Two Weeks at Sea - Cocos to Rodrigues Island

Two weeks at sea seems like a long time when we first start a passage, but gradually the days pass and we're in the groove. Miserable weather makes for long days; fine weather days are a delight. We had a little of both on this passage. Here are the pictorial highlights of our passage from Cocos Keeling Islands, Australia to Rodrigues Island.  

booby the hitchhiker

A booby landed on our solar panels and decided to hitch a ride. We thought he'd stay the night and take off at dawn, but he was in for the long haul which necessitated strong urging on the part of the captain to encourage our hitchhiker to leave (much to the enjoyment of the first mate).

 

storm clouds

We had several squalls en route. Some brought gusty winds and torrential downpours. The dark clouds in the pic are what we saw … enough to encourage us to reef down quickly.

 

rainbow

We didn't enjoy the squalls, but the rainbows were a delight.

 

flying fish

Nearly every morning we found flying fish in the scuppers. One made its way into the cockpit and presented himself the next morning on the cockpit mat.

 

dorado

David trolled a line almost every day without luck until finally near the end of the passage, he snagged a beautiful dorado.

 

ship traffic

We saw lots of ship traffic this trip. We were evidently in a shipping lane between Asia and the Cape of the Good Hope. We had two near misses. Thank goodness for AIS.

 

fixing wind gen

We had the usual break-downs and equipment failures en route which always present interesting challenges when attempting to make repairs. Above, David replaces the wind gen tail which he fabricated from spare plywood aboard.

 

noc salt company

The Indian Ocean is considered the saltiest of all the oceans and Nine of Cups was covered with salt crystals. We thought about starting a little cottage industry for collecting and selling it … direct from our stainless to you.

 

champers

There's nothing like seeing the anchorage at the end of a long passage. We were definitely ready for some land time. It wasn't our best passage, but certainly it wasn't our worst either. Time to relax for a week or so. We celebrated our arrival with champers … of course!

Sailing the Indian Ocean - Cocos to Rodrigues Days 12-14

cocos to rodrigues  

Day12 Miles run last 24 hours: 136       

Miles to go: 345

Only a short distance to go. We should arrive in Rodrigues in 2-3 days. We're certainly ready for it. I've been reviewing our notes for check-in procedures and David's reviewed the entrance through the reefs. Our travel guide has several dog-eared pages with lots of highlighted things to see and do.

David was able, as always, to jury-rig a fix for the wind gen tail and it's back to cranking out amps for us. Watching him balance himself while standing on top of the stern rail, tools in hand, while the boat is rocking and rolling is always a fascination to me. Makes me want to review my man overboard procedures.

Another beautiful, albeit cool, bright sunshine day. Blue sky, blue sea, 12-15 knot winds and we're sitting in the cockpit enjoying it all. Makes us almost forget the recent crappy passage days.

Lots of reading on this passage. We're both into the Jack Reacher thriller series by Lee Child...mostly because those are what were loaded on our iPads. Good page burners!

We've also finished the edits and formatting (mostly David's doing) for my new book Days and Ways to Celebrate 2015. Should be ready to release by the time we get to Mauritius.

One, very stiff, smelly flying fish on deck.

Day13 Miles run last 24 hours:   147     

Miles to go:  198

We're whittling down the miles now, getting close to Rodrigues, making a final sprint. Neither of us slept during off-watch due to choppy seas at an odd angle to the boat that kept us rolling and wallowing, gunwale to gunwale, for most of the night. The rolling action is not conducive to sleep nor comfort in any way. It had calmed a bit by morning and we've both enjoyed refreshing naps.

There's been lots of ship traffic the last 36 hours or so. We hadn't seen a ship in several days and now there have been 5 heading east and 3 heading west. We talk to some on the radio, depending how close they are. All those hailed have answered promptly. The Golden Bell came a bit too close for comfort and having learned a lesson just a couple of weeks ago, we took evasive measures early on and they still came within 0.5nm of us.  Thanks, Neptune, for taking care of us.

It looks as if our final run will have us arriving during the night unfortunately. Rodrigues has a large outer harbor with a well-marked entrance through the reefs, and an inner harbor where we'll eventually clear-in and anchor. Notes from other cruisers indicate that it is prudent to wait until daylight before proceeding to the inner harbor. I guess we'll figure it out when we get there.

No critters of any kind on deck today.

Day14 Miles run last 24 hours:  139       

Miles to go: 59

David caught a fish today .... a beautiful dorado! Our first fish on this passage and we were excited as he reeled it in. She was brilliant yellow and blue, fighting hard and shimmering metallic colors in the waves as she was hauled closer and closer to the boat. She was the perfect size ... 3 - 4 dinners worth, but looking at how beautiful she was, we had misgivings about cutting her up into filets. We watched as her colors quickly faded away and she died. It's not sentimental. We've caught and eaten many fish along the way. For some reason, it seemed sad this time, watching a living thing die at our hand. Blood and guts all over the side deck. Catch and release has its merits, but we don't fish for sport.

The chart plotter is displaying our ETA in hours and minutes now, instead of weeks and days. Shipping traffic has increased significantly with at least one ship on the AIS every watch. We'll be glad to sleep together  in our own bed soon, no night watch, no ships to worry about.

Unlike the Cocos which are low-lying coral islands,  Rodrigues is volcanic and rises about 1,300' ( ~400m)out of the sea. We could see it from 35 miles out ...  a hazy hump on the horizon, poking out of the ocean. In fact, Rodrigues sits on a triple tectonic plate which would seem to make it vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis , but we've never heard that it's a problem there.

Predictably, Neptune is aware that we're anxious to get in, so he's calmed the winds and seas. a Hence, we're dawdling along in the 4s on a beautiful, sunny day, anticipating an after dark arrival. We talked about churning out the miles with the engine to make it in before dark, but then thought "Why? It's a gorgeous sailing day and turning on the engine would just be a waste of fuel and money....not mention noisy and smelly." We'll sail till dark, and then, heave-to till morning. We'll complete the final miles tomorrow and  enter Rodrigues in the light of day.

Crossing the Indian Ocean - Cocos to Rodrigues Days 9 - 11

days 9-11  

Day 9 Miles run last 24 hours:  162               

Miles to go:  779

We've not been able to sit in the cockpit for the last four days. The wind and, mostly the errant waves, prevent us from sitting there and staying even a little dry. I'm not talking salt spray; I'm talking big old drenchers. We wander up for few minutes at a time to get some fresh air, mostly standing on the top step of the ladder in the shelter of the companionway. When we hear the thud of a wave hitting, we duck back down. Think of hermit crabs in their shells! At least we're making good progress.

We're more than halfway to Rodrigues and celebrated with Halfway Alfredo for dinner. I'm certainly looking forward to a calm anchorage in Rodrigues for dinner, a glass of wine and sleeping in our comfy bed together. We're both lame and sore from sleeping in the sea berth (among other causes)...lots of ibuprofen being consumed.

As we make our westerly progress, it's becoming light later in the morning and staying light later in the evening. The time change from the Cocos to Rodrigues is 2-1/2 hours. We prefer the light later in the day and thus, we're resisting making any changes. We'll have to do it eventually, just not now.

No fish on deck ...all washed away. Morale:  We're not biting each other's head off or anything.

Day 10 Miles run last 24 hours:  157             

Miles to go:  622

Same old...same old. Winds and waves have not diminished although each weather forecast indicates it will, but always "tomorrow". So far tomorrow hasn't come and cabin fever isn't helping the morale problem.

A bit of clarification...we are not life-threatened; we are mighty uncomfortable and a bit grumpy. Big difference. We share with you the good, the bad and the ugly ...mostly so you understand it's not all wine and roses everyday ...just most days.

We hit 5,000 nm sailed for the year today! We shared a chocolate bar to celebrate. Hard to believe, we started this year in Adelaide. Seems like eons ago. Reminds me that I should put a bottle of champers in the fridge to chill. We sail dry ...that is, no alcohol while on passage. We'll deserve some bubbly when we arrive in Rodrigues! Oops almost forgot (in case you're keeping track) 2 flying fish in the scuppers today.

Day11 Miles run last 24 hours:  141               

Miles to go:  481

At last...we've escaped from below decks and we 're out in the fresh air again. Winds are 15-20 knots on the beam; seas are down, although every once in awhile a big breaker crashes onto the scene, prompting an immediate duck and avoid maneuver.

The wind gen tail has literally disintegrated in all this rough weather, rendering the wind generator unusable at the moment. We realized just how much it contributes to our power bank when we had to start the engine in the middle of the night last night to charge up the batteries. All those navigation electronics and the autopilot that we love so well certainly do suck down the power. David is going to try to repair it underway ... always a challenge on a rocking boat.

Below decks looks like a typhoon hit. Salt water sodden things never seem to totally dry out. We have stuff draped everywhere. Everything is out of place and looks dirty and messy. There's a thin layer of film on everything ... a combination of salt and passage dust. I imagine there's not a port locker aboard whose contents isn't ready to spill out as soon as its latch is opened. The starboard lockers are all in a jumble. The good thing about a boat ...they're small enough to straighten out in an hour or two. The cleaning and un-jumbling will take a bit longer, but Cups will be livable within a few hours after we're anchored in Rodrigues. Always look at the bright side of your life!

Deck count:  1 flying fish; 1 squid