Cocos Log

Alex’s day by day account of the passage from Darwin to Cocos Keeling. COG means Course Over Ground and SOG means Speed Over Ground.

Darwin – Cocos Keeling
Distance:  2000 NM, ETA: 12 days
Departed July 26, 1998

Day 1
10:30 AM
Conditions:     Clear skies, flat seas, damn hot!Sailing downwind in 30 plus knots
Wind:           None   
Boat Speed:   Motoring @ 5 Knots             
Comments:       Motored out of Darwin.  Only brief gusts of wind, not enough to sail.  Lost cell service mid afternoon, no more phone.  Prayed for PinOak to work. Dinner:  Spanish Mackerel & Silver Snapper given to us last night by a local sport fisherman. Also had baked potatoes and a salad.  Good to be moving again!
E-mail: NONE!

Day 2
Time of Report:
Conditions:     Clear skies, flat seas, still damn hot!
COG:   271°
SOG:   4.8 knots
Wind:   3-6 knots      
Position:       Longitude 128° 36' 10" E  Latitude 12° 20' 10" S
Comments:       Finally connected two PinOak during my morning watch (0300-0600). Still could not download e-mail, keep receiving error message. The wind continues to tease us with brief gusts. Still motoring.
Day 3
Time of Report:
Conditions:     Clear skies, flat seas, damn hot! …again!
COG:   273°
SOG:   5.3 knots & motoring
Wind:   3-4 knots
Position:       Longitude 127° 00' 56" E    Latitude 12° 18' 43" S
Comments:      PinOak continues to connect, but still not working properly.  Having problems talking to Bob on Gypsy Spray just 500 NM away.  Bill checks connections on SSB radio.  Problem found.  Copper ground strap badly corroded. Bill spends 2 hours practicing contortionism in the lazarette while replacing ground.  Evening chat to Bob better, however, PinOak still a problem. Wind picked up late afternoon…finally!  It was dead behind us, but we took it anyway. Rigged the pole and flew the Genoa out to port, wing on wing.  Rolled a bit but at least we were moving under sail. Mark a little nauseous, but not sick
E-mail: NOPE!

Day 4
Time of Report:
Conditions:     Clear skies, flat seas, nice cool breeze
COG:   273°
SOG:   5.5 – 6.5 knots under full main & genoa
Wind:   8 - 10 knots
Position:       Longitude 124° 49' 70" E  Latitude 12° 14' 19" S
Comments:       Beautiful night sailing, if you like dodging oil rigs.  Wind picking up gradually.  Rigged and tossed out 2 new lures.  Caught 2 Barracuda on the spoon! First cuda we've caught on the whole trip. Ugly fish, threw them back.  Good thing they were small, it appears somebody swiped our gaff in Darwin. Passed Ashmore Reef in the night.  Could have pulled in during the day for a quick swim… oh well. Hailed by Australian Coast watch plane, just looking for drug runners. 
E-mail: NOT TODAY!

Day 5
Time of Report:
Conditions:     Clear skies, moderate seas, still hot
COG:   267°
SOG:   6.5 – 7 knots
Wind: 12 - 15 knots
Position:   Longitude 122° 12' 44" E   Latitude 12° 07' 04" S
Comments:       Wind continuing to build. Set staysail.  It increases our sail area as well as boat speed.  It also stabilizes the rolling motion…we like this rig!! (Mark definitely agrees) Bob continues to have a difficult time hearing us. SSB transmission still not right. Another Problem found. One of the pins on the tuner cable loose.  Talked to Bob again, said we sounded like we were "right next door". This has to be the problem with the PinOak system….. right????  Wrong.  Both transmit and receive are working fine.  Problem must be with either the coast station, modem or the software. 
E-mail: DREAMIN!

Day 6
Time of Report:
Conditions:     Partly cloudy skies, occasional rain cloud, seas building to 2 meters
COG:   272°  
SOG:   7.5 – 8.5 knots
Wind:   15 – 20 knots
Position:   Longitude 119° 19' 89" E    Latitude 12° 07' 04" S
Comments:       Continued beautiful blue water sailing!!  Boat is behaving very well with current sail plan. So little heel, sometimes it feels like we're stopped. After fabricating a makeshift gaff from a spear gun and a boat hook we toss out the lines again. The new lures do not let us down.  After a brief fight, Bill lands a 4 ft. Wahoo. Miracles do happen, he actually volunteers to clean it as well!  After a brief instructional from me, we had dinner before us.  Tonight's special, Wahoo steaks on the grill with a little fresh garlic and butter. Steamed broccoli and baked potatoes to compliment and we have a meal! Watched Sling Blade….Uh huh.

Day 7
Time of Report:
Conditions:     Partly cloudy,  slight SE cross swell
COG:   275°
SOG:   7 – 8 knots
Wind:   18 -20 knots
Position:   Longitude 116° 04' 48" E     Latitude 12° 06' 98" S
Comments:       Winds moving abeam of us. Poled out genoa would not hold.  Took down pole and pulled headsail to starboard. Wind continues to build, with sustained 20 – 25 knots into the evening.  Maintaining 8 –10 knots SOG and a comfortable ride to boot.  New England Fish chowder for dinner.  Suzie is now a believer.  She also talked to her Mum and Dad…thank you Sydney Radio!  Spotted a beautiful Indonesian sailing/fishing vessel. Gaff rigged with big green sails.

Day 8
Time of Report:
Conditions:     Cloudy skies, seas starting to pile up, 6-8 feet
COG:   279°
SOG:   8-9 knots
Wind:   25-30+ knots
Position:     Longitude 112° 48' 94" E    Latitude 12° 06' 85" S
Comments:       Dropped the genoa to reduce sail. Now running main and staysail and still flying along at 8-9 knots. By nightfall seas are 8-10 feet and getting a little nasty.  Definitely a strange day for the crew.  Bill's wake up call is a rogue wave coming over the side of the boat into the aft cockpit and in through his open hatch (I knew he missed his waterbed).  Next, Lucy has an unfortunate accident on the settee (a rare occurrence these days). Bill is then assaulted by various kitchen utensils while doing the dishes. Meanwhile the increased sea has Suzie feeling ill, while Mark has found his new sleeping quarters on deck. Quote of the day, "I'd rather be wet than sick". The day would not be complete without my input.  Not only did I wake up with an eye infection, but I gashed my forefinger open with a very sharp knife. Not deep, but a real bleeder.  I never had a problem with the sight of blood, but Suz said for a moment my eyes rolled back and I went ghost white.  A strange feeling to be sure. And lastly, although it happened at 01:30 the following morning, another rogue wave mounts the side of the boat and enters the aft cabin hatch despite the "water-proof" cover. It happened during Mark's watch and he swears that it was the biggest he’s seen.  Yea, right!  Oh yea, we had a 213 NM day!
E-mail: HA, HA, HA!

Day 9
Time of Report:
Conditions:     Cloudy skies, seas still large, 8-12 feet
COG:   277°  
SOG:   8-9 knots
Wind:   25-35 knots ESE
Position:     Longitude 109° 25' 71" E    Latitude 12° 06' 84" S
Comments:       Today was a little less eventful than yesterday, thank God! Seas are still quite large, but less confused.  Still difficult to sleep with the rolling motion.  Only consolation is that we're making great time. Speed over ground is anywhere from 8-10.5 knots (even with 2 reefs in main, staysail and reefed genoa). Caught a lot of fish…actually just flying fish landing on the deck.  Also had a few small squid….sorry, no calamari though.  Franks and beans for dinner.  Talked to Bob on "Gypsy Spray", he ripped a sail in a forty knot squall. Highlight of the day…..the boat reaches 11.8 knots surfing down the front of a 15-foot wave!!

Day 10
Time of Report:
Conditions:     Overcast skies with sporadic rain clouds, seas subsiding.
COG:   265°
SOG:   7-8 knots
Wind:   20-25 knots E
Position:     Longitude 106° 24' 87" E    Latitude 12° 06' 83" S
Comments:       Wind and seas finally calming a bit.  Started to look like a nice day but turned ugly in the afternoon.  Spectacular rain squall for over an hour. Ran with 2nd reef in main only.  We all showered in the driving rain and then filled every jug we had with fresh rainwater. Tastes a hell of a lot better than the reverse osmosis water that the water-maker produces! Suz gives our faithful teakettle a good polishing and then does her thing with paint and brush. Looks awesome!!  Talked to Bob, he caught 2 Mahi Mahi fish.  We're all jealous, not because of the fish….. because he will be in Cocos tomorrow morning!  No worries though, we're still 500 NM from our way point and should be there on Saturday morning. Yahoo!!! Happy Birthday Mom!
E-mail: SORRY, NO GO!

Day 11
Time of Report:
Conditions:     Beautiful and cool sunny day, seas calm, wind letting up and shifting North.
COG:   272°
SOG:   6-8 knots
Wind:   13-17 knots
Position:     Longitude 103° 38' 85" E    Latitude 12° 06' 84" S
Comments:       Light squalls early in the morning gave way to a beautiful day with winds from the NE.  Perfect time to clean up after the big wet. Cleaned main cabin, galley, settee covers and Lucy. Today rounded out the pattern in shifting winds since leaving Darwin.  A menacing looking line of clouds on the horizon brought a squall that seemed to literally move the wind NNW. We found ourselves beating to windward while surfing down 8-10 foot waves.  What a sensation! Squalls continued through the night with 25-35 knots right on the nose.  Sustained winds caused a build up of seas from the West, creating a kind of washing machine effect with waves running into each other.  Boat was punching into the waves at 8.5 knots and falling into troths on the other side.  Very, very uncomfortable.  Crew getting a little cranky. Not a great follow up to Cajun lamb chops and Dolphins off the bow! Oh well, just another day at sea.

Day 12
Time of Report:
Conditions:     Overcast and squally, wind from the West.      
COG:   266°
SOG:   2-3 knots
Wind:   13-15 knots
Position:     Longitude 101° 15' 76" E    Latitude 12° 17' 00" S
Comments:       Another miserable night.  Wind moved due west, directly ahead of us. Could not sail to course.  Motoring into it at 2-3 knots SOG.  ETA shot through the roof!  Good news…as dawn broke wind began to move south. By mid day we were sailing course again and making up time at 8-8.5 knots SOG.  Seas evening out, ride more comfortable. Talked to Bob, he arrived in Cocos yesterday afternoon, but experienced similar conditions on the way in too. 127 NM day, ouch!! Crew getting anxious.  Watched some James Bond videos and ate Twizzlers. Last night watch for a while!

Day 13
Time of Report:
06:10At anchor off Direction Island, Cocos Keeling
Conditions:     Gorgeous and cool sunny day, seas calm, comfortable sailing.  
COG:   270°
SOG:   8-9 knots
Wind:   14-16 knots S
Position:     Longitude 98° 30' 78" E    Latitude 12° 07' 55" S
Comments:     Last day at sea!!  ETA Cocos, 15:00 hours. Switched to Cocos Keeling time, 6 ½ hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).  Sighted land at 13:20 and dropped anchor at 15:20….it's Miller time! After 12 days, 8 hours, 20 minutes, here at last!!  That means that we averaged 6.77 knots over 2,000.31 NM.  Not great, but not bad considering we experienced just about every conceivable type of conditions.  Everyone exhausted, early dinner and bed!


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