The Last Leg
05 November 2010
Well, we've come to the last leg of our long voyage. 8000 miles. And now just the last 800 miles from Noumea to Brisbane. We can't believe that we have nearly reached our destination. It is quite an overwhelming feeling really, mainly joy and excitement but a little regret that it is coming to an end.
We're sailing in company with our friends on Syzygy. There were many boats waiting in Noumea for a good weather window to sail to Australia, but most had more time, or a different view of the weather synopsis, and wanted to wait. Everyone seemed concerned about a trough lurking halfway between Australia and New caledonia. Not so, Syzygy and us. We agreed that the weather outlook was acceptable so we did some last minute stocking up of fine French wine and cheeses, and we're on our way. We've found it much better, and less worrying to make our own decisions on the weather rather than to listen to everyone's opinion. We just gather as much information as we can, and take our own responsibility.
The wind was quite a bit lighter than expected yesterday but from the expected northerly direction. We were expected a wind change to the SE but it snuck up on us out of the darkness. The night was pitch black, with no moon and heavy cloud cover. Actually very pleasant sailing in a nice breeze. But then, a blacker patch of black started raining on us. Then heavier, and before we knew it the wind had turned to come from straight ahead of us, and the rain torrential. So followed a night of sail furling and unfurling. Wind, no wind. Confused left-over seas and lots of motoring.
We lost Syzygy in the darkness but as dawn broke we were able to make out their sails about a mile distant. It's quite nice to have company out here for a change.
The sky is starting to clear now, at noon on the second day. It's hard to concentrate on reading because there's these magnificent birds flying around. ( I wish I knew what they were called. Next time we must take a Bird book with us). Dark brown and moderate size, they are masters of their domain. Flying with wing tips down, they skim the surface of the waves, seeming to ride the wind pressure wave on the wave faces. They can fly for long distances into the wind without a flap in their wings. Endlessly glide along the faces and then scoop up and over one and swoop back down for another hair's breadth ride over the surface. Sometimes they'll bank a sharp turn with one wing tip tracing the water, just like a speed skater will run his fingertips on the ice to measure his turn. I can spend hours, watching them in awe and fascination.