Aug 98 Updates

August 1, 1998
After 12 and a half days on passage and roughly 2000 miles, we made it to Cocos Keeling. It was an incredibly fast passage with us averaging 8.5 to 9 knots on most days. We also broke the OOB best mileage in a day figure of 211 by just a whisper and logged a 213 mile day. Our highest boat speed was 11.8 knots.

Actually, when we hit the 11.8 knot figure, it was under conditions we haven’t seen before in all of our sailing. The wind was out of the SE at around 35 knots and then started clocking around to E, then NE, N, and finally NW. So now we are surfing down these 15 foot waves but beating into the wind!!!  Never saw that before.  Then, another small low pressure front bumped the wind back to the East.  Very funny weather fronts.

We’re going to get things cleaned up and then send Jeff everything we wrote. This includes a day by day description of the passage. Alex also rewrote most of what was eaten by the hard drive crash in the South Pacific. Stay tuned!

August 1 RealAudio, Bill & Alex (115k)

August 5, 1998
Communications problems! Seems the cellular system in Cocos Keeling is not too in synch with the laptop’s modem.  Hence, the crew is running about trying to find an Internet connection to send back all the written material and some passage photos.  If anyone has any suggestions or has been to Cocos, drop me a line and I’ll forward it on to the crew.

On another note, problems still exist with the PinOak system, prompting Bill to dub the system “PinJoke”.  Such are the pitfalls of communications at sea. If anyone has any experience with SSB Email systems that work, let us know.

The boys and girl have been around the island exploring. There’s a ferry service that goes from island to island. Next stop will be Home Island where most of the population lives.  Maybe that will yield more results on the Internet connection.

August 6, 1998
Happy Birthday to Alex!  Alex turned 33 today and we started his day off with fresh coffee and chocolate chip pancakes.  Suzie decorated the cabin with hand painted banners and other such party favors. I think we’ll even throw him overboard to celebrate.

Bad news on the PinOak SSB Email.  We spent most of the passage to Cocos trying to get the thing to work with no luck.  So we call the guy at PinOak. He blames our rod rigging backstay, our radio, everything but the PinOak system.  “Why don’t you just air freight in a 25 foot whip antenna”, he says. Yeah, in the middle of the Indian Ocean...  The air freight alone would kill us.  So, we’ll get by as best we can by using the AT&T High Seas Direct to call Jeff and update the site.  Only $1.29 a minute.  Not a bad way to communicate. We can highly recommend the AT&T set but stay away from the PinOak system.

August 6 RealAudio, Bill (102k)

August 11, 1998
It looks as though we’ll be leaving first thing on Thursday morning, August 13th.  We’re waiting for a small low pressure system to pass through. At least that’s what our weather faxes say.

The next passage to Chagos should take about 10 days.  It’s about 1500 odd miles away and a little past the half way mark across the Indian Ocean.  We’ll try and stay well clear of Diego Garcia on the approach. We’d hate to be run down by an errant U.S. Carrier on maneuvers.

Alex has written a day by day account of the passage from Darwin to Cocos Keeling.  He had hoped to send it out using the PinOak system that we never got up and running.  We also sent out an Enewsletter today (a little late, sorry...)

August 12, 1998
Cocos Keeling has gained a new resident... Mark Vernon has decided to stay on the island and help out around the local high school.  He’ll be helping teach computer skills and get the island’s web site off the ground.  Mark’s plans call for a stay of around one month and then he’ll fly to Perth to catch a flight to London. He’ll be missed.

 The larger photos files are being air mailed back to Jeff to update the site about our experiences here in Cocos. We’ll get the Email system worked out one way or another and continue to provide the best updates we can.

August 17, 1998
And then there were three... well four counting Lucy, our Lhasa Apso. We began the journey West towards Chagos today, bidding farewell to Mark Vernon.  Mark decided to stay on Cocos Keeling and help out at the local High School for the next month or so.

We make the passage to Chagos out to be about 9 days, weather permitting.  Right now, we’re slicing along at over 10 knots. We’ve rigged Out of Bounds as a cutter (two headsails) which smoothes out the ride.  This also helps if we have to reduce sail area quickly if a squall comes in.  The wind is out of the South - Southeast at around 20 to 25 knots with the seas topping out at around 9 to 10 feet.  Altogether, not a bad start with the boat and crew settling in nicely.

The fishing rods are both out and we’re hoping to have something fresh to throw on the grill. Until next time...

August 17 RealAudio, Bill (147k)

August 20, 1998
Had a message on my answering machine when I got back from work today. Seems Bill was able to get a phone patch through India to provide us all with an update.  Way to go Bill! Here’s the lowdown...

It’s been a very fast passage from Cocos Keeling to Chagos with 5 straight 200 mile plus days.  For those unfamiliar with sailing, that many miles in a day on a 46 foot sailboat is very good.  The average day is about 175 miles. Conditions have been spotty, with overcast skies along with an occasional shower.  Bill reports the boat surfing down the waves at over 14 knots at times!

Out of Bounds is about 440 miles away from Chagos and they expect to arrive sometime midday on the 22nd. For everyone that has written E-mail and has yet to hear back from the crew, please be patient. They will attempt to find an Internet connection in Chagos and reply to all the questions and well wishes.

Bill and crew want me to convey their thanks to everyone for hanging in there and waiting out our communication problems.  It looks as though a satellite system will do the trick and will be added to the boat in the Seychelles or South Africa.

August 20 RealAudio, Bill (129k)

August 25, 1998
Another message on the answering machine as I walked in from work today... What a great way to forget the daily grind.

Bill called via a patch through Sydney Radio over the Single Side Band (SSB) while at anchor off Fouque Cape, Salomon Islands group in the Chagos Archipelago. They had a very fast passage but the winds died about two days out and they had to motor the rest of the way in.  The scenery is spectacular, according to Bill, and could be the most beautiful of the trip so far. Turquoise water and incredibly clear visibility. The crew can see the anchor lying on the bottom in almost 60 feet of water!

The big news in the anchorage; a dinghy that doubles as an ultra light plane! Dubbed the “Mad Italian” by the other boats, this guy takes the dinghy outboard off, lights up the airplane engine, and rises into the air, circling the adjoining islands! Alex gave him OOB’s video camera and he shot off a bunch of footage from his unique perch.

The SSB connection was a little scratchy, but Bill will try for another update later this week. Unfortunately, there’s no Internet access available, so the crew will be waiting to retrieve the e-mail when they get to the Seychelles.  Then count on a response to the flood of e-mails (over 300) sent since the yacht left Darwin.

August 25 RealAudio, Bill (164k)

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