Date:June 12, 2016, 4 a.m.
Position:16 25.00 S, 163 47.00 E

Another day flying along wing-on-wing… at 3 am we got pegged by a series of squalls, one behind the other, until 7 am. Finally the skies cleared up and the winds became regular, making for a pleasant day. I slept through most of it, until the wind freshened up in the afternoon and got right up to 40 knots for a time. For awhile, it was great sailing–Privateer was carving down the waves with lots of 9s, 10s, and 11s on the GPS as she surfed. There came a point, however, when we decided the Monitor and downwind pole were becoming a bit loaded up and working too hard. We rolled in the Yankee for our instant storm sail combo and are now comfortably running down at 7.5 knots under storm staysail and double-reefed main. The pole will remain set for now, if and when the winds settle down we can resume our wing-on-wing. For now, we’ve got a solid 25-30 knot breeze with more of the same for the next 3-4 days. We are charging full-speed through the blocky seas. This is exciting sailing!

Taz continues to grow his fangs out here on the Coral Sea. He was a pretty happy guy most of the day today, with his usual morning “smiling fit” where he squints and wrinkles up his nose at us for about 1/2 hour–it’s a great way to start the day! He’s really adapting well to the motion of the boat. He’s learned how to always use one hand for holding on and how to position himself in the bunk for sleep so he won’t get tossed around. His grip is so strong that he’s like a coconut crab–almost impossible to extricate him off of whatever he has a mind to cling to.

We’ve had a visiting bird for the past day or two and this evening we’ve all become comfortable friends of sorts. He landed in the cockpit beside me and sat right next to me on the seat cushion for a few hours–he’s totally tame and not the least bit suspicious. Now he’s taken up a perch beside the solar panels where he can peer into the boat and watch our every move.

The other boat, S/V “Beguine” is only about 9 miles away from us. She’s a Valiant 40 and I’ve always been curious as to how they stack up to the Cape Georges. So far we are almost exactly matched for speed, though we’ve been carrying a bit less sail than she has. We check into a “cruisers net” each morning to report our positions to the wider network of sailors, which adds a degree of safety to a passage. We’re also close enough to our “neighbors” that we can chat on VHF radio. It’s nice knowing there are other people out here experiencing the same wind shifts, squalls etc. The “Beguine” is headed to Thursday Island and on toward South Africa as well. It’s exciting to tie back into the circumnavigator route and meet other people & boats on the same trajectory.

We’re within a thousand miles of our entrance waypoint to the Great Barrier Reef, and already over 1/3 the way across the Coral Sea as I write this. Thank you Trade Winds!

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