31 October, 2014

On Passage to Oz Day 4

Malua's position 27 25.517S 158 25.624E at 08:00 on 31/10/2014 326nm to go

The AIS alarm went off as I was reading my book at about noon yesterday. I looked up and saw a type B vessel, ie a small craft at about 4.8nm off my starboard beam. I looked from the cockpit and just saw a vessel as it rose and fell in the slight sea. I called it by position because the AIS did not give its name. No response. I returned to my book. After about half an hour I got a call on the VHF 16 from a fishing vessel which was just a mile off my port bow. He had heard my call to the other and informed me that they were long line fishing boats working together out of Northern NSW laying their lines. He did not have AIS while his mate did but his mate only listened to channel 10 their fishing frequency. He had just arrived after travelling 450nm and was laying his line in a parallel line to my course and if I continued I would be OK.

I asked if he would swap a bottle of whiskey for a good size fish? He laughed and then said they as fishermen and where a zero alcohol vessel so no booze on board. Pity I said I had last swapped rum with the Cuban fishermen for 12 very large lobsters. "sorry mate non of those on these long lines" "hows the weather?" I asked.
"No wind for tomorrow Friday but will come up from the north for two days then turn south and settle down" "Not good for you but the calm sea is just great for me I hope to get a great Christmas bonus from this trip" "Have a good one but listen out on channel 10 and keep a look out for our line buoys"

I continued on trying to go north of the Gilford Tablemount because the bottom comes up to 350 m and the sea is always confused but if you get to the west I expected the current to flow south and take we to Coffs. I was cruising along in the very flat sea and I saw one of their line markers floating in the sea. I immediately disconnected the autopilot and turned hard to port to cross their line at right angles hoping that the line was more than two meters below the surface. I went over it with no problems and continued for about a mile or so before I resumed my course. I then started to pick up the up-welling current and I was off at about 7 knots but not for long. Back to the slow five knots that the Yanmar is pushing me along at.

I looked at my fuel situation. I left New Caledonia with 425 l in the fuel tanks and a further 100 l in reserve jerry cans. At 2.1 l/h (well over my normal usage of 1.8l/h) that would give me 250 hours of motoring or a range of 1250 nm. OK sufficient fuel for the trip of 850 nm. As at noon today I have motored since filling the tanks 58 hours all from the front tank so I transferred the 60 l from the three jugs on the deck to the front tank. Now I am back to almost full tank and a range of almost 500 nm from the front tank alone - I only have 400 to go so that looks good. The aft tank is still full at 242 l.

I wont talk about fish but I did have a salmon paster last night for dinner, a change from the meat I have been trying to eat my way through in anticipation of arriving in Oz with an empty fridge and freezer.

Further than that I have stopped reading the improbable thrillers and am re-reading Jean-Michel Barrault's biography of Bernard Moitessier - my sailing hero. I think one of the greatest sailor of the early years. He had such a feel for the ocean and changed our approach to sailing downwind in a storm. His strategy I adopted when I was in the storm in the Mid Pacific on my way to Tonga.

A Magical Moment on Malua
At 10/29/2014 8:30 AM (utc) our position was 26°35.07'S 159°26.14'E

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