Tuesday, 26 May 2015

21 May 15 - Passage to Tonga (possibly via Minerva) Day 5 - Motorboat day

[Note that this should have been released prior to the "Day 6" letter ! Max]

Greetings from "Motor Vessel" Fluenta,

We started motoring last night just around midnight, and it is likely that we will motor well into tomorrow (approx 48 hrs). We started at 6 kts, and were really pleased with our fuel economy (after overhauling the injector pump and re-adjusting the angle of the propellor blades, we are using noticeably less fuel than last year - for those who care, it is less than 1 gal/hour, which is in line with what others with our engine generally get, and which we hadn't been achieving). We are now going at just over 6.5 kts, so we will cover slightly more distance in the next 24 hours. The wind is expected to fill in late tomorrow.

The seas are flat, with subtle, but constant, ocean swells. The view is mesmerizing - the gently rolling ocean stretches away from us in every direction like a carpet, while we go up and down like a pony on a slow motion carousel, and the sky is clear, with either small puffy clouds or wide swaths that look like white cotton that has been combed and stretched - and it was sunny enough to dry diapers between noon (when they got hung) and 4:30 (when it was starting to get dark/damp). Now that it is dark, the milky way stretches from one horizon to the other like a rainbow of stars, and the rest of the sky is densely packed with still-unfamiliar constellations. When we were in Whangarei, the Southern Cross looked as if it was on its own in a patch of black sky; here at sea, it is almost hard to pick out because its stars have so many neighbours. (Aside - the wringer that my Dad & Max overhauled during our off-season is working super-well, and with its new bolts, I have managed to mount it really firmly between our kitchen sinks, unlike last year, when it was always a little loose an precarious. In the spirit of "use what you have" I use 2"x6" pieces of green "scrubby/toughy" sponges(the kind meant for pots) under the brackets of the wringer when I mount it, so it doesn't slip, and I am able to tighten the (new, stainless steel) bolts snuggly without marking the sink).

The highlight of today was the bread that Victoria baked (pretty much by herself). We used the recipe for whole wheat bread in the Fanny Farmer cookbook (that was aboard when we bought the boat ... good thing I kept it when I bought the Joy of Cooking app for the iPad, since it is not working!); however, the mix of whole wheat flour to white was "whatever we have on hand" as opposed to the 1:2 in the cookbook. When I went for my off-watch afternoon nap, she had a bowl of dough; when I woke up, the first tray of braided bread was coming out of the oven, followed by another braided loaf and a yummy cinnamon version of her own concoction (loosely based on Auntie Sarah's yummy bread). This will not be her last batch, I am sure (and now that Max & my dad have fixed the sparker on the oven, she is allowed to light it herself, which makes her even more independent).

It was calm enough this afternoon that Johnathan and Jesus sharpened our knives with a kit that we got at Lee Valley Tools last year. The knife is mounted in a little bracket, which has guides for several different grades (angles) of blade, and it comes with three different sharpening stones. That they managed to do this while Benjamin played at their feet speaks to the conditions today!

Jesus has been learning more and more about the boat and how we do things; he has also spent hours watching Benjamin, preparing meals, and washing dishes. He volunteered to do his first solo night watch tonight since we are motoring, and he has also been in the cockpit while Max and I have been on watch but down below. Given that he was starting from scratch when we left the Town Basin less than a week ago, he is doing pretty well!

You might be wondering when I am going to start describing all the sea creatures we have been seeing ... well, we are wondering when we are going to start to see them! As with last year, there has not been much in the way of wildlife to be seen above the surface of the ocean. We have caught one fish, and two have gotten away (just as well, as the freezer & fridge is already full). We will start fishing again tomorrow, and we will see what we catch. We are hoping to see whales once we get to Tonga, so we will keep you posted :)

That is about all the news for tonight. We are well & happy & all speaking to each other, no one is seasick, everyone's tummy is full tonight of our albacore with rice & veg (we have a tasty but limited menu at this restaurant...), and we are looking forward to arriving in a few days, either at Minerva (becoming less likely) or at Tongatapu (becoming more likely).

Love to all,

At 2015/05/21 9:06 AM (utc) SV Fluenta was 28°18.00'S 179°06.00'E
At 5/25/2015 1:44 PM (utc) SV Fluenta was 21°34.00'S 179°56.00'E

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