Passage to Australia – part 2

By noon on Friday (25 October) it was a beautiful bright and sunny day.   The seas had settled down to a gentle 1.5m swell and the wind had eased to between 10-14 knots.   It was just a stunning (albeit chilly) day in the most perfect conditions with blue skies and deep navy blue seas.  In the second 24 hour period of this passage we had covered another 129.4 miles.   

At 6pm the sun went down and the conditions remained the same.   It was another black night with no moon but, instead, we were mesmerised by the fantastic show that are the planets and the stars.   The Milky Way was very apparent and we are always in awe of the beauty of nature on a night like this.  It is interesting to the constellations as they are different to what we can see at home in the Northern Hemisphere.

During the night the conditions were fickle with higher gusts again and strong currents requiring us to change course to stay moving in a straight line.   By 3am on Saturday (26 October) the wind had swung north easterly, so we gybed.   Then within an hour it had gone south easterly again so we gybed back.   That will teach me to say earlier that we wouldn’t  have to do much to the sails once set LOL.

The sun came up in an amazing colour show and the day was another beautiful sunny one.   Richard threw out the lures and was hopeful for a fish.  By noon we had covered another 129.5 miles so, again, making steady progress.   At this point the wind dropped back to around 6 knots which is really light for us as we are such a heavy boat.   So we poled out the Genoa and then the main and were sailing along slowly wing-on-wing.   We kept our speed up around the 4.5 knots region so actually pretty happy.   By 5pm, however, the wind eased even more and we struggled to keep both sails full.   So we left the poled-out Genoa but put the mainsail away.   At 5pm we motor sailed to top up our batteries for a couple of hours then turned the engine off at 7pm.   We continued to slowly sail towards our destination.   As we went into our night shifts, having eaten dinner and witnessed another lovely sunset, we were maintaining speed despite the light airs.   We also pulled our lure back onboard – no fish again today. 

Each afternoon Richard is participating in the SSB Offshore Pacific Cruisers net to find out how other yachts are faring.    There is currently an exodus from the Pacific Islands heading to both Australia and New Zealand to seek shelter before the cyclone season starts officially on 1 November (although many stay much later as there is little danger very early in the season).   Most of us, however, are driven by the restrictions in our respective insurance policies.  Those behind us are experiencing strong winds and those ahead of us are motoring with no wind at all.    The forecast, again, is pretty accurate.

During the evening we continued sailing in light airs.   At 11.30 pm we motor sailed for an hour to top up our batteries again and were also assisted by a positive current.   At 12.30 am, when it was time to switch off the engine the wind had died back to 4 knots so we admitted defeat and continued motor sailing with the poled-out Genoa.  Again another dark night as Mr Moon is not putting in an appearance until around 3am.    There was some cloud cover so not such a great starry night but I was kept entranced by the glittering show of the phosphorescence in the water behind our stern.

This morning, Sunday (27 October) and the wind has died completely so we are now motoring  under bare poles.   Looks like that will be it for the day.   So far no large sea creatures have been spotted but, now that we are within Australian waters (with just over 300 miles to go) we are ever hopeful of seeing dolphins or even whales (although a big late in the season for them).   So far all we have seen are flying fish who skim across the top of the water trying to escape from us as we plow on through.

Bye for now