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Shearwaters

Saturday 26 September 2009, Yep, Still at sea

Shearwaters over a glassy sea, en route to Gan, Maldives
Shearwaters over a glassy sea

Dear Friends and Family,

It's a warm morning near the Indian Ocean Equator.  Dramatic cloud layers jumble and tower around us.  We saw some lightning in the distance last night, but luckily the thunder storm dissipated before it got to us.  These clouds bring much appreciated shade and a touch of breeze, though the UV is still high.

The other day we passed a flock of Flesh-footed Shearwaters, large, graceful, all-grey sea birds with a black tip on their pale bill.  Usually we see them in singles or pairs, but we have never seen so many (almost 30) all together.  They let Ocelot get within a few dozen meters, then all took off from the water, pretended to go fishing, then settled back down again.  I guess when you live more than 500 miles from land you need some "down time" on the sea!

Jon collects email while on passage. Our daily "fix"
Jon collects email. Our daily "fix".

So life now has a sort of rhythm to it.  The wind tends to die a bit at night, so we often motor sail in the dark which is good because then we can turn on lights to read by and not feel electron-guilty (although we've been sailing for much of the last 48 hours).  The daylight blesses us with light breezes of 10‑14 knots which keeps it cooler.  It's usually from the south so just off the beam.  This allows Ocelot to sail at 5‑7 knots, which is an acceptable speed.  And since we've been north of 2S latitude, we've generally had about half a knot of current with us.

Our last several 24-hour noon-to-noon distances were all about 120 miles made good towards Gan.  The GPS is telling us tantalizing facts like 60 hours to our waypoint at the entry through the reefs of Addu Atoll.  But we're not sure how long this wind will hold, as it's not in ANY of our forecasts (which are predicting less than 5 knots of wind).

As I write (8am) we're at 111'S 6713'E, or only 359nm to go.  We've covered over 725 miles since we left the Seychelles!  Hard to believe.

We love how these almost daily Passage Notes compel so many friends to write us.  It really makes our day to get correspondence.

Fair winds and calm seas -- Sue and Jon Hacking


Sunday 27 September 2009, at sea

Dear Friends and Family,

Another great sunset, but we don't need the rain!
A great sunset, but we don't need the rain

Yesterday was delightful, with lots of light and fluffy clouds around us, not the dark and angry sort.  A light 10‑14 knot breeze from the south cooled us down and kept us sailing all day, pushing us along at a gentle 5‑7 knots.

In anticipation of the winds dying and having to motor much of the night, Jon was tightening up the fan-belt for our primary alternator on port engine when he found a big alternator wire that was broken.  So he got pretty hot, sweaty and greasy fixing that up before he could grab a cool shower and we could both enjoy the sunset and dinner.  Sue served up last of our fresh tuna - Mexican style, topped with her tangy homemade salsa.

As predicted, the evening brought a drop in the winds so we've been motoring for much of the night.  But the clouds cleared away and the stars came out and we had a waxing moon for the first half of the night, making it delightfully relaxed and peaceful out here.

As Jon came up for his 4‑8am watch, the sky was just starting to lighten in the east, turning from black to a deep indigo blue.  Then a rosy glow came up and started touching some of the closer clouds.  To the south a line of distant clouds looked like the silhouette of a herd of elephant walking nose-to-tail along the horizon, marching to the east.  The clouds in front of us turned crimson with golden outlines while the high clouds above us were streaked in pink and orange bands.  I wasn't sure but I thought I heard the strains of a beautiful orchestra building to a crescendo as the sun finally leapt over the horizon.  Another day has started in the tropics...

As I write this (7am) we're at 101'S 6922'E, or 230nm from the southern entrance to Addu Atoll, having now made it about 3/4 of the way.  The GPS is predicting a rather awkward night-time arrival but we've been to the anchorage in April 2007 and we have good GPS tracks from then.  The tricky bit is that the entrance to our anchorage is extremely narrow and not well marked (if it's marked at all any more).  We may have to anchor in the deep water outside and enter in daylight.

The fishing lines are out and all is well on board.

Fair winds and calm seas -- Jon and Sue Hacking

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