The antipodean point to Bermuda is Perth in Western Australia. That is, the point that is on exactly the opposite side of the planet. If you could dig a hole straight through the center of the Earth from Bermuda and hop through it that’s where you’d pop out.
We didn’t visit Perth but we did, as you know, visit Bali, which is directly north of Perth and on the same line of longitude. In fact, our anchorage, at longitude 115 15 E was exactly 180 degrees from Devonshire parish, Bermuda. Finally, after two years and ten months, we have reached the other side of the world, and every mile sailed will take Bob one mile closer to home rather than one mile further from it. It’s a nice feeling. Somehow it feels like we’re sailing down-hill, and that Bob knows she’s going home.
This illusion has been helped along no doubt by some of the unusually high daily runs that we’ve clocked up over the last few days, despite sailing quite conservatively. We have some very favourable currents to thank for that.
The oceans of the world are actually higher at their western sides than they are at their eastern sides. The relentless trade winds and great ocean currents heap up the sea against the continents. Going from the Atlantic to the Pacific we cheated by dropping several metres through the Panamanian lock system. But the transit from the Pacific to the Indian doesn’t involve any locks or sophistication. Neither does it involve a solid land mass with an unbroken coastline for thousands of miles. Instead, the Pacific squirts through to the Indian through the shallows of the Torres Straits and through the myriad of islands of Indonesia. This ‘equalising current’ runs generally from East to West and has been helping us along for the last month or so, often quite spectacularly. Approaching Bali we regularly saw GPS speeds of over ten knots!
Those currents have significantly reduced now but Bob keeps on bobbing along. We struggled for wind for the first few days but it seems to be a bit more consistent now. We’ve got a solid 15 to 20 knots of breeze on the beam and are making about six and a half knots under a double-reefed mainsail and half of our big 150% genoa. Christmas Island, an Australian territory, is 180 miles to our East North East and we haven’t seen any other marine traffic for the last three days, which suits us just fine. The days are starting to roll together. We’re still eating fresh food for now, though the tomatoes have started to sprout and the green stuff is looking a bit sorry for itself. There are a series of sea mounts coming up in a day or so so I’ll probably stick the fishing lines over soon and try my luck.
Our destination is Northern Madagascar, still some 3200 miles away, or about four weeks of sailing. Our original intention had been to visit a little island called Rodrigues just to the East of Mauritius and then head directly from there to South Africa, but based on the look of the weather charts and the advice of a meteorologist-sailor based in South Africa we decided to opt for what we hope will be an easier route around the Northern tip of Madagascar. Besides, Sarah wants to see the Aye Aye, her favourite animal (also one of the ugliest I think!), in the wild and that is the only place they live.