Day 12 Westbound for Fremantle

Avast me Hearties! Thar’s dolphins Ahoy! (Written on Mar 08, 2013)

At 1215 the OMNI sonobuoy is deployed but sadly does not function at all.  Double oh dear – I am too short to pull another one out of the crate and I am truly sad, it will be a quiet night…  Our midnight position is 60 nm SSE of Eyre.  In the last few days, we have been steadily travelling north-west and west across the Great Australian Bight, but now I will make our first turn towards the south-west as we head for the western part of the Bight.

 

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Longmuir lines or “slicks” indicating upwelling / downwelling events.
Photo credit M.Jenner

Yesterday afternoon we crossed some lines on the surface of the ocean, known as “internal wave slicks”.  Similar in appearance to oil slicks, these are the surface presentation of subsurface waves.  Their large “stretch-mark” like patterns are band-like and can cover several kilometres.  We crossed 15 such evenly spaced bands which have a glossy and very calm appearance despite indicating dynamic oceanographic events where low density warm water overlies high density cold water.  In areas like continental shelf boundaries where we are travelling, these layers mix as they meet and the sudden shelving of the seafloor propagates waves below the surface and along the depth contour boundary.  These waves are thought to be one of the main mechanisms for cross-shelf transport, the exchange of water between coastal and offshore environments, and particularly helpful for delivering planktonic larvae from deep oceans to inshore areas where they might settle out (for example crayfish).

On deck the sky is black and the stars engaging and beguiling.  These views from well offshore are memorable and special by being so far-away from light pollution.  At sea photography of stars is nigh on impossible for mere mortals like me, although I do think two of our very talented friends, Chris and Shem would be able to!  These vistas must be locked away in your mind’s eye and kept forever.  Cloud is beginning to “cloud” the sparkles of the stars and equally in the water, a dull smattering of phosphorescence twinkles in the white-wash beside our hull…

In a satellite email from Tasmin I learn that at school while reading the preface of Jessica Watson’s book “True Spirit”, the class seems to be baffled by all the sailing terminology.  Pondering for a moment, I realise our Tas has been at sea for 12 of her 13 years.  She sailed 10,000 nm on WhaleSong, our sailing catamaran, travelled another 5,000 nm on WhaleSong II and now 23,000 nm on our current Whale Song.  That is 38,000 nm or 3167 nm for each year of her life!  I reckon this makes her pretty salty!  She is pretty and is salty too!  I send her an email hoping that she explained a few things…

“Well, did you tell everyone what it all meant? You old sailor you! Ah me heartie, just had a turn to port (the turn that is, not the drink!), down to the south-west now where the wind is fair, the sea calm and the stars bright!  Arrrr, you could hoist the main-sail and then we shall tack and jibe, now “2,6,heave” on the jib halyard, swing the bell-rope, belay the lines and haul the anchor warp!  Arrr!!!, Arrr!!!” … and a poem came by…

 

Sailing/Boating Jargon

 

Photo credit M.Jenner

Photo credit M.Jenner

 

Hoist the halyard!

Tie your glasses with a lanyard!

When you tack starb’d

Don’t lose them overb’d!

 

Hoist the main

Check the wind vane-

Is the sheet secure?

Or you’ll be in the manure!

 

Tie the halyard me hearty

This is a sailing party

Trim the jib

Don’t be glib!

 

We’re off on an adventure!

Leaving suburbia

Raise the sail

Be hearty and hale!

 

Pull on the bell rope!

No fog we hope

Raise the anchor

Watch that coming tanker

 

We’ve jetty lines

And fine wines

But the only rope on your boat

Is in the bells’ throat!

 

Crew they say – hold cushions down

While slowly turning brown!

Also good for balancing aside

Be sure to stay on the ride

 

You’ll need a chart

To be smart!

And some nouse

To protect your floating house…

 

Learn the clouds

And your shrouds

The yard-arm a good one to know –

When the sun is past – have your Strong Bow!

 

“Sundowners”

To explain for the out-of-towners

Are evening drinks

Amongst the sunset pinks!

 

Meet yachts along the way

Always much to say

“Where to anchor?”  and “Where to go?”

“I do need a barber you know!“

 

Sail free

Upon the sea

Catch the wind

Feel stress rescind

 

Launch the dingy – go ashore

There’s much to learn and more

Travel the world

With your main unfurled

 

Sunshine, wind, waves and rain

Even snow and icy pain

Sails carry you beyond

Your suburban pond!

 

(Written by Micheline Jenner)

 

Pink-toned cumulus clouds dot the sky at 0645 when Skipper wants to see the action from the wheelhouse and fly-bridge.   It’s a bit windy (S 15-18 knots) and a bit chilly but we still observe from the fly-bridge.  Common mangoes swing by – the first pod of 40-50 and in fact 10 pods of 228 animals cruise by us for the days’ total, widely dispersed but they just keep coming…  I get photos on the D800 and video on the Nikon Coolpix camera from the forward portholes, of leaping dolphins in the bow-waves and also from the main saloon windows!  These look so cool!

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ISHMAEL clearly displays the lively whistles of common “mango” dolphins.
Photo credit M.Jenner

In the mid-day deployment gorgeous common mango whistles abound on the ISHMAEL and PASOR screens.  Videos of the animals bow-riding and their whistles with sounds will be nice to share!  The sonobuoy goes for around an hour and the screens are full of squiggles!  Every dolphin must be talking.  Curt think this is evidence that dolphins share the black art of ladies at morning teas whom all speak and listen at once!  One bit on the screen looks all-the-world like a tall sailing ship!  This is common dolphin art!  The neat aspect is how visual the sound is!  Just crazy!

The wind remains steady at 12-15 or 15-18 knots from the south.  We have increased our RPM from 1400 to 1460 to beat a low pressure system due to cross Cape Leeuwin on Monday night with 45 knots of south-westerlies and 8 metres of swell.  Today is Friday and we are bolting for the stable.  It is so great to have Iridium-capable weather forecasting while at sea to make well informed decisions.  Naturally, things will want to distract us – and if this occurs, a southern anchorage will be the answer…

Turning one’s mind to affairs of state, we are aware that we have a State Election tomorrow, Saturday 9th of March.  Our WA, with its’ boom, carrying the nation will vote tomorrow.  Polling booths unavailable here, this will be the first election in my voting life that I don’t vote in…

After lunch of hot chicken pie, salad, humus & carrots, rice, potatoes, cheese and salami and baguette the cloud increases.  To the north, stratus streaks the pale blue sky, while to the south and south-west cumulus and cumulonimbus shield the sun.  The sea is steel, black-grey and greasy with intermittent patches of silver sunlight bathing the gliding flocks of shearwaters just above the molten sea.

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Common dolphin leaping abeam our good ship ‘Whale Song’.
Photo credit M.Jenner

The wind is from our portside, patches of warm sun are on our starboard – so the temperature is strange…  Skipper has his jacket on and we are all coated up too.   During the hours of 1600 to 1800 we have an unusual band of cloud shrouding the horizon, but there is also a huge hole in the centre where we are heading with blue well beyond.   The lighting is grey, dark and ominous, but as the sun breaks through the cloud to our right, a bright, blinding path is revealed.   No further sightings of cetaceans are made, but we have already had 10 pods with 228 animals all up!

Dinner is served just on yet another spectacular sunset.  Resty presents the crew with bowls of steaming clear spicy fish soup, then pan-fried blue fin tuna, baked potatoes, steamed rice and salad.  We are hungry and the taste sensations are very good!  Another rowdy, rousing washing up session reminds us that Sam has the right idea about dishes, make it a happy event with lots of music and laughter!  Well done Sam.

Another great day is had by all and we marvel at the variety of each and every day!

From Whale Song bolting for the stable,

Mich

 

 

 

 

 

 

Centre for Whale Research

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