bags went to students (4-14yrs) in Kutet in the mountains where they attend the village primary school. 50 bags and 3 laptops went to students (age up to 22yrs) in Mahata on the coast where they attend the junior high school. The laptops went to three students who are waiting, and hoping, to attend university in Indonesia.

Most of the food at the Topu Honis shelter home is grown in their own gardens. As Fr. Richard says, “Vegetables are an important source of protein and vitamins and that is what makes our gardens so important. The diet of most villagers is very poor. Often when children come to us, they have spindly limbs, brittle hair streaked with orange, bowed legs, and protruding stomachs. Within a relatively short period of time in our home, their skinny frames fill out, their skin improves, their hair becomes softer and blacker, and the light of well-being is kindled in their eyes.”
... read more »
... view images from the gardens»

Mostly they live on cabbage, beans and rice, from the communal garden. That fills their stomachs, but falls short of a healthy diet. And it’s not because Father Richard doesn’t understand nutrition; it’s because it is all he can afford. As it stands, Father Richard has enough to run his orphanage at a bare bones level. Stipends for staff are months in arrears. Meat has all but disappeared from the menu. The medicine cabinet was bare until Vega arrived and urgently needed repairs to the property remain undone.

This year thanks to our friends friends Toh May Fook and his wife Robyn in Malaysia we were able to deliver an important shipment of assorted vegetable seeds to the center. Those seeds will allow them to improve and vary their diet. But that was only a part of the assistance Vega delivered this year. Assistance that included a complete health workers kit that will benefit not only the children, but also the whole community.

High in the mountains of Ocussi two rural midwives received complete midwife kits. more »

Kutet's Midwifes

Lugging the health worker and midwife kits up those mountains along a footpath itself often the center of a fast flowing stream when the jungle became too dense or the canyon sides too steep was hard work, but well worth it. High in the mountains where there are no roads, only footpaths, midwives Roza Bana & Maria Queno go from village to village visiting their patients and helping with births. Even though they had been properly trained by Dr. Aida in Dili they had little to work with until Vega arrived. They were overjoyed at the kits and where especially happy about the books in Bahasa. Just days after receiving their kits a mother give birth to quadruplets that all survived.