Indian Ocean Crossing, part II Cocos Keeling > Rodriguez

In Voyages on 08/10/2012 at 16:04

Helena is off again! After a short stop Rolf, Matty, Rikard and Mauritio left Cocos Keeling towards Rodrigues in the Mauritius Islands, expecting to arrive there around the 16th. We’ll keep you up-to-date on their progress right here. For daily location updates you can check Pangolin.

Wednesday 3 October

Local time: 19.30 Position: 12.10S 96.29E, Course 255 T, speed 5,1 kts, True Wind speed 16 kts from East

After spending a week on Cocos Keeling, we decided that we did not like the place anymore. After a few days we started doing all sorts of nasty stuff like snorkling, diving, spearfishing and much more. So at 14.30 local time we lifted the anchor and set a course out of the lagoon, where the dolphins gave us a parting salute! We got away safely and are now underway again to Rodrigues of the Mauritius Islands.

Thursday 4 October

Local time: 19.00 Position: 13.05S 94.10E, Course 245 T, speed 6 kts, True Wind speed 21 kts from East-Southeast

This time a short email. We’re having rough seas again and for the first time sea sickness has struck Helena (hence the shorter update). We’re doing fine, but we are also looking forward to make way towards the middle of the Indian Ocean, since the swells should be more comfortable there. For now, we’re practicing our rock’n roll again with the seas. We are holding up just fine and the seasickness should only last for a day or two.

Friday 5 October

Local time: 20.00 Position: 13.50S 91.53E, Course 263 T, speed 6.4 kts, True Wind speed 17 kts from Southeast

The ocean has calmed down a bit and life is a bit easier on board again so let me take this day as an example of how life is on board Helena during this passage.

We start running our watches at 2100 local time in the evening and last night the moon came up at about 21.30. We are a few days behind the full moon so it seems like the entire ocean consists of beautiful silver mercury. The moon gives so much light that you can see all the way upto the horizon. With the waves gone down, we get a beautiful moonlit landscape of hills, dunes and mountains, continuously changing shape while the ship rocks back an forth as if she is having the time of her life. We have all the normal sails up, that means the genoa, main sail and the mizzen. All of them are reefed for the night so that we can weather any squalls or other minor weather changes during the night. With this course, the wind keeps us steady to the starboard side, although not enough to keep us stable but that is part of the ocean experience. We change shifts every 3 hours.

Last night Rikard had the evening shift until midnight and he spent his watch watching a movie and all the stars. Matty had the midnight to 0300 watch and he spent his watch reading his book and watching the stars as well. We all like watching the stars since they are so very impressive on the ocean. With no light sources anywhere around us, the milkyway is like a silver blanket covering the entire sky. Mauritio had his watch after Matty from 0300 and spent his watch mostly looking around and also checking out the stars.

The sun started to light up the horizon on our east side at about 0530 already, so by the time that I started my watch at 0600, it was already light. I spent mine reading my book and watching the ocean, looking for patterns in the waves. It is very hard to find any, but after spending enough time, they slowly become more obvious. A long very large swell which seems to be the foundation of all the ocean is coming from the south as an indicater of some storm very far away, near the freezing arctic seas, is gently rolling underneath all the other waves. Then the short and steeper waves which seem to come from the wind system that has been blowing along roughly one thousand miles in the same direction and is able to sweep them up to meters high. These also roll gently underneath us from the stern. Then there are the more localised waves, which are mostly caused by nearby wind systems and these cause the rock’n roll since they are coming from everywhere and disturb the natural rhythm of the ship.

At about 0900 most of us are awake again and we slowly make sure we all get our breakfast. Most of us are quite stiff from sleeping on the moving seas, since we have to brace ourselves into one position throughout the night, to prevent ourselves from rolling around in our beds, so we start wandering around the ship. Cereals, coffee and orange juice are our main breakfast routines. After breakfast, Matty gets into the kitchen to start working his magic on his bread, so that we have something nice to eat for lunch. By the end of the morning, the whole ship smells like a proper bakery and the smell of fresh bread makes all of us hungry for lunch. In the mean time we sit in the cockpit with books or we are resting a bit in the saloon or in our beds.

Pretty much the whole day, we try to conserve our energy in order to be ready for when it matters. This can be trouble on deck, or it can be as simple as cooking up our evening meal. Since the ship is continuously rolling around, the cooking especially is quite a feat of acrobatics. Imagine standing on the roof of a car that is doing a continuous slalom, while you are trying to use both hands to cook up a proper meal. And I do mean a proper meal! We make a point of it to eat well. Since our well being is very important for the safety on board, we make sure that we all eat and drink enough and properly. Today Matty made a chicken stew and yesterday a pasta bolognese. Matty and I are mostly making the dinner since we both like cooking a lot and we don’t really mind spending the time in the kitchen. For me it is also a chance to make all the things that I normally would not make since Boukje is vegetarian. Rikard does not seem to mind this since he happily throws himself at the dishes each day. I do have to say though that we are all looking forward again to his Carbonara. Mauritio has also suprised us on many occasions with some of the most brilliant food. Well, what would you expect from an Italian! What it comes down to is that we have four good chefs on board, so there is no chance of us eating noodle soup in the worst storms!

We have our dinner between 1800 and 1900 After dinner we have time to get the kitchen organised and the emails sorted before the nightshifts start again. This means that I am spending about 15 to 30 minutes on writing the daily update and selecting all the weather information that we need to get in for the night and the next few days so that we can get everything downloaded in as short time as possible.

Saturday 6 October

Local time: 20.00 Position: 14.13S 89.03E, Course 272 T, speed 8 kts, True Wind speed 27 kts from Southeast

It’s windy! We’re raging over the ocean surface with speeds varying from 6 to 9 knots. The winds are constantly between 25 and 30 knots, so we’re completely reefed and still racing. The only reason for the variation in speed is the waves. They have rapidly built up to pretty big proportions so we’re surfing off them and immediately sucked back towards the next one. It is nice to make way with such speeds, but the movement is not very good for life on board. It is very hard to do the simplest of things.

Nevertheless, we’re all enjoying this good sailing and we’re all positive about an early arrival. We always plan for about 120 miles per day and we are already a lot better than that. It looks by now that we may be arriving in about 10 days already. In other words, we’re already ahead of schedule.

Sunday 7 October

Local time: 20.00 Position: 14.40S 86.03E, Course 252 T, speed 8 kts, True Wind speed 28 kts from East-Southeast

It’s still windy! We’ve been doing more than 9 knots on several occasions with wind speeds of well over 30 knots, although the sails are almost completely furled. However, it is still so amazing how well Helena is able to withstand the seas involved. She really seems to be enjoying herself. During the next night we expect the wind to calm down a bit to normal proportions of around 20-25 knots. We’re all doing very well and there is no more seasickness on board. We’re mostly having difficulties with the now more than normal acrobatic movements on board.

It does seem that we have finally found the equatorial current (0,5 to 1 knot) that helps us out on our course towards Rodrigues. Also the confusion of the ocean has become a bit more organised due to this. It does not really matter that much though since the waves with these high winds are still causing us to be swept back and forth and to be rocking and rolling!

Monday 8 October

Local time: 21.00 Position: 15.23S 82.59E, Course 250 T, speed 7.2 kts, True Wind speed 23 kts from East-Southeast

The wind has calmed down a bit to a steady 23 knots today. After a few rough days, this is a very welcome change in the weather. We have enjoyed this day a lot!!! Beautiful sunshine with still high, but long waves and good speeds.

Right now the sails are fully reefed again for the night, so we’re hoping to have a calm night this time and we can definitely use a good night sleep.

This morning we got an AIS contact from another sailing yacht which was at Cocos Keeling during our stay there. Since they were moving a bit strange on our radar, we decided to hail them on the radio. It turned out that they had a broken down autopilot and they were heaving to in order to get some rest. They are with only 2 people on board, but managing by hand steering which is quite hard to do on a long passage. We offered assistance, but they did not need anything, so we kept on going. It did make us think again about this scenario, so we had some fun trying to steer the ship with the sails this afternoon. Mauritio and Rikard have demonstrated their hand-steering skills with excellent results, getting the ship up to 9 knots at times. If our autopilot breaks down, we’ll probably be the only ship that moves faster! 🙂

Tuesday 9 October

Local time: 19.30 Position: 16.06S 80.28E, Course 259 T, speed 6.5 kts, True Wind speed 20 kts from Southeast

We have had another relaxed day on Helena. The winds are steady between 20 and 23 knots and we’ve had all our sails up the whole day. The ocean has calmed down and we’re mostly rocking gently back and forth now. We are all really happy with this and we’re all getting our rest now.

Aside from a false alarm of the MOB (man overboard) system during the night, we have had a pretty uneventful day.

Rikard and I’ve been reading our books, Matty has been doing his photo things on his laptop and Mauritio has been focusing on finding the precise location for our half-way mark. We’ll be there in one hour apparently! It is a bit of a milestone since we will now be closer to Rodrigues than Cocos. The weather looks good for the entire route and we should have these steady winds all the way to Rodrigues. If all goes well, we should be arriving in about 6 days!

This afternoon we enjoyed a nice polynesian “poisson cru” from the parrotfish we shot in Cocos Keeling. Very nice indeed! Mauritio has done the cooking for tonight with his brilliant and famous meetloaf.

Tonight we’re hoping for a quiet and uneventful night. We’ve changed the clock with half an hour tonight and tomorrow we’ll be changing another hour, since we’re running through a few timezones along the way. During the next days, we’ll be changing another hour before we arrive.

Wednesday 10 October

Local time: 21.00 Position: 16.40S 77.37E, Course 242 T, speed 5.0 kts, True Wind speed 17 kts from East

Another good sailing day on Helena. We’ve had good winds again and the sailing was brilliant! There is not much to tell anymore really, since we’re still at the books and cooking all day. 5-star restaurant “Helena” is doing well! Today it was Cheese/onion bread with steak-wasabi by Matty and Rolf and Nasi Goreng Special by Rolf…

We’ve talked Rikard into reading Orwell’s animal farm and maybe we’ll have a book-club by the end of the trip.

Right now we’re in a small area with low winds, behind a system of squalls, but we do expect the wind to go up again later tonight. We’ve been looking at South Africa as well and it seems that there are some really nice ports along the Cape Hope. If we can, we’ll try and get as far around the cape as we can and we’re all looking forward to that as well.

I know it’s more or less the same every day now, but that is a good sign! If we’re getting bored, it is because there are no unexpected things happening and that is what we’re all wishing for anyway so all is very good!

Thursday 11 October

Local time: 21.20 Position: 17.22S 74.35E, Course 247 T, speed 7.5 kts, True Wind speed 24 kts from East-Southeast

Sorry, keeping it short today. We’re a bit late since the cooking was somewhat delayed tonight. The wind and weather is good and for the next few days it looks like we’ll still be able to reach Rodrigues in 4 days (monday). The seas are a bit rough again, but nothing we can’t handle.

All doing well and still busy with our busy schedule for reading books etc. We moved the clock again with one hour so we are now on GMT +5.

Friday 12 October

Local time: 19.30 Position: 17.53S 72.00E, Course 254 T, speed 7.5 kts, True Wind speed 21 kts from East

Today’s update is by Rikard of the clan of the Silver Helmet!

The date is the 12th of October 2012 the sailing yacht Helena is surfing the waves of the mighty Indian Ocean, 500 miles offshore in the unbelievable speed of almost seven knots. Water is blue like the eyes of a blond beauty from the barbarian country of Sweden, the foam on the top of the waves white like the skin of a Dutch boat captain or the beard of an Italian engineer. Air is clear and fresh like air only is in the middle of an ocean, and sometimes it also smells like a contained garbage station, nice with some change sometimes. Last but not least, The crew on board on Helena is happy exploring the seas south of the British colony of Chagos, a lot like the people of the powerful countries of England and Scotland(not really sure where Newcastle is on the map, and let’s just pretend that Scotland is a Country). The mode on board is good, although I’ve heard wishes about long walks, since “a long walk” here on board means crawling around an all four around the railing tossing dead flying fish back where to where they came from. Moreover, another wish heard on daily bases around the crew is the longing for a “Rum and Coke”, since this is strictly forbidden onboard while sailing the expression “Coke and Coke” has been invented (I just invented it) which basically means Coke for breakfast, lunch and dinner, some people prefer Regular Coke while others thinks about the figure and drink Coke Zero, though instead they (someone,…spoiler; he loves PastaPesto and comes from Italy ) eats fifteen Digestive Biscuits together with his very sweet morning tea.

Enough about Coke, we have good winds, reasonable good sea state and 20 knots downwind, hopefully we’ll reach Rodriguez in a couple of days or so, if something bad doesn’t happen, like our steering system breaking down or something silly, like the GPS stops working or so… who knows.

Saturday 13 October

Local time: 19.30 Position: 18.36S 69.11E, Course 259 T, speed 6.0 kts, True Wind speed 21 kts from East

Today’s update is by Matty of the clan of the nickle linnen!

All well here on the good ship Helena. We are now only 2.5 / 3 days from Rodrigues and we are all fondly looking forward to some home comforts. Namely long hot showers in comparison to our water conserving boat splashes, having dinner served to us on a table where we can use both hands simultaneously to eat, as opposed to holding onto your plate while jamming ourself into a sitting position with your legs, and trying to eat as opposed to wearing your food, and last but not least being able to taste alcohol again, ahhhh bliss.

Today has been like most days here on the Indian Ocean, were enjoying a long steady swell, good consistent 20 + knot winds and beautiful warm sunshine. My day has been taken up with bread making as usual, we have sun dried tomato and mixed olive bread today. Maurizio has prepared the most wonderful risotto for lunch, which despite its calorific value has gone down very well. Maurizio has also been sporting quite the most fashionable Bermuda shorts for the last couple of days and if he doesn’t watch out there going to be heartlessly stolen at some point by yours truly. Rikard is ploughing through George Orwell’s 1984, a bit of a depressing read as we have warned him, but this afternoon I plan to lighten the mood by introducing him to “Monty Pythons Holy Grail” at our now established afternoon cinema club. Our captain Rolf has been as usual diligently studying the weather grid reports which we receive every 24 hours, along with weather reports gathered by Boukje back in Amsterdam. We are looking good for our arrival on Monday, but may have to heave too off shore for a while as we now expect to arrive after dark. So we will have to be patient for just a little while longer before we can make a safe approach to the mooring area.

This evening I’m preparing slow baked Chicken breast with Tarragon cream sauce and pasta for my crew mates delectation, and later tonight I’m on my second favourite watch of 21:00 till midnight, manana I’m looking forward to my most favourite watch of 06:00 till 09:00 where I will get to see the sun rise on yet another amazing day, my favourite pastime during my watch is star gazing, my most amazing night to date, from way back on my first ever Ocean crossing of the Atlantic in 2005 was when I had the very rare privilege of having a perfectly cloudless sky with a quite spectacular display of our solar system which literally stretched from horizon to horizon, it remains my most enduring memory of my adventures to date!!!

Manana it will be the turn of Maurizio to make his daily report, so until then I wish you all well.

Sunday 14 October

Local time: 20.00 Position: 19.06S 66.12E, Course 260 T, speed 7.5 kts, True Wind speed 18 kts from East

Today’s update is by Mauritio of the clan of the Vague Lio’s!

I had the 2nd watch from 0 to 3 and every night watch is really a great experience: not much to do in the cockpit. Just observing the navigation instruments it is really boring since you cannot even understand where the swell is coming from. But if you just look out of the overprotected cockpit a magnificent scenery is there! Millions of shining stars are there for you to enjoy and in the waves breaking around the yacht small sparkling bits of phosphorescent plankton are a glaring show to enjoy as well! Three hours go by very fast indeed.

Then today, with good sunshine and suitable wind, just to be sure to reach Rodriguez, our captain has switched on the engine on so we did quite a bit of motorsailing and we shall reach the protected Port Mathurin by tomorrow before dusk. With the wind increasing again we changed to sails only, making good speed up to 8 knots and I did my usual two hours daily shift at the helm.

That’s the other very enjoyable point: to steer manually, provided you do it in a proper way, you can really feel you are managing the course of the boat and you can negotiate with the immense power of the waves and find the best way trough them. It’s always rolling port & starboard, up & down twisting : fatiguing but very rewarding indeed!

The crew is very happy as always and expecting a short calm rest which we really deserve after 12 days of rolling without satisfactory internet connection and (Rikard especially) looking forward to the warm welcome from the local population surely nothing else awaiting then meeting the interesting crew of SY Helena!

Good meal as usual to keep us fit and happy enough for the next days, superbly prepared by chef Matty!

Monday 15 October

Local time: 17.00 Position: At anchor at Rodrigues!

No nonsense today. We’ve arrived and are now opening the wine!

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