Tuesday, 13 December 2016

"Our geckos are Shellbacks"


At about 2:30 last night we crossed the Equator and passed back into the Northern Hemisphere! Max was going off-watch, I was coming on-watch, and Victoria was awake in the cockpit (for once, the only child sleeping there). There was a sense of excitement as we watched the tiny numbers on our Chartplotter counting down to 0' 0.000S. Victoria's comment: "Now our geckos are shellbacks!" We celebrated this morning with a bag of chips (which we open rarely, but they are our 'Fluenta-standard' when we have any excuse for a party on passage). Since we couldn't find our geckos to ask them any skill-testing questions, we decided not to bother with the costumes and King Neptune impersonation we had played with on our passage from Mexico to the Marquesas in 2014, and simply had a quiet morning. The ocean scenery was pretty similar to that of the Southern Hemisphere yesterday :)

After such squally weather at the start of the passage, it was rather surreal to enjoy calm (and ever-calmer) seas, steady winds (10-14 kts) and steady progress towards Tarawa for the last few days. As with my afternoon watch the previous day, I kept looking to windward throughout the rest of last night to check for squalls, and being pleasantly surprised to find none brewing :) Max and I have actually been able to read books and watch videos while on watch, something that we had heard of cruisers doing, but almost never done ourselves! {Aside - we still set our timer for 10-15 min intervals and check the horizon/instruments, etc each time it goes off. It makes for rather disjointed movie watching, but it is a fact of life on watch}

If we were on a long road-trip, we would have pulled into a lay-by tonight in order to arrive in the daylight in Tarawa tomorrow; in our case, we 'pulled over' and anchored off an island approx 35 nm short of our destination late this afternoon. There is a shelf outside the lagoon with an anchorage marked on the chart, so we hoisted our "Q" flag and stopped for the night. A couple of local boats (including a traditional catamaran canoe) have waved as they went by (fishing, we think) but we seem to be passing through without much official fanfare . We expect to be gone in the morning shortly after first light. After our experience anchoring off Taveuni before our main passage from Fiji, Max swam on the anchor as soon as we set it. As we suspected, there is hardly any sand beneath us, and the anchor is hooked on a piece of coral. We have buoyed the chain and have a plan for our departure, but it may also be necessary for him to swim again in the morning. Thankfully, the water is only 40 ft deep here!

Just in case you thought we would be relaxing upon our arrival in Tarawa, you will be glad to know that our head (toilet) has foiled those plans. That same head that we just overhauled in Fiji has been acting up all week, and we will be taking it apart at the first opportunity (in fact, we thought at one point that we would have to take it apart mid-passage, but we have made it this far by flushing gently ... I won't go into further details, but suffice to say that it appears to be working and doing what it needs to for now). It is a solid and simple piece of kit, for which we have stocked plenty of spares, so we are crossing our fingers that it won't take long to rectify.

After a full night's sleep for all hands, we are looking forward to arriving in Tarawa tomorrow.

Love to all,

At 2016-12-12 11:22 AM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 00°56.41'N 172°55.90'E
At 2016-12-12 9:20 AM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 01°22.12'N 172°55.75'E

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