Leg 17 Part 1 - Cocos Keeling to Rodriguez
By: Geoff On: 27/12/2013 09:37:20 In: SPENT
21st October - 3rd November 2013
Monday 21st October 2013 - Departure Day
When I woke Serendipity were leaving the anchorage and motoring past Sotto Vento who were up but not yet on the move. Yantina had left after the party last night so were already well on their way. Satika weighed anchor and were followed out by Sotto. Duchess were next out followed by Sulana, In Flagranti and Pearl of Persia - the last two taking completely the wrong course, ignoring the buoyed channel markers!
I altered the time to UTC +6 which was to be that used for the initial radio-net this morning, so that the saloon clock, computer and log, chart plotter and cockpit watch were all synchronised ready for our departure. Susan was still not feeling good and wanted to sleep longer, so we decided to leave later aiming for 15:00 which would be 4 hours after low tide.
The radio-net revealed Yantina 71 miles out with Satika and Sotto at 11 miles, all poled out and running straight down the rhumb line. Having got the dinghy up and secured I looked to checking the AIS aerial connection before putting our pole up ready for departure.
With everything ready to go and an afternoon siesta under our belts, we were ready to go so set off at 14:30. Crazy Daisy lifted just before us and we were followed by Wolfhound. Perusha were reported to be leaving on high tide at 17:00 - all being well, and their batteries charged enough! We left Amelie, Valentine, Perusha and Babe in the anchorage.
We had a few dolphins escort us out of the anchorage, between the refugee boat, tide alongside a fishing boat, and the red maker post then along the leading line to the east of Horsburgh Island noticing for the first time the deck gun of a wreck to the south of the island!
We motored out of the anchorage, around  the north of Horsburgh Island before setting our sails to goosewing on a port tack with the wind south-easterly at F4. Immediately Crazy Daisy started to pull ahead managing at least 1 knot faster than we were able to achieve, Susan believed they had changed their genoa for a special light weight one earlier in the day. We kept reasonable pace with Wolfhound, but again, being a lighter boat they were creeping ahead. By midnight, Crazy was 7.5 miles in front and Wolfy 3 miles to our northwest.
Susan was still not feeling well and ashamed of not remembering where she had squirreled away the Lemsip which she had recently found when she didn't require them. I prepared a homemade cup of sweet black lemon tea, which I made her drink whilst still hot, then sent her back to bed. 
Tuesday 22nd October 2013 - Day 1
With everything calm and Susan sleeping, suddenly  at 01:30 the pole dropped into the water! Managed to furl the genoa and pull the pole forward with the forward guy (starboard preventer) and secure it in the pulpit. We set the genoa to starboard and changed to a broad reach with the wind at 130° which gave us a heading of 230° M. This was much further south of the rhumb line that we were hoping to achieve, but would suffice until we are able to look at the pole in daylight.
A careful inspection of the pole and halyard was undertaken before setting again, but everything looked good and we are only able to surmise that the snack shackle released open for some reason. The pole was hoisted and we goose-winged back towards our destination, although the wind was still variable from ENE to ESE we were still hopeful of it veering more towards southesterly for a more comfortable and faster passage. The broad reach off our rhumb line had taken us some 30 miles south and we were now able to start closing that with the pole out again.
The radio-net revealed very little tonight other than we seemed to have lost ground on most boats by 10-12 miles while sorting out our pole, and that Babe and Valentine have left Cocos today, Amelie due to leave on Thursday. We had lamb curry before the radio call and Susan went off to bed shortly afterwards at 19:15.
It was a quiet evening and at 20:30 the wind veered enough to move the genoa across to starboard; furled the staysail and broad reach on our new rhumb line. We switch the autopilot to follow the new track rather than in wind vane mode and hoped for a little more wind strength.
Wednesday 23rd October 2013 - Day 2
Wind not helping us still. It backed and reduced requiring us to pole out the genoa again and unfurl the staysail. Very slow progress. We had started this leg expecting it to take 12.5 days to Rodriguez, at out planning speed of 6.5 knots, we are currently showing an ETA in 14.5 days from here!
I made another fresh lemon tea for Susan and she came back on watch at 2 am after a good long sleep, although she woke several times and was shouting from the aft cabin! I went off watch to bed and had a good four hours sleep, apparently looked very refreshed when I woke. At dawn we had an encounter with a large tanker the 945ft "LNG River Niger" which Susan had managed to capture.     
Susan applied some hydrocortisone cream to my feet to try and calm down the redness, from the sand fly bites, then she went to bed until the 08:00 radio call.
From the call, Satika lost their favourite lure and half of their line to a Marlin which was tail dancing for a short while. Serendipity had a halyard failure and washed their code zero in salt water! Wolfhound had very bad chafe on the headsail sheet through the pole and were having to cut a section of the sheet off. Paul and Trish, on Babe, are both suffering with the sore throat syndrome. Legend should arrive in Mauritius on 24/25th October and Luna should be there tomorrow - both going there for shelter from the weather. Stiarna look as though they are heading into Rodriguez for shelter.
Around midday, just after I had gone for a snooze, the autopilot seemed unable to hold a course again. We had to reduce sail and hand steer while we carried out a factory reset and then re-enter our current route before being able to reset the sails and continue on our way. We have noticed that when the SSB radio is being used, the autopilot drops out and looses the route it is on, so that we have to reselect the route and advance the waypoints before we can re-engage it to steer to the next way point.
We also noticed that the mainsail in mast furling tensioner lock was coming loose, with the securing gaffer tape coming off and allowing the square tube locker to ride up. With this having been the possible cause of other furler failures, we resolved to keep a close eye on this and look to engineer a better solution than has thus far been developed!
At 15:00 the wind veered again and the staysail was furled and the genoa moved across to starboard, making 6 knots SOG now.
We had afternoon tea of lemon meringue tarts which were gorgeous! This evenings meal was a curry medley which included the "World Famous" Cocos green Thai curry pies, which were fabulous!
Thursday 24th October 2013 - Day 3
There was an immense feeling of relief within the crew of Spent overnight, which was brought about by finally having steady winds above 10 knots in a slightly more beneficial direction. Starting in my watch around 01:00, continuing through Susan's and back into mine at 5:30, the wind was reasonably steady on the edge of F5 (17 knots) and from the ESE. This was giving us, as a speed over the ground of high 6's and into the 7 knots band! It makes a huge difference on the moral of the crew when you are finally able to achieve the sort of boat speeds that you have been hearing about over the radio for days and to feel that you are finally making real progress towards you destination.
This, again, is slightly alien to us and is another indirect pressure put upon us by being in this rally. We have always enjoyed passage-making and been relaxed about our progress. One cannot do more than be satisfied with the wind and tides one is dealt, but in the presence of so many boats all looking for that competitive edge, continually downloading weather and making adjustments to gain on or pull away from their nearest rivals, the pressure is omnipresent. 
We noticed recently that Stephen and Debbie, on Amelie, appear to have also recognised the signs and are making a concerted effort to slow down and put themselves beyond such pressures. When you are last, by a long way, there is no pressure from behind and if you make any headway on the penultimate boat in front of you, you can only feel pleased rather than allowing it becoming an all imperative time consuming obsession.
We have found it difficult over the last few days to get emails through the SSB radio. Connection has proved evasive now that we are in deep ocean with Brunei, at a distance of 1,800 miles, being the only station we can use. There seems to be an opportunity for another station to be sited at Diego Garcia or somewhere in the Chargos Archipelago around 1,200 miles away!
We decided to make a start with the new raw water anchor/deck wash today. First job was to site and fit the new pump which we could squeeze in under the companion way steps, in front of the generator. This would place it close to the water supply from the raw water manifold and close to the electrical panels for the power supply. It took several hours to drill the four mounting bolt holes and fit the unit, but now it's out of Susan's draws so I get a gold star!
We fared much better with the wind today, with it becoming ESE/SE and a steady F4/5 enabling us to make a SOG of 7 to 8 knots with the occasional glimpse of 9 knots! Let's hope we have had a little more wind than the others and been able to close the gap instead of falling further behind!
Susan did us proud this evening with pork fillet wrapped in Parma Ham with jacket potatoes and cauliflower cheese, it was delicious.
From the radio-net, we had had a much better day, We took a few miles off Amelie, Duchess and In Flagranti, Satika and Wolfhound were neutral while the others took a little off us, albeit much less than the previous night. Finally the pressure told on Mariela who had been flying their genoa each day, all day, in the daylight hours and had been pushing hard. While in Cocos, they originally wanted to use the sewing machine to repair their ripped cruising chute but ended up just taping it. Today it exploded! Completely!
As the evening wore on, the wind abated and began to back towards the east. Finally around 23:00, having first furled the staysail to prevent it blocking the genoa, we had to move the genoa across and goosewing again. By midnight we were settled into the goosewing with the instruments showing variable from ENE to ESE and rising from the miserable F2 to F4 again. Having had such a great sail today with good boat speed, it felt a little like we had heaved- to!
Friday 25th October 2013 - Day 4
The light and variable winds continued through until dawn when we were still heading mostly west. Susan's watch was so tedious that when I came on deck she was rearranging the Oyster files!
The radio-net indicated that most had motored overnight, some all night, and others with overnight mileages greater than those who had motored next to them but not declaring use of the engine! Luna have arrived in Mauritius with Stiana due to arrive tomorrow and Legend on Monday. In comparison, we look to be arriving in Rodriguez a week on Monday!
When it became lighter this morning, the cockpit plotter would not retain its previous brightness. The brightness level does adjust but only achieves the level of the brightest night setting. No help available in the manual for this problem. I changed over to the Africa Navionics card which went smoothly.
Susan again cooked homemade bread to go with our spaghetti Bolognese for dinner and both were very good!  As we had found the silver cleaning cloths, this afternoon she also polished all of our silver cutlery which was becoming a little tarnished.
We haven't touched the sails all day, still being poled out and on the wind vane at 135° to port. We have thus ridden the minor wind changes and gradually worked our way back to the original rhumb line, now only 14 miles to the north of us. Wolfhound are still the closest boat at 27 miles dead on our bow, with Babe being pushed by Valentine just over 30 miles behind.  
The night started as the sun went down with a sudden and complete darkness with no stars or moonlight to guide our way. It was so dark as to be almost unable to see the bow of the boat in front of us. As normal the wind began to drop at this stage of the night, the current seemed to be pulled around to the north and the crests were taken off the waves by the unseen rising of the moon around 8pm. The sky was around 80% overcast and the odd pocket of stars began to show through the clear breaks as the clouds slipped silently passed us.
As the moon rose higher, a greyness grew steadily across the sky enabling us to first be able to see our own sails and then gradually the horizon. The moon was fleetingly seen through the breaks in the cloud spreading a lighter grey contrast beneath it but never with enough brightness to establish any colour.
 Saturday 26th October 2013 - Day 5
Approaching its zenith, around 03:30, the silvery carpet of the moon's reflection was laid across the starboard stern quarter of the ocean and the current was imperceptibly drawn westward to increase our ground speed by around a knot.
During the midnight to 3am shift, Susan's perseverance finally paid dividends when she  got connected to our Sailmail for the first time on this trip! What a relief after so many hours spent trying to connect. As well as the half a dozen emails that went from the out box, we received a further eighteen to our inbox!
Just after 5am, as the masthead scribed randomly around the moon, colour was gently added to the monochrome eastern sky. The lighter gaps in the cloud became light washed-out blue merging into yellow and orange as the sun's rays began to herald another dawn.
The wind increases slightly to a F5 as we entered day six of our passage still not having seen another yacht since our course diverged with Wolfhound on the first night, after our pole dipping incident.
Pearl of Persia reported that they had found a black anodised piece of aluminium extrusion about 5" long and of 'U' section 90mm x 90mm on their deck this morning. Does anyone know or recognise what or where it many have come from???
After breakfast, I investigated the problem with the galley sink back-filling when the generator is running. I started by removing the Whale Gulper 220 galley drain pump and serviced it with standard service kit. It was well overdue from its condition! After re-assembling and refitting I also fitting an additional non return valve on the outlet side of the pump to assist the backflow problems. The whole unit was run and tested to the delighted satisfaction of the Spent Galley Slave. We only have to wait until we next run the generator to see if this has solved the problem - hopefully the washing up will be done by then so that we can observe a clean and dry sink! While I was undertaking this work, Susan made a start on cleaning the inside of the sprayhood.
We have also noticed a 'clicking' noise, the sound of which varies from sometimes sounding electrical to other times being very mechanical. It was first noticed during the night watch and was difficult to pin down. During the day it seemed to be more intermittent being heard only occasionally so still evading detection. Eventually it was found to be the bottom of the vang where it attached to the foot of the mast. The nylon bushes have worn and allowing slight movement when the precise conditions present to make it 'click'. We think we have these spare bushes and have noted to attend to these on our arrival.
From this evening's net, Babe was now 8 miles to the north of us, Valentine 11 miles to the northwest and Wolfhound 29 miles in front. We attempted to make VHF contact with Babe, they could hear us but we couldn't hear them. We tried swapping speakers, handsets and moving the handset connections through all four connecting positions in the black box, all to no avail. In every case, we were able to transmit but unable to receive. Just as a thought, I checked the R & R antenna connections behind the saloon seat and found two connectors badly corroded. Will need to remove all the manuals before checking this in the morning.
Late evening Babe finally crept over the horizon to the north of us at 6.5 miles distant. We could just make out their light with the binoculars. I went off watch after moving the genoa across the starboard and broad reaching. When I came back on watch at 3:00 they were gone.... Susan had spoken with Paul on the VHF handheld, as we have been unable to receive on the main set, and they appeared to just want to get there now.
Sunday 27th October 2013 - Day 6
We were on wind vane and making too much southing and loosing speed so we reverted to goosewing but the wind was fickle and had dropped, even with the improved goosewing setting, only giving us SOG of barely 5 knots. The glass had dropped back to the 1011 from the 1014 that Sue had recorded two hours earlier but still gave no other change, as we slopped about.
We had another slow day between 6 and 7 knots SOG but no more. We utilised our time to catch up with our journal and try to start sifting through the thousands of photos to put into the journal.
The wind dropped again towards dusk and we were struggling for boat speed. It didn't seem to matter what we tried, we just couldn't find the groove, so I went to bed! Back on watch at 22:30 and after spending several hours trimming, we were getting closer to the groove but the wind, although gusting higher to 20 knots, was east northeast! Decided to run with it for a while and hope that it veers to our benefit later.
Monday 28th October 2013 - Day 7
Managed to get the World Service tonight to find that Chelsea won 2-1 against Man City today and that Vettel won the Indian GP to take his 4th Championship today.
Around 03:00, the genoa was moved across on to the pole again, goose-winged. We were travelling much better now, feeling more balanced and with better speed - in the groove. I tried to wake Susan a couple of times but she never got to come on watch so I ended up doing from 10:30pm through until 6:30am when she showed. I was away as soon as I hit the pillow, waking only during the radio-net which I completed the mileage for and then went back to sleep until 11am.
We had a light lunch and continued with the journal for the rest of the day still sailing well but not breaking any records. Around the time of the radio-net the wind began to drop again. Babe were now 50 to the west northwest of us and Wolfhound were 39. How are they able to sail across the rhumb line without gybing when we are goosewinged at 160° to the wind? Paul did let slip that 5.5 knots over the ground is in engine territory, so maybe he has been in the 1,600 rpm wind belt again! We continued to be unable to sail back up to the rhumb line and at best could only keep parallel with it 3 miles below.
Towards midnight the wind had really set in from the east by northeast forcing us to head southwest, over 30° off the rhumb line. Our SOG was down to under 6 knots as we struggle with the decision whether or not to gybe......It's a big job for us, requiring both of us on deck to move the pole across and not something I would want to put Susan through during the very dark and moonless night with a rolling sea. We will have to bite the bullet and wait to see if we are dealt any other options before dawn. By 12:30 the wind was northeast and we were heading for Marion Island!
Tuesday 29th October 2013 - Day 8
By 02:00 the situation had become untenable, the wind had dropped to F2 and was completely variable between north and east. With a SOG of less than 2 knots, it was time to succumb to the power of Yanmar. All sails were furled but the pole and the boom left out in case the wind happens to grace us with a return from below the east!
 Suddenly the wind shifted at 15:15 to the southwest and very steady at F4! The engine was turned off and we were sailing a true beam reach with full sails and making up to 8 knots SOG! It stayed like that through the remaining afternoon until the radio-net when we were pleased to discover we had done moderately well against the rest of the fleet, having taken mileage out of Babe, Crazy Daisy, Dreams, Pearl, Perusha, Sulana, Valentine, Wolfhound and Yantina!
During the radio-net the time was moved back an hour to UTC +5 so I went around the boat changing the times so that Susan would not be confused for the morning radio call.
I went off watch at 20:00 but was called because the loom of a fishing boat's lights could be seen over the horizon. I endeavoured to remind Susan that until she could see the actual lights, rather than their loom, they were well over the horizon and so more than six miles away. I made a point of showing her this with the use of the radar to give her a better understanding then went back to bed. Another hour past before I was woken again with cries of there is seven fishing boats now and one is right on the bow!
When I got on deck there were a lot of lights about and indeed the loom of one was on the bow. "Stop panicking Mr Mannering" was the obvious comment that slipped from my lips before the reply about being concerned with so many lights and "You wouldn't like it if I didn't call you!" I made her a nice cup of tea before settling into the cockpit to keep a watching brief on the pair of lights that eventually crept over the horizon on the bow. That now made eight fishing boats around us and I again tried to explain to Susan that it is similar to approaching an unknown harbour where you just cannot see the entrance until you are close enough for it to open up in front of you. Until you can see the actual lights and get close enough for them to open up, it's difficult to shape a course around them. Needless to say, as with most contacts at sea, if you actually aim straight at them it is almost impossible to hit them as was the case here. The two boats in question were not close together, as first seemed, but some seven miles apart and we shot the gap very comfortably with the exception of the wind change in the middle of them. It was gradually backing to the east, east southeast and we had to move the genoa across on to the pole, in between the fishing boats. Once completed and clear of the two targets of concern Susan sense of relief was most apparent as she drew long and hard on one of her thin cigarettes. There was yet another light looming on the port bow and when she noticed it declared "I've had enough of this for one night - I'm going to bed!"
As, hopefully the last of, the night's fishing boats slipped down our port side still over the horizon, Orion's Belt began its gradual ascent of the night sky to our stern. The sky was dark but star littered with no cloud apparent, as yet. The wind was now down to below 10 knots from the east southeast but thanks to the current, we were still managing over six knots SOG in the right direction. The exuberance of this afternoons 8 knots slipped away with our hopes of making up more ground on the rest of the fleet ahead.
Wednesday 30th October 2013 - Day 9
The rest of the night had been reasonably quiet with the wind diminishing a little and we stayed poled out until going back to a broad reach during the radio-net. We had received several Navtex messages which Susan attempted to relay to the fleet but Ian was not really interested, almost dismissal of them, especially after concluding the information was different to that which Richard had downloaded in the form of gribfiles.
Not sure if it was Susan's whistling or me scratching the backstay but we got what we asked for! About 13:30 , having just managed to get the internet over the sat phone and downloaded the emails and weather, the swell suddenly got up pushed ahead of the wind that quickly followed. For an hour we had winds between 10 - 30 knots with a direction of east by northeast through to southwesterly! It made for an interesting hour with a little rain thrown in to launder the sails. We topped out at 32 knots of wind and 10.5 knots SOG! Although it all calmed down for a while by 14:30 it was only a brief repose before it started again! This time the wind got to 34 knots for a sustained period and we had to reef to get the toe-rail out of the water!
We reefed down heavily around 16:00 to leave Susan in relative ease while I went off watch for a siesta, rising again for the 18:00 radio-net. The local Mauritius forecast we had received by Navtex was borne out to be correct, much to the annoyance of Ian, who again chose to disregard Susan's comments. Most of the fleet were now suffering the heavy conditions but seem to be pushing on with little regard to the pressure they are putting their boats under. Since 08:00 this morning and although we had been achieving higher speeds, we had again lost out to all of the fleet - so by as much as 32 miles over the 10 hour period, an average of 3.2 knots faster than us! We are sailing more conservatively for three main reasons; Susan does not like to be heeled over so far, we don't want to push the boat to breaking point and it is our home!
Thursday 31st October 2013 - Day 10
The early hours showed a steady F6, 24-26 knots of wind from the southeast, gusting to 32 knots. We had finally got into our stride and were making high 8 and low 9's most of the time with the odd excursion into the 10's SOG. Susan had seemed to cope well with it all during her watch and we had made good mileage.
We had received another navtex forecast for sea area 8A3, valid for the next 12 hours until 1200 UTC today, boundered by 10 to 20 south and 55 to 75 east, confirming "SE to E 15-20 knots, locally gusting 30-35 knots, sea rough, few showers in NW, visibility good." and were waiting for the weather broadcast at 0115 UTC (0615 local).
Around 05:20 there was a strange noise, difficult to describe, which I couldn't identify immediately. I checked around as best I could but nothing seemed out of place or broken. Half an hour later, in the improving light I found that it had been the genoa car sliding along its track to the stern stop! I was in the process of completing furling the genoa, moving the car forward, making sure it was locked down and unfurling the genoa when I looked up and suddenly noticed a fishing boat very close on our starboard beam! Rushing back to the cockpit i turned us 15° to port and we passed within 100m. There was no radar alarm for the vessel and it did not show on our radar. There would have been little they would have done to avoid us, with no one visible on the boat, they must all have been sheltering below deck and were riding out the weather, laying to the wind on a sea anchor.
I listened for the Mauritian weather forecast at 0115 UTC but was unable to make it out. There was definitely a voice broadcasting something but I couldn't make any of it out.
We passed by another four fishing boats, all laying to the wind with sea anchors and not under way - only one of these showed on radar although we were within 200 - 300 meters of each one!
We relayed the details about the fishing boats and the navtex weather to Ian during the radio-net but he again seemed little interested, immediately referring to Sotto for his latest gribfiles.
The wind eased back to east by southeast as the morning progressed and fluctuated between F6 and 7, we had a good night taking mileage out of 12 boats and losing out mileage to only three! We now had full main and genoa out trying to catch Wolfhound knapping while they still had furled sails and Tony was tired so going back to bed with his old bags!
By midday the wind had backed enough to move the genoa across and goosewing again. This put us on a heading due west which would be alright for a while as we could always reach back to the rhumb line. We had a quiet afternoon while I read and Susan slept then we had afternoon tea with crumpets.
We went to start the generator at about 17:00 and there was no power to the panel switches. Spoken with Ian on DSC and following his advice, we found the 8 amp fuse on the generator had blown. We replaced that and it blew again immediately. Next advice was that the circuit must be going to ground somewhere and to check where cable enter the panel and the generator electrical box.
At the same time as a squall hit and I was reefing the main and Susan was on the radio-net, the plotter lost its heading - we have had this previously when on the SSB - the pedestal auto pilot display alarm went and displayed every single character simultaneously! It would appear to be still functioning in "auto" but you are not able to see the heading nor any changes made.
Priorities.......it's very easy to let a couple of small things escalate into a major catastrophe in these circumstances. We need to be calm and thoughtful about how we tackle these and not panic!
We still have the main engine for power generation and for refrigeration. We have enough water to get us to Rodriguez so don't need the generator for that; therefore the generator is not a priority. The auto pilot is a priority. We are still 400 miles out from Rodriguez, showing as due to take us two and a half days. I don't want to be standing at the helm steering manually for that length of time. We have a spare autopilot head but it cannot be changed at sea as to get to the connections and fixing screws, the wheel has to come off! We resolved to leave it while still keeping a heading and maybe tomorrow, in day light, try resetting it by turning off and then back on at the panel - reluctant to do it now in case it doesn't reset and we have to hand steer. So in conclusion we do nothing until daylight then try to reset the autopilot.
We left the main reefed so as not to be flying along if the auto pilot suddenly went completely. It would not be good to be falling off a big wave in a F6 suddenly with no autopilot! With everything settled I went to bed for Susan left me to sleep for a good five hours. When I came back on watch, Susan had the autopilot screen working, after she had given him a good talking to! No sooner had she got into bed than the screen went again! We were now 7 miles above the rhumb line, at 03:00 we moved the genoa back across to starboard to reach back towards the line. We were now 356 miles to run to Rodriguez and showing an ETA of 5am Sunday morning.
Friday 1st November 2013 (Day 11)
Having discussed our options and both thought about it overnight we have concluded that we will definitely stop at Rodriguez. We both are not feeling well, Susan still has the sore throat and chesty cough, despite taking a course of antibiotics, and I am concerned with my feet where the sand-fly bites have taken a turn for the worse and look like it's developed into ringworm. That said, we need a couple of good night's sleep and to see a doctor sooner rather than later. We also need to stop the boat to work on the generator, make a decision on whether to change the genoa for the yankee, look at the bushings on the vang and look into the plotter/autopilot issues.
We will inform Ian of our decision during this morning's radio-net and plug in the waypoints for the entry to the bay and port of Mathurin, make the necessary contact with the authorities there. Used sat phone for emails and weather this afternoon, including one to try and reserve time for the Raymarine agent in Reunion, giving them a list of our problems. We wait to see if we get a response.
That done, I went off watch for a couple of hours having left Susan sleeping all morning. When I woke at 16:30, I thought breakfast might have finally been ready but it still hadn't been put in the oven!
We eventually skipped breakfast with the croissants having been a little burnt, with at least one going in the sea, two remaining should be good for tomorrow. Instead, we went straight into dinner with a variant of 'shackles' served with some of the fresh bread. I was then allowed a ration of bread and cheese!
We phoned home tonight to wish my Mother a very Happy Birthday, 83 today! She had all the family around and sounded more lucid than she had on the previous few occasions. Pat has received my new credit card and will post it out to us in South Africa, care of Daryl at Walthers. Sue also spoke with her parents who both seemed well.
Saturday 2nd November 2013 (Day 12)
Soon after midnight we had a ship passing our stern from north to south which we could clearly see his starboard , bow and masthead lights. At three miles distant he turned and came along our port side, maintaining the 3 mile separation.  he then moved away to the southwest.
The morning radio-net was difficult with us being unable to speak or hear much of the call. We asked for Ian to try CH26 to see if were any better reception, which he was reluctant to do. When we changed, he was able to speak clearly with both ourselves and Amelie some 250 miles behind us. Ian seemed most surprised that this worked which we thought strange considering how long he had used this frequency before, many times, for Aequitas and others at a greater range. To us it seems sensible to try a higher band if you are unable to get reception on a lower one, especially when the distances between you are getting larger! As a result of this we started the 'stragglers net', the home for the forgotten tail-end-Charlie's for whom the official parties were organised to exclude! Between Amelie, ourselves and Wolfhound, we had half an hour of chat and fun which seemed to be appreciated by all.
Around 11:30, not long after we had been discussing fishing and deciding to put the rod out to see if we could catch something to share with Wolfhound tomorrow, we got a bite! I had just gone to bed for an hours sleep and came on deck to find Susan by the rod she had stopped it as she thought but she did not know that she had to tighten the knob never mind all was not lost she did a good job holding on to the fish. Consequently, there was quite a lot of line out which took a while to get back in. The fish was a fighter and the boat was rolling heavily so it was warm work getting him back to the boat. At about 40m I could see it was a Dorado, Susan's favourite, so she excitedly came back with her camera to catch the action as I hauled it over the side.    
 It was around 850mm long, smaller than the ones I normally catch but a good size to cook whole. Once cleaned it went straight into the freezer wrapped in the fantastic Glad Wrap Freezer film which we are rapidly running out of, less its tail which wouldn't fit.
The radio-net showed us now only 11 miles away from Wolfhound so it looks as though we should arrive together in the morning. Mariela had left Rodriguez this afternoon, Dreams, Valentine, Pearl of Persia were all on the quay at Rodriguez. Sotto were in at Mauritius and Luna were in at Reunion. The remainder of the fleet were still making for Mauritius with the exception of Amelie who are going straight to Reunion.
By midnight we were closing in on the island with only 58 miles left to run.
Sunday 3rd November 2013 (Day 13)
We had a couple of very faint radar contacts but not convinced that either was Wolfhound but they must be getting close now. We were able to spot their sails, on our starboard bow, when the sun had risen at about 06:00 when anxiety about the impending landfall must have woken me. Susan had skilfully navigated us within sight of the island during her last watch, and we could almost hear the Sunday morning church bells ringing!
As per arranged, we spoke with Wolfhound on the 'straggler net' at 07:00 to establish they were still 7 miles in front of us, so at our current similar SOG of just under 6 knots, he would be in over an hour before us. He agreed to check on CH72 VHF to see if he could raise any of the boats already secured on the quayside at Port Mathurin and that Susan would try the Harbour Master on 2182.0 Mhz after 08:00.
The entrance was fairly straight forward although the leading markers, for the pass, were difficult to pick out against the development behind the lower one, the upper one being on a flat grassed area half way up the hillside above the buildings. Once through the pass we motored across the bay to the channel that runs down into the basin of the port. Alongside the channel were many local fishermen in their boats or wading on the reef just meters away from us.    
In the basin, Valentine and Wolfhound were at anchor with Dreams and Pearl on the harbour wall.
We were secure at anchor in 7.7m with 45m out by 10:30 (09:30 local time - we will now adjust to this time).  
Coast Guard arrives with four officials to check us in, very pleasant and the only thing they were concerned about was stowaways and checked the boat. We have to call them before we leave so that they can come onboard and check that we leave without any stowaways!!! All clear and after short discussion regarding if they needed to be around for any other boats coming in we advised them no and that they could go and enjoy their Sunday drinking session.
They informed us that we have to weigh anchor tomorrow morning before 06:00 and move outside the basin so that the supply ship can come in against the quay wall, what a bummer!  Valentine came over and we gave the them the details and navigation notices on Navtex for Mauritius.
Susan sat in the cockpit and thought she had some tissue stuck to the sole of her foot and was horrified to find that the entire skin on the sole of her feet was dead and shed a whole layer just like a snake!
Time to look at the generator spoke to Paul on dreams to see if he, as a qualified electrician in an earlier life, could spread any light on what the problem is. He will be available to look at it with me later this afternoon so decided that we should go ashore and see if we could find some lunch. We launch the dinghy and bastard would not start! It appeared to be a problem with the interlock of the ignition barrel and being in neutral. Finally gave up and Tony launched his dinghy, came over to pick us up and go ashore. It was the best thing to 'get off the boat'.  
We met some locals who including two policemen who directed us to a local shop where we could buy a beer! Spoke to the shop owner and he gave us name and directions of a local restaurant called du Quai. On the way we found Barclays bank got some local currency, then on to the restaurant. It was very local with the food and indeed the cold beer most welcoming. Spoke to the owner regarding a local doctor and he informed us that there is not a private doctor on the island and we have to go to the hospital, also enquired re a local who could look at the dinghy engine and they advised us of a mariner dealer close by.
We picked up Paul Fletcher on the way back and with his help eventually sorted the generator by bypassing the glow plug solenoid which was causing the problem. We need to get a new one ordered ..........  Susan remembered that I had turned off the raw water intake for the generator and that the coolant needed topping up in the header tank, good old girl! Whilst doing this we discovered that the raw water intake for the fridge also had an air lock!
Had a beer together on board and then Tony kindly took Paul back to Dreams and it was a shame that we could not join them for dinner, but being tired anyway and after today's events it was just not feasible. Tony went off to prepare a cottage pie for dinner tomorrow and we must remember to take the fish out of the freezer! We finished putting generator 'away' and she purred in to action once we had sorted out the air lock.
Susan then saw water in the engine room and whilst mopping up discovered that the hose from the refrigeration pump was leaking. Tightened this up but the intake hose has collapsed and needs replacing. Another job for tomorrow! Time for a good night's sleep as we have to be up at 0500 to weigh anchor whilst the supply ship comes into and turn in the basin to moor up against the quayside wall. Left Susan up to wait for batteries to charge and I retired to my pit knackered from the passage and today's events. Tomorrow is another day.