Mauritius to South Africa Day Ten - 28 07.002S 038 01.043E

Mike and Liz Downing
Sun 10 Nov 2013 16:27
Light to very light winds have continued for the last 24 hours. Overnight our speed kept dropping below 3kts and finally the motor came on and we motor-sailed. In the early morning the wind died completely and we just motored. During the rest of the day it's been motor-sailing again. When motoring the revs are kept to 2000 and that gives us 5.5kts of speed when we have a flat sea, and it has been very flat. A little ripple on the surface and an underlying swell from the south, but it's the calmest we've seen the ocean for a very long time. It's been another lovely day - blue sky and lots of sun; if we have to use the motor, it's not been a bad day for a motor boat ride! Motor-sailing has been giving an additional 1 to 1.5kts, so well worth doing. The flat sea makes motor-sailing more possible as there are no waves to collapse the sails. Had to stop this afternoon to check and add oil to the engine. Not something we like doing at sea, but at least it was flat to do it. Checking the oil on a boat that's rolling (so the oil is constantly moving in the sump) is not very precise! The forecast is still suggesting very light winds for tomorrow and strong to very strong winds from the north east on Tuesday. Would prefer not to have those, but north east winds are far better than south west winds which are to be feared in this part of the ocean. Our noon-to-noon run was 121 miles.
All the talk of calling up ships over recent days, one ship yesterday evening called us up - the first as far as we can remember that's done that. AIS showed he would pass about 4 miles from us so we didn't call him up, but he called us as he was interested to know what sailing a yacht across the ocean was like. So we chatted for a while, giving him details of the trip and answering his questions. Perhaps we have a budding yachtie in the making! They say assumptions are dangerous things and that was shown to be true again with another ship encounter. This one was going to pass about 2 miles from us and his course looked perfectly chosen to do that. We followed his course for a couple of hours and it didn't waver. With about 12 miles to go before we would meet I called just to make sure he had seen us and his course was due to us being there. It wasn't. He hadn't seen us on AIS or radar and his course was just a coincidence! Eventually he did find us on his radar and AIS and we agreed that no change in course was necessary. Never rely on assumptions in close encounters with big ships!

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