Tuesday 18th August 2009 (Lat/Long  20deg 11min S, 168deg 05min E)

We finally lowered the Vanuatu flag this evening.  It was looking faded, a bit tattered on the leading edge and the eyelets were reinforced with thread and twine.  But she’d done some work and carried her battle scars proud.  It’s now time to give her some rest.  At one point we were referred to as “the boat with the big flag”, on account of most other cruising boats flying such tiny national colours, but we are now closer to New Caledonia than we are to Vanuatu, so it seemed the time was right.

We are about to go into our second night at sea after leaving Port Vila.  Our first day’s run was about 135 miles.  We thought it would be a higher number on account of the great speeds we were doing through the night, but today we’ve been running the engine to keep our speed into a 15 knot headwind.  Luckily the seas are only 1-2 metres.  Our hope is that we miss the predicted south westerlies as we round the bottom of New Caledonia in 1-2 days.

The mention of the night shift aboard Chimere must have prompted past crewmember and doctor, Graeme Duke, to suffer flashbacks prompting him to pen the following:

Ah, the memories of those 2AM shifts…

What! Is that the time?….Did I sleep?…..How do I get into my clothes with all this rolling and pitching?….I should have just slept in them…..I’ll wake up Mike for sure!…..How did I get two legs in the same trouser leg!…. How do I get one out?….. Just as well I don’t have to shave!…Where’s the loo?…..Which way to the helm?……It’s pitch black: where are the stars? Where is the horizon? Where is the moon?….Better get the wet-gear on, it’s
raining again….Why aren’t we moving?….I can’t see where we are and we’ve been in the same position on the GPS screen for hours! Are we going ’round in circles?…..Oh, it’s becuase Rob keeps pushing the ‘zoom’ button and changing the scale on Ray(marine)…Wow, look at  that phosphorescence!…..Hey, the clouds have gone, and just look at the those stars! …..Hey Rob, why is it I can see white clouds across  the sky in the middle of the night when there’s no moon?….Oh, it’s the milky way, is it? Never seen it that bright before!

Wow!…..Another ten to port? OK boss….Rob, go and get some sleep – there’s nothing out here to run into except those same old waves that keep coming back…I am sure I met that wave a few minutes ago? Ah now, I definitely recognise that wave; he hasn’t changed a bit since  we last met. Still full of himself and trying to be a wet blanket….Hey Rob, which direction are we heading?….OK, “second star on the [starboard side] and straight on ’til morning”….Time for a cup of hot tea and vegemite toast? Ah what looxsury!

Graeme Duke

Smooth sea, fair breeze and is it really my watch?