Hello from the middle of the world's largest mill pond
30 May 2017
That's how one of our cruising friends checked into the radio net this morning. It's an accurate chracterization of the sea state that the fleet from NZ has found itself in. Oh, it's no surprise to any of us...we all saw the forecasts, we all knew that we'd have a couple days of nonexistent or very light wind. Now, here we are. But it's okay with me...it's relaxing and quiet.
I find flat, glassy seas to be mesmerizing. Last night, as we motored through calm black sea, the bioluminescence thrown up by our bow wave alongside the boat was magnificent: cascades of shimmering white fire; in the still places, reflections of thousands of stars shone back up into the sky, the cosmos collected on a mirror.
In the daytime, gazing down into the still water that's so deeply blue that it's almost purple, I can sometimes see small jellyfish and other pelagic drifters. Looking across the water, I know that if anything breaks the surface, anywhere within eyesight, I'll see it. Yesterday I saw the dorsal fins of two large dolphins; today, a few flying fish leapt from the water and skittered away. There's really not much sea life out here.
Except for birds. Every day I see shearwaters, and today I also saw a small storm petrel flitting over the water. This morning I discovered that some kind of bird left a large splattering of poop on our deck as it flew over. No, it doesn't look like frigatebird poop, something you may remember I'm sort of an expert on.
The other day, I was really surprised to see what I thought was a songbird, maybe a sparrow, flying by. It was flying toward New Zealand, which at 150 miles away was by far the closest chunk of land. I wondered where it had come from. Then, during yesterday's radio check- ins, half a dozen cruisers, spread over several hundred miles of ocean, reported having small songbirds land on their boat and rest for awhile - some for more than a day - before eventually flying away. A migration gone awry in a storm? Birds blown out to sea? I'll never know. But I may eventually know what kind of bird it was: One of the cruisers took a photo of the bird, so the next time I see her I'll get a look.
Reminiscent of his stint as the Tuesday net controller for the Sonrisa cruisers' radio net in Mexico, Eric this morning began his tenure as the Wednesday net controller for the Magellan Net (MagNet) here in the western South Pacific. This single-sideband radio net provides an opportunity for community and communication among cruisers voyaging or anchored anywhere in this vast area. We've checked in with this net, and its sister net, the Polynesian Magellan Net (PolyMagNet), as we moved across the Pacific. For those of you interested in such details(Bob F.?), the MagNet meets at 2030 UTC and 0530 UTC on 8.122 MHz.
Early this morning, we decided to head for Minerva Reef, instead of going nonstop to Fiji. We based our decision on the distances that we'd likely have to motor - 250 miles to Minerva, about 700 to Fiji - given all the calm or unfavorable light wind between us and those places. We don't carry enough fuel to motor all the way to Fiji, but we could, if we needed to, motor to Minerva Reef, and then hang out there for a few days until the breeze fills in to take us to Fiji. A little while later our decision was reinforced by the weather report informing us that headwinds and a trough would be arriving in our area in about three days. We can be anchored in Minerva in two days. So that's what we'll do.