Days 4 and 5, NZ to Australia
01 June 2008 | 31 13 S, 169 33 E
Angela and Steen
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?