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Bountiful Sea

Wednesday, 7 October 2009, at sea

Dear Friends and Family,

Just as the sun came up this morning I put the fishing lines in.  We've been trailing them most days, but haven't even had any bites for several days.  This morning the bungee cord that holds the port line popped early.  Sue was asleep so I had to clear the cushions off the side-deck and bring it in myself - a lovely young Dorado, probably the best eating fish out here!

A nice 2-person sized dorado (mahi-mahi)
A nice 2-person sized Dorado! Yum!

Soon after I'd filleted him, the other line popped (I hadn't brought it in yet) with a nice tuna!  So now we're loaded with fresh fish and the lines won't be going out again for a while.  Sue served the first of the Dorado the French Polynesian way, as Poisson Cru - where it's cut up and soaked in a mixture of lemon juice, garlic, onion, chili, and coconut milk, then served cold.  (Click here for the recipe)

This afternoon Sue made us some delicious cold drinks, blending up some canned blueberries, frozen bananas, and ice-cubes.  Delicious - Just what the warm afternoon needed!

This passage is still fairly boring, which is just the way we like them.  The wind is right behind us at 10‑18 knots, pushing us gently along.  We haven't really touched the sails for several days.  Our monohull friends say they hate following winds, as monohulls tend to roll badly without wind pushing on their sails from the side.  But catamarans don't roll as much, so we love winds from astern.

Our main disappointment recently is that the current, which was helping us once we got away from Gan, has now turned southerly and is actually working a bit against us.  Humph!  All our books say that we should have a good favorable current out here - too bad the Indian Ocean didn't read those books.

We changed our clocks forward 1 hour (we're now at GMT+6) so it looks like we didn't go as far today, but at noon we were at 328'N 8639'E, or 850 nautical miles from Gan with 534nm to go to our "Weh-point" off northern Sumatra and only 810nm to go to Langkawi.  This means that today we crossed the half-way point between Gan and Langkawi (about 1,660nm)!

Fair Winds and Calm Seas -- Jon and Sue Hacking


Ocelot getting closer.  Thursday, 8 Oct 09, at sea

Dear Friends and Family,

Jon rescued several fish this morning.  While we're sailing we often see flying fish that are startled by our passage, leaping out of the waves and skimming over the ocean for dozens of meters.  We usually see only 1‑2 of the 4‑12" (10‑30cm) fish but sometimes whole schools of several dozen.

Sunset on the Indian Ocean on a calm evening.
Sunsets don't get much better than this. Calm!

At night they can't see which way to leap, and some of them invariably end up on deck.  If they're back by the cockpit and we hear them flapping, we try to herd them back into the water.

This morning one made it all the way down the companionway and into the salon!  They're covered with a thick fish‑oil, almost a grease, and their scales seem to come off very easily, so they're extremely difficult to pick-up, especially when they're flapping hard.  So it ended up like a greased‑pig contest as we leaped after a slimy fish that was bouncing around the salon!  OK, maybe you had to be there...

Our weather reporting has been ...  interesting.  Our GRIB files are only computer projections, and the computer models are far from perfect.  They keep trying to say that all this west-southwest wind that's running into Sumatra is going to generate clouds and rain up by our northern waypoint in 36‑48 hours.  But the next forecast also says "not for another 36‑48 hours!"  Hopefully this will continue and we'll continue to have nice weather now and the rain will always be 36‑48 hours away!

This silly contrary current has slowed our progress considerably.  For many days after we left Gan we were averaging 6 knots, even with the light winds.  Now we're often down to only 4+ knots over the bottom, although we're sailing through the water faster than that.

As I write this (3pm) we're at 407'N 8855'E or about 390 nautical miles to get to our "Weh-point" and we've sailed almost 1,000nm from Gan.  Without adequate knowledge of where the currents are, we're steering a pretty straight course between them.  The clouds are drifting by fluffily, the ocean is flat with little whitecaps sprinkled around, and life is good.

Thanks again to all of you who've written to us.  Now that we have 2 Winlink ground stations under 1,200nm away, we've got excellent propagation and we can send and receive emails quickly and easily, almost any time we want to.  Much better than when we were in the Pacific and often struggled for over an hour.

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

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