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Ship Ahoy! Blog Post - Steve Easter

Night operations

Where we are in the Indian Ocean, we get around 9 hours of daylight - we are still operating on Western Australian time so that means from 1900 through to 0900 its dark.

We all do at least 3 shifts during the hours of darkness, mine are 1900-2100, 2300-0100, 0300- 0500 and finally half of the 0700-0900 shift.

An hourly rotation of crew helps and provides different company for chatting - some nights however it's impossible to hear your own thoughts, let alone have a conversation, however we have music on and play it whilst rowing to keep us amused.

This week we have had great night skies and it's easy to pick out the planets and constellations - shooting stars have been easier to spot too with much less light from the moon, 3-5 times an evening we are treated to this event and last night, one disintegrated overhead with a bright flash and you could see the debris cloud for a few minutes. The Milky Way is spectacular but it's impossible to get a clear picture from a moving boat.

We have also begun to cross a shipping lane a saw two ships last night, one at very close quarters. We have an AIS system which alerts us to shipping traffic in our vicinity when switched on - last night however we'd omitted to do this.

I was just about to start my shift but dropped a hot chocolate into the cabin footwell and needed cleaning - Al and I were halfway through sorting it out when Chris shouted out to get on the oars as there was a ship almost on top of us.

Sure enough there was a freighter within 250 metres of our position but would pass on our port side within a few seconds. We continued to row in the current direction, but aware to any potential wake from the vessel.

Once we'd cleared the situation, we ensured the AIS was set up to give us the chance to avoid further conflict. On my next shift, Ben expanded the search radius to 24 nm and picked out a ship 11 nm from our position - this time we contacted the Sunny Sailor giving them our position and course and asked them to give us a 2 mile clearance which they obliged to do. Edit - as I type this, we are passing a large vessel to our starboard side at a 2-3 nm distance - see pic

I've mentioned the graveyard shift before, for me, it's the 0300 - 0500 that's the toughest. Because we haven't yet altered the clocks, it's still dark at 0845, which is messing with circadian rhythms a little, I think we will alter the clocks if we have to go to Para Anchor in the next week or so. The time difference between WA and Mauritius is 4 hours, and with around 1200 - 1300 nm to go, it makes sense to start to advance the clocks.

Lots of flying fish today, one crew member struck by a decent sized one, I saw one fly between Ben and I this morning and I've found 3 flying fish corpses on the deck - biggest fish has been the 11 inch one that flew into my head, but we find countless tiny ones that seem to fly just as high as the more adult fish.

That's all for now.


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