FROM 1-23. Next landfall Tasmania

Oct 09, 2005 - 2300hrs UTC

2300hrs 09 Oct 2005 UTC 34’47”S 013’06”W Ref 426

Birds. Lots of them – mostly black with white beaks and a white ring around their eyes and faces. There were a lot of them around the Falklands and perhaps Tristan da Cunha has them too. But best of all, two albatrosses – medium sized, about 3 metre span and different varieties. These guys fly – fast – with their bodies almost brushing the surface – they seem to be locked there, about 3-4 cm above, with their wings extending slightly downwards towards the water with a bit of curve so that they reach the surface about two thirds of the way towards the tips and then flatten out like a big squashed omega so that they just don’t touch. Breathtaking to watch them especially when they blast in towards the boat and then twitch a section of leading edge and bank upwards and away with almost no visible movement. All you see as they come in is a tiny circle of face exactly like a smiley and a razor thin wing line extending away from it and curving down to the water. I think the clockwise pattern from yesterday is because they fly their circuits into wind at the boat end – will check on the other tack. And they don’t bother to go round the bows because real fishing boats don’t throw stuff off the front.

We are abeam Cape Agulhas, so about to go south of Africa. Dark night, cloudy, but the moon has just broken into a gap, amidst towering black and white silhouetted clouds. Venus was there fro a few minutes but now covered. Wind variable around 20 kts from the WSW, big swells. We are heading as far south as we can get before the 13th, when the grib predicts the next front, also from the SW but with 25+ knots, meaning 40 – 50 if our experience means anything. We’ll just ride it out – it wont be around for long – and hope that what is behind it still allows us to head east.

The satphone will be on from here. If anyone does want to speak to us, we will only answer the third ring –  so call, let it ring, hang up, call, hang up and call again and we will answer as long as we are not on deck doing a sail change. Don’t leave messages – we will not get them and it costs both of us money.

As I hit that last full stop, the wind came in at 35+kts and I had to leap out and ease everything and run the boat downwind at 8 to 9 knots with the stern wave rolling up over the quarter and phosphorescence firing off everywhere. Spectacular. And poor Pete had to get up from his nice warm bunk and we did a wet and bouncy change from the 2 to the 4 and a second reef. Ans, as usual, we’re back to 20 knots. I’ll try to send this before I jump into bed.

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