Passage to India
Our passports with Indian visas finally arrived last Monday afternoon. Some rally yachts left that evening. Most did some last minute shopping (including for us a trip to the bacon shop, the first we've encountered since Hurghada). We then had a leisurely start on Tuesday morning as customs and immigration didn't open for business until 9am.
The winds were expected to be light for the first 200 miles so we planned to motor if necessary for the first two days. We don't like motoring and don't have enough diesel for the whole 1080 mile passage but it made sense to use some fuel at that stage to find the better winds. In fact we managed to sail quite a lot in the first few days but then changed our tactics to suit the emerging weather forecasts. Rather than heading straight for Mumbai we made our way more to the north.
Lynn Rival needs a steady F3-4 to sail well and our worry has been that the forecast winds are only F1-3 for this area. In light winds, we struggle to maintain our course and make 2 knots, and we don't really want to spend 3 weeks getting to India. So for the first 5 days we've been making our way northeast, along the coast of Oman and sailing when we can make more than 3 knots, in search of the forecast stronger winds.
It's now day 6 of our passage and we are reaping the reward of our decision to head north. We've been sailing continuously for over 48 hours in F3-5. The wind is astern and we have the spinnaker flying so we are cruising along at 5-6 knots. We are now under 600 miles from Mumbai and at this rate we could get there in another 5 days, though we expect the wind to drop on approaching the coast of India.
Kite up for over 36 hours so far
Another reason for being glad of the wind is that since reaching Oman the daytime temperatures have been rising to around 30 deg C, and sometimes the humidity has been high with heavy dews overnight.
The other rally yachts are to the south of us. We are out of VHF range but maintain contact twice daily on the short wave radio. We are having the best winds. Some of the others are managing to sail and maintain a reasonable speed (lighter boats using gennikers). Others are motorsailing.
This is the longest passage we have made in Lynn Rival. After the first few days we've settled down into our watch routine and the days pass quickly. At first there was quite a lot of shipping around to look out for, including the occasional coalition warship. We were also on the look out for floating fishing nets which are a hazard off this coast. One of the yachts got caught in the night and had to dive down to free their propellor.
We are now very much in the open sea in depths of over 3 kms. We see little else on the water. On nightwatch there is not a lot to do, other than look at the stars and passing aircraft, although with the spinaker up we have to be constantly alert to wind changes so that we can trim the sail or adjust the course. When not resting during the day we are busy cooking, cleaning and doing bits of maintenance. Paul has also been perfecting his fishing skills. After catching a second frigate mackeral he hit the jackpot and caught an albacore (long fin tuna). Today's catch was a skipjack. Ideas for cooking tuna in an email please...
Skipjack tuna; on the left the favourite 'pink squid' lure
PS. Oops! Spoke too soon. Spinaker has just (at 0415, just after Rachel had gone off watch, on Monday morning) died of old age. 27 years; not bad really. I think its split beyond repair.