On Our Way to New Caledonia - Passage Report
17 October 2016 | 21 37'S:168 13'E, between Vanuatu and New Caledonia
Yesterday morning, just after dawn, we were up and out of Port Resolution for the 270 mile passage to Noumea, New Caledonia.
But, before we could leave, good old volcano Yasur had another nice present for us. All night it had been raining and mixed in the rain was lots of ash. Once again the boat was a real mess. So, once again, for the last time at least, I got out the hose and gave Speakeasy a bath.
It wasn't long until we were motoring out of our small bay and into the confused seas outside. Instead of regular waves, the squally weather had produced 4 - 6 foot waves, coming from every direction at the same time. To say it was like a washing machine was a gross understatement. For the first hour we really had to hold on as were tossed randomly in every direction. This is not a fun way to start a passage after sitting comfortably at anchor for a week.
Shortly after that period of "fun" the wind started to build and soon we were sailing along under a big black cloud. Black clouds usually mean wind and and this one definitely did! I put a second reef in the main, headed straight down wind towards our distant destination, and let her rip! We had up to 35 knots of wind with boat speeds as high as 14 knots surfing down the building waves. 10 knots became just ho hum as we scooted along. Because this was just a squall, and our voyage forecast included very little wind overall, we really wanted to milk this squall for all it was worth. We ended up staying under the squall for 25 miles before it moved off to the side and took the wind with it. It was fun while it lasted.
Since then, we have been sailing some, and motoring some. Right now, we are just passing South of the Southern most of the Loyalty Islands and will soon be turning directly towards the Southern tip of New Caledonia. We are sailing in a very comfortable beam wind at about 6.5 knots. If all goes well, we will enter the barrier reef shortly after dark and follow the shipping lanes through the maze of reefs towards Noumea, where we should arrive sometime between 2 and 4 am tomorrow.
Picture: Our last look at Mt Yasur, belching smoke and ash