Update #88 - 1st April 2001 (1.00pm AEST, 1.00pm local time)
Position - 44°30' S, 135°23' E

Air temperature - 11 degrees
Water temperature - 12 degrees
497 miles to Tassie (500 miles south of Adelaide)

We are now 94% complete. A few hours ago, we crossed 135°00' E and now have the same time as the East Coast of Australia. It's been a week since the last update as I've had a bit to contend with.

Monday/Tuesday were good days, gentle breezes, etc. Tuesday night I was thumped by a 30-40 knot nor-easter that backed to the north by Wednesday morning at 35 knots. Wednesday was crook on top of Tuesday night. Thursday night about 10.00pm, I saw the lume of a light off my starboard quarter. It had me tricked at first, since I was 800 miles from land and no boats within KOOEE. It was the first of 6 fishing boats in the middle of nowhere, and I spent the rest of the night nervously wending my way through them. When close enough to see their lights, they were lit up light blocks of flats. The closest I got to one was probably 2 miles, and that was close enough after 47 straight days since Tristan Da Cunha of just ocean and me. That night I only managed two little 1/2 hour naps.

Friday morning saw freshening NW breeze ahead of a cold front that arrived at 11.00am, with really heavy rain, confused big seas, etc. By 6.00pm it was blowing 40-50 knots, and I was contemplating deploying the drogue just as it started to back off. I finally got to bed at 10.00pm Friday night, setting the alarm for 1 1/2 hours. When I got up there were another two lumes directly ahead of me, so spent I the rest of the night in very ordinary conditions getting around them.

Yesterday morning (Saturday), ANOTHER front was on its way arriving late afternoon. Last night was not a good night. Big seas, fierce rain squalls with winds of 40-60 knots. I set "Sal" up almost bare poled with the self-steering angled slightly off square to starboard, and a micro amount of #4 headsail out, sheeted to windward (starboard) to keep the bow away, and in that mode we advanced through the night somehow.

I scribbled some thoughts - a venting of anger, brutal, game of inches, confused seas, not having fun, cold front after cold front, when will they stop?, never!, pitch black, more fishing boats?, testing testing testing, is barometer rising?, mantra - soft soft soft gentle gentle gentle, calm calm calm, I've got a headache, light stove to heat cabin very cold, out here nature doesn't ask ..... it demands and orders!

Anyhow, the sun has risen on another day and we are battling along in 30 knots and a more manageable situation. You may deduce from all of this that I haven't had much sleep of late and that Tasmania will be a welcome sight.

Easter Saturday, 14th April, is looking good for our finish in Newcastle, so mark your diary. Luke Grant is co-ordinating media enquiries, interviews, etc. so if interested parties could channel their enquiry through him it will keep it smooth. If you already have lines of communication direct with me then please continue that way. Luke can be contacted on 0404 495559 or e-mail luke@sailsolo.com

Many of you have sent me e-mails. I have enjoyed every one of them and at times there have been some really inspirational messages. For a variety of reasons I have not been able to retain all of your e-mails or my messages to you. If you have kept a record I would deeply appreciate it if you could transfer them to a disk or do a printout and forward them to me so that I might have a record as they have been an integral part of the trip only made possible by the good people at STATION 12. I'll keep chipping away at it here and hope to see you all on Saturday 14th April.

Take care,

Tony Mowbray