West of Darwin - Day 7 - 12 06.753S 115 27.115E

Mike and Liz Downing
Thu 12 Sep 2013 08:26
Been at sea for a week, having left Darwin last Thursday, and are about 200 miles south of Bali. The wind increased as forecast and remained around 12-14kts all day and night, giving us much better speed and a noon to noon passage of 153.9, our best day so far. The seas have come up a bit, but at 14kts, not that bad, so it's good sailing in reasonably comfortable conditions, with sunny weather continuing. To keep on course and still set the poled out sail to windward, we tried moving the pole forward so it takes the sail forward of the forestay. We've tried it before with limited success, but by reefing the sail at the same time (the pole isn't really long enough), the sail keeps its shape and stability and it was very successful - a bit like the yardarm of the square riggers. The leeward genoa is still sheeted normally, so the two sails create an almost continuous big sail and we're romping along at the moment at 7.5kts. Not bad in only 12-14kts. Needed that speed this morning as a ship was bearing down on us and we had to cross it's bows. Never a nice thing to do, even when it's several miles away and the chartplotter gives a safe CPA (closest point of approach). That was the 3rd ship that came close, the other two did have to change course for us. Had to call them up in the pitch black of night and it was good to see their lights change from red to green, showing they would pass behind. These are big Panmax ships (960ft) and there was a whole stream of them last night crossing from the shipping lanes in Indonesia to Western Australia. They all reported being cargo on AIS, so we suspect they are going to get coal or other minerals from Australia and take them back to China via Indonesia. We hadn't expected anything like the volume of shipping we've seen, and it's all going north/south, so cutting across our path.
As we're advancing west, the clocks need to change to keep sunrise and sunset in the right place in the day! Darwin was GMT (UTC if you must) + 09.30. We got rid of the half hour quite quickly as it confuses the issue, so have been using GMT+9. Today we will put the clocks back to GMT+8, so we'll gain an hour.