Day 154, Year 5: Passage to Chagos, Day 1
Date: Monday, March 29, 2010
Weather: Overcast/Dark Storm Clouds; Winds NW 5-15
Latitude: 00 degrees 01.931 minutes S
Longitude: 073 degrees 04.262 minutes E
Miles to Go: 266

Once again there is wind where there was not supposed to be wind. But we’ll take it. I just wish it were steady. It will be 3-5 knots for 45 minutes and then 10-15 for an hour and back and forth. So we motor, then sail, then motor, then sail. The seas have been fairly calm so far, but the fact that the swell is coming from the SE and the wind is coming from the NW and there is an east setting current could all combine to make for rough seas if the winds get stronger. So even though what we have is not stable, I’d rather have this than strong winds and rough seas or no wind at all. We’ve only been out here five and a half hours, so it is much too soon to tell what is going to happen. This is a passage about the same number of miles as it was from India to Uligan in the northern Maldives. It was about 275 miles from Cochin to Uligan and this passage should be about 290 miles. It should take two to three days depending . . . At this point it looks like we will arrive on April 1st. I hope the joke is not on us! If the clouds clear, we will have an almost full moon and that will make me happy. I love the moon light at night when I am on watch.

Watch for us begins at 7 pm. We do three-hour watches, so Mark is in the cockpit reading and watching from 7-10 pm. He wakes me up, he brings me up-to-date on anything of importance like ship lights, other sailboat locations, and any changes in the weather. By 10:30 pm he is in bed and I am watch until 1:30 am. I sometimes write emails while on watch, name photos, or read using a headlamp that can quickly be switched off and on. Whatever I do, every 15 minutes I stop and do a complete lights out 360 degree visual sweep, slowly looking for lights in the night. If we see lights, activities stop and we just watch until we are sure that whatever it is out there, will pass by us safely. At mid-night, I record all vital statistics in the log book and figure out how many miles we have gone in the last 24 hours. And the main thing we do on watch is keep Windbird on course, adjust sails as needed, and record any changes in sail configuration or weather changes in the log book. By 4:30 or 5:00 am I am on watch again just in time to watch the sunrise. This is by far my favorite watch. I love watching the dark sky begin to lighten and the colors that change from gray to pastels and sometimes to bold reds and oranges just as the sun peaks above the horizon. Then all of a sudden the sky is Robin Egg blue and puffy white clouds here and there. Or at least that is the way I like it best. By 8:00 Mark is usually up and then we do a loose watch arrangement during the day. We have breakfast and take care of any chores that need to be done. By 10:30 am, I go down below to nap for an hour or two and by the time I get up, it is time to fix lunch. After lunch, Mark and I both do watch together, switching off depending on what needs to be done below. By 3:30 pm, Mark goes down for a nap, but he never sleeps more than an hour. While he is sleeping, I watch and read or write emails. At 4:30 pm I start writing this daily log and by 5:00 pm we record the latitude and longitude and send the log and a position report to Yotreps. I then fix dinner and we eat as the sun goes down. We make any major sail changes needed to get ready for the night, and if we have timed things just right, I have about thirty minutes to read before heading to bed at 7:00 pm. And then the whole schedule begins again.

We left at 11:30 am this morning thinking that if we left earlier we will arrive in Peros Banhos during the night, but you never know what your speed is really going to be, so it is all a crap shoot anyway. But the extra time this morning gave us time to use the last of our internet time, write and send the last postcards, prepare the cabin for passage, and get everything on deck ready without having to rush. We had Ed and Lynne of Constance over for dinner last night which gave us a chance to show them our underwater photos from the Maldives. We also showed them photos of our beautiful grandkids that we are missing so very much.