Perth family stranded on Pacific island
The West Australian
March 30, 2010, 1:59 pm
A Perth family are stranded on a tiny Pacific island after a tropical storm shipwrecked their catamaran, leaving the couple and their two young children with the prospect of months living rough, eating only turtle meat while they fix the boat.
Andrew Barrie, 46, wife Jennie 43, and daughters Diana and Shannon, 12 and 10, were on a two year sailing trip around the Pacific when they found themselves caught in a typhoon which broke the mast, damaged both engines and ruined the keel of their catamaran Windrider.
After drifting for 12 hours in heavy seas and winds of up to 180km an hour, the ship hit a submerged reef off the Micronesian island of Mogmog, about 2000km north of Papua New Guinea, last Tuesday, ripping the hull of the vessel open.
The North Perth cabinet maker and his family had been forced to abandon ship and take refuge on the island, which is inhabited by some 200 people.
Mogmog has no running water, no electricity, no infrastructure, and is ruled by a tribal chief.
On Sunday, Mr Barrie told ABC radio's Australia All Over program the islanders lived "very, very traditionally."
Local children walked around playing ukuleles, and the Barrie family had intended to go to a church service on Sunday, although the island doesn't have a priest.
Decimated by the typhoon, there was very little food on the island, and the family and the villagers were surviving primarily on turtle meat.
At present, the Barrie's ship appeared to be stuck on reef and a jagged piece of metal believed to be detritus from WWII.
Mr Barrie was determined to rescue and fix his ship rather than abandon it; a process which he conceded could take six months.
If the vessel could not be fixed, the Barrie family would need to island hop by Mogmog's sole small wooden boat to neighbouring Flalap Island, where an airstrip had been built for the use of missionaries