Thursday, 21 May 2015

20 May 15 - On passage to Tonga (hopefully via Minerva) - Day 4 - A beautiful day of sailing


Up until today, I must admit that I have had a few moments of wondering what on earth possessed us to trade in our perfectly normal existence (jobs, cars, house, life ashore) for rolly seas, cold weather, and a constant need for one more hand than I had (Note for the moms & concerned-something-terrible-is-about-to-happen-to-us folks on the list - I was uncomfortable and grouchy, but things were never dangerous. It was simply the sea doing what the sea does (waves) and the boat doing what boats do (rolling)).

Today, I got my answer to why on earth we not only did this, but dreamed of doing it for years before we left. It was a lovely day from start to finish. We have made enough northerly progress that the grey of sky and sea has evolved into the deep blue that I remember from last season. During the morning, we had steady winds that set us cruising along gently on a broad reach. We could have gone faster, but we still had a reef in from overnight, and sleep trumps speed. We shake out reefs when we are both awake. In the afternoon, we flew our new spinnaker (purchased last season from friends during our stay at Minerva Reef). We put our "ATN Tacker" to use (a plastic thing that lets us fasten the bottom of the spinnaker to the furled genoa), and it worked really well. This evening, the wind has dropped significantly (down to 6-10 kts) but it has also come forward of the beam, so we are ghosting along on a close reach, generally maintaining a boat speed of 5-7 kts. This boat sails really efficiently on this point of sail, so it doesn't take much to move us. The clear blue sky with puffy clouds of the day has given way to a clear starry night. It is still chilly enough that I am glad of layers and foulies, but the wooly hat has become optional. (Victoria is even sleeping in the cockpit). When the winds drop further, I will have to start the engine, but this I will delay as long as possible. There have been several times when I thought we had reached the limit of slowness, and I was gearing up to start making noise, and then the wind picked up and we were doing 7 kts! Thankfully, the current is in our favour at the moment.

The morning had a bit of a funny start, wind-wise. We had consistent winds from the south for most of the trip, and all of a sudden, just as we were about to listen to the morning radio net and get the weather analysis, we had a 200-deg wind shift. We followed the wind, and I hand-steered while Max participated in the net; we basically drove in the wrong direction for almost an hour. Thankfully the winds were light. We decided to gybe the boat to put ourselves somewhere back towards our course, brought in the main sail, swapped the preventer line to the other side, furled the genoa ... and the wind shifted again! It went back to its southerly direction, steady as anything, as if it had never left. We decided not to gybe, swapped the preventer back, let out the main, unfurled the genoa, and found ourselves perfectly following our desired course! (For the weather curious - there seemed to have been some kind of band of clouds / squalls that we passed, so obviously they exerted their influence, then were gone... )

Benjamin is growing up before our eyes. He is steady on his feet now, and maneuvers around the boat with ease. The biggest change is that he has discovered that the big kids have been watching cartoons on their iPod, and now he wants in on the action! It is funny as a card carrying non-video-watching-before-two-years-old mom to see myself letting him watch with Victoria & Johnathan - he heaps himself on top of them, and is instantly absorbed. (Of course, this is why I don't like babies watching videos ... but sometimes it is nice to buy myself some peace!) The phrase "everything in moderation" comes to mind!

We had some whipping cream in the fridge which had an expiry date of today, so obviously, we needed to make pancakes this morning to use it up! Victoria and I made a nice brunch of banana pancakes with whipped cream during our morning watch. It was also a bit of a mid-passage brunch - we still have several days to go.

Dinner tonight was the albacore tuna we caught a couple of days ago, with rice and stir-fried veg. It is so much more enticing to be in the galley when the boat is flat! With the spinnaker run, dinner was late (ie eaten in the dark), so Benjamin and I ate in the galley where he could see his food. He sat in his favourite place - on top of the counter - and shovelled in fistfuls of rice. He wouldn't have been able to do that a couple of nights ago!

Most evenings, just after dark/dinner, Victoria heads for her bunk, and she is then on-deck to help Max not long after sunrise. Johnathan likes to read or visit in the cockpit later into the evening, and joins us later in the morning. When we are on passage, and there is someone awake 24/7, it is nice that both kids can find their natural routine and sleep/wake cycle. This would be another of those benefits of leaving home to travel like this that seemed so far from my mind earlier in the week!

It is a good thing that we are not relying on our iPad for navigation. It has decided to stop working, or at least all the apps that are not native to it crash when we open them. Hopefully we can play with backup/restore (perhaps this is an IOS issue?) when we get to anchor, but it was a good reminder that it is a nice device when it works, but we are glad to have a "proper" chartplotter, laptop, paper charts [and two sextants and tables, and two handheld GPS, and various other bits and pieces. Max] as well! Victoria and Johnathan have done well with only one device the last two days - paper books have absorbed them (both novels and the minecraft "for dummies" books that Johnathan was given at Christmas time), and they have been watching the same five cartoon episodes with Benjamin that we loaded on their iPod in NZ.

That seems as good a place to leave it as any ... the wind is dying, and it is time to start the engine.

Love to all,
At 2015/05/20 2:07 PM (utc) SV Fluenta was 29°58.59'S 178°26.13'E
At 2015/05/21 1:56 AM (utc) SV Fluenta was 28°58.00'S 178°51.00'E

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