Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Day 4: NZ to Minerva/Tonga

Date: May 13, 2015
28° 50' S 176° 57' E
Water Temp: 70.7
Log: 17114
Distance to go: 370nm

As I expected, this has been a very changeable passage. My second night out was in wind so light all I could do was ghost along at around 2 knots - fast enough for my wind vane to steer which was nice. The following day was mainly light wind all day, sailing upwind in 6 and 8 knots at 3 and 4 knots of boat speed - very nice gentle sailing. During the third night, I expected some more wind to arrive and from there to build, which is more or less what happened. At around 11:30pm on the 11th I went for a sleep cycle with the boat moving slowly and then woke 20 minutes later with Luckness hove-to, pointed south in 8 knots of wind. The wind must have faded, become variable, swirled around and then filled in again during those 20 minutes. Once I steered out of being hove to and got pointed back in the right direction, the wind stayed steady and got stronger. Call this the first phase of the passage, fair wind followed by light dwindling to nothing.

The next phase was for NW wind to fill in, increasing to 25-30. The seas went from gentle rolling to a seas appropriate for the conditions - short, steep occasionally rolling wind waves. Sailing upwind, close hauled, was a wet, bumpy, fast ride. This type of sailing is physical - I wasn't reading anymore, but would instead sit in the cockpit dressed in waterproof clothing, tucked in behind the dodger but still getting splashed when the waves would hit the hull on the windward side and send a cascade of spray across the boat. Sleeping in these conditions is challenging, as is doing anything else aboard.

Phase 3, which is where I am now, has the wind slowly fading away again. The wind is forecast to fade away completely tonight - the center of a high and I are going to meet. The calm spell is likely to last for a while, followed by phase 4, a weak north wind which gradually gets stronger and backs around to the NW, W and finally SW. These final winds should be the ones on which I sail into the reef. There is also likely to be a front in there, between the NW and SW winds, so add a little more chaos to the 20+ knots and that's what is in my short term future.

But for tonight, I will probably bob around, in gentle seas. When there is no wind at all, I'll reduce more of my sail and increase my sleep timer to an hour - luxury! A whole hour of sleep at a time. This should help set me up for the bouncier conditions that will follow the following night and until I arrive.

Once I'm in the reef, if I don't abort and head elsewhere, I'm expecting fairly calm seas, clear warm water and beautiful conditions. I'd like to stay for a few days before heading onward.

Nothing much else to report. Nothing has broken yet! I did wake up last night with the distinct sound of something falling off and hitting the floor - I woke up out of a sleep and wasn't sure where it came from. I searched the entire boat interior for something that had fallen, followed by the cabin top forward, the side decks, checking all the blocks and fittings - and couldn't find anything that looked wrong. This morning, I went to check the chart plotter and happened to look down at the cockpit floor and spotted the nut which attaches my wheel to its axel sitting down by the scupper. I gave a little tug on the wheel and it slid back and forth pretty easily. There is a keyway connecting the two, so the wheel was still steering and with the monitor drum on the wheel tugging sideways I don't know if it would have actually fallen off - but its better when the nut is attached! Either by design, or luck, the nut is just a little bit larger than the scupper is, so it didn't fall and vanish into the great blue beneath me (I have a spare anyway, just in case.) I reattached the nut and have added it to my checklist of things to check regularly - I used to do this, but since I haven't sailed a passage for a while I've managed to get a little rusty in some areas. Its all coming back now :-)

Its warm, sunny, peaceful and I'm enjoying being out sailing again.

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1 comment:

  1. Hope the winds sort themselves out. I remember you saying choppy seas were not the most fun, but then neither is no wind! The gods are still smiling on you. That loose nut might have been a bother, although I wasn't too surprised to hear you had another. Happy days. xo Mum