Hello from 25:49S/172.29E at 16.30 Ship's Time
"The wind is playing with us!" said Laura, rather plaintively, at the end of her night watch. She'd spent most of her watch hand-steering as the slowly-decreasing wind meant that Winnie was really struggling to keep Maunie pointing at Vanuatu. As forecast, the breeze continued to drop so, at 04.15 we started the engine and motor-sailed for 7 hours. The upside of this was that there was hot water for showers and hair-washing, which was a good thing after 4 days at sea!
The clouds and rain squalls all around us brought some interesting conditions but by late morning we had the Parasailor flying and were making good progress until a couple of hours later, more rain squalls in the offing made us decide to drop it before it get soaked (it lives in the forward cabin when not in use so we didn't want to get that damp) or we got hit by strong winds. Both hoist and drop went perfectly so we were pleased to have given the sail another airing, possibly its last on this passage. The other change of note today was that, for the first time, we are feeling warm! The southerly breezes are coming up from the Antarctic so it's been pretty cold at night but now we are beginning to feel that the warmer waters beneath us are winning the battle with the colder air. Shorts and t-shirts replaced long trousers and fleeces for the first time.
The major excitement of today – yes, even more exciting than the novelty of clean hair or the opening of a new jar of Claire Murtagh's wonderful Spiced Peach, Mandarin and Chilli Chutney, was a close encounter with three whales. We'd just finished lunch when we all commented on an unusual squealing noise in the boat. Graham had just uttered the words "Could it be whales, do you think?" when Laura spotted one less than 20m off our starboard side! They were heading south so, unfortunately, we didn't get a photo or a definitive identification but it was a wonderful encounter all the same. If anyone could Google "Grey brown small toothed whale South Pacific" and email us with any likely-sounding information, that would be great!