Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Message from the Pacific

We thought of sending this update in a bottle instead of a blog ? but didn't have a wine bottle available. We are currently sailing at Latitude:29 degrees 01.68 minutes S Longitude:171 degrees 04.42 minutes E, which on our course is about 520 miles away from New Zealand. We still have a long way to go ? not yet at the halfway mark. So far it has been a great passage for this part of the world's oceans. Waiting for the right weather window seems to have paid off (hope we're not jinxing it by writing it!) We have added a fair amount of miles to the 895 distance by having to tack because of light winds from the wrong direction. We also have motored more than we usually would ? in fact day two of the passage was almost an entire day of motor-sailing in very light wind. We are trying our best to maintain a 5 knot speed average through the journey ? something we had never planned and done before. The reason is that it is good to have an estimated time of arrival when heading towards either New Zealand or Australia because of wacky weather coming off the Tasman Sea and the Southern Latitudes. You don't want to get caught in the nasty stuff that brews down here (and we know from our past experience from Tonga to New Zealand in 2012).

All is well aboard the good ship Astarte. She is performing exceptionally well and we are maintaining a good outlook as well. The first day we were pretty hard on the wind as we are now ? so we have been living on a ?heel? (at an angle). That makes moving about the cabin, cooking meals and sleeping pretty challenging. Day two when we motored we had a flatter ride though it was a bit rolly. But overall it has been relatively pleasant. This afternoon we had a brief front that we passed through ? we knew it was coming so we were prepared. It was not as big as our friends got (they are much further ahead of us in their speedy catamaran or 70 foot Deerfoot!). They experienced winds in the 25 to 30 knot range and we saw 20 for a very brief period of time and got some rain. After it passed however it took our good northwest wind away and backed it the south. We are heading in a southeasterly direction so we are now tacking quite a way off course. We are trying to conserve our fuel for the last few days where it looks like the winds will get even lighter and variable. So if we have wind, we'll sail even if it adds miles by tacking. We have about 60 gallons left aboard.

Writing and sending the blogs is more challenging underway ? but you should be able to see where we are on the ?where are we? portion of the blog (if it's working) or you can see where we are on the YIT site (yachts in transit)www.yit.co.nz that is run by David and Patricia of Gulf Harbour Radio who provide an excellent service of giving weather information and advice to boats underway as well as taking daily positions. We check in daily at 0530 (yes very early) and get an updated weather forecast for our route. It also helps break up the day as they are quite entertaining and we hear lots of friends checking in so we can keep track where everyone is. Michael is also checking in daily at 0800 on a ham radio net ?Tony's Maritime Radio? where they also take a position report. These folks are mostly in NZ and Oz. And we have our own mini-radio net at 1700 (5 pm) with the four boats who all left Ile des Pins, New Caledonia about the same time. All the radio chatter breaks up the day.

There hasn't been much in the way of marine life ? a few dolphins early on, but not much else. We had foue large cargo ships pass by, a couple of which we called as they would be getting close and we wanted to make sure they spotted us. Otherwise, its been a quiet and good passage...so far. We hope it continues for the last several days. We anticipate a Sunday or Monday arrival in Whangarei.

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