Friday 28 August, 9:23 PM (32 50S  152 29E)

[check out photos in  return voyage gallery – admin]

Wind … no wind … wind … no wind … north west wind, then south west wind, then east, now north … and that just describes the past 48 hours.  The good news, however, is that we sighted land today and are now less than 100 miles, or about 16 hours from Sydney.

It feels strange, that after 4 months of voyaging, providing transport, visiting remote locations and adventuring, that it’s finally come down to this … the last night before crossing the finishing line.  And it truly is a beautiful night.  No cloud, a bright moon, a calm sea and a steady 15 knot breeze from behind, which has finally arrived.

Because of the increased shipping we have had two on watch for the last few nights, and on account of the autohelm giving us grief the other day, it’s been a case of taking it in turns to hand steer since Wednesday.

Our fishing exploits were as successful today as they were yesterday and I might try to get arefund on that lure – or buy some more expensive ones next time.  Our long line fishing enterprise was officially declared “Dolphin Free” today, and as Justin wryly observed … “It’s pretty much “Fish Free” as well”.

Speaking of dolphin, we were joined today by a large group, which this time played around the bow for some time.  We also spied a pod of 4 whales, with one diving and then disappearing, a couple of hundred metres from the boat.

Being close to the coast today it was a case of dusting off the electronic gadgets and checking out the range and coverage … Telstra next G seemed to win … although Tony took to climbing part way up the mast and after poking at his wee machine with a small stick finally declared … “I’ve sent an email!”  I powered up my laptop with its wireless Turbo Card and sure enough … onto the internet and the W.W.W.  I could even check out the MSM website … and yes, all those Ships Logs and photos have indeed made their way onto the site.  Well done Liz Mallen, and before her, Mike Clarke.

It was wonderful to read in the last day or so about Lerika, the young Ni-van girl  who has finally undergone life saving heart surgery, largely on account of Don Macraild’s tireless efforts in pushing through with the paperwork and supposed legal requirements.  We met Lerica and her devoted aunty, Serah, when we were in Port Vila and at the time it was uncertain whether the surgical trip to Australia would get over the line, or be stymied at the last minute by some decidedly uncaring attitudes in the Australian Consulate.  Congratulations to all concerned and best wishes to Lerica and Aunt Serah.  No doubt  there will be a lot of stories to be told back in the small Pentecost village when it’s all over.

For those who’ve been following the Ships Log, we hope to report back soon on Linda Sor, the young woman requiring a caesarean whom we evacuated from the island of Mere Lava some weeks ago.
A final note on the culinary front.  Tonight we ate the last of Martin Purcel (see Ship’s Crew) frozen pre-packed, organic beef meals.  We took onboard a supply in the ships freezer 4 months ago and amazingly we had one left.  Great tucker Martin.  If you need any product testamonials in order to market to the sailing fraternity, then just sing out.
Smooth sea, fair breeze and land ahoy!
Rob