Thu 26 Nov 2015 04:26
21:05.2s 161:08e

Boats! Don't you just love 'em? We spent all that time getting the radar fixed then when we came to use it last night we couldn't. Nope. It hadn't broken. One of our passengers had decided to use it for a bed so we daren't turn it on for fear of disturbing him. A pair of Red Footed Boobies hitched a ride last night.

They'd been hanging out around the boat since we came through the Northern Passage of the banks of New Caledonia,and as evening approached they started to stay closer, circling the boat, looking for a place to land. One fancied the top of mizzen mast. It was a tricky operation: she made an up wind approach, but as the wind was on our beam and we were traveling about 7 knots she had to keep up with us at the same time, as well as allowing for the swing of the mast as we rolled with each wave. It took her a few goes but finally she made it, perched up on the ensign support. It looked rather precarious - I'm not sure webbed feet were designed for grasping 1/2 inch tubing and she had to do a lot of pushing out her head and spreading her tail to keep balanced, but she was there and not going to give up her hard won berth!

Mr Booby wasn't impressed. There didn't seem to be room for him alongside, however much he hovered and squawked at his mate. He made a try for the main mast head - too many antennae there, then tried for a spreader but there were too many lines in the way. He went back to bothering his Missis until she joined him in the air again and, as dark fell, they flew ahead of us, resting on the water until we caught up then going back to trying to find a perch for them both before flying ahead, resting on the water again, and making a fresh attempt.

By an hour into the second watch they had found their spots: she was back on top of the mizzen and he had discovered the radar suited him just fine. Red webbed feet clutching tightly, they tucked their heads under their wings and snoozed the night away, occasionally decorating the deck with grey splats. I think they were aiming the splats for the companion way and they got quite close at one point but, as we were heeled, they kept missing and landing on the side deck.

So we couldn't check the location of the reefs we were passing by radar, we couldn't check for squalls when the clouds gathered and we couldn't see if the fishing boat that had popped up on AIS, then disappeared again, was anywhere near by. And what's more, when the wind dropped in the small hours, we had to creep along at 3 1/2 knots because if we'd shaken out the reefs it might have disturbed them. I understood how cruise ship crew must feel, going slowly along, keeping everything quiet and smooth for the passengers.

Mister was up with the sun, squawking at his missis to come and find some breakfast. She followed him off but, once we had shaken the reefs out, I looked up to find her back on the mizzen again for a bit of a lie in.

All the night the Shearwaters circled us, black shadows sliding by on outstretched wings. You could watch them for 10 minutes and not see a wing flap as they expertly dip and swoop, riding the wind where it meets the waves. They needed no berth, the wind held them up, twisting to keep their wing tips just clear of the spray was like rolling over in a feather bed to them.

Day 3: Supper - Lentil and tomato soup with meatballs.

Day 4: Breakfast - boat made yoghurt with granola and raspberries. Lunch - Chicken salad topped with crispy bacon bits. Supper - skipjack tuna steaks with roasted vegetables (well, as we'd caught him today it seemed a crime not to eat him. Back to eating up the meat tomorrow!).

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