Sunday, 29 May 2016

Minerva to Fiji - Day 1 - Boobie on board


It's the morning of the second day of our leg from Minerva to Fiji, and at 8am the sun is already hot and the sky blue: it is 28 deg in the cabin and rising. Max is flying the spinnaker in about 6 kts of wind, giving us a boat speed of 4 kts. It is starting to feel like we are in the tropics!

This is very different from yesterday, when we left Minerva, bundled up in fleece layers and grateful for our rain enclosure, under heavy, grey skies and enough wind ahead of the beam that we were soon reefing. We left through the pass just after 1030 hrs, having done our final chores and a recalibration for our electronic compass, which had been reading about 10 deg off for the last while. It wasn't exactly flat in the lagoon, but it was flatter than we will likely see for the next while!

We had 2 kts of current with us as we transitted the pass, which is the opposite to our preference of current against us, but it was relatively wide and straight, so we were ok. Waiting for the slack or incoming current would have delayed our departure by several hours, and we judged that the conditions were acceptable so we proceeded. I was standing on the bow pulpit, clipped in and hugging the forestay, and Max had a steady hand on the helm. The waves caused things to feel a bit squirrelly, but Fluenta handled well.

We had long period swell from one direction meeting wind waves from another, so it was a bit lumpy - just enough to make us remember we were crossing an ocean, but not enough to be really uncomfortable. As usual, Max sailed the boat for the first few hours, and I took my off-watch while Benjamin slept in the afternoon.

We had an extra crew member all day - "Bobby" the Boobie decided that he had had enough of Minerva Reef, and he hitched a ride towards Fiji. We are going to see if we can learn a bit more about Boobies when we get to Fiji; as far as we know they are not typically migratory seabirds, so we think our friend may be a bit lost. He began by sitting on our solar panel, then he moved inboard to the deckbox. Finally, he settled down for the night on our conveniently-placed spinnaker. {Aside - We learned the hard way in Mexico not to shoo boobies away from their low perches, where their droppings are messy, but contained and easily cleaned, when the one that joined us on our Sea of Cortez crossing simply moved from the bow to the mast head, where his poop-range covered most of the sails and the deck!} This friend has, so far, not left too much of a mess. "Bobby" is an over-all grey bird, with a long, narrow beak that looks out of proportion to the size of his head. He is quite unperturbed by our movements around him on deck, and Benjamin is quite fascinated by him. Photos to follow when we get to Fiji.

I had a funny conversation with Victoria and Johnathan in the evening. They were trying to come up with strategies to reduce Benjamin's use of the iPod and iPad. Even though I asked, I couldn't get a straight answer as to whether this was for the protection of his young brain, or simply because he keeps taking it when it would otherwise be their turn! It was funny to hear kids who also (in my opinion) use these devices too much trying to find ways to reduce Benjamin's use. Screen time is a bit of a funny concept here: we do lots of playing outside, reading books, etc, but sometimes it is also really handy in a confined space to let any and all of the kids use the "devices" to keep the peace. I think Victoria and Johnathan were picking up on my inner conflict between ideals and reality (or simply wanting a bigger piece of a decadent pie for themselves!) I suggested that he asks to use it when he has no one to play with, so we will see if they pick up on this by initiating play with him more.

We spent most of the afternoon following the edge of a trough, which was giving us much more wind than the GRIBs had called for (as mathematical wind forecasts, they have trouble with local disturbances). It was quite neat to watch the defined edge of the dark clouds track along our path, and it led to the most amazing sunset, that produced beautiful colours in the sky for well over 45 min. We knew that the wind would likely drop, so we took advantage of everything we could squeeze out of the trough, with our boat speeds reaching up around 8 kts even with the sails reefed.

Our sunset deserves special mention. We didn't see a Green Flash (haven't yet), but just after the sun actually sank, the entire sky glowed with a golden light, which even reflected off our faces in the cockpit, bathing everyone in a radiant, golden glow. It felt rather magical.

That's probably a good point at which to leave our update - the night was a little less special: the wind dropped and in rolly seas, we motored from about 8pm until almost morning, with a short stint of sailing on Max's midnight watch, and now we are flying our spinnaker in light winds.

Love to all,

At 2016-05-23 7:20 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 21°42.74'S 179°14.39'W
At 2016-05-23 12:33 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 20°24.27'S 179°19.83'W

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