The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Sat 18 Feb 2017 02:13



06:58N   083:22E


So far we've done 643 miles with 203 miles to go. We did a whopping 174 miles in the last 24 hours.  We have 25% cloud cover and 15-20 knot NE winds.  We’re still rolling downwind with 2 metre seas and hoping to get to Galle tomorrow evening.  Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


17 February 2017    Port Blair to Galle, Sri Lanka (Day 4)

At our 07:00 watch change, we’d done 458 miles with 386 miles to go.  We’ve been doing 160 miles a day for the past two days, so if we can maintain our boat speed, we’ve got a very good chance of getting to our destination early on Monday 20th.  The latest weather forecast still shows good 15-20 knot winds until Sunday 19th, when it will drop to 5 knots, so we’ll probably be motoring for the last 24 hours.


As we head east, the time zone is changing by one hour for every 15 degrees of longitude (900 miles) that we travel. Sunrise has been getting 10 minutes later every day and this morning it was at 07:00 (Alba Time Zone).  Glenys prefers the sunrise to be well before the end of her 4-7 watch, so we put the clocks back one hour this morning, which just so happens to be the Sri Lankan time zone of GMT+5.5.


For the past couple of days, we’ve had an annoying, intermittent, metallic creaking coming from the lower part of the mast.  There are lots of potential sources – the boom gooseneck, the rod kicker, the in-mast furling and various rope jammers & blocks. It sounds like something is slightly moving when it shouldn’t, but it’s been difficult to isolate. After standing next to the mast for half an hour this morning, I suspected the rod kicker and rigged up a secondary kicking strap to take the load off the rod kicker - the creaking went away.


The Rod Kicker has been a damn nuisance for a few years now and the bracket on the mast has ripped off twice.  While we were on the hard in Phuket, I spent a lot of time and effort in strengthening the attachment of the bracket, so this noise is damn irritating.  I’m going leave the backup kicking strap on and make sure that there’s not something else creaking – thank goodness it wasn’t a fault in the in-mast furling.


We had a fabulous day – these are great sailing conditions, although the constant rolling is annoying at times. The boat is doing one roll every three seconds, which is 28,800 rolls per day – the old saying of “One hand for the boat” is being strictly observed.  As usual, it’s taken us a few days to settle into life on passage, but we’ve now slotted into a routine of three hour watches overnight with Glenys sleeping as much as she wants after breakfast and I sleep for a few hours in the afternoon.  We only see each other at watch changes and mealtimes.


Just before lunch, a fishing boat motored straight towards us with a guy on the bow waving a shirt to attract our attention.  We’ve heard from other cruisers that the Indian/Sri Lankan fishermen like to come alongside yachts and ask for cigarettes, booze and clothes.  Sometimes they will trade for fish. Unfortunately, they don’t care that there are six foot breaking waves and we’re surfing down them.  Last year, our friends on “Adina” sustained some serious damage to their boat when one of these fishing boats accidently crashed into them.


The fishing boat manoeuvred within 20 metres of us and looked very determined, but with lots of waving, pointing ahead and shouting “No” to them, they got the message and backed off.  They followed close behind us for a few minutes and then with some friendly waving continued on their way – phew!  We’re going to have to keep a better lookout from now on.


We romped along in the afternoon, sometimes surfing down the bigger waves.  The first half of the night was very dark, with heavy cloud cover and no moon, but the wind stayed at 20 knots and we made good time.  A half moon rose at midnight and transformed the night, giving us very pleasant sailing.  I passed three fishing boats on my 7-10 watch, but we didn’t see any more.