West of Darwin - Day Two - 12 26.668S 126 06.973E

Mike and Liz Downing
Sat 7 Sep 2013 08:39
The pattern of light winds in the evening and overnight repeated itself over the last 24 hours with the wind almost dropping out completely for a while overnight. What wind there was, was from the northeast (we hoped for east or southeast). The stronger winds during the day had built up quite a big sea and this combined with little wind caused the sails to collapse and fill (not good), even though both genoas were rolled in to keep them tight. Also the motion was not good as we rolled with the bigger waves. But by morning the seas had calmed down, the wind was back again and the speed started to look more respectable (6 to 7kts). We ran the engine for 1 1/2 hours during the night when the speed dropped to 2kts as the wind disappeared almost completely, but we are trying to use it as little as possible to conserve fuel. Not sure when we will next be able to get any. With the lack of wind overnight the noon to noon run was 122.3 miles and we are 288.3 miles west of Darwin.
It was overcast today (the first real cloud we have seen since arriving in Darwin) and the cloud was accompanied by rain squalls. We had to shorten sail, but the worst of it, and particularly the rain, missed us. Jacaranda was not so lucky! Had a real bird visit us last night. A booby (gannet sized) landed on the side of the cockpit and was totally unfazed by our presence. After the last one, we shooed it off, not wanting to have to clear up the mess, but after circling the boat a few times it was back and perched on the mainsail that's on the boom and not being used. It was definitely not going to stay there, getting the mess off the sail and sail cover would not be easy. So shooed off again it was. Next time it landed next to the tow generator and kept getting it's wing bashed by the turning rope, so it was shooed off again for it's own safety. These birds are real persistent - the next landing spot was on the solar panels. It's difficult to get up there, so we decided it could stay and turned off the wind generator to save it from being minced, and the expensive blades from being broken, expecting it to fly off after a rest. It stayed the whole night and had a good kip. It also left a huge mess over all the panels, so the skipper had to find a way up this morning, with bucket and sponge in hand, as the boat rolled. Not easy, but the solar panels are clean again. Our compassion for tired birds is now all used up! Unless it's the size of a wren, it can sleep somewhere else! Customs didn't over-fly us this morning, but did call from some way off saying they had spotted us on radar and went through the usual questions, commenting at the end that the long distance call had saved their fuel bill!