Day 1: The border control officials took the mooring lines and helped ease the boat out of the tight berth at Manly. They had just been on board to run through all the paper work and formally clear us out of Australia. It feels quite special to have your passport stamped in your own kitchen. And so, with glorious sunshine and the wind in the right place, we made our way out through Moreton Bay. As we rounded the top of Moreton Island, a giant turtle swam past. A good omen for the trip I hope, and with that, the last of the sunset faded away and we headed out to sea. Goodbye Australia.
Day 2: Just before we left, i very studiously planned all the meals for the journey so the fridge is chock full of lovely fresh food. But for the moment it’s just going to have to stay in there. There’s barely a whisper of wind and we rolled about all day in the swell, turning us both a bit green, Luckily neither of us suffer too much with seasicknesses, but the first couple of days out are always a bit dodgy. Feels a bit like a bad hangover. Only food palateable seems to be miso soup and ryvita. (Land based research also shows this is good for hangovers).
Day 3: i had a bit of a running craze in the year before we left. So the first few weeks on board i was quite restless and really missed my training runs. However, I’m quite lazy at heart and soon slowed happily down into inactivity. But even so, i’ve been feeling the need for some exertion. So I’ve devised a simple but effective exercise routine to use whilst sea. Stand in the Cockpit , don’t hold on to anything, and see how long you can stay standing without grabbing anything. Not advisable during heavy weather, or for the brittle boned. For variety, throw in a few dance moves. I call it ‘Dalancing’.
Day 4: its been 2 days since we’ve seen any sign of another boat. Only 2 brown sea birds to keep us company. I like to think its the same pair with us all along. The wind picked during the night to about 25 to 30 knots and along with it, the sea and swell. Wayne the hydrovane’s been doing a great job of steering so all we need to do on watch is keep an eye out for other boats, hold on tight as we surf down the waves and if particularly big one knocks us about, grab the wheel and put us back on course. The boat is well balanced and there’s a rhythm to how she takes the waves, so its not too hard to steer her back on course. But, this was my first night of big seas and i wasn’t feeling all that much confidence in my steering ability, convinced if i took the helm we’d turn round the wrong way, get knocked over and probably sink.
It was coming to the end of my night watch, and ominous black clouds were gathering just behind us and heading in our direction. Clouds with a fair bit of rain can give really gusty strong winds. I wasn’t risking it… So yet again fred gets woken early.
Turns out, it was all benign, but the consolation prize is that we were both on deck to watch the moon slip behind the shadow of the earth. An unexpected total eclipse of the moon, accompanied by a couple of shooting stars and for added effect a flash or two of lightening on the horizon. Almost a bit over the top, and wonderful to witness.
Day 5: the miso soup is running out, we’ll have to start eating real food soon. Urgently. No fresh food can be brought into New Caledonia so we’ll have to eat continuously to get through it all. Good thing our appetites are back with a vengance.
Great excitment, new bird appeared today. A boobie swooped down and tried to land on the mast… But boobied out. I love these birds, they’ve great personality, lovely plump bodies and a cry like a duck quacking. On one of fred’s previous trips one took up residence on the end of the boom. And, the couple who were stranded in their liferaft for 119 days managed to catch quite a few and live on them. Apparently they’re quite meaty. But we’re still munching our way through the fridge, so he’s safe for now.
Found this poor fellow all dried out on deck this morning. (The flying fish..not Fred)
They’re attracted to light, so on a moonlight night, with the sails shining they’ll end up heading straight for the boat, most manage to wriggle their way back out again, but you can end up with upwards of 30. And a pretty smelly deck.
Day 6: Six days without a glass of wine. Thats got to be the first time in about ten years. We should do these long journeys more often. But that will be the record for now. Made it through the pass in the reef this morning and sailed on behind the reef, against the backdrop of mountains, into Noumea. The sun is hot.. the water clear blue and the champagne about to be popped. Its good to be here.
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