Published: June 29th 2010June 11th 2010
June 11 2010
Crossing the Pacific Ocean
Hi everyone, as you can imagine, it has been a bit hard for us to post our 'normal' blog as we crossed the Pacific from Panama to the Marquesas in French Polynesia. We sailed 3100 miles from San Christobel in the Galapagos Islands to Nuka Hiva in French Polynesia. As we sailed along, we posted our positions via our satellite phone and a diary entry for what had been/ what was happening for that time. Unfortunately we were not able to post any photos but at least people could see our positions and see that we were ok. I didnt have a chance to post the link to this site on this blog site before we left so I apologise for all those that didnt have a clue where we were or what we were doing. The link to the site that we will continue to post our positions and web diary on is http://blog.mailasail.com/sysunboy
So now you have the choice to either read on with all the details of what I sent to mailasail, that is for those that have all the time in the world or you can just jump to that
site and read what sections you would like!!
DAY 4 27 May 2010
We left San Christobel early Sunday morning in company with Stardancer. We got away about 7.30am and right from the start were able to put up our full main and headsail and took off. We had brilliant conditions and were thumping along at 8.5 to 9.5 knots, sometimes getting over 10 knots!! Of course these conditons were not to last and by nightfall we had the motor on and were motor sailing which was a real bummer. We made the 7.00pm sked with Stardancer and they too were motor sailing and that was the last we heard of them. We dont know if they upped their throttel and got a head of us or what happened. We spent the next couple of days cruising along, doing some motor sailing and also just some nice steady cruising, getting the gennaker up during the day and taking it easier during the nights. Yesterday was a day with plenty of wind and whilst that was great, along with the positive current, it did make the seaway very choppy with wind against the current, topped with some pretty big
swell at times. The upside was we were making excellent way, making 183 nautical miles in the 24 hour period which was excellent.
Lukey has been very vigilant with his rigging checks considering the problems Ghost has had as well as Nika and at this stage, fingers and toes crossed, all appears ok. The conditions eased last night (Wednesday) and we watched the beautiful full moon come up just after one of Deb's fantastic chicken caeser salads, our first 'meat' meal out of our new freezer. It was absolutely delicious and has truly become one of Deb's signature dishes. The winds and seas eased off and it was a brilliant night at sea.
Our set watch times are proving to be excellent and we are now getting into the groove of the trip with about 2350 miles left to go. It is now 4.50am in the morning, the moon is still lighting up the ocean and the sun should be rising in about an hours time, just right for morning coffee with Nikki when she starts her 6.00am watch. Layni has been her usual brilliant self on passage and has even been getting into some school work which
is just great. Fishing has not produced anything but having said that, we havent done much as we have been using the tow gen to keep the boat power supply being boosted. Well gotta go and get some weather files, bye for now on Sunboy!!
DAY 5 28 May 2010
Hello from Sunboy,
Now 6.15am on board and about to go back in time one hour as we head further west. All good for those not on watch as they get an extra hours sleep and I get an extra hours watch time :( Cant be all bad though, had a really good nights passage with good steady winds, not much swell and chop and a beautiful full moon to sail by, clocking just over 92 miles from 6.00pm last night to 6.00am this morning and doing 192 miles in the previous 24 hours.
Currently the weather is looking great, clear skies, the moon is setting in the west, still illuminating the ocean like a bloody great lantern and the dawn is breaking in the east. The boat is ticking over nicely under a double reefed main and full headsail, averaging over 8 knots over the ground
which is very nice thank you very much. Had a recurrence of vang problems that we had in the A.R.C where the plate that holds the vang into the boom has cracked again. Last time it was the weld itself which was more of a problem than this current break but as such we went from full main yesterday to a double reefed main with no pressure on the vang to see what 24 hours under that sail configuration would be like. If all is good, may increase a bit of sail today but if we have to stay with this sail set we will still be happy. Just means a bit of welding to be done when we get to Tahiti. All well on board but Debs has a bit of a sore back and I think that is from constantly trying to place your body into a comfortable position on passage with the swell moving the boat around while you try and sleep so we hope that a bit of pain relief and maybe some good massages will alleviate that problem for her. Our days are being spent reading, using the I-pods or watching D.V.D's and in Layni's
case doing a bit of school work as well and of course Nikki is doing her maths whenever she can plus doing her watches plus helping Deb's out with the cooking. Lukey is still rigourous in his boat checks and doing a really good job with that. Still havent seen any other boats by visual sighting although thought I picked one up this morning on radar but it was about 20 miles off our port beam so dont know if we will end up seeing it or not. Saw quite a big shark on the surface yesterday, not sure what type it was but out here, a shark is a shark is a shark!! The sea is a bit lumpy from the wind meeting the oncoming current but as the current is helping with our boat speed we are happy to put up with it. At this stage we have about 2100 miles to go and as each day passes we get a bit closer to the Marquesas. So thats about all for day 5 onboard Sunboy. All being well will report back tomorrow with similar passage details as the weather forecast is showing pretty constant conditions as to what
we had yesterday :)
DAY 6 29 May 2010
Good morning from us and Goodevening to you. Just on 7.00am local time and happy to report all is well. Couple of records have been set in the last 24 hours, the most miles covered in 24 hours being 196 miles and 102 miles covered in the following 12 hours so we are very happy with our progress to date. We have broken to 2000 miles to go barrier, and have sailed 1027 miles in the last 6 days. The conditions this morning are a little overcast with a few showers around. The wind is about 15-18 knots from the E.S.E and we have an apparent wind angle of 120 degrees with moderate seas on our port quarter so all in all, pretty good conditions for passage making.
We had another good day yesterday, no equipment breakages or failures which is always a huge bonus, the weather is getting a bit warmer thank goodness as we have all been amazed at the fact we have been on or very near the equator and it has actually been quite cool, especially at night. I still take my sleeping bag
upstairs for my night sleeps in the cockpit but that is being shed a bit earlier each morning. We had another beautiful moonlit night last night and there is no doubt that makes night sailing something incredibly special. Our days are still being spent doing our routine watches and when not on watch we tend to sit around and chat, maybe watch a DVD or read a book or listen to some music. The conditions are sill ok to cook the evening meal, courtesy of Chef Debsy and just being able to reach into our new freezer and take out fresh meat or chicken for the evening meal is just the best. Think we might have some Thai Chicken and rice tonight!! So about time for breakfast now so hope you are all well, thinking of you all and missing you.
Catch you tomorrow all being well x
DAY 7 30 May
Hi everyone, reporting from the navigation station on board Sunboy as we have just about ended our first week on our longest passage to date. Currently the conditions are again really great. The sun rose this morning to a cloudless sky and again we were
blessed last night with a big moon to follow along throughout the evening. Not as much wind last night but we still made pretty good time, doing 92 miles from 5.00pm to 5.00am. At the moment we have winds of about 15 knots true and the seas are about 2 metres, occasionally 3 metres. The seas and winds are now bascically coming from the same angle so overall it is relatively comfortable and the boat is not heeled over very much at all, just the occasional roll to make you dance around the place if you are not sitting down or having a lay down. We are
sailing at about 120 degrees apparent which is a really pleasant wind angle so we are happy with that. We are sailing a bit above the rhumb line as we expect the wind to go more to our stern the closer we get so we want to try and keep it at this angle or maybe even a bit above if we can so we can keep
our speed and comfort levels up.
Big excitement yesterday afternoon as we broke another Sunboy record, making 204 miles from 5.00pm to 5.00pm which is
just fantastic, even more so as this distance was on the rhumb line to our destination. Ever since we have been on board we have always wanted to crack the magic 200 mile mark and
everyone was very chuffed as it really is, may I have the liberty to use the boring phrase, " a real team effort", 4 people doing watches twice in the 24 hour period means everyone contributed to keeping the boat speed up with the sails trimmed well and keeping on course.
So for the first week on passage we have sailed 1236 miles and we are hoping to reach the halfway mark sometime tomorrow all going well. Another really good day on board yesterday, and to give you a bit of an idea of what we do with our time I'll run through our little schedule. My evening watch is from 3.00am to 6.00am and at the moment the Sun is generally coming up about 6.15am so I tend to stay on watch a bit longer, let Nikki have a bit more sleep and then wake her up and have a cup of coffee with her, talking about life and all associated things as
we watch the sun dawn into a new day. Yesterday Nikki made porridge for breakfast with brown sugar and cream and that was just the best. Normally we have
cereal but porridge was a real treat. Nikki finishes her watch at 9.00am and then Lukey comes on deck for his 9 to 12 noon watch, during which time, he goes all over the boat to check and double check the rigging and all associated gear and it is always a relief to hear him come back and say, "all good." During his watch, Debsy and Layni normally wake up and often we are all up in the cockpit together, sharing breakfast and nattering away. Deb's covers the 12 noon to 3.00pm watch and if we feel like having lunch,
this is the watch period we generally have it and basically whoever feels like lunch the most prepares it. Yesterday however, Deb's pitched in and made these brilliant toasties out of tortillas filled with leftover spag bol sauce from the night before and then she folds them over and fries them on the grill plate, they are just the best and as we wanted more she then made some out of
peanut butter, sweet chilli sauce and cucumber slices. That effort gave her an early mark from her watch and then I take over at 3.00pm
to run through to 6.00pm and during this watch dinner is prepared while there is still light and normally we have the chance to all have dinner together up in the cockpit as the sun sets. Layni had us in rapture yesterday with her 'designer day' where she desgined Debs these wonderful shoes, dresses and handbags and then set about selling them to her and arranging payment in the U.S and delivery back to Coffs Harbour. Layn was on fire yesterday and as she normally spends so much time pottering about in her cabin it was just great so see her spend almost all of the day up in the cockpit with us.
Deb's did a double whammy and prepared another super supper of Thai noodles, braised pork fillet and
steamed rice, backed up with vanilla icecream and chilled strawberries.Go Debsy!!! Well the icecream is not norgenvasse but for on passage it is pretty good. We bought packets of icecream mix in the Galapagos and you simply add the powder to a cup of
milk, beat the hell out of it and then put it in the freezer until it sets. Our strawberries come from a can but they are of excellent quality and the syrup they come in makes a nice topping for the icecream. So well done Debsy on Chez Sunboy. Took Lukey and I a fair
bit of time to do all the washing up after the days efforts but considering how spoilt we had been it wasnt a problem. Nikki does the 6.00pm to 9.00pm watch and this is a pretty good watch as you have dinner at the start and then it seems like no time and your off to bed. Fortunately by doing the set watches, your body clock does get into a rythm and getting to sleep is pretty easy, especially with the good conditions we are having. I still sleep up in the cockpit, mainly because it is the most comfortable place on the boat to sleep with my self inflating air mat, big cushions, pillow and sleeping bag. It also means that there are two people 'on watch' during the night should anything need to be done. I dont say I have the deepest sleeps
possible as you tend to wake up with every change in wind strength or adjustments in boat speed but you still have plenty of rest.
We still havent caught any fish as we have still been running the tow generator all the time and so far it has been meeting our power needs with the only time we have run the engine is to heat up the hot water for washing up or one of our sponge showers. As we dont have a watermaker, our water supply is very limited and we just dont have enough for the luxury of a nice hot shower as often as we would like. Simple process is we put some water in the basin in the bathroom, grab a sponge and shower gel, have a good old scrub and then a quick rinse off. I guess we would use about 2 - 3 litres of water each this way but it does feel so good afterwards so you can just imagine how brilliant it is when we have unlimited hot water and can have a 'normal' shower. We have been hoping for the occasional rain cloud to appear but no such luck yet.
I would estimate we still have about 400 litres of water on board so that should see us through to the Marquesas quite easily and if we get some more on the way then happy days.
Well time to crack off and go and enjoy the morning.
DAY 8 May 31st
Good morning all, bit rocky and rolly this morning, wind came up during the night accompanied by some pretty big swell, I would estimate the biggest would be getting up around the 6 metre mark and winds topping out about 22 knots true but the Arthur the autopilot is doing his best to keep up with the conditions. We are sailing off the wind a bit to try and make the ride a bit more comfortable.
Had a pretty good day yesterday, winds lightened off in the morning so we hoisted a big bright blue gennaker that helped us keep a reasonable boat speed which was all going well until the bloody thing got wrapped around and I mean got wrapped around the jib and foil. Now isnt that a bunch of fun trying to untangle that mess. It took us about an hour but
we finally got it free and and got it down, repacked and back up again. Got a few little holes in it for it's trouble but nothing that a good sailmaker wont be able to repair in a jiffy. Due to the lighter winds we made 181 miles for the day so we were still very happy with that.
Sea life for the day include seeing a big old turtle lazing about on the surface, so far from anywhere, these animals are just amazing, I would love to know how far they have been tracked, it must be incredible. We still have our little feathered friends accompanying us along the way and most mornings we find at least one flying fish dead as a maggot on deck somewhere. We did have a pod of dolphins play along with us for a while and that is always such great fun. I was able to share a very special moment with Layni yesterday when we were obviously looking at the same dolphin off the port aft that suddenly lept out of the water, did a spin in mid air and then crashed back down into the sea. It had to have
lept at least 2 metres out of the water and the spectacle was matched by the scream of excitement from Layni!!
Nikki donned her chef's hat on yesterday and baked a superb big batch of bread rolls that I have to say were the best homebaked bread rolls I have ever had. We had minestrone soup for lunch and the bread rolls were the perfect match.
We have adjusted our course slightly and are now heading for the island of Nuka Hiva where we can check in, get some local currency and grab some fresh provisions and have a little spell before heading for the Tuamotos and then to Tahiti. Going to Nuka Hiva has added about 70 miles to the passage but in the context of things that really doesnt make too much of a difference. As such, the rhumb line from the Galapagos to Nuka Hiva is 3050 miles and we should, all being well, hit the halfway mark tomorrow morning. Still no other boats have been sighted. We are keeping contact by email with Stardancer 3, owned by Keith from Mooloolaba and they are a bit to our south. So our visual is clouds, sun, blue sky, water, water everywhere, bit like being on the moon really, with our boat as our starship, can see lots from it but just cant get off it and have a wander around!!
Hope all is well with each and everyone of you,
DAY 9 June 31st
A bit later in the morning for the blog today, sorry if you stayed up to get it :)
Current weather; overcast, occasional squall, seas a tad rough, occasional big swell to 6 metres. Winds gusting to 27 knots.
We had a pretty ordinary day yesterday as far as weather and sea conditions were concerned. Wind came up, seas came up and poor old arthur the auto pilot had a tough day. The exciting news for the day was we crossed over the half way mark of 1525 miles to go. It happened on Nikki's evening watch so she won the mystery watch leader award, woohooo!!!
We have been sailing for a few days now with two reefs in the main and mostly a full headsail but yesterday we furled the heady a bit to stop the boat rounding up in the big swells. The boat generally maintains a pretty steady course but the occasional big wave that roars in from the side tends to push the stern of the boat around which of course pushes the boat more up into the wind which causes her to take off a bit and gather a lot of speed very quickly and cause the auto pilot to have a bit of a coniption, and the 'boat is off course' alarm bleeting out incessently. We clocked another plus 200 miles for the 24 hour period ending at 8.00am this morning so the stronger winds are having a benefit. All the evening watches were pretty similar with the auto pilot alarm activating with regular monotony. The wind started to pick up about 5.00am so I decided to take to the helm and crank up the speed a bit to try and bust through the really sloppy sea conditions and get ahead of some ordinary looking weather coming up from the south east.
So hope to be able to report on time tomorrow, hope all are well at home.
Best regards to everyone..........
Day 10 June 2nd
Sad news this morning guys, arthur the auto pilot has crapped himself so we are now faced with just over 1200 miles to landfall to hand steer all the way and then another 750 odd miles to Tahiti before we can find a technician who might be able to help us. Such is life on the sea.
So apart from that little dilemma we are still making excellent passage time. We concluded day 10 this morning having made 1819 miles being of course, an average of 181.9 miles per day and we seemed to be increasing that average day by day. Not sure if we can maintain the 190 to 200 miles per day from here on in as we may need to reduce sail a bit to make it a bit easier on the helmsperson but we will see how things go.
We still have pretty good winds this morning and the seas do seem to be lessening a tad. Still the occasional doozy that makes the heart rate rise a bit but most of them are going in the right direction. We are still on a broad reach with 2 reefs in the main and up until this morning about 5.00am we had the headsail furled for the night to allow the auto pilot to manage the conditions. We now have the headsail completely unfurled and we are maintaining speeds well over 8 knots with a top speed this morning of 12.6 knots, surfing down a wave of course.
We had our half way party yesterday, having crossed the 1525 mark the night before so we donned on our party masks, had some coca cola, pringles, Lindt chocolate, M & M's and freshly baked muffins to get that party a really happening thing. No alcohol to mix into the drinks as we are being very well behaved and maintaining our dry boat policy whilst on passage, which is of course very good for onese waistline as well!!! Layni and Nikki spent the rest of the day talking about setting up their bedrooms when we get home. Nikki plans on moving to the downstairs room and Layni will then get to have her old room and be able to access what was Nikki's old room as well so both of the girls will have huge bedrooms and private areas so they were on a right old roll yesterday, getting very excited about how they would decorate and furnish their respective areas.
No sealife to gaze upon for the past 24 hours apart from the few little birds that swoop in and out of the waves, searching for food. Was thinking to myself, why on earth would these little creatures be way out here, thousands of miles from anywhere when they could be safetly tucked up in some nice island lagoon, chilling out and taking life very easy, then with more thinking to myself, I realised that they are probably thinking exactly the same things about us :)
The skies are just starting to clear which makes the day so much better. Heavy clouds and rain make the ocean look so dark and dreary and I think that carries over to the boat and crew so if the sea gods are going to shine upon us we would like the same winds please, lots of sunshine, smooth seas and some little angel to come aboard and wave a magic wand over our autopilot.........as if.
Happy to report all are well on board, the next few days will test peoples patience and resilience I think but Nikki came up with a very good suggestion as far as implementing a new watch system is concerned. At the moment we are all doing 3 hour watches and her suggestion is that she and Luke will split their watches so each person does 1.5 hours on the helm and then at the end of that 6 hour period, Debs and I take over and do the same. In principal, the idea is great so will see how it goes.
So, as I said, just over 1200 miles to go, doesnt sound much if you say it quickly and sounds far less than 1920 kilometres so look forward to reporting to you tomorrow with no further tales of woe and plenty of good stuff to chat about. Till then..................
Day 11 June 3
Distance at end of day 11: 191 miles, 1040 to go to Nuka Hiva
Conditions: Wind has eased a tad, now blowing 15-18 knots constant from the ESE
Seas are still pretty sloppy and occasional hooley dooley swells
Mainly clear skies and warm, warm, warm.
Crew fit and well.
Well happy to report after our first 24 hours of not being push button sailers all is well on board Sunboy. The watch system suggested by Nikki is working very well with the only modification is that instead of doing 1.5 hours on the helm, we have reduced it to 1 hour at a time which seems to go past very quickly. I think the reality of having to hand steet now, the passage seems to be actually going much quicker over all. No sooner have you finished your shared 6 hour watch, had some sleep and then you are back into it again.
I am so proud of the rest of the crew, I thought when arthur the auto pilot decided to die that there could have been a few problems to deal with but their positive attitude has been incredible and now that the first 24 hours as passed I think everyone realises that if we can maintain these conditions, it really wont be that mucn of an inconvience. I know a lot of boats have had auto pilot problems and a lot of boats are only two up to share the whole passage and that would be very, very hard going. We are very lucky that we have 4 people who can helm in these sorts of conditions so that shares the load a whole long way.
We get our weather forecasts from a software program called UGRIB. We can go to any part of the world that we want, select an area and get forecasts for wind strength, rain and pressure gradients for periods of 1 day, 3 days, 5 days and 7 days. We then use our sat phone to connect this program to the internet and then download the file. We then open the file using the same program and we can then scroll through in 3 hour increments to see what the weather will be doing ahead of us. We tend to use 3 day periods as that tends to be pretty accurate and what we have been seeing suits us really well, just hope that continues. It is a free program to download off the net and one I recommend you get and have a bit of a play with.
I was really happy with the fact that we covered 191 miles for the 24 hour period to 8.00am (local time) this morning especially considering we reduced sail a bit to allow people to get used to being on the helm for extended periods and also the wind was reasonably strong. We completely furled the headsail for Debs and Luke on the midnight to dawn watch as that is the one where concentration can really be tested but they did a great job, logging over 40 miles for the 6 hour period. This morning we have gone back to a full headsail and are hoping to keep the miles flowing by and all being well, we should crack the 1000 miles to go mark by Deb and Lukes afternoon watch.
Just makes you realise how isolated you are out here when something goes wrong. Of course the natural reaction is to get on the phone when you have an electrical problem and call Blackie and good old Blackie is generally there that same morning solving all your problems for us. Unfortunately, our nearest good old blackie is probably in Tahiti, about 2000 miles away. I did a copy cat of the work the technician who fixed the auto pilot in Panama did but all to no avail so we hope there will be a Simrad Tech in Tahiti to help us out.
So apart from that guys, not much new news to tell this morning, still no other boats have been sighted visually or on radar, been fantastic to get emails from you and hear how you are, we love getting any news at all so if you can spare a moment, drop us a line. We did send an email to Karen and Brian Knight but I obviously had their address wrong so if you would be kind enough to speak to them and let them know the blog address, we would really appreciate that. It is just a bugger that I dont have my normal contact list set up on this email account so my ability to send emails to anyone is very limited. Will try and fix that when we get into some more normal internet range.
DAY 12 - June 4th
Distance covered previous 24 hours: 175NM
Current conditions: winds 16 knots ESE seas moderating, partly cloudy, nice and warm
Sail set: Full headsail, 1st reef in the main
Sailing 120 degrees apparent
Distance to go: 865 NM
Hello everyone, greetings from the navigation station of Sunboy this 4th day June in the year of our lord 2010. Again, happy to report all are fit and well on board, after now handsteering for our second day. Conditions moderated big time yesterday hence the big reduction in our passage miles. Conditions were pretty good yesterday and each watch was done without any fuss and bother and I think everyone is pretty well into the groove of things. Big excitement last night as the sun set, we could see some lights on the horizon, wowee, another boat, human contact at last after 12 days of not seeing another human being!!! Well it wasnt another yacht as we had hoped, (someone we could actually talk to on the VHF) it was a very big fishing boat who had long lines out that we were able to avoid fortunately. The last thing you want to do is get 100 klms of fishing cord wrapped around your keel and or prop in the pitch dark with god knows how many tons of fish trying to pull the thing apart. We didnt even bother trying to call them up as the chances of anyone on board one of those things out here speaking english is pretty slim.
We did the usual and put on deck lights and all our navigation lights and signalled to them we had seen their markers and were staying well clear then set the sails and cleared the area as quickly as we could. So apart from that little interlude, life has been pretty much the usual.
We have increased the size of our mainsail area this morning as the winds have lightened off a bit and we want to try and pick up and or maintain our pace a bit. The wind has backed more to the east as predicted in our latest weather files but hopefully that will veer again towards the south to give us a better wind angle i.e. more speed!! for our intended first port of call. We have had lots of emails from mates on other boats who have gone before us, giving us lots of info about the Marquesas and now the Tuamotos where a lot of them have reached, en route to Tahiti. All sounds pretty amazing and we are all looking forward to getting there as you can imagine.
Having a few more pods of dolphins come and greet us now and again which is always special, no matter how many times or how many you see, they are still one of our favourite creatures.
So thats all folks for now, hope to report all well around the same time tomorrow
Current time 0800am
C.O.G 252'M Speed: 6.5 to 7.00kts
Wind E.S.E at about 10-12 knots
Sail Set: Headsail poled out, main eased and gullwinging our way to Nuka
Distance covered previous 24 hours 144 miles (bahhh humbug)
Distance to go 725.7
Hello guys, Sunday morning here on Sunboy and what a beautiful morning it is. Cracking sunrise and now mainly clear skies, moderate winds and moderate seas. Had a slow old day yesterday and last night with Debs and Lukey having to motor for most, if not all of their 6 hours from midnight. We poled out our headsail at first light and are now making better progress, albeit not the record breaking speeds were have been doing up until yesterday. The good news is we are much better equiped to hold our course
to Nuka Hiva and I am confident the winds will pick up a bit today to help us push along.
Everyone is well on board but I think most would be looking forward to making landfall and getting a full nights sleep. As we had the motor on last night and the tow generator brought back on board, our batteries have a bit in the bank so Nikki got the fishing rod out and we are hoping for a nice fresh mahi mahi or tuna this morning, fingers crossed. Still loving being able to dip our hands into the freezer lucky dip and last night we dined on pork fillet, fresh brocolli in a honey, chilli and hoi sin glaze, served on a bed of fresh steamed rice, sounds more exotic than it was but it tasted great!!
Debs and Nikki and Luke are not only doing a great job they are just getting better and better at it and they should be really proud of their efforts. Layni is being her usual totally positive self and keeps people in great company in the cockpit, chatting away and helping the time pass. I must say though, doing this hand steering and the new watch system does make the days go much quicker.
One thing we have been doing of late is talking about the meals that we miss the most and yesterdays winners were the Sunday Roast leg of lamb and dish - meal number two was a nice cornish tea with heaps of clotted cream. Well I best get this in the mail as I am back on watch in 5 minutes and I do not want to keep miss Nikki waiting. Till tomorrow..............
DAY 15 - June 7
Current Conditions: Wind E.S.E up to 23 knots T
Swell E.S.E to Easterly generally 2-3 metres occasionally 4 metres
Sail Set: full main, poled out reaching headsail
Party Cloudy, Warm and Dry
Distance to go: 406NM
Distance covered previous 24 hours 162 NM
Well hello from Sunboy, sorry for the late post but have just spent the last 6 hours on the helm, making the most of the vastly improved conditions as far as passage making is concerned, trying to clock as many miles as possible. We had a much better day yesterday with winds starting to increase and swell decreasing. We started to increase our average speed and as our speed increased, our time to go of course decreased and the moral on board increased somewhat!!
The weather and water is getting warmer with the current ocean temperature about 29 degrees C and I would guess the outside temperature is somewhere around the same. Everyone is getting very excited now that we have cracked the 500 miles to go (currently, as I type we have 374 miles left to go woohoooo!!!). The winds got stronger last night from about 6.00pm and Nikki did a fantastic job with me on the 1800 to 2400 watch, handling the strenghthening conditions like an old pro. It is not easy sailing dead downwind, especially with the full main up and the poled out headsail, the combination means we have a massive wall of sail that is open to the effects of the wind and following seas. It doesn't take much for the boat to suddenly swing off course and cause all sorts of heartache, not to mention, all sorts of damage. We have gybe preventer rigged that helps minimise the risk of an accidental gybe but once that full main decides to go, nothing will stop it. The need for absoloute diligence on the helm is crucial and that is not easy, especially as the night draws on the tiredness sets in. I think in reality it is even harder for Debs and Lukey on the midnight to 0600 watch as thats where real tiredness sets in and those guys were absolutely brilliant last night, logging 43 miles for their 6 hours, no wonder there wasnt much conversation at the change of watch this morning, they were both dead on their feet.
Still hundreds of flying fish being seen everyday, sometimes in schools of maybe a hundred or more and they are just beautiful as they all come out of the water at once and then ride the winds on the top of the waves for 20 or 30 metres or so, crashing into the water in unison. I dont know whether they are being chased by big fish or just getting out the way of our boat as the flys along through the water. I guess the sight of the big blue hull coming at them would be enough to scare the crap out of any little fishes. Sometimes you also see them at night, covered in phosphoresence and they look a bit like huge fire flies across the water. For the first time last night, Nikki saw dolphins doing the 'disco dance' as the phosphoresence clings to their bodies as they jump and dart along beside the boat, it is a magical sight to see.
We had a hook up yesterday on our game rod but the bloody thing snapped the line so we think it must have been a record marlin or something similar. We have had the line out so rarely and to miss a fish was a real dissapointment but plenty of water left between here and home.
We all chatted about meals we miss the most yesterday and Lukey's all time favourite turns out to be his Mum's Steak Dianne, Debs has gone for a nice gourmet salad, Layni has gone for lamb fritters and Nikki has decided on chicken snitzel and of course I am still rabid about a lamb roast. At the moment, Nikki is in the galley doing a hug batch of lasagna which we are all looking forward to for dinner tonight. Debsy is on the helm and Lukey is standing by, reading his novel, likewise with Layni and I am about to go and have a lay down soon. We are all reading heaps, knocking a novel over every couple of days or so and it wont be long before we will have to find a huge big book swap to replenish our supplies.
So thats about all for the end of day 15, the mood on the boat is great, people are pumped and doing good. Hope to give a positive report again tomorrow, till then...........................
DAY 16 - June 8
Wind 16 knots ENE Seas moderate, 2-3 metre swell from the east
Partly cloudy, very warm
Distance coverered previous 24 hours 172NM
Distance to go as at 1230PM local time 206NM
Hi everyone, getting closer now. We have changed our sail set and are now on a very broad reach under main and motor, we ran to the south west for as long as was deemed necessary before taking down the poled out headsail and gybed to now be on a starboard gybe with our bow headed for our intended landing point some 206 miles away. We just hope that the wind stays from this angle as we are making pretty reasonable speed and if all goes well, we might just make it into Nuka Hiva by tomorrow evening while there is still a bit of light to find our way into the anchorage.
We had a good day yesterday, but as expected the winds eased off overnight and we were not able to maintain the angle or speeds that were achieved throughout the day. People are starting to move a bit slower when it comes time to come on watch and things get done that little bit slower on the boat and after five days of hand steering when people are not used to it you can understand the overall effect of constant physical effort and demanding mental focus starts to wear you out. I think the fact we are getting closer and closer will help everyone stay focused and reawaken the excitement of making landfall after an ocean crossing.
Nikki's lasagne last night was exceptional, the only thing missing was a nice crisp salad and a glass of red. As we dont permit any alcohol consumption on board during passage, I am sure that first beer and or glass of wine is going to go down a treat. At least it is good for my weight loss as I tend to lose at least a few kilos on these long passages so that cant be all bad.
At the moment, Debs is on the helm, doing her usual excellent job, catching some sun as well in her very nice new bikini, Lukey is listening to his IPod and reading a new book and Nikki and Layni have their heads in cookbooks so dont have any idea what is going to be on the dinner menu tonight but we still have pork and chicken fillet and some other meat in the freezer and apart from that we still have a shyte load of other food stowed away so I am sure we wont go hungry.
It feels like this is the hottest day we have had so far so I am sure everyone will be looking forward to having a swim soon. I dont think we will be swimming in the first anchorage though as we have been warned that the water is murky and it is full of sharks, attracted by the local fish processing plant. We will have to wait a couple of days before we head around to the north of the island where we are told there are some beautiful anchorages, clean water and great snorkelling plus the fun of bartering with local villagers for fresh fruit. Evidently the villagers love to swap things with yachties, obviously as being so isolated, their chances to get 'western' products are very slim so we will see what we can do.
So fingers and toes crossed, hopefully by tomorrow I will be able to tell you we have seen land and are nearing our destination. Till then.....................
Day 16 LAND HO!!!!!!!! INTO THE MARQUESAS AT LAST - 16 DAYS YAHOOOOOOOOOO
Wind 12-15 knots ENE
Seas moderate, 2-3 metre swell predominately from the east
sea temperature 30 degrees C
Air temp: very warm, expected to be a hot, hot day.
Distance covered previous 24 hours 170NM
What an exciting sight this morning, to see the islands of the Marquesas after 16 days at sea, came into view about 7.00am this morning with Nikki on the helm and Debs assist watch and me just hanging around looking good :)
We had a pretty cruizee day yesterday, did a fair bit of motor sailing to try and ensure we are able to make our anchorage during daylight hours and as such it places a fair bit more pressure and strain on the rudder which makes it just that bit more tiresome to helm and hand steer but of course every mile covered is a mile closer so no one is complaining. Debsy is very exhausted, still running herself ragged doing watches and most, if not all of the evening meals, tidying up and just being Debsy. We gave her a little bit of respite last night, covering the first half of her night watch from midnight to 3.00am. Tried and tried to get her to take the night off but no way was she going to have that, I think the words, "I'm not going to wimp out now" might have been uttered two or three times. But we were able to get her to have the second half of her afternoon watch off and she was able to lie back and read her latest Ken Follett novel and at the same time do a bit of sunbaking and had a nice foot and leg massage so she was a happy little camper after that.
She then turned around and made a delicious tuna bake for dinner which went down a treat. Just as dinner was being prepared we hooked a great fish, Lukey Bill fought it valiantly for about 15 minutes before it broke free, so we dont know what it was but from the length of line it peeled off the real and the amount of effort Lukey was putting into it, it was a very good size. A little while later, the reel screemed again and this time we landed another good sized fish, not exactly sure what type it is, maybe some type of tuna / bonito, it's fillets are in the fridge for dinner tonight and we will clarify what it is later.
The night watch was pretty uneventful apart from the 30 gazillion stars that adorn the sky. The air, as you would expect is just so clear and the skies are just so bright which makes it a bit easier to sail a course to rather than having to rely time and time again on instruments only. I think it was about 11.30pm Nikki was on the helm and I was catching a few zeds when she woke me up in a flurry telling me there was a big flying fish on the deck. I am sure she wanted me to rescue the poor thing but the choice between getting out of my nice warm sleeping bag and crawling along the deck to rescue some fish was an easy one to make, so of course the stiff as a board fish was dispatched overboard from the deck this morning. A lot of people cant wait for the morning to collect them off the deck and have them for breakfast but so far we haven't got enough to warant the effort. The flying fish have gradually become bigger and bigger as we came into the Marquesas and having one of these smack into your head in the middle of the night scares the crapper out of you as has happened to Nikki on this passage and Lukey and I when we crossed the Atlantic.
So now Lukey is asleep, as is Debs, Nikki is on the helm and Layni is having a quiet read. We have the champagne and beer in the fridge along with a few cans of cokes for the non 18 year olds to celebrate tonight. Of course every parent and husband is very proud of their family but I dont have the words to do justice to how I feel about what my family, and I include Luke in that circle, and what they have been able to achieve, not just since the auto pilot died but the whole passage. Each and everyone of them are just exceptional people who have gone about their business, taking care of each other, taking care of the boat in a no fuss, no bother manner, bloody legends.
So tomorrow I should be able to give you a bit of an insight into Nuka Hiva and how good it felt to have a decent nights sleep!!! Till then..................