05/06/2012, new zealand to Vanuatu
We continue to move along in winds that are slowly turning more northerly as we approach the island of Anatom, now 63 miles away. We've managed to keep it on the beam almost the entire trip, and the wind is now coming ahead of us, at about 50 degrees apparent. Our track from NZ to Vanuatu looks like a long archer's bow, not yet pulled back. Seas are moderating a bit, but is still throwing us plenty of punches.
Paikea Mist was covered with water most of the day yesterday, and of course we are finding small ingresses of water here and there. Before I left I used a light coat of vasoline on all of the rubber hatch fittings- as we had noticed they weren't completely water tight in heavy seas. This seems to have really helped.
The weather gods have graced us with a fast passage, which we are very happy about. Smoother rides, yeah we've had those, just not between New Zealand and the islands! We expect to arrive in Aneteiym by around noon today. We left the Opua dock May 2 at 10 am and were sailing out to Nine Pin Rock shortly there after. If all goes smoothly from here, that's five days and change, so no complaints on our side.
We feel for those still in Opua ready to go but waiting out those strong northerlies. Looks like they hang around for a while. We are also thinking of slower boats who left the day before us in the ICA rally, who will surely be caught in the northerlies that we managed to race ahead of. We've been in those shoes last year, so we really feel for you right now! There's just nothing fun about wind coming from where you want to go.
The weather has been overcast the last four days, just a high cloud cover generally. With the waxing moon shining through the cloud cover or shining its face out brightly between clouds,the night passages have been fantastic. This morning as I poked my head out at 3:30 it was like dusk-or is that dawn- all night long. That's great as we haven't had to use our radar for night vision, except for one squally patch. With the auto pilot working hard in this tangled sea any energy consumption equals less time we need to run the generator, which we are running twice daily at the moment to keep up!
The last 24 hours have been wet and bumpy! Winds continue to be strong, averaging around 25-32 knots. Just after dinner we experienced a squall of sustained winds in the high 30's. Unfortunately that sent our leftover chicken enchiladas to the floor!
Our sail plan has been great, we continue to use the third reef on the main and adjust the genoa. Usually in. When we were in Napier we met Tom and Vicky on SV Sunstone. These two have sailed every ocean on the planet, over 180,000 miles. As they were doing the round NZ race at the time we had quite a lively discussion about storm management. They gave us some tips, one of which has made our third reef much easier to put in, and the sail shape seems much better as a result. Great timing! Thankfully, we put the third reef in early, knowing we would see more wind.
We turned the 'corner' and headed more or less on the rhumbline (still a little high) to Vanuatu yesterday afternoon. Winds are still on our beam, so obviously our decision to go north has helped us. Just about 240 miles to go! Spoken too soon, now coming from ahead of the beam- time to adjust the sails!
Shortly after I wrote the last update I was treated to the most beautiful display of rainbows across the western sky. Despite there being only ocean and sky out here, it is truly amazing how the combination can change just enough to make an impression.
The last 24 hours have been a fast and wet ride. We've been averaging about 8.5 knots (speed over ground- that's with almost a knot of current against us!) Paikea Mist actually managed to stay completely dry for the first full day and a half. I remember watching the first wavelet grace her deck, a hint of more to come, as wind and waves turned more to the east. Water is now regularly washing over her decks and sometimes finding its way into the cockpit. Water in the cockpit is always a big yuck, especially if you manage to get drenched by it as Michael did on his midnight shift. He changed into shorts, it's getting warm here folks!
The conditions are lively, with 2-3 meter "swells" every 4-7 seconds. That's right folks, there's nothing too swell about that! All said though, Paikea Mist is riding them very well, and we kept our course due north all day with winds 20-30 knots on the beam. We plan to head back to Vanuatu later today as the winds come round.
Our spirits are high, we've passed the half way mark (467 nm) as of midnight last night AND we are celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary today.
Love, Gloria and Michael
Miles to Vanuatu: 427 SOG:8.9 (true wind speed 26 knots from 88T) Sail plan: third reef, genoa in and out depending on wind strength.
05/03/2012, New Zealand
Does anyone know a massage therapist who does boat visits on the high seas? In the last 24 hours, Paikea Mist and her crew flew along in winds anywhere from 12-22 with one sustained gust of 28 T. Although she's in her groove her crew is still finding sleep when we can and working on our serious sea legs again.
The day was overcast, but with lots of seabirds to enjoy, including one albatross who stayed with us for miles. They are such a large bird, yet very difficult to capture on film, as they zoom by the boat with incredible speed and agility, while the boat has it's own movement to deal with.
We were a pretty busy crew yesterday with sail changes, starting out with the Code Zero and finishing the day with the main double reefed and the genoa furled in.
We've pulled down the recent gribs which show the low developing south west of us. This will bring more northerly winds to us eventually, so we have steered a course due north (wasn't that where we were trying to head last year Martin?) to put some 'in the bank' as the saying goes. The idea is that once the wind turns more north we can turn west on it to head directly to Vanuatu. For the moment our barometer is steady at 1025.
Skies are clear today, and I started my 4 am shift with a shooting star. But no massage therapist in sight! therapist in sight!
miles made good: 175...
05/02/2012, New Zealand
We've had a great sunny start to our passage flying our Code Zero sail, we nickname 'Bluebird'. The sail has a giant bird on it, and no fewer than 4 also giant albatrosses circled Paikea Mist to check out Bluebird in our daylight exit from Opua! The day flew by, with the sun setting at 5:40 pm. We ate a early dinner of gourmet meat pies(from the Opua Cafe) and fresh spinach and mandarin salad and watched the sun sink over the horizon. Feels wonderful to be at sea! Conditions have been fabulous, with wind from 12-18 knots - we are also eating up the miles, almost 90 in the first 12 hours. This is a great ride, considering we are finding a current against us of almost a knot. We've slowed down a bit in the wee hours, but that allows us a nice sleep anyways! We've been more or less following the rhumbline, having to make some adjustments for winds that are not always from the same direction. The wind is slowing coming more from the east, and is presently 11 knots from 119 deg. I expect day break may see us changing our sail plan - but we will try to ride Bluebird for as long as we can. Indoor cabin temperature is about 16 deg Celcius, I'm wearing two layers of lightweight merino, a fleece and my fowlie jacket outside where there is a definite nip in the air. Stay tuned for the next 793 miles!
05/01/2012, New Zealand
The time has come for us to depart New Zealand. We have loved it here, and have many great memories of the two season we sailed, hiked, camped and kayaked to some amazing places.
This morning we are leaving for our next adventure in Vanuatu. We will be sailing to a small island in the southeast corner where we will be checking in - Aneityum on Anatom Island (S20 14.291, E169 46.603). The distance is about 930 nm, and the winds and seas look favourable (20 - 25 knots of wind for aft of the beam, with 2.5 to 3.5 meter seas).
It is a beautiful sunny morning here, but quite cool - we are looking forward to getting back into the warmer climates!
Love to you all, Michael and Gloria