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Fast sailing! Sun/Mon 8/9 July07

Unscrewed & removed both varnished ledges and companionway hatch cover after seeing 3 more ANTS...!! No sign of any nest (or even of more than just one ant 'passing through'), but gave me the chance to spring clean the area - & set my mind at rest that there weren't lots hiding in there! Saw no more for rest of day, but keeping a wary eye out...
Beautiful day's fast sailing - mainly 15-20 kn of SE/SSE winds, either on or just for'd of the beam, giving usually well over 7 knots SOG, with fair tide. Foul tide is less than fair and doesn't last for long during the day. Put one reef in mains'l overnight but didn't make any difference to speed, just reduced heeling in the bigger seas we were getting. Still have little stays'l hanked on - so still cutter rigged! Interesting to see how it affects genoa (hardly, from what I can see - but then
it is v. small) & speed (think we're going a bit faster with less heel).
Suddenly occurred to me that one leg of my proposed course, between South Willis Islet & Magdelaine Cays and Coringa Islets & on past Holmes Reef, would be untenable in the forecast strong S wind for today - so changed course to take us 5 ml N (& so safely to leeward) of Sand Cay, Diane Bank - means a slightly longer passage, but not by much (about 10 mls). It would be nice to reach that point in daylight so I can see where any shallows are - hopefully well off & out of sight to port! No telling
how accurate chart is re GPS positioning. (My other route would have given me the chance to judge that from the position of the S. Willis Islet LH.)
Found a very small flying fish on deck - totally different from ones I've seen before - mottled brown & black wings and body.

What a lumpy sea around sunrise and on into morning! Decided it was result of combination of SE and SW swells - certainly made things jump about. Had to rescue the port nav light which I noticed dangling on its cable from the pulpit holder. Took off my trousers to go forward (yes - it's got cool enough for me to be wearing some!) knowing I was going to get thoroughly wet retrieving it..!!
Found a good-sized flying fish this morning - the kind I've seen previously - will have it for lunch.
We've made such good progress, that not only are we expecting to arrive Cairns Wednesday, rather than Thursday, but unless I can keep my speed down to around 6kn my E.T.A. is around dawn - I may have to slow down to arrive at a more 'civilized' hour for berthing & contacting Customs!!

Written by : Mike

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