Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ships Log

The following have been taken from the log I wrote on a recent sailing race from Melbourne to Vanuatu. Onboard a Beneteau First 47.7 with 7 other crew we sailed approx 2000 kms from cold Melbourne to tropical pacific island of Vanautu.

Read on to find out more....

My nickname onboard is the Ships Cat as I can be found sleeping anywhere at any time in any conditions. Meow!

Melbourne to Vanuatu Yacht Race - Day 12 - Gone Troppo

Gone Troppo – Last edition

We have finally arrived in the Tropical paradise of Vanuatu.

After a loooooong slow day with very little breeze Huey (wind god) dropped out the 0.00 knots as we drifted over the finish line doing 0.01 knot - (thank the current/tide god for us finishing on the right side of the harbour leads) at 22.10 on Thursday night! Grrrrr - frustrating to say the least. Most importantly though we did make it and were all VERY happy to tie up alongside our fellow competitors (Tevake, Turbo and 51st Project) about 11pm Thursday night.

The obvious happened .......... bottles and cans were cracked and the stories got bigger and better and flowed until the wee hours of the morning. This cat hit the rack at about 1.00am and have awoken to stories of roosters being purchased from the markets and planted on various boats, crew forgetting where they were and going in search of Souvlaki and kebabs rah rah rah - the usual post race lies, fun and frivolity.

Customs, Quarantine and Immigration did their thing (in their own island time of course) and we were free to get amongst it in Vanuatu. Most of the crew checked into Irriki resort and had our first sleep in a real bed for a few weeks - very pleasant indeed!

Thanks to all those who have tuned into the cats tales, I am glad to hear most of you have enjoyed them.

The Vanuatu Races are on today and given my winning gambling form, we are going to hit them with gusto! Frocked up, feeling good and signing off for one last time on behalf of all the Samskara Crew.

Over and Out!

The Ships Cat.

Melbourne to Vanuatu Yacht Race - Day 11 - Gone Sailing / Finishing

Gone Sailing / Finishing - Issue 11

As I wriggled my weary body out of my salt encrusted wet weather gear and unpacked the bulky contents of the jacket, (torch, personal EPIRB, strobe light, knife, head light, dye kit and half eaten muesli bar), for what should be one last time this morning, I felt a sense of relief mixed with apprehension and disappointment that the journey is coming to an end.

Samskara has provided us with our own private, self-contained universe that not only has all of the facilities to keep eight of us warm, clean and well fed she has also carried us over 1800 nautical miles (approx. 3,600 kms) through mixed conditions with only a few hissy fits along the way. It seems strange to feel so fond of an innate object but somehow yachts have soul and personality and after looking after each other for so long it is hard not to feel a real companionship and a sense of pride in her. Yachts like to be sailed rather than tied up in marinas and I can't help thinking that Samskara has enjoyed lifting her skirt, barrelling out of the Melbourne Heads and opening into a canter for this passage. Although still creaking and moaning she feels as sound and comforting as the day we left.

As for the crew, although in high spirits we certainly look and feel a bit rougher than when we left. Rougher, but in a sense a little healthier and fitter, it's amazing what getting up every 4 hours does for you along with not drinking or eating to excess! We are all sporting some colorful bruises in odd places and are a little weather beaten not to mention hairier (the boys anyway!) and I am sure smellier. Manky clothes are being sealed in plastic bags and sea boots aired in the sunshine. Everyone is re-iterating the same thoughts - very happy to be arriving and seeing their friends and families but also a little disappointed such an awesome trip is coming to a close.

The wind has dropped out to 5-10 knots as if teasing us so close to the finish. With just 70 miles to go we are sailing along so slowly and gently averaging 5 knots boat speed. Ironically the day we are too excited to sleep the bouncy castle is offering a gentle rocking ideal for snoozing! If we had the same wind strength as yesterday we would definitely arrive in time to clear customs tonight but with these new light conditions it looks like party time on the customs buoy this evening. Three other boats should be joining us so a bit of fun to be had and a nice close finish to celebrate!

We have just passed competing yacht "The Secretary" who are doing this race two handed and we have heard that George has had a fall and hurt his back, so Robin is doing most of the steering, poor buggers, that would be tough going! They have just VHF radioed to let us know their HF radio has gone down and asked if we can do the 1615 scheds if they are not back up and running by then. Robin had just written her daily blog and went to send at the time the radio decided not to work - lets hope she hasn't lost her material.

We are now in search of "51st Project" who were 27 miles ahead at the 4.15am scheds, a big call but we have the new number 1 up and are making ok speed given the conditions.

We are all particularly excited about arriving in Vanuatu. For us Australians to sail to a foreign port is certainly a unique experience. With such vast distances from our island nation, we often fly overseas but to sail aboard is a rare experience and we are looking forward to immersing ourselves in the island's culture and celebrating the journey.

Current Situation:
Jack Johnson piping through speakers, Stoopy doing our arrival papers, Rick totally absorbed in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" we've lost him I think (he just piped up and said he can't wait to get there to buy the second book in the trilogy), Jesse steering, Fo, Mike, James and Leon on deck.

The Tucker:
Chilli Beans and fresh bread ala Mike for lunch yesterday filled us all so full of food and air we just had noodles and cuppa soups for dinner. Bacon, egg and cheese omelette ala ships cat this morning.

So this ends the blogging at sea, I'll miss my daily routine of sitting / bouncing around the navigation station sliding off the seat while trying to type away. I will try and do one last update tomorrow to advise our safe arrival and report any stand out performances at the mooring party tonight... I can hear a few cans cracking already - could be interesting...

Signing off on behalf of the Samskara Crew, With a huge Cheshire Cat Grin, The Ships Cat.

PS: Log saying arriving around 8pm tonight - guess who wins the "Estimated date and time of finishing" competition??!! Hee hee, I wont start bragging until reality - still 68 miles to go but looking good!

Melbourne to Vanuatu Yacht Race - Day 10 - Gone Sailing / Reef Hopping

Gone Sailing / Reef Hopping - Issue 10

As the weather was looking stable (and our sudden compulsion to try even harder to mow down some boats in front of us), we decided on taking the quick route through the reef in between the main island of Noumea and the southern Isle of Pines group. The passage is around 8 miles long and 4 miles wide at the start then narrowing to 2 miles before popping out the other end. It is a reasonably well marked pass but with waves breaking over gnarly reef on both sides and shooting through doing 8-10 knots under spinnaker in the middle of night made it another 'all hands on deck' affair.

We were all set up for it and everyone was looking forward to a bit of action despite it being the middle of the night. It was an exhilarating feeling - kite up, deciphering the blinking navigational marks, peeling to the number 3 headsail for the short dog leg beam reach then back to kite as we shot out of the narrow northern gap.
Amidst this excitement there was a radio sched that again confirmed we have clawed back a few more miles on competing boats. This combined with the first sight of land in 8 days as the sun peeped over the horizon had the happy hour bell ringing all before 6.30am. A celebratory sip was complemented by bacon and egg sandwiches ala Jess and Nick. A great way to start the day!

Our welcome to the tropics:
We had an enormous ferry/cruise ship heading straight for us this morning doing about 30 knots. After making radio contact to ensure he saw us, he confirmed he was just coming over to say hi and give his passengers a closer look at us. Big arms waved from both vessels as he gave us a toot and warm greeting. Very odd but very pleasant welcome to the islands.

Current Situation:
Dave Gray's tunes are filtering through the boats speakers, the sun is shining, the spinnakers full and the mild sea state and angle has the bouncy castle working in slow motion allowing us to open some hatches and air the good ship. Bloody beautiful! It really is one of those "you wouldn't be dead for quids" moments and reminds you why sailing is so special!

Everyone is in go slow mode after a long night on deck - Leon is asleep in the saloon quarter berth - he has been the main navigator through the night so would be feeling a big sense of relief, Mike is in the forward cabin catching zz's, Rick in port aft cabin and James in starboard aft cabin snoozing too - it's an opera of snores sounding like a country fair wood chopping contest! Jesse is in the shower sprucing himself up, captain Stoopy is on the wheel and Nick on deck reading, keeping him company and doing the odd sail trim. A very happy mellow ship!

The Tucker:
Dinner last night was another Easy Foods meal of lamb and current stew, this was complimented with fresh bread made by our resident "masterbaker" Mike from bread mix kindly supplied by Lynda - many thanks Lynda, it was like heaven after days of eating the bland mountain flat bread!

Nature Spots:
Flying fish galore - literally hundreds all around us.
Islands and reef!

Tropical paradise:
I think today will mark the last of thermal underwear and we will be sailing the last 280 nautical miles in shorts and t-shirts - the moment we have all been waiting for! If we maintain our current speed averaging 8-9 knots we are now thinking we will arrive tomorrow night (Thursday). If after about 4pm we will be too late to clear customs so will have to spend the night on the customs buoy and do the formalities Friday morning. Everyone is getting very excited about arriving and particularly seeing family and friends who are flying across specially to meet us!

We are now approaching the Loyalty Islands and all we have to do is miss Lifou Island and Mare Island and do some more reef hopping through a few coral islets in between and we are on the homeward stretch.

Looking very forward to our arrival!!

Signing off on behalf on the Samskara Crew, The Ships Cat.

Melbourne to Vanuatu Yacht Race - Day 9 - Gone Sailing / Pondering

Gone Sailing / Pondering - Issue 9

After another 24 hours of bobbing around the ocean doing much of the same as the past few days (changing and trimming sails to suit the wind strength and direction, eating, reading, wriggling in and out of wet weather gear while trying to keep your balance, bouncing off walls, writing, sleeping etc) has got me pondering more about this journey.

The common goal:
It seems a simple mission, get the boat from A to B as quickly as possible without breaking anything or anyone. Sounds simple but the enormity of such a task is more than meets the eye.

Firstly there is getting the boat ready for the trip, the Melbourne crew and helpers have spent months working through the ever growing jobs list to ensure the boat meets all of the required safety standards, an expensive and extensive mission in itself. Then there is all the extras to fit to make the journey as comfortable and safe as possible, additional water tanks, fuel tanks, new electrical and navigation systems, adding additional storage and refrigeration, testing all of the rigging, installing emergency rudders etc etc etc.
The list literally does go on and on and hats off should be made to anyone who has the patience and determination to work through this and get their boat to the start line of any offshore race. The ever increasing rules and regs and associated costs is definitely seeing fleet sizes dwindle for races such as these, but I guess it's all in the name of safety.

Then there is the people element, a journey of any sort can be made or shattered by the company you keep. In the yachting world it is a common scenario for best mates not be able to sail together as for some odd reason some people's personalities can change from mild and reserved to captain Bligh by simply putting a yacht wheel in their hands and an ocean under their boat. An odd phenomenon but a common one. There are also cases that the people you love and want to spend time with would rather stay home and poke hot forks in their eyes than go sailing. Sea sickness, fear and boredom are often reasons for spouses, friends and children not wanting to join in with your idea of a great time.

This results in people who don't necessarily know each other well sailing together and strong friendships are often forged after sharing such adventures. The nature of the beast requires you to live, eat and breath in extremely close quarters (there is no getting off or places to hide), run on little and disrupted sleep, recognise and rely on each others skills and strengths and work as a team to achieve the "common goal". A lot of the time on a long trip there is not much happening, the sails are set and the wind is constant so you find yourself sitting around, on the rail or in the cockpit (often wet and
cold) having conversations with people you simply would never have in any other situation. You certainly do reach deeper into people than at a typical cocktail party.

With all that said, I scoped the Samskara crew to find out their motivation and reasoning for undertaking this trip. What is it we are all seeking, is it ego driving us, the appeal of risk, the fun or the simple need for adventure?...

The answers were varied in depth and humor but the common threads were these:

"Sailing with mates" - its like doing anything with good friends, simply its bloody good fun! Everyone mentioned they wouldn't do it with just anyone - All

"Personal challenge - the simple challenge of being able to compete in and complete the trip" - James

"Great opportunity and adventure - a rare and amazing opportunity, trips like this don't happen everyday - very thankful and happy to be here!" - Jesse

"The overall challenge - competing in what equates to more than three Sydney Hobarts with longer offshore distances and challenges is an awesome challenge" - Nick

"Good friends, good food, good fun" - Rick

"Using the boat, sailing into a foreign port and sailing with good mates" - Captain Stoops

"The conversations, the ever changing conditions but mostly the piss-up at the other end" - Mike (surprise surprise)

"Why Not - a few weeks sailing - love it!" - Leon

For me it is all of the above along with the my infatuation with tropical paradises, I have never been to Vanuatu and am very much looking forward to the warmth, the people, the palm trees, my sarong and those quirky swim-to cocktail bars. I must admit if the race was Melbourne to Antarctica for example I too would be at home poking hot forks in my eyes!

So there you have it, pretty simple reasons for competing in a not so simple task. I hope this has given a better insight into what many find unfathomable or madness and it will perhaps ignite some pondering of your own to consider sailing away some time soon too?!

Must go as we have crew rehearsals on deck for our cabaret performance at the presentation night. It seems any race placement trophies are out of reach so we are going for gold on this one!

Signing off on behalf on the Samskara Crew, The Ships Cat.

PS: Oh yes and our progress... we should go through the pass between Noumea and the Isle of Pines tonight around midnight. After this we then have the last leg - 280 nautical miles to Vanuatu!! All is well everyone catching lots of sleep today as it will be all hands on deck tonight, the pass is only a few miles wide and surrounded by reef, so we will be all up double checking each other and ready for any weather changes that may occur. We are all looking forward to the sight of land!

Melbourne to Vanuatu Yacht Race - Day 8 - Gone Sailing / Maintaining

Gone Sailing / Maintaining - Issue 8

Another day sails by with a respectable 180 nautical miles covered in the past 24 hours. We have completed 1265 nautical miles of the 1885 mile trip and are maintaining consistent speeds so the finish line is becoming a more discussed topic.

We have some decisions to make about which route to take around New Caledonia, Noumea. The lead boat, "Tevake 2" is enroute to leave New Cal to starboard meaning it is going around the northern end and then across to Vanuatu. The other options are to leave New Cal to port and either slip through the pass between the main island and The Isle Of Pines, or leave them all to port then shoot north east to Vanuatu. The passage between Isle of Pines and main island of New Cal looks the most scenic but more reading and research will have to be done before we understand the tides and currents. There would be nothing worse than parking in there for a few days no matter how scenic it may be!
Once we clear New Cal it is about 260 nautical miles to the finish.

Contrary to the forecast, the breeze has swung more south for us allowing us to crack sheets a bit more and enjoy some fast beam reaching with the number 2 headsail. Unfortunately we have had to keep a roll / reef in the main-sail since our outhaul issue the other night, the roll taking the load off the fitting and acting as insurance it wont come away again. We are still maintaining an average of 8-9 knots boat speeds which is a happy thing in these conditions and we have clawed back at a few of the other boats which is exciting.
Last night was a sloppy sea state but it seems to have abated a bit this morning and we are enjoying riding the long, wide rolling ocean swells.

Two lure's trailing out the back still in search of Mahe Mahe, we would even settle for a tuna today. We passed 3 floating bouys this morning which we think may be long line fishing nets - seems a long way in the middle of nowhere for these but no real other explanation could be made. Unless they are drug drops ready for a ship to pick up?.. We are fortunate we did not catch one on our keel or rudder as we scooted past it early this morning, sharks or drugs hanging off the end - neither do we need not to mention the hassle of unhooking it!

The Tucker:
"Easy Foods" lamb shanks has had rave reviews from all the crew since they were served with mash potato, carrots, corn topped with rosemary and red wine sauce last night. Well done Mike and Stoopman - this has been a real highlight and the effort to serving it up while walking on walls outstanding!

Notable moments:
The remaining smelly people treated themselves to showers this morning and more undy ceremonies performed.
Crew member number 4 did number 2's which resulted in an emergency evacuation of the saloon - sadly our canary who was left inside perished!

Right here right now:
Rick in saloon in quarter berth enjoying his new found love of reading, Jesse in the galley washing up the brunch dishes, oh and Rick has just jumped to his assistance, Nick steering, Mike in cockpit reading, Stoops, James and Leon all catching zzz's.

Leon has again been continually maintaining the good ship, he has fixed the leaking windows so we are now not taking on buckets of water, the HF radio has been pulled apart repaired and reset so we are now transmitting and receiving on cue rather than randomly, he had the sail repair kit out yesterday and re-sewed a tear in the number 2 headsail. Champion effort!

That's about it for today, we are all settled in as we will be on this heading for about the next 40 hours or so. Let's hope the wind god
(Huey) stays happy and keeps spitting the 15-22 knots of breeze on the beam for us so we can continue to maintain this speed. Not only because it is a more comfortable bouncy castle like this but it is making my estimated arrival time looking pretty good! I better start talking up the prize for the winning bid!

Signing off on behalf on the Samskara Crew, The Ships Cat.

Today's unfinished Crew Song (sung to tune of Hotel California)

On a dark pacific ocean
Cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of lasagne
rising up through the air

Up ahead in the distance
I saw the New Caledonia light
We hope the breeze stays in
and we don't park for the night

Welcome to the hotel Samskara
Such a lovely boat (such a lovely boat)
It's a fridge afloat (it's afloat)
Plenty of room at the hotel Samskara
You will find rum here, also wine and beer..

the remaining lyrics to be censored and continued...

Melbourne to Vanuatu Yacht Race - Day 7 - Gone Sailing / Gaining

Gone Sailing / Gaining - Issue 7

11.30am this morning marked our complete week on the water, some parts seem to have flown by and other moments (usually the uncomfortable
ones) have felt like an eternity. The pluses, no phones ringing, no traffic jams, no deadlines, no appointments to meet, no meetings to attend, just us, the good ship and the big blue. Maintaining the ship and keeping her moving at optimum speed, along with sustaining everyone's health and sanity / normality the mission of each day. The other race competitors are out here some where but we haven't seen any of them since day 2. But we do know that we are finally gaining some ground on them!

Thank goodness it is getting warmer as the inner thermal layers and socks are getting tired of being attached to bodies and are starting to walk around the boat by themselves.. ew! Most of us shouted ourselves a one week wash today, we have been very careful to conserve water but with the finish in sight the bodies have had a wash down (thank god for the baby wipes prior to this!). I'll leave the description of what it is like to shower in the forward compartment of the bouncv castle for another edition..

We are still watching our water usage and have not had enough rain to fill the tanks so the hair will have to wait until closer to the finish, we are all sporting the nice greasy dread lock look! Down below is starting to permeate that over lived in smell, and there is too much water still coming over the deck to open any hatches to properly air it out. Luckily we are mainly dry, wet weather gear dry, boots etc dry, otherwise by now the smell would be far worse.

Too much information perhaps?? Back to the sailing...

Our latest position report has shown us finally gaining ground on some of the other boats which has given the crew a pump up. Each watch is not only trying to go as fast as possible we are now also trying to out run the previous watches speed and distance. Bids have been taken on estimated time and date of arrival with mine being the most optimistic of 0900 Friday 16th July, and the most pessimistic (uncharacteristically) is Nick with 1406 Sunday the 18th July, everyone else is somewhere in between. We'll see, mine is definitely wishful thinking as the sooner we get there the more time I have to enjoy Vanuatu before heading back to being a common old working cat!

The gloomy weather forecast of yesterday has not kicked in so we are enjoying a nice close reach (slightly cracked off the breeze) for the past 24 hours. We are still walking and sleeping on walls but not at such a severe angle as we were when hard on the breeze. The bouncy castle is still relentlessly bouncing and the creaking and groaning of the boat still humming around us.

Last night's watches were again a glamour. Clear skies showing off the blanket of stairs again pumping out an astounding amount of light which somehow makes slinking along the inky black ocean a far more friendly sight. We have not seen another ship or human life for two days other than what looked like a Jetstar plane flying over at lunch time today.

Today the sun is shining and the sea state slightly more settled and most of us have spent the morning on deck, reading, writing songs, chatting and generally milling about. The never ending toiler Leon has been busy fixing HF radios, leaks in the hull and anything else he can find that isn't literally ship shape. Every boat needs somebody like Leon, he can find, can asses and can fix anything all the while seemingly loving every minute of it!

Nature Spots:
Pod of about 10 small pacific dolphins early this morning.
No Mahe Mahe caught yet...
A few sea birds aimlessly circling us from time to time - where do they rest?? We are miles from any land..

The Tucker:
More ham and salad wraps for lunch and another amazing meal from "Easy Foods" - Chicken Tikka Masala - complimented by non gluggy rice prepared by captain Stoops - well done!

Current Situation:
Mike steering, Jesse catching zz's before his 4pm watch, must say Jesse (who hasn't sailed on Samskara before this trip) has taken to steering the big ship in any breeze at any time of the day or night like a natural - I think he's enjoying the journey, Stoopy is chucking potatoes from one end of the saloon to Leon in the galley, Stoops about to prepare Lamb Shanks in red wine and rosemary sauce, mash and veges for dinner, James, Rick and Nick on deck chatting and trimming sails.

In all a pleasurable week, we are well pleased the good ship is looking after us as we are trying to look after her by - despite some temptations - not pushing her to extreme limits. Although she has her at times discomforts and downfalls, she is the only one we have so far from any land and any serious malfunctions or breakage's could cross that fine line between an adventure and an ordeal!

Best get back on deck and keeping pushing the bouncy castle so we can keep on gaining on the enemy!

Signing off on behalf on the Samskara Crew, The Ships Cat.

Today's unfinished Crew Song (sung to tune of Hotel California)

On a dark pacific ocean
Cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of lasagne
rising up through the air

Up ahead in the distance
I saw the New Caledonia light
We hope the breeze stays in
and we don't park for the night

to be continued...

Melbourne to Vanuatu Yacht Race - Day 6 - Gone Sailing / Riveting

Gone Sailing / Riveting - Issue 6

After a relatively uneventful day of 10-20 knot winds shifting from south-east to east "ALL HANDS ON DECK" was called at around 9.45pm last night. The outhaul broke away from the boom which left the mainsail flapping freely from the mast. Not a good predicament but certainly better than a torn main sail. The sail was dropped, the boom lowered and assessment of the damage made. It was decided that the metal plate that had let go was going to be easy enough to rivet back onto the boom.

Tool boxes, drills, rivets and torches were strewn through the cockpit while the handy-men did their thing. The main sail is one that furls/rolls into the boom so we then had to carefully re-thread it back into its down position before hoisting it again. The whole process only took about 90 minutes and we continued to sail under headsail at about 5 knots throughout the operation so hopefully not too much time was not lost.

The wind continued to swing in all directions all night with us mostly sailing hard onto the breeze. We are getting used to walking and sleeping on walls as we are well heeled over. This combined with a short shitty choppy sea is let’s say bloody awkward and uncomfortable down below. It's a bit like being stuck in a kiddies bouncy castle except this bouncy castle's edges are hard not soft, it’s the same involuntary jolting, the claustrophobic noisy atmosphere and the feeling that you should be having fun but all you want to do is puke on your mate who is making it bounce so hard - interesting.. and we are doing this for fun!??! On deck is the definitely the nicest place to be, that is of course until a big green wave comes over the bow and dumps 100's of litres of water over you... hee hee ... bet you all wish you were here!

Anyway with all that said, are we having fun yet?? Yes of course, as they say a shitty day on the water is better than a good day in the office any time! We are fortunate no-one suffers from sea sickness so everyone is in good spirits. Things could also be much worse the conditions are not so bad it is just an awkward angle we are sailing on at the moment, we hope to bear away from the breeze by late this afternoon.

We just did the scheds and it seems we are tending towards the back of the fleet.. long way to go yet though - we should pass half way today which will be exciting. I must say it is nice too sail with people with equal expectations, each of us have the natural competitive spirit and like to do well but the priority is getting to our tropical paradise without breaking anyone and as importantly without breaking the boat. We all know and agree that with missions such as these, its all about the party at the other end!

Beef Bolognaise with gnocci ala Mike - very good indeed!

Oh dear, we just heard the latest Lord Howe Island weather which told us it is going to swing north-east which is exactly what we don't want as that is where we want to go - jeez not much good news today!! Oh well, we'll push on through, everyone is a little weary after the watch system was thrown out of whack last night but have slowly migrated into the cockpit for morning coffees and reminiscences of their evening watches, seems we had a good dumping of rain, I must have been bouncing around my bunk and missed that!..

Let's hope the next update will be more riveting in the exciting sense of the word and not about pop riveting more pieces of the boat back together!!

Signing off on behalf on the Samskara Crew, The Ships Cat.

PS: Thanks to Georgie for the Peace Train Chords and lyrics, a new number is being composed!

PPS: Today's unfinished corny ditty...

We thought Saskara had pace
That's why we entered the race
Little did we now she was painfully slow So we drank till we were off our face (joke of course...)

Day 3 we were looking a glamour
then we hit the eddy slammer
from second to last not going so fast
But from here will will hammer

Taking it in turns to steer
The course we thought was clear
obviously not as we sailed into snot
Lucky we brought enough beer

To be continued....

Melbourne to Vanuatu Yacht Race - Day 5 - Gone Sailing / Pushing

Gone Sailing / Pushing - Issue 5

The 0915 sched has just confirmed that we have spent the last 12 hours pushing a steam train load of current, with the wind also dying out through the night we covered just 64 nautical miles in the last 12 hours... not good! We now seem to be through the worst with the wind picking up to 10-15 knots and our speed over the ground is showing little to no current effecting us.

Although a slow night it was stunning to be on deck, clear skies with just a few small rain squalls, zilllions of stars with many of them falling out of the sky - I counted at least 5 last night. With no lights or city lume and a very small moon the stars punch out an amazing amount of light which seems even brighter than a full moon night. It is an absolutely beautiful feeling ghosting along with the bubbling of the ocean and the creaking of the boat the only sounds.
The temperature is definitely rising with everyone wearing less and less layers. I am now only in 4 layers of thermals instead of 6, possibly a bit extreme but i am a spoilt tropics cat!

On sched time we also just passed 155 degrees of longitude which meant we had to advise race control that the HF radio, all systems, the boat and crew are in good condition to continue the race. A celebrity sip was had to mark this milestone!

All the crew are fit and well except for our first minor injury with Stoopy fossicking too deeply into the fridge and knocking the spring that holds the incredibly heavy lid open with his elbow which resulted in a nice cut above his left eye. The sympathy shown from all of the crew was overwhelming with James playing nurse and decorating his melon with criss-cross band-aid action. Poor Stoops seems to be re-covering well steering us out of the current and back into good speeds.

Galley Action:
Lasagne last night went down a treat.
Jesse was the galley star this morning cooking up bacon and egg sangers for everyone - good work Jesse!

Sunset Concert:
Nick Fo lashed out on the guitar yesterday afternoon, belting out a few old favorites and composing a few new numbers to add to the ever growing Samskara repertoire. We need the chords to Peace Train if anyone can email them to us that would be great.

Nature Spots:
Dead squid on deck - keeping for bait.
Complete rainbow - if only a camera can capture that image..

Right here right now:
The Waifs tunes pumping through the speakers, all on deck, Leon rigging fishing line in search of Mahe Mahe, James searching locker for sika-flex to fix some head piping, Mike steering, everyone else trying not to laugh at Stoopy's wound!

Not much else to report other than the crew cheering that our speed over ground is now showing 10.5 knots. How quickly we are all pushing away the memories of wallowing around last night - we're back! We hope!

Signing off on behalf on the Samskara Crew, The Ships Cat.

Melbourne to Vanuatu Yacht Race - Day 4 - Gone Sailing / Reaching

Gone Sailing / Reaching - Issue 4

No not dry reaching (thankfully), broad reaching since sun down last night. We had a great downhill run under kite through the day and with the wind swinging a little further east we set the number 2 headsail and enjoyed a slightly bumpy but quick ride last night averaging around 8-9 knots in a breeze anywhere between 12 and 30 knots.

We can no longer see land and are settling in to these conditions for the next few days, at least until we pass Lord Howe Island. The sea state is still a little confused making down below and off watch sleeping a little more challenging than before. Steering at night was also a bit of fun with random waves and swell picking up the bum of the boat and sending her in random directions.

Nature Spots:
A few very large Albatross soaring around us from time to time.
Flying fish trying to commit suicide by launching themselves on the deck.
Truck loads of falling stairs.

The Boat:
A few bolts came loose in the clevis on the boom, luckily noticed by Rick before it became a problem. This was spotted at sunset so a makeshift fix was rigged and more investigations and possibly the big machinery will be out today.

The Chart Plotter is miraculously working again..

The new spray dodger - this has almost become a worship item on the boat. It is doing a marvellous job of keeping the saloon and cockpit dry not to mention the wind, waves and spray off the crew. I am sure it will have a name before the end of the trip.

The tucker:
We had our first meal from "Easy Foods" last night, although not as tasty as Carolyn's home cooked meals the Beef Stroganoff was fantastic. Thumbs up so far from all the crew.

We have just dropped the number 2 headsail and put up the number 3 as conditions seem to be settling in at 20-30 knots and the sea state still chucking us about a bit. There are squalls of rain bringing stronger wind and the new sail plan feels more comfortable and is certainly easier to sail the rhumbline. Mike steering through the change likened it to driving a big Kenwood truck.

Current Situation - 10am Thursday
Nick Fo on helm, Mike, Jess and Stoops on deck - I am hearing the word "beer" often so not sure in what context but think I know... Leon and James catching zzz's, Rick reading what he has told me as his first book since high school, "The Girl the dragon tattoo" although perhaps a little heavy going should have him addicted to reading in no time.

I too am going to catch some sleep, I spent my off watch last night - in between bouncing towards the ceiling - sliding off the bunk under the lee cloth onto the floor, dam this starboard tack! Saloon settee for me tonight if I can't con mike to swapping bunks...

The wind angle has just swung a little more east so looks like we will be enjoy beam reaching for the next few days. Nice!

Signing off on behalf on the Samskara Crew, The Ships Cat.