Voyage 18

Australia to Maldives
February 15 – March 15, 2018

Day 1, Thursday, February 15, 2018

australia-maldivestnIt has been about 3 weeks since my arrival in Darwin, Australia.  I didn’t really want to stay this long, but with the prevailing winds blowing from the west, and I wanted to sail west, I had no choice but to stay where I was until the weather changed.

Tahiti Dream is well stocked for over a month at sea.  There is very little in the way of ports along the west coast of Australia.  My intention is to head west, to follow the wind, and to head toward Madagascar.  I’m hoping to be able to head toward the Mediterranean for the summer.  I have many obstacles ahead, most of them being winds that are blowing in the wrong direction.

At about 1:45 PM,  I raised the anchor, set the sails, turned to port, and said goodbye to my home for the past 3 weeks, Darwin, Australia.  For the rest of the afternoon, I sailed southwest from Darwin.  It didn’t take long before there was no sight of land.

At about 6:00 PM, I set the auto-pilot to follow my plotted course.  My SOG was about 7 knots and I didn’t expect that to change over night.

Day 2, Friday, February 16, 2018

I was up at about 2:00 AM and decided to check the helm.  The GPS clock moved back 1/2 hour once I was away from Darwin.  I am now 17 hours ahead of the west coast of the U.S.  The wind had shifted to the east, which meant I was sailing almost directly downwind.  I looked at my options and reviewed the wind forecast for the next several days.  I decided that I would be in a better position if I headed toward East Timor.  If I sailed this direction for a little over a day, I should be able to turn southwest and get some good winds to get me farther south.  Once I get south of about 25º S, I should be in a position to start heading out into the Indian Ocean.

02/15/2018 1710 UTC – 12º 35.92′ S 129º 50.96′ E

Day 6. Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Unfortunately, although my voyage is continuing, I have not kept up with my ship’s log entries.  It was a busy weekend IRL and I’ve just been able to monitor the progress of Tahiti Dream.

At 12:30 PM, I am about 700 nm west-southwest of Darwin.  The winds have been blowing anywhere from north to west, which is not very helpful because that is direction I’d like to be sailing.  My intention is to continuing tacking and make as much distance to the southwest as possible until I can reach the easterly trade winds.

Day 7, Wednesday, February 21, 2018

02/21/2018 0100 UTC – 16º 21.97′ S 119º 34.02′ E

At 9:00 AM, the winds finally started shifting more from the south, which allowed me to change to the port tack.  It looks like I will be tacking for another couple of days before I can get into southerly winds that will allow me to sail directly west.

During my morning routine, I did some planning as to where I am actually heading now.  What I settled on was Mauritius, and specifically my next port of call will likely be Port Louis.  It’s going to be a long voyage, a little over 3,000 nm.  The length of the voyage is not an issue as far as supplies.  While I was in Darwin, I provisioned the boat for almost 2 months at sea.  Once, I am able to sail direct toward Mauritius, it shouldn’t take me more than 3 weeks to make my crossing of the southern Indian Ocean.  At least I now have a destination planned.

Day 11, Sunday, February 25, 2018

02/24/2018 1615 UTC – 16º 12.93′ S 114º 5.4′ E

At just after midnight, the wind started to pick up from being really calm the past few days.  I have been at sea for a little over a week since I left Darwin and I have traveled about 1,000 nm, as the crow flies.  Yesterday, I did some re-thinking on where my next port-of-call should be.  Since I would like to be in the Mediterranean this coming summer, I looked at my sailing possibilities if I were to sail around the southern tip of Africa.  This looked like a very poor option since the prevailing winds would be blowing against me once I got to the equator.

At some point in the past, I had considered sailing up the Suez Canal.  Given my current location, I decided that was a better option.  I have changed my next intended port to be the Maldives.

Day 12, Monday, February 26, 2018

02/26/2018 0200 UTC – 15º 47.56′ S 111º 11′ E

It’s 9:00 AM on a beautiful Monday morning.  The wind all but completely died yesterday.  Thankfully, it is starting to pick up again.  Right now, the wind is about 5 knots out of the south, which is giving me a great sailing angle on the port beam reach.  Unfortunately, I’m not getting much speed.

At my current speed, it will take me 2-1/2 weeks to reach 10º S 82º E, which is where I estimate that I’ll be able to turn north-northwest bound toward the Maldives.  The wind is a big question mark right now because the forecast is for calm across the Indian Ocean at about 0º latitude.  This is going to be a very long voyage, but, ultimately, it will be much shorter than if I had chosen to sail to the west of Africa.  It is about 82º, so it is a very comfortable sail.  I still have plenty of provisions, just no fresh produce.  Such is life at sea on a long crossing.

Day 14, Wednesday, February 28, 2018

02/28/2018 0205 UTC – 14º 57′ S 106º 3′ E

Today, the wind finally increased to over 10 knots since my departure from Darwin.  The direction also changed to blow from the south-southeast, which gave me a sailing angle of a broad reach and my SOG has increased to nearly 8 knots.  I am now solidly in the Indian Ocean.

I looked ahead 4 days with wind forecasts and decided that it would be best to adjust my course a few degrees to port because there will be some seriously calm areas to the north of my estimated position.  I’m just continuing to sail, day by day.  I’ve seen other boats on the navigation map, but no one has been closer to my position than about 45 nm.  It appears I’m just about at the halfway point in my voyage.

Day 17, Saturday, March 3, 2018

03/02/2018 1922 UTC – 14º 19.31′ S 97º 52.26′ E

I am continuing to sail west.  The wind picked up a couple of days ago and has been blowing steadily at about 15 knots since then.  My average boat speed has been about 8 knots, which means I have been making good distance.  I am currently a little over 1,900 nm from where I started this voyage in Darwin, Australia.  I am about 1,500 nm east-southeast of Diego Garcia and 1,675 nm from the Maldives, as the crow flies.  I still have close to 2,000 nm to sail before I reach the Maldives because the prevailing winds will not allow me to sail direct.  Basically, I’m going to have to sail to a point southeast of Diego Garcia, then I will be able to turn north, I hope.

I had considered a stop at Diego Garcia.  However, the only thing there is a U.S. Military installation and you are only allowed to stop there for emergencies.  I will be able to sail by, but I will have to just continue on to the Maldives.  I’m still alright with supplies, although I am missing fresh produce, which I have not had in quite a while.

Day 18, Sunday, March 4, 2018

03/04/2018 0505 UTC – 13º 59.31′ S 93º 39.39′ E

Last night, I lost another hour due to my movement westward.  It is just after 11:00 am and I am now 14 hours ahead of Washington State.  This morning, I realized that I’m reaching another milestone.  In 3 days, I will have been at sea for 8 months since I left Anacortes, WA last July.  Where does the time go?  I have 2 more time zones to traverse and, at that point, I will be halfway around the world from where I began.  When you’re in the moment, you don’t realize how quickly time is passing.  In 3 days, I will also have been at sea for 3 weeks since I departed from Darwin, Australia.

Today, the weather has taken a turn.  My clear skies have been replaced by mostly cloudy skies.  Right now, the wind speed is 10-15 knots and my boat speed is right around 7 knots.  There is a storm brewing about 400 nm northwest of me, which may actually help me get to the Maldives a little faster.  In checking the weather forecast this morning, I’ve seen an opportunity to cut about 500 nm from the course I had originally plotted.  If the forecast holds for the next 3 days or so, I should be able to sail south of the low pressure system that is headed this way, then turn north and sail around the west side of the storm.  North of the storm, the winds shift to easterly, which would allow me a more direct route to the Maldives.  Here’s hoping the weather stays on its predicted course.

Day 26, Monday, March 12, 2018

03/12/2018 0221 UTC – 0º 38.54′ S 80º 21.43′ E

I have found that, on a voyage as long as this, it is really easy to get out of the habit of making entries in the ship’s log.  I’m currently about 600 nm southeast of Malé, The Maldives and I have been planning my course with respect to a storm that is about 300 nm northwest of me.  The storm provided me with a means to turn direct toward Malé about 5 days ago and I have been making some good distance since then.  My boat speed has been almost constant at about 7-8 knots.

During this past week, I’ve had only one day that was fairly calm.  The rest of the time, the wind has been 15-20 knots and I have been sailing from a close reach to a broad reach most of the time.  This has been a tiring passage and I am ready to get to a port.  My meals are down to canned goods.  I still have rations for another couple of weeks.  Thankfully, I should be in Malé by the end of this week.

If you’re wondering why I chose to sail such a long way with no stops, the answer is pretty simple.  Where I had sailed to the northwest coast of Australia, there was no place the wind would permit me to sail, unless I wanted to sail up to Indonesia and back to the Pacific Ocean.  The prevailing winds are westerly north of the equator in the Indian Ocean.  My intention is to spend this summer in the Mediterranean.  I could have sailed west to Madagascar, but then I would have to sail around the southern tip of Africa and the prevailing winds would be blowing across the Atlantic toward the Caribbean once I got north of the equator.  The best option was to sail to the Arabian Sea, Red Sea and through the Suez Canal.  It is looking very promising that I will make it to the Med as I had intended.

Day 28, Wednesday, March 14, 2018

03/14/2018 0609 UTC – 2º 48.77′ N 76º 7.64′ E

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! During the past 3 days or so, I have had beautiful sailing weather.  At about 11:00 AM, I am less than 200 nm from Malé.  The GPS estimates that I will arrive sometime tomorrow morning.  At the conclusion of this voyage, I will have traveled almost 3,700 nm.  Thankfully, I won’t need to make this kind of a crossing for quite some time to come.

Yesterday, the wind shifted to the south and I was able to set my heading direct to Malé.  The wind went calm yesterday morning, but came back up in the afternoon.  For a time, I had 8 dolphins swimming along with me.  The weather is gorgeous today and I am planning to enjoy my last full day at sea.

Day 29, Thursday, March 15, 2018

At about 11:30 AM, I got my first sight of Malé Island.  It was so good to see land after having been at sea for 4 weeks.  I love being at sea, but 4 weeks is really my limit.

The weather turned out to be perfect these past few days.  The wind forecast kept showing calm winds between my position and Malé, but the winds never died down.  The wind direction maintained from the southwest and provided me with the opportunity to sail on the port beam reach for 3 days.  I don’t think my SOG dropped below 6 knots during that time.

I turned into Malé Harbor at a little before 1:00 PM, dropped the sails and set my anchor.  After I secure the boat from this most recent crossing, I will head ashore for some fresh food, shopping and enjoying having land under my feet for a while.  I plan to spend at least a week here, during which I will choose the path of my next voyage toward the Mediterranean.