Friday, 22 June 2018

NZ to TONGA - Day 9 - Souvenir of Minerva - in the fridge!

Hello,

We have been sailing all day under the grey skies left over from last night's trough. Winds were forecast to gust up to 30 kts, so we were glad to be at anchor. I don't think we saw that much wind, but we certainly saw rain that came on all at once, as if someone had opened a faucet over the boat. We had closed all the hatches before sleeping, but we leapt up to close the windows, which we had left open for a little ventilation. This was the big driver for our stopover at Minerva, as it is nice to be at anchor if there is going to be a big blow. As it turned out, the trough didn't affect us as much as it did some other areas, so we just had a nice rest.

We woke in time to listen to Gulf Harbour Radio, a volunteer-run weather service that is broadcast on YouTube and HF radio out of NZ for folks travelling in the South Pacific. As ever, we were grateful for David's detailed analysis, not only of the weather we could expect, but also the factors driving it (over and above the computer weather models). I was a little surprised to hear that there were currently 40 kts of wind and 5m seas off NZ, where we had had such a benign passage last week: this is exactly why we waited so patiently for a gap in the heavy weather to head north!

By 0830, we were weighing anchor and heading towards the pass. We weren't even through to the deep water when we had a fish on one of our lures (the same one which seems to have caught all our fish this passage). I took the helm, and Max landed what we believe to be a Bigeye Tuna. We were pretty excited because we haven't had a Bigeye since the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, and they have delicious meat (four big bags, which will probably do us for eight meals). It weighed in at just over 30 lbs. Just after lunch, we hooked our second fish of the day, a smaller Bonita (another type of Tuna). Our fridge is pretty full, but I can always make room for more fish!

I loved our downwind leg out of NZ, as we were in the lee of the shore. Leaving Minerva, we entered straight into a kind of mixed sea, with swell coming from more than one direction. One we got away from the reef, we headed downwind and poled out our genoa, but it seemed pretty rolly, especially after the relative calmness of Minerva (where we only needed our sea legs a few times per day: when the water poured in over the reef at high tide, it was a bit like being back at sea, but otherwise it was calm and flat). The seas steadied out as the day wore on.

We were back into our watch rotation before lunch time, and Max and Victoria capably sailed the boat all afternoon, gybing the main as necessary to maintain our course, and ably handling windspeeds into the low 20s. I was half-awake in the saloon (having given up my usual spot on the aft bunk to Johnathan and Benjamin, who were feeling rather flat but playing well together) and I really enjoyed listening to them work together, exclaiming as the speed over ground went over 9 kts at times :)

Everyone had their sea legs by dinner time, so we put the 'lazy lasagne' into the oven, and there wasn't much of it left to put back into the fridge at the end of the evening!

We are now officially into the tropics, and the air is noticeably milder: the breeze actually feels a little warm as it wafts through the boat, and this is the first evening since we left that I haven't been totally bundled up with layers of fleece, jackets, and blankets in the cockpit (although I am still wearing two layers of leggings and wool socks! Tigers don't change their stipes that fast...) What a nice change!

On that note, I will wish our Northern Hemisphere family and friends a happy summer solstice - here's hoping that you also have warmer temperatures in your future!

Love to all,
Elizabeth
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At 2018-06-06 12:52 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 22°39.27'S 177°57.02'W

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Thursday, 21 June 2018

NZ to TONGA - Day 8 - Holiday at Minerva

Hello,

We have totally enjoyed our impromptu stopover at Minerva Reef :)

We had a little swim this morning, and (rare occurrence) the whole family was in the water. Benjamin had gone with Max for some swimming lessons at the highly recommended wave pool in Whangarei, so he was eager to jump into the water (or at least climb down the ladder) to join us. Benjamin's favourite trick was to do the count down for Max, Victoria, and Johnathan to jump in (Mom was on camera duty), which they would happily oblige from the side of the boat. The water temperature was 24 deg, so he was a little shivery before long, but he kept asking to go back into the water. I know a couple of big kids who used to be like that!

We moved a little in our anchorage this morning. We are already on the windward side of the lagoon, but since the forecast was for squalls overnight potentially to 30 kts, we moved over a little to be sure of having plenty of swing room, regardless of the wind direction. It was a little tedious to find a new spot, as the hazy blue shapes I could see under the water (coral bombies) were just close enough together to make it hard to find a good spot to lay out our chain. We replaced it in NZ, so I feel rather protective of its lovely, uniform grey (high-test galvanized) finish, and we want to avoid anchoring where the chain will get scraped on the coral (and of course, we want to avoid damaging the coral as well!). Our previous chain had had a hard life, and it was getting pretty rusty by the end of last season, despite being only 4 years old.

Having been to Minerva twice already, we purposefully kept our routine very simple this afternoon, and didn't even bother to launch our dinghy for only one day. This left time for a couple of quiet hours when the whole family was reading, writing, or playing peacefully; this is a surprisingly rare occurrence.

The one chore on my list for today was to soak and scrub my hemp Tilley hat. It went for a bit of a swim yesterday when we were anchoring. Thanks to Victoria's quick eye to spot it, and Max's careful Hat-overboard maneuvering (and to the little foam bit inside that kept it afloat), we were able to scoop it back aboard with a boat hook with minimal drama. I have learned that salt water and hemp fabric, for whatever reason, do not play nicely, so a thorough cleaning was necessary in order to keep it from becoming totally overcome by black spots. Thankfully, I had plenty of time for this task!

The forecast is for a trough to pass us tonight and then south-west winds to fill in which will take us to Tonga starting in the morning. We have food for the journey in the fridge, the rest of the boat is asleep, and it is time to wish you a good day.

Love to all,
Elizabeth
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At 2018-06-06 6:56 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 23°37.21'S 178°54.70'W

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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

NZ to TONGA - Days 6 & 7 - Wind! and Minerva Reef !

Hello,

As expected our wind filled in yesterday, and I had loads of moments in my mind that I wanted to share once I sat at the chart table during my evening watch; however, by the time I sat down, I didn't feel much like writing!

We are now anchored at Minerva Reef, and I have a little more enthusiasm for bringing you up to date.

I mentioned in my last letter that Max and the big kids showered the day before yesterday while I was off watch. This meant that it was my turn yesterday morning. The wise person, waking up to no wind, would have showered straight away. I, believing the forecast, which was for the winds to fill in during the afternoon, assumed that I had time for coffee and breakfast first. How wrong I was! The wind filled in ever so gently while we were having breakfast in the cockpit, so we unfurled the genoa and silenced the engine, and heeled gently in the few knots of wind that were pushing us along. I must say that a person hasn't really showered until they have done so bracing against the lower wall of the shower and filling a little squirt bottle with a kettle over the sink!

We sailed throughout the day as if we were in a sheltered harbour, rather than crossing the open Pacific: the seas were absolutely flat calm, and there was barely a splash on the deck.

Benjamin decided early in our passage that we were doing the Volvo Ocean Race. Ever the optimist, and since we couldn't see any other boats, he determined that we were in the lead. It became a bit of a fun game for all of us to ask him if he had seen any other boats and if we were still winning. I can safely say that we have seen no other competitors on the water all week!

One of the things that can be hard to coordinate is an afternoon off-watch for Mom with supper being on the table before the 5pm sunset: there just aren't enough hours in the afternoon for one of me to do both. This conundrum has become immeasurably easier on this trip, as I have been able to leave instructions and ingredients with Victoria and Johnathan, and luxuriously wake in time to eat. On this particular occasion, we ate very well: I had left cooked potatoes and a bowl of carrots and onions available, and mentioned that some of our apples might best be used in a baked dessert, and between them, Victoria and Johnathan turned all of this into Shepherd's Pie and Apple Crisp, ready for the table as the sun was going down. I love listening to their teamwork and cooperation as I surface from under our new NZ duvet (which we still need), and appreciate the independence with which they get on with the job.

By evening, we were beginning to see changes in the cloud patterns behind us (wispy strands of high cirrus and cirrostratus were forming, like brush strokes in a painting), and the wind began to pick up and back around so we were sailing on a close reach.

By late evening, we were hard on the wind (close hauled), in 10 kts and short choppy wind waves, but not making our course for Tonga. We knew we had a couple of hard days ahead of us as a trough of bad weather passed over, and planned to sail about 30 off-course before tacking towards Tonga for the last couple of days as the wind was forecast to back significantly. At the midnight watch change, we took another look at the forecasts, our advice from Met Bob, and our overall progress, and decided that we didn't always have to do things the hard way: we could bear off, head for Minerva Reef to sit out the trough, then ride the SW winds to Tonga a couple of days later. Originally, we hadn't wanted to lose the time from our season in Tonga to stopping at Minerva, but we gave our heads a shake - after all, we are cruising - and pointed towards Minerva, which was a much more comfortable (and faster) close reach.

Max shook me at 5am for some of the fastest sailing we have ever done in Fluenta. The wind had picked up from the 10 kts I had to 14-20 kts on Max's watch, and steadied out at 12-14 kts in the morning. We decided that it was a bit unfair to ask Victoria to take this watch by herself! She and I sailed together as the mother-daughter team, keeping a close eye on the boat speed, the wind angle, the wind strength, and our ETA for Minerva Reef (having decided to go there, we needed to arrive in daylight). At one point, we turned downwind to furl some of the genoa (our standard practice is to go down to 120 deg of apparent wind to take the pressure off the sail while we furl), only to find that the wind had dropped to 11 kts by the time we were back on course, so we had to ease it out again immediately. When the wind built to staysail territory (17+ kts), we banged on the aft cabin hatch in the universal wake-up call, and Max joined us in the cockpit to reef the main (this started out as one of his jobs back in 2012, and somehow now it is always his turn). As the wind was no longer climbing, we elected to stick with the reefed genoa, as we were doubtful we would get the boatspeed we needed with the staysail. It was exhilarating, to say the least, to see our normally sedately sailed (ie max speed of about 8.0 kts) home cruising along at 7.5-9.0 kts of boat speed. Our friends on Totem (fantastic mentors on a sister ship) had a crossing where they averaged 7.5 kts, and we got a taste of it today!

Max and Victoria sailed the boat for the rest of the morning, and I headed off-watch for some much needed deep sleep (this one day reminds me how grateful we are that Victoria can generally take these dawn watches by herself!). A few short hours later, we were rounding the perimeter of North Minerva Reef, at 1330, with plenty of daylight for our entrance. With two knots of current boiling against us, we entered the lagoon for our third visit (we had also stopped here with a big group of kid boats on our southbound trip in late 2014 as well as going north in 2016). While not as benign as our first entrance, nor as grey and lumpy as our second (5m seas off-shore after we arrived), we had good visibility to enter at the pass and transit to the NW anchorage. We are one of a small handful of boats here (about five in total).

By 1530, we were anchored, the cockpit and saloon were tidied, and the kids were ready to go swimming. Even Benjamin was keen to give it a go, although with dark approaching, he got as far as dipping his toes from the ladder, and decided to leave it for another day. The big kids, on the other hand did a few good leaps off the side for the benefit of the paparazzi (me) before heading to the (hot) shower (no squirt bottle this time - we had run our furnace, which started without incident after being shaken and stirred at sea, so we had hot water in our 'summer loop').

Supper was our first meal of fish for the season: we caught several small-ish tuna in the first couple of days, and kept the only meal-sized one that appeared on our hook. This little fellow was just the right size to feed us with no leftovers. Marinated in soya sauce and seared on a hot pan, it was quite tasty with our standard rice and carrot sticks. With a little bit of leftover apple crumble to chase it down, it seemed that our first meal together in the cockpit had gotten our cruising season off to a good start. .

It looks now like we will spend a full day at Minerva, then head to Tonga the next morning.

Much love to all,

Elizabeth
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At 2018-06-06 12:50 AM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 23°37.22'S 178°54.75'W
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At 2018-06-06 12:50 AM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 23°37.22'S 178°54.75'W

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Monday, 18 June 2018

NZ to TONGA - Day 5 - Father's Day Sail on the Pacific Millpond

Hello,

We broke up our many hours of motoring today with a three-hour sail this morning when our winds built to 6 to 10 kts. It was nice to be reminded how well Fluenta sails in light airs, especially with new bottom paint and minimal seastate. It still looks like we will be motoring until sometime tomorrow, but that we have made enough northward progress that we can start sailing as soon as the wind fills in (even if we are slow) rather than waiting until we can maintain our average of 5.5 kts. This probably equates to sailing in 6-7 kts of wind, rather than waiting for 8-10+ kts we have needed with the wind so far aft and to keep up the average speeds required to keep ahead of the forecast unpleasant winds. All the kids migrated downstairs, and it was lovely to spend some time in the cockpit, actually sailing Fluenta together, the light winds necessitating regular trimming and course changes to keep the sails drawing.

It was Father's Day in this timezone, so we celebrated Max with brunch in the morning and maintenance in the afternoon :) Fried eggs and French Toast were on the menu, along with some of the maple syrup my dad brought us from Canada.

After lunch Max found a minor diesel leak in the engine compartment while doing engine checks; I looked up from my off-watch snooze in the aft bunk to see him crouched on the galley floor with a roll of Rescue Tape in his hands, and knew that something was up. There was a minor leak at another injector on the engine side (similar to the problem we had in Noumea, but in a different location) and we will deal with it further in Tonga. For now it is taped. [Lessons learned in the past from compression fittings - it is tempting to tighten it "just a little more" but they are easy to overtighten resulting in a worse leak. I have the correct spare so I will fix it when safely at anchor. Max]

Our fridge continues to operate in a very manual mode: we open the engine compartment panel, lash a fan next to the high pressure cutoff, run the water pump using an auxiliary switch we installed (ie without the compressor) and once the whole thing seems cold enough, push the overpressure reset button, and the system whirs to life. We run it for a long while (90 minutes) and repeat the process on the next watch. On the bright side, we have cooling, and our fridge full of meat is at a record -11 degrees and even the top layer is frozen solid. [for the folks that are worried it the compressor itself overpressuring, the big compressor never actually runs in this scenario but rather the refrigerant gets warm sitting statically in the engine compartment which increases its pressure and the overpressure cut off switch opens the electrical power circuit to the compressor stopping it even starting. The system is water cooled so once it is running the engine compartment temperature is not an issue. Max]

Max and Johnathan further cemented their father-son relationship today by transferring the last of the diesel from our jerry cans into our main tanks. I was off-watch, but I understand that they got most of it in the tanks and only some of it on Johnathan :) Given the calm seastate, you can imagine that he was thrilled with the 'opportunity' to take a squirt-bottle shower when they were finished. [Aside: this is a trick we inspired by our friends on NAUTILUS a few years ago - we boil the kettle, but a little water in the bottom of a ketchup bottle, fill the rest with tap water, and shower. We get 'clean enough' with only a few bottles each, and it is easier than using the furnace or the generator to heat our domestic tank. The heat exchanger to restore our ability to heat our water tank when we run the engine is already on our "Phase 2" list for the heater installation; it just didn't make the cut when we ordered the rest of the system from the US earlier in the year.

Victoria has been documenting our position every day at noon, so today she took advantage of the calm conditions to transfer all the marks to the chart. It was a good learning opportunity (that few North American students get) to use a chart on which the date line (180 meridian) runs up the middle: she learned that East and West are important distinctions, as the first time she drew all the dots they didn't actually form a straight line. It wasn't long before she had all our daily positions accurately marked. Our sextant hasn't quite made it out of the cupboard in quite awhile, there is always tomorrow ... or the next passage ...

Once again, we are motoring under a clear starry night. The winds are gusting to 2 kts. In a few days, this location will see 20-30 kts, with commensurate seastate, so I am delighted that we have a reliable engine to take us through these calms, and on Father's Day especially, that my kids have a dad who keeps all the systems going (and that Max and I have dads who inspire us and support us as we take this journey with our children).

Big hugs to everyone at home on Father's Day,

Love,
Elizabeth
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At 2018-06-06 1:41 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 27°01.17'S 178°49.86'W

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Sunday, 17 June 2018

NZ to TONGA - Day 4 - Fridge Maintenance, fueling, and shooting stars

Hello!

I was gearing up to write about an uneventful day of sitting lazily in the cockpit with the engine running, less than 5 kts of wind, and minimal seastate, with the biggest decision being whether to read a book or a magazine, when Max asked shortly before lunch time if I could hear water running for our fridge. I couldn't. It turned out that the pump was leaking a little, and it wasn't pushing enough cooling water around the system to keep the refrigerant below its cutoff pressure so the fridge was cutting out while we were motoring.

This seems like a good moment to mention that our freezer is filled to capacity with several hundred dollars' worth of NZ beef, chicken, and pork, enough to do us until we reach Fiji and then some, and also to mention that it will be at least another 24 hours, if not longer before we will get sailing winds again (and the engine compartment will be cooler).

We had talked about getting a spare pump for our fridge while we were in NZ, but given some of the other pressures on our budget, and the fact that we could always rob the pump from our heating system (where we had used our spare fridge pump as our auxiliary pump), we had put it on the 'next season' list. Max was about to get out the vice-grips to break into the heating system when he remembered that we had a very rusty pump from our friends' boat, where he had removed their heating system back in New Caledonia. I had intended to stow it behind a cubby, but it had ended up in an open compartment instead, so I didn't even have to look very hard to find it!

We decided that as with all maintenance, fridge reparations would be best on full tummies (and I already had the meat and cheese out getting warm at room temperature), so we had sandwiches all around, and then Max and Johnathan went to work. As I went off-watch, he had just put power to the pump from the cubby and found that it worked (this is not a given for an aging piece of kit that has been in storage for a while, so it was a relief that it could create suction). By the time I surfaced in time to eat the dinner that Victoria had cooked, they had the fridge running happily again. We have decided to keep it in a manual mode for a few days so we can watch it, but it looks like we are back in business (thanks HONEY!)[Update fridge still working on the second manual run but takes some coaxing as appears engine room maybe is hotter than normal even with the engine temp itself normal. Max]

The other fun-cruise-line activity that occurred during my off-watch was refueling the aft tank from our jerry cans. We brought several jerry cans with us, filled with diesel (normally some would also be gasoline, but this time we maximized our ability to motor) and as we use up fuel from our internal tanks, we transfer diesel from the jerry cans. This used to be an especially onerous undertaking, as the fill hole is in the floor just aft of the binnacle, surrounded on all sides by the cockpit benches, and we had no easy way to make the transfer, but the purchase of a simple siphoning handpump has made all the difference. We still try to move fuel only in calm conditions, and to have a second pair of hands available to hold hoses and spouts steady, but it can now be accomplished without necessarily spilling any of our fuel on our cushions or floor [or me or Johnathan. Max]

This evening I grabbed to chance to 'make memories' with Johnathan and Benjamin, my night-time crew, both of whom have a fondness for hanging out down below playing video games. The sky was perfectly clear, and the outside temperature has warmed up to the point that we weren't shivering under quite so many layers anymore, so we took a couple of cockpit chairs and snuggled together on the aft deck 'watching for shooting stars' (which is actually Mom-code for sitting chatting and listening to the ideas that are never quite important enough to air during the busy day). It is so easy to live in five parallel solitudes, even on a small boat, now that everyone has independent books and games that occupy them. I realized that if I didn't initiate these moments, then they wouldn't happen by accident. We even saw a few shooting stars!

That's about all the news of the day. We are in the surreal situation of motoring across an absolutely placid Pacific, knowing that heavy weather is anticipated for this location early next week. We still have hundreds of miles to go before we are north of the expected system. All is well at the moment, but we are keeping an eye on the forecast and our diesel tanks, balancing the need to cover distance with fuel supplies. We think we have another day of motoring, and then hopefully we can start sailing again.

Love to all,
Elizabeth
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At 2018-06-06 2:16 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 29°05.64'S 179°55.46'E

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Saturday, 16 June 2018

NZ to TONGA - Day 3 - Clear sunny skies

Hello!

A quick note tonight as I am about to go off watch. We had a lovely day on the water today - clear skies, minimal sea state, and sunshine. We caught a couple of fish, neither of which was very big, but we kept one as it died on the way in, and threw the other back to keep growing. Johnathan volunteered for the filleting job, and now two tidy fillets are sitting in the fridge awaiting their turn in the frying pan (after we finish the fresh food that we took from NZ ... they may find themselves in the freezer tomorrow!)

Benjamin is quite keen to be the 'helper-guy' - whether it is handing over the (sheathed) kill knife when we catch a fish or watching for uninhabited islands that Capt Cook missed, he is our man :) He is at the age where he takes most things literally: at one point, Max, Victoria, and I were securing the spinnaker pole for the night and Johnathan was filleting a fish, and we told him that he was on watch in the cockpit. He immediately stood on the combing (the outer edge of the cockpit) with 'one hand for the boat' on the dodger roof. When I suggested that he would be safer sitting on that ledge, he explained that he couldn't sit because he was 'standing' watch.

Today has seen a combination of wing-on-wing sailing and motoring, as the wind worked its way down in strength. We have been motoring most of the evening/night, and we expect at least another 36 hrs like this before the winds fill in again. It is warming up slowly, slowly: I even spent some of tonight's night watch sitting on the back deck watching the stars (in stark contrast to sitting well inside the rain enclosure two nights ago bundled up in multiple layers of fleece and blankets!

Love to all,
Elizabeth
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At 2018-06-06 1:31 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 31°24.29'S 178°25.90'E

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Friday, 15 June 2018

NZ to TONGA - Day 1 & 2 - A beautiful start to our northward migration

Hello!

It is months since I have sat at the chart table, on watch, and updated you on our daily doings. We are back at sea, and our cruising season has officially begun. Starting this trip from New Zealand yesterday felt like a bit of a milestone, as it marked what we believe will be the beginning of our trip home to Canada. Over the next 18 months, we expect to continue northwards through the tropics to Alaska, and then down to BC. I am somewhat hesitant to put this in print, as all our plans are 'subject to change' but this is the current scenario.

We had a beautiful sunny day on which to clear customs yesterday morning. Weeks of preparation and weather delays had finally culminated in the only departure window for the whole month of June; if we had missed this window, we would likely have been staying in NZ until July, so we were pretty motivated to stow the last of the groceries, lash everything into place, and get going!

I find it a bit like playing the children's game of "Whackamole" when it is time to be ready to go, as every last bit of surface clutter that our family accumulates need to find a secure home for the passage (while making sure that important items are not stashed away in some obscure location never to be seen again). "How long does it take to be ready?" can be a tough question to answer!

Nonetheless, we moved to the fuel dock shortly after it opened, took on more fuel than we ever have at one time (we left carrying a total of 170 gallons, including our jerry cans), cleared customs at our assigned time (1100), stowed the last few things and had a quick lunch (I have learned not to leave when everyone is on the verge of an empty stomach), and left through the dredged channel at 1300 (exactly at low tide). It was rather surreal to have a beach close enough on either side that we could have judged a sand-castle contest as we motored by!

Once we were out of Whangarei Harbour and the sails were set, we went right into our watch rotation. Setting our sails seems to merit a bit of a mention, as we are going DOWNWIND. We can hardly even remember the last time we needed our preventer (the line which runs forward from our boom to the rail to steady the sail, and help to prevent an accidental gybe). We had almost forgotten how pleasant it could be to run downwind in a minimal seastate in 15kts. Even the kids commented on how much more uncomfortable it would have been to be doing what had become our usual close reach. This is why people go sailing!

Victoria was the chef for our first dinner :) We discovered simple grocery store meat pies when we were on the hardstand in Tauranga, and I put several trays in the fridge before we left, so all she had to do was turn on the oven and heat the required number. Everyone's tummy was cooperating, so we all enjoyed them at the evening watch change.

I came on watch after supper. What a dark night it was! We have a brand-new moon, so we had nothing but stars for company. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, so I had a spectacular view of stars and galaxies whenever I ventured out of the warmth of our enclosed cockpit (which I must admit took some motivation!). By midnight, I was getting foggy, so Max took the watch. This is pretty typical of our first couple of nights - we each stand watch as long as we are safely able, and over the next few days the night watches (and therefore the off-watches) get longer and longer.

The luxury of having growing children is that they begin to take watches themselves! Victoria is an early-bird, so she volunteered to come watch at 0500, which meant I could doze beside her in the cockpit. As dawn approached, she remembered to deploy our fishing lines, politely asking me if I could wake up long enough to watch her as she was out of the cockpit :)

Once we had enough light to see what we were doing, it was time to pole out our genoa, in order to point more directly downwind. We generally try to do our foredeck activities in daylight and with at least two people available; it was ideal today that we had three to set up the pole. It might be a little hard to picture it, so I will explain: we keep our spinnaker pole fastened to our mast when we are underway, and we can either use it for the spinnaker or the genoa. It has a line fastened to one end (the uphaul) and the other end is fixed to a track on the mast (with a pulley system to raise and lower it). Poling out the Genoa does the same kind of thing as putting the preventer on the main - it keeps the sail in position so it stays full of air, and minimizes the slatting and banging as the boat rolls. Victoria was in the cockpit controlling the uphaul and 'foreguy' (the line from the pole to the bow). I was at the mast lowering the fixed end with the pulley. Max was at the bow with the business end of the pole making sure that all four lines (fore guy, after guy, uphaul, and running genoa sheet) were routed through its jaws and clip points correctly. When everything was set, the pole ended up pretty much perpendicular to the mast and in line with the mainsail. Once the pole was in place, we unfurled most of the genoa to fly it in the space we had created. It took some patience (and re-work) to get the lines all routed properly, but we were much quicker when we gybed the pole to the other side just before sunset.

The main excitement this morning was the realization that we were not the only ones migrating north. Victoria noticed the water spouts of some whales at a distance. We believe she and Max saw Humpback whales, making their way north from Antarctica to have their babies in Tonga. We hope to see them there :)

We often joke about the 'tv' stations we have onboard: eg AIS TV lets us watch for other boats, FISH TV lets us see fish under the boat with our fishfinder, etc. We have added a channel back into our selection this season: TEMP TV lets us monitor the water temperature under the keel, and we have it on our display for the first time since Mexico (we replaced the speed/distance sensor this season). It has been great fun to watch the temperature climb since we left yesterday (so far we have gone from 14 deg to about 19 deg in 0.01 increments).

Sometimes the tricky thing about being a mom on watch is figuring out how to handle the bedtime routines. Last night, Benjamin played downstairs until he was tired then came up to the cockpit, arranged himself (wearing his harness and tether) under a blanket, and fell asleep on the floor; tonight, he insisted on doing his 'list' with me even though I had been off-watch for a couple of hours and wanted to be sleeping. Oh well, it is always interesting!

I'm about to go off-watch; I will wake Victoria for her 0430 start, and Max will be the duty parent in the cockpit. We are cruising along at 5-6 kts now; the wind picked up about an hour ago when I threatened to start the engine :) The forecast is for the wind to drop off sometime today, and then we will have to start the engine to motor for what could be a couple of days of calms. This is not the place to dawdle and wait for the wind to fill in, as another system is expected to move through here early next week, and we want to be well north of it!

All well on board - I hope this first-in-a-long-time note finds you well too.

Love to all,
Elizabeth
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At 2018-06-06 6:00 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 33°10.75'S 177°08.44'E

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