Mauritius to South Africa Day Seven - 28 02.602S 044 31.570E

Mike and Liz Downing
Thu 7 Nov 2013 13:16
Two records today - one interesting and one a pain. Firstly the interesting one - the furthest ship we have ever seen on AIS at 501 miles! We saw quite a few, with full details, well over 100 miles and then a couple at 200 miles and thought that was amazing, but to see one 500 miles away has to be awesome! Clearly we have propagation anomalies going on out here. The pain is the highest counter current we've experienced on this passage of 2.5kts. The winds been pretty steady at 15 to 18kts over the last 24 hours and we've not touched the sails, running with both genoas poled out. We've been making 6.5 to 7.5kts through the water, but with the counter current, our speed over the ground has only been 4.5 to 5kts and our noon-to-noon run was only 123.4 miles, so a bit disappointing. Hope that eases at some point otherwise it's going to take a very long time to do the remaining 640 miles!
Had one of those 'I don't believe it' incidents yesterday. With AIS showing ships at such big distances, going out to a range of 150 miles was showing 12-15 yesterday and it felt like we were riding a peddle bike up the motorway the wrong way. But all were missing us until the evening when this, over 1000ft, supertanker came on the scene at around 100 miles out. We watched him for the next few hours and his course didn't waver - it was heading straight for us. When within 30 miles we decided to change course and went south a bit, opening up the CPA (closest point of approach) to 3 to 4 miles, so not a problem. At least not for another 15 minutes when for some reason he changed course (the first time for hours) and was again heading straight for us! Why did he do that?! Okay, what to do now. 30 miles is a very long way to call up a ship (we normally wait until it's half that distance or less), but I was waiting to go off watch and go to bed, so call him up we did. He was very polite and said he couldn't see us on AIS or on his radar and didn't know we were there. So we gave him our position and he said he would look out for us. So far so good. After 20 minutes or so he called us back to say he still couldn't see us on AIS or radar. So we said if he changed course by a few degrees to 062 he should give us a sufficiently wide berth. Okay, he said, and this huge supertanker changed course to 062 (we could monitor it on AIS) and stayed there, eventually passing 3.5 miles to the north of us. A bit bizarre telling a supertanker skipper what course to steer his ship! Wish they were all like that.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: