mainsail ready to go

Dick and Irene Craig
Sat 25 Sep 2010 04:55
Monday morning and one of us is found wanting, asleep on watch! Was this not
once considered to be a capital offence?
Currently we do 3hour watches each between 9pm and 9am, then 2hour watches
throughout the day. Cook gets away with only five hours on watch over a
24hour period but the other three folk on board each do six hours, with
seven hours out of 24hours, every third day.
We will now change the watch system to two hours throughout the night as
well as day, thus trying to avoid the situation occurring again. It is
rather disappointing. We know owners who are circumnavigating with just the
two of them on board and they wouldn't dream of sleeping on watch. There are
too many unexpected obstacles out here.
One couple on this last passage, were caught in an electrical storm and
switched off as much of the electrical gadgets as they felt safe to do,
having previously been hit by lightening while in the Mediterranean. Half
way through the leg from Bali, when one would no longer expect to come
across a fishing boat, with poor visibility, by remaining alert, they were
able to avoid a fishing boat, just over one mile away. We also, when in the
Med have coped with just the two of us on passages up to 4days and nights
and at no time did either of us so much as nod off, while on watch.
Leg 15 has been a bit expensive with yet another sail blowing out. This time
it was our original parasailor. We are now reduced to two genoas and a
cruising shute and the next leg is 2350nautical miles. The wind is expected
to be too strong for us to be able to utilize the cruising shute as we sail
across the Indian ocean to Mauritius. Hopefully we might be able to use the
mainsail with one or two reefs. Have to admit that we are all feeling a bit
We arrived at the anchorage at Direction Island, Cocos Keeling around 9.30pm
and were given precise waypoints to follow in the dark, by boats that had
already arrived and who also flashed various lights at given times, to
direct us to a safe spot to anchor.
Next morning, we were pleasantly surprised to look out at beautiful pale
blue sea and a palm tree topped island with a long white sand beach. We can
hear the constant crashing of the waves breaking on the outside reef, which
we can also see from the deck
Only two, of the twenty seven islands which make up what are actually two
atolls, twenty four kilometers apart, are inhabited. The coral has grown on
top of the ancient volcanoes, which have risen from a depth of 5000metres.
Although there is an airport, commercialism hasn't really taken hold here
and there are no large resorts or high-rise apartments. Only about 600
people live here in this Islamic society, the majority on Home Island..
The snorkeling and diving is amazing. Through blue, crystal clear water, the
reef may be observed, full of vibrant coloured gardens of pristine coral.
The water is populated with pelagics, sharks, dogtooth and yellowfin tuna,
barracuda and sailfish as well as bottlenose and spinner dolphins which try
to get involved with the divers and snorkellers.
One morning, having deposited some cake crumbs in the water, half a dozen
yellowfin tuna came to eat the morsels. They were very beautiful, with
bright yellow fins and each must have weighed about 4 kilos.
It was necessary for everyone to go ashore to complete the formalities for
entering the country. The local police, customs and quarantine personnel had
arrived from Home Island to save us the trouble of having to make our way to
them, from this idyllic, deserted spot.
Good news! We have been able to move the collar from the ripped parasailor
to the other one so once we have repaired the holes in the newer sail; we
should be back in business. We were drying out the parasailor so that the
repair might be affected, when the heavens opened and another deluge soaked
everything. The job was deferred until the next day.
We took the rib to Home Island to purchase some fruit and vegetables to keep
us going, until the produce ordered for delivery from Perth, arrives by
plane on Friday, for collection Saturday. It is about a mile and a half from
the anchorage across a great deal of coral reefs and some of it very
shallow. It didn't help that a squall hit as we were under way.
There wasn't much in the way of fresh produce in any of the supermarkets,
two small and one the size of the other two put together. It is this latter
supermarket to which our ordered fresh produce will be delivered. We bought
four satsumas, three apples and four bananas, which were decidedly after
their "best before" date, plus a dozen eggs for ?20. I hate to think of what
the cost of the food I have ordered, is going to be.
Imagine our dismay to hear from the proprietor that the fresh produce
arrived on Tuesday and is in the cold store. Today is Wednesday and we don't
leave here until Monday, there is no way that this stuff will last many days
into the passage.
It poured with rain while we were on the island and by the time we returned
to the rib, it had over an inch of water in it, which Dick bailed out. By
the time we had arrived back at Tucanon, we were drenched and the rib was
once again swimming with water.
While waiting for the rain to lessen, sheltering just outside the
supermarket, we spoke to the husband of the resident doctor. They have been
living on Home Island for six months. They left Darwin at the end of the
rainy season and although it should have been the dry season since their
arrival, it had hardly stopped raining for the duration. This apparently is
not the norm. However, the rain should start in October and we are now into
late September.
Soon after arriving back on Tucanon, the fuel boat arrived and we were able
to refill our tanks with diesel.
Dick has managed to sort out the lazy jacks supporting the sail-bag and
repaired the car, which detached itself from one of the battens in the
mainsail, when the bolt connecting the two was somehow pulled out of the
car. He also managed to stabilize the foot of the sail. Hopefully we will
now be able to use the mainsail on the passage to Mauritius, albeit with one
or two reefs in place.
The new carburetor on the outboard motor, purchased when the engine was
serviced while we were in Mackay, for the enormous sum of $600 Au, has
seized up already.
Thank goodness that Dick can turn his hand to most tasks as it is also now
time to service the winches and the life jackets.

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