In Mazatlan

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Before I left      photo courtesy  Marta Jensen

2 June 2012 7:39:00 AM AEST

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If I were to rely on the gribs too much, I would go bonkers. Yesterday's gribs showed winds from the south east for a day, then veering to be from the east. But the winds decided differently, it was east winds from the start. So I go a new set of gribs, and these showed east winds, then a mish-mash from every direction. But the winds decided differently. There were none. Just a whiff now and then, it reminded me of the ITCZ when I just drifted. It seemed so inglorious. Getting within a whisker of Sydney, and then becoming becalmed. Then late in the afternoon yesterday we began to get enough breeze to make 2 or 3 knots, and at dusk, I felt confident that we might get some wind during the night. And we did. Not much, but occasionally enough to boot us along for a while. So I guess the Pacific is not letting me finish this the easy way. At 1 a.m. I spotted a light from a vessel dead ahead of us. We were moving at 2 to 3 knots with the main alone, thrown over as wide as I could get it, and the wind coming right up our tail. I got on the radio and called the other vessel, but got no answer. It seemed odd, the light was very bright, and I could only see white, no red or green, which led me to believe that I was following in the other boat's path. We never seemed to get closer, the radar showed them always the same distance away, and I sat for an hour watching the light appear and disappear as the seas went up and down. Their radar signal was odd as well. It showed a large vessel, but there was no trailing tail, where the radar keeps the images and you can see the course of the other boat. And then I saw another smaller white light a fair distance to the left of the really bright light, which made me think that I was seeing the boat from the side. Eventually, after about another hour, we seemed to be getting closer, and I could now see a whole string of small lights between the two others, like a Christmas tree. Now I figured that it had to be an oil derrick, it was large, didn't move, and was brightly lit. This seemed sensible, so I altered course a few degrees to miss it, and went to bed. An hour later we were closer and it was moving off to the side as it should with my new course, so I went back to bed. At 4:30 I was up, and we were about a mile away, and I could now see that it was a tanker, all lit up and not moving. The swell made it too hard to use field glasses for a better look, but I watched for a while and went back to bed. Two hours later, after the wind had picked up and kicked us along at a good pace, when I looked, they were just a bright glow on the horizon behind us. Odd. No one was monitoring the radio, I made a few comments about no one being on watch, but still got no reply. This morning it is raining and overcast. New gribs show south-south-east winds for two days. Hah.! Sydney is 143 miles away.. that is, to the customs jetty in Neutral Bay where I am aiming. 143 is usually a day and a half sailing, I should be at Customs by 11 am or 12 Sydney time, even if I have to motor. I am down to my last carton of juice, soya milk, and have one last cooked meal in the fridge to heat tonight. Hopefully, Sunday dinner will be on land, and be a baked potato and a steak. Remembering how it felt to step ashore in Nieu, I am going to be staggering about like a drunken sailor for a few days, but it will be good to have the voyage over. It's not over yet of course, I'm still not out of the woods. Things have a way of going wrong and surprising you, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that all will be okay for 30 more hours.

31 May 2012 12:22:00 PM AEST

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The winds and seas have turned in my favour a bit, the gribs show the seas moderating down to about 2 meters, and the winds dropping to about 11 knots generally, except for one period close to Sydney when the winds will drop below 3 knots and come from all over.  It has been more relaxing this last two days, with Rafiki making over 100 miles both days. Last night was great, I set the sails before dark, and the winds stayed constant all night.  Each time (every hour) when I would get up to check for traffic, it was great to see the same speed as before, with the seas reasonably smooth. Today is funny.  We laze alone until a cloud passes over and then we zip along until the cloud has passed.  So far the rain clouds have all missed us, passing in front of us and in back of us, just the vicinity winds telling us that there was a cloud in the vicinity.  We are on stream to enter Sydney heads early Sunday morning.  Clinton has been given a holiday from sending charts, I am close enough that the gribs give all I need, and although I will see Clinton soon, I will miss the daily charts and comments that served to spice up my days.  There were too few days when anyone bothered to send me a message.  Marty and Chris were pretty good, but others tended to leave me alone.  I wonder what you think now that I am just 250 miles from destination?  I reckon, what with the wandering course the winds made me take, that I must have done over 8000 miles, in retrospect, a long time to just be doing one thing alone with little variation.  It probably dulled my mind.  If it wasn't dull before.  After sunday, the email address based on my ham license VK3LAA will not be used.  Anyone wanting to contact me can do so at al at rson dot ca, my web-site address.

30 May 2012 11:57:00 AM AEST

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Rough, rough seas.  Nasty clouds with fierce winds.  Probably just normal Sydney winter sailing conditions that the unknowing blissfully blunder into.  Hurry on Sunday.

29 May 2012 12:04:00 PM AEST

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Well the south winds came early.  Finally we are heading on a course to Sydney, making 80-85 miles a day.  Not a lot, but in the rough seas, it is about all I want to do.  Four meter wqaves and a choppy swell make for a tough ride.  Last night I spotted a light from a freighter, called him up, and he said yes, he could see my red light, and would pass well away.  Not too long after he passed in front of us, about a half a mile, and after he went by, we switched to channel 06 and had a nice chat.  They had come from NZ, across the Tasman, and were headed for Brisbane, Moreton Bay.  He said that in the Tasman the weather was so bad they could only make 3 or 4 knots, and in then conditions we were in, he sympathized with having to sail in those seas and winds.  Today the swell has reduced a bit, and we will make 85 miles.  Sydney is 450 miles away, and at 4 knots we would be in Sydney Sunday morning.  IF we make 4 knots.  The forecasts are for twenty knot winds and seas from 3.1 to 3.6 meters so we may not go that fast.

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