17 October 2023
Stephen and Kristina Hall
We are in Kosrae! On October 12, after 17 days and 19 hours we safely arrived in Lelu Harbour after just over 2000nm. It was a rugged trip - in many ways quite unexpected.
Before we left, we knew that the wind was blowing a bit stronger than usual for the trade winds and we would have it either on, or just forward of the beam. But we did not expect 30 knots, gusting 35 at times. As you can imagine, I was thankful for the medication which I took for the first 56 hours. During the first five days Steve did literally everything - I focused on not throwing up and reducing the number of bruises to a minimum as we got thrown about. Slowly though, I became "me" again.
Once we had motored through a calm Bougainville Strait though we were faced with a glassy sea. Apart from a few ripples on the surface there was no movement whatsoever - and the sun stung. But sure enough, this didn't last long (luckily, as the heat and absolutely no breeze were difficult to bear). Soon, half a day later, the breeze picked up - and despite we were supposed to be in the doldrums, the wind blew with 20 knots and we had 2-3m opposing swells from the trades and tropical cyclone Phillipe to the north west. But then again, the doldrums did its name credit and the wind dropped significantly. Steve jumped up every five minutes to tighten or ease the sheets. Often he slept in the cockpit - well, tried to sleep. Can you imagine: often we sailed in the doldrums with three reefs in! And, "of course", most of the times the current was against us.
When we crossed the equator, we opened a bottle of sparkling wine. But we were too tired to honor and savour this moment, to be honest.
"Land ahoy" Steve shouted, when we were about 50 nm far away. That was Oct 11, around 2pm. As the pass to the bay of Lelu Harbour is unlit, we knew we had to mooch around the coast until first light the following day. To complicate it though, different charts showed different coordinates for the entrance so it would be eye ball navigation. For the final night the weather gods decided to have some more fun with us. With torrential rain and baffling winds to keep us on our toes, but at least Torea got a good wash, as did we.
The question is, how I liked my first (long) offshore passage. There were times, I wouldn't have known what I would have said, if miraculously, someone would have offered me a lift in an airplane... There were times, when I was deeply touched by this vastness. There were times, when I felt kind of confident in regard of my progress in sailing. There were times when I was shattered, because I didn't understand why Steve was doing this or that. Do I look forward to the next passage? In all honesty: I don't know. So far, most of the weather forecasts have been wrong and the announced hot but calm sail turned out to be a fairly rugged one. But now, here in Kosrae, all the wind predictions seem to be alright: around 5 knots... Maybe the passage to Pohnpei is a smooth one where Steve can teach me a bit of sail work. I remain open and try to live due to John Cage's wise statement: I welcome whatever happens next.