back to Australia log 7/29/2001-10/8/2001
Indian Ocean Log
Tuesday October 9th, 2001
9:30am: We are back in the water. Now we just need to check out with customs and pick up fuel and we are off! - DWH
As we approached Cullen Bay we were met by a yellow boat. Could it be Altaire? Yes! They heard us on the radio last week and have been trying to track us down ever since. Unfortunately we did not have the VHF on while we were on the hard. It's too bad. We would have really enjoyed seeing Dave and Fiona again. We really enjoyed hanging out with them in Vanuatu. We will try to set up a HF schedule with them.
11:20 Fueled up and checked out. We really enjoyed Darwin, but it's time to move!
Noon: position 12 25.12S 130 46.13E. We have about 1480nm to Christmas Island. If we decided to skip Christmas Island then it's about 500 more to Cocos Keeling. -DWH
Talked to Fiona on the VHF. Their original plan was to go to Bali after Darwin (which they still hope to do) and then eventually go through the Red Sea. Their insurance company has informed them that the Red Sea is now considered a "war zone", and they are not covered there. They are not sure exactly what they will do, but are still planning on heading that general direction. -DWH
Wednesday October 10th, 2001
We experimented with different a different watch period last night. We all took a single 4 hour watch rather than each taking two 2 hour watches. This might help us get more rest as we will have a longer period of uninterrupted sleep, more like a normal nights rest. This should work well when conditions are good and sailing is easy. Last night actually turned out to be tough. The wind has been very light and right on the nose. To make any progress the boat really needs to be steered by hand, and that's hard to do at night for four solid hours. Anyhow, I do feel well rested today. I'm not a good napper (Jo on the other hand is the king of the nap), so it helps me if I can get 6-8 hours of sleep during the night. If I get less I need to try to nap during the day, but even if I'm tired I usually spend more time in bed trying to sleep than I do actually sleeping. The end result is that I seem to spend all my time either at the helm or in bed and still don't feel rested. This should be much better. -DWH
8am: Where is the wind? I finally gave up when the wind dropped to 4 knots and still right on the nose. At times the current from the rising tide actually had us moving back towards Darwin. Oh well, the batteries could use a little charging. Engines on and motoring at 4 knots. -DWH
7pm The sails went up around 3pm. We seem to be making pretty good progress and we are heading sort of the right direction again! Best of all the auto pilot is working, should make the 4 hour shift pass faster. I am working my way through the first book in 'The Lord of the Rings'. I am really enjoying it so far. -SLC
9:40 Wind has died. Motoring again.
Noon: Our position is 12 20S, 129 52E. We made only 53nm in the last 24hr.
I finished an excellent little book today, "The Calling Reef" by Gunter Bahnemann. It is similar to "Old Man and the Sea" and every bit as good in my opinion (and I love Hemmingway), though I might be a little biased because I've so recently passed through the area where the story occurs. It is set in the Coral Sea including Cooktown, Lizard Island, and a reef outside of Cook Passage. Stacy picked up this beauty at the book exchange at the Darwin Sailing Club. What an excellent find! My next book, which I've already started, is "The Origin of the Species" by Charles Darwin. I bought it along with "Voyage of the Beagle" (HMS Beagle was the survey ship that Darwin was on) in the Galapagos, but made it all the way across the Pacific without reading either one. But old Chuck got around and since we've just left the city of Darwin and sailed through Beagle Bay, I've been inspired to dig them out. -DWH
Today I saw three sea snakes. The first one was far away and I was pretty unsure of what it was, just a black and white snake like shape floating on the surface. The second one was closer and I was pretty sure it was a snake. As we approached him he dove under and made quite a splash with his tail. The last one went right by the boat and I was positive that it was a snake floating on the surface. He was about 3 feet long with a tiny head sticking above the water. -SLC
Thursday October 11th, 2001
2am: Just finishing my watch. It is a beautiful night, just about perfect except for the lack of wind. During my shift I looked at the sky, read a little, listened to music, and thought about friends. Reading Darwin made me think of Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Kerry and also Jim and Kristen Farrar. Oh how I look forward to drinking wine and talking with all of you. Listening to music also brought friends into my head. First I listened to classical music from the Bob and Karen Turnquist collection. I hope all is well with the Turnquist family. Finally Lyle Lovett made me think of Joos and Molly. Joos, I know there are two kinds of music - country and western. Where does Lyle fit in? I hope you are enjoying the fall colors in the north woods. -DWH
Dave's new project...replace 1 year old cardboard speaker boxes. I can really say I married a man who knows his clamps!! His only worry on this passage is "Will I have enough clamps?" -SLC
7:30 This morning I saw a large military looking boat. It was just to the south of us. They were big and moving fast. Made me think of the trouble at home (world trade center bombings) and in Afghanistan. I hope that not many more people will suffer because of the religious/political itineraries of a small minority. It all makes me so sad, I want to cry every time it all comes to mind. -SLC
noon: Our position is 12 07S, 128 23E. We made only 71 nm in the last 24hr.
JO mentioned today that he saw something about "an old friend" on the internet before we left Darwin. While in Tonga I met an American guy who knew the king. We drank beer with him and his brother a couple times, and he said that if we stayed in Tonga a little longer (which we didn't have time to do) that he could arrange for me to actually meet the king. Well, the word from CNN.COM is that this guy just scammed Tonga for $20,0000,000 and split. -DWH
Friday October 12th, 2001
Noon: our position is 12 18S, 126 60E. We made about 81 NM in the last 24hr.
Still motoring, actually we are motor-sailing. Half throttle on both engines with the sails up. Wonder how long till the wind shifts and picks up???? We are moving slow, but the boat is so comfortable. Good sleeping and easy watches.
Today I was managing the autopilot and working on a project in the captain's chair, when we got 'buzzed' by the Australian Coast Watch plane. These planes find boats along the coast and fly close enough to get a photo and boat name. Then the plane calls the boat on the radio to verify last port, next port, home port and number of crew. Well I usually hear the plane before we get buzzed, but not today. As you can imagine they have to fly pretty close for a photo to identify the boat. And needless to say it about gave me a heart attack when I scanned the horizon and saw a plane heading right for us! They called us on the radio and we gave them our information and that was that. Then we heard Coast Watch call another boat...'Australian War Ship' was the call we heard!
I had a really nice chat on the HF radio with Fiona on Altair today. What a chance that we left Darwin at the same day/time as them...no way could have we planned that one. It is always nice to be in radio contact with another boat. Wish we were heading to the same port. Oh well, they will have fun in Bali. I think we will definitely have another drink with them somewhere, someday.-SLC
Saturday October 13th, 2001
another bird friend...
Another day of very light wind and slow progress. Maybe today it will pick up a little. And since we are wishing for wind, we may a well also wish for fish. A tuna would be very tasty, and it would be nice to catch a couple dorado to dry. Yesterday I decided that maybe we needed to try a new lure. We've been using the little rubber squid that have worked so well in the past. We've still got a squid on the hand line, but we're trying a 9 1/2 inch Cisco Kid musky lure on the heavy pole. I'm not sure what that will attract, but if something takes it, I'm sure it will be interesting. Even though we haven't had any hits, we have seen fish jumping and working on the surface. Most of the ones we've seen are about 6" long and roughly tuna shaped. The big question is this: when they are jumping, are they chasing smaller fish or are they being chased by bigger fish? Let's hope it the latter. In addition to seeing fish, we've also seen a lot of sea snakes. I'm sure we've seen a dozen or more since we left Darwin. -DWH
I listened to the news from Australia on the SSB this morning. More bombing in Afghanistan, but no other hard info. It's quite depressing. There was also word of Muslims rallying against the US in several different countries including Indonesia just to our north. I know that these are the hard line radicals, but where are the more moderate, peace loving followers of Mohammed? It is a time for true religious leaders to stand up for peace and an end to terrorist acts. The other bit of news that affects this part of the world: another boat load of refugees has arrived, this time at Ashmore Reef, 140 NM to the west of us. We will be passing by the reef in a day or so depending on the wind. Australia has once again said that they are not welcome in Australia and is looking for somewhere to send them.
Noon: our position is 12 13S, 125 38E. We made about 80 NM in the last 24hr. We have come only about 310 NM from Darwin in the last 4 days. Hopefully the wind will kick in soon. We get it sometimes for an hour or two. It is still light, but we are able to get up to 3 or 4 knots. Then it goes away as quickly as it came, and we are back to either bobbing like a cork or motoring. We are still seeing lots of sea snakes and have had a little fish action. Something small took a shot at the Cisco Kid and got hooked. It was probably only a about 15 inches long and did not even trip the drag. JO noticed it dragging on the surface behind the boat. I got it about half way to the boat before it got off. Later I saw something on the surface near the squid, but it never hit. -DWH
4:30pm: The water is like glass, and we are still motoring. I was starting to wonder about our fuel, so I checked the tank. It is still about half full. I know that at one point not long after leaving Darwin our engine hours were are 1800. Now they are 1850. So we have motored for about 50 hours on about 15 gallons of diesel. Most of the motoring has been at 1600-1800 RPM which gives us about 4 knots in calm conditions. At this consumption rate we could motor for about 200 hours and 800nm, more than I had previously estimated. -DWH
Sunday October 14th, 2001
7am Still motoring. -SLC
8am: Fish!! Dave was just waking up when he let me know there was a fish on the hand line that I set at the beginning of my shift. As I was pulling it in, I kept saying "It's tiny, he's just a little guy." It was a Tuna and he had been dragging behind the boat for a while so all of his fight was gone. When we got 'Charlie the Tuna' aboard we found he was 27 inches and fat (my guess is about 8 lbs!!). This fish was about average to small compared to most fish that we catch on Ladybug, but large compared to what we catch at home in Wisconsin on the small lakes. How will I ever be excited about catching a little Sunfish again??? I will have to be happy with the 'thrill of the hunt', anyway they all taste great. We identified it as a Little Tunny or a Black Skip Jack. The flesh was a deep red color, but very tender and juicy. What a great start to another day. -SLC
Since we are motoring we have the fridge on. We cooled the tuna and then made sashimi and ceviche. The tuna was pretty bloody, so I didn't think the sashimi would be that good, but I was wrong. It was excellent. The ceviche was a little below par though. Based on our most recent catches I'd say that long tail tuna is better for ceviche, and little tunny is better for sashimi. Yellow tail tuna usually seems good for both. Of course all of it is actually pretty darn good, so I'm not complaining about anything. -DWH
Noon: our position is 12 09S, 123 43E. We made about 112 NM in the last 24hr (motoring).
4pm Still no wind. JO made a tuna curry, and it smells great. -SLC
9pm Well, talk about a little scare...I was watching the horizon for boat lights, there have been a lot of fishing boats around here. These boats are Indonesian and very simple sailing vessels, probably without power or lights so I have been keeping a close eye out. All of a sudden I saw a flashing light, it took me a few minutes to realize that the light was in the sky, not on the horizon. I was actually seeing a plane. Why would there be a plane flying so low when we are over 400 miles from the nearest airport? As the plane came closer I could see the red light on the port side of the plane. Then the part that really shocked and scared me, the plane did a circle around us. Of course all I could think about is all of the current bombing in Afghanistan. This is irrational, why would anyone want to trouble us. Then I heard a voice identify themselves as Coast Watch on the VHF radio. I should have known, but I just didn't expect to see them after dark. Coast Watch was calling for the vessel at our position, so I quickly answered and identified us. The chat was short, and I was relieved to find out it was a friendly flyby. Next the plane headed south of us and tried to get another vessel on the radio, but they did not answer. Coast Watch called me back to see if I had any information on the vessel. I answered them and said I had not even seen them. I quickly thought to ask if they had their lights on, she answered yes and we both signed off. I did not even get back outside when I heard another call on the VHF for "Ladybug". I answered, this time it was an Australian Warship. Ok, now things are getting interesting. The friendly guy informed me that the Indonesian fishing boats do not have batteries, but they will shine a flashlight on their sail if you come close enough. This is very helpful information and I thanked him. Then he proceeded to tell me that he was a little south of us, and there were two more war ships to the north of us. Wow, I wonder if this is because of the refugee problem, current world situation, or just normal operating procedures. I thanked him again and he wished us a nice passage to Christmas Island. Wait I didn't tell him we were headed for Christmas Island, Coast Watch would have had that information but it was not mentioned in our radio contact. I guess it is their job to know! -SLC
Monday October 15th, 2001
Around 12:30am I had a shock much like Stacy's last night. I was reading the Lord of the Rings while on watch. One bad thing about reading is that it kills my night vision. To make sure that I still keep a good watch, I turn off the light and scan 360 degrees every time I turn a page. In this way I know that I check the horizon every 2 to 3 minutes. Anyhow, suddenly a voice came over the VHF, "vessel at such and such position heading on a course of 280 degrees true and making 4 knots, this is Australian patrol vessel 1.3 nautical miles east of you." I whipped around and there it was, big and close. How did he get so close without me noticing? Even if he was making 25 knots, I should have been able to see him for 15 or 20 minutes. I quickly called back. I was asked a number of questions - boat name, last port of call, when left, next port of call, ETA, how many crew on board, any passengers, radio call sign, any cargo, home port, etc. It was all very business like. Finally I was told that they had what was required. I went back out to the cockpit. By now the ship was even closer. I got our the binoculars to get a better view just as they turned on the spot light. After looking us over for a couple minutes the spot light went out and the ship started to turn away. Then suddenly all it's lights went out. Ah, now I could understand how I missed them. They keep their lights off while patrolling and only turned them on when they contacted me. As they steamed away in the dark I checked them out once again with the binoculars. It was hard to see, but I would estimate that the ship was at least 150 ft in length. -DWH
This morning we have a big swell out of the SW. We have passed out of the Timor Sea and are now in the Indian Ocean proper. (There has been some debate on board about whether or not the Arafuna Sea and Timor Sea are actually part of the Indian Ocean.) -DWH
11am: Spinnaker up!
Noon: our position is 11 57S, 121 52E. We made about 109 NM in the last 24hr. Most of that motoring, but the spinnaker went up about 11am. We have about 950 NM to Christmas Island. -DWH
Changed the oil in the port engine. Hours = 1881. Fluid in port transmission is still clear (no salt water contamination). We would not expect otherwise, but it's good to confirm that it is fixed. -DWH
Tuesday October 16th, 2001
10:15 am:We had a very peaceful night of sailing under the spinnaker. Woke up this morning to find the seas very confused and a big line of cumulonimbus clouds to the south west. The wind was still light and out of the east. As the front was still quite a ways off, we continued to sail on with the spinnaker for a couple hours. As we slowly got closer I was considering taking the spinnaker down even though the wind was still steady and light. Then in the distance I spotted a funnel cloud. It came out of a dark, horizontal bank of clouds and extended about 2/3 of the way to the water. It was about 10 times as high as it was wide and curved slightly as it moved down. The sides were very well defined. Even though it was a long ways off, it seemed like an excellent time to drop the chute. Now we are motoring along. We still have very light wind from the east. We are basically waiting to see what the wind decides to do. -DWH
After a couple hours the threatening weather passed (without any big wind or tornados), and we put the spinnaker back up. -DWH
Noon: our position is 11 50S, 119 56E.
Stacy blew the computer up!!
During Stacy's 6-10pm shift, the wind shifted suddenly and started to pick up. She woke me and JO up, and we pulled down the chute and set the main and jib. -DWH
Wednesday October 17th, 2001
Noon: our position is 11 36S, 117 27E. -SLC
2pm: Wind has shifted more to the SE and dropped. Spinnaker is back up!
Today we passed within about 25 miles of the point exactly opposite of Buccoo Bay, Tobago. Since that is where we plan to complete our circumnavigation, we are officially half way! While the shortest distance back is straight down, I think we will just keep heading west. -DWH
Pizza party and movie for making it half way back to Buccoo Bay!!
Thursday October 18th, 2001
Recovered computer. Great job Dave!!
Noon: our position is 11 12S, 114 46E. We made about 160 NM in the last 24hr. Spinnaker all the way!!-SLC
Friday October 19th, 2001
10:30am: Still sailing with the spinnaker. Hooked into a fish with the Cisco Kid musky lure. After being hooked the fish stayed down rather than coming to the surface like a Dorado or marlin. I got it near the boat and saw one flash of blue about 15 feet down before it got off. I checked the lure and found lots of teeth marks and two bent treble hooks. It was probably a tuna, but we will never know. It was bigger than most that we catch, but still not huge. Too big for the hooks though. I put some bigger hooks on the lure and put it back out. Let's try again Mr. Fish. -DWH
Noon: our position is 11 19S, 112 33E. We made 129 NM in the last 24 hours.
It was easy sailing with the spinnaker most of the day. If anything the wind was too light. By about 7:30 it dropped off so much that it was just flapping. While we were dropping it we noticed ominous clouds on the horizon. The sea had also kicked up so we knew there was wind near by. It quickly started to pick up from the south, and we raised the main, double reefed, and unfurled the jib. By 7:50 we were doing 7-8 knots. And it looks like I might get wet tonight. -DWH
Saturday October 20th, 2001
Noon: our position is 11 01S, 110 29E. We made about 124 NM in the last 24hr. -DWH
It has been a wet, cloudy day. We had been sailing along with a double reefed main and jib since last night, but the wind was dropping so I took out the second reef around 3pm. Since then the wind has picked up a little again, and we are doing around 8 knots. If it picks up much more we can put the second reef back in, but it seems fine for now.
I listened to the news from Australia on the SSB. I don't know why I do it. It's always so depressing - ground troops in Afghanistan, anthrax cases in the US. I also heard that another boat load of Afghan refugees just arrived at Christmas Island last night. They have not been allowed to land and are currently at anchor. Christmas Island is not very big, only about 10 miles across, so there is a good chance that we will see the refugee boat when we arrive in a couple days. -DWH
Sunday October 21st, 2001
We had a boobie like bird hitch a ride last night. This morning I checked out sea bird identification book and picked out a picture of an "Abbott's Boobie". It seemed to be the best match with the only difference being that the book had the bill color being pinkish while our friend's bill was more blue. After identifying the bird by the picture, I checked out the text and distribution map. Wow! Abbott's Boobies are only found on Christmas Island where there are 2000-3000 nesting pairs. Cool! -DWH
Noon: our position is 10 40S, 107 35E. We made 167 NM in the last 24hr, a pretty good day. We are only 124 NM from Christmas Island, so we should make it tomorrow.
I finished our new speaker boxes and rewired them. Anyone who has partied on Ladybug in the last year got to see speakers in corrugated cardboard boxes with a big tangle of wires hanging out the back. These "boxes" were made hastily while partying with the Peace Corps volunteers in Grenada. We have wanted new boxes ever since, but they never got to the top of the projects list. Since this passage started with calm motoring, it seemed like a good project to start.-DWH
The before (notice the use of corrugated cardboard, duct tape and fancy blue masking tape) and after photos of the speaker project...I think they are beautiful and they sound much better!! Also the cords have a cool snap connectors and each box has a place to coil the wire to avoid the rat's nest. Very cool!-SLC
The spinnaker went up at 3pm. At 4pm it came down suddenly when the head came loose, and the sail went in the water. I yelled, and Stacy and JO rushed out to help. At this point if I had been thinking I would have quickly turned the boat so as to put the boat down wind of the sail in the water. That way we would have drifted away from it. I wasn't thinking that straight and did not alter course. Ladybug drifted over the sail and it got caught on the keel and sail drive. We tried to pull the sail onboard, but it was caught. Eventually I had to go into the deep, clear, sharkless (at least right around the boat) water to clear it. Once the sail was safely on board JO did a little investigating. He found that the halyard had chafed through. His guess is that the halyard was on the wrong side of the forestay when we raised the sail. He said that something just didn't seem right when it was being raised. It was tougher than it normally is. Now we know why. Live and learn. -DWH
Boobies, boobies everywhere. I counted 24 Abbott's boobies flying around the boat, and there are more off in the distance. -DWH
6:30 PM Just saw a small piece of wood floating in the water and 2 small reef like fish were around it. I doubt they were reef fish, but that is what they looked like. So it is somewhat true that fish like to occupy the space below floating objects. It almost looked like they were eating the algae on the wood, not sure?? -SLC
Monday October 22nd, 2001
Arrived at Christmas Island and tied up to a mooring at 7:30am local time. At 1475 NM, it was our second longest passage to date, but that won't last for long. On the way in we spotted the refugee boat that arrived a couple nights ago. It is very small to have 200 people on board. Conditions must be horrible. They are not being allowed to land, and there appears to be a small boat near by keeping an eye on them. I'm sure they are being given food, water and anything else they need, but it still looks miserable.
The water is very clear here. There is 75 feet under the boat, and we can see the bottom clearly. -DWH
After getting the Bug shipshape and taking short naps, we all headed in to check out Christmas Island. When we landed, the first thing we noticed were the red crabs. There were around 100 million on the island, but in the last decade or so there has been an invasion of yellow crazy ants that have reduced the population to around 50 million. That's still a lot of crabs. These crabs live in the rain forest that covers most of the island, but once the rains start they migrate to the sea to mate. That is just starting, and they are everywhere. After checking out the crabs we continued into town. We were hoping to find the boat club (where they were reported to have a bar run by the honor system), but later found out that it had been demolished by a falling boulder. Eventually we found the next best thing, a nice pub called the Silver Bosun. We had a couple beers and had soon spent what little cash we had, but met a friendly local named Craig who bought a couple rounds and then took us on a tour of the island. Christmas Island is a very friendly place as we were quickly learning. The total population is about 2000 people. Most of the island is national park. The one big industry is phosphate mining, but there are plans to build a facility for launching satellites. Craig showed us a number a cool spots including a sea cave and a couple scenic overviews up on the cliff walls. Near one of these he spotted and showed us another of the local crabs, the robber crab. These are big, up to maybe 1.5 feet in diameter, and very powerful. They are also known as coconut crabs as they are able to tear apart a coconut to get to the meat inside. At another scenic overview we saw tropics birds and fruit bats. We've seen fruit bats before, but what we saw this time was remarkable. The wind was coming off the sea and up the steep shore, and the bats were actually gliding. There wings were stretched out but not beating as they sailed in circles and up over us. After the excellent tour which also included a stop at the bank we went to the Christmas Island Club for dinner. All in all it was a most excellent day. -DWH
Tuesday October 23rd, 2001
It was a full day of working on the boat. We took down the main and did some minor repairs to it and also to the spinnaker. The oil was changed in the starboard engine (hours=1900). The spinnaker halyard was rerun. The cushion for the helm seat was fixed. All we need now is to get diesel and finish topping off the water and we will be ready to go.
After our full day of boat work we headed to shore for showers and a night out. They have really nice public toilets/showers. Stacy met a couple of nice local women. One will be going to Senegal in three weeks. The other is saving for a boat. They gave us some suggestions for where to have dinner. JO had headed to the Silver Bosun while Stacy and I were showering. He ran into Craig who came down in his car and picked us up. Stacy and I had a drink at the bar with him and JO and then went out to dinner. After dinner we returned to the pub and found that the navy had arrived. There are a couple ships here due the the refugee situation. The guys at the bar were mostly helicopter pilots or maintenance personnel who have been at sea for over forty days. Needless to say they were living it up. We joined them and had an excellent time. -DWH
Wednesday October 24th, 2001
Started the day by going snorkeling. The water is very clear. I saw a white tipped reef shark and a grand travali. Pretty exciting.
JO and I walked into town to buy diesel. We had 5 six gallon jugs. Our plan was to get them filled at the gas station and then try to hitch a ride back to the boat ramp, but the friendly guy at the gas stations said he would deliver them. Very nice. Then we cleared out and bought groceries.
Untied from the mooring at 5:30pm and off to Cocos Keeling. -DWH
Thursday October 25th, 2001
It is cloudy and blowing with occasional rain. There is a pretty good sea built up. These are not the most comfortable conditions, but we are making excellent time, averaging over 7 knots.
Noon: our position is 12 48S, 103 26E. We have done 135 NM since leaving Christmas Island late yesterday afternoon. We have 396 NM to go to Cocos Keeling. -DWH
5:30pm: We have made 173 NM in the 24hrs since leaving Christmas Island!
Friday October 26th, 2001
Dave let me sleep 1/2 hour extra, so I feel very rested. The sun is shining, but there are still a few clouds. We are making great progress towards Cocos. The wind has been good and steady. It is a little more from the south today, instead of directly behind us... this is good. I hope we have this kind of wind all the way to Durban!! -SLC
Noon: our position is 11 16.45S, 100 56.34E. We have done 150 NM since noon yesterday. We have 246 NM to go to Cocos. -SLC
I saw a tropic bird today. I've never noticed one at sea before, but recognized it from having just seen them at Christmas Island. I also saw some interesting boobie behavior. First of all, I need to explain why we are always talking about boobies......they are cool birds to watch and very friendly. Like dolphins, they seem to like to hang out around boats. We see lots of other sea birds, but often have trouble identifying them because they don't come very close. Boobies on the other hand seem to love to circle the boat and often stop and spend the night with us. Anyhow, back to the interesting behavior. There was a boobie flying around. Then I noticed that he would fly ahead and land in the water about a hundred yards ahead of the boat. Once we reached him, he flew ahead again. This happened three times. The third time we scared us some flying fish as we approached him, and he went right after them. We are always scaring up flying fish, and though I haven't notice it before, maybe the boobies use that fact to their advantage. -DWH
Saturday October 27th, 2001
The wind shifted to be more from the east this morning. We were sailing with a double reefed main and the jib, but the jib was really starting to flap. When Stacy got up at 6am, we dropped the main. Our new jib setup worked really well (* see explanation below). The wind was actually light enough that we could have gone with the spinnaker, but we will not make Cocos today anyway. There is no reason to rush and arrive at midnight only to have to wait until dawn to approach the atoll and enter the anchorage And with just the jib we are still doing 5 knots or a little better, a pace that will put us at Cocos tomorrow morning..
* New jib setup: Back in Darwin we had added pad eyes on each hull. We put blocks on these pad eyes and run an extra jib sheet through them. This allows us to sheet the jib way out. With the main up it allows us to go a little more down wind, but once the main is dropped we are able to go straight down wind quite nicely with this arrangement. It is a good compliment to having a spinnaker. If we are heading down wind and it's blowing to much for the spinnaker, we just use the jib sheeted way out.
Noon: our position is 11 42S, 98 34E. We have done 141 NM since noon yesterday. We have 105 NM to go to Cocos.
We made our first attempt at using the sea anchor this afternoon (purchased in Australia). From everything we've read, using a sea anchor is the ultimate survival tactic for a yacht, but needs to be practiced before the shit hits the fan. The biggest failure is from people not being able to deploy them correctly. So, today we practiced. Our attempt was not flawless, but went pretty well. We got it out and got it back in. There was only about 20 knots of wind so it wasn't a big test, but we learned a few things. We will be making a few changes while at Cocos Keeling and will be ready for another practice run when we leave. The big goal is to have everything somewhat permanently set up so we can always deploy it within a few minutes. - DWH
Sunday October 28th, 2001
3am: We are 26nm from the anchorage at Direction Island, Cocos Keeling. We are making 6 knots with just the jib. Looks good for an early morning arrival. -DWH
4:30am: I've been able to see the haze from lights on Cocos Keeling since 3:30am. We are still about 16 NM out. I just partially rolled up the jib to reduce our speed. There is no reason to approach too closely before it is light. -DWH
Anchor is down by 9:00AM. It's a beautiful anchorage with white sand and a large space with around 10 feet of water. The police handle customs and quarantine here, so we gave them a call on the VHF. They showed up about 10:30am. They checked over our food and some wood carvings and bowls from Fiji. The stuff that they were concerned about was wrapped in plastic bags and sealed with "quarantine" tape. They were very friendly and explained that they are free of many diseases that affect the rest of Australia and other countries in the area, so they are extra careful. It was free to check in.
The other piece of info that we got from the customs officials was that there is a cyclone a couple hundred miles to the north west. In the Southern Indian Ocean no month is totally safe from cyclones. Cyclone season officially begins on November 1st, though it is rare to get one before December. This is the reason that our plans are to reach Durban, South Africa by December 1st. Most of the other cruisers have already moved on ahead of us, but we are moving quickly, and our stops are few and short.
After short naps we went ashore on Direction Island. Cocos Islands are made up of the southern group, a large atoll with 26 islands, and a small island 26 miles to the north. Home Island, which is right next to Direction Island, has a population of about 500, most of whom are ethnic Malay. West Island has the airport and administration and has a population of about 120. Direction Island has the main anchorage for visiting yachts and a nice beach. There were a couple dozen locals there when we arrived. Apparently it is a big hangout spot on Sundays. We met a bunch of the locals and even bummed a post passage beer.
This IS tropical paradise.
One of the big attractions at Direction Island is "the Rip". The waves driven by the SE trades crash over the reef between Direction Island and Home Island. This causes a strong current to flow along the southern tip of Direction Island. This area of strong current is "the Rip". The locals explained that you walk around the tip of the island and enter the water. The current catches you and you get a fast ride past coral and lots of fish. I gave it a shot late in the afternoon and was amazed. This is way better than any ride at Disney. The current is probably 4 or 5 knots and so it only lasts a minute or two, but in that time I saw a great variety of fish including 5 white tip sharks and 4 other sharks that I could not identify.
After experiencing the Rip, I headed back to the Bug. Stacy made some snacks, and then we inflated the kayaks. JO took the dinghy to shore and built a campfire. Stacy and I loaded up the kayaks with the snacks and some wine. Then we toured the anchorage and invited the people on the three other boats here to join us for our fire. It was and excellent night! -DWH
Monday October 29th, 2001
JO went off to the Rip this morning. A little while later Stacy and I followed. On the way from the boat to the tip of the island we saw two sea turtles and two black tip sharks. We saw more fish including white tip sharks in the Rip itself, but I did not see the other sharks that I saw yesterday. Those just had a plain gray dorsal fin (no white or black tip), but did have a little black along the edge of their tails. After our swim Stacy and I did laundry. Then I worked on the boat stuff and Stacy started making pizza for a party tonight. JO went to Home Island to try to use the Internet Internet use is free, but the hours are limited and there are often classes.
Pizza party on the Bug. The whole anchorage came over for pizza and music. It was an excellent night with a good mix of people. -DWH
(LBF: L5,M47.457,DS61.415) -DWH
Tuesday October 30th, 2001
We started the day by going to Direction Island and using the free phone to call the meteorologist at the airport to get the latest word on the cyclone. It has picked up speed and turned to the SW. It is about 600 miles from us and going away at about 12 miles an hour, so we should be good to take off. Then I called the police station on West Island to make sure they would be open so we could check out. Finally we made a little Ladybug sign on the water tank. Cruisers have been leaving signs with there boat names here for years and years. Then we headed back to the bug, got our paperwork, and took the dinghy to Home Island. We walked around, talked to several local people, and bought a few things in the two shops. At 10:45 we caught the free ferry to West Island. From the jetty at West Island we took the free bus to town. Our first stop was the police station. Checking out took about 10 minutes and was free. Since the next bus/ferry back to Home Island wouldn't be leaving for a couple hours, we asked the officer for a suggestion on where to get lunch and what else to do while we were in town. One of his suggestions was to grab a couple of the free bicycles found around town and go for a ride. We had lunch of Malaysian food at the airport (which was otherwise closed), picked up a couple souvenirs, and then spent the last of our Australian money on groceries. At 2:40 we caught the bus back to the jetty and then the ferry back to Home Island. We tried to us the free Internet when we got there, but they had just closed. We headed back to Direction Island and the Bug. JO had her pretty close to being ready to go. The other boat heading to Mauritius/South Africa, s/v Blue Nomad, had left earlier in the day. They actually checked out several days ago but ended up waiting for the weather.
Anchor up about 5:15pm. 2335 NM to go to Mauritius.
6pm: Talked to Tonya on Blue Nomad on the SSB. They are 40 miles ahead of us. We are going to try to keep in contact during our passage. We will see how it goes. -DWH
Wednesday October 31st, 2001
It was a nice night of sailing under a full moon. -DWH
And a beautiful morning. The spinnaker is up. The sun is shining. The water is deep blue with occasional white caps. We are making 7 or 8 knots. -DWH
Noon: our position is 12 35S, 94 56E. We have done 122 NM since leaving Coco Island late yesterday afternoon. We have 2213 NM to go to Mauritius. -DWH
5:30pm: I was excited when I saw that we had a fish on. Fish is just the thing we needed to go with the rice and beans that JO made. I got more excited when I could tell that it was something new, not a tuna or a Dorado or a shark. Then I got it to the boat, and it was a 3 foot barracuda. Huh? Barracuda are reef fish. We are in 18,000 feet of water, and the nearest reef is 110 miles away. Or is it? I hope there isn't an uncharted sea mount just ahead of us. Let's hope this mystery remains unsolved. -DWH
5:50pm: Something else just took our lure........for good. Nothing left but a cut piece of 250lb leader.
Took the spinnaker down at sunset. Talked to Blue Nomad on the SSB. We have had no luck at getting weather info on the radio, and I had hoped that maybe they had some to pass on to us, but they haven't gotten any either. -DWH
Thursday November 1st, 2001
Another night of nice sailing under a full or nearly full moon. It really makes a difference to have a moon when sailing at night. Sometimes it's so bright that it almost seems like day time. At dawn we dropped the main and jib and put up the chute. We are hoping to average about 6 knots for this passage. Right now the wind is about 15 knots from the ESE (puts our course about 140 degrees off the wind). We averaged about 5 knots last night, but we are making up for that during the day with the spinnaker. -DWH
Noon: our position is 13 18S, 92 20E. Our run for the last 24 hrs was 145 NM -DWH
1:50pm: Just caught a nice 30" Dorado It was so beautiful - golden with bright blue spots and a tall blue dorsal fin running the length of it's body, and as it dies the gold turns to silver leaving it all silver and blue. This is the first Dorado we have caught for a long time. We would like to catch more because we can salt and dry Dorado Tuna is not supposed to dry well, so we have to eat whatever we catch within a day or two. As much as I'd like to have some dried Dorado for later meals, this baby is going in the oven. Stacy is working on some fancy dish right now. It looks like it will be fantastic. And a 30" Dorado should be just enough for a great dinner and one round of leftovers tomorrow (Dorado are much thinner than tuna. A 30" tuna is a much bigger fish.) -DWH
7:30 pm Excellent moon rise! Very beautiful. -SLC
Friday November 2nd, 2001
It was an easy night of sailing under the spinnaker. The sky was pretty much clear, the wind was light and steady at about 12-15 knots out of the ESE, and there was a full moon. All in all very enjoyable conditions. -DWH
7am: WHALE SIGHTING!! During my watch I saw a big splash about 1 mile off the of the port stern. I thought maybe it was a big fish, but the 'splash' lasted for about 2 seconds. That couldn't be a fish and that is not a 'splash'. It was a blow. About 3-4 seconds later I saw another blow. Wow, a whale, how exciting. I ran to get the binoculars to get a better view. Sure enough a few more blows, but I could not make out any part of the animal.. I woke Dave up to check it out, he agreed "Must be a whale". By now she was moving away from the boat at a pretty fast rate, and soon the blows were out of sight. Well, that was exciting while it lasted. -SLC
Noon: our position is 13 58S, 90 03E. Our run for the last 24 hrs was 152 NM -DWH
Stacy made bread. It was so good that it was all we had for dinner. -DWH
7pm: JO and I were bringing in the fishing lines when I saw a very bright light in the sky. First I thought it was another airplane, then it got brighter and burned out like a firework. The light was white and pretty high in the sky, so we were sure it was not a flare. The sun was just setting, so the sky was still pretty bright. I don't know if it was a shooting star or what, but it was VERY bright, and the light lasted a long time. -SLC
The wind began to pick up and the spinnaker was dropped at 10pm.
Saturday November 3rd, 2001
6am: The wind has picked up a little (15-20) and shifted from ESE to SE. We are making 6.5-7 knots. There are low, dark clouds approaching. The barometer is steady at 1006. -DWH
Noon: our position is 14 38S, 87 32E. Our run for the last 24 hrs was 151 NM We have 1765 NM to go to Mauritius. We are averaging 6.27 knots so far this passage. -DWH
Wind is still about 20 out of the SE. At some times during the day it has been up around 25. There was a big area of dark clouds to the north and east at sunset, but the barometer is steady. Our current location is where cyclone Alex was when we left Cocos. That thought makes me nervous (Not that we'll run into Alex. I'm sure he's long gone. It's Bubba that I'm worried about now). I've been trying to get some weather on the SSB. Tonight I managed to get weather for the Pacific, Thailand, and Australia but no luck for this area. There is station in Bombay that looks promising. They're next broadcast is in the middle of when I usually sleep, so I've asked JO to check it during his watch. I talked to Tonya on Blue Nomad tonight, but she hasn't been able to get any weather info either. She is going to try to get a weather fax from somewhere in Africa tonight. If we do run into any bad weather, at least the sea anchor is ready to go. I worked on the setup in Cocos and did a little more work the last couple days. The line is run back to the cockpit and the sea anchor is ready. Let's hope we never need it, but it's good to be prepared for the worst. -DWH
Sunday November 4th, 2001
6am: The wind is still from the SE and has picked up. It is now 25-30, maybe a little more at times. The sky is mostly clear, but there are some thick clouds to the NE. The barometer has climbed slowly from 1004 at 6pm yesterday to 1007 this morning. We are cruising along at about 7.5-8 knots. While these conditions are good for sailing, they are not so good for flying fish. There were 26 flying fish in the cockpit area this morning. -DWH.
Happy Anniversary Ryan & Linda! Hope you have had a nice day of celebrating. We are thinking about our time together 1 year ago today.
Noon: our position is 15 22.78S, 84 31.76E. Last 24 hours we made 180 NM!!!! 1584 NM to go!! -SLC
Monday November 5th, 2001
8am We took the main sail down last night to ensure that the auto pilot would work through the night, as we were getting around 25 knots apparent wind speed. Dave and I just put the main back up, and we are doing around 7.5 nautical miles per hour. Our progress is good, looks like it will be about 10 more days at this pace. Let's hope the wind keeps up.
We have had good radio contact with s/v Blue Nomad every night, thanks to Dave and Tonya's persistence. I wish I could tell my mom that we are sailing within 50 miles of another boat. I talked to her a little about having radio contact with other boats, and I think it would make her happy to know we are not out here alone. Maybe our next sail boat will have a radio capable of e-mail. I wish I could let everyone at home know we are OK and the wind is good. -SLC
Noon: our position is 16 02S, 81 51E. Last 24 hours we made 160 NM
7pm: The wind has continued to be strong. We averaged over 8 knots in the last 2 hours. Our apparent wind was 20-25 at about 120 degrees relative to our course. I played around with heading up a little and the boat speed picked up by a knot or so. If we really wanted to push it in these conditions I'm sure we could do a 200 NM day. But then, I much more concerned about safety and comfort. 1400 miles from our destination is not the place to "push it" unnecessarily. Like last night we have dropped the main completely now and are sailing with just the jib. We are still doing about 6.5 knots, and the autopilot handles this setup much better. Hand steering like I was for the last two hours was fun, but none of us wants to work that hard for the four hours of each of our night shifts. Other than making very good time it has been a pretty routine day with lots of reading. We had vegetable curry for lunch and dinner. It would have been fish curry except we didn't catch any fish. We did have one hit, but I think it was too big for us to handle. We were cruising along at 7-8 knots when the hand line went tight and within a second the lure came flying out of the water and landed just beside the back of the boat. When we check the lure the large hook was seriously bent. Usually when fish hits and we are going pretty fast, it is jerked out of the water and dragged along the surface. At that point it is pretty helpless. I guess that this fish was a little big to jerk up and out of the water. One other cool thing happened today. I was looking at a big wave when a dolphin shot out of the face of it. The dolphin flew though the air and crashed into the water. And that was it. I never saw it again. -DWH
Tuesday November 6th, 2001
Last night we discovered that the lug at the head of the main had failed. Since we were cruising along nice and mellow with just the jib at sunrise, I took the opportunity to fix it. By the time I got done I was a little tired and cranky, so I went to bed. At around 9am Stacy and JO raised the spinnaker.
I saw both sides to the main rainbow and a double on the south end. Very beautiful. The sky was clear by the time we raised the spinnaker. -SLC
Noon: our position is 16 31.2 S 79 09.13 E. Last 24 hours we made 158 NM -SLC
Stacy hits a new speed record 13.99! Wow! - JO
8.96 knots/hour average for the last 3 hours. We're moving! -SLC
It has been an exciting day of sailing. We had an 8 hour run with the spinnaker that included a new record for top speed (14.48 by JO) and a total of just under 70 NM covered. At 5pm a line of dark clouds was approaching from the SE, so we dropped the chute and continued on with the main and jib. At sunset we decided to drop the main and go with just the jib for the night. We are still doing around 6 knots, the autopilot is not working as hard, and the motion is better for sleeping. Mimpi Lala. -DWH
Wednesday November 7th, 2001
Last night when I pulled in the fishing line I found that for the second day in a row we had a bent hook. When it happened the first time I replaced the hook with a bigger one. This one is 3.5" long and actual metal is 1/8" in diameter. I guess we are going to need heavier tackle if we are going to continue trolling at high speed for big fish. This explains something that has been happening to Blue Nomad. Tonya said that they were losing about one lure a day. In their case the wire leader was cut. I suspect that it was actually broken. We also have some wire leader material. It is much more cut resistant but is only 80lb strength, not nearly as strong as the 250lb monofiliment line we use. The force that bent our hook could have probably broken the leader.
When the rest of the crew got up I made a big breakfast with eggs and pancakes. We have been eating really well on this passage - Jo's special beans and rice, Stacy's burritos with homemade tortillas, fresh baked bread, vegetable curry, baked Dorado, etc. Despite flying across the Indian Ocean in 25 knots of wind, we are eating as well or better than we ever did at home.
The other thing of interest that happened last night is that we had trouble taking down the spinnaker. A twist had developed in the sock. It was not twisted when we put it up, but was definitely twisted when we tried to bring it down JO figured out that twist happened because there are actually 2 swivels at the top, one on the sail and one on the halyard. He changed it this morning. -DWH
11am: The spinnaker is back up.
Noon: our position is 17 05.1S, 76 20.1E. We made 165 NM in the last 24 hours. -SLC
Since we are know over half way we are having a party today - Pizza and music! We sailed with the spinnaker until 5pm, averaging almost 9 knots during that time. Then we dropped the chute, unfurled the jib and turned on the autopilot. We cranked up the music and ate out pizza. Very nice. -DWH
Thursday November 8th, 2001
3:46am: Only 1000 NM to Mauritius! -DWH
Noon: position is 17 32.85 S, 77 47.55E and we made 148 NM miles in the last 24 hours. -SLC
I was sitting in the cockpit reading while Stacy was driving. I looked up and saw a fish jump high out of the water. It was moving fast and headed towards our lure. By the time I jumped up it had hit and the line was tight. I quickly pulled it in. It was another 30" Dorado just like the one we caught a week ago. This time we are cooking half and drying half. -DWH
During Jo's shift we discovered that a pin had broken and the spinnaker block had come free from the top of the mast (halyard is run through the mast, exits through a slot, and then runs through this block). We got the spinnaker down and after two trips up the mast we were back in business. It is always a joy to go up the mast, especially at sea with the boat rolling. I wonder if it would be better or worse on a monohull. On a monohull you would certainly swing farther from side to side, but on a catamaran the motion is much quicker. That quick motion makes for high acceleration on the top of the mast. I bet that tomorrow I will find a lot of bruises on my arms from trying to hold on. -DWH
At sunset we dropped the spinnaker and unfurled the jib. Sailing under just the jib is much slower but makes for a very relaxing night. -DWH
Friday November 9th, 2001
Noon: our position is 17 59 S, 71 20E. We made 143 NM in the last 24 hours. We have done 1520 NM so far (6.5 knot average speed). We have 810 NM to go to Mauritius. -DWH
We saw a ship heading east this afternoon. I tried several times to call on VHF channel 16, but never got an answer. Either they were not listening to the radio or they didn't want to talk to us. I was hoping to get a weather update from them and possibly info on times and frequencies for weather on the SSB.
Well, we might not all be the best sailors around (I know I screw up plenty), but we are getting good at fixing stuff. Today the spinnaker got caught on the spreader and ended up with about a 3 foot rip. Ouch! The sail came down. Stacy got out her tools and materials (sewing machine, hot knife, seam ripper, sail tape and material, etc.) and got to work. It took her 35 minutes to fix the sail, and it was back up and flying in just over an hour. Not bad. And while that was happening we still made about 5.5 NM with the main and jib. After it was all said and done I was feeling pretty good until JO pointed out that our instruments were not working. I managed to get the speed and depth back up, but have not been able to fix the wind instruments yet. -DWH
When we pulled in the hand line at sunset we found another bent hook. There must be a lot of big fish out here. -DWH
9pm: Restarted instruments again after strange things appeared, all seems to be in working order!! Maybe it is elven magic? Just got off the radio with Tonya on Blue Nomad. We tried a new frequency (6516) and we could actually hear each other. It was great we talked about fishing, ship sightings, sail repair and drinking cold beer together in Mauritius! This will make Dave happy, as he has worked so hard on the radio. A few conversations like tonight makes it all worth while. Blue Nomad is about 90 miles ahead of us, but we are both making great progress. -SLC
Saturday November 10th, 2001
Approaching rain at sunrise.
Sailed through the night with double reefed main and jib. Wind around 20 out of the SSE/SE. Making about 7 knots. It is bumpy, but we are making good progress. -DWH
Noon: our position is 18 25 S, 68 26 E. We made 168 NM in the last 24 hours.-DWH
At 6pm we have 600 nautical miles to go. We are still on Cocos Island time (we usually do not change our clocks until we arrive even if we pass through several time zones). It has been a typical day. We've done some reading, some napping, some exercise. All three of us have a mini exercise program that we do almost every day. Stacy has the longest workout. The workout JO and I do is not quite as involved. My workout is as follows: a set of decline push-ups, a set of stomach crunches, stretches, a set of incline push-ups, another set of crunches, more stretches, a set of normal push-ups, and finally another set of crunches. I started doing 20 push-ups or crunches in each set, but have increased that to 38. I want to be doing sets of at least 50 by Brazil. After exercising we usually shower. This involves going up on the net with a bucket, washing and rinsing with salt water, and then a final rinse with a little (.5-1 liter) fresh water. We actually have a shower in each head and one on the port transom, but prefer the bucket method in the net. I mentioned reading........we have a good selection books on board right now. We found some good used book stores in Australia. Stacy just finished "The Lord of the Rings". I'm almost done with Nelson Mandela's "Long Walk to Freedom". JO has already read Mandela's book, and Stacy will read it next. It is nice to pick up a little South African history before we arrive. -DWH
No fish or bent hooks today, but our Dorado fillet from the other day is drying nicely. -DWH
Sunday November 11th, 2001
Noon: our position is 18 50.58S, 65 37.00E. We made 162 NM in the last 24 hours. -SLC
What an excellent day of sailing. Stacy relieved me at sunrise, and I went down to take a nap. A little later she and JO raised the spinnaker. We had a great run of over 80 nautical miles in 10 hours. The sun was shining and the motion of the boat was pleasant. During the day I made bread, and Stacy cut out the material for the South African flag she is making. All three of us got our exercise in which is important. We all want to look good dancing naked in the streets of Brazil during carnival. I was at the helm as sunset approached. Stacy and JO were an incredibly efficient team preparing the boat for the night. They did the dishes, pulled in the fishing lines (another day with nothing, but tomorrow I know we will have better luck), brought the fish we are drying inside, dropped the chute, and raised the main and unfurled the jib. The whole time I sat on my butt watching and steering the boat. Now it's time for a glass of wine and a little bread while I enjoy the sunset. -DWH
10pm: The radio worked like a charm tonight. I could hear Blue Nomad loud and clear and Tonya could hear me well. They are doing fine. We are all getting anxious to arrive in Mauritius. Sounds like there will be a bit of a party on Saturday, as it is Tonya's birthday. -SLC
Monday November 12th, 2001
Noon: our position is 19 09S, 62 36 E. We made 172 NM in the last 24 hours. We have done 2020 NM so far (6.6 knot average speed). We have 309 NM to go to Mauritius. -DWH
Another fabulous day of sailing. Hi Ho.
This morning I was trying to identify a type of bird that was flying around the boat. My best guess was that it was a Bridled Tern. At sunset I noticed a big flock of birds ahead of us. They seemed to be in a feeding frenzy. I took the boat right through them and right away we hooked into a Dorado. Unfortunately it got off before we got it to the boat. Afterwards some of the birds took a break from feeding to check us out. I stand by my first guess. I think they are Bridled Terns. -DWH
10:30 pm Just talked to Blue Nomad. They are using some Diesel to ensure arrival before sunset tomorrow evening. Tonya has been listening to the BBC and told me about the plane crash over New York City. What a shock. It is so peaceful here in the middle of the ocean, but my heart still goes out to those suffering the consequences of this terrible event. -SLC
Tuesday November 13th, 2001
12:20 am HAPPY BIRTHDAY KRIS!! Wish I was in Wisconsin for the night to celebrate with you!
Heard more news from the BBC (Freq. 6195.0). Reason for plane crash has not been determined. There was some kind of explosion, but no terrorists have claimed responsibility. -SLC
Noon: our position is 19 30S, 59 58E. We made 151 NM in the last 24 hours. We have 158 NM to go to Mauritius. -DWH
Wednesday November 14th, 2001
When I took over the watch at 4am the haze from the lights of Mauritius was visible on the horizon. Two ships passed to the north in the early morning hours. They were only the third and forth ships that we have seen since leaving Cocos Keeling. At sunrise we can see Mauritius. Once again our timing is perfect. We have about 35 NM to Port Louis where we will clear in and possibly go to shore for a beer. It is 5:40am Mauritius time, so we should be getting in right in the middle of the day. -DWH
Arrived safely in perfect timing 10:30 local time after 14 days and 21 hours. First impressions are awesome!
Ladybug in front of Blue Nomad. The waterfront area extends ahead of us and circles around forming a big "U" shape. The first of the many good bars and restaurants with outside seating is seem to our right.
We moored next to our friends on Blue Nomad. Then Dave checked us in with quarantine, customs and immigration. All of the officials were polite, friendly and efficient which always makes the captain's job easier. We headed over to the Keg and Marlin for a few burgers and beer. I called my mom and sent a few e-mails. We had a good time 'unwinding' after the long passage. -SLC
Clearing into Mauritius was easy because the people were very friendly, but it was fairly involved. Some places it is very easy with only a simple form or two for visiting yachts. Other places, like here in Mauritius, seem to have the exact same procedure for yachts and big cargo ships. This means there are far more forms. My job is to basically give the same information over and over (most info repeated on each form), smile, and sign over and over on the bottom of each form. The only twist here is that we have a couple small spear guns. These are not allowed, so customs had to take them and lock them up for the duration of our visit. At the end of the whole affair, the official asked where we would be keeping the boat. I asked if it was OK where it was. He said yes and added that we could take it to the marina but they would charge us to tie up there. "You can stay here for free." Way cool. As we were soon to find out, the waterfront is the happening place in town and we get to stay tied up right in front of all the cool bars and restaurants. It is not quite like being at the terrace in Madison, but similar in many ways. -DWH
Thursday November 15th, 2001
I got an email out of the blue from an old college friend. Karl was not only a friend, but he was my pledge dad at the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Karl is also from Wisconsin, but since college he has also seen a lot of the world and is currently working in Saudi Arabia. It is hard to explain how nice it is to get an email from an old friend when we are so far from home. -DWH
Spent the day exploring the fruit and vegetable market and a little bit of town. Huge contrast between the buildings on the waterfront and the rest of the city. The waterfront is newly developed, very clean and lots of fancy (expensive) shops. The rest of the town very old, run down and poor looking. But the people are friendly and have a good sense of humor. We had a great lunch in a very busy little upstairs place on Bourbon Street. Great Curry food. We also found a local wine factory, bottling wine since 1927, family owned and operated. The wine was less than 1$, Dave thought it was OK but I didn't like it very much. Then we made our way back to the market to find some stuff for dinner. We got to taste cold milk with vanilla, very good. Then we found the bread man who insisted on filling our bag with day old bread for free, it was a joke and we laughed all the way back to the boat with about 10 pounds of bread that we couldn't eat. We did find one beggar woman who we were able to share it with.
In the evening Dave and I decided to stay on the boat and hang out. I fancied up the cockpit with my white Christmas lights and had quite a few locals come buy and talk to us including a police man, a few children, and a business man who gave us a gift of pickled garlic (not garlic with pickles). Once again people really seem friendly here. Almost everyone is bilingual with French and English which is very fun. I've been speaking a bit of French, but everyone speaks English so well there is not much use. -SLC
Interesting Mauritius Fact: Mauritius, along with Reunion, was the home of the famous but now extinct dodo. The dodo weighed about 20kg (44lbs), couldn't fly, and tasted good. To add to it's precarious situation it laid only a single egg on a grass nest. When visiting sailors and early settlers decided that it was good to eat, it's days were numbered. No dodos have been seen since the Dutch left in 1710. -DWH
Friday November 16th, 2001
Today we rented a car and headed out to see some of the Island. I found some really cool steep, narrow and winding roads for Dave to navigate. Wish we could have rented motorcycles. The scenery was beautiful. We enjoyed seeing a natural lake in an extinct volcano, a beautiful Hindu temple, a few waterfalls, a picnic and hike in the Black River Gorges National Park and some nice views of the reef along the coast. We made a quick stop at the grocery store on our way home. When we got home we headed over to Blue Nomad for a barbecue to start celebrating Tonya's birthday. We managed to stay up until about 3:30 debating politics. A great time was had!!-SLC
Dave checking the map in the middle of the tea fields.
Stacy and JO trying to improve the great scenery.
Breath taking view of the Chamarel Waterfalls. The photo didn't pick it up, but there was a double rainbow effect in the mist from the falls
Saturday November 17th, 2001
Dave is working on a few small boat projects and I am cleaning up the website for a new download. JO completed a new movie video from Tahiti clips. He will start working on a Tonga movie next. Our plan is to clear-out with customs and immigration on Monday morning and head for Durban, South Africa. We will be watching the weather closely. -SLC
JO has managed to get a SSB weather schedule for South Africa off the internet. We have had so much trouble getting weather info. All of the times/frequencies in out cruising guide seem to be wrong. It is really frustrating trying day after day with no success. I know the radio is working because I've gotten weather for the Pacific, Australia, and Thailand. I also hear the BBC and lots of private conversations that are in other languages. Hopefully we will have better luck with South African weather. We need to be very careful as we approach South Africa and go around the cape as 60 foot waves are not uncommon (according to our cruising guide) when a strong SW wind blows against the Agulhas current. Those are definitely conditions we want to avoid. -DWH
Sunday November 18th, 2001
Another easy day of working on little boat projects, working on the computers (JO is working on Tonga video. Stacy is trying to get our laptop working again), and doing emails at the Internet cafe. We also went to the market and bought stuff for a stir fry. About 3:30pm Stacy and I went out for a couple beers. Then we came back to the Bug and made a nice dinner. -DWH
Monday November 19th, 2001
We made a trip to the market, did some last minute emails at the internet cafe, and had a big lunch trying to spend the last of our rupees. I had taken care of immigration in the morning. In the afternoon I cleared out of customs. There was a little confusion and a lot of running around, but eventually everything was straightened out and we were free to go. The last thing was to reclaim the spear guns that were being held by customs. The officers brought the spear guns onboard, asked me to verify that they were the same spear guns I had turned over and that they were undamaged, and then had me sign off that they had been returned. It was all very official.
Called port control and asked for the Mauritius weather schedule: 4402 at 5:15pm local time. Totally different than what our book had, but I'm sure this one will work. At least we will know what is coming from behind.
3pm: Cast off the lines. Called port control to ask permission to exit the harbor. They wished us a safe trip. As we motored out we could see Blue Nomad a few miles ahead. They are going to stop in Reunion for a few days of surfing before heading to South Africa. -DWH
Tuesday November 20th, 2001
5am: Reunion Island is visible in the distance. It is about 40 nm away. We will be passing south of it during the day. -DWH
10:30am: Whales! I napped past the beginning of my shift, but when I woke and came out the relieve JO, I spotted a whale blowing. After watching for a little while we were able to tell that there were at least two. Though we couldn't really see the whales themselves, we could see them splashing and blowing on the surface. It went on for about 5 minutes, and then they suddenly disappeared. -DWH
Noon: Our position is 21 22S, 56 02E. We have a little less than 1500 nm to go to Durban.
It was a pleasant day of sailing around the south side of Reunion Island. We had lots of sunshine and mellow conditions. Late in the day we caught a 18" skipjack tuna. At sunset Reunion was all lit up behind us, and the sky was all lit up ahead. The sunset was orange on the horizon with little puffy clouds. Moving up it turned green and then blue and finally there were stars and a slice of moon. To cap it all off, our friends the dolphins joined us for a little sunset swim off the bow. -DWH
Wednesday November 21st, 2001
The wind slowly died during the early morning hours and we ended up motoring. At sunrise the lights of Reunion were still visible in the distance. Later in the morning the wind picked up a little, and we were sailing again.
Noon: our position is 22 20S, 54 29E. We made 104 nautical miles in the last 24 hours. We have 1365 nm to go to Durban. -DWH
I had been trying to get weather info since we left, but until today all I managed to get was weather from Mauritius. Today I made a mistake and got onto a HAM net out of South Africa. (I guess our radio, which we purchased used, has been modified to allow for transmission on HAM frequencies). The very nice guy running the net politely told me that since I wasn't a licensed HAM, he couldn't talk to me on that frequency. Then he took our name and position, gave me another frequency and time to try, gave the weather for the areas between our position and Durban, and promised to continue broadcasting weather for these areas so we could listen. -DWH
Thursday November 22nd, 2001
7:30am: We have officially left the tropics, crossing south of the Tropic of Capricorn (23 37 S latitude). -DWH
I tried 8101 khz at 5:00 UTC (9am Mauritius time). I heard people whistle to tune their antennas, but no conversation. I'll try again tomorrow. -DWH
The last couple days it has seemed that the ocean looks very big lately. That may sound strange. Of course it's big. But it actually seems to look bigger than it usually does. Finally I figured out the reason. For a long time we have had maybe 6-12 foot seas. When we are surrounded by these waves, the horizon seems close. Now the seas are relatively calm, only small waves and very little swell. The sea meets the sky on a very straight line way off in the distance. It really gives a different feeling. -DWH
Noon: our position is 23 44S, 52 45E. We made 126 nautical miles in the last 24 hours. We have 1239 nm to go. -SLC
HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!
Dave and I were a little homesick for family today but we pulled through with a celebration of our own. We spent part of the morning talking about what we were missing at home(family, friends, food, football, hunting, running). Then in the afternoon we played a game of scrabble. Dave won, but we had many good words and a combined score of over 600 - not bad. For dinner I made a fancy soup with lots of fresh veggies, garlic toast and peach cobbler for desert. No turkey, but it all still tasted very good. Boy, do I ever have a craving for some cranberry pie. Cranberry pie is a Thanksgiving tradition in our family and we have Mrs. Albrecht to thank for the recipe. Mrs Albrecht was a wonderful neighbor on Arch Avenue whom I adopted as my local grandmother. She often baby-sat and entertained me when mom and dad were traveling. I have great memories of playing Sorry with her (this is the game with the built in dice under a plastic dome that you press to toss the dice). The day ended with a beautiful sunset to boot. The sky was totally pink/orange with these little puffy clouds all over. The moon is getting bigger and staying up longer, always a bonus especially when we are sailing. The wind is very light and we are only making 3 knots per hour. But I feel pretty relaxed about getting to Durban, as always we get there when we get there and not a minute sooner. -SLC
Dave also managed to get a good weather report today on a HAM net in Durban. We can't talk on the net because we are not HAMs, but the net controller knows we are listening (because Dave talked illegally yesterday) and announced the weather we needed. So good to finally get the weather. Dave and JO have been trying since we left Darwin, Australia. There are infinite frequency and time combinations and all the information we have seems to be incorrect or out of date. -SLC
The weather forecast for this area is for nice conditions, but it was interesting to hear that there is a cyclone at 12S 83E. It is a good time to be getting clear of the area. -DWH
Friday November 23rd, 2001
Another beautiful day. We put up the chute at sunrise. We are not setting any speed records, but the sailing is nice. I think we are pretty much out of the trade winds and the weather is now controlled by highs and lows and fronts, giving us some real variety. We've actually been on a starboard tack for the last 24 hours or so, the first time in thousands and thousands of miles.
I tuned in to 8101 this morning and to my amazement I heard a faint "Ladybug, Ladybug, this is Peri Peri." I guess that the nice guy running the HAM net passed on the word that we are out here. I tried to call back but I don't think he could hear me. That's OK. As we get closer I'm sure we will get in contact. In the mean time I will continue listening to the weather on the HAM net.
JO and saw something cool this morning. There was a small white ship on the horizon. The strange thing was that there was a tall white tower near it. Was it a marker for a fishing net? It looked too big. JO continued to watch it and discovered that it was actually a huge ship. The part we thought was the ship was only the deck house, and the tower was actually on the bow. The rest of the ship was very deep in the water. It looked like a super tanker. I tried to call on the VHF but got no response. -DWH
11am: Some dark clouds were approaching from the north and the wind started to pick up a little and get shifty. We decided to drop the chute. Not knowing exactly what to expect we went with a double reefed main and the jib. Within 10 minutes the wind did a 40 degree shift (from 100 to 60 apparent) and we were doing a nice 7 knots.
Noon: our position is 24 44S, 51 14E. We made 102 nautical miles in the last 24 hours. We have 1137 nm to go. -DWH
3pm: I was doing my exercises at the base of the mast (when the sea is very calm I do my workout up front) when I noticed that the wind instruments were hanging at an unnatural angle and clanging on the radar reflector. I eventually brought this to Dave's attention..."Just a dumb question, should the wind instruments be bumping into the radar reflector?" He took a quick look and went for the Bosuns chair. JO and I hauled him to the tip-top of the mast and he removed the instrument sensors. No instruments until we fix it, but at least we don't have to buy new sensors. -SLC
Saturday November 24th, 2001
I had coffee during my early morning shift. I haven't been drinking much coffee lately, and it really got me buzzing. Once it got light I dove into some projects: fixing the chafed outhaul for the second reef, running an outhaul for the third reef, checking engine fluid levels, filling up the diesel tank from out extra jugs, working on the wind sensor (still not fixed, might take a day or two), and adjusting the tension on the battens. Since we are heading into an area that often has bad weather, I was trying to get as prepared as possible while the weather is mellow. Later I tried to nap and even though I was really tired I just couldn't sleep. A predictable thing happened. I started getting cranky. I noticed that our port solar panel wasn't working. I figured out that it was a blown fuse (expecting 9 amps when both panels going to port bank, fused for 10 amps). Just as I went to fix it, my glasses broke. Stacy quickly fixed my glasses, but I was very close to being very cranky. Then we spotted the whale. It was blowing about every 10 seconds. After a couple minutes it blew, raised its tail, and dove. After a few more minutes it was back again (or possibly another one), this time closer. When it dove Stacy saw the fluke clearly through the binoculars. She said it was just like on the "Discovery Channel". -DWH
Noon: our position is 25 44S, 49 40E. We made 105 nautical miles in the last 24 hours. We are about 160 nm from the south end of Madagascar. -DWH
It was easy spinnaker sailing all day. The sky is almost completely clear, with only a few clouds way off on the horizon. We've had a total of seven whale sighting today. They all seemed to show the same behavior: blowing about every 10 seconds for a couple minutes and then diving. When they blow it is directed forward. This seems to match our information on sperm whales. I wish we could get a better look to confirm our guess.
8pm: We are only 135 miles from the east coast of Madagascar! Very exciting. But I don't feel bad about not stopping there, the cruising book says it is not very nice and we are anxious to be in S. Africa.-SLC
Sunday November 25th, 2001
We shifted our watches by an hour last night, so now I get an hour or so of daylight at the end of my early morning shift. (We are still on Mauritius time, but as we move west sunset and sunrise get later every day). I took advantage of the light to play with the sails. Our desired course was pretty much dead down wind. We were sailing at about 155 apparent with a double reefed main and the jib sheeted way out (to additional block added in Australia). The jib was still flapping a little. While maintaining my course I took the jib sheet to the block on the other hull putting us wing and wing. It worked great. Having that block way out on the hull works kind of like poling out the jib. Now we were able to go pretty much dead down wind. With the autopilot steering in these conditions we were swinging +/-20 degrees but it was still no problem, and we were still making about the same speed or a little better than when we were at 155 apparent.. -DWH
Noon: our position is 26 38S, 48 06E. We made 100 nautical miles in the last 24 hours.
When I came out for my 11am to 1pm watch, I decided to put the lines out. It seemed like a good day to catch a fish. A little after noon I noticed that one of the lines was tight. I quickly started pulling it in. I got more excited as I got the fish near the boat as I could see it was not a tuna or a dorado. What could it be......? It was a wahoo! The first we've ever caught. Wahoo are part of the mackerel family and are a highly regarded sport fish. (Scientist estimate that they can swim at a maximum speed of between 45 and 50 miles an hour.) We later found out that they are also very tasty. This one was 52 inches long and heavy. Cleaning (or maybe I should say butchering) was a lot more work than catching it. We cooked about half and are drying the rest.
The last thing I did before I threw the fish minus fillets overboard was to check its stomach. It had two squid, a small fish, and two very strange things that were actually alive. They were about 1.5 inches long and roughly pear shaped. Their skin seemed to be somewhat transparent. Most of what was inside appeared to be brownish, but in some places I could see what looked like intestines. There was no readily apparent mouth or eyes, but the sharper end moved in a seeking sort of manner. They were also farther along in the stomach than the squid and fish which were partially digested. My guess from all this is that they were some kind of parasite. If anyone has any additional info as to what these might have been, please send me an e-mail. -DWH
8pm: The baked wahoo was great! It turned out very dry and nicely grilled on the bottom. Most people might complain that it is too dry, but I love it that way. The meat is very white and extremely tasty. Whales yesterday, Wahoo today, what will we see tomorrow?? Sailing has been slow, but the boat couldn't be more comfortable. During the day we have been able to keep all of the hatches open for good ventilation, just like when we are at anchor! The wind picked up today and we are averaging close to 5.5 knots since noon.-SLC
Monday November 26th, 2001
Spinnaker up at dawn and we are doing 7-9 knots!
Noon: Our position is 27 36S, 45 44E. We are about 130 nm directly south of Madagascar. We made 144 nautical miles in the last 24 hours. It's 799 nm to Durban. -DWH
1:30pm: Dolphins, dolphins everywhere. There must have been a hundred of them. They arrived quickly, often jumping clear of the water as they came shooting towards the Bug. Then after a few minutes they all disappeared. These were fairly small (maybe 5-6 feet long) and dark. We were not able to make a positive ID on them, but they might be bridled dolphins. -DWH
2pm: Spinnaker down. The bar has been dropping about 1 an hour for the last 4 or 5 hours. The wind is probably 20-25 out of the ENE and has been steady for the last couple hours. Not sure what to make of the dropping bar, so we'll play it safe. -DWH
We had two ships pass this afternoon. The first was a cruise ship and the second was some kind of freighter. We were really surprised to see the cruise ship. I gave them a call on the VHF to see what they were up to. I ended up having a nice chat with a guy. The ship is "Legend of the Sea". It caters primarily to Americans. They don't have guests on board as they are doing a "relocation passage", heading for Mauritius and then on to Singapore. He said that the original plan was to take her through the Suez Canel, but that seemed unwise with the current situation. He asked if we had had any trouble with pirates. He said he gets some kind of report on piracy and that there is a lot of it in Asia. I explained that we hadn't been to Asia, but that small yachts are seldom targets as there is little of value to steal. It does happen, but is very, very infrequent. Anyhow, we had a nice chat.
The bar leveled out around 4pm. The sky is clear. The wind is still from the ENE at probably about 20 knots. There are pretty good waves making it a little difficult for the auto pilot, but otherwise everything is fine. I listened to the HAM net to get weather. They currently have wind out of the SW which is bad, but it it really tough to tell what it will be like when we get there in 5-7 days. I tried to get on another net, a Marine SSB on 8101 mhz. I was able to hear, but there was a lot of interference (other people also using the frequency). I was hoping to check in with the net, but it just isn't worth the effort until I can hear better (and they will be able to hear me better). -DWH
I've heard that there is good, cheap wine in South Africa. I hope it's true. I think we are down to single digits in the wine locker. -DWH
Tuesday November 27th, 2001
8am Very calm, we are motoring. I got to watch tuna feeding on the surface about 1 boat length away. I also noticed that there were a lot of jelly fish in the water. The jelly fish were about the size of a golf ball. -SLC
The wind switched in the early morning to be very light and on the nose. We motored for a couple hours. Then it started to build, and we have been slogging to weather ever since. It's a little rough but not too bad.
Noon: Our position is 27 10S, 43 34E.
No whales, no fish, and no dolphins today. We do have fresh baked whole wheat bread though (and some very tasty meat pie - without the meat)! -DWH.
11:15pm Around 10pm (bar 1010) the wind died a little, but shifted in our favor. Woke JO around 10:50. There was a line of dark clouds in front of us so we decided to throw another reef in. -SLC
Wednesday November 28th, 2001
5am: I have been following the weather on the HAM net, so we knew about the approaching cold front that we hit around 11pm last night. The wind shifted more to he south, which has helped us out. We are now on our desired course towards Darwin. We are also making good progress, averaging about 8.5 knots for the last 2 hours. -DWH
The wind from the S/SW continued to build and so did the seas. Our wind sensor is currently sitting in the saloon waiting to be repaired, so I can only guess that we had somewhere between 25 and 35 knots at the peak. The seas also built up to be as big as any we have seen, which is actually not that big. The maximum wave height might have reached 15 feet, but most were maybe half of that. I find it hard to estimate wave height and know that most people overestimate by about 50%, but I think I'm probably closer than that. At 11am we had done 99.5 nautical miles in the 12 hours since the front hit. It is probably the best 12 hour run we have had, though I'm sure it was helped by some following current. All and all it was a little rough (some books fell off the saloon table, but the fresh baked bread sat on the cutting board on the table the whole time), but fun sailing. I just hope we don't get this wind when we are in the Agulhas current. That wind would really raise some nasty waves it opposed by a 3-5 knot current. -DWH
Noon: our position is 27 34S, 40 38E. We sailed 168 nautical miles in the last 24 hours with our distance made good at 154. -DWH
Listened to weather on HAM net (14316mhz at 11:30UTC). Also got on SSB net (8101mhz at 1500UTC) and got more weather and gave our position. The net controller in "Peri Peri". He will be helping us with info as we approach the coast and the Angulhas current. This is the area where we need to be very careful.
11pm At the beginning of my shift I rigged the extra sheet for the jib that we use when we are heading downwind. Sure enough the wind started coming more from the East, and continued to be shifty throughout my shift. I used the autopilot to maximize speed. Basically I set the sail to be heading as down wind as possible then just added or subtracted from the auto-pilot to keep the sail from flapping. Every time the speed went below 5.5 I knew that I needed to adjust the sail. Must have worked, as I averaged 6.6 knots for my 4 hour watch. -SLC
Thursday November 29th, 2001
Talked to "Peri Peri" again this morning. The morning SSB net is on 8297mhz at 500UTC. There were a number of other boats on the net, all of them trying to work there we down the east coast. The idea it to avoid SW winds which, running against the current, kick up big, sometimes monstrous, waves. Everyone looks for that weather window when they are pretty safe. We are at a slight disadvantage because we are not sitting at a nice anchorage waiting. If things look really bad in a day or two, the best we can do is lie to the sea anchor outside of the strongest current and wait for a good chance to cross. We will be keeping in close contact with our friends in South Africa to keep on top of the situation as much as possible. -DWH
Noon: our position is 28 05S, 37 47E. We sailed 155 nautical miles in the last 24 hours. -DWH
Stacy and JO were doing the dishes in the cockpit when they spotted a really large bird. I went out and got a good look at it. It soon headed off, and I grabbed our seabird identification guide. It was a black-browed albatross. How very cool! They are really big with an average wing span of 95".
Talked to "Peri, Peri". Looks like SW winds for the coast for tomorrow and Saturday. I asked how far the strong current extends offshore. He said it's pretty close and there isn't much once you are out 50nm. -DWH
I reviewed what we saw on the bar and how it relates to our recent weather (blow from the south). The bar had been pretty steady at about 1011 for several days. (Note: This absolute value may be off as it has not been calibrated for a long time, but the changes should be accurate.) During this time we had 10-15 out of the E/NE. Then it dropped steadily over about 6 hours to 1005. We had good wind out of the ENE, maybe 20 knots or so, during this time. After that the bar stayed pretty steady slowly going up to 1007 in the next 24 hours. During this time the ENE wind died and we got a little wind from the W. Then the bar increased steadily from 1007 to 1011 over 4 hours. Then we hit the cold front and the blow from the S/SW started. It blew pretty hard for the next 14 hours or so. During this time the bar continued to go up slowly, reaching 1014. At that point the bar leveled off for about 12 hours, and the wind started to mellow out and finally died. The bar then dropped back to 1010 and the ENE wind came back and reached about 15 knots. This may seem confusing, but I graphed it out and can see the pattern pretty clearly. It seems to be similar to what our cruising guide told us to expect, although the time frame was greater than what I imagined. I will compare this to what we see in the future to see what I can learn. Right now the bar has once again started to drop. We also seem to have a warm front passing. -DWH
Friday November 30th, 2001
I've been checking weather info a couple times a day. The current situation is "hard to predict", but "Peri Peri" thinks we should be OK to head into Durban. I'll be keeping a very close eye on the situation.
Noon: our position is 28 25S, 35 00E. We sailed 148 nautical miles in the last 24 hours. We have 228 nm to go to Durban. We are making about 7 knots. If we keep this up and get a little help from the current, we might be drinking cold beer in Durban tomorrow night. -DWH
7:30pm: We have a falling bar which has me a little nervous, but I just got a forecast from Peri Peri and things look OK. There is a fresh southwesterly forecast for Durban on Sunday and a fresh southwesterly forecast for for Richard's Bay for tomorrow night. Durban is 175 nm and Richard's Bay is 100. If we go for Durban it is likely we would get there after dark and have to cross the current and enter the port at night or hold off and have to avoid being carried to far south or run over by ships (busy port). On the other hand, if we go to Richard's bay we can arrive during the day and probably beat the southwesterly. The other big point is that if we go to Richard's Bay we can be drinking cold beer at the Zululand Yacht Club tomorrow afternoon. The crew voted 3-0 for Richard's Bay. -DWH
Saturday December 1st, 2001
9am We motored all night but we are now only 26 miles from Richard's Bay!! We are all very excited. The horizon is very hazy, I think I can see something that looks like land. We motored all night, but the wind started to pick up around 7am. We are making about 6.5knots + about 1 knot of current.
9:25 We can see land!! Very Hazy.
Earlier this morning I was watching the water temperature. It was right around 74.5 degrees. At that point we were still about 25 miles offshore and not into the strong Angulas current. Later during Stacy and Jo's shifts the seas got rougher. The waves were not big, but they were steep. When I took over from JO at 11am we were only about 5 miles from shore and had almost flat seas. I checked the water temp, and it was 72.9. Our course has also gone to hell, turning to the north. We had obviously gotten out of the southern current and possibly into an eddy. I tacked back out. As we got further offshore the temperature climbed, the waves returned, and our course turned to the south. Very nice. The temperature reached 76.9 before I tacked back in. We continued this tacking in and out on our way to Richard's Bay. In addition to helping our course, the current did one other nice thing for us. It tends to attract sea life. We had a whale surface and blow about 200 feet from us. -DWH
2:30 pm we are tied up to the pier and waiting for customs and immigration to arrive. -SLC
Once we had cleared in we did a little celebrating/exploring. This must be an expensive area by South African standards, but the US dollar is so strong that it is almost embarrassing. A beer or glass of wine is around 6 rand and a steak dinner is around 30 rand. The current exchange rate 10.5 rand to the dollar. That makes this the least expensive place we've been so far. -DWH
forward to South Africa Log 12/02/2001-?