At sunset this evening, I'm pretty sure I sighted Australia.... from 100 ml off the coast, I could see what looked like red mountains low on the horizon below the grey clouds - land ahoy!!! ETA Cairns sometime tomorrow, possibly before midday. Never having been to Australia before, I'm looking forward to it, although I have such a long joblist & so many boat problems to sort out during my 10 days in Cairns, I'll be lucky to see much of the area apart from yards, chandlers & workshops!
Today the wind has been up & down like a yo-yo - one moment we're speeding along at just over 7 knots on a close reach, and I'm thankful I only let out the 3rd reef & no more this morning, the next, the wind has died and we're lucky if we're making 4 knots, on a beam reach... could be the broken cloud cover, but quite frustrating - difficult to know how much of which sail to have out for the best. Overnight, the wind was strong and big, lumpy, beam seas had built up, regularly throwing us around. I reefed right down, mainly to avoid making Cairns around dawn (the result of our good speed over the last couple of days) but partly to try to make the boat more comfortable!
I've been feeling quite cold, especially after sunset - my cousin tells me it's 5 degrees C colder than is normal at this time of year - my luck! So I've had to dig out my nice warm Musto gear - I can't get over how very comfortable, as well as warm, the bottom & mid layers are. From what I've seen on this 1200 ml passage from Vanuatu, I'm expecting to need to use the sturdy outer Musto Ocean foul weather gear for the Indian Ocean crossing, when I'll have similar winds (SE Trades) in possibly stronger conditions. Amazing how quickly the seas get up in strong winds & knock you about!! (Later: Just had to go up and furl in the genoa a bit more - the sky has cleared, in part, it's pitch dark, except for some stars, the wind is up more & we were rushing along, heeling overmuch, especially as a wave hit,... things were beginning to jump about down below...seas have built up again... oh, what fun...we're still doing over 7 knots at times!!)
I've been emailing a lot, talking to my cousin Mandy who has been fabulously helpful (for which I'm extremely grateful), organizing a lot for me in advance of my arrival on the boatjobs side - & she has included in that several TV & newspaper interviews on arrival, as well!
I've done quite well on the 'forbidden' food side - very little left that I'll be sorry about losing to Quarantine when they come on board tomorrow at Marlin Marina (where I've a berth waiting).
I've actually seen just 3 ships over the last two days, although several showed up on my AIS unit as I came close to Australia - several Chinese and Japanese heading N, making for their home port from a port in either N.Z. or further south in Australia - but nothing since leaving Vanuatu prior to that. With my path being directly across the shipping lanes here, it was comforting to have the AIS alarm 'beeping' at me to warn me when one of them was within 16 miles of me, so I could check to see if there was any problem arising.
24hr distance run to midday (by log), having slowed down overnight: 124 n.ml
Midday (EST) posn: 16 06'S, 148 06'E Distance to Cairns: 145 n.ml. (At 9pm, EST, distance: 85 mls, ETA ~ 10-11 am)
E.T.A. Cairns: early Wed morning 10th July '07