New Caledonia to Australia (Bundaberg) - Day 4 - 23 45.511S 158 24.950E

Mike and Liz Downing
Tue 16 Oct 2012 05:17
Went between the sea mounts in the middle of the night and noticed no change in sea state, which was good. Going right through the middle of the gap, which is 2000 metres deep, and winds of only 15-20kts, probably helped. Now they're behind us it's a direct course for Bundaberg. Have kept the same sail plan all day, but as the wind has become more ESE it's been possible to add the outer genoa poled out to windward. We can just make the course we want with the wind 120 degrees on port side. Less than 120 and we risk backing it. It's a big sail and it's not a good idea to do that! So one of us is on sail watch the whole time constantly tweaking the course to get as close to 120 without going under it. The wind is forecast to go even further east and if it does, we'll have a much greater margin for error and it will be less of a concern. Having the poled out sail has increased the speed by more than a knot. In addition, since leaving the sea mounts we've finally got a good 1/2kt current going with us. The net result is that we've been making 7-8kts all day. With the sun out and few clouds in the sky, it's great sailing.

The noon-to-noon run was 159.8 sea miles. At noon today we had 340 miles to go. If this wind holds we should get there in just over 2 days, but the forecast suggests it will drop down tomorrow, so it'll take us longer. Still, fingers crossed, the forecasters do get it wrong sometimes (but not so far on this passage).

This is another Pacific passage almost devoid of wildlife. There's been the odd shearwater gliding down at wave height, and just one flying fish and that's about it. We're in radio range of an Australian news channel on long wave. Picking up radio stations always means we're getting closer to land. It was unfortunate that the first topic that was being discussed was all about poisonous snakes and spiders. Apparently Australia has the top 10 venomous snakes. It's too late now to turn back!

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