Day 4 - comfortable conditions at last, our daily routine, musings about our surroundings, the numbers
22 November 2016 | Sailing south from Tonga to NZ
After four days and nights of blustery, gusty wind,; hurky, jerky motion; and the continual bathing of every exterior surface with gallons of saltwater, as of this afternoon (our Wednesday, your Tuesday), the wind has finally mellowed to a consistent 15 knots and the seas have settled into low, slow, comfortable rolling swells. Hooray! Despite the uncomfortable conditions for her crew, SCOOTS made great forward progress during this time, moving with singular purpose toward her destination with hardly any attention from us. From the time that the wind filled in and we sailed off the mooring in Tonga last Saturday, the only changes we've made to SCOOTS' sails have been to take in reefs or let them out of her mainsail, as conditions warranted. Other than that, they've just pulled us along at 7.5 - 9.5 knots.
The past 24 hours have been pretty uneventful. We've fallen into a comfortable routine that frames our days... ...at 7 am, having made coffee for Eric, I go off watch and lie down for a short snooze, ...at 9 am I'm back up to listen to and participate in two HF radio nets, where other boats making the trip to NZ are checking in, and a guy gives a detailed weather report, ...after that, usually around 10:30 am, I make breakfast, and we talk about the current weather forecasts (the radio guy's input as well as data from our own weather sources) and plan our strategy for getting where we want to go safely and comfortably, and by when; ...after that, Eric usually lies down for a snooze, ...when Eric gets up, we have some lunch, then do some chores. Whatever needs doing...rinsing salty clothes in fresh water and hanging them to dry, maintaining SCOOTS' electrical and mechanical systems, cleaning up, writing a blog entry, tossing flying fish off the deck into the water, etc., etc., ...in the afternoon, we listen to an hour of an audiobook, broken into 15-minute chunks so one of us can go up and check our surroundings between installments, ...about 5:30 I start making dinner, and we're done eating by 6:30 pm, when the evening HF radio net starts, ...at 7 pm I go to bed, while Eric takes the first watch, 7-10 pm, during which he downloads a bunch of weather data - weather faxes, Gribs, verbal forecasts, fleet codes, weather discussions - over the SSB radio, keeps a lookout, and minds the ship, ...while I'm on watch from 10 pm-1 am, I pore through the weather data, looking for trends and attempting to construct an optimal route for us, and of course, keep a lookout and mind the ship, ...Eric's back on from 1-4am, ...and then I finish up with the sunrise shift from 4-7am.
And so, one day blends almost imperceptively into the next. And will continue to do so until we arrive in New Zealand, when time will once again take on its more structured form.
There's not a lot to see out here, except for water, clouds, and sky. Speaking of water...we've recently been sailing over some really deep water - 15,000 feet or more. It always amazes me, to try to picture all the water below us. It kind of blows my mind, to imagine nearly 3 miles of it straight down underneath us. Wow. Not many birds happen by, except for some smallish gray-and-white shearwaters that move too fast for me to positively identify them. No whales (apparently they've come through these parts already), no dolphins, no seals, hardly any flying fish. Every day we see one other boat. Usually, we "see" them only on the radar or AIS, but today a monstrous cargo ship passed within 2 miles of us and we actually saw it.
Anyway, after looking over today's weather, we're still planning a Saturday (your Friday) arrival into Opua, NZ. Three days from now.
Here are today's numbers:
96 hour position: 28 00'S, 177 00'E Miles in last 24 hours: 185 nmiles Average speed last 24 hours: 7.7 kn Miles traveled: 751 nmiles Miles to go: 435 nmiles