West of Darwin - Day 6 - 12 09.521S 118 03.566E

Mike and Liz Downing
Wed 11 Sep 2013 07:24
Had a little more wind overnight (10-12kts occasionally a bit higher) and there is now a definite west going ocean current of between 0.5 and 1.0kt. We also took the leeward pole down and sheeted the genoa normally to be able to have the windward sail poled out with the wind right on it's limit of 120 degrees to gain the maximum apparent wind. (If the leeward genoa is poled out it doesn't draw much after the wind has passed 140 degrees.) The combination of these kept the speed reasonable and the noon to noon run was 136.4 miles. So getting a bit better. Again another lovely day with a great sunrise - not a cloud in the sky as the sun came up over the horizon. 
In another 22 miles or so, we'll be back on a chart. We had a gap of 6 degrees of longitude (360 miles on the equator) between paper charts. Also our main electronic charts came to an end (in terms of providing detail) at the same spot. It wasn't worth the cost of a new electronic chart to cover Cocos Keeling, so we have paper and likewise it wasn't worth getting a chart to cover 6 degrees of open ocean. So it feels like we've been running blind - I do like to see the ocean floor contours and depths for sea mounts and the like. The last spot on the paper chart we've left behind was on the border of the Timor Sea and the Indian Ocean. The depth was only about 600ft. Where we enter the new chart the depth is 18,000ft - approximately 3.5 miles - so deep ocean and with the weather we have, it's that lovely deep blue colour.
Had 5 fishing boats (we assume that's what they were) within a 15 mile radius of us last night. The radar is used every hour or so once the moon goes over the horizon (around 23.30 last night) to check for other boats. Up until now it's only ever picked up the big ships that are already on AIS so already visible on the chartplotter. So it was a surprise to see other shipping. One passed within 2 miles of us - quite close  in such a big sea! As we go west the moon will stay longer each night and it should be close to full moon on arrival. Saw a Frigatebird for the first time for a long time yesterday. They're 2 a penny in the Caribbean and Pacific, but we didn't see any during our time in Australia.