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Crossing the Indian

Saturday, 3 October 2009, Crossing the Indian Ocean

Jon under an almost full moon
Jon under an almost full moon.

Dear Friends and Family,

A friend sent us the exact time of the Pedang earthquake: 10:16 UTC on 30 September.  So we would have still been in Addu Atoll, finalizing our preparations and clearing out.  Although we dealt with a number of officials, nobody mentioned the quake.  After the 2004 quake I'd think they'd have a pretty good warning system in place but perhaps not - the Maldives only lost about 80 people in that tsunami.

Last night was stunningly beautiful.  The wind stayed at 10‑12 knots from well aft, the clouds mostly cleared away, revealing an almost full moon, and Ocelot sailed happily along all by herself.  Most of the time we ran wing-&-wing, with our mainsail out to port and the jib held out to starboard.

Today has also been delightful.  The winds picked up slightly, but only enough to push us along a bit faster and not enough to worry about.  The light winds have meant flatter seas so we're pretty comfortable.  We just hope that talking about it doesn't break the spell. 

At noon today we were at 043'N 7741'E, or about 285 nautical miles from Gan, with 1,100nm still to go to our way-point off northern Sumatra.  We've got a high cloud cover that we hope won't obscure the moon tonight, and all is well on board.

Fair Winds and Calm Seas -- Jon and Sue Hacking


Pacific Eruption.  Sunday, 4 October 2009, at sea

Jon does much needed spinnaker repair
Repair time for the old spinnaker

Dear Friends and Family,

For those of you interested in a first-hand account of the undersea volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami that hit Pago Pago harbor in Samoa on September 30, there's a boat there that has been posting colorful updates to his blog.  Unfortunately, I don't have the exact URL but if you Google "Doing the Tsunami Tango in American Samoa" I'm sure you'll find it.  We don't know Wayne but he seems to be a single-hander on "Learnativity", his big steel monohull.  I think he also sends out "Passage Notes" type newsletters like these that you can sign up for.

Folks have asked why we left Addu Atoll so quickly and that's a good question.  We love Addu and could easily have stayed longer.  But there's a strange southeast wind that's hitting Addu now and we wanted to get far away before it hit us.  We certainly don't want to beat our way across the Indian Ocean!  (Our French friends who looked after Ocelot while we were in South Africa dealing with Jon's eye are now fighting those winds on their way from Seychelles to Addu.)

Also, there's a new rule in Addu that if you stay more than 3 days, you need an agent ($50).  Apparently some boats have left without clearing out properly and this is their solution.  This is really silly, as there's no additional paperwork for staying more than 3 days.  Initial clearance is only about $4 and they don't start assessing port fees for 2 weeks.  If you have an agent, then of course you'll have him clear you out.  But if you don't have an agent (and you only need one to clear out) then boats that want to can still run off without clearing (a situation we despise, as it reflects poorly on us and other honest cruisers).

Ocelot goes wing & wing
Wing & wing enroute to Malaysia

Cruisers often don't have a lot of money (no real income) but when we spend it, it goes right to the people, not to some resort (which usually squirrels it back to the parent corporation overseas).  Over 100 yachts cross the Indian Ocean every year, and most would love to stop at the Maldives, but the officials continue to make it difficult for us so many yachts bypass the Maldives.  Now that the Maldives Democratic Party has ousted ex-dictator Gayoom, perhaps things will improve.  We can hope.

The final reason we left so quickly is the moon - night sailing is MUCH nicer with a moon.  We should have a full moon tonight but remember that it rises an hour later every night, so by the time we get to our waypoint north of Sumatra, we'll be down to only half a moon.

A fiery sunset on the Indian Ocean
A fiery sunset on the Indian Ocean

Early this morning we crossed another of those invisible lines on the ocean - we're now less than 1,000 nautical miles from our waypoint north of Sumatra!  OK, a bit of a stretch, but in the early parts of a passage these lines don't come as often. 

The last 2 days have been really idyllic sailing, with gentle breezes far enough aft that we can run wing-&-wing, yet strong enough to push us along at 5‑7 knots.  We hope talking about it doesn't jinx it!  We even have a bit of current assisting us!

Yesterday we noticed that our poor old spinnaker had developed a pair of tears, so today we patched those with the last of our spinnaker-tape.  It will hold for a while but clearly we need to replace our spinnaker soon.  It's taken us many a pleasant mile.  We've had the fishing lines out and while we had 3 strikes today, they've all thrown the hook.  The last one surfaced enough that we saw he was another sailfish, probably even bigger than what we landed before.  I think I'm glad he got away...

At noon today we were at 127'N 8008'E, or 430nm from Gan with 944nm to go to our waypoint just north of Sumatra.  The winds are gentle, the skies are clear, the sea is flecked with little whitecaps, and the moon will be full tonight.  All is well on Ocelot.

Fair Winds and Calm Seas -- Jon and Sue Hacking

Malaysia Letters: Up | Leaving Borneo | Kinabatangan River | Top of Borneo | South China Sea | Malaysian Interior | On the S China Sea | Brunei to Kuching | Mt. Kinabalu | Heading East | Singapore to Borneo | Malaysia Arrival | Weh Island | Perfect Day | Bountiful Sea | Half Weh | Crossing the Indian | Return to SE Asia | Straits of Malacca

Related Pages: Malaysia Home | Malay Newsletters | SE Asia Flora/Fauna | Cruising Malaysia

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