DreamCatcher

Catching The Dream

20 August 2017 | Aug 20th. 100nms from Christmas Island
17 August 2017 | Aug 18th. 470nms from Christmas Island
17 August 2017 | Aug 18th. 470nms from Christmas Island
17 August 2017 | Aug 18th. 510nms from Christmas Island
15 August 2017 | Aug 16th. 780nms from Christmas Island
15 August 2017 | Aug 15th. 850nms from Christmas Island
13 August 2017 | Aug 13th. Ashmore Reef
11 August 2017 | Aug 11th. Indian Ocean
09 August 2017 | Aug 9th. Timor Sea
06 August 2017 | Anchored in Darwin Harbour
06 August 2017 | Anchored in Darwin Harbour
05 August 2017 | Anchored in Darwin Harbour
02 August 2017 | Darwin Harbour
01 August 2017 | Aug 1st. Timor Sea
31 July 2017 | Tipperary Waters Marina
30 July 2017 | Tipperary Waters Marina, Darwin, NT, Orrstrailerier
26 July 2017 | Tipperary Waters Marina, Darwin, NT, Orrstrailerier
24 July 2017 | Tipperary Waters Marina
13 July 2017 | Tiperary Waters Marina, Darwin
11 July 2017 | Tiperary Waters Marina

Santa's sleigh

20 August 2017 | Aug 20th. 100nms from Christmas Island
Martin
Hello Campers, urbanites, suburbanites, leafy rural Manorites and live-aboards, We probably have one more gybe to make in about 60 miles to bring us onto a do-able direct course for the run-in to Flying Fish Cove. It's 2pm. The last two days have been awkward and tiring. The first had us on our toes by fishing boats and related distractions. We were also 'squalled' whilst concentrating on a particularly awkward trawler. We had both sails reefed and the genoa poled out whilst doing 9 and 10 knots of SOG, thanks to wind and current, so little sleep that night. However, we did break our distance record with the first ever 200+ miles in a day. I can't be precise because of the distracted meanderings. Given more recent experience, I'm sure we'll do even more with a better wind angle, once the other side of Christmas Island - and in a verifiable straight line - before this trip is out! The seas are now what you would expect in the Ocean, with winds +/- 20 knots creating 3m + waves which I judge are up to a metre higher when the wind opposes the current. Yesterday, after a continuing brisk run, and with a worsening wind angle, we found that counter current that Sofia had warned us about, so any prospect of another 200 mile day was shattered, ruining any outside chance we may have had of an arrival this afternoon, so we re-set the sail plan to slow us down and thus ensure we arrive in daylight....tomorrow (monday). That we look to have done, as we bowl along, 'wing and wing' with a much reefed genny poled out on starboard and the roughly equal sized - reefed - main pinned in place by the preventer on port. There's some awkward rolling every so often as the swell catches us at a particular angle, but overall, it's a pretty satisfactory set up. It would also cope with more wind if we were squalled again in the night. While we have seen no wildlife beyond flying fish and the birds that hunt them, we have seen lots of meteorites, with one that lit the whole sky like lightening before exploding. It's trail remained in the sky for several minutes longer. With the moon a mere sliver in the early morning, and increasing levels of cloud, the sky has been really dark, with the effect that I imagine DC looks rather like Santa's sleigh in the prosphorescence (forever flashing and fizzing etc etc) as we swing and sway our jaunty way to Christmas Island. Some dolphins out front for Donner and Blitzen and pals would complete the illusion. Up, Up and Away! (Or was that someone else?)

PS

17 August 2017 | Aug 18th. 470nms from Christmas Island
Martin
The sky is pretty cloudy, and the wind is up a couple of welcome knots. Could be a good day.

Google maps

17 August 2017 | Aug 18th. 470nms from Christmas Island
Martin
Wow! Amazingly, I've just found a setting on the chartplotter that shows the actual direction of the current we are experiencing. Presumably it makes some assumptions about our leeway (sideways drift caused by the wind), but knows what the wind is doing and where from, and it knows what our actual course and speed over the ground are, so the difference in direction and speed must be the remaining variable....the movement of the sea itself - current /tide. On the screen, it shows as a blue arrow projected from the from of the boat icon on the screen. It also indicates the severity of the current by growing larger and brighter as the rate increases. How useful is that? If you look at Google Maps for 11 degs 08 minutes South, and 113 degs 55 East.................you should see an elevated platform/plateau. We have just skirted the bottom edge with 2 - 3 knots of current whizzing us around it. How groovy is that? It all came about by Sofia telling me that the current seemed to die around the 11 degs S intersection of the rhumb line course they are following. Clearly, it would be an advantage to keep the current under the keel for as long as possible, hence my investigation into 'how can I achieve that'? If my reading of the contours on my chart (a bit like an OS map without the bridle paths and PHs) is correct, we can do that with only modest dinks in our course - avoiding the obvious high ground. I've marked some waypoints on our electronic chart o indicate the overall course, but will go where the blue line takes us, and see how that compares. Interesting? Fascinating? Simply 'marvellous'?

Marrakesh Express - not!

17 August 2017 | Aug 18th. 510nms from Christmas Island
Martin
It's 00.30. Maggie is asleep. The wind is puffing at around 6 to 8 knots, and DC seems to be well set up as she is ghosting along at 3 to 4 knots. The favourable current is adding a bonus 1 to 2 knots as our course takes us some 6000 metres above a pretty wide valley on the seabed, directing the course of the South Equatorial current as it, in turn, makes it's way to Africa and then down to the Southern Ocean and round again, taking and making weather along the way. Marrakesh Express is playing into the cockpit speakers. Was that a train? Or an Express coach? I wonder. The spectacle that is the night sky is mirrored in the phosphorescence that sparkles and fizzes in our wake - a veritable 'Milky Way' of extraordinary light. The moon won't be around until Maggie's watch, sometime after 0200. She'll be glad of it's comforting, albeit declining, glow. Our friends on Sofia are nearly 300 nms ahead, having kept the stronger winds, but I'm actually very pleased with how well we have done in the conditions. It can be easy when the winds are fresh. There is a distinct challenge about shaping and coaxing the sails to perform as effectively as possible when the brute force of the wind isn't there to bludgeon 'speed'. When the sea is sloppy as well, having the right amount of sail out, correctly shaped and supported where possible to minimise the slop and slap that the swell causes: it all keeps the grey matter working on the issues and solving them. The peace shattering crack as a sail is whipped back on itself by a swell induced roll is wearing on the sails, ropes, rig and the crew's nerves! Currently,full use is being made of the spinnaker pole, with both (port and starboard) sheets pressed into use to control the Genoa's urge to slop, as well as to shape. Quite a bit of tweaking of sheets and course also contributes to what I hope is an optimal solution to the issues that the elements present. Another source of satisfaction is the complex simplicity of the wind vane. Carly is earning her cost in these conditions. Amazingly, she has three 'gears' to better perform - whatever the conditions. Currently, she is in third - to maximise the precision of direction in light winds, where their very variability makes following them a constant, long meander. Having her in first in these conditions results in gentle sways through 30 to 50 degrees across the desired course. In third, she keeps within 20. With the sails set effectively and balanced and with the actual vane tilted to an appropriately jaunty angle, Carly has kept an amazingly good course, even despite the swell. During the day, the wind has been a couple of knots stronger than at night to give us an apparent wind of around 9 to 10 knots - just enough to keep the sails filled most of the time and pull us along with boat speed in the 5 to 6 knot range. Not at all shabby. Clearly, Maggie makes a good hull-scrubber. I must ensure she keeps in practice if she is to excel. Winds are forecast to pick up another couple of knots over the next two days as we progress west and close in on our destination for this leg. It looks as though landfall should be Tuesday. (We are 7 hours ahead of UK clock time) Sofia should get there Saturday. This whole experience is really amazing. There is so much to be interested in and intrigued by. The clouds - especially at night - have gradually changed......from basically none, to the odd one, increasing to strings of cotton wool balls (two days ago) to yesterday's and today's more 'trade windy' ones - bigger and taller; fewer but with more presence. It shouldn't be many more nights before we can expect the wind to change under the influence of their fully grown cousins. Being prepared for them and their effect is just another challenge to look forward to and relish. Being on our own makes you work even harder at the details. Under those forecast conditions, we may well return to being an Ocean sailing Express again. PS Does the Milky Way set? There are still stars aplenty. Has a layer of high cloud formed in the time it's taken me to write this blog? I have just returned on deck to find it's very dark out there, although some fishing boats light the sky over the horizon. They are not on AIS. Meanwhile, DC is happily pushing along - completely on course, and doing 4.8 knots through the water in 7.8 knots of wind, with another 2.3 knots of current to give a total 7.1 knots of SOG (Speed Over the Ground) - which is the number that ultimately matters the most. The phosphorescence is now even brighter, with the explosions of light that occur as a wavelet breaks looking for all like plane's eye view of a night bombing raid over enemy territory! Maggie is due on watch, but I feel OK, so she can sleep a bit longer - she's earning it! PPS Apologies for the lack of formatting of these blogs. It results from the SSB software 'compressing' the message.

PS

15 August 2017 | Aug 16th. 780nms from Christmas Island
Martin
Just after I finished that last blog, whilst getting ready for a sleep, Mags called to say that the wind was 15 knots and rising. The forecast was for 10. That had been our experience, and the rig was set to suit. !5 was towards the limit, so before it got stronger, we had to take Carly off duty, furl the genoa and demount the pole, furl the mainsail and reset it with preventer, and unfurl a reduced amount of genoa; trim it all and see how things went Things went pretty well. The wind rose to 20 knots and we were safely rigged and pushing along nicely with the duogen pumping power into the batteries, and I got an hour of sleep. This all lasted until about 23.30, when the wind changed down a gear or two, plus direction, to force other tweaks to minimise slatting on now agitated sea. However wee kept a reasonable course through the night, and now it is back to playing games again. Unfortunately, or day in Ashmore seems to have lost us a slot in a 'good wind' area as Sophia are steadily pulling away. Never mind, we still enjoying the ride, and the challenge. It being 0830, we'll see what the day brings.

Settling in

15 August 2017 | Aug 15th. 850nms from Christmas Island
Martin
The second and third days are where the adjustment into the new sleep pattern takes place ie today and tomoz, so pretty tired today. However, that didn't stop us from completing our test runs of the sails and equipment alone together for the first time. So we flew the 'old' cruising chute that came with the boat. It is evidently second hand, and from a smaller boat, so I wanted to see if it would pole out effectively, since the light winds to date have also come from a difficult angle. This, coupled with the ocean swell makes the sails slat: losing speed and causing wear if left 'loose'. Using the pole, pins it down, to minimise the effect of the rock and roll motion. The launch was a satisfying success in itself, but the sail is too big to pole and the wind angle made it ineffective for now; so that was packed up and put away, and we reset the pole for the genoa. This time, we got it into a better position, allowing more sail to be unfurled, which is where it has been all the rest of today and hopefully tonight. We also reset the yankee on the inner forestay and poled it on the other side - using the boom as a pole. Although that has worked well in stronger winds, it didn't today, so that was put away. By this time, the wind had settled in a more favourable direction, allowing us to use the mainsail as well, without it catching on the spreaders to chafe - firmly pinned with a preventer to avoid it slopping around in the swell and possibly gybing. All that sail work also uses quite a lot of rope, and quite a lot of prep and later tidying, and took most of the day. I did manage a welcome couple of hours kip his afternoon, though. On this trip, Maggie has got slightly better watch hours (but don't tell her) so is able to sleep more easily, it seems: which is good. Finally, with the wind picking up an extra couple of knots to 10 or so late afternoon, and with it coming at us from just about off the beam, we set Carly - the wind vane self steering- a remarkable piece of engineering! So here we are, having some very nice - if unspectacular - sailing into the night across the Indian Ocean; and working our way through all the various tasks whilst more tired than usual, and without younger, fitter, and at least theoretically (in their head) more experienced or capable help. The conditions have assisted greatly with this gentle lead in, and the verdict is: so far so reasonable! Talking of night: the night sky is quite amazing, with hardly any cloud and so many really bright stars. Indeed, while anchored in Ashmore, we rolled the bimini away to enjoy the spectacular sky before the moon rose and 'ruined' it in the most beautiful way - as a blood orange ball that changed to gold and then white. The next day saw Mags and me fully intent on boat work and hull scrubbing and we failed to notice that we were under the tropical sun. It made for a long, hot, uncomfortable - as well as tired - night! Tonight, we expect to be clear of what appears to be the main N-S shipping lane for the W coast of Australia. We saw over a dozen ships last night, needing to call up one during Maggie's watch. His CPA (Closet point of Approach) was estimated by the AIS system at potentially less than the mile we require as a minimum. It was awkward, because another ship was approaching on a reciprocal course to the other, just a few miles away. We were potential meat in a ship sandwich! In the event - I'm not sure he had seen us before my call - but the ship dinked course by a couple of degrees for a few minutes to give us the leeway we needed to get across his bow in good time. All very gentlemanly and pleasant. So far tonight, we can only see 'traditional' Indonesian fishermen. Fingers crossed for a quiet night. Sleep tight.
Vessel Name: DreamCatcher
Vessel Make/Model: Jeanneau 49DS
Hailing Port: Cowes
Crew: Martin Rutt
Extra: We're only popping out for a sail. We've 'done' the San Blas, Panama Canal, Galapagos, Marquesas, Rangiroa, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Tanna, New Caledonia and Brisbane; and up to Darwin so see you in........err....Durban.
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Created 15 February 2016
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Created 15 February 2016