Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Mid-Pacific Beach Party


If you look at our blog, you will see that our Speed over Ground is just under a knot, in vaguely the direction of Tikopia. After an uneventful day sail, the wind dropped as expected, and we motored until we were about 45 nm short of our destination. With the genoa furled and the main sheeted in, and 4 kts of wind, our boat speed dropped to about 0.1 kts (similar to the movement of the boat at anchor). Thus began what we are fondly calling our Mid-Pacific Beach Party.

Everyone donned swimming gear (except for Benjamin, who elected to stay below). We set up the swim ladder, tied on a long floating line 'just in case', and took turns diving into our private 9800 foot deep swimming pool. Without another boat in sight, there was nothing but Fluenta, the swimmers and the horizon in ever direction. The water was very clear, but we couldn't see the bottom! In case you are wondering, Max and I took turns standing at the helm, prepared to respond if anything should go awry (nothing did). Victoria and Johnathan outlasted both of us in the water, practicing dives and cannon balls.

The water temperature was so warm and welcoming that I dug out a mercury thermometer, that had been provided with our very first 'homeschool science kit' when Victoria was in Gr 4 (and never used since); after a quick lesson on parallax error we sent both kids back to the water to measure the sea temperature and found that it was a comfortable 30 deg C. No wonder even I didn't need a wetsuit!

After our impromptu mid-ocean swim, it was suntanning [or more correctly, hiding from the sun] stations for Max and Johnathan (taking rare moments to read in our portable comfy chairs on the upper decks) while Victoria and I got busy in the galley: burritos for dinner with chocolate brownies for dessert. The brownies deserve a special mention, as the double package of Ghirardelli mix was a gift from the departing Del Viento family [Google their interesting blog] when we connected with them for a short time in Savusavu at the end of last season (when they were on their way to a shore-side existence for a while). The mix has stayed in our easy-access saloon cubby ever since, waiting for just the right moment when we would enjoy a treat that we didn't want to make from scratch. When Victoria suggested making them today, I knew that we had found our moment. With the addition of a package of nearly-end-of-life marshmallows (her idea), they were especially decadent!

I think what strikes me the most about the afternoon was just how unexpected it was: we are usually very strict on the sleep rotation, so that if two adults are awake, it is one too many, and the other goes down for a nap as soon as possible. Somehow today, the timing worked out such that we came to a stop as I was was waking from my off-watch, and Max had a few hours to go before going off-watch after dinner, so the whole family was awake and enjoying our adventure, with (for once) no obligations of 'time' at all. There was no where else to be and there was nothing else to do. There was no need to rush the swimming, because we weren't going anywhere anytime soon anyway - that was the whole point! Even in our cruising life, this is somehow a rare sentiment for two former (ha!) type-As.

As evening approached, the slatting of our mainsail started to prick our shared conscience - every sound we heard was one step closer to a sail repair - so we furled the main, and the calm, pointing-into-waves motion that we had been enjoying for several hours evolved into the 'rolliest-anchorage-we-have-been-in' motion of +15 to -15 (or more) rolls followed by sudden calms as the boat finds its way in the gentle swell. The waves have a lot of fetch out here! If there were more wind, we would have both the main and the staysail hoisted, and we would be properly 'hove to' but there is not enough wind to keep pressure on the sails, so we are just drifting with bare poles. Because the sea is so calm, the motion is not unpleasant, but I am glad that it is only a six-hour commitment to this 'anchorage'!

Once again, we have a moonless (til well after 3am) night and a vast expanse of stars to enjoy. We have only had one squall so far, and it was a rather surreal feeling to realize that there wasn't much we could do to prepare for it: the sails were already furled, and all we needed was to close the hatches and rain panels if we started to get wet. With a max windspeed of 15 kts, it gave us a light sprinkling and a boost in the right direction :)

We will stay like this til the 3am watch change, then we will motor the last 40 nm or so (our drifting has already saved us about 6nm of diesel with more to come!) and hope to approach Tikopia in the mid-morning light. If the anchorage is safe and somewhat comfortable, we will stay for a few days, otherwise we will carry on towards Luganville, Vanuatu.

Love to all,

At 2017-05-04 3:06 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 11°42.92'S 169°03.35'E
At 2017-05-04 3:06 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 11°42.92'S 169°03.35'E

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