Destination Fiji – Day Two.
After six months anchored in protected bays or tied up in marinas, it was time to head out again. Our NZ immigration was up on May 8th. The weather was changing daily with big systems showing up on the weather files one day and not being there the next. Weather was the topic of the marina with "pow-wows" regularly held on someone's boat to try to decipher the conditions. We had told customs we would leave on Wednesday the 8th because on the 7th it looked good. But the morning of the 8th provided a whole new weather picture with two systems connecting right on our path. We didn't want to be in another squash zone after last years Tonga to NZ experience. So we called immigration and got an additional 24 hours. We would look again in the morning. By afternoon, one of those two systems wasn't even on the charts! We told customs we would leave Thursday the 9th.
The 9th arrived and the weather charts still looked like it was a good day to go so we cleared out with customs and headed out just before noon. After 30 minutes to get away from the dock and past the car ferries, the sails went up and the engine went off. We were sailing!
The winds were 15 to 20 from the west-southwest and we were really trucking along. A clean bottom and a new mainsail probably helped us reach record speeds for Astarte. The sea was quite rolly though and so the "Astarte weight loss program" was in affect. No one was hungry – even with lots of prepared treats aboard. Moving around was difficult not having our sea legs quite yet and getting back into the three-hour watch system was tiring. It was difficult toy" sleep as the roll would send you from one side of the bunk to the other. The good news was the boat was much less "squeaky" after the rig got tuned up. Should have done that sooner! Also, with the extra time we had waiting for weather, Astarte was better prepared for offshore than ever. The fact that we've now done this enough also probably helps as we get things better stored and tied down now.
We were scooting along – averaging around 6.5 knots for the first 48 hours. Day one we did 153nm and day two 141nm noon to noon. The "Drifters" radio net is going so we check in twice daily and we have a few boats out here with us. Blue Rodeo, a speedy 50 foot Deerfoot is well ahead of us and Panta Rhei a 55 foot Roberts is also ahead though still in VHF radio distance. Our friends on Gypsea Heart decided to wait for the next weather window and we know Gaku, our Japanese friends are also out here but they do not have an SSB radio.
Yesterday, the Orion, a New Zealand Air Force plane buzzed us and then called us on the radio. They really do keep their borders patrolled. They probably had the list of boats that cleared out and were making sure we really did leave. They were very polite and it was nice to chat with an airplane above.
Today the winds have calmed, as did the seas – (thus a log entry) – and we've slowed to 4.5 knots. We hope we can maintain at least a 10 knot breeze to keep the sails filled.
We are a quarter of the way there – only 850 miles or so left!
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