Day 11 1/2, NZ to Australia
06/07/2008, 27 44 S, 157 15 E
Sunday morning, June 8
Rough night. We dropped the jib before dinner around six. We had the main double reefed and the staysail set. That went ok for awhile. Winds were 15-20 WSW and slowly turning counter-clockwise. Very slowly. Steen had the first watch, but it became impossible for me to sleep as we started getting knocked around by the increasing swell. Winds picked up and we were going pretty fast, 6 to 7 knots. We traded watches for the night and I took over, since Steen was tired and I was wide awake. The rigging was vibrating and the impact of the waves were making a muffled boom sound as we either hit one or fell off one. I sent off for the latest weather on the SSB and typed up a couple notes. For every other word I typed I had to stop and grab on to the side of the nav. desk to keep from falling over. (as I'm doing now.)
By early morning the GPS said we were going 7.5 to 8 knots, which must have been while sliding down a wave. At four am we dropped the main and sailed under staysail only and Steen put on the running back-stay to support the mast. That felt better. We still made 5 knots with SW winds 20 to 25 on the beam. We still got beaten up every 20 seconds by a big bully wave, and the boat still had a lot of athwartships motion, but I slept well for a couple of hours after that sail change.
It's eight a.m. now and we all had to find a spot to wedge ourselves into to eat our cereal. We're staying down below except to pop up and check for ships. During his watch last night Steen saw a freighter about five miles away.
It looks pretty ugly when you open the hatch to look out. You have to time it so you don't end up with a face full of sea spray. The cockpit is pretty thoroughly soaked and salty. It's partly cloudy but clearing, winds are still about 20 knots and the swell looks about 10 ft at 5 to 7 seconds maybe. The wind isn't blowing the white caps off - not that strong. Just uncomfortable down below because we're not running, but straight on the beam. But we're making progress in mileage at least. Now Steen and I have different ways of counting miles as well as number of days. We each have our own waypoints loaded into the GPS. 205 miles to mine; 222 to Steen's. 205 sounds a lot better.
In response to your comments; I do know what I'm made of... but it wouldn't be polite to use that phrase in a public forum. George, I certainly hope we can take you up on that offer and we'll say a toast to you and Dan and the others, for your commentary support. It really has meant a lot to us. Thank you.
NZ to AU
06/06/2008, 330 miles to go
Good at baking bread, yes. Like Donna Reed, no. Unless she gets sick of headwinds and tired and irritable and starts yelling at the jib sail in the early dawn, and giving the jib sheet winch a good kick just for good measure. This tack stinks. We fought hard for that last thirty miles. Lucky for me Steen and Malou are awake already, early, and we're gonna start the day early, put on some coffee and have some breakfast. We finally changed our clocks, so it's starting to get light outside. New day.
Day 10 - NZ to Australia
06/06/2008, 28 31 S, 160 00 E
Friday, June 6 We had the SSB unhooked for ten hours or so last night and this morning. About nine o'clock last night Steen saw lightening ahead of us. We went right underneath a thunderstorm that was eight miles wide on the radar; it seemed to follow us all night. At first we took turns being on lightening watch, to see if it might pass in front of us. It didn't, so Steen cut the SSB wire that runs under the cockpit; just a precaution in case lightening did hit us, that it didn't pass through the wiring and fry our electronic equipment. So last night wasn't very fun. We double-reefed the main and dropped the jib and still did six knots. The seas piped up, sending the occasional spray into the cockpit and it rained and lighteninged all night long. The motion and noise down below wasn't very good for sleeping, but we did get some rest. Malou, great sailor that she is, slept through everything, wedged between pillows and stuffed animals.
I had the watch between four and seven a.m. and mostly stayed down below out of the rain, just coming up every fifteen minutes to look around for lights. Seeing another boat was unlikely since we hadn't seen a one since rounding the North Cape of NZ. Even though my watch ended at seven, I let Steen and Malou sleep for awhile longer since it still looked pretty dark and gray outside. Of course, that could also be that we completely forgot to change our watches for the proper time zones, so for the last few days, the sun has been setting later and later and rising later and later until this morning it was still pretty dark at seven.
The morning stayed gray, rough, and rainy and the cockpit was soaked, so we all stayed down below, going up occasionally for fresh air. The sun didn't come out until one pm today, in time for a late lunch outside. After we passed under the northern edge of the trough, the skies were suddenly sunny and blue and the seas calmed down a little.
We got back on a more stable tack, until the wind shifted to the WNW, the direction we need to go. We are currently heading north, until the winds shift again. The winds are forecasted to be fickle for the next 24 hours. After that, we may be getting more strong winds from the SW, then the winds should go counterclockwise... SW, S, SE, E, reaching 20 to 25 knots. The boat is a little more messy after last night, and we're ready to get to port, clean up and be civilized. As usual, my main wish will be for a nice hotel with a marble surround tub. What will actually happen will probably be a coin-operated shower at the Brisbane City Marina. Oh well. We do have a modest wager going among the three crew members on how many days it will take to get from Cape Brett, NZ (passed at midnight on day 1), to northern tip of Moreton Island, (just off the Australian coast). The winner gets to pick a whole days worth of activities in Brisbane including lunch at a restaurant of their choosing. Steen said 11 1/2 days Malou 12 Angela 12 1/2 Looking good for me.
Time now for dinner. Pizza. Good for morale. Yesterday while the motion of the boat was decent I made bread and pizza dough. Glad I did. Homemade bread on night watches is a good thing.
We need to respond to some comments too. Yes, it was Joe and Sue Steinbrenner who influenced Steen so much that he started looking for a live aboard boat. Small world. And Dan, the most spectacular sight of dolphins at night and phosphorescence that we've seen was also off the California coast. Can't remember where, probably on the way to Santa Barbara. That was very cool. Lee, we would love to meet up with you in the Midwest. We will be in Joplin for three months this summer, definitely in early August. We'll send you an email when we get to Brisbane. To my friends Angela and Angela, you have such beautiful names...and it's so good to hear from you both. I will!!! get some emails sent off soon. Thank you for following along with us. It does make a big difference to get comments while at sea. Miss you. Take care.
Day 9? I'm losing track
06/04/2008, 29 19 S, 162 17 E
Wind: 20 knots NNE Course: 287 Heading: 290 Speed: 6.5 knots Sailplan: Single-reefed main and two headsails Miles to go: 495
June 5th, noon I think 65 degrees (temp) is stretching the truth a bit. I'm still wearing two shirts, a fleece and my Gore-tex shell, and that's during the day. Last night was cold and windy. Windy is good. We made about fifty-five miles in ten hours. The twenty-five knot winds we had been expecting showed up yesterday at some point and blew through the night, except with occasional lulls, which stink because the person sleeping down below then hears the shackles banging around on the travelers and the sails snapping as they flog. The banging is magnified down below and sounds like somebody taking a baseball bat to a car door. Otherwise, the sailing was pretty fast and furious, and felt like something Ellen does, flying through the night at hull speed, (except she planes), without much of a swell, hoping nothing's in from of you, because you're not stopping. Except Miss M's boats are built to go about six or seven times as fast as ours. England to New Zealand in nineteen days? Is that right? And there actually isn't any comparison whatsoever between cruisers and Ellen. I'm just kidding. Going seven knots/hour in Radiance makes the rigging shake and feels like you're just hanging on by the seat of your pants. We create a lot of resistance going through the water; a huge keel, 5'8" draught and 23,000 lbs of fiberglass and teak. Her huge planing trimaran hardly touches the water, so taking into account the differences in resistance...the feelings we get of flying through the night full steam ahead must be about the same as hers, right?
This feels like a long trip. Twelve hundred miles. It doesn't seem like New Zealand and Australia should be that far apart. They're right next door on the map. We're working our way there though, with 495 miles to go. We count our lucky stars about the weather. Steen has heard others over the SSB who are not as lucky. Boats with different destinations than ours, getting beaten up in forty knots with built up-swells. But for the grace of God go I...
Even with modern weather forecasting, a two week weather window is nearly impossible to predict. Nearly?... or just flat out impossible. Our weather emails that we receive on the boat are forecasting moderate NNE winds shifting east by Saturday. Nothing disconcerting. Hopefully, we will be arriving near the coast on Monday. Brisbane, (pronounced, roughly Brizbun), in another twenty or so miles inland up a river. We must be into these river towns.
Dinner last night was good. I guess we do like Dorado. Steen filleted, floured and pan fried it and it was yummy. I do feel some guilt and a small amount of shame when eating something that I saw alive five hours earlier. (I felt much better about eating the potato salad). Like most people in the Western world, I'm used to being quite happily detached from my food sources. Either that, or I'm scarred from the trick my cousins played on me back in '78 involving the movie Bambi and some home-made 'summer' sausage.
Day 8 - NZ to Brisbane, Australia
06/04/2008, 29 57 S, 163 52 E
Current conditions: Wind/weather - currently NE 10 knots, overcast. Temp (F) 65 Sea state - SW swell, 4 to 5 ft, 10 sec Boat speed/course - 4.5 knots under single reefed Main, Staysail and Yankee. Heading: 310
I am going to make it short today.
The family could have gone back to bed at 10:30 this morning. By then we had eaten our fresh baked buns for breakfast, had seen two large whales jump and feed 200 yards from Radiance, and caught a fish for dinner. That pretty much makes for a complete day onboard.
Morning of Day 7 - NZ to Brisbane, Australia
06/02/2008, 30 22 S, 166 31 E
Current conditions: Wind/weather - currently SSE 10 knots, Sunny and clear. Temp (F) HI 60, LOW 50 Sea state - SW swell, 4 to 5 ft, 10 sec Boat speed/course - 5 knots under Main, Staysail and Yankee. Bearing: 278. Heading: 295
Tuesday, June 3, 10:00 am I refer to Day 7 as any point on the seventh day since leaving NZ. Steen refers to the days as noon to noon, so per Steen this would technically still be Day 6 until noon today. For the sake of morale, Day 7 is closer to Day 13, which is when we should arrive in Brisbane. So I win. Fortunately, last night was not a repeat of Sunday night. Sunday night we had squalls and Steen had to come up from his nice warm sleep to go on deck to trim sails while the boat hobby horsed and I manned the helm. As always, neither of us is allowed on deck at night without the other watching. During the day, it's more of an FYI... I'll be on deck, so listen for me. I usually pop my head up and watch him anyway. He's always hooked into his PFD and safety tether when he goes on deck.
What we're eating: Breakfast: oatmeal, corn flakes or pancakes, and coffee, ground on our antique cast iron wall mounted coffee grinder, our going away gift from our friends Tim and Stef Lunch: usually Wattie's brand 'Hearty' soup over rice, and a carrot, apple or orange. Wattie's make things like Curry Chicken and Pepper Steak that don't resemble soup, but go great over rice. Thanks to Steen's brother Bo who came up with that idea when they were in NZ camping. It works great at sea. Dinner: Two nights we had tuna steak, potatoes and cabbage salad with Paul Newman 'Caesar' dressing made in Australia. $8 million given to AU and NZ charities since 1984. Other dinners have been spaghetti with TVP sauce, or brazed veggies with rosemary. We finally ran out of the excellent TVP (textured vegetable protein) we bought from Rainy Day Foods, online, but we found some in bulk in Whangarei at the small bulk food store 'Bin Inn'. It makes an admirable fake meat sauce. We had been using it on land for years, as part of our then mostly vegetarian diet. We definitely did not have a vegetarian diet in New Zealand. How could we? Not because you couldn't find Veggie Burgers at the store, which you couldn't, but because the culture is so lamb and beef oriented and the animals are so darned happy out there grazing on super green hills and making their own unique terraced trails down the hillsides: Mountain cows like you've never seen them. One night we went to a neighbor's boat for Aged Beef. No marinade, no spices, none needed. Perfect. And Steen's Moroccan Lamb dish over cous cous is really good. Rockin' Lamb as Malou calls it.
What we're reading: Angela: I'm almost finished reading The Little Drummer Girl, by John le Carre 1983 Steen: has just started East of Eden, by John Steinbeck 1952 Malou: Whale's Way by Johanna Johnston, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, one of our favorite illustrators. 1965
What will we do regarding the blog when we go to the States for three months? Sailblogs is for sailing stories, so we probably won't use that, but maybe we will start a different one while we are in southwestern Missouri. A lot of people ask me, assumingly... 'is it flat there'? No, I say, it isn't. It has hills and river bluffs and is quite beautiful. It borders the Ozarks to the east and southeast, which stretch into Arkansas and there you can even find small mountains. Not that mountains make the place. Kansas, Missouri's neighbor, which is mostly flat has some of the most beautiful prairie grasses, purple-hued, and rare on Earth. I like the Midwest. It doesn't promote itself enough. Back to the sea. Steen may post later on our progress. I'm missing my pre-lunch nap.
Day 6, NZ to Brisbane, Australia
06/02/2008, 30 41 S, 168 18 E
Monday, June 2
Current conditions: Wind/weather - currently WSW 18 knots, Sunny with a few squalls, Temp 65 degrees Sea state - SW swell, 4 to 5 ft, 10 sec and wind chop. Boat speed/course - 5.5 knots under single reefed main, Stay sail and Yankee. Course: 280 degrees
This morning the "slow sunny gentle ride across calm seas at the leisurely rate" ended. At 5:00am a really nasty squall caught up with us, and had us busy shortening the sails. The first part of today kept on being squally, but it is getting better now. We still expect, and really really hope, that we will get into some easterlies by tonight or tomorrow. The forecast keeps on showing them just to the north of us, but they remain elusive. The fresh wind we have now at least helps us to put some miles under the keel. The first few days at sea were a great start, moral-wise, we could not have hoped for better one. But progress was a bit on the slow, or leisurely side. A gentle reminder that we should get going came yesterday afternoon, (Day 5), when I was putting a CD in the stereo. I inadvertently hit the AM button and the radio tuned to a station in NZ. Hmmm I guess we are still pretty close to NZ.
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Days 4 and 5, NZ to Australia
Angela and Steen
06/01/2008, 31 13 S, 169 33 E
Sunday, June 1 Angela: We got your comments thanks to Steen's parents who are again sending them to us via SSB. Thanks. We love getting them. After being ashore in New Zealand for six months, we were also ready to get back out on the water, except that we both dreaded the thought of being wet, cold and windblown for the two week sail, which is what we had expected. We Definitely did not expect this... this crazy slow sunny gentle ride across calm seas at the leisurely rate of 3.5 knots per hour. Very weird. Based on the unpleasant accounts of boats who went to New Caledonia last month, and on the weather patterns we had observed over the previous four or five weeks, we 'guesstimated' that the chances of having a pleasant trip across the Tasman were probably twenty percent vs. eighty for something that we just had to endure. Of course the show's not over, but for now we are totally spoiled by the beautiful conditions out here. As for the rest of the trip... we are expecting a rather abrupt change in wind and weather. Currently we are sailing along in light westerlies, beating pretty close to the wind, but hardly even heeling over in almost imperceptible swells. Within the next day or two, based on the forecasts we're getting over the SSB, we are expecting to meet up with a trough of low pressure bringing easterlies of up to 25 knots, and swells maybe 10 to 12 feet high, but hopefully spaced 10 to 12 seconds apart also. Not sure about rain.
Another bonus feature: Early Saturday morning, just before one a.m. I was on watch in the cockpit, getting ready to go wake Steen for his one o'clock shift. The night was a little cold but calm, and the moon hadn't come up yet so the sea and sky were pretty dark except for the starlight reflecting off the water. I was leaning back against the cockpit coaming which is only about two or three feet above the water and out of the quiet night, close behind me I hear this thing breathing, exhaling with a sloshy sort of 'pfhew'. Then again. Even though you know what it is, you're half afraid to turn around, it's so close to the boat. I turned and saw nothing at first, just gray night and then I saw a streak of phosphorescence dart away from the boat. Then another going toward the bow. Then nothing for a few seconds, then whoa! a black form jumps out of the water just a few feet away from me. A very small dolphin, stocky almost like a little Labrador retriever, and then another one, the two of them playing, swimming and jumping and creating light streaks through the water as they dart along side and underneath the boat. It's a little eerie at first, not being able to see them clearly, straining your eyes to see into the gray dark. Little black silhouettes of energy. I tried to follow them from one side of the boat to the other. They're fast. Sometimes they come to play only for a few minutes and then you stop hearing them and they're gone, but this time they stayed. I woke Steen and the little dark breathing jumping silhouettes kept him company for the first twenty minutes of his watch.
Steen: Yesterday after experimenting most of the day with all sorts of combinations of lures, we went back to the good old tried and true green rubber squid. Within 10 minutes after dropping it into the water there was a nibble and then a bite. During the morning Malou had helped me load about 300ft of line onto the big plastic reel, all of which I had let out. I and the fish were in for quite a workout. When the fish bit, I was relieved to see that it didn't jump out of the water and thrash around. This behavior is typical for the dorado/mahi mahi, which, if we can be picky, we don't really care too much for. About half way in I was pretty sure it was a tuna of some sort. They tend to swim deep when hooked, so you end up pulling them almost straight up from 30ft below the boat, which is always exciting because of the risk of getting the line entangled in the rudder or prop should the fish decide to attempt a detour on its way to the gaff hook. Well it turned out to be a fat little 10-steak skip-jack tuna. Dinner last night and tonight. The crew was very quiet during dinner, not out of respect for the tuna, but because you just cannot beat the taste of fresh fish. Do not get me wrong, we respect the ocean and it's limited resources. We never fish more than we can eat.
We have been sailing at a very moderate pace the last few days. So a spider built a web between the wind vane and the railing. We wish it the best of luck. We have three flies onboard. One ventured out in the cockpit the first day. It quickly flew back below. Now all three just hang out down below up in the butterfly hatch. I do not think they will move until we get to Brisbane. How long can a spider go with out food? 12-days?
Day Three - Whangarei, NZ to Brisbane, Australia
05/30/2008, 33 04 S, 171 25 E, May 30
Every day of good weather is a gift. That's how both Steen and I felt before starting this trip across the Tasman Sea in late May. We continue to see the trip that way. Conditions so far have been better than either Steen or I had expected, with sunny but cold days, few rain showers and fairly stable winds of 10 to 15 knots from the SW. It's cold enough that I wear the same Coastie suit I wore coming down the Oregon coast in December '06. Plus fleece, gloves, and hat at night and fleece and jacket during the day. I expect we'll be shedding some of the layers as we near Australia. Hope so.
Early this morning we did go through our first squall. Wanda the wind vane was steering and I was on watch. The release button to disengage Wanda was stuck and I was somewhat frantically trying to force it to release. We were on a beam reach heeling over too much in the gusts. To control the wheel myself, I had to get Wanda to disengage. It's dark, raining, and Steen is sleeping and can't hear me, so I finally go down below, grab a screwdriver and pliers and force the spring lever to release. Just a little spurt of excitement amidst the other 23 hours of routine. Routine is good.
Healthwise, Steen and Malou are feeling just fine as usual and I am mediocre. Since the Fiji to NZ trip, where I was sick the whole trip, I have been more susceptible to motion sickness for some reason. Not seasick ever, just yucky. Hopefully a couple more days will iron that out. Steen must be feeling pretty good because he's already got the fishing line set. He got a couple of bites on the line within two hours, but they both let go. Still a good sign. You sure wouldn't find me out on the side deck cleaning a fish. Just the thought...got to stop writing about that.
The pleasant weather we're having probably won't last as there is a pressure trough forming to the NW and moving our way. It may help us out, since it has probable winds from the east around 20 knots and could expedite our arrival in Australia. That's okay, as long as the winds aren't on the nose. We had our fill of that back in November. So far so good.
We are on our way from NZ to Brisbane.
05/28/2008, 34 22.41S 173 33.08E
Current conditions: Wind/weather - currently SSW 10 knots, Sunny, F65 Sea state - S swell, 2 to 3 ft, 10 sec. Boat speed/course - 4.5 knots under full main, Stay sail and Yankee. Course: 310 degrees
We are on our way. We left Whangarei harbor yesterday around noon, after checking out of the country with the friendly customs officer. It was a somewhat easy departure day with bright sunshine and little wind. We tied up to a huge pier to check out with customs and one of us had to hold Radiance off so her rigging shrouds didn't rub against the iron bracings that ran along the front edge of the pier. The customs officer was late so we sat there waiting for three hours. Thankfully the current changed and Radiance then held herself off the pier. Angela took the delay as an opportunity to give Malou a much needed bath.
The lack of wind our first day out was okay since sometimes it is nice to motor for a while with the auto pilot on. It gives you a chance to get your sea-legs back and get things sorted out on the boat and not worry about flogging sails during the first night watches. The only problem with that was that Radiance rolled from side to side in the swell with no stabilizing sail, but our time at anchor combined with our sea sick meds did the trick and none of us got sea sick. We motored all night under brilliant stars and a half-moon.
Angela adds: I was on watch during sunrise while Malou and Steen were sleeping, and just after dawn I saw the huge straight wings of an albatross gliding just above the ocean surface. Even at a distance you can get a sense of their huge wing span, and graceful style. It was a good way to start the day and to start the trip. After Steen and Malou came up two more albatross came by to check things out and swoop around the boat. It is like a bonus feature that we sometimes forget about when heading out.
This morning we set sail and have motor-sailed until noon. We would like to pass the north tip of New Zealand before dark. The only major shipping route we will have to cross on the trip runs just north of New Zealand near the Three Kings Islands.
Anyway, today has been a typical first day at sea. Just trying to get used to the watch schedule (aka Lack of sleep), the motion of the boat and the fact that there are no more last minute things that need to get done. There is not much to do out here. You have to start using your mind to keep busy, so we read a lot, talk, play with play dough or just sit and stare at the ocean.
I have not checked the 5-day weather forecast yet today. It will come into our inbox when I send this email out. But I am sure we are in for a mixed bag of weather on this trip.
Today's menu onboard. Breakfast. Cooked oatmeal. Lunch. Pate sandwiches. Dinner. Something with fresh vegetables.
Fixed today: -Nothing. Yet
That is all for today
05/27/2008, Urquarts Bay, NZ
We are still at anchor waiting for a low pressure system to pass. The wind piped up over night so we slept lightly, listening for the anchor, making sure we weren't dragging toward the rocky shore. Wind and rain kept on this morning so we rescheduled our Customs check-out for tomorrow morning, (Wednesday). We have heard that the Customs dock at Marsden Point is an old rusty barge that you don't want to tie up to in any kind of wind or swell. The weather is supposed to improve tomorrow, so we'll see.
Going West To Go East
05/26/2008, at anchor in Urquart's Bay, New Zealand
We are getting ready to head off for Australia. We left Town Basin Marina around noon today, and stopped by the fuel dock to hand over our fortunes. Steen paid the bill with what looked like a pile of Monopoly money, (from the sale of the van). Diesel is currently $1.72/liter NZD ($6.50 NZD a gallon, or $5.10 USD). That's the duty-free rate. Gasoline (Petrol) is worse at $2.00/liter ($6.00/gallon USD). Luckily, we had our great van tour of the North and South Islands before this spike in oil prices. More about our great time here in NZ in a later posting.
We are once again bringing up the rear of the cruising fleet and one of the few boats going straight to Australia. Most of the fleet has already gone from New Zealand, with most headed to New Caledonia or Fiji before they go west to Australia. We're essentially going west to go east, as our objective is to visit family in the US. We can't keep the boat in New Zealand for more than six months total without paying an exorbitant Importation Fee, (20% of the boat value). That's a lot of money, regardless of the fact that you can get the money back under some circumstances upon departing. Long story... so we're sailing to Australia where you can leave the boat for twelve months without importing it, sometimes longer.
Since many of our friends have already sailed on to other destinations, we have already said quite a few goodbyes. Today, we said some more; to our friends aboard Moet, Filos, Valkyrien, and Provider, to name a few, and to the teachers and kids at Malou's kindergarten. I think we've said it before, but it's a little like moving house, as the Kiwi's say it, except that the house is moving too.
I'm not making any sense. It's my Mom's birthday, so I'm missing her. Well, we should hit the hay early tonight, Monday, to get ready for tomorrow. It's nice being at anchor again; fairly peaceful and quiet, but tonight with an occasional moaning of the wind coming down over the hills surrounding the bay. After the boat sitting stock still in the marina for so long, it's good to have a night at anchor; the gentle rocking of the boat will hopefully ease us back into the sea's rhythm before we tackle the open ocean swells tomorrow. In the morning we will cross to the other side of the river/bay and check out with Customs, then it's only about six nautical miles 'til we round Bream Head, into the Pacific.
The boat's ready. We're ready. More tomorrow. We're remote posting via SSB, so hopefully we can transmit over these bluffs.
Happy Birthday Em and Cameron!
Have a great day! We'll be thinking of you.