West of New Cal - Day 5 begins
28 October 2010 | Underway from Port Vila to Bundaberg
It is growing cooler. The monkey grunts. Or is it tuba practice? Those dinghy chocks, up on the cabin top - one has broken, and as the wave moves the dinghy there is a sound sometimes like a monkey grunting, or, most times, like a tuba, emitting a few notes, a short musical phrase. I like it.
As we go west and south the wind is cooler and I no longer can wear only boxers. We get nearer to Chesterfield reef, which thanks to Quent has changed (in my perception) from a deadly trap to a pleasant holiday spot, with feeds of crays and fish. As for fish, we've been trolling for a day or so, and last night discovered one on each line. One was a Spanish mackerel and too small, the other was bitten off short, so both went back. We'll maybe anchor at the reef (I have a chartlet and first-hand information as to where to anchor) but not if the wind has any north in it, as it has now. We've had a good run, but presently the wind squeezeth us off course, backing into the ENE.
Yesterday, like kids, Quent and Kez hung their legs over the lee rail and dangled their feet in the water as it rushed past. The roll of the boat gave them a sudden dip and they squealed! I took a few photos. The sun was out and Kez noticed the amazing colour of the sea.
Quent and I raised the mizzen staysail. This is a spare stays'l, with its tack (front lower corner) tied down to the windward rail and its head hoisted right up to the top of the mizzen mast; its lower back corner (called the clew - you knew that!) sheeted back to a cleat in the cockpit. We are on a broad reach, wind slanting in to the cockpit from astern. It sets. Okay, now imagine the beautiful curve of this creamy-white old sail with its reef points and rust patches, looking like one of the fores'ls on a square-rigged sailing ship. I took a few photos.
Last evening Adrienne cooked two delicious vegetarian pizzas, and to thank her I took the first half of her watch for her, letting her play solitaire and sleep in the quarter berth. I watch out, but there are no ships. By the light of my head torch I read a little more of Oliver Sack's book Musicophilia - about people who can see music in colour, or a case of musical hallucinations: an elderly deaf lady who awoke one morning to hear a gospel quartet, singing an old hymn, as it turned out, not on the radio but in her head. She sang along with them, and even found she could teach them new hymns, by thinking of a few lines, whereupon they picked up and sang the rest!
I awoke later last night to a tense discussion between Adrienne and Quent about a fishing boat which was getting closer and closer, on a collision course, and who wouldn't answer a call on the VHF radio. I got up to take a look; Quent reckoned it a long-liner, probably Japanese. It turned out, when he finally did answer, to be French. Adrienne had a chat en Francaise, which was nice and he seemed to get out of the way pretty fast. She asked him if we would get tangled in his fishing lines if we crossed under his stern, and he said, no problem, they are 200 metres deep! Kez served tea, and we had a bit of a party there and then, eating buttered Boston Brown bread, which Adrienne made earlier. Such was our day. And night.
We are at 20deg 26' south and 161deg 21' east, and tracking 220 degrees, at about 4 Â½ knots and 135 miles from the Chesterfiel Reef. It's overcast, the seas gentle, and the wind is cool, at around 15 knots from the East-Nor'-East. The monkey grunts, the wind-vane squeals.