After many months of planning and preparation, Miss Cath was soundly fitted out and eager to find her way out to the open waters of the Indian Ocean. With a radar, wind vane and stuffed gorilla for company, Captain Fletcher was also keen to get under way and ahead of any unfavourable monsoon activities.
Following Customs clearance and a glass of champagne we saw our beloved Captain and SS34 sail away from Fremantle at noon on Saturday 7 October. First landfall was to be Direction Island, Cocos Islands. It seems holding off that extra day (avoiding departure on a Friday) went well with the weather gods. Fresh tail winds were with them all the way, with many of the miles done under Genoa only. Aside from the first couple of days of finding sea legs and Miss Cath being a little roly in the following seas, Captain Fletcher reported pretty much a “dream run’. to Cocos. Landfall was made at Cocos Islands 9am on 19 October -: eleven days after departing Fremantle.
Captain Fletcher declared he’d landed at paradise, and a roll of film sent home for processing confirmed this. Fletch largely had Direction Island to himself: taking seven days for a well earned break before continuing north. One great concern for our skipper though was the inability to get any ice for the icebox and to chill the beer. It is quite a complicated process to actually get to the shops, and to cut a long story short, Fletch settled for scotch at sunsets!
An underwater inspection whilst at anchor revealed a loose propeller. Again, it is a complicated process to get anything to or at Cocos Islands. A parcel was sent from home with the appropriate socket, only to not arrive. With a tropical low beginning to form just north west of the Islands, Fletch needed to get under sail and away from any land. A socket was borrowed to tighten the nut, and Captain Fletcher had no choice but to get sailing again and hope the propeller would hold tight, orthat fair winds would see him through the doldrums.
Captain Fletcher and Miss Cath departed Cocos Islands 1900hrs (WST) on 26 October north west bound, next landfall Galle in Sri Lanka.
As circumstances would have it, Fletch and Miss Cath made great distance and time till about two degrees south (on 2 November). From there things have been just as one would expect on the equator. A quick inspection of the propeller revealed it had again loosened itself during the exit from Cocos Island, ensuing perseverance from Captain Fletcher whilst in the doldrums without a motor. For nine days very few miles were achieved – very fluky winds and a reasonable easterly current pulled Miss Cath a little further east than desired. However the past two days have brought about conditions that are more favourable – the current has eased and is actually running slightly west and a constant run of storms have been providing helpful bouts of wind.
Captain Fletcher says he is in good spirits despite the frustration of the doldrums, and Miss Cath is again proving she is a very manageable and well performing yacht. If conditions remain as are, landfall at Galle is estimated for Wednesday 15 November.