It is Australia Day today – not that we would have known. The Boss has Australia shorts, an Australian tee shirt, an Australian hat, bunting and balloons all around the boat and a sneaked on bundy and coke that we all had a sip of. I think we would still qualify as as a dry boat, one sip doesn’t really constitute alcohol does it? We also had Leamington Cakes, which are apparently a traditional Australian cake. Never heard of them before, but may very well have them again.
Oh, and to top it all off, I now have another tattoo. We had a choice of an Australian flag, Aussie, Aussie, Aussie or the Southern Cross. Marc just slapped the Australian flag on my arm – there seems to be a theme going here….
A couple of nights ago the weather changed quite dramatically. I came up on deck for the 6pm to 10pm shift with a very daunting black cloud hovering ahead that looked very dodgy. Bearing in mind we have had nothing more than tee shirts and shorts on since leaving Airlie Beach, I decided to go back down and reappeared with a full set of foul weather gear on. Everyone laughed. At the end of the shift, when we had been blown from one end of the boat to the other, the cloud having tipped a ton of water on my head and the Solomon Sea making itself at home in the boat as well as out, the rest decided that whatever I was wearing they were wearing. This is known as a tropical squall, often lasting as little as five minutes. This one was a couple of hours, and was quite a nasty one.
The next day, when I came up for the 2pm shift, we were “parked” outside an island called Nissan Island – part of a group of islands called the Green Islands. It was just that – very green. We, apparently, had gone up and down it several times that morning. The wind had just dropped, and we were often going backwards.
Before the wind dropped we had been in a position to overtake Lmax. They were very good at doing blocking moves, and for several miles slowed us down and moved from one side to another to stop us overtaking.
In the meantime, Qingdao had made up over six miles on both of us whilst we were having the battle between ourselves. Wendo made the decision to tack away – she is not a fan of what she calls “testosterone battles”. That decision turned out not to be the best, as Lmax, and ultimately Qingdao that followed Lmax’s course, were twenty miles ahead of us when we came on shift. There were mutterings in the boat – “we didn’t want to tack away” being one of them. I do have quite strong views on this. There is, and should be, only one skipper on the boat. If the boat were a democracy, it would take hours of debate to get any decisions made. Not that I am against listening to the advice of anyone. But sometimes decisions just have to be made, and they are not always the right ones. How many times have I wished that I had done something different. The decision was made, and you just have to get on with it. So I made my view known. Not widely, just to those that were feeling a little frustrated. Don’t think they expected that!
Just as we started to move away from the island, a little boat started motoring out from between that island and another one. We had just had the Pirate Directive circulated – what to do if and when approached by pirates – so what do you think we thought that boat was? Should we go below to get our orange tee shirts on to appear group-like? Should we get the search light out to pretend to be signalling another boat that isn’t really there? How about getting a bag full of money ready to hand over? No – the British captain came on the radio to ask who we were, and to say that he was taking children from one island to another to finish their education. Panic over!
Then came the next night. It looked a little cloudy overhead, but not as bad as the night before, so I went with just foulie bottoms and a light waterproof jacket. It was spitting when we went up, but then stopped. Had I made a a wrong wardrobe decision? No. After about half an hour, as we were sitting very pleasantly on the rail, the wind started to pick up. Within about thirty seconds it had gone from ten to twelve knots to thirty knots and we were very overpowered. The sea once again turned ugly, and decided to join us in the boat. We had to take a sail down and put a smaller one up, and put in a reef. Not a problem with a full crew, and time to prepare. Many of the new leggers were back in the seasick bunks, and there was no preparation time at all. The sail coming down nearly went over the side, I had to take the helm as I am not much use on the bow pulling in sails (wrong side of the mast for me!). I think I had the better option looking at all the poor souls getting absolutely drenched on the bow struggling with the yankee one. But we did it – and not only did that one last more than five minutes, it lasted until about 10am the following morning. By lunchtime it had calmed down, and we were able to have the Australia Day festivities on deck. Happy Australia Day!
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