Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Day 5 - The Wind is Playing With Us!

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!

1 comment:

  1. Grey's Beaked Whale ?

    The Gray's beaked whale is among the most easily recognisable of the beaked whales due to the long slender white beak and straight jawline, which resembles in profile the rough-toothed dolphin. Males have two small teeth set back from the tip of the beak, which can be seen when the mouth is closed. Both the male and female have rows of tiny teeth in the upper jaw behind the main teeth. The body is robust and spindle-shaped with a small head and a flat, white forehead. It is dark blue-grey, brown-grey or black on the upper side and the belly is pale grey with white or yellow spots on the underside and sides. Scars and rake marks indicate there may be competition among males for mates.


    Gray's beaked whales seem to be more active at the surface than other beaked whales and have been seen breaching at a shallow angle. When swimming at speed they make low, arc-shaped leaps, and when surfacing Gray's beaked whales typically poke their white beaks out of the water first. They have been observed singly, in pairs, and in small groups. A mass stranding of 28 animals occurred on the Chatham Islands, east of New Zealand in 1874 suggesting the possibility that large numbers may be encountered together.