Happy Birthday Jenny

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 18 Jun 2014 04:43
Noon Position: 42 32.4 N 144 02.4 E
Course: East nor' east. Speed: 2.5 knots
Wind: East, F2 – light breeze
Weather: overcast, frequent fog, cool
Day's Run: 40 nm (85 sailed and drifted)

The World needs to know (World are you listening?) that it is my sister's fiftieth birthday today. Maybe Jenny does not want the world to know, but that is beside the point. Jenny is the only sister for her five brothers, so she has a lot of work to do and she does the most awesome job of being the best sister for all of us. Thanks for everything Jenny. Oh, and happy birthday.

Meanwhile her peripatetic brother is drifting around all over the Kushiro Gulf. Actually, given the conditions, I am again quite pleased with Sylph's progress. We have managed to sail and drift another 85 miles since noon yesterday, and to close our destination by another forty miles. I am quietly confident, barring the unforeseen (and I am quite good at not foreseeing many things), that we should be able to cover the remaining thirty miles by tomorrow morning.

Once in Kushiro I will top up fuel, water, and stores, do a few odd jobs (I really would like to fix that cockpit leak), look at the weather, and as soon as conditions are suitable we will clear out of Japan and try to catch up with my fellow voyagers. Not very likely of course as they are all fossil fuel guzzlers (shame on them).

Last night, in the damp blackness of the night's fog laden air, I could hear a familiar sound, the shrill laugh of seabirds circling astern of Sylph. As I looked around this morning, the fog having cleared a little, I realised what species it was, the Sooty Shearwater. And no wonder their cry sounded familiar, for this very ordinary looking little bird is one of the great travellers of the world. They have many breeding sites in the southern hemisphere, including an island that now forms the marina in Coffs Harbour, called Mutton Bird Island, one of my favourite stops along the New South Wales coast. It may well be that some of the birds flying energetically around me now were born there, and have migrated along a very similar route as Sylph's, also bound for Alaska. However, these small birds are travelling much faster than Sylph and I. According to Harrison's “Seabirds, An Identification Guide”, they leave their breeding sites in May, sweep up past Japan, and arrive in Alaska in July and August. They will be back home by November, ready to hatch the next generation to take up this extraordinary journey. I can't help but wonder what evolutionary pressures, including no doubt a certain capriciousness in nature, has led them to find this energy intensive solution to the problem of survival.

RC and I, on the other hand, have found a somewhat more relaxing solution to the problem. Though, of course, Sooty Shearwaters, in considering RC's and my paternal credentials, might rather be inclined to look down their bills at us.

All is well.