Saturday, 28 June 2014

Snorkelling and Weather

Greetings :)

It turns out that we made a good call yesterday when we moved; the wind is now coming from due North, so if we had stayed in our old spot, we'd have been rolling waves that had most of the lagoon to build. It is satisfying when hind-sight gives us a thumbs up! (If you look up our atoll (Tahanea) on Google Earth, you can see what I mean...)

Victoria was the first one awake this morning, and I was vaguely aware that she was bustling in the kitchen. She had decided to make frying pan biscuits, and before long, she had dough made, dishes washed, and everything back to the way it was before she started baking. By 0800, we were all enjoying her fare (I sprinkled oats on the bottom of my pressure cooker, and used it so that the steam would be let out; Victoria didn't think they would be up to "Grampy's standards", but I thought he would have been pretty happy!)

We decided to recce the pass dive today and then snorkel on the little reef just inside the pass. We got to the pass shortly after the slack water, and the current was already building. It was quite neat to watch the waves get larger as time went on. The kids are becoming proficient snorkellers. They went first with Max and came back babbling about parrot fish, groupers, "platypus fish" (no one was sure what they were, but they were long and skinny, and their mouth was like an elongated duck bill), and insisting that I should go. Max and Johnathan did another circuit, then the kids stayed in the boat with Benjamin and Max and I did a little loop. It was beautiful and clear; I understand that there will be even more variety when we snorkel in the pass. Max saw some sharks at a distance, but they were like well-behaved bears in BC - Max beckoned the kids away from them, and the sharks didn't show any interest.

Our afternoon was pretty quiet. We talked to our neighbours (a French couple) and they told us that he has been spear fishing right under their boat. Max may try this tomorrow, as we are getting low on fresh fish... After a couple of days of excursions, today was a day to stow, tidy, clean, etc. It feels so good when this is done :)

Benjamin is sitting for longer and longer periods of time. Now I can plunk him down, give him some toys to play with (usual baby toys like pieces of line and floor panel handles!) and let him entertain himself for a short while. Even a few minutes is appreciated. As for Benjamin, he is quite proud of himself.

The wind is blowing 10-15 kts from the North to North/NW, but our boat is perfectly steady (and quiet). Max dove on our anchor when we arrived, and it is well dug in. Hopefully there will be deep sleep all around tonight.

[We use our HF radio and a Pactor modem to download weather via the Sailmail email system. Very low bandwidth but it works well. Ironically we are having more luck using the San Diego station (at a wopping 1400 baud) than the much closer Mahini and Niue stations. When on the move we download grib forecasts for the area but in an anchorage the grib-based spot forecasts are easier to download and more relevant. We also can receive weather faxes either with our dedicated Furuno weather fax machine or on our HF radio. In this part of the ocean however we access the "fleet code" maps from Nadi. These are based on a World War II system where a series of numbers are sent an e-mail and program named Phys-Plot turns it into a weather map with a text summary of the weather systems. In the past this needed to be copied from morse and then hand drawn. Now we get it in a text e-mail, cut and paste into notepad, and open it in Phys-Plot. We are still on a learning curve understanding the weather systems here. The same physics of course applies but with Corilos Effect "pushing" the winds around the "other" way the Lows, Highs and frontal systems go the opposite direction. The other big factor here is the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) where the systems from South America and Australia collide. Of course, we are now entering the domain where the SPCZ is a dominant factor.

Also of course time to do some maintenance. An occasional dribble of coolant has been coming out between the filler cap flange and the header tank itself. I added extra gasket goop as the first attempt but not surprisingly that did not work. This time I put some metal epoxy on the small leak on the header tank after sanding and cleaning it thoroughly. Since I still had some epoxy mixed I put another layer on the leaky weld of the exhaust elbow. The previous repair was holding fine but if a bit is good then more is better ... Johnathan and I also continued the hunt to eliminate chafe. I had noticed a little bit of chafe on the genoa furler (if the genoa furler line parts at sea or at anchor in a wind then the whole genoa unfurls which would be quite unsatisfactory). Turns out two of the stanchion mounted blocks for the line were slightly out of alignment so Johnathan and I realigned them. Next maintenance projects will be to replace some gasket material on the portlight in the kid's cabin and the propane locker hatch. As far as we can tell, these are the only two leaks now - quite a change from the water streaming in from almost every portlight, hatch and down the mast with every big wave or rain when we went down the tempestuous Washington and Oregon coast two years ago. Max]

Love to all,
At 6/26/2014 8:30 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 16°52.00'S 144°40.00'W
At 6/26/2014 8:30 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 16°52.00'S 144°40.00'W

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