Indian Ocean Crossing – Update 1
Geraldton, Western Australia to Cocos Keeling
Begin: 1423 nm - End of Day1: 1275 nm to go
We were excited and didn't sleep well last night. We had our last minute to-do lists sitting on the saloon table and we were anxious to get them done and head out. Fill the water tanks, empty the trash, take off the sail cover, make the passage soup (Lemay Special) and a batch of muffins, take our last hot showers, do last minute e-mails, pay credit cards … lots to do and actually plenty of time. We finished by 0800 and still had to wait for Customs/Immigration to come clear us out at 0900. We twiddled our thumbs and paced nervously, trying to think of what we had forgotten. We go through this exercise every time we're leaving on a big passage.
Customs arrived right on time and handled all the formalities without a hitch and within an hour we were heading up the North Channel out of Geraldton and doing a slalom around all the lobster traps. The day was brilliantly sunny; the water, an exotic blue-green; the sky, cloudless. What a day to begin a passage.
Once we passed the anchored ships in the outer harbor, we pointed Cups' bow towards Cocos Keeling … a straight shot. We sailed passed the low-lying Abrolhos Islands and sighted whales along the route. Humpbacks were breaching and spouting. I finally got a reasonable shot, but you'll have to wait till we reach internet-land again.
The wind was the predicted 15 knots and we beam-reached for hours. By mid-afternoon, the wind had freshened and the waves had steepened. We took a reef in the main and cruised along in the 7's. By 1700, the wind had worked it way to 25 knots on the beam and we took another reef … and continued in the low 8's. By 1800, we were both seasick. We took two hour watches on a cold, raw, boisterous night, fighting off the cold and the seasickness as best we could. The passage soup went untasted.
Even writing this blog on my watch is a trial. More tomorrow.
------------------------------------------ Day 2
Begin: 1275 nm - End of Day 2: 1132nm to go
Not much sleep last night, but we're making up for it today with several naps. We're both feeling better. The wind has shifted to SE and we're sailing downwind, wing-on-wing, but slowly in 8 knots of apparent wind. The seas have calmed down and the sun is shining brilliantly. David found a loose screw on the deck while taking his morning walk … always a worry … but we found the stanchion from whence it came and all is good.
A red-tailed tropic bird came a-visiting this morning. A snow white bird, the size of medium gull, these tropical beauties have dark eyes and a single, fire-red tail feather. Females lose their tail feather when nesting and I remember collecting them with Vero, the Cook Islander caretaker at Suwarrow Atoll. My mind wanders.
The sky is pale blue today with puffy, grey-white cumulus clouds floating lazily by. The sea is dark. We saw dolphins earlier, but they were all business and didn't stop by to play.
Despite the lessening of the waves, the swell persists making for a lot of rocking. We've been sleeping like starfish in the aft cabin in our bunk (in shifts, of course). “Starfish sleeping” … laying on our backs, arms and legs spread out to keep from rolling. By evening, the wind returned to 20-25 knots and lasted throughout the night. We gained some good mileage
Sad news from Lin today. Jelly, our ship's cat, has died. She'd been losing ground and energy for awhile now, and I guess this was her time. I must admit to tears when I read the news. She was, without a doubt, the best pet we've ever had, a good sailor and a good companion.
Magellan Louise Lemay Lynn aka Jelly March 24, 2000 – September 13, 2014
RIP, Jelly! You were loved.
---------------------------------------------------- Day 3
Begin: 1132 nm - End of Day 3: 973 nm to go
We had a good run today … 163 miles total and 159 miles to the good (we don't always go directly in a sailboat). I happened to notice the depths on the chartplotter today … 13,123 feet (4,038 m) … yikes, that's deep. Made me wonder what lives down there? Massive, hideous, eyeless creatures? Giant squids with long tentacles that wrap around ships and drag them down? Enough of that …
The days continue to be fair, the night's cold and clear with a waning moon and increased winds. As we move north the temps are becoming warmer during the day … low 70s F (20s C), in the 50sF (low teens C) at night and with 25-30 knot winds, the wind chill keeps us layered up … a t-neck, sweatshirt, fleece and heavy offshore jacket for me, plus sweatpants, socks, scarf, gloves, hat, socks, shoes and two blankets, just about does it for me. It's wonderful to slide into the sea berth at the end of my watch, already pre-warmed by David.
We had to switch the whisker pole from starboard to port side to accommodate a change in wind. This should have taken 15-20 minutes max, but instead it occupied nearly two hours. The pole jammed in the track on the mast and David noticed that the swivel is bent. It took brute force on the part of the captain (read that a hammer), to jury rig it into place, but it'll need attention in Cocos. The list of the to-do's is, of course, beginning to grow daily: a minor issue with the voltage regulator on the alternator, lines to whip, replacing the preventer on the boom. Some we'll do at sea, others will wait. David took a chafed dockline and recycled it into two new snubbers today.
Saw several sooty shearwaters checking out the waters for fish this morning. Perhaps what I read was wrong and we'll have some good fishing in the Indian after all.