Leg 3, Day 13 – The route to Cairns

Emma Mitchell By

Day 13 – The route to Cairns

Tony had promised us that this leg would be faster than the last and so far he appears to have been right. With the prevailing winds between Samoa and Cairns being from the south east and the prevailing current taking us west it seems like we are finally getting a little helping hand from the ocean and the elements. For this part of the journey I am leading on navigation and so I thought I’d share with you what we having coming up on our way into Australia.

From Samoa we passed between the two islands and then headed off towards Fiji. We are currently passing North of the Fiji Islands although we are approximately 35nm away from them so since our sighting of Thikombia Island a small, sparsely populated island to the north of Fiji we haven’t seen any more land. Strangely we also haven’t spotted any other boats yet and the only sign we are close to an island is the leaves floating past us in the water. While passing Fiji we have also crossed the international date line. This means that since leaving San Francisco we have gone from north to south and now west to east on our chart plotter. Since Samoa put themselves on the Australia side of the date line we had already lost our day but it will be giving Tony an extra thing to think about when he calculates our daily miles made good. Once we have passed Fiji our next waypoint is Vanuatu where we will be passing between the islands south of Port Villa. We should be close enough to spot land again then too and at that point will be approximately halfway through this leg of the journey. From Vanuatu we row due west towards Cairns. As we approach Cairns we will be rowing over the Great Barrier Reef which we hope means that we will see some incredible wildlife but it also means that we will need to hold an accurate course to pass through the channel in the reef into Cairns Marina.

One of the things we have put in place for this leg is to put more waypoints into our chart plotter. This gives us achievable milestones to aim for and helps us chunk the remaining miles and when we reach each waypoint then Meg is in charge of ensuring that we reward ourselves. Our rewards to date this leg include fruit pots and watching a film on the laptop in one of our rest shifts. We are still owed a reward of hot chocolate and Baileys while watching the stars but we are waiting for a calm and clear night for this as its just not the same when your hot chocolate comes with a salty sea wave. We have a little over 60nm to go until our next waypoint and need a reward. Any creative ideas please let us know.

UPDATE: Last night was one of the roughest nights yet – I even had to get out my salopettes for the first time since leg one. We are all pretty crusty and our salt sores are coming back. Fortunately the moon was out lighting up the waves and before sunrise as the moon set, the sky was full of bright stars. LP and I watched a pink and orange sunrise as the wind died down and the sun is now shining and Doris looks like a Chinese laundry as we all try to dry our wet things.

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  1. Nicky roach says:

    You girls are amazing I have been following you all the way, not to mention babs, Laura’s mum who works with me. She is one strong woman, so proud of you all and talks about you every day. So much faith and prayer to you all, good health, luck and be the proudest you can be, you all deserve the best , xxxxxxx

  2. Johnnie says:

    One thought on the treat when reaching a goal. Each person or pair to chose a song that they want the other three or two to sing to them. This may drive you nuts with rehearsals but I know music is important so may distract you for a few shifts….
    Kylie is all over the news here in Sydney as the X factor is reaching its climax and she and her sister Danni are singinging together for the first time for a while

  3. Loved reading these blogs, I’d like to come up with a receipe so may we know what’s in the larder?

    We promise it won’t be anywhere as gruesome as the bush tucker trials on a certain celebrity tv show on at the moment, but actually you’re our celebrities 🙂

  4. Jim Andrews says:

    Is it a comforting thought, that on this leg, you remain closer to land throughout? I am surprised that no fishing boats were sighted as you passed through the Islands. I also, did not realise that you were passing over/through the Great Barrier Reef, geography, like spelling aren’t my stronger points. Is, negotiating your route through the GBR hazardous or do you have quite a large safe area to pass through? Every day I check your progress, I am chuffed that you are making so much ground and I suppose sooner or later there will be a reversal of fortunes, until then, smile and enjoy. We had our first frost last night, around minus 3C. I always enjoy the first frost, being a keen gardener, it clears the last of the leaves off the trees and kills off, a lot of the nasties. I hope your last few weeks on your adventure are storm free and enjoyable. Whatever you decide to do to enhance your “Baileys” moment will just add to the fantastic memories you have created. Stay Safe. XX

  5. JG says:

    I had thought that you see more maritime activity on this leg but perhaps the Fijians are asleep or don’t like the North or something. Maybe Vanuatu is busier certainly more interesting with many active volcanoes taht you mauy be able to see on the horizon. Where you are at the moment the ocean is only about 400 metres deep and maybe that is creating the bumpy conditions you encountered last night. I am not sure what effect the ocean depth has on currents etc. The GBR is only about 25 miles out from Cairns so maybe you can get an escort to lead you in but no doubt Tony has that in hand and I am onloy thinking aloud. The planning for this expedition has been so immaculate that I am sure no stone has been left unturned. Great progress team and the end is in sight. Keep safe.

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