Friday, October 29, 2010

Tonga to New Zealand Day 5

Time: Saturday, 30 October 2010, 0800 Tonga time (+13)
Position: 30-48 S 177-59E

Hello, all!

We continue to make good progress. Yesterday was a 173 nm day, today will be about the same.

Life out here offers up its little dramas, but mostly things have been going very smoothly. But not always. After three straight days of sailing with a single reef in the main, yesterday we noticed that the top spreader was chafing a hole in the sail. Leaving it didn't seem like a good solution, but we didn't like any of the other options either. We tried adjusting the hoist a bit so it would at least wear against a new spot ("freshen the nip," as it were), but that put too much strain against a nearby batten. We finally decided to just drop the sail and put a sticky-back patch on it. We thought it might be tough to dry the sail enough for the adhesive to hold what with all the spray around, but to our surprise once we dropped the sail and headed downwind our bucking bronco of a boat became a docile even-tempered mare. It was rather pleasant drifting downwind slowly in the sunshine for the half hour it took for the patch area to dry. We slapped three layers on the hole, turned the boat back into the wind and our wild bronco of a boat was back.

Update: last night we had to put a second reef in the main. Unfortunately that meant our patch was no longer being held in place by the spreader and it came off. Sigh. I guess we'll just have to sail the rest of the way with two reefs. Should be no problem because the wind is supposed to freshen back up to 25+ knots or so.

Speaking of which, our next challenge is managing our landfall, now about two days out. The forecast shows a very strong high (1047mb!) over the South Island with a low to the east of it. That makes for strong (and cold!) winds out of the SE. We have no appetite for close hauling our way into the Bay of Isles, so we are trying to sail well east of our rhumb line, so our final approach won't be so close to the wind. So far, so good.

Today's amusing incident. I was making scrambled eggs for breakfast and for my serving decided to put some pepper in it. The boat took a lurch, the pepper grinder hit the pan, the top fell off the mill and about 50 peppercorns tumbled in. I thought about throwing the batch away but the thought of starting all over wasn't very appealing either. I ended up gingerly picking the corns out, searching for them with my tongue. Little pepper bombs, each one having to be found and properly disposed of. Now my tongue is singing.

Life at sea.

-tk & Bill & Kathy

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

En route to NZ

Hello, all!

Day 4
Position: 28 31S 170 23E

Broad reaching across the La Nina enhanced trades! How cool is that? Actually, it's pretty wet. The J/42 is not a dry boat, but 2 meter seas on the beam makes for an exceptionally wet ride. Waves roll down the deck and along the coaming, pouring into the cockpit. We huddle behind the dodger and lift our feet to keep them out of the water. Once every hour or so, the watch has to go to the back of the boat to fiddle with the Sailomat self-steering windvane in order to adjust the course. The commotion back there is truly impressive. I zip up the foulies, flip up the hood and keep my back to the wind as spray showers over me.

That's the bad news. The good news is that the J/42 is also a very fast boat, so those same trade wind conditions makes for a very fast ride. We have been consistently doing 180+ mile days, so we are way ahead of schedule. At this moment we have about 480 nautical miles to go, so we are now over half way there, despite being out slightly less than 3 days.

The other good news is that everyone is happy and healthy.. Kathy continues to come up with inventive and impossible meals, despite the trying circumstances. The boat is in good shape with the essentials all in good working order. Because the Lifeline batteries failed in Tonga and we are reduced to using two car batteries we are on a strict energy budget. Fortunately, we have no shortage of propane, so the hot meals keep on coming.

It has been steadily getting colder as we head south. The start of every night watch has me digging a little deeper into my sea bag, looking for something warmer. Last night was silk long johns, polypro top, and what Kathy calls my "Gomer" hat. Tonight will probably have me breaking out the pile jacket and sea boots. As the winds are expected to shift to a little more southerly in the next couple of days, we expect our entrance into the Bay of Islands to be very cold, probably about like our PNW coast in the late spring. But, the sea temperature should be much warmer.

Yesterday Bill was on watch and happened to see some odd looking spray ahead. Taking a closer look, he saw something black and big in the water: a whale, and it was dead ahead! He says he doesn't remember leaping behind the wheel and disengaging the Sailomat, but he managed to steer clear in the nick of time and watch the guy lazily cruise by down our port side. They say that whales can hear a sailboat coming, but you never know...

Tom & Bill & Kathy

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