Friday, 27 February 2015

Half Way, Slow Travel, But Beautiful

564 nautical miles sailed / 4 days and 4 hours/ 33 hours on the engine/ 8.4 knots top speed
1 fishing lure lost (a big log bit it)/ 0 Fish caught/ 0 Whales/ 12 Dolphins
Decreasing wine list/ Blue skies / Puffy clouds (again)

We passed the half way stage today, as of now we have just 550 nautical miles to go. Ley and I are settling in to the routine, she's off watch asleep right now. I think her fingers are tired after all the text messages she's been sending on the new Iridium sat phone system.

Incidentally, turns out that system is still somewhat "buggy" - it has stopped handling our Sailmail email and also refuses to download Predict Wind forecasts or Grib files. So we're back to using the HF radio for our mail links. Predict Wind support tell us that we need to "upgrade our software". Where have I heard that before ... its not gonna happen till we get to Trincomalee.

Honest, We Didn't Hook It - Its A Little Undersized - 1.5" Flying Fish On Deck
The weather is still docile, we've settled into a pattern of sailing with the winds during the day and starting the engine when the winds drop, usually in the early hours after midnight (down to 2 or 3 knots). Last report showed some rain ahead as we approach the Sri Lankan coast in a few days time. The shipping density has decreased as we've edged north away from the main route. Only two vessels on AIS within 25 miles of us at this time.

Thanks heavens for the ocean current here - right now we have only 4.0 knots of boat speed, but are making six knots over the ground. Water depth here is around 2.7 kilometers (!). The boat is steering a course of 266 degrees, but the actual course is often closer to 280 degrees. Fortunately its all going our way.

Our position is clear at :

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

South Of Great Nicobar Island

We're two and a half days out from Langkawi now, having traveled 340 nautical miles from our start. Our
destination, Trincomalee, is about 760 miles ahead so we're not quite 1/3 of the way across.

All is well on board. Crystal Blues is sailing well (despite the wine list), and the weather has been kind to us. A mixed bag of light and medium winds, mostly very light, so we've motored for just over 23 hours so far. Ley has been dragging fishing lines each day, but no fish have been tempted - very smart fish around here.

The past 18 hours have been under MPS and mainsail, easy sailing in winds from 4 knots to 14 knots. Right now its gone light again, so we're slopping about with sheets flapping and sails slatting - fairly constant direction changes needed to keep things flying. Not pleasant ! We're hoping the wind will come with the sunrise, in an hour or so.

Adding More Leather Protection To Chafe Points
The northern tip of Sumatra (Indonesia) passed to the south of us some hours ago, so we're now in the Bay of Bengal for the first time, with a generous one knot current pushing us towards Sri Lanka. This is a very busy area for shipping, and we are constantly on watch as ships move through the Great Channel, arriving and departing East Asia.

Ley and I have been busy on small maintenance jobs, mainly on deck, adding and replacing leather covers on chafe points and polishing stainless. All our systems are working well, the only casualty so far is a failed AIS transmitter, though the receiver stage is working fine. That will be dealt with in the Maldives.

The catering on board is up to to it's usual standards, so we are not starving. We have good food, sunshine, blue sky, and fluffy white clouds - its all very pretty except for the lack of wind. We carry enough fuel to motor about 80% of the distance, so we'd like another couple of days of good wind. Cross your fingers for us.

At sea here :

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Wine List

Photo by Jan Pitt
After a busy few weeks we are almost ready for our departure to Sri Lanka and beyond.

Friends Ray and Jan Pitt signed off the boat in Thailand, leaving us spoiled, relaxed and ready for the future.

Four weeks ago we sailed south (overnight) from Koh Phayam, spending four days in Phuket, provisioning and making ready.

Then another overnight passage, again hard on the wind, brought us into Kuah Harbour in Langkawi, our final provisioning stop before departure for destinations west.

Its here that we finally created "The Wine List"....

We've spent over two weeks now provisioning and finishing off various systems and "boat jobs".  We've had every power tool in use and every conceivable combination of electrical, electronic and mechanical work underway.  Even the paint pots came out again.

We're now down to a list that is manageable, in fact its entirely forgettable, as we're stocked up and anxious to go sailing.  But those lists can create there own problems .....

Test Posting

Hi there, this is just a test post from the boat via the IridiumGo satphone system.

Ley and Neil

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