Leaving the Tropics

Sun 29 Nov 2015 00:15
29:01:1S 157:01.9E

We're South of the tropics now, but you wouldn't know it. It's hot. Very hot. The wind has died, so there's very little breeze and the sun is fierce.

There's still about 4-6 knots of wind from the NNE, which is a little inconvenient because we're motoring at 5 knots towards the SSW. This means the wind alternates between right ahead of us and right behind us. When it blows at 5 knots it just keeps up with us so it's deadly still. When it blows at 6 knots it just overtakes us, so there's a knot or so from behind and we push the sails right out against the spreaders to catch what little there is, which speeds us up a fraction, so we catch up with the wind, so it all goes still again. When it blows at 4 knots it can't quite keep up with us so we feel a knot or so of breeze from straight ahead, due to the motor pushing us forwards, then the spread out sails just slow us down, giving more surface area to force through the air, so we pull them back in 'till they're dead center, giving least resistance. Until the wind picks up just a little again...

Either way, there's hardly any breeze to cool us from about 8 in the morning 'til 4 in the afternoon. Down below we can turn the fans on - we've more charge in the batteries than we can use with the engine charging them all the time, and up on deck we chase the shadows of the sails, changing position every 20 minutes, seeking shade.

But it's worth being on deck for the view: the changing colours and textures of the sea and the neighbours passing by. Shearwaters, of course, white terns bright fluttering against the blue, schools of flying fish suddenly breaking into flight, up to a 100 at a time, like a silver rain blown across the waves (I wonder what was swimming under the surface to spook them like that), a solitary turtle passing by and, wonder of wonders, a pigmy beaked whale, swimming right across our bow, breaching completely clear of the water 5 or 6 times to salute us as she passed. I got some photos, I'll post them when we get internet.

We're bright and breezy in the mornings, having had two clear off watches to sleep in. We've mastered the technique of falling straight to sleep as soon as we're off watch so we got two lots of three hours asleep each last night, the best so far.

Phil checks the pilot guides, reading everything he can find about Australian ports and anchorages, starting to form some plans for where we might go. He's been scanning the SSB radio this morning, listening out for Australian stations, doing sitting down dancing when music comes on (standing up dancing is hard when you're on a moving sailboat), getting a feel for the culture (phone in shows are fascinating) and picking up the lingo. I read some and cook more meat at meal times, trying to spend as much time on deck as I can as I'm desperate not to miss any creature that may swim or fly by. Imagine if I'd not come up on deck when the whale came by - I'd never have seen him!


Day 5: Breakfast - pork sausage and apple sandwich (tinned apple, from NZ, remarkably good); lunch - spinach and bacon pizza (we have to eat the cheese up too!); Rogan Josh beef, mango chutney, rice, tomato, cucumber and mint salad.

Day 6: Breakfast - poached eggs on toast (gotta eat the eggs up too); lunch - roast lamb with roasted potatoes, onions, butternut and tomatoes, and mint sauce with mint from the 'garden'.

We've been snacking on popcorn (you can't take it into Australia, nothing that could be planted) and fruit. Phil cut up the pineapple today, so sweet, and the bananas have all got ripe at the same time.

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