After having tacked and stood to the west at 19:20 UTC on the 28 December, 2017, winds remained favorable, though a little light, and I found myself running nicely on the gennaker and main at around 5.5 to 6.5 knots for the rest of the of trip on an 7 to 9 knot wind from astern. I continued making the puddings diligently. By 04:20 UTC, 2 January, 2018, I saw the first seagulls, announcing my proximity to my final destination. Now, there are a lot of interesting birds on Christmas Island, for bird watchers, but all I saw were seagulls again. Heh! C-Gulls…
I hove to just outside of Flying Fish Cove at 10:25 UTC, 2 January, 2018, and left puddings number 97 and 98 cooking. I had completed the distance, but as it was getting dark now, and I did not dare to venture into the small bay without first having contacted someone via radio. Being now in range of the VHF, I made periodic attempts on both the HF and VHF to contact Christmas Island Operations, though no one answered.
Finally, at 14:30 UTC, I got an answer, and by 15:00 UTC, they had Gary on the radio. I kind of guessed he would be here, after my escape from Darwin. There was probably going to be some hell to pay.
“Parrot, where the devil are you?”
“Right here, just off Rocky Point.”
He was silent, for a moment.
“You sound very calm, Parrot. But let me tell you, we’ve been having kittens after that little stunt you pulled in Darwin. Get yourself in, now. We need to see you.”
“Yeah, well. I need someone to meet me at the wharf. Turn some lights on, and things. Send a small party down, with a flash-light or two, or it is going to be hard for me to get in.”
“I’ll be there myself,” was his answer.
When I spied lights on the wharf, I set the jib and main, and sailed in extremely close hauled, on the verge of shivering the sails, as the wind was almost directly from the south, and there was little space for tacking around the small bay in the dark. I hauled in along side the wharf at 16:55 UTC, five minutes before local midnight. I heard Gary’s voice calling down.
“Parrot, throw us a rope!”
“That would be a line, Gary. The painter, to be exact. Can you stop shining that bright flashlight in my face, please? I can’t see.”
When he obliged and some of my night vision came back, I hurled up the line to him. He had a group of people with him, one of whom caught it first throw, which was quite amazing in the dark. He tied a clove hitch around a handy bollard, and I climbed up onto the wharf. Standing on the planking, and attempting to walk up it along side Gary and his group of helpers, I found myself stumbling from one edge to the other, walking in zig-zag across its breadth as I progressed, and speaking to gary as I passed him on each tack.
“Darn, they could keep this wharf still, couldn’t they?”
“It is still, Parrot. You’re the one weaving about.”
“Hey, Gary. By the way. Did you find some containers of AV-GAS on the Northampton?”
“Yes, I did. Why did you have them?”
“They were for a guy who is here, for his aircraft. He is probably drunk in a bar somewhere right now.”
I continued to explain, mentioning a certain @NEVO and his DA-42 Twin Star, who had been stuck here since some time before Christmas.
“There is only one problem. I believe his aircraft has turbo-diesel engines. I was bringing the wrong fuel.”
We had reached the land end of the wharf by now, and some dim street lights were throwing some light on the scene, at last. I could see Gary and his random entourage of five helpers, with a bit more clarity.
“My goodness, Gary. I never realized you look like George Clooney.”
“What? I don’t look anything like him!” he was startled.
“And who are these guys you brought along? Are they quintuplets, or is this a lonely guy party? Were they on sale? They look flat. You know, 2-D.”
“Oh, no, Parrot. I thought for a moment you were okay…”
“Never mind, they can help me get the puddings off the D-Gull.”
Then I pointed out across the cove, at a large illuminated industrial structure, with a large freight ship docked next to it.
“What is that all about?” I asked.
"Phosphates, Parrot. It is their major industry here, on Christmas Island, " he said. “It is becoming a bit of an environmental issue, lately, as well”
“Ah,” I answered, and pondered for a moment. “That reminds me of something you said at the beginning of all this.”
“What would that be, Parrot?”
“Tell me, Gary, now that I’m here. Where does that Green Thing stand, after all?”
He stared at me for a moment, placing his thoughts, and suddenly burst out in hearty laughter…
VESSEL: “Breeze”, a Carribean Rose type sloop.
ROUTE: Salinas, Ecuador -> San Cristobal, Galapagos, Ecuador
DIST: 626 NM
DEPARTED: 20:20 UTC, 29 September, 2017
ARRIVED: 16:15 UTC, 04 October, 2017
TIME SAILING: 4 days, 19 hours, 55 minutes (115.92 hours)
AVG SPEED: 5.4 knots
The name “Breeze” was chosen in honor of my grandfather’s ketch, which he operated out of Barrow in Furness, UK, on port pilot duties, between 1919 - 1936. Sold off after my grandfather passed away from complications of appendicitis in 1936, and I do not know any more about it.
The voyage to San Cristobal started with a deviation south due to a changing wind, while sailing on maintain angle to wind on auto-nav. Later, the vessel was becalmed for 12 hours, starting the 1st of October, 2017. This was a server issue. Apparently the subscription to wind data by Sailaway had expired and not been renewed, and there was no wind all over the world for this 12 hour period (confirmed by in game text messages with other members of the Sailaway community).
VESSEL: “Ocean Belle”, a 50 ft Performance Cruiser sloop.
ROUTE: San Cristobal, Galapagos, Ecuador -> Kritimati, Republic of Kiribati
DIST: 6,407 NM
DEPARTED: 18:05 UTC, 4 October, 2017
ARRIVED: 00:15 UTC, 29 October, 2017
TIME SAILING: 24 days, 6 hours, 10 minutes (582.16 hours)
AVG SPEED: 11.0 knots
Again, the name is in honor of one of my grandfather’s vessels, the original “Ocean Belle” was a small lugger that he used mainly for teaching sailing to sea scouts. My father learned his sailing on this boat. It was capsized and later recovered in a squall off Walney Island circa 1935, with the loss of two of my father’s friends, who were drowned. I do not know anymore of its history after that event, except that the experience had pointed my father away from the sea and into aviation.
This was the very best segment of the voyage, run almost entirely on maintain angle to wind navigation mode, due to a very consistent wind from the south, which never strayed once out of a point either side of SbW, and had an approximate intensity of 10-14 knots from local midnight to midday, and 12-17 knots from midday to midnight. The track deviated slightly north of the intended track leaving Galapagos, but maintained parallel from then all the way to Kritimati.
VESSEL: “Bella Donacela”, a 52 ft Catamaran Cruiser, sloop rig.
ROUTE: Kritimati, Republic of Kiribati -> Kanton Island, Republic of Kiribati -> Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
DIST: 2,197 NM
DEPARTED (Kritimati Is.): 02:25 UTC, 1 November, 2017
ARRIVED (Kanton Is.): 04:30 UTC, 7 November, 2017
DEPARTED (Kanton Is.): 22:00 UTC, 7 November, 2017
ARRIVED (Guadalcanal): 16:05 UTC, 26 November, 2017
TIME SAILING: 24 days, 20 hours, 10 minutes (596.16 hours)
AVG SPEED: 3.7 knots
The name is actually my daughter’s joke household nickname!
There was a strange period of being becalmed on the International Date Line (Meridian 180º), between 19:40 UTC, 13 November, and 06:20 UTC, 14 November. I suspect this is a problem with the wind data to the simulator at this location. This becalming, during which I was thoroughly stopped, accounted for the low average speed. Additionally, it was necessary to deviate south to Fiji, to avoid a huge doldrum between Kanton and my intermediate destination at Honiara.
VESSEL: “Northampton”, a 38 foot Ocean Cruiser sloop.
ROUTE: Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands -> Darwin, Australia
DIST: 2,422 NM
DEPARTED: 06:00 UTC, 1 December, 2017
ARRIVED: 07:40 UTC, 21 December, 2017
TIME SAILING: 20 days, 1 hour, 40 minutes (481.67 hours)
AVG SPEED: 5.0 knots
The name is in honor of the US Navy heavy cruiser, “USS Northampton”, sunk at the action off Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal. I chose it because the date I picked up the vessel coincided with the anniversary of the sinking of the cruiser.
Despite frustrations with seriously poor winds in the Arafura Sea, the 38 footer made a great showing, and clocked up an excellent turn of speed when it did have good winds in the Solomon and Coral seas.
VESSEL: “D-Gull”, a Mini-Transat sport sloop.
ROUTE: Darwin, Australia -> Christmas Island
DIST: 1,948 NM
DEPARTED: 09:20 UTC, 21 December, 2017
ARRIVED: 10:25 UTC, 2 January, 2018
TIME SAILING: 12 days, 1 hour, 5 minutes (289.08 hours)
AVG SPEED: 6.7 knots
Named as a parody of the “HMS Beagle”, the brig captained by Robert FitzRoy, RN, between 1831-1836, the travels of which Charles Darwin describes, as a naturalist, in the book “Voyage of the Beagle”. The coincidence I chose for the naming was the fact that the settlement of Darwin, Australia, was named after Charles Darwin, during the next voyage of HMS Beagle. The naturalist was not on board, nor was Fitzroy, on that voyage, but many shipmates from the previous voyage still were.
A completely uneventful voyage, save some serious planning to deviate around yet another doldrum south of Java. The Mini-Transat made good way in the available winds, despite these being relatively light.
TOTAL DISTANCE: 13,600 NM
TIME SAILING: 86 days, 1 hour (2,065 hours)
AVG SAILING SPEED: 6.6 knots
VOYAGE TIME OVERALL (including stops): 94 days, 14 hours, 5 minutes (2,270.08 hours)
AVG VOYAGE SPEED: 6.0 knots
TIME WASTED NOT SAILING: 205.08 hours (about 8 days, 13 hours)
Quite amazing things here. The distance sailed by sheer coincidence, worked out at exactly 13,600 NM, not a mile more or less. The sailing time, with each segment rounded to the nearest five minutes, worked out at 2,065 hours. The wastage of 8 days of not sailing was mainly due to the IRL factor, when I had just enough time to dock the boat and leave it before rushing off for a couple of days.
Here is the data on the originally planned route. Note that I had two alternates as from the Timor Sea, one to go straight to Christmas Island across the Timor Sea, if I was pressed for time, and a second deviating north through the Java Sea and Sunda Strait, which added 154 miles to the route, in case I had made better way than that planned. Here are the originally planned routes, overlaid with the real route (YELLOW ROUTE, the real track, already described)…
The original intention was to make the complete route in 86 days (2,064 hours). This gave the following required average speeds;
CYAN ROUTE original plan, with a distance of 12,158 NM - 5.88 knots
CYAN ROUTE, MAGENTA DEVIATION from Timor Sea, 12,312 NM - 5.96 knots
Notice, I actually nailed the average speed and was overdue in time by only 1 hour, if sailing time alone is taken into account! Considering my lack of experience with sailing navigation (applying only my basis of aircraft navigation), this was a mind-bogglingly exact estimate. I am thoroughly impressed. The time wastage not sailing, with stops at Kritimati, Kanton, and a lengthy hove to period off Honiara before taking the Northampton, accounted for the delay, and not arriving at Christmas Island in time. Had it not been for these situations, even considering two instances of becalming, and two separate sets of doldrums which affected the voyages of Bella Donacela and Northampton, I could have been there on Christmas day.
An extremely enjoyable simulator experience, in summary. My thanks to Mudspike for the chance to do the Christmas Voyage, and for tolerating my forays into a world of imagined situations (which I am sure must have irked some, for which I apologize). I had a lot of fun, at any rate!
All the best for 2018!