Sunday, 15 November 2015

Fiji to NZ - Day 4 - 14 Nov - Big Seas


If the first few days of our passage were lovely and calm, today was kind of the opposite.

We had big rolly seas from shortly after sunrise until well past sunset. I have to admit to feeling not-very-impressed this morning as I contemplated another week on passage! Thankfully, according to Bob McDavitt, these should be the biggest seas of the week, and they are already abating as I write to you at midnight. For those who care, they were about 3m and quite steep, which caused the boat to roll in every direction.

Debbie had the morning watch today. When I came up after my off-watch nap, she had all three kids by herself in the cockpit, and was actively reefing and unfurling the genoa as the winds fluctuated. As a racer used to sailing between Sydney and Hobart, she is well used to sailing in lumpy conditions but the kid factor is a bit new. Thankfully, she is undaunted by these challenges :)

The trick this afternoon turned out to be slowing the boat down: during my afternoon watch we were really rising up and landing vigourously (ie crashing down with spray going in all directions) into many of the waves, in 17-19 kts of wind, Max suggested further reefing the genoa. We slowed down from 7+ kts to about 5 kts, and the motion immediately became more comfortable. I wouldn't have guessed that this would happen - I had thought we just had to hang on until the conditions improved!

Despite having secured our aft deck for sea before we left Fiji, these seas have done a number on our lacings and lashings. Max had quite a job doing his daily sunset rounds, making sure that all our belongings were secured in their rightful places (there are several other boats making this run this week - I am sure that none of them have a bright yellow plastic motorbike lashed to their stern!).

We are trialing a new Benjamin-based watch schedule: I did the after-supper watch and kept him in the cockpit until he eventually fell asleep Debbie and Max will do the middle of the night watches and I will take over again in the morning. The hope is that I will then be able to sleep from mid-morning until after Benjamin's afternoon nap. It has been hard to coordinate my sleep schedule with Benjamin's, so this is a new attempt. After missing his early afternoon nap (he was almost asleep when the pot cupboard crashed open, so we missed our window), and then falling asleep on my lap at 3:30, I wasn't hopeful for an early night, but he was asleep by 9:30. We'll see how it goes.

For me, the highlight of the day happened in the evening: Victoria and Johnathan were in the cockpit, and we started to sing together as we waited for sunset. We did a decent rendition of "Fire's Burning" as a 3-part round, and both kids had fun participating. Without a songbook, we went by memory, but we came up with a few songs that we all knew, and I believe this will happen again when we are on watch together. I have been envious of the Fijians passing their culture along so seamlessly to their children (with kids as young as three standing with their mothers to sing in the choirs) and this evening it felt like our turn :)

Max has drawn a "motoring circle" around Opua on our chart. Once we are within this circle, we should have enough diesel to motor the rest of the way, if necessary. When I sat at the laptop to compose this email, the little green symbol for Fluenta on the chart had just crossed into it. We don't expect to have to motor much more than a few hours during a couple more periods of light winds, but it is a relief to know that if something should happen, we can expect to have the diesel to make it to port. (Of course, I have included this tidbit because I suspect there are some readers (mothers, sisters, etc) who are also relieved to know that we are this close to NZ!)

Despite the lumpy/rolly conditions, spirits are cheerful, and Fluenta is sailing well.

Love to you all,
At 11/14/2015 5:23 AM (utc) SV Fluenta was 25°02.04'S 173°01.52'E
At 11/14/2015 10:53 AM (utc) SV Fluenta was 25°31.00'S 172°58.00'E

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