Fiu in Adriatic
Indian Ocean crossing - from Darwin to Cocos Keeling and west to Seychelles, Gulf of Aden and Red Sea
Indian Ocean crossing, 20 Aug. to 17 Sept. 2005, Crew: Susan & Ivo.
Left Darwin on 20th Aug. 2005 and sailed to Cocos, 2000 miles west of Darwin. First few days wind was low. Our progress was relatively slow until Day 3, when the trade wind kicked in and we started to move with our usual pace of 180 to 200 m/day.
Departing from Darwin and sailing to Direction Island, Cocos Keeling
After 12 days arrived to Cocos, had few days break and then continued towards Seychelles - additional 2400 miles. The weather was rough, windy and rainy as there was a tropical depression developing some 400 miles NW of Cocos. Few days into the trip the Tropical Cyclone Reporting Center issued a warning - 'this depression has a potential to became a first tropical cyclone of the season!!'. For a day or two the atmosphere on the Fiu and few other yacht that left from Cocos at the same time was over-heated! Will the gale force wind turn into a cyclone or not?? Still, contrary to common strategy, Ivo decided to use strong SE wind and Fiu's good sailing performance to sail fast and to play a game 'catch me if you can' with the the potential cyclone! The strategy paid well as we did managed to overtake the depression and sneak out of it's grip on its SW side! In this way we were practically catapulted to the west and had good following winds almost all the way to Seychelles. This 'risky' strategy saved us a week of sailing in doldrums and contrary winds which we would encounter if we sailed north and ended up in the center or northern quadrants of the depression. See the attached animated gif of our 'game' with the tropical depression:
'Catch me if you can' - Fiu's path across the Indian ocean relative to the center of the potential tropical cyclone.
Riding the storm - on the southern side of the depression, the weather was rough, rainy and with a strong SE wind, most of the time gale and strong gale force (30 to 50 kn). Initially this was fun - however, after being in this conditions for nearly five days we were all wet, cold and miserable and were really looking forward for a break - dry, sunny days as it was promised in the brochure for South Indian Ocean crossing!!
After 26 days of sailing and covering more than 4500 miles we finally arrived to Seychelles.
From the log: After 26 days at sea + two days in Cocos – 26 days to cover 4500 nm (average speed 173 nm/day or 7.2 kn)! Average was greatly affected by first two and last two days of crossing when we had very low wind so had to use motor – when motoring we do not push engine hard – by keeping revs below between 1800-2000 revs/min we achieve average speed of approx. 6 kn which makes for 130-140 nm / day.
Fiu's path across the Indian ocean:
Seychelles and Gulf of Aden
Sunday, 18 Sept 2005 - finally arrived to Victoria, Seychelle's capital.
Decided to anchor in the main harbour in the vicinity of the Victoria YC where cruisers tend to stop. Found few French yachts that are heading North towards Red Sea - however they are living after us and seems to be slower boats - after talking to them realised that they do not worry much about pirates!
Our TO DO list big - for illustration some of the chores from the log:
Ivo in charge of:
Beside all these there were frequent visits to the internet, many mails to reply, Ivo was busy writing article for sailing magazine More and writing Fiu-Newsletter ... so our week was packed with activity and there was not much time to hang around and discover Seychelles.
After Susan spending nearly two full days visiting various government offices and going through unbelievable amount of paperwork we finally managed to top up Fuel & water and left Victoria on Fri. 23 Sept.
Saturday, 24 Sept 2005 - after spending Fri afternoon and night at Chevalier bay at Praslin Island (beautiful spot - to be visited again!?) weighted anchor and set the course north - next stop Massawa, Eritrea, Red Sea?!
Wind was still good, 15 kn or so, making a good progress.. ..hope to be rounding the pirate-nests in Socotra in a week or so. .. Pirates are giving us a big headache ...it is really hard to believe that at the beginning of 21st century cruisers have to worry because of the potential pirate attacks! This year they were over 30 pirate attacks, mostly on cargo ships in Somalia waters.
Contrary to expectations sailing in doldrums was not too bad - here are few excerpts from the log:
Monday, 26 September 2005 – Day 2,
In the morning wind suddenly dropped & turned to N. Susan's watch from 1 till almost 6 am! She changed course to WNW .. still ok sailing ... until 7:30 when we were nearly becalmed .. there were still puffs of wind coming from N-NE-E but only 3-4-5 kn and Fiu was still making 2-3 kn + 1 additional knot from current which seems to be still with us (0.5 to 1 kn). Moving slowly towards equator, only 20 miles to go .. it looks like we’ll have a chance to experience real doldrums !!
At 9 wind picking up from NE but only for an hour or so .. still something .. and then died again .. and on again..
At 2 pm - motor – sailing again.
6:30 crossing the equator – after a year and 3 months back to the northern hemisphere!! Susan made offerings to gods of sea & wind (Neptune, or was it Poseidon? & Eol) ..
Dead calm – sea as a mirror .. have seen many swimming crabs .. dolphins .. beautiful sunset, as well as night with many stars reflecting on the sea surface .. one of our first night with no wind at all.
Motoring till midnight at low revs, 16-18 hundred just to keep speed at 5+ kn.
At midnight Susan takes over – the engine is turned off and we are drifting …
Susan promised to write more about the drifting experience ?!
As drifters made 6 miles in 4 hrs!! Was it a current or a little push from a breeze??
Tuesday, 27 September 2005 – Day 4
Drifting till 4 am when westerly breeze picked up and Susan wake me up to help hoisting a main .. W breeze of 5 kn gave a speed of 4 kn, course due north !
7 am – still very light breeze from W, SW, 4-6 kn heading North.
11 am – still the same breeze, 3-5 kn, we are making 3-5 kn, course north +/- 20 deg.
3 pm – still the same, real summer time, light breeze
Susan reading, making custard & her super spaghetti sauce with all the variety of veggie that we still have – aubergine, tomato, onion, garlic, ginger, …
Ivo – again on the top of the mast – this time to fix the lines of the lazy jack. Afterwards removing HF radio & simplifying all the connecting lines so that the radio can be stored into a safe place in the case of pirate attack. GPS plotter stored as well. Old DELL notebook installed as a backup and tested.
Slow moving .. 3-4 kn the whole day … in the evening wind picked up ..after sunset it was 6-7 kn, at 8 pm already 10 kn, SW .. finally moving faster 5-6 kn in NW direction.
At 10 pm noticed a ship on the port / approx 5 nm from us .. soon after another, bigger ship behind us .. changed the corse to N, motorsailing for a while to gain on distance. To our port most likely a fishing boat – moving slow, to our stern probably cargo as it is moving faster and coming closer to us!! At 10:30 already 3.5 nm from us - I am changing course to 330 to sail faster (making 6 kn now) and to move away from him as it looks like he is moving NE?
Wednesday, 28 September 2005 – Day 5
Flying spinnaker the whole day .. wind 6-7, up to 10 kn, started as S and turned to SW
3 pm wind increasing to 11-13 kn, SSW, good sailing, making 6-7 kn but current still against us – approx 1 kn South going current.
9:00 PM - wind dropping to 6 kn, WSW, still flying spinnaker. Messy & noisy business .. spi banging, flapping as the swell is still big .. sailing more on the beam so not too bad, making 4 kn but southerly current of 1-2 kn still on the nose .. very frustrating business, moving like we have leaded foot.
Made so far 500 m from Seychelles and still over 550 m to Sukutra Isl.
Thursday, 29 September 2005 – Day 6
5 am – still under the spinnaker, wind increasing to 18-20 kn, SSW, it is becoming interesting!! Our course is N to NNE, speed 7-8 kn but SOG 1-2 kn less due to a contrary current!!
Susan did lion’s share tonight – on the watch from 11 pm to 4:30 .. still flying spinnaker -
9.30am: wind still gusting at 20 knots. Spinnaker poled out with two poles now. Course is good, mostly straight north but the current is still about 1,5 knots against us.
Forecast predicts this wind will last only another few hours then drop to 9-10 knots again. Ivo steering and until then if all goes well. Inch’Allah!
We will have to decide today or tomorrow which way we go – shortcut between Socotra and mainland or all the way around. If we go through shortcut we’ll have to get closer to the coast so as to be in the Somali current. It seems that the current we have now is the SW monsoon current going SE and as we head further north it will merge with the Somali current and become quite strong with a push to the N-East. But this is what the book says. Who knows.
It is very hot here, every day about 34-35 C inside and not much less outside, humidity 55%. We struggle to find shade when outside so we have both got sunburned and very brown.
Good day run – 110 miles .. running all day/night spinnaker - by all means we covered today probably 150 miles but moved effectively 110 miles because of the contrary current… stupid current, when it is going to be on our side!? Wind slowing down in the afternoon – as predicted – however it was still 10-13 kn, enough to keep us going with 5-6-7 kn.
Pole on the starboard side – going NE, following the coastline.
Night – wind on increase again – 15-18 kn, occasionally gusting at 21 kn … still flying spinnaker .. now with the pole on port side.
Friday, 30 September 2005 – Day 7
6 am still flying spinnaker – almost 48 hrs – our longest spinnaker run!
Current is finally with us – 1 + kn of SW current, getting probably into the in-famous Somali current.
8 am - heavy squal approaching from the south - it looks like it is time to put the spinnaker down?! After more then 48 hrs (two days and two nights) we finally put the spinnaker down - this was indeed a fantastic run - first time running spinnaker for such a long period of time.
heavy clouds to our port (west) – looks like a big storm approaching – and we are heading NW, straight into it?!? To put the spi down or not??
Ivo decided to jibe – change from port pole to starboard – quite a good morning exercise! After 10 min mingling with braces, shits, uphaul, downhaul .. managed – we are now sailing NE, right on the course, along the Somali coast.
Will have to watch carefully this storm to our port .. if the wind increase we’ll have to put the spi down. .. and it did happen, at 7:30 clouds were closer, wind increased to 17 kn + and we had to put spinnaker down .. another ‘morning exercise’ full of action!!
The ‘operation’ was successful .. although the wind was already so strong I was unable to pull the spi in and Su had to lower halyard so much that the spi fell in the water .. but never mind, we managed to drag it in, on the deck and few hrs latter Su dried it on the deck .. spi was ok except for ten cm cut near the sim which happen either when we were draging it onboard or during dur drying procedure…
Sailing again under full sail downwind .. main and genoa .. we werte glad spi is down as the wind increased ove 20+, rain .. real stormy weather for an hr or two .. temperature fel to 26 deg C .. and then the sky cleared again .. turend out to be anothe nice, sunny summer day ..
Problems with the Facnor furling foil again!! Screws from the lower segment fell off and the inner core (insert) that keeps two foil segments together fell down – so now only the lower bit of the foil can be furled and the top three quarter can not – also the sail ripped at the joint of these two foil segments !!
Not an easy problem to solve on the ocean .. will have to mobilise thew two foil segments somehow so that we can furl/lower sail .. at this moment we can’t furl or even lower the genoa .. for the time being continuing to sail with the damaged sail and foil .. problems, problems again .. never ending .. like we do not have enough worries with the potential pirate attack !
4 pm passing close to a big container ship – south bound – contacted re the passage through the Gees Gwardafuy passage (between NE Somali coast & Sukutra Isl) – they went through the passage as there were no recent attacks reported .. had no problems or close encounters with pirates.
The highlight of this leg was a continuous sailing
pirate attacks! This year they were over 30 pirate attacks, mostly on cargo ships in Somalia waters.
The last and the most difficult leg - sailing north to the Gulf of Aden (hope not to meet pirates!!), Red Sea (contrary winds) and through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean - Greek islands and Croatia, with the bay of Punat as the final destination where Fiu Odyssey started more then two years ago.
the bay of Punat, Adriatic, Croatia