Sunday, November 21, 2010


Don outside the New SITraN Building the day before the official opening.( Press Day)
Don being Capt Bligh again with with Cabin Boy Chris prior to the Queen arriving.
Don Chatting to S.I.F patron's Julie & Nick Palmer, Nick has Motor Nuerone Disease.

You can read all about it at the end of this blog but yes!! SITranS is now open and I met the Queen and his Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen was quite interested in the expedition and impressed with pictures of the boat. His Royal Highness, being a sailor thought we were crazy I think, but had a laugh about me being “Bligh” with the crew. We chatted for a few minutes. I bowed and shook hands with both…it was an amazing experience to feel that Royal “presence” which is simply too hard to describe. I was caught up in it. Everyone there that day was feeding off the Queen’s energy and you felt the real warmth and giving from her. I wore my kilt with a dagger in my sock?? as you do, but the very tight security did not mind…I was a low risk obviously.

The Duke of Devonshire was also there with many local dignitaries, all the patrons and supporters of SIF along with the all important researchers who now reside permanently in the most amazing facility. It is a modern, open building which simply feels right. It is state of the art everything. All involved with it’s creation can feel justifiably proud. I am not a scientist, but you can sense that the work environment will be conducive to creativity. We will surely see some big things come from here in the future.

When it was all done that morning, a few select people ( me too) got to have lunch with the Queen. This was a whole new experience in a grand hall straight out of Harry Potter. About then I really did have to pinch myself, as it was very surreal. No pictures were allowed, but I got to keep the invitations to remember a very special day.

Tomorrow I fly back to China where I hope to hide till Xmas and start writing the book!! I managed to spend an afternoon working on the James Caird yesterday which is all progressing well. There is plenty of info about SIF on this web site, so check it out and if you wanted to donate $ to SIF, you can do it through the “Just Giving” links here too.


magpie said...

"dagger in my sock"
That's hilarious.
Good to see the Aussies keeping it real with the Royals.
Me and me mate Jono will get onto spreading the word about donating to SIF too ☺☺☺

Anonymous said...

Dear Magpie & Jono
That would be Absolutely Fabulous if you could Drum Up some much needed donations.
Now that SITraN is up and running, we need £1 million a year, for the next five years to fund compatible research programmes in order to maximize the capacity of the new facilities. thus would speed up any slowdown or indeed a cure of MND.
Time is one thing that sufferer's of MND do not have on their side
Thank you for your help.if you need any support information please ask.
Stuart Keane

Anonymous said...


nice story.

Someone else tried to recreate your journey, not sure how drinking sewater would have kept them alive.

From the Age

Three boys in an aluminium dinghy drifted 1300 kilometres across the South Pacific, resorting to drinking seawater and devouring a seagull to survive.

On Wednesday, a New Zealand fishing boat in a lonely part of the ocean spotted the tiny boat carrying the three Tokelauans who were thought lost forever.

They had eaten just one seagull in 50 days adrift.

The tiny vessel had been adrift for 50 days.

"We got to them in a miracle," first mate Tai Fredricsen of the Bay of Islands said from the Sanford tuna boat San Nikunau yesterday as it headed to Fiji with its extra cargo.

The boys, Samuel Perez and Filo Filo, both 15, and Edward Nasau, 14, had disappeared from Atafu Island on October 5. An extensive search by a RNZAF Orion failed to find any trace of them.

The 500 people of Atafu held memorial services for them.

Mr Fredricsen was on the helm of the tuna boat, just west of Uvea in the French territory of Wallis and Futuna and northeast of Fiji. "We saw a small vessel, a little speedboat on our bows, and we knew it was a little weird," he said. "We had enough smarts to know there were people in it and those people were not supposed to be there."

The boys started waving.

"I pulled the vessel up as close as I could to them and asked them if they needed any help they said `very much so'. They were ecstatic to see us.

"They were very skinny, but physically in good health, compared to what they have been through."

Mr Fredricsen knew to be careful not to feed them or give them water quickly, and instead put them on an intravenous drip.

But they were able to sip water and soon wanted real food.

"They are in incredibly good shape for the time they have been at sea."

The boys had a couple of coconuts on board but no water.

"Somehow they caught a bird, I don't know how, but they caught it. They ate it, that is what is recommended." But that was all they got.

Occasionally it rained, but in the days leading to this week's miracle, there was no rain.

"They were having little sips of seawater, which wouldn't have been a great idea, but they had only done it for the last couple of days."

He agreed that with drinking seawater the boys had only days to survive.

"It was a miracle we got to them." After the boys had some food, they phoned home.

Joe Suveinakama of the Tokelau office in Apia said that the news had been passed on to all 1200 people on Tokelau's three atolls.

"There is absolute jubilation on Atafu, tears of joy, but it is all tempered by the tragedy from Greymouth."

The San Nikunau had been in Kiribati waters and its crew would normally off-load the catch in American Samoa. Instead they were on their way home.

MJ from Brisbane said...

Congrats to all for the Queen and Prince Phillip attending the opening of Sitran!! Word is certainly getting out there.

Further to the story of the Fijian Boys that were rescued - they are reporting in New Zealand papers today that the boys "might have consumed some alcohol and were off to see a little lady who had caught their eye but lives on an Island 200 klm's away".........mana they are sooooooooo grounded when they get home!!!!!!