Friday, 29 May 2015

Rock & Roll - Chagos To Rodrigues

Exploring Ile Poule By Dinghy
We departed the peaceful paradise that is Ile Boddam, Chagos, on Monday afternoon.

It was worth the effort to get there, and our 25 days at Ile Boddam were unique - a place that few people visit that has intimate connections with the cruising lifestyle (and many of our friends) going back decades.

However you can only eat so much fish ! So when the beer supply was low and the green vegetables almost non existent it was time to move on, and we set out on the 1050 nautical mile windward beat to Rodrigues.

Crystal Blues has covered almost 600 miles since then, and we expect to make landfall on Monday morning. The weather has been a mixed bag, with some delightful days but also many cloudy squally periods that bring stronger winds and send us scudding off, usually in the wrong direction.

The south easterly trade wind is not being consistent - direction and speed vary constantly, requiring frequent attendance to sail trim and course. Sea conditions are very sloppy, with a 3 meter SE swell overlaid onto wave trains from two or three other directions. With a full mainsail and staysail set we are happy in the bigger squalls, and during the day we also roll out some genoa if conditions are right.

Hull Cleaning Prior To Departure
We've averaged over 7 knots at about 40 degrees apparent for most of the voyage, though I'm hoping the forecast easterly swing will happen tonight and allow us to lay off the wind for a softer ride.

There are over a dozen boats on passage in the region, and we keep a regular safety schedule on HF radio, morning and evening. Kerstin and Helmut on the German yacht Lopto have done a great job running the net. 300 miles ahead of us the Australian yacht Silver Girl was dismasted two days ago. With the mast gone they had no radio antenna - they had cut away and abandoned the rig so they were able to start motoring towards Rodriguez. They also didn't come up on the radio net.

We contacted them by sat phone and obtained a position. Lopto was close by, so they intercepted Silver Girl and are now traveling (slowly) with them. All of this was co-ordinated using a combination of HF radio and our Iridium Go satellite transceiver. It's been a very interesting few days. At the moment I'm helping out with radio net control on the evening schedule. The boats out here are using 6646 MHz, with schedules at 03:30 UTC and 14:00 UTC.

In Rodriguez we'll be looking for fresh salads, French bread and a good night's sleep in a bed that doesn't toss and tumble.

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