After the last lashing we on the 6th, I decided to stick to 40 degrees south for a few days and head into lighter winds that were promised in a trough of high. It was quite a peaceful time despite the 3 m swell from South West that has been rocking the boat since I don’t remember when. The swell is long and hardly perceptible, but in very light winds it can cause enough damage to the rigging. It was because of that that I took off all sails in the end and set up the A3 which somehow seemed to stay full and survive well.
On the 10th that we passed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin decreeing the end of the first leg which had been psychologically marked out from Mumbai till the first of the three great capes. The second leg is from here till New Zealand marking an entry into the South Pacific.
The break had been very much needed. There were issues with the boat that needed attention. More than anything else, it was the generator’s turn this time which threw up oil pressure warning at a much less leisurely rate than ever. It would shut down after ten seconds of running and, definitely, it was not the cooling system that was causing the problem. Although the indicator said that oil level was within limits, I decided to change the engine oil and prematurely carry out a 300 hourly servicing. When the problem still persisted I got in touch with shore based technicians who figured it was most probably a sensor issue. They gave me a method to work around the problem. I did not have to follow through all the steps though- just cleaning the sensor lead sufficed.
I took advantage of the lull to do some housekeeping and after all the effort the boat looked very much like a cadets mess right before the divisional officer’s inspection. (Well not really…it is still very much a naval mess inside.) To my surprise I found bird feather all over the boat. It did not take a lot to figure out that the sleeping bag had been leaking down! A couple of times I made some very rudimentary pinacolada (virgin, of course) and once I fried canned sardines for dinner. It was also a time to have a shower and do the laundry, both of which were not terribly necessary despite the gap of almost a fortnight of abstinence. I have read somewhere that Mongol warriors under Chengez Khan never bathed and the layers of grime on them insulated them well from cold. I might buy that theory because on Wednesday I was sweating in the Southern Ocean . It has been days since I have seen the sun and the low overcast sky does nothing to make matters any better. The temperature has been in the range of 15-20 degrees and that of water is well below that. Therefore, for each shower I need to run the engine to heat water through its system of heat exchangers.
The season of anniversaries and celebrations has just begun. It was on 12 Dec 2008 that her hull floated and her bottom tasted salt for the first time. Congratulatory messages first came in from the core team of Admiral Awati, Cdr Dilip Donde and Ratnakar Dandekar because it was only these three who were aware of the significance of that date. Ratnakar went on to remark that Dutta Jayanti had fallen on that day four years ago and it had been a full moon night. Even I had been unaware because I had joined the project almost four months later in 2009. Nevertheless, I ended up unknowingly celebrating with pinacolada under an unusually bright and sunny sky.
Coincidentally, at noon on that date a year later Cdr Donde had taken her out to sea after casting off from Lyttelton port on his solo circumnavigation around the world. A couple of days later, on the 14th the Mhadei crossed the international date line for the first time marking the longest day in her life. She celebrated the launching date this year under the Great Australian Bight and her position at 12:12:12 on 12/12/12 was recorded in her log for posterity.
In the December of 2011, she was paraded along with the naval fleet at Mumbai for the Presidents Fleet Review a day after a postage stamp commemorating her exploits was released by the President of India. I wonder how many of the followers of this blog have it in their collection. I, for the nomad that I am, do not have one.
With summer setting in and weather opening up this part of the world is seeing a deluge of racing boats. The Sydney- Hobart regatta will be on next week. Jeff, who is racing, has asked if I would be around in that area at that time. Although I am still deciding whether to go through the Bass Strait or not, there are very little chances of running into him given the fact that I will be almost crossing New Zealand by that date. Behind me at this time, the savage fleet of Vendee Globe is devouring miles at the rate of almost 500 a day on their single handed non stop race around the world. Catch their positions on this link http://tracking2012.vendeeglobe.org/en/ At least for a while, I have been leading their pack!
When will it be that we have an Indian taking part in the race?
Meanwhile, here is a song I enjoy listening to often.
Up Next- Pacific