Neptune's Highway

Neptune's Highway

Sat Feb 16 14:45 2019 NZDT
Run: 157.5nm (285.1km)
Avg: 7.1knts
24hr: 171nm
05 24.02N 080 25.06E

Dropped sails yesterday and motored across traffic separation zone. Non-stop line of empty tankers headed back to middle east to load up (fuel for China and Australia, etc). Fuel seems rather cheap when you consider the miles they go to deliver and return. Everywhere we go it seems we pay about $4/gal. for both gasoline (petrol) and diesel. The wind picked back up so once we were safely across the traffic lanes, we raised sail and headed SW, away from the traffic. At 0200 we jibed and set course NW for Maldives (YAY!). We are on a beam reach with 11 kts of apparent wind and traveling at 8 kts with benefit of current! The wind is supposed to die later today and we will most likely motor the rest of the trip so we are enjoying the breeze while we can. We just finished another 24 hours logging 166 nm. So much better than we expected. All is well! Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Fri Feb 15 16:39 2019 NZDT
Run: 191.6nm (346.8km)
Avg: 7.7knts
24hr: 184.3nm
06 07.43N 082 35.41E

Dang! I've been composing my daily entry in the wee hours of my night watch, and then finishing it at 0830 when I have our 24 mileage. But the post I wrote last night has disappeared and I don't have anyway of knowing if it sent itself or deleted itself (I take no responsibility for either action). Sensei Jim Cole, any suggestions? Just after the sun came up we were hit by our first squall of the trip (pretty good considering this stretch of ocean). Laura's watch but no problem as the jib was already furled, we got a 50 degree favorable wind shift, and wind didn't exceed 20-22 knots (downwind so apparently wind was less). For you non-sailors, imagine bicycling against 20 mph wind as opposed to having that wind on your back). The rain wasn't very hard and, anyway, the old girl needed a fresh water rinse. The boat could use one too! We did 164 nm our 6th day, and we are grateful for the current assist as winds were light. Now we are approaching the 'highway' of commercial traffic that runs east-west below Sri Lanka. Some are bound for the Suez, Africa, or India, and others to points east. I did see the name of one ship on AIS, COSTCO UNIVERSE! Scary or progress? By the end of the day, before the sun sets, we should be safely across. Signing off for now.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Thu Feb 14 15:42 2019 NZDT
Run: 205.1nm (371.2km)
Avg: 9.4knts
24hr: 225.3nm
05 17.11N 085 14.75E

Logged another 178 nm between 0800 yesterday and 0800 today, for a total of 800 nm in 5 days. Not to shabby!Now our winds are diminishing and will continue to do so for the rest of the trip. Peaceful, starry night as wind lightened. When the sun rose, we jibed and shook out the reef in the Mainsail. This takes about 30 minutes and involves more lines than we have hands or winches, plus moving the Spinnaker pole is much more complicated now that Bruce can no longer 'dip' it, but the two of us must disconnect it and carry it aft to clear the new inner stay. (I see some sort of quick-release hardware in our future.) We also had many un-fair leads to sort out as we weren't sufficiently caffeinated. So we begin day 6. Bruce is already talking about more fun and games with our Spinnaker as the latest weather report shows less wind than before. We have 5 days to go and fuel to motor 3-4.

BTW, on this side of the dateline it is February 14. So Happy Valentine's Day everyone and a special shout out to Dwight Long who is getting the gift of knee replacement surgery! Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Wed Feb 13 17:51 2019 NZDT
Run: 299.4nm (541.9km)
Avg: 8.8knts
24hr: 211.3nm
07 04.43N 087 37.63E

We continue westward toward Sri Lanka with 16-21 knots of wind from ENE. Wing and wing with a reefer main and full (90%) jib. We've had a favorable current and achieved a remarkable 190 nm in the last 24 hours. The wind should come down later today and continue to dwindle so we are happy to make the most of the weather we've had. We'll most likely be motoring with no wind the last three days which will give us a chance to run the water maker and hand-wash some clothes! Also, I'll save my more ambitious meals for flatter seas. I must have 6 mos. of food stashed all over the boat and haven't even put a dent in the loaded refrigerator. All is well on board.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Tue Feb 12 7:51 2019 NZDT
Run: 199nm (360.2km)
Avg: 7.3knts
24hr: 175.6nm
07 18.62N 091 59.23E

End of day three Enjoying our wing and wing downwind run with winds from the East around 17 knots.Jibed over to port tack after sunrise and coffee. Sailed through pass in Nickobar Islands by mid-day. Decided to jibe back to starboard tack before sunset as wind will eventually click north of east. Roller furling had fouled on the drum plus our newly installed inner stay makes moving the Spinnaker pole more difficult so it was dark by the time we had everything in order. Now enjoying a quiet, very dark night cruising at 7 knots. The wind is supposed to die around February 16 so we want to sail as many miles as possible before that happens. ETA still looking like February 19. Looking forward to more moonlight as February 19 is the full moon.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Mon Feb 11 4:39 2019 NZDT
Run: 167.5nm (303.2km)
Avg: 7.2knts
24hr: 171.8nm
07 40.96N 094 51.97E

our first night underway was calm and gorgeous. Crew was well fed and well rested. No moon so a zillion stars. North Star and Big Dipper on the right and Southern Cross on our left as we sail towards Orion. Our first 24 hours yielded a measly 114 miles. But today the wind picked up and we were close reaching at 7+ knots. By 1300 we decided to reef the main. So more wind means lumpier seas and we are acclimating! The winds should stay with us for another 5 or 6 days which will get us around the southern tip of Sri Lanka. Mick on Zoa is within 8-10 miles of us so we are in regular radio contact. All is well.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Sun Feb 10 5:15 2019 NZDT
Run: 82.5nm (149.3km)
07 17.5N 097 16.7E

Raised anchor at 0800. Heading west with light winds behind us. Motor sailed all day with fickle winds. Turned off engine at 2230. Currently sailing at 4 knots with 7 knots from the NW. A gentle way to ease into sailing! Spent most of the day charging batteries, topping off water tanks with watermaker, practicing ukulele, crocheting yet another beer coozie from (recycled) grocery bags, enjoying fresh food while it lasts, tweaking sails and enjoying being away from the stifling heat in the anchorage.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Hey Guys, Great to hear from you and thank you for the updates! Still slumming in Russell, waiting for my darling Alli to arrive for Seven weeks. Very curious where you will go next and what it is like out there, are you missing the South Pacific yet? I'm planning to sail up to Fiji again this spring and try to spend a couple of seasons up there. Between Alli's cottage in Yorkshire, Patanjali and my House in LA, we seem to stay busy. Miss you guys and the great times we spent together, keep writing! You know I want to be like Bruce when I grow up! Fair Winds! Michael
Thu Feb 7 18:45 2019 NZDT
Run: 34.7nm (62.8km)
07 49.0N 98 21.60E

Happy Lunar New Year (year of the pig!). We are planning to check out of Thailand on Friday and depart on Saturday (Friday is considered unlucky for a nautical departure although we have done that many times). We will probably have no wind for the first 12-24 hours which will give us a chance to run the engine, charge the batteries, and top off our water tanks with the water maker. After that we should be able to sail. It seems like FOREVER since we've been offshore so I am hoping for a gentle re-entry! We plan to post daily while offshore and hope to make landfall in the Maldives February 19 (full moon!). If you need to contact us while we are offshore, you can email us at

Wed Jan 16 21:36 2019 NZDT
Run: 35.2nm (63.7km)
08 00.60N 98 49.7E

Spent a few days cruising the hongs of Phang Nga Bay.

Spectacularly beautiful and peaceful once you get away from day boats. Now we are at Krabi with a million noisy longtails ferrying tourists to and from the beach. Tomorrow we head back to civilization to make final preparations for our Indian Ocean crossing. I'm out of food after a week of cruising - how will I provision for 4 months. Yikes! Plus permits, visas, insurance, taxes... Ugh! Hope to be out of here first week of February.

Looking forward to having all the prep behind us and hopefully enjoy the ride.

Tue Jan 8 16:11 2019 NZDT
Run: 28.2nm (51km)
7 48.6N 98 21.3E
Weather: 20 kts from the East. Clear and sunny.

Finally official! Checked in yesterday afternoon and took a walk to check out local supermarket. OK, but disappointing after Malaysia. Will have to figure out how to get 3-4 months provisions before we leave. Wind is still blowing and anchorage is very lumpy. Long dinghy ride to shore. Looking for a more favorable option.

Sun Jan 6 21:06 2019 NZDT
Run: 29nm (52.5km)
7 44.71N 98 45.67E
Weather: 12-14 kts from SE in AM, lightening up to 5-7 in afternoon.

Perfect sailing conditions for 35 nm sail to Phi Phi Don.

Recounted plot of The Beach to Bruce as we sailed past the island where it was filmed. Picked up a mooring in gorgeous spot which we should have to ourselves once day trippers leave. Tomorrow we expect similar conditions for the 25 nm sail to Ao Chalong, Phuket to (finally!) clear in to Thailand and get some Thai food!

Wed Jan 2 20:21 2019 NZDT
Run: 103.2nm (186.8km)
7 31N 99 07E
Weather: Hazy, but sunny with 12 knots from the north.

Well, we expected to beat our way from Langkawi to Phuket - sailing NW with NE winds. But the winds have been from the north! Yesterday we clawed our way from Koh Lipe to Rok Nok into 16 kts on the nose. 43 miles turned into 50 with tacking (even motoring we needed to be off the wind with the main up to make any kind of speed). Left at sun-up and arrived at sun-down. Made a bee line for an available mooring and a charter cat came around the corner, saw we were heading for the mooring, and closed the gap when we were about 3 boat lengths away and snagged it out from under us. (Visions of Tawanda and the parking scene in Fried Green Tomatoes). It was the last available mooring so we anchored with the big boys in 120 ft! A record for us but very light breeze so no problem.

We realized early on that we can't make Phuket in these winds and a typhoon is expected to impact the area on Friday. So we did an easy jog today to Ko Lanta off the mainland and we will stay here until the weather straightens out on Sunday. Then, hopefully two easy day -hops will get us to Phuket where we can finally check into Thailand!

Hello Laura and Bruce, We hope all is well with Neptune’s Highway. We have been watching the typhoon’s progress closely and are glad it is beyond you now. Given the track of the storm we are glad you were delayed in getting further north when planned. We are eager to hear news from you. All well here. Barbara (and Jim)

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