Sunday in the Coral Sea, November 4, bound for Bali by way of the Torres Straights some 380 miles away.
Sunday at sea means a few things in PICTON CASTLE. For one it means putting away the tar-pots and varnish brushes and the gang can do laundry, patch some trousers or even read a book on watch. As well, of course, steering the ship, handle the sails as required. And any repairs that must be affected straight away. As the spanker tore when setting it (due to a failure to exercise best situational awareness) this sail needed to be sent down and replaced. Another thing is that the Famous Chief Cook of the ship, Donald Church from Grenada, takes the day off. The crew takes over the galley and we see what they can do. Among other things, this practice certainly fosters an appreciation for the hard hot work that Mr. Church does day in, day out, without complaint. We will see what come out of the galley today. Sooprize Sunday!
Conditions are pretty sweet today. Hot and squally a couple days ago with lumpy cross-grained seas, the blue sky has rejoined us, seas have settled down and breezes are steadier. And we are making a nice 6 knots with all sail set – apart from the spanker, of course. Anders has opened shop on the well deck as “The Danish Clipper” offering haircuts in trade for whatever. The sign suggests black pearls, cans of Coke, snacks as payment in exchange for his tonsorial efforts. He is quite good at cutting hair. Sundry crew are strewn about this ship, mostly in the shade working on small personal projects. Plenty clothes washing going on too. The best method is to soak overnight an 20-liter pail of soapy salt water, just one night though. The soaking does half the work for you. The scrub vigorously in dish-washing soap (works well in salt water) and salt water, rinse as many times one likes with salt water(we do have a large supply of that stuff) followed by a final rinse in fresh water.
Hang to dry on line so provided. One lad is making a cup out of a piece of wood. A wag of a shipmate nearby mentioned that you can buy pretty cups pretty cheap ashore…Some of the gang are picking our many fine sextants up again. Well, there is no finer time than now to practise to navigate by the sun and stars, sextant and chronometer.
Yards are just off square on the port tack. Breezes are fresh and keep us cool enough. The big hot yellow-white sun is directly overhead at midday. Shade on deck from the set sails comes and goes with the rolling of the ship. This morning there were a flock of chattering seabirds intent on some fishing as we sailed by. Seen some very big flying fish launch themselves and soar for hundreds of feet, even hundreds of yards, when they beginning to lose altitude, they lower their tails into the sea, fishtail blindingly fast for a spell and are thrust high above the waves again. Some say that flying fish do not fly, only glide, but seems to me that’s an awful lot like flying to me. Airplanes do not flap their winds but are they not flying? Once in a while, we see a white painted Korean or Chinese long-liner fishing boat lolling along. These small ships seem to be all over the world. We have seen some big ships too at 1,000 feet long and 160 feet wide. That’s big. Yesterday an Australian coast patrol plane flew overhead and low. The first of many I expect to see as we close with Australia and transit the Torres Straights. Pretty serious about border protection hereabouts. And good at Search & Rescue as well. Not bad for yachts or voyaging ships like ours.
A few island ukeleles have come out and are being tuned and strummed for a command performance this evening. These are far more beautiful instruments than we are used to seeing on Elvis Presley movies. In a matter of days, we will be out of the South Pacific Ocean forever on the rest of this voyage. We plan to mark this significant occasion with a pareau tying party, aka lavalava, sarong etc, and fashion show, followed by music and cool punch, and popcorn being a requirement for a PC party.
The seas lash and lap along the waterline. We can hear a Pacific playlist coming together and a small Dawson is running around with a Rubics Cube hoping someone will fill a big plastic tote for him you use as a pool on deck amidships. The sea water is 27 degrees C.