Padang to Cocos Keeling

Cocos Keeling is a small group of islands 700 miles SSW of Padang. They are under the jurisdiction of Australia. They are by no means on the direct route to Mauritius/Rodrigues, but you have to sail south anyway to pick up the trade winds, so it is perhaps 300 miles out of the way. We hope to sail there, but it depends on the wind. Particularly once we reach the trade winds — whether they blows from the east (good) or the south (bad). If the latter we would likely give up on CK, turn west, and go the remaining 2200 miles to Rodrigues (which is part of Mauritius but 400 miles closer).

Day 1 – Departed 7:30am, motored all day toward Macaronis Resort in the Mentawai Islands west of Sumatra. Half way there at nightfall. Thinking we might get a last restaurant meal, or at least a cold drink, and possibly top up our diesel, on our way out to sea.

Day 2 – Made it to the resort mid-day. We tried to sail a few times, but always the wind died, so we motored almost the whole way. Hate to be burning our fuel so early, but we should get more wind as we go. The resort was very nice, and we bought fancy drinks and had a good “western” meal with our last Rupiah. We will leave at daylight. The plan was to meet Maggie 50 miles south of here, and anchor so they get a good night’s sleep. But the wind forecast says we should leave and keep going. Unfortunately we couldn’t reach them on the SSB radio tonight, so we can’t have a chat about that. We sent them an email (by radio); we’ll see how they respond…

Day 3 – Did our rendezvous with Maggie, and they agreed to keep going. At last we are headed out to sea! Convivia, Peregrine and On Verra were all anchored nearby, but they decided to wait. Their requirements are a little different from ours, in that they don’t plan to go to Cocos. I’m afraid we may have already missed the favorable wind. We are motoring once again into the night. But it is wonderful to be at sea. The well-worn Indonesian courtesy flag down. The air and the water a little cooler. The Sumatran islands fading on the horizon. Lots of wonderful memories of the delightful Indonesian people, in spite of my desire to move on. We are at 3 degrees south latitude. The trade winds should fill in at about 8 south, 300 miles from here. Cocos is at 12 south. We need some wind…

Day 4 – For several hours we had good wind. But now at nightfall we are motoring once again. It has been an overcast gray day, which is a good thing, but a side effect was that I didn’t know what time it was. I misread the numbers on my watch, and had dinner ready at 3pm! But it was yummy still at 5:30. We crossed 5 degrees South latitude.

Day 5 – At 6am there was a brief squall, and then the wind came up from the SE. Could this be the edge of the trade winds already?? That would be too good to be true, as we had not yet crossed 6 degrees South. The forecast shows light winds in this area from every direction. But we were on a close reach directly toward Cocos making 8 knots, sometimes 9. Will it hold…????

Several hours of good sailing, and then it petered out. Multiple squalls with near calm between. Frustrating, but still to be expected here. Motoring again at nightfall. We are half way from Padang to Cocos.

Day 6 – Motorsailed most of the night, then about 9am we had a good sailing breeze…from the West! That’s backwards. The wind became SW and lighter, so back to motorsailing. At 2pm we crossed 8 degrees South, where we think we can legitimately expect trade winds. But still we had wind from the SW, plus swells and waves in multiple directions. Quite uncomfortable. At 4pm we could see that the clouds overhead were moving in the direction of the trade winds, even though on the surface we still had SW. The waves were causing the sails to bang and slat so much that we dropped them and just motored. At nightfall the wind had shifted to South (right in our face), but still light and we are still motoring…

Pan-fried chicken and watermelon for dinner. And TC has made two banana loafs to use up our overripe bananas.

Day 7 – It rained off and on all through my 4 hour night watch, still motoring. Crossed 9 South around midnight. And then just before Tim came on at 3am, a big line of rain clouds passed overhead, and the wind started to build from the SE.

When I woke up 4+ hours later, Tim said, “Come out and behold the majesty!” The morning was indeed majestic. Wind getting up to 20 knots, seas up to 4 meters, patches of blue sky between gray and white clouds, pelagic birds soaring by with their wing tips inches from the waves, and No Regrets surging along at 9 knots. Trade winds at last! It’s a bumpy ride, but a welcome one. Now with double reefed mainsail and working jib, we should have no problem arriving at Cocos tomorrow.

Made my first ever tempeh meal. (Tim announced a couple weeks ago that he no longer eats mammals.)

Day 8 – Squalls all night. Wind from 5 knots to 35 knots. But in the morning we arrived. Beautiful spot, though not much here. Nothing visible from the boat, but we are told we can buy very expensive diesel, and that Friday a freighter will arrive with fresh produce, so we should provision Saturday morning. In the meantime things are going to be rather quiet. Maggie should arrive before dark. Our old friend Chris aboard Tom Tom was here, but has already left for Rodrigues. One other boat here. Got wifi right in the anchorage though, from a hotspot on the beach!

One thought on “Padang to Cocos Keeling”

  1. Good to hear from you and No Regrets. I can feel the joy of being underway with its tensions and activity. Bon voyage.


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