Friday, 25 February 2011, on the Bay of Bengal
Jon lands a 'cuda!
Dear Friends and Family,
We left Port Blair yesterday. The Andaman Island chain runs north/south, and Port Blair is on the eastern side of South Andaman Island, so we have to sail quite a way to get around it to start sailing west to Chennai. Since we had a good current and it was shorter, we decided to sail through the strait between South Andaman Island and Rutland Island. This is quite a pretty passage and quite wide, but at the western end there are some rocks to avoid.
What we didn't know was that the coral around tiny Malay Island (11°31.5'N 92°36.4'E) extended south further than the chart shows. We were in deep water, heading west through the straits but going directly into the sun, so we couldn't see into the water. The next thing we know we're bumping along the top of the reef! The tide was high but falling quickly and we had to do something in a hurry, so we gunned both engines and powered ourselves south and into deeper water. Then we headed south to anchor off Rutland Island so we could dive over and assess our damage.
Sailing wing & wing. Beautiful!
The hulls are fine. The bottoms of our beaching keels are a bit scraped up with some paint missing but they're quite tough. Our port propeller apparently hit something because it's slightly bent and missing some paint. But more importantly, our port sail‑drive seal tore. (Ocelot's gearboxes are "sail‑drives" which look a bit like the leg of an outboard motor sticking down through the bottom of the boat). The main seal tore (it's at least 10 years old, probably 15, and was probably a bit brittle) but the secondary seal is holding for now. The problem is that the secondary seal is very delicate, and any vibration will cause it to leak or even pop off entirely, so we can't use our port engine.
We obviously need to haul Ocelot out of the water so we can replace that port seal, as we did when this happened to us in Tonga. We think we can do that in Chennai. But we're going to be checking that seal several times a day to make sure it's holding. To top it off, we lost 2 fishing lures. Not our best day, but when you think about the folks on s/v Quest and their families, it's not that bad...
This morning we set off for Chennai, 730 miles away on a course of 281°. Winds are light from the northeast across the Bay of Bengal so we're expecting a trip of 6‑7 days - probably comfortable, but a bit slow.
We'd normally have the fishing lines out but this morning we caught a nice Giant Trevali. Jon took the hook out and threw the lure back in while he filleted the GT, but he wasn't even half way done when we caught another barracuda! Now we're knee deep in fish fillets and we probably won't be fishing again for a while...
At noon today we were at 11°26'N 92°24'E, or 11 miles from the Andamans with 717nm to go to Chennai. We've got 14 knots of wind from just forward of the beam and Ocelot's scooting along happily at 6 knots. When we connect to the radio to send and receive emails (usually morning and evening) we automatically generate a position report which you can see at our position reporting page.
Fair winds and calm seas -- Jon and Sue Hacking
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