Friday 8 May, 7.34 am

As the wind died down last night it was nice to be able to turn on the engine and at 1400 revs chug along at 5 knots. You do get used to the noise of the motor after a while and as mentioned earlier, the charging of the batteries is a major side benefit.

The key things we’ve got to monitor and ration are … battery power, fuel, food and water. This is in addition to maintaining our sleep, energy levels and overall health. Whilst things have been cruising along quite nicely, there’s always the potential that we’ll be called to action at any time, night or day, so in that sense it’s a bit like a marathon, rather than a sprint.

We watched a couple of Monty Python Ripping Yarns on DVD the other night and last night came close to watching a movie, but time got away from us and before we knew it, sleep overcame most of us and the prospect of a 2 hour movie seemed too much. Maybe tonight we’ll start dinner preparations earlier and that will leave us with more time up our sleeves.

It’s hard to imagine that this time last week we were doing our final checks before setting off. In fact last Friday was frantic as we stowed the last of the food, broke an important aluminum bracket on the motor and wondered how we were going to get it welded together on a Saturday morning, filled up with fuel from a mobile fuel barge near Darling Harbour and did last minute repairs and improvements. The one thing we didn’t do was pre-plan, to any great degree the course and navigation. It was left to the moment we cleared South Head in Port Jackson and Bob called out, “so what course do we set – I go with 50 degrees, any advances on 50?”. So it was, and pretty much so it’s remained since then. I think the memory of his many Lord Howe Island races must have suddenly sprung to the fore.

Whilst we use the chart plotter most of the time, we also keep our course plotted on a paper chart – just to be sure, to be sure (AUS 4602, for those who are interested, it’s kind of a Melways of the deep, or a page from it) As anyone whose played with compasses will know, it’s important to take account of the earth’s magnetic variation when translating a compass course to the paper chart. So when I say we set a 50 degree course, it’s known as “magnetic” and on the paper charts, after taking account of the earth’s magnetic variation in this part of the world, it’s actually closer to 65 degrees, which is known as the “true course”.

After a night of little wind, as predicted, the wind has swung around to the SW, which is pretty much right behind. This sounds fantastic, and it’s certainly better than being on the nose, but it does add a little bit more of a challenge to the way we set the sails. There’s also the rolly action of the sea as it comes up from behind and inevitably yaws us from side to side. So at the moment we have the main sail out on the right hand side as far as it will go, and tied forward with a preventer rope to make sure it can’t swing back and the number 2 headsail, or jib, poled out to the left, and again tied down so it can’t move. The pole acts a bit like a boom for the jib. The wind is about 15-20 knots, but because we are doing around 6-7 knots in the same direction, the apparent wind speed is only around 10 knots. The sun is shining and the sea is around 2-3 metres, which is very pleasant, but does cause a certain amount of yawing.

Another “first” for this trip was the appearance of a flying fish on deck. Bob found it flapping about on the deck during his watch last night and tossed it back into the Big Blue. We weren’t sure whether to believe his story, but there was definitely scaly evidence in the cockpit – to quote Bob, “they’re smelly old things”
While we’re on the topic of Bob-isms – The appearance of certain birds swooping gracefully above the surface of the ocean seems to bring out a sense of aggressive apprehension in Bob … “they’re storm birds, I don’t know what they’re called, but they come out when there’s a storm – I don’t like them”. So much for graceful creatures with beautiful plummage. I asked whether the birds come first, or the storm … “I dunno, but they both come together … they’re storm birds!!”

Bob’s “storm birds” story reminded me just now of his response to a question I asked jokingly yesterday while he was processing the concept of baking cakes and eating ice-cream on a yacht mid-ocean – I asked, “what about growing bean sprouts aboard Bob?” … “WHAT?!!” came the reply. It was a magic moment.

 

 

Will is on the helm and occasionally hand steers, with the others sleeping in their bunks (it’s around 7:30 am on Friday 8 May)

Been thinking a lot about Graeme Duke and his fund raising walk down on the south coast of Victoria. Like last year, I have no doubt it will be a wonderful success.

That’s about all to report at this time.

Smooth sea, fair breeze and here’s to another sunrise.

Rob