My shearwater friend on the landing for another round of fishing...
There is a fish to the right - going for it!
Making friends on the way to the Equator...
November 2, 2007 - Day 116 6.5746N,155.4150W
As of yesterday, the trip odometer on my chartplotter indicated that my boat had meandered past 4,000 nautical miles. I have 3,593 nm as the crow flies to reach Mooloolaba, and I am located 2,589 nm from Bodega Bay where I had started on July 10. Nancy is 2,987 nm away in Seattle and 755 nm straight north of me is the big island of Hawaii. To my east are now the shores of Colombia in South America, the distance to which is 4,660 nm.
I am at about the mid-point of my crossing IF I can get across the Equator soon. I am hoping to break south toward the Manua islands east of American Samoa, then pass between Fiji and Tonga, later aiming for the Tropic of Capricorn at the south end of New Caledonia. Preferable destination will be Mooloolaba, just north of Brisbane. That southern course remaining, using great circle lines, indicates that I have about 3,737 nm on this crossing. With the boat meandering some, I will surely end up covering over 8,000 nm by the time I make land fall in Australia!
If I have to cross the Equator farther west, then all bets are off; I will very likely find myself at the Great Barrier Reef. In that nailbiter case, we will all wait until the last 24 hours to see if I can safely land this boat on mainland Australia...
Again yesterday, a juvenile shearwater befriended my boat. It still had the grey feathers on its head and neck to lose, before sporting its white and black mix of adult plumage.
This bird noticed that a bunch of small bait fish loitered under my boat, and that I was not moving so fast. In fact when the bird made its first couple passes, I had just tied my oars and was preparing lunch. Those bait fish were readily accessible, easier pickings than spotting a fast moving dorado, which may be chasing a flying fish, which may break the surface ahead of the dorado, which may be possible to catch in mid flight -- much longer odds!!!
The shearwater favored the starboard side of my boat, the lee side from the wind. The boat was moving forward a bit toward my starboard as she was receiving the wind from the port rear. The bird landed a few feet to the side on the starboard bow (right front), then just held steady, scoping the water for small fish which paraded under it close to the surface as my boat moved along. The bird would observe, staying on the water until it was about 30-40 feet behind my stern, then would take flight to repeat the process.
I saw it catch a small grey fish about 3 inches long, a bit fat around, certainly a problem for the bird to swallow. The bird held the fish mid-length, shook it, shook it again as if wanting to break it in two, but live fish don't just fall apart. The bird's return for another catch took longer this time, until it had handled the fish far astern of my boat.
Each time the bird returned, gliding into position, flapping its wings, landing, I got to train my camcorder, then my camera on it. My digital camera is not an SLR, but a point & shoot compact type, with an annoying 0.5-0.8 second delay in capturing an image after I push the button. To capture an image of a moving object like a flying bird, I need to point my camera ahead of the object just like a hunter, hoping to time the delay correctly with the speed of the object. I was happy that my friend kept returning for the identical shots over and over, keeping me company and helping me practice the timing...