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A family travels from Florida to New Zealand aboard their St Francis 50 catamaran
Enroute to New Caledonia
08/25/2011, 18 48S 174 20W

Tonga was a short stop for us, two days in Neafu harbor and last night anchored at Ovalau island. It was busy with lots of tasks. We had a new clew sewed in the mainsail, filled the propane, filled with diesel, bought vegetables, dropped Jenny at the airport, and dropped of a crew member that was not working out. And don't forget the check-in and check-out procedures which can and do take hours and hours. We have one reef in the main and the working jib out making about 9 knots. The waves are fairly large because it's been blowing 25 to 30 knots for quite a while now but we should sail out of the stronger winds in a day or so.

Arrived in Tonga
08/23/2011, Neiafu, Tonga

We lost race two. Not too long after writing the last post was our turn for trouble, we ripped the clew out of the mainsail. So we had to sail the rest of the race under reefed mainsail although how much effect this had on the overall race is debatable as we added a second reef at sunset. So we stand at one win each and have a healthy respect for the Outreamer's speed. So now we have to deal with sail repair here in Tonga. Hopefully we will be ready to leave in a day or two.

Enroute to Tonga
08/21/2011, 19 00S 170 22W

I had a great swim with a whale yesterday at Niue. Click on the Videos link and then look for the video "Whales at Niue". We had rented a van to tour the island and on the second day, (yesterday) I had them drop me and Dean back at the boat thinking I might get a chance to swim with the whales. Sure enough about 4pm I sighed a whale about 200 meters off our stern and asked Dean to take me out in the dingy. Unfortunately he did not have any snorkel equipment having lent it to others earlier in the day but he did grab his video camera for some above water shots. We headed out to where I had sighted him and waited for about 15 minutes for him to surface again revealing his position. With the fresh bearing we adjusted course and several minutes later he surfaced less than 10 meters in front of the dingy. I got in the water, just a little spooky as even though we were not far from Ovive, the water was at least 300 meters deep and shortly afterwards spotted him about 15 to 20 meters down. As I free dived down closer to him with my underwater camera that is only designed to go to 3 meters the song was so loud I could feel the vibrations in my chest. I stayed with him until he surfaced about 15 minutes later. What started out as just me and Dean in one dingy turned into a total of 6 dingys and probably a few too many people but I must say most were hanging well back giving the whale plenty of space. This was good for videoing in some ways but if I had one swimmer in the picture it would have lent some size perspective. We spent two nights in the anchorage with numerous whales both nights but last night one surfaced less than 1 meter from our starboard stern. We left this morning at 6am along with a Outreamer 49 that I forgot to mention in the last post, we had beat in a race up from Beverage Reef. That being a lighter air sail and hard on the wind they were looking for a rematch today in strong winds from behind. We both dropped our mooring simultaneously but we took an early lead due to getting our main up faster. They soon passed us as they were flying their screecher while we were using working sails. We discussed raising the screecher but decided there was just too much wind and they would probably lower theirs soon and use their working jib due to the conditions. A quick radio call confirmed their intention to gain a slight lead and then lower the screecher as they were just at the limit of what the sail could take. Unfortunately the sail ripped before they had a chance to lower it and we are now slowly gaining on them. The results to be announced on the next blog post.

08/21/2011 | Emilie
I watched your whale video and it was incredible! My first class is tomorrow, I miss you Daddy!
08/23/2011 | Ivana & Vincent
Dear David, Nathalie told us about this crazy swimm you had with the whales and we saw. That is incredible! We spend such a lovely time with Nathalie and the kids but we were missing you a lot. Vincent was thinking of you every day especially at the cigare time. Hope we will see you soon. Bonne route. Love Ivana Vincent Matthieu and Alexandre
Enroute to Niue
08/18/2011, 19 45S 168 16W

Beverage Reef was an interesting stop but mostly a practical stop due to weather. While we were fairly comfortable anchored inside the reef, other boats that had elected to pass through the front at sea experienced 25 plus knots and up to 40 knots in the gusts. One boat outside of Beverage reef last night reported 10' to 15' waves and of course it was raining. Our friends on Katy C tried for 40 minutes to pick up a mooring ball at Niue yesterday afternoon in 4 meter waves but then gave up and sailed on to Tonga. We left Beverage this afternoon at 2 pm and are sailing in a bit of the leftover slop hoping the wind will switch more to the south as the forecast calls for. At the moment it still has a bit of west in it and of course that's the direction we are trying to go.

Beverage Reef
08/15/2011, Beverage Reef

Anchored at Beverage Reef, no land in sight!

08/15/2011 | Don Ewart
Using Google maps on my iPad, your position shows an underwater seamount of some kind. Nothing on the surface.
08/15/2011 | george
so how is the snorkeling? we are a year behind you and enjoy your blog!
08/16/2011 | chris flint
awesome , this blog rules

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Who: David, Alec, Emilie, Nathalie
Port: Tavernier, Florida USA
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