Noumea to Sydney, Day 4

The weather gods have blessed us with another lovely day on the Tasman Sea. At 0330 on the ship’s clock, 0430 local time, the sun’s rays began to light up the eastern horizon behind a few “tradewind” cumulus clouds. The wind had just died and Clarisse woke me at a few minutes before three to help her strike the sails and start motorsailing. In no time, we were out of the fleece and into shorts enjoying the warm morning sun.

We fired up the “140 horse spinnaker” and began motorsailing once again. I don’t think we’ve had the motor go on and off so many times before on a passage. The crew can literally furl or unfurl a headsail while sleeping.

The wind picked up again just before breakfast, so we set the .75 ounce spinnaker and began a nice little run at 8 to 9 knots. It was a perfect morning, blue sea and sky, warm air, some jazz on the stereo and good company in the cockpit. It lasted till lunch time when the wind dropped to less than seven knots and we were once again dousing the kite and twisting the key to the diesel.

A lot of our food stores won’t make it past Australian Quarantine, so we have been pillaging the freezer for the best goodies. Today, Cate made up a great spicy shrimp salad for lunch, which was enjoyed with a nice bottle of Cloudy Bay Chardonnay. Yummm!

We have been having a bit of fun with David on “Bossanova.” It seems he has been falsifying his position reports to us. At one point the day before yesterday, he was actually ahead of us, the sly dog, but didn’t let on.Ê It apparently got a bit to lumpy for them on a close reach so he bore away and slowed down, returning the lead to us. As of this morning, we were about 10 miles in front again. He who finishes first, drinks longest.

During the day, we saw a number of sharks basking at the surface of the sea. After lunch as we were motoring along, we struck something with the prop. It was quite a startle and we looked back and saw a brown (bloody) patch on the water. We made a loop back to see what we had come upon, but found only a dozen or so fillet-o-fishes floating on the surface, very neatly sliced, I might add. No damage to the prop, fortunately. I can only assume it was a shark or some other type of fish that was not keeping a proper watch for traffic. Bugger!

Our most recent noon to noon run was 178 miles and at this writing we are at 32 16 south by 153 48 east, about 157 miles from the Sydney Harbour entrance.

In the absence of wind, we are motorsailing along, helped by the south setting East Australian Coastal Current of 1-2 knots. We are making an easy 9 to 10 knots over the bottom with a conservative power setting. The GPS says that at this rate we should be tied up at the Customs buoy in Sydney Harbour at about noon tomorrow. The crew are looking forward to a dinner out in the big city

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