Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall charting our adventures as we sail around the world. We're sailing up and down the east coast of Australia after a summer back in Britain.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Staring at the Moon

Yesterday we moved into a more sheltered anchorage in Buca Bay, just a couple of miles across from Kioa on the 'mainland'. As night fell, briskly as it does in the Tropics, the nearly-full moon rose over us and by 9.00pm it was directly above us, bathing the boat in a beautiful silvery light.

I did something that, curiously it now seems to me, I've never done before. I lay on the deck and looked at the moon through binoculars. I guess that the complete absence of light-polution and the clear atmosphere made it especially good but I was absolutely amazed to be able to see individual  craters in the surface at just 50x magnification. Dianne came and had a look (accidentally hurting her black eye with the binoculars - more of that later) whilst I fiddled with the camera to try and get a photo. This is the best I could manage; it looked much clearer through the binoculars:

My first astronomy photograph!

We both noticed a bright white dot on the surface which you can see in the photo at about the 8 o'clock position, not far from the edge - the sun reflecting on a still-shiny piece of Apollo space junk, perhaps? I hope so.

The Moon, of course, is terribly important to sailors since it's the chief influence on ocean tides. Every fortnight, when Moon is either full or new, it lines up with the sun and the combined gravitational pull of the two pulls the sea towards it in a lump - the highest Spring Tide. At the opposite side of the earth there's another lump whilst half way its circumference round the water level drops. So, as the earth rotates you get a high tide, a low tide 6 hours later and another high tide 12 hours after the first. Spring tides, because of this combined gravitational pull, give very high high-tides and very low low-tides and, in between the two, all the water has to flood in and out between islands and around headlands as it finds its new tidal level so the current will be at its strongest.

A week later and the Moon and Sun won't be in line (they pull at right angles to each other) so the sea is influenced only by the Moon's pull; the highs and lows are less extreme and we get neap tides with weaker current flows. Generally, it's easier to do coastal navigation at these time but the downside is that, at night, you don't have much moonlight to see by. So there you go, a quick overview on tides!

Finally, on to Dianne's black eye. In the middle of the night a few days ago she got up to use the heads (loo) and, not wanting to wake me, didn't switch on the light and went to use the aft heads, which has a low doorway. You can guess the rest. She now has a pretty impressive shiner which, unfortunately, she won't let me photograph. The problem, apart from the pain she experiences with binoculars of course, is that it's considered rude to walk in to villages wearing sunglasses here so I may be wrong, but I do sense a degree of sympathy toward her from the locals and a few disapproving glances in my direction. My Fijian isn't up to "no, actually she walked into a door" however.


  1. Graham - not sure what I am doing with this but your blog is absolutely fascinating. What a trip you are having and I guess it might last a lifetime now. Let me know if this is the right way to contact you and tell you all the news. Look forward to hearing from you. Angexxx

  2. Hi Ange

    Lovely to hear from you - best contact is our email maunie (at) mailasail.com (replace the (at) with @) and well look forward to hearing your news
    G&D xx

  3. Wow Graham and Dianne. We've been catching up on your latest entries and are incredibly jealous (especially the food). We have landed well and truly back into the developed world with a bump and could not see the moon if we tried for New York City's high rise, smog and light pollution! We hope Dianne's eye heals soon. All the best, Anna and Adam.

    1. We can't imagine more of a culture shock than the journey from Vava'u to NYC! Enjoy the experience though and it's great to hear that you are following the blog.Keep us posted with the news of your travels.
      Best wishes from us both