Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The weather here on Chagos is affected by the ITCZ,(Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), known by sailors as The Doldrums) often 60% cloud cover with passing squalls.  There is steady 10 to 15 knot wind out of the SW to WSW that helps cool things off.  There are seven or eight islands that make up the atoll and we have currently walked around three of them.  We do another tomorrow.  The atoll is about 5k+ across.  I have yet to catch a fish but working on it.  Barry

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chagos is a great place!  Barry
We arrived in Chagos today, April 20 after a 15 day sail from Sri Lanka. The anchorage here is quite pretty and there is nothing here but 8 sailboats.    Barry

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We are now in the Southern Hemisphere again having crossed the equator for the third time.  I put a message in a wine bottle again and tossed it overboard.  I put a request in the message that if anyone ever finds the message to let me know where and when they find it.  I wonder if I will ever hear about it.  I did the same thing when we crossed the equator for the first time just north of the Galapagos Islands and have never heard back from that message, but you just never know!!
I gave a toast to Neptune and the Wind Gods when we crossed the line and they must have been paying attention. After a couple of hours of bobbing around catching ever little wind gust the wind filled in and we were almost able to make our heading and we were actually moving along quite nicely at about 4 knots. The wind has continued until tonight when a huge ugly system came through and put a wrench in the works.  The wind picked up and we were moving along at a brisk 7 knots then wham, it started raining and we had to reef and we were seeing 30 knots over the deck, not recommended for the week at heart.  This lasted for about an hour and a half, that seemed like five and then bob, bob, bob, nothing.  Just the equatorial current sweeping us thirty degrees off our course at two and a half knots, yech!  It seems to have come up again so I had better sign off, we have only 144nm to Chagos so the Wind Gods being in our favour we should be there in a couple of days.  Hope all is well with everyone, drop us a line.

Friday, April 13, 2012

From: 02 26.5N 074 25.8E in the middle of the Laccidive Sea, Indian Ocean (who knew there was such a sea???)
Yesterday we had been at sea for a week and we had gone a grand total of 390nm, subtracting the time motoring, we have been sailing at fantastic speed of 1.95nm/hour, that is Velocity Made Good or if you track all our tacking and calculated miles actually sailed it is 2.44nm/hour. Which ever way you look at it we are definitely not living life in the fast lane! Our philosophy is that once we get to Chagos we just have to wait, so why use up our fuel when we got nothing but time.  The preferred time for a passage from Chagos to Mauritius is in June, so since we are only allowed a month at Chagos the longer we take to get there, the closer we will be to the optimum time for making our next passage.
We saw a turtle yesterday, he was about a foot in diameter (those of you brought up with the metric system, just convert, I know you can do it, 2.54 cm to an inch, 12 inches in a foot).  He was just hanging out swimming around as we sailed up to him.  He popped his head up about 5 times and took a look at us, he was fairly blase about it, putting his head up and then down and doing his turtle thing, flapping a flipper around, turning slowly in the water.  Finally when we were really close, I could have touched her with the boat hook, she decided to take off and she dove.  We could see her flippering away for a long time. The visibility was fantastic and she just kept going down, down, down until we lost sight of her in the deep.
There was next to no wind so I decided that the spinnaker would be a great idea (wrong again).  We put it up and down three times before the wind decided which side it was going to stay on, that should have been a clue.  Once it was up the poor sail just flopped around limply, half filling occasionally, I think we actually got to 1 knot of speed once.  Anyway, we were going no where fast and I figured that turtle had the right idea so I jumped in.  The water was so warm it was like a bath tub, you didn't cool off at all, it was the same temperature as the air. The spinnaker was still up and I was doing laps around the boat.  I climbed up the ladder and Barry jumped in and checked out the barnacle situation on the prop.  I have the best picture of just his legs visible coming out from under the boat.
Last night was ugly, there were huge dark rain clouds covering over half of the horizon.  I was darker than sin and then the sky would light up with the flash of lightning.  It went on for hours, lightning is just so scary when you are on the water. The sails would be flogging around doing very little and then the squall would hit and there would be 20 knots of wind across your bow. The boat would be screaming along, heeling way over and we would scramble around trying to reduce sail, oh yeah, did I mention it was raining too.  Not our finest night, that's for sure.
This morning our beloved stool went overboard.  It is a plastic spool that had 100 meters of line on it, my Mom made a cover for it and it is great for sitting up behind the wheel.  It also doubles as an extra seat at the dining table.
the stool went overboard and Barry came about and I was at the bow with the boat hook ready to rescue it.  Cat's-Paw IV just did not have enough steerage to come close enough to reach it with the boat hook so rather than see our handy dandy stool float off, I jumped in to get it.  I got it just fine but found it was water logged and very heavy and awkward to swim with.  The boat was slowly sailing away as I was trying to swim to it, Barry tossed me a line and I pulled myself and the stool into safety.  Oh, the things that keep us occupied while at sea.
Check out our position by clicking on the link on the side panel of the blog.  I try and post it daily, then you too can marvel at how slowly we really are going!!!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Not too much has changed, light winds on our nose, having to tack to make our heading.  In three days we have managed only 150nm in the right direction, but have sailed 250 miles with at least 10 hours under motor.  Our usual day would be about 100 nm so it has been slow going.  We are in no particular hurry and although we could stop in the Maldives for fuel we hope we don't have to so we are slowly meandering along.  It is hot and the ocean is really calm with the lack of wind.  Today we were ghosting along under 1 knot watching the wind ripples or cat's paws come towards us, once it would reach us the boat would pick up speed to about 2 and 1/2 knots. Sometimes the boat looses it's heading we are going so slowly and she stalls out and goes into irons, then we do a donut or a chicken gybe to get back on course, not too much excitement here! We hope you all had a lovely Easter, I didn't even realize it was that time of year, they were not selling Easter eggs in the stores in Sri Lanka!!

Friday, April 06, 2012

We have had a good first day, it would be a great day but the wind is directly on our nose, so although we are sailing along at a very respectable 4 knots we are going 50 degrees off course, which can be very disheartening. We went southwest first in the direction we wanted kind off, but a new program we have on the computer where we can plot a virtual voyage that inputs the average current and winds says we should be heading west first to take advantage of the current in this area has led us to tack. At the moment we are heading about 340 degrees which is almost back to Sri Lanka and our progress on the chart looks terrible. We are still 20 miles east of our rhumb line so we will continue to head NNW most of the day until we cross the line and then we will tack southwest again. I slept part of the morning away and feel very groggy at the moment. Time to do some embroidery on the tiger!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

We will be leaving Sri Lanka on Thursday, April 5th and be making our way to Chagos. We should be there in about 10 days. We will be staying there for a month waiting out the change in seasons.  Please check our progress by clicking on Our Position.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

One of the things about Sri Lanka that really piqued my interest was the number of men on bicycles.  I don't mean lovely new bicycles, the cycles are old, mainly one speed with the old fashioned kind of brakes

The men ride them in their traditional dress a long piece of cloth wrapped around them.  Mostly the cloth almost reaches the ground but sometimes they tie it up just above the knee.

Sometime the cyclist has a pair of flip flops on, but sometimes the feet are just bare.  I truly enjoyed watching the mostly old men of Sri Lanka pedal around the city

They basically would go anywhere and the traffic would just flow around them.  It was refreshing to see people out getting exercise and using their bicycles as a legitimate mode of transportation.   We saw one fellow out in the country with a 20 gallon barrel tied to the back of his bike, I wish the camera had been handy. 

I asked our tuk tuk driver, Batu (the fellow in the picture) for a Sri Lankan cooking lesson and he arranged for us to go to another driver's house and his wife cooked a lovely curry for us.  There was dahl and curried lady fingers ( a Sri Lankan vegetable) and a fish stew.  It was a wonderful meal and a lovely evening in the home of someone who lives here.  
These are the lady fingers.

The cook produced all this food on a two burner propane stove. Her other method of cooking is on a open hearth with a small fireplace. The frying pan is sitting over where the fire is and you can glimpse the firewood underneath the hearth.  I tried to have the tuk tuk drivers on board for lunch today, to return their hospitality, but I guess it wasn't meant to be.  We are in a military harbour and we have to show our pass and go through a gate each time we leave the compound. In order to have the guys on board we had to get them a pass.  Barry went off this morning to complete the paper work and I stayed on board and cooked up spaghetti, a lettuce salad and a wonderful fruit salad for dessert. The paper work was almost done when they decided since the president of Sri Lanka was coming today to open a new fish factory close by that they would not allow any guests in the harbour.  I was sitting on board, all the lunch was ready, but no guests!  Then we were told we had to move again because the presidential helicopters were going to land very near the boat and we would have been too close. 

Sri Lankan president on board
Gun boat patrolling the harbour while President was in the area. 
In Sri Lanka the norm when you go out to eat are rice and curry, or if you really felt adventurous you could have curry and rice. The other things you can eat are roti, which is an Indian version of bread.  It is a flat bread that is cooked in a big circle and then folded into a triangle and things are put inside.  You can have ones with egg in them or curried vegetables, which is very popular for breakfast.  The long skinny thing on the plate is a fish curry thing with a coating that is fried.  The drink is the ever popular (at least in my book) GINGER BEER! It is the best even better than the Bundaberg variety because it is more gingery.    
This guy is mixing up a huge batch of roti.

Last week we went to visit the fort that was built by the Dutch back in the 1700.  The Portuguese were here first and then the Dutch came in.  I think they were the ones that built this fort, they certainly knew how to make fortifications.  I don't think the lighthouse was built that long ago but the church is quite old as well.  

Look at the big stone wall, it goes all the way around the fort.  

I just love this picture,  I think it is good enough to be a post card.