It has been an interesting four days so far. We left Whangarei and headed NW on our rhumb line course to Vanuatu – staying a bit closer to the NZ shore for some protection from the southerly swell and seas. Once out of the river, we pretty quickly lost sight of the other 15 or so boats that were heading out at about the same time. Things seem to spread out as people take slightly different courses towards their own destinations of Tahiti, Tonga, Fiji, New Caledonia, Minerva Reef or Vanuatu. We had two great days of sailing right away – though it wasn't an easy trip to sleep, as the seas were coming from various directions tossing the boat a bit. But we made 130 miles towards our goal on each day which is great for us! The winds were southerly so we just had the headsail up and flew along – sometimes hitting 7.3 knots. Then the winds slowly died – but the seas didn't so the headsail was having a hard time staying full and not collapsing each time a big wave tossed the boat. So we put the pole out and sailed like that for a bit longer. Then the wind just died. The seas settled a bit as well – but we had to motor. For the first 24 or so hours of motoring we made good time thanks to a current in our favor and flat seas. We put the sails up again each time we thought we could sail – but no joy. There was not enough wind to compensate for the seas. We don't have enough fuel to keep motoring so we'll have to slow down which creates another problem. We are trying to get as far north as possible and have even headed directly north off our rhumb line. There is a low pressure system/trough/ridge/or whatever, forming that will bring in some big winds and weather on Saturday or Sunday. If we can get north of 25 degrees, we can avoid the worst of it – so that is what we are trying to do …. fuel limitations allowing.
Michael spends his mornings on the radio nets – first listening to David and Patricia on Gulf Harbor Radio for weather information and to see where other boats are. Then we listen in on the Southern Cross net...and then he has been one of the radio net controllers for the Vanuatu net at 0830 local. He also checks and sends any e-mails. We are also getting good weather help and routing from Rankin from Gypsea Heart who is back in the States. Good luck on your surgery tomorrow Sandy!
We discovered a stow-away aboard yesterday afternoon. A tiny bird nesteld in under our dodger to get out of the wind. He had come quite a distance as there isn't an island for hundreds of miles. He snoozed for awhile and then went and found a different home aboard somplace because we saw him again this morning. He is a pretty bird and if he wasn't so shy, we'd try to get a photo. Interesting markings on him...hopefully he'll get more comfortable around us.
For now, we are fishing (not catching), eating well (lasagna, meatloaf, chicken dishes) and slowly warming up with each degree of north-ing we make. The sun has been out most of the time making it a pleasant trip so far. Hope it holds nd hope the wind picks up just enough to keep the sails full and us moving along at more than five knots.
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