Saturday 21 August (24deg 32min S, 165deg 02min E)

There may be Wind In The Willows, but there’s none here.

Sailing purists would be horrified to know we’ve had the engine running for the past day and a half. Initially to clear the strong currents off the end of New Caledonia and then to simply make forward progress in the absence of wind.

It’s a strange sensation. Driving over oily-blue, flat seas with the hint of a regular swell causing us to rise and fall in a gentle lulling motion. We’ve packed away the two headsails, leaving the mainsail sheeted in tight with it’s occasional flap, flap, flap the only indication of it’s presence. Oh, and the nice shade it affords from the sun.

We are getting closer to Australia at a rate of 5 mph, or about 9 km/h. Which is painfully slow. But faster than 0 mph, or exactly 0 km/h, if we didn’t have the engine running. Our course is still south west, or as direct a route to Sydney as we can make it, with the hope that winds will pick up a bit as we head south.

Ocean-chef Tony is starting to whip up a storm in the galley. Like we say, no one opens a can like our Tony. And on the cleanliness front, we have video evidence of Kevin using a solar-shower this afternoon on the foredeck to wash away a few days of accumulated salt. Whilst it’s not my place to keep tabs, I’m sure everyone else has also had a shower, or some sort of wash, since leaving Port Vila – in case anyone was in anyway concerned.

The brilliance of last night’s moonless sky as we glided through the peaceful, calm sea was even better than usual. Lying on my back on the deck, looking up, I was my usual worst at picking out the shape of the well known constellations such as the lion and the scorpion. There were just so many stars and the Milky Way was like white clouds casting a reflection on the sea. For the benefit of astronomers the world over though, I was actually able to identify a whole lot of new constellations by joining up the dots – I gave names to my new ones – “the giraffe”, “the octopus”, “the sandpit”, “the jellybean jar” and “the blue whale”.

For the benefit of animal watchers, we had a brief glimpse of two whales yesterday, which must have been very good at holding their breath because we looked and looked but didn’t see them again. There were also two dolphins that escorted us into and out of the small “stop-over bay”, Ugo, on Isle of Pines.

Despite our tropical location, when the sun goes down it’s actually very cold, requiring us to rug up with all our woollies for the nightshift.

Smooth sea, fair breeze and slow boat to Aussie

Rob