Miles to go: 1994
With a mild 3-day forecast of 15-knot winds and fair weather, we reluctantly headed out of our gorgeous Cocos lagoon and back into the wilds of the Indian Ocean. We were all prepared with our custom, shortened whisker pole ready and rigged, but within an hour, the wind had switched more southerly and we were main, Yankee and staysail all full tooling along in the mid-6’s, the southeast swell keeping the ride a bit rocky.
The low-lying Cocos were out of sight within 10 miles and we once again sang our usual “On the Road Again” classic as we continued our western passage. Our hard fought northerly progress of a couple of weeks ago will be slowly relinquished as we head WSW (255M) on a route that will eventually lead us to the small island of Rodrigues, formerly French-owned and now a dependency of Mauritius.
The sun set about 6pm, making for a long night. The night watches, however, weren’t very stressful. No traffic, the wind remained steady, and the night was mild and clear. A good first day at sea.
Miles run last 24 hours: 139; Miles to go: 1838
A pair of boobies followed us for miles today, alternately fishing and eyeing Cups for a good landing spot. They didn’t appear successful at either venture and near dusk, they disappeared. Sometime during David’s first watch, a booby did manage to land on the solar panels and spent the night resting, preening and pooping. We have a strict No Hitchhikers -No Stowaway policy on Nine of Cups, but it wasn’t posted and evidently this fellow thought it was perfectly fine and fair to hang out for awhile, rest and empty his bowels frequently.
We took some pix when he first landed, just in case he headed off without a farewell. He was still there, however, at my 6am watch. I moved closer and closer with the camera, snapping away as I went. When I was inches away, he gave me an odd look, but expressed neither fear nor interest in my presence. I noted two flying fish on deck and I guess if I was a good host, I should have offered them to our guest, but I didn’t, thinking of the additional excrement I’d be cleaning up.
Boobies, in case you’re unfamiliar with them, are about the size of a medium duck, with a long, thick, pointed beak and a wonderfully streamlined body that makes them expert divers. They dive from extreme heights and hit the water at breakneck speed like a bullet. They were named “bobos” (stupid) by Spanish sailors because they were so easy to catch and were regularly fooled by lures on fishing lines. Our fellow is brown-backed with a white belly and the reddest pair of webbed feet you’ve ever seen … hence a red-footed booby. We have a great photo on the Galapagos page of our website, if you’d like to see them diving.
My entertainment for the day was watching David try to shoo our hitchhiker away. The booby would take off with significant, up-close prodding and then be back before David could return to the cockpit. He’d be on return approach, in fact, before David could turn around ..Ready to land and launch a new load of poop.
David dug out his old slingshot and armed with popcorn kernels, fired round after round with no effect, despite the fact he had hit his target. After several fruitless attempts to discourage our unwanted rider, ( I counted no less than 15, but lost count as I nearly peed my pants watching), David finally grabbed a line and swatted him which evidently delivered the right message to his tiny booby brain. He left in a huff and wasn’t seen again.
Deck count for the day: 2 flying fish – 1 booby
Miles run last 24 hours: 141; Miles to go: 1697
Squalls …squalls….squalls! Our beautiful weather changed abruptly to squall after squall after squall. The gentle, warm 15 knot breezes morphed into 35 knot gusts and torrential downpours that soaked and saturated everything on deck and anything that didn’t make it below on time. They came on suddenly during the night and whoosh …no warning, the skies opened up and dumped buckets…the wind blew through like a night train making up time and the seas were as confused as we were. As suddenly and as ferociously as it all began, all would calm down, only to begin again in another 15-20 minutes.
Neither of the crew relaxed. No off-watch sleeping was possible, leaving an exhausted pair by morning. As I stumbled into the sea berth at 0300, I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. David gave me an extra hour’s sleep and I woke rested, but lame and brain-fogged. David assured me the squalls had continued while I slept, but my weary body was oblivious to it all. He wasted no time hitting the sack when I awoke and, like me earlier, was asleep in seconds.
Deck count: 3 flying fish