Friday, 20 May 2016

NZ to Fiji Day 6 - Albatross!

2230L 19 May 2016


Victoria has gone to bed, and it is Johnathan's turn to be on-watch with me. Earlier in the evening, Victoria and I spent some time "singing-through" one of our songbooks while the rest of the family was below. The sound of the engine made sure that we didn't keep anyone awake who was sleeping (and it let the bashful non-performers in us feel that we were singing for fun and not putting on a show!)
For the last few days, we have fallen into a routine where Max gets his big sleep in the evening and the morning, and I get my big sleep during the day. This certainly makes my days go by quickly, and means that I don't have as much of Benjamin's help when I am alone on watch in the night. It is kind of funny to miss a good portion of the family time during the day, but I really enjoy the individual time in the quiet dark with Victoria and/or Johnathan when the rest of the boat is asleep :)

I woke from my off-watch this afternoon to great excitement: an Albatross had been spotted flying near our boat. Even Benjamin was excitedly saying, "abatross! abatross!!" We didn't get much in the way of photos, but I guess it did a couple of passes of the boat, and then went on his or her way. We visited the Royal Albatross Center near Dunedin (South Islsand) on our New Zealand camping trip, so V & J were pretty familiar with the context of this bird's journey. The other huge bird who overflew us today was an RNZAF P-3 Orion, checking in with each boat in the area. Even though we have hardly seen another boat since we left (maybe 2-3), there seemed to be plenty of vessels in VHF range of the Orion, so we will have to watch ever more carefully for traffic as we all (likely) converge on Minerva.

Max (and Miriam) also talked to a German boat this afternoon. According to our AIS receiver, they were going unusually slowly. It turns out that they were experiencing engine problems [failed injector pump - not something you can fix at sea and I have never heard of anyone carrying such an expensive spare], so they were very matter-of-factly waiting for wind. They have plenty of food and lots of time, so they will fix their engine when they arrive in Tonga, and no, thank you, they didn't need any help [but they appreciated us checking in to see if they needed anything].

We are slowly feeling the transition to the tropics. The days have been warm all along, but the nights are starting to catch up. That being said, we (especially I) still need fleece layers in the cockpit tonight, but I have not enclosed it with as many clear panels as on previous nights, and we have left a hatch open into the saloon. It seems hard to believe that in a couple of days we will be snorkelling at Minerva Reef, and a short while after that we will be sweltering in Fiji!

You may be wondering how we pass the days on board. I made a trip to a marvelous second-hand bookshop in Whangarei when we were there a few weeks ago, and replenished our kids' book cupboard. Victoria and Johnathan have a book on the go all the time. When they are not reading, they are busy building in their various Minecraft worlds. Since it has been so flat, we have been doing a bit of school (Brave Writer copywork, and Life of Fred math ... these are new resources that our SelfDesign learning consultant recommended, and we are loving. If I had Internet, I would include links, but the sites are easy to find ... suffice to say that our home schooling is going much better now that we have found a system that is a better fit for our family!!!!) Tomorrow, we have some celestial nav on our proposed "to do" list. Last but not least, I almost forgot to mention Benjamin ... he keeps everyone busy [Benjamin and I spent time building in a fort out of cushions in the cockpit]!

We continue to drag two fishing lures, but we are not seeing many fish. Since we finished the two that we caught almost simultaneously off NZ, we have been eating chicken that we canned in Auckland. We are hopeful for something tasty when we approach the Minerva Reefs.

On the sailing front, this is our most unusual passage ever. Recently we have had days of motoring interspersed with minimal sailing. Today was another in this vein. We motored for most of the night, sailed for part of the morning, and we have been motoring ever since about midday. We currently have 2.0 kts of wind; in general, it is 1 kt gusting to 5 kts and the sea is again absolutely glassy. For the moms who worry: we have more than sufficient diesel to motor to Minerva. We expect the wind to fill in while we pause at Minerva, giving us a mostly-sailing passage to Savusavu, although we will still have some diesel for that passage as well. Max and Johnathan transferred the last of our jerry cans into the internal tanks this afternoon. Max is constantly vigilant regarding our fuel consumption, as we have one tank that the others feed into, so it is a juggling act to use the various tanks on a rotating basis. Diesels do not like the introduction of air into the fuel lines [air is compressible unlike diesel so the injector pump and injectors, which rely on precise prssures do not work with any air in the system], and running out of fuel by emptying a tank means bleeding the engine in seven places. Over-filling the aft tank by not switching back to it soon enough means a diesel leak into the bedroom (we know this from the stain that was on one of our cupboards from the previous owners when we bought the boat!) Suffice to say that we are always counting down the hours until we next need to switch fuel tanks! [as part of the spreadsheet I use to manage the boat I have a fuel page where I track fuel usage, consumption rates, and fills plus other thing like amounts of biocide to add when filling. Max]

That's about all the news of the day ... we hope this note finds you in good spirits,

At 2016-05-14 2:36 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 35°43.41'S 175°24.64'E
At 2016-05-14 7:23 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 25°12.60'S 179°38.92'W

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