The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Thu 16 Mar 2017 02:15



06:22N  077:52E


So far we've done 143 miles with 300 miles to go. We did 143 miles in the last 24 hours.  We have 100% cloud cover and 5 knot variable winds.  We’re motor-sailing with 2 foot seas.   Here's what we did yesterday and overnight


15 March 2017   Sri Lanka to Uligama, Maldives (Day 1)

Once again, we were up at the crack of dawn.  While we were having breakfast and getting ready to sail, we ran the water-maker to top up our tanks.  By 07:00 we were on our way, motoring west in very calm seas.  The island of Sri Lanka is surrounded by water over 2000 metres deep and the steeply sloping sea bed attracts lots of pelagic fish and whales. We were lucky enough to see a whale blowing on the surface, but it was too far away to identify – it was probably a Blue Whale, which are common in this area.


It was a frustrating day, with very little wind.  Every couple of hours, we’d get a teaser when the wind picked up a few knots, but after ten minutes we’d be rolling sails away and back to motoring.


There was a lot of garbage in the water and, sure enough, around lunch time, we heard a loud rattling noise from the stern as our rope stripper dealt with something wrapped around the propeller.  We stopped the boat and I dived down with a kitchen knife to chop off the remains of a large rice sack.  The stripper had done its job of cutting the sack allowing the propeller to continue to rotate (without stalling the engine), but there was still a large amount of sack covering the propeller.


While on the subject of the propeller, after scraping it clean the other day, it’s singing again.  We’ve found that at 1500 rpm, it’s quiet, but above that we get the damn resonating sound.  In these calm seas, we go along at 5 knots at 1500 rpm, so it’s not too much of a problem, but when we get to a secure anchorage in the Maldives, I’m very tempted to remove the propeller and file on some anti-singing edges.


While I was bored this afternoon, I took my guitar tuner into the aft cabin and I can report that the resonating frequency of our Singing Ringing Propeller is 659.26 Hz which is the high E-string on a guitar.


By the late afternoon, huge clouds were gathering around us and, as the sun went down, we could see many rain squalls.  Half an hour later, the dark sky was illuminated by lightning flashes.  My 7-10 watch was miserable.  The wind was constantly veering and backing by as much as 180 degrees in 10 minutes.  The wind picked up to 20 knots at one point, but we didn’t get any more.  We had rain varying from light drizzle to a torrential down-pour.


Eventually, after a few sail changes, I settled with two reefs in the main and no head sails, motor sailing and letting the main out if the wind was strong enough. The lightning continued for four hours and at times was terrifying with huge bolts of lightning leaping from the low clouds and striking the sea.  I changed course a couple of times when there was consistent forked lightning ahead of us.  Fortunately, the closest strike was ½ mile away (2 seconds from seeing the lightning to the thunder), but it was a tense time.


During Glenys’s 10-1 watch, the squalls moved off north and it was lovely when I got up at 01:00 – I even managed to sail for an hour.  Unfortunately, the skies remained overcast, so we didn’t get the benefit of the full moon, although it was bright enough to see the horizon.