We are almost halfway to NZ! Norfolk Island is on our starboard side about 90 nm. We contemplated stopping there if we were nearby but I don't think it's in the cards. It's too far west. We have been able to sail closer to the rhumbline to NZ, further east which is great. This will make our passage shorter and quicker. It no doubt would have been interesting to explore Norfolk. It sits in the middle of the Pacific between NZ, Australia and New Caledonia and was an Australian penal colony back in the 1800's. Many people from Pitcairn Is were relocated to Norfolk as well when Pitcairn became overcrowded. So who knows what we may have found there in a land of descendants from mutineers (The Bounty) and murderers! Alas, we'll never know as we're continuing to sail to NZ. We want to arrive in NZ on Friday before a low arrives on Saturday.
A brief update on our weather. The wind died last night so we motored from midnight on which enabled us to sleep well. We watched the wind back around from the NE to the SW bringing some rain and a few squalls. Now at noon today, we have SSW winds and sunny skies. We're motor sailing until the winds pick up. The forecast is for continued SW or W winds for the rest of the passage which will push us nicely into Opua, NZ.
11/11/2012, At Sea Enroute to NZ
"Why is your boat named Sarah Jean II?" This is a question we are asked often by other cruisers. There are a huge variety of boat names out here in cruising land, some very clever and some not so much. It is always interesting to know where boat names originated. So why did we decide on the name "Sarah Jean II?
Back in 1982 my parents, Peter and Sally, decided to go cruising. They purchased "Nomad", a Mirage 33' and sailed her from their home in Ontario down the ICW (Intercoastal Waterway) to Florida and then to the Caribbean. They spent most of their time cruising the Bahamas and loved the Exumas and the Abacos. Mom says "It was the best year of my life". I was fortunate enough to visit and sail with them on a couple of occasions, once with my fiancé Norm (my husband now). Norm & I were in our twenties at the time, working and living in Vancouver. I think that the seed for cruising was planted way back then. The life seemed idyllic and romantic, sailing and exploring in the tropics. Over the years of working and raising a family I dreamed of offshore cruising some day with Norm.
In 2007 the dream became a reality. Just before Christmas we purchased our Saga 43. We were very excited about this new member of our family. I remember sitting around the dinner table with our kids, Amanda & Brian, brainstorming for names for her. We had all sorts of ideas including "Coop Sloop". Our last name is Cooper. We thought that on the marine radio however it would sound too much like "Poop Scoop". We kept coming back to the name "Sarah Jean". It just felt right.
Sarah Jean is my mother's name. Although she's always been known as Sally, her given name is Sarah Jean. Mom and Dad introduced us to sailing and gave us a taste of cruising back in 1983 in the Bahamas. For this we are thankful and as a tribute to both of them we wanted to name our boat "Sarah Jean". Sadly my Dad passed away in 2000 but Mom, Sarah Jean I, is an enthusiastic supporter of our current sailing adventure. She sailed with us on "Sarah Jean II" in BC Coastal waters before we left for offshore cruising in 2010. At 83 years of age she was helming our boat with ease and diving off the stern at anchor. Mom lives on Mayne Island, one of the Gulf Islands near Vancouver. She has a spectacular view of the ocean from her home and enjoys watching sailboats from her deck.
For the past 30 years my Mother has been an avid sailor. When she and Dad were cruising it was Mom who studied the cruising guides and planned their routes and anchorages. She loves the feel of wind on her face and the helm in her hands on a good sailing day. At the end of the day you'll find her curled up in the cockpit with a good book. Now you'll find her studying charts of the South Pacific, following our route with unbounded enthusiasm.
Thank you Sarah Jean I for introducing us to cruising life and for your support and encouragement as we live the dream. We love you!
All is well aboard Sarah Jean, sort of. That is except for the recent deaths. But more on that later. We had an excellent first passage day making 154 miles close reaching southward along our course line. The wind has now backed to the northeast allowing us to adjust our heading to aim directly towards Opua. The seas have continued to settle down and there are fewer and fewer big swells. The latest weather forecast looks very positive for the balance of the voyage. We are happy to see no changes or surprises!
Now to the terrible drama. Last night, DEATH, cruel and indiscriminate, stalked the dark and rolling decks of Sarah Jean, wielding his remorseless scythe without mercy. This tale is not for the faint of heart. Read on only if you must.
The first victims were found on the deck this morning, their cold bodies tangled in the running rigging amid a scattering of silvery scales, evidence of a mighty struggle. They were two flying fish, a large one and a small one. They lay together, their gossamer wings, now rigid, draped over each other in a final embrace. Who were they? Why were they on our deck? Our inquiring minds wanted to know. Perhaps they were father and son, taking a first flight together, a real life Marlin and Nemo, but with a tragic ending. Wrong time, wrong place. Or perhaps they were a young couple, madly in love, leaping and cavorting amongst the surging whitecaps with all the vitality and recklessness of youth, flying up out of the deep with towards the stars. Then kablam, the hand of fate and a wall of fiberglass and polyester braid brought it all to an end! How sad. The lifeless and now smelly embracing fish were dispatched back to the sea. No doubt they were then gobbled up by bigger and smarter fish and thus they continued along their way in the ocean's vast circle of life.
The third death was more tragic. Mr. Kobo is no longer with us. In a tiny puff of silicon smoke and a last desperate uttering of garbled words across his shattered screen. Mr. Kobo expired as the full force of Beth's knee bore down on him. Of course it was an accident. It was dark and she was moving about the cockpit last night, adjusting the sails as must be done when the wind shifts or changes speed. I feel so badly for Beth. It must be so difficult to lose a friend and kill a friend all at the same time. What's worse, she had finished only Book One in a gripping Three Book Trilogy. She is coping well and has found comfort in a paperback book and is actually enjoying the feel of paper in her hands once again.
Do not mourn for Mr. Kobo. His contents, well over 100 electronic books, many unread, have not left this world, for he was merely a vessel, a bucket bringing water from our well of literary abundance. Our books are preserved in a virtual library on line and can be resurrected should we buy another Mr. Kobo. This of course leads to a dilemma; to buy another electronic reader or to succumb to the temptation of the seductive iPad. As we all know, Steve Jobs was a clever fellow; to touch an iPad is to want one. And touch them we have. But that decision is for another day. There are no Apple stores out here. So today we say a fond farewell to Mr. Kobo as he lays in his little red leather case, his lifeless screen looking up at us. That screen is now a death mask, a collage of book covers, random sentences and help menus, a wonderful abstract art display, a summation of his life and purpose. No doubt he will live on, his plastic recycled into colorful pot scrubbers and his electronics recycled into the sound chips for Hallmark greeting cards. Who knows what the future holds. Good bye Mr. Kobo, we've enjoyed our time together.
We will get over this sad day, dear friends. Thank you for being there!
Until tomorrow . . .
Yahoo! We are finally underway to NZ.! The sky is cloudless, a fresh 15 kt breeze is blowing from the east and we are southward bound! Large swells continuously roll under Sarah Jean, heading westward like freight trains, speeding away from their source, a nasty tropical depression below Fiji. Now in its final hours of life this storm wreaked havoc along the sailing route from Fiji to NZ earlier in the week and was the reason for our detour to New Caledonia. We could see it forming on the weather charts and decided we did not want to be anywhere near it. It is amazing that we can still feel the remnants of this storm that was raging days ago and many hundreds of miles of away. Some surfers will be happy when these swells hit a shoreline!
We got away from the Isle of Pines this morning at about 5:30 a.m. The sun was already over the horizon as the anchor came up. As we headed out to sea a monster cruise ship passed us en route to the anchorage we had just left. There was one there yesterday as well. All the local merchants were out in full force to service the thousands of passengers, easily identified by the plastic identity tags around their necks. We learned from a young musician couple we met in a beach bar that the ship in port was a Country Cruise - that is the say the theme was country music and the boat was teaming with country musicians of various degrees of fame in Australia. Our new friends commented that it was like being aboard a floating casino - Las Vegas on the high seas. I bet there were a lot of cowboy hats at the midnight buffet. The ship steamed from Sydney to New Cal but spent only a day in Noumea and a day at the Isle of Pines before heading back again. Apparently most passengers could spend only a few hours ashore in New Caledonia. How sad! We feel very fortunate to be in a small boat and to have the time and mobility to thoroughly explore the places we visit.
Our passage from New Cal to NZ is about 900 miles in a southeasterly direction. Assuming we can manage about 150 miles a day the trip should be about 6 days with arrival in Opua sometime on Friday. Winds along our route will come from all directions and will be light at times requiring the use of the motor. We will need to make a few gentle zigs and zags along the rhumb line to adjust to the wind changes but these are minor and will not add too much to our mileage. There is no ugly weather in sight so overall the trip should be fairly relaxing with little drama anticipated. Touch wood!
That's it for today . . .
11/09/2012, Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
It's November 9, 2012 and we are anchored in the picturesque Isle of Pines in New Caledonia, waiting once again for a weather window to sail to New Zealand. We thought we were on our way when we set sail from Port Vila, Vanuatu almost 2 weeks ago on Oct. 30. Meals were made, the dinghy was stowed and we were ready. After 2 days at sea we diverted to the Port of Noumea in New Caledonia to avoid a tropical depression that was forming between Fiji and New Zealand. We're glad we did as it kicked up big seas and winds and caused havoc with many boats en route to New Zealand.
A few days ago we checked out of the country in Noumea and set sail for Isle of Pines as a final stopover before leaving for New Zealand. Again we changed our plans and decided to stay in this island paradise for a few extra days to relax. The scenery is beautiful with a turquoise lagoon, a long white sandy beach and amazingly tall pine trees. Besides, the wind and waves are still quite high out there at sea and it's lovely here in the anchorage.
Alas, we must leave the beautiful tropics for New Zealand and escape cyclone season which will officially be upon us beginning Dec.1. Tomorrow is THE day! We ARE going to LEAVE on Sat. Nov. 10 and sail to Opua, NZ. The passage looks very favourable with wind on our beam or behind us most of the way. We estimate it will take us 6-7 days. We're among a fleet of 7 boats sailing from New Cal to NZ and will be checking in each evening on the "Coyote Net", named after one of the boats Kiwi Coyote. Each morning we listen to Gulf Harbour Radio for the latest on the weather, and we're using NZ's Bob McDavit for our weather router.
This is our third passage to or from New Zealand. It can be a difficult passage so planning for the right weather window is important. Wish us luck!
OK, READY, SET, GO . New Zealand, here we come!
This is a chocolate filled croissant with almonds on top. Based on its appearance it is to die for.
I'm going to have a bite the now - can't hold back any longer!
Wow - is that ever yummy! Gotta go now - eat the rest of it!