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Voyages of Sarah Jean II
Photos, Photos, Photos!
10/31/2011

A few photos of the passage from Tonga to New Zealand have now been posted in the photo gallery. Most have explanatory captions.

Enjoy!

We've Arrived in NZ!
Beth
10/28/2011

We made it!! Yahoo!! We are safely docked at Opua Marina enjoying a cold beer to celebrate our passage!

Gloria & Michael from Paikea Mist were here to catch our dock lines and we had a very sweet reunion with them.

We are now ready for an afternoon nap to catch up on the sleep we lost on our night watch last night.

We were super excited sailing into Opua and taking in the beautiful scenery around us. It reminded me of Northern Ireland, with rugged cliffs and green, green grass. Spectacular!

So we'll talk to you later after we are rested. We are all happy and healthy, including Sarah Jean. Many thanks to her for getting us here safely.

Arriving here in New Zealand feels like a huge milestone for us! Awesome!

Tonga to NZ - Day 7 - Friday, Oct 28
Norm
10/27/2011

The New Zealand courtesy flag and our quarantine flag are up and ready for arrival!


It is time to rejoice for we will arrive at our destination tomorrow and this is the last silly passage email you will receive from us, cluttering up your in box! As this is also the last posting of our voyage across the Pacific I will end it the way we began when departing Mexico for the Marquesas . . . with a wee bit of verse.

*****

THE NIGHT BEFORE LANDFALL

TWAS the night before landfall and all trough the boat No bio-security hazard could be found, not even some oats. (yes - oats are on the NZ forbidden to enter list) The quarantine flag was hung from the spreader with care In the hope that New Zealand, we soon would be there. The crew in their woollies were snug in their beds While visions of lamb chops danced in their heads!

*****

OK - enough of that. It's Friday afternoon. The sun is shining and there is brisk 16-18 kt northeaster blowing us towards Opua. We plan to arrive at the entrance to the Bay of Islands at sunrise tomorrow morning, which is about 6:30 a.m., so we can enjoy the view as we sail west to end of the bay and to Opua. With only 85 miles to go our biggest challenge has been to keep our speed down to about 5 knots to achieve this target arrival time. At the moment we are sailing on a broad reach with a double reefed main and a scrap of headsail. Trimming the boat to stay at a certain speed in these blustery conditions is proving to be an entertaining challenge. However, Grasshopper, to learn to make your boat go slowly is to learn to make your boat go fast! And so we continue with our tweaking!

A few minutes ago Kyle and I raised our New Zealand courtesy flag and our bright yellow quarantine flag while Beth took photos of the ceremony. Such events are always bittersweet as they mark the end of one adventure and, at the same time, mark the eve of something new - a new country to explore, new people to meet and new adventures to experience and share!

Before the flag ceremony we had been working hard all morning preparing for NZ arrival. I filled out thousands of arrival forms, well, lots anyway and Beth dug through the fridge and cupboards to remove all the stuff that is forbidden entry to New Zealand. A lot of food stuff got tossed and we left a strangely assorted trail of fish snacks for several miles behind Sarah Jean, stretching back towards Tonga. For a while her hull looked like we had all been violently seasick due to the food dumping backsplashing on her white hull. Pretty gross! But Sarah Jean cleans up well for a party and she is all shiny again for the big landfall!

Tonight we will remove our cozy plastic cockpit enclosure and sail naked, so to speak, in terms of wind protection. We will do this to better enjoy the stars on this last night at sea and so we can keep a better lookout for freighters as we get close to the shipping lane. It promises to be a chilly night with sweaters, wool caps and maybe gloves required. Talk about climate shock! Frosty or not it will be a memorable evening and we can't wait for the view of New Zealand, laid out along the horizon before us as the sun rises and heralds the next phase of our Pacific cruising adventure!

We will write tomorrow confirming our safe arrival. Until then . . .

The Crew of SJ2

*****

SARAH JEAN DAILY REPORT - OCT 28, 1430 NZ Time (Oct 29 0130 UTC)

Position: 34 03.6 S 174 58.1 E

Course: 212 True

Speed: 5 - 6 kts

Wind: 16 -18 kts NE

Sailing Angle: 120 apparent

Swells: 2 meters

Pressure: 1023 - rising

Cloud Cover: 30%

Cabin Temp: 24 C

Miles Last 24 Hours (noon to noon): 130

Miles to Opua: 85

Tonga to NZ - Day 6 - Thurs, Oct 27
Norm
10/26/2011


Kyle trims our headsail as the wind finally returns after a period of motoring.


All is well aboard Sarah Jean but there has been a slight change of plans. We had hoped to be able to sail or motor-sail the rest of the way to Opua at an average speed of 7 knots, needed to arrive at the customs dark before dark. Unfortunately,the wind became very light yesterday and switched direction so it was coming from the north east, almost behind us. This combination meant we were getting virtually no propulsion boost from the wind. So we had to crank up the motor speed 50% more, from 1500 rpm to 2200 rpm to maintain the speed. After a few hours of high speed motoring we became concerned that the increased vibration and stress might lead to failure of the temporary repair we made to the prop shaft in Tonga. The temp strut bracket is held in place by only a few stainless bolts that could break under excessive vibration or strain and that would be . . . well . . . pretty ugly to say the least!

With the continued seaworthiness of Sarah Jean and the safety of the crew in mind we decided to slow down to a much more sedate speed of 5 kts and make landfall on Saturday morning rather than Friday evening. One more night at sea seemed like a small price to pay to better ensure Sarah Jean arrived in one piece! With a heavy heart we called the Ruteans, explained our decision and bid farewell. We were sad to see our good friends and passage buddies on Rutea sail ahead and out of sight but look forward to them catching our dock lines in Opua!

Speaking of catching lines, we are excited to know that our good friends from Vancouver, Michael and Gloria aboard s/v Paikea Mist , have just arrived in Opua from Fiji with there son, Nick, and his girlfriend, Emily, aboard. We have been in touch with them by email almost daily over the past year, sharing our cruising adventures, and are looking forward to finally having some time together face to face! See you guys soon!

Yesterday we had some more sea life excitement! We saw our first albatross, it's beautiful long white wings shimmering in the sunlight as it soared and swooped effortlessly above the sparkling waves. It circled us, curious about the boat, and then became momentarily very interested in our fishing lures that flashed in Sarah Jean's wake. We believe it may have been a Royal Albatross, native to New Zealand. Our book says that this bird can have a wing span of over 10 feet! It spends most of it's life at sea but returns to land to breed where incubation of the egg takes 3 months and rearing the single chick takes another 8 months. When ready to fly, the chick stands on the edge of a cliff facing into the wind, spreads its wings and leaps into space! Now that's a strong instinct! It will not come back to land for at least 3 years! Famed for long distance flying, the albatross just locks its huge wings into place with a special tendon and glides over the sea for thousands of miles, barely moving a muscle. They also live for a long time and have been known to reach an age of over 60 years! And that's our biology lesson for today!

We now have 210 miles to go, and two more sleeps! We are getting excited about landfall in New Zealand!

Until tomorrow . . .

The Crew of SJ2 - Beth, Norm & Kyle

***************************

SARAH JEAN DAILY REPORT - OCT 27, 1430 NZ Time (Oct 28 0130 UTC)

Position: 32 10.4 S 176 23.2 E

Course: 210 True

Speed: 5.0 kts

Wind: 6 - 8 kts E

Sailing Angle: 90 apparent

Swells: calm

Pressure: 1022 - rising

Cloud Cover: 5%

Cabin Temp: 25 C

Miles Last 24 Hours (noon to noon): 143

Miles to Opua: 210

Tonga to NZ - Day 5 - Tues, Oct 26
Norm
10/25/2011


A sailing jellyfish that Beth found on the deck, now mounted on Sarah Jean's combing and trimmed for close reaching!

The past 24 hours have been very eventful in terms of our unofficial race with Rutea and with the weather and wind. Let's start with the weather. We continue to move into the center of the BFH. The atmospheric pressure is now up to 1020 millibars and I can feel it in my sinuses. Who needs a barometer!? Last night around midnight the wind dropped to about 5 kts and, of course, our boat speed plummeted as well. We fired up the engine and have been motor-sailing down the rhumb line to Opua ever since. Also, there is now a slight nip in the air. The cabin temperature was a chilly 20 degrees this morning and I pulled on my jeans for the first time in months although I have yet to feel the need for shoes and socks.

We have calculated the distance to the customs arrival dock at Opua and have figured that we need to maintain a boat speed of at least 7 kts so we can arrive before dark. We expect light winds today and tomorrow so we will need about 40 more hours of motor-sailing. On Friday, our final day, the wind is forecast to return, blowing about 14 knots from the east which will give us a great sail and lots of speed on our final day. We are unhappy about losing our beautiful wind of the past several days. However, the upside of motoring is we have unlimited hot water and can have lots of lovely steamy showers to keep us warm! Also, the boat is now sailing flat,which means I no longer have to sit to pee, a great relief to my manhood!

Sarah Jean supporters will be pleased to know that around 8:00 p.m. last night our humble sailing craft pulled ahead of s/v Rutea, taking the lead for the first time since leaving Tonga! It was very satisfying, as the competitive types out there might understand, and we all peered at the chart plotter every few minutes with delight, studying the little grey AIS triangles showing our respective boat positions, relishing the meagre but emotionally significant distance we were now ahead of the Ruteans!

Alas, it was to be a short lived victory. The wind began to die, not all of a sudden but in gasps and sputters, blowing and then faltering, not quite ready to expire all at once. Our boat speed slowly dropped and the Ruteans began to pull alongside of us and then ahead. We were immediately suspicious, knowing that our nimble Sarah Jean was the faster boat in light air. Earlier in the evening, anticipating the drop in wind, Captain Neal, the unscrupulous master of s/v Rutea, had called us on the radio. He advised us that if the wind did indeed die, as forecast, he just might consider firing up his engine to maintain speed, but would not be displaying the correct navigational light signature to indicate he was a sailboat under power due to "technical problems" with his lights and wiring. Unperturbed and without suspicion the People of Sarah Jean sailed on valiantly into the night, momentarily pulling ahead of Rutea but then dropping back as the wind died. It then became clear that the Ruteans had been surreptitiously motoring for most of the evening! We gracefully acknowledge defeat, at least at this point in the race, because it is a friendly race and there are no rules. Although defeated we take great pride in the fact we did pull ahead of the Ruteans, if only for a few hours, under sail alone!

Changing the subject, sometimes a walk up to the foredeck will reveal strange creatures from the sea. The other day Beth found such a creature. It was a floating jellyfish with a cobalt blue, translucent body, somewhat flat and about the size and shape of a puffed up silver dollar. Inside the blue jelly were black hexagonal threads, like a small spider web, radiating out from the center of the jelly's body. Very pretty! Most interesting though was the opaque dorsal fin, shaped like a semi-circle of thick glass, that protruded from the top of the jelly's body and spanned the complete width from side to side. We concluded this was a floating jellyfish and the dorsal fin was really a small sail! Our friends, Fred and Cinda, from s/v Songline had told us about these creatures. When becalmed during a passage a whole fleet of these little guys had sailed past them. That's when you know you're going slowly!

We stuck the little jelly on the combing of our cockpit where he sat firmly planted like gooey suction cup. Kyle rotated him, turning his sail to be appropriately trimmed for a close reach, like the rest of our sails. Kyle thought the sailing jelly would appreciate being properly trimmed. The little jelly rode with us for a while, a small mizzen sail on Sarah Jean - the first Saga ketch ever to be seen! We then peeled him off and returned him to the sea to continue his sailing voyage while we continued ours to New Zealand.

Until tomorrow . . .

The Crew of SJ2 - Beth, Norm & Kyle

****************************

SARAH JEAN DAILY REPORT - OCT 26, 1430 Tongan Time (Oct 27 0130 UTC)

Position: 30 11.0 S 177 42.2 E

Course: 210 True

Speed: 7.0 kts - Motor Sailing

Wind: 6 - 8 kts E

Sailing Angle: 90 apparent

Swells: calm

Pressure: 1020

Cloud Cover: 5%

Cabin Temp: 25 C

Miles Last 24 Hours (noon to noon): 161

Miles to Opua: 340

Tonga to NZ - Day 4 - Tues, Oct 25
Norm
10/24/2011

NEWS FLASH: Sarah Jean is half way to NZ, and also just crossed into into the eastern longitudes, beyond 180 degrees west!

We continue to rocket along straight down the rhumb line to Opua. The wind is blowing a steady 15 kts on the beam, a canopy of blue sky stretches to the horizon in all directions and there is nothing but open ocean ahead of us, except for our buddy boat, Rutea, but we'll talk about her later. Indeed, if there was a sailor's heaven it would be something like this.

We are really enjoying having Kyle aboard. He is a quick study, very competent on things nautical and extremely helpful with all tasks, including doing dishes on a 20 degree tilt. And, as the owner of a new sailboat himself, there are endless fascinating things to discuss like alternators, shower sumps and belt-drive transmissions. As mentioned previously, but worth repeating, if you are used to doing long ocean passages with only two people, as Beth and I are, having an extra hand aboard makes these long passages very pleasant indeed. So our thanks to Kyle for joining us on the last leg of our epic voyage across the Pacific!

Lacking any serious overnight dramas, for today's dissertation we will talk about two things: (1) acronyms and (2) the Need For Speed (NFS).

Nautical life is full of many wonderful acronyms such as SOG, UTC and CPA. And no, CPA does not stand for Certified Public Accountant, although given the cost of owning and operating a sailboat it could be considered an important nautical term! Anyway, in this blog post, as you may have noticed already, we'll introduce some new acronyms to save valuable Sail Mail air time.

There is a Need For Speed (NFS) on an ocean passage, at least we think so. Why you may ask? Is it not about the journey? Let me explain in simple mathematical terms. NFS = Less Time at Sea = Avoidance of Bad Weather + Cold Beers in Marina Pub Sooner = Happier Crew + Arriving in One Piece.

We are therefore going as fast as we can, racing southwest to Opua. Did I say race? Well, there are two boats out here so of course we are racing! Our buddy boat, Rutea, a sweet Contest 48 ketch from San Diego, remains just a few miles ahead after 4 days and 600 miles at sea. For the past several days we have been flying our biggest sails, averaging over 8 kts and occasionally breaking the 9 kt barrier, but Rutea remains just ahead, an illusive mark that we have yet to pass. The Ruteans (rooo - tay - ahns) are keen followers of the NFS sailing philosophy, and practice the the more extreme version, the Just Get It Done (JGID) method of sail trim which is not opposed to the consumption of fossil fuel as a means to an end. We know this to be true because the Ruteans have confessed to running their engine for supplementary propulsion during periods of light air. The Sarah Jean People (SJP) are not opposed to this practice but have yet to do so. This could change anytime if the wind goes really light. In the meantime, we continue to chase the Ruteans, carrying all the canvas we can handle and with our sailor's heads held high! We are still hopeful to arrive in Opua on Friday. The forecast remains excellent!

Tomorrow we will discuss intriguing seas creatures washed on deck, including the Blue Footed Sailing Jellyfish.

Until then . . .

The Crew of SJ2

*************************

SARAH JEAN DAILY REPORT - OCT 25 1430 Tongan Time (Oct 26 0130 UTC)

Position: 27 56.4 S 179 15.3 E

Course: 209 True

Speed: 7.0 - 8.0 kts

Wind: 10 - 12 kts SE

Sailing Angle: 60 apparent

Swells: 4 ft SE - long period

Pressure: 1017

Cloud Cover: 5%

Cabin Temp: 27 C

Miles Last 24 Hours (noon to noon): 175

Miles to Opua: 505

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