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

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.

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