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11 Nov 05

Ocelot heading for OZ, day 5
25 43'S, 157 40'E at noon, 237 miles to Moreton Island

Dear Friends and Family,

When we left you yesterday we were sailing along under our colorful spinnaker.  The wind continued light all afternoon and by nightfall had died away completely.  So we doused the chute and fired up our "iron spinnaker", motoring SSW all night.  Since there was no wind, the seas were flat calm so we had a pleasant enough night under a silvery moon.

Amanda winches in the jib
Amanda trims the jib for maximum efficiency

Those of you who are plotting out positions may be wondering why we're wandering all over the Coral Sea like a drunken wombat.  No, we're not practicing to be Australians.  It's just that there have been changes in the weather and we're changing course, trying to take advantage of them.  This morning we had brisk winds from the NNW, so we're sailing a bit south of our rhumb-line (straight line course) to keep the winds just off the beam - a fast point of sail.  Tonight, the winds are supposed to switch around 180 to come from the SSE.  Then we'll be able to use our saved southing and again keep the winds no further forward than just off the beam.  At least, that's the theory (winds have been known to be quite capricious)...

The other 2 cruisers out here are taking different approaches.  Scud, the fast catamaran, followed us up north but is now heading directly for Brisbane.  Peregrinata, a big monohull, has kept to the rhumb line the whole way from New Caledonia.  Strangely enough, all 3 of us were within VHF radio range (about 20 miles) for a brief time this morning.  We talk on the Single Sideband (SSB) radio often, usually 3 times a day to discuss weather and courses, or just for some human contact.

We did get a visit from the OZ welcoming committee, and not just the Coasties in their plane.  We had a lovely visit by a pod of playful pantropical spotted dolphins that swam and dove on our bows and alongside Ocelot.  These are small, white-spotted dolphins with distinctive white lips.  Earlier Jon saw a pair of what were possibly false killer whales - large animals with small bulbous heads, no visible white (distinguishing them from pygmy killer whales) and tall, erect dorsal fins.  They didn't re-surface for further examination.  Anyway, it's nice to know we're not alone out here.

Fair winds and calm seas -- Jon, Sue and Amanda Hacking

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