Day 222, Year 5 Passage to Madagascar, Day Three

Day 222, Year 5 Passage to Madagascar, Day Three
Date: Saturday, June 5, 2010
Weather: Sunny Day; SE Winds Alternating 15-20 and 12-15 Knots
Latitude: 07 degrees 27.317 minutes S
Longitude: 066 degrees 40.345 minutes E
Miles to Go: 1,092

The Indian Ocean can be angry, but so far on this passage she has been fabulous. We continue to roll through 155 miles days averaging about 6.5 knots. This afternoon the wind has diminished but our speed is still a 6 knots due to a positive current headed our direction. The early mornings are a bit cloudy, but by 9 am the sky is a bright blue with scattered white puffy clouds. Later in the afternoon, more clouds appear and by sundown the last light of the day must peak through the clouds. Then miraculously there is a clear, starry night until after midnight when the clouds seem to return. Last night when I came on watch at 10:15 pm I was looking at the Big Dipper to starboard and the Southern Cross to port. The night sky is amazing and it makes me wish I knew more about it.

We had another big cargo ship pass in front of us this morning, but this time we saw it coming. And then in the early afternoon we spotted what looked like a fishing boat coming up from behind us. That gave us a bit of a scare as that is the technique the pirates use, but there are no pirates in this part of the ocean. We called Constance and they had another fishing boat passing in front of them. The one came within a half-mile of Windbird and it was easy to see that is was definitely a working fishing boat. In fact, it looked like it was reeling in a very long fishing net that was piled high on the aft deck. BIOT makes a bit of money each year selling permits to fishing boats from as far away as Korea, so we shouldn’t have been surprised by seeing a boat. But they are few and far between.

Mark is down at the nav station trying to listen in on a South African weather net that comes on at 4:30 pm our time. We’re just starting to try this. It is when we leave Madagascar headed for South Africa that getting these reports will be critical. For now we have Captain Jay Burgess (from New Hampshire) of the UUS Lopez stationed in Diego Garcia watching for any heavy weather for us. We made contact with him when we first arrived in Chagos and we talked to him again yesterday morning on the High Frequency radio. Thanks to Alan and Helaine Kanegsberg back in New Hampshire, we now have his email address and we can also communicate that way. We are very thankful that he will be sending us any notice of adverse weather or piracy activity during this passage.

Day 221, Year 5 Passage to Madagascar, Day 2

Day 221, Year 5 Passage to Madagascar, Day 2
Date: Friday, June 4, 2010
Weather: Sunny Day; Winds SE 15-20 Knots
Latitude: 06 degrees 35.059 minutes S
Longitude: 069 degrees 05.950 minutes E
Miles to Go: 1,251

Things are slowing down a bit, but we did 163 miles in our first 24 hours with an average speed of 6.8 knots. We don’t know for sure if that is a record for Windbird, but we think maybe it is. The seas are still 2-3 meters and the wind is coming from the aft quarter, so it is not a totally smooth ride. But it is certainly comfortable enough. There were clouds during the night and early this morning, but those went away and we have had another beautiful, sunny day. We thought we were all alone out here except for Constance, but about 2:30 this afternoon a huge freighter passed about two miles to starboard. We didn’t even see it until it was well behind us. We were both sitting in the cockpit working on our computers finishing up the synchronization of our address books. We won’t be doing that again as it is too easy to get engrossed in what you are doing and forget to look about. So only one person on a computer at a time!

Day 220, Year 5 Passage to Madagascar, Day 1

Day 220, Year 5 Passage to Madagascar, Day 1
Date: Thursday, June 3, 2010
Weather: Sunny Day; Winds SE 18-22 Knots
Water Temperature: 83 Degrees F
Latitude: 05 degrees 39.518 minutes S
Longitude: 071 degrees 36.293 minutes E
Miles to Go: 1,411

The sky is blue with puffy little white clouds, the sun is shining brightly, and the wind is strong, but no too strong. The seas are a little sloshy, probably two to three meters but coming directly at our beam about every four or five seconds. That plus the fact that the wind is slightly behind us makes it a little uncomfortable, but not too bad. We’ve traveled 47 miles in 7 hours which means we have been moving an average 6.5 knots . If we keep up like this we’ll reach Madagascar sooner than expected The prediction is for lower wind speeds for the next few days, however, so we don’t expect this to last.

We have had a surprisingly busy day. The marines who came in on the Pacific Marlin stopped by our boat first thing this morning to check our permit and invite us to a barbecue on Boddam tomorrow. We might have been able to ask them to let us extend our stay by two days so we could attend, but we had already decided that the weather looked good so it was time to go. We went over to say farewell to Kathy and Richard on Mr. Curley and get a photo of his spectacular onboard garden and then came back and raised the dinghy. We put it on the foredeck bottoms up and I scrubbed off the lovely green algae that grew on it in the past two months. We had not put the printer away for passage and before we did, we printed a batch of photos of our grandbabies to look at while on passage. They are still on the table and every time I go below, I get the greatest joy just looking at their smiling faces. By 10 am the anchor was up and we were on our way. We had a great send off. Wolfgang on Galateia blew the conch shell over and over while Elizabeth on Ventana hummed the Star Spangled Banner. She’s from Norway so I don’t know how she knows our national anthem. And then people got on the radio with verbal farewells. Constance was behind us so we looked a bit like a parade leaving Salomon Atoll. After we were out of the atoll, we raised the main and found ourselves moving along nicely at 5.5 knots. We added the staysail and the speed increased to 6.5 and when we rolled out the headsail we were speeding along at 7.5 to 8 knots. We decided to roll in the staysail and settle for 6.5+ knots as it was a little more comfortable. I didn’t get to take a shower before we left and I am sure glad we have a shower with a seat in it. Otherwise, I would have had to go without as it was just too rolly poly to stand up. I did a small laundry, made up the sea berth, used the volcano technique (vinegar and baking soda) to clean the drains in the twin galley sinks, and now it is time to fix dinner. That’s how the first few hours of passage went on Windbird.