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Date: 17 Oct 2012 07:00:00
Title: New Caledonia to Australia (Bundaberg) - Day 5 - 24 11.317S 155 53.741E

Well the wind didn't hold! At midnight last night the wind went round to the east causing the leeward genoa to be blanketed by the main. So it was up on deck to take the main down. Our technique for getting the main down while still running downwind is definitely improving. The two genoas were up and we were still making 6-7kts the whole time. However, that didn't last. Having got into bed, the wind dropped so the leeward genoa started collapsing with that costly sounding bang when it filled again. So it was back up on deck (at 1 am) to put the leeward pole up to support the genoa. That was then fine, but the wind continued to drop and by morning we were only making 4-5kts (including a knot of current in our favour). During the morning our speed dropped further and SOG (speed over the ground) seemed to get stuck on 3.3kts! When the boat speed through the water dropped to 1.5kts at 13.00 the engine came on and we're hunting wind.

Apart from the lack of wind it's a beautiful day. A few puffy clouds on the eastern horizon, but the southern, western and northern horizons are completely clear - not a cloud in sight. The swell is down to 1/2 metre and what wind there is, is creating no more than a rippled surface. So no white horses and it's a great day for wildlife spotting (if only the wildlife would turn up to be spotted!).

Up until the wind dropped we thought we would definitely be in on Thursday, but now we're looking at Friday, hopefully in the morning. We don't want to be any later than Friday as the Australian Quarantine services charge overtime if you arrive at a weekend. Most places the overtime charges are not that much, but in Australia it's about £190. Our arrival does depend on the wind. Our engine uses too much oil (could be a turbo seal - a job for Australia), so we really only want to use it at each end, to get out and get in. So we are hoping for enough wind to be able to sail around 4kts or more. Unfortunately the forecasts suggest the winds will remain very light for the next few days. We're running along the 24 degree parallel and are currently at 155 26E.

>From noon yesterday until the wind dropped we were making great progress, 7-8.5kts the whole time, so despite the drop in speed today, our noon-to-noon run was 143.6 miles, which is not bad. At noon we had 200 miles to go.

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