August 23, 2010
S 11.05.02 E 107.53.60 En route to Ashmore Reef: We have had glorious weather so far- lovely light winds from the stern and calm seas.. long may it last! Rijk hauled in a huge shark this afternoon, which gave us a bit of entertainment, other than that, lots of reading, sleeping, snacking and general lolling around the place. We are trying to stop off at a reserve called Ashmore reef, which has the highest amount of sea snakes recorded.. 17 types! I saw a big one squirming past the boat this morning, and yesterday we saw a flotilla of HUGE rays swimming past. Rijk caught a shark, which was good entertainment for us as he struggled to get it in order to let it go. Ashmore Reef was magical- the sound of island silence was beautiful to get back to – nothing except the wind and the faint sounds of waves breaking on reef in the distance. We moored next to a small island that has been used for generations as an Indonesian grave site and when we went across at low tide we saw the evidence of lots of wrecks on the beach, as well as a few graves under one of the only two palm trees on the island. Ashmore Reef is an Australian reserve and its waters are very tigtly monitored. There is a permanently stationed Customs/ scientific boat inside the lagoon as well as one outside, a battle ship and a plane that does daily loops. The sea life was absolutely incredible. Huge schools of huge reef fish, more turtles than you could shake a stick at, flocks of eagle rays, stingrays of various different sorts lurking in the sand and a few shark rays, which we have never seen before. There was even a small fishing boat wreck that looked like the wreck in a fish tank. All in all, pristine wilderness! And now on to Christmas Island! Leaving we had a bit of a stronger breeze, but coming from the right direction, and only a little bit of swell. We caught a big wahoo on our way out of Ashmore and Jay and I saw a HUGE fin behind it- the fish was pulled down quite hard and then when Rijk pulled it in it had a big bite taken out of its tail… so no-one has been doing any swimming off the back! The wind has freshened now, and we are being smacked with a cross swell which is making it all very rolly polly. Still, the weather is holding and we should be at Chritmas Island tomorrow evening!There are lots of little Indo fishing boats around the place which makes watch quite interesting – Jay had the whole horizon filled with them and was playing dodgems yesterday night. I was reading yesterday afternoon on watch and looked up to see 8 of them right on top of us in their long speed boats.. quite frightening. BUT no reports of anything nasty so I know they are just curious fishermen! We have had dolphins on every watch- the moon is full so no stars but it catches the dophins as they jump through the air in the moon trail which is pretty spectacular. Also millions of flying fish! They litter the decks and Jay was whacked on the back by one during his watch- he had luckily just stood up otherwise it would have thrown it’s stinky body onto his HEAD! On watch last night I suddenly smelt this stink and thought that it was the dolphin’s breath until Rijk came up very annoyed to tell me that a flying fish had flown through his hatch and landed on his cabin floor! STINKY!