Update #86 - 22nd March 2001 (6.00pm AEDST, 3.00pm local time)
Position - 45°21' S, 105°00' E

..... anybody out there?

Down to the business end of proceedings now. Tassie is 1,780 miles away, and I'm 900 miles SSW of Perth. Sliding through 105°00' E, so the time difference with the east coast of Australia is now 3 hours, and back to 2 hours on Sunday morning when daylight saving finishes. Am now working off a chart that shows all of Australia!! I can actually look at Lake Macquarie/Newcastle! Yes!

Since the last update there has been plenty of windy, wild conditions to keep me occupied. By Monday afternoon last, the breeze had worked its way around to NW at 30 knots. By Tuesday at 1.00pm, it was NW at 35+ knots with messy seas again. Tuesday 3.00pm, steady 45 knot NW and the seas were really starting to be a concern again.10.00pm Tuesday night, a SW cold front at 40 knots arrived and blew hard for 24 hours before dropping off to 25 knots. I've hardly had the mainsail up lately. It's been fairly relentless and I imagine that Mother Nature is still testing me to see if I am good enough. With the front the cold arrived, the cabin temperature dropped to 5 degrees and the burning freezing hands returned as a result of gloveless hands on deck. There is lots of condensation down below again and twice in the last few days it has hailed at night. Like I've said before ..... "I'm not gonna die wondering!".

I've repaired the spray dodger and whilst it looks a bit "dodgy" it will do the job. Does anyone know if Ian Coulin does warranty call outs? This morning another safety tube broke on the MONITOR self steering system (the 2nd one). It has been subjected to huge loads over a long time. A couple of hours work fitting a spare and it's ready for war again. Part of the challenge is UNASSISTED. I have to have everything on this 43ft yacht to sustain me. Food, spares, sails, clothing, etc. Totally finite. Nothing from the outside world.

When big waves are about to smash you sometimes you get a warning, sometimes you don't. One sound that is not nice is the "hiss" of an approaching wall of water. If you hear it more then once, say three times, as the energy builds momentum from wave to wave, you know you are going to get clobbered. Night, down below, storm boards in, you hear the first hiss ..... still beats mowing the lawn or working!

I've previously mentioned Mark Schroder's initiative resulting in $416 from a trivia night put on at a regatta for Laser Master (means they're old) sailors. BELMONT 16FT SAILING CLUB has seen fit to add to that and round the donation to a tidy $1,000 for John Hunter Children's Hospital NICU. To those responsible thank you.

Rob Larsen, Commodore of Croudace Bay Sailing Club, e-mailed me recently suggesting that when I return it will be the simple things in life that I will appreciate. He is so right. I'd been trying to put my feelings in that area under an umbrella. I am indeed looking forward to appreciating simple things that we probably all take for granted at times. Allan Burke e-mailed me, referring to me as the "SO LOW" sailor. He should know not to encourage me.

My latest favourite recipe: plain flour, 1/2 tin prawns, 1/2 tin corn and juice, sachet of seafood bisque soup. Mix to nice consistency and fry in lightly oiled pan as patties. All ingredients of course are from BI-LO. Ian Hewitson (BI-LO's TV ad man) ..... eat your heart out!!!

Enough ranting from this corner. Back to the sailing. See you all soon.

Take care,

Tony Mowbray