We are motoring through a high pressure system so the wind has dropped away and our precious diesel reserves are dwindling fast. No matter how many times we did the calculation, we kept coming up with the same answer: "It'll be bloody close whether we run out or not". Meanwhile, with the windy and wet forecast for our arrival day, Thursday, in mind we really wanted to open the throttle and get some speed on rather than dawdling at 5 knots to conserve our fuel.
Most of you will be familiar with the feeling I'm sure. Driving up the motorway, you see the Services sign but say, "No, we'll go on to the next ones. They have better food.." Less than a quarter of a mile past the exit, the fuel gauge mysteriously drops onto the red zone and the orange fuel warning light blinks on in reproach. "No, it can't be 47 miles to the next services!". From then on, you're reducing speed until indignant HGV's are overtaking you, their drivers no doubt wondering why you're driving at 60mph, and you have that sick feeling in your stomach as you envisage a trudge along the wet hard shoulder if the car conks out 3 miles from safety.
So we've been feeling those kind of feelings about our ability to motor through the next 20 hours of light wind, on top of a level of apprehension about the weather that is waiting tfo greet us. The forecast for the coastal area of Brett, where we'll make landfall, is:
then dying out late Thursday. Developing early Friday southerly 25 knots,
easing to 15 knots later. Sea rough at times. Moderate northerly swell.
Anyway, with all these thoughts churning around our heads, we were just having some lunch today when an AIS signal popped up on the chart plotter. A ship was approaching at 12.5 knots from our starboard and the CPA (closest point of approach) was calculated to be about 800 ft. As the ship got closer the AIS system identified it as the m/v Victoire, on passage to Tahiti and that she was a tanker. A tanker?
First priority was for us to call her to confirm that we had seen her and that, as the 'give way' vessel (approaching from her port side), we would alter course to starboard to pass behind her. The captain was very friendly and thanked us for this. We then thought "well, it's worth a try!" so called back and explained our predicament with the fuel and the oncoming weather and asked if they might be able to let us have 25 litres. Knowing that it would be impossible to stop the 285 ft tanker, Graham suggested they drop a not-quite-full can into their wake, with a retrieval rope attached, and we'd chase it and pick it up with the boathook. Which is exactly what happened. Honest, we'll post photos on the blog to prove it. The Victoire didn't slow down at all but did quite a scary s-turn towards us; we saw the can hit the water at their stern and picked it up in a textbook man-overboard manoeuver.
Bless the captain and crew of the Victoire and thanks to whoever was looking kindly upon us to send a tanker to cross our bows! We've added about 8 hours range to our motoring so are now back on the pace at just under 6 knots. The northerly wind should kick in tomorrow so apart from the big gusts, rough seas and heavy rain on Wednesday night, we should be fine.