_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cocos Keeling Islands - week 2

When we arrived at Cocos Keeling we thought we'd stay for a week. That week ended two days ago and only now we're now beginning to seriously consider our preparations to leave on Monday or Tuesday after 2 weeks here at the atoll. We've gotten one jerry can load of diesel, two bags of veggies from the store, three loads of water and husked eight coconuts for the voyage. We have been snorkeling only once and plan to go again before we to leave. Peter has plans for a fishing trip from the dinghy
and of course there's a pot luck ashore tonight for which we'll have to prepare a dish. The list of jobs and possible activities seems endless and in the tropical heat everything takes just a bit longer.

On Monday, after exactly one week here, we dinghied to Home Island and then took the ferry to West Island. There is a bus on West Island that transports people the 7k into town from the main pier. It's a good thing there's a bus because it would be a very long hot walk on the dry shade less road. Once in town we found the cafe where we had a quick lunch and then we presented ourselves to the police sergeant, Dave, who had invited us to spend the night ashore and have dinner with him and his wife
Annette. We had a great night. We enjoyed beers at the Cocos Club, watched the weekly plane to Perth take off and then walked across the street for dinner at the restaurant. The dinner was a buffet with Malay and Aussie food and was quite a feast. We retired to Dave and Annette's airy house and we were enthralled by the TV and remote control! The next morning we made the rounds to the local stores. Since the plane came in the previous evening there were fresh veggies available (zucchini, tomato,
mushroom, squash, kiwi, cucumbers) all, of course, had been refrigerated but were quite fresh and exciting to the ocean traveler. We found the duty free store and got a shirt for Peter and a top for Ginger at the surf shop. With the shopping done - we've just listed all of the stores on the island - we took a field trip with Dave to the met office to talk with the weather guy. We got to see the Doppler radar up close on the way to the office and as we drove toward the building with the airport
runway on one side and the golf course on the other it all seemed sort of out of place on this remote island. We learned all about the various items monitored out here in the clean island air and saw that the met office is also a cyclone shelter so they can stay on the job during a cyclone. Too soon it was time to catch the bus (with all the school children) and then the ferry (with all the school children) back to home island. We uncovered the dinghy and were soon headed back to Marcy still bobbing
peacefully at anchor with the other 7 boats here.

Tomorrow morning we'll get our second 40 litres of diesel. Fuel charges here are very high and there's no duty free price for fuel here so we're paying regular pump prices of $2.15/liter or $8.15/gallon AUS, or about $7.15 US/gal. With fuel prices so high we're glad we have sails and that we're heading down wind. Our next leg should be a long downwind run so we're only taking on enough fuel to motor into a bay or estuary to anchor.


Monday, August 11, 2008

About 1100 nm to Cocos Keeling

We've had wind since leaving Ashmore Reef, well, actually unfortunately we've had wind since we got to Ashmore Reef, but the wind has made for pleasant sailing and we're watching the miles roll by on the GPS. The jib is winged out on the pole and the seas are about 1 to 2 meters and there's a bit of a roll to the ride so far. We're headed almost dead down wind so the occasional big wave really throws us around. The days have been sunny and hot and the nights have been cool and enjoyable. We've
seen several well lit fishing boats at night that we have so far managed to avoid. The rudder leak repair is mostly keeping out the water and the fresh veggies will hold out for a while longer. We've been reading, making water, doing small boat projects, baking bread and keeping to our watch schedule. We check in daily on a morning radio net with other boats headed our way and it's good to hear how everyone else is getting on. There are lots of birds out here but we haven't seen much other wildlife.
It's harder to spot wildlife when there are waves and wind.

There is a new protocol effective August 1 for our kd7oko email. Any email with: //WL2K to begin the subject line will be sent through to our in box. If you've emailed us and it was rejected try again with an amended title. We'd love to hear from you.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Ashmore Reef

After days of light wind and nights of no wind we finally got our "big air" as we approached Ashmore Reef. It was with mixed feelings that we decided to go inside and pick up a mooring as it's tempting to keep going when the wind finally fills in. We had a few tense moments picking up our mooring which is a huge marshmallow shaped float with a large metal ring on top and it's just barely above water level. As we pulled alongside Peter had to lean over the side of the boat to reach the ring and
tie a line on. We had 15 - 20 knots of wind and some strong current pushing the boat around but finally we were able to get the line up to the bow and have the boat streaming out behind.
After a few hours of rest the customs agents stationed here on a boat at the reef came to check our paperwork and write up a visitor form with our info. Then it was time to inflate the dinghy, add a second line to our mooring and help our friend Bob on Scooter as he was just pulling in to the lagoon. Peter tied a pennant to the free buoy and Bob was secured without too much hassle.
We were invited to dinner on Phoenix tonight but came to a mutual agreement that it was way too rough to brave the seas and wind in the dark. Peter made a trip in the dinghy across the 100 foot gap between us and Phoenix and came back completely drenched with several gallons of water in the dinghy. So, we're catching up on some reading and riding out the wind and waves with a quiet (except for the shake, rattle and roll) evening on Marcy.
Peter, with his interest in traditional sailing craft, is extremely lucky as the windy weather has made some Indonesian fishing vessels want to come in and wait out the weather. We heard from customs that several boats sailed on by yesterday but tonight there are two boats in the inner lagoon and we were fortunate to notice the second one on their way in before they dropped their sails this evening. The morning plan is to head in and admire these small vessels. Fortunately there is a low tide around
the time of our planned trip so the waves shouldn't be too big.
Tonight on Marcy we're keeping a close eye on our mooring lines...

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Day 3 in the Timor Sea

We hauled our anchor in Darwin at 7:30 AM on Saturday and are slowly making way toward Ashmore Reef. We are in the land shadow of Australia and have had light winds (or no wind) so far. Each night the wind has died completely and we've fired up the motor. We decided that we would reserve half of our fuel in case we need it on the leg from Ashmore Reef to Cocos Keeling so we have our fingers crossed that the clouds that have arrived this afternoon are bringing wind with them. We reached our self
imposed fuel consumption limit this morning.

The first 150 miles after leaving Darwin there were military vessels on maneuvers day and night causing some concern as we made our way through the area. Their exercises involved groups of 5 or 6 boats and several smaller vessels motoring around in odd patterns. One sailboat, also headed to Ashmore, tried to hail the military vessels as their navigation intentions were unclear. There was no answer from the boats in the dark. There were many military vessels from various countries in Darwin during
our stay and we think some of these boats may be part of that large group.

Our second morning out we ghosted along at 2 knots, feeling a bit tired from the newness of the passage routine and the light wind sailing. As we had just safely passed 6 navy ships there was a large water disturbance just off our bow then water spraying in the air. We had seen at least 2 submarines in Darwin and there was a moment of concern that one of them might be surfacing just in front of our boat. To our relief and wonder it turned out to be a whale! This whale looked as big as Marcy as
it floated motionless in the water breathing every 5 minutes or so. We held our breath as we crossed in front of it hoping we wouldn't startle it as it was pointed right at our boat. What a fantastic sight.

The whale was just the beginning of the wildlife sightings for this passage. We have seen numerous birds, a couple of large pods of dolphins, hundreds of jumping fish that look like a small tuna, turtles, several kinds of birds and lots of sea snakes. We're taking special note of the sea snakes as Ashmore reef is known for having more types of sea snakes than anywhere in the world. It's hot here and snorkeling at the reef is a big draw so we're trying to get used to seeing these large reptiles
before we have to see them up close.

Our K-Mart bimini is doing a great job of keeping us in the shade for this passage and our spinnaker is getting a light wind workout. We hope to arrive at Ashmore in the next two days or so. It's less than 150 miles away so we don't think that's too agressive a plan but it takes a long time to get anywhere at 2 knots! On the plus side, the motion is gentle, no one is seasick, we've been eating and sleeping well, and the ocean is beautiful.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Leaving Darwin

We've enjoyed a great stay in Darwin and have gotten many jobs completed on the boat. This morning we are preparing to haul our anchor and head west. Our first destination is Ashmore Reef about 450 nautical miles west of Darwin. The wind has been light for the last few days but the forecast shows a bit of wind filling in and it's time to move out. We thought 3 hours of internet time was enough to upload 12 photos and post a blog update but alas it was not. We ran out of internet time part way
through the photo upload so that will have to wait until we have internet access again.
Anyway, we have our fresh veggies in the refrigerator and our boat is well stocked so we're hauling anchor and heading out.