We made it, woo hoo! Whilst we budgeted 14 days, we nailed it in 13 days. Dropped the pick off Reeds Bay last night around 10pm local time. We didn't go into Radio Bay straight away, as it was very dark last night, no moon, we were super tired, the entrance to Radio Bay is extremely narrow and shallow and the bay itself is tight. We're so pleased to be hear now. Not the passage we envisaged though, which was a broad reach the whole way in gentle 15 knot breeze with 1.5m long interval swell (albeit some crap in the ITCZ), yet we were tight reaching the whole way in 20-35kts with 2-4m short interval confused seas. Suffice to say we were whacked by the time we got in; one beer each and we both crashed last night. Today we moved into Radio Bay, got cleared in, so all good. So now we pop the champagne cork for the belated dose of bubbly.
Whilst it was another night of robust sailing, the seas and winds eased as we got to the same latitude as the bottom of the Big Island. We're steering a course of 300T doing 6.5kts in an ENE15-10kt breeze and a 3m ENE swell. Cloud cover is 30%, we're hoping our last line of squalls just passed us by. We have let out the second reef in the main, brought in our little staysail and let out most of our 130% genoa. We have 80nms to go. Our ETA is around 10-11pm tonight.
Last 24hrs has been robust sailing in 25-35kts from the ENE with 3-4m ENE seas. We have 235nms to go, given we're averaging 7kts over ground this should get us into Hilo around 9-10pm tomorrow night (i.e. 36hrs time).
Last 24hrs has been lovely sailing again, we have 545nms to go which still means at best we may arrive late Tuesday at worst on Wednesday morning
Last 24hrs has been glorious sailing, albeit in a somewhat robust
We had a memorable last 24hrs, not in a good sense. There are times when you need to be careful what you wish for, as we wanted some rain to wash the boat down. We also made the mistake of doing a load of washing at sea; you can always be sure of rain at sea when you are trying to dry your washing. Well once we got above 0830N we encountered a nasty squall that took 5 hours to exit, it had torrential rain and highly variable winds in every regard and terrible seas. When we exited we thought we had hit the 20NE trades early, but that only lasted an hour before we got hit by the next squall which was a an absolute thumper that joined up with the last squall to make a super squall. It has 0-30kt winds, even heavier and more persistent rain, thunder, lightening, horrible seas, it took around 8hrs to exit which was not until we got above 10N. The rain we experienced in that 24hrs was worse than what we saw in Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, Panama in November 2012; which was biblical having rained every day of the month with a dry day being a mere 2" of rain and a wet day a whopping 12" of rain. When we look back at the distance we traveled before we could exit the squall we estimate it to have been around 2-3 degrees in diameter (i.e. unavoidable). Suffice to say that we are somewhat sleep deprived and wet. That said, we had no leeks in the boat - woo hoo!
Well we're still sailing rather than motoring; which is great. Gotta admit though that this is a weird passage. The typical winds you see on this passage are say 15 knots, the direction being ESE-SE when you are south of the equator and ENE-NE when you're above the equator. Indeed these were the general forecasts we had when we left. What we've experienced on average however is quite different, rather than ESE-SE winds south of the equator we got ENE winds, once we crossed the equator rather than get ENE-NE winds we got S-SE winds. GO figure hey! The strength, sea state and current have been typical though. Now that we are above 6N we can see the ITCZ. What is fascinating is that in 8 years of sailing, having crossed several convergence zones, we've never seen lows/cells/pulses (i.e. bad stuff) appear like a bomb blast then disappear or move with lightening speed off to the west. So our task today is to find the best entry point into the ITCZ; one where it is both least active and narrowest.
Another 24hrs of nice sailing conditions. We're currently steering a course of 005T doing 6kts.
We had a glorious night of sailing, steering a course 000T doing 7kts in 15kts from the ESE with 2m short interval confused seas. Crossed the equator around 8pm offering Neptune a stiff shot of spirits, but abstaining ourselves from joining in on the shot. All is well aboard, although seriously looking forward to lower temperatures and less humidity.
We continue to make good progress maintaining speeds in the high 6s and low 7s. The wind has finally started to clock to the east, which is great, although we have entered the easterly counter current which is causing large variations in current direction and speed which is requiring constant course corrections. The sea state did improve for us for a while, but deteriorated again once we got above 0200S. Although our friends on Kokopelli who are up around 0330N are reporting back to us that they have very settled seas which are less than 1m.
We had another good night's sailing, although more robust than preferred. We keep seeing forecast winds of E-ESE but keep getting ENE-E instead making for a tight reach almost close hauled sailing; which is something we were hoping we saw the back of when sailing up to the Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas.
We had a good night's sailing. Although the wind has been a steady ENE-East rather than the predicted East-ESE. A bit before dawn it also picked up to 20 knots and has stayed at that strength. The west setting current is strong, largely due to the impact of the swell I'd imagine, but at 2-3kts it is requiring a 20 degree course correction. The net effect of wind angle, strength, current and swell is forcing us to sail at a 60 degree wind angle; which is something we were hoping to avoid. Given this experience our plan to take every opportunity we can to sail dead north, even put a little bit of easting in until we get to at least 5 degrees north then we'll reassess the plan. Otherwise we risk close hauled sailing for the last 4-5 days into Hawaii in 20-25 knot winds.
Our 4-5mth stay in French Polynesia has been sensational, but our time is up and today we set sail for Hawaii. One thing we won't miss is the 3500nms of close hauled sailing to the east that we've done to get from Opua NZ to here in Anaho Bay on Nuka Hiva, Marquesas. If all goes to plan we should be reaching all the way to our intended port of entry, which is Hilo on the Big Island. Our expected passage time for the 2000nm run is around 14 days, which should get us there around the 12th December.
Spent that last two weeks exploring the Tahanea Atoll in French Polynesia's Tuamotus. Thoroughly enjoyed all it has to offer, which to our pleasant suprise included swimming with manta rays, and the solitude it brings. Late today though it is time to move on, we are going to sail up to North Fakarava overnight where we will pick some friends from Australia who will join us for two weeks.
We dropped the pick inside the Tahanae Atoll in the Tuamtuos this morning after a two day sail from Papeete. Can't believe how lucky we were to sail all the way on a 10-20 knot westerly given the east-based trades that prevail. Our only gripe was snotty seas for the first day which comprised a 2.5m SE swell that had a 10 sec interval with a 3m swell from the WNW with a mere 4 sec interval; which when combined made for some uncomfortable moments. But that all passed within 24hrs, and we did get to sail the whole way without the need for the mainsail. Our 130% genoa was more than enough for us to average 6.5 knots SOG despite the 0.5 knot adverse current. Suffice to say that it is all soooooo nice to be back in the pristine Tuamotus again. As we dropped anchor we were greeted by three good size black tipped sharks that are still circling the boat, several oversized needle fish and various schools of other reef fish. The visibility is of course stunning; we're anchored in 12m of water yet you could read a newspaper on the bottom if you were that way inclined.
Been chilling in Papeete anchored off the northern corner of Marina Taine for the last week or so catching up on boat jobs. Plan is to finish of the jobs this week, reprovision, refuel and re-booze up for the Tuamotus and Marquesas. If all goes to plan we'll stage for the Tuamotus around Point Venus towards the weekend.
Had a big day of brewing aboard Iolea today. Bottled our first home brew of the season, a Bulldog American Pale Ale with extra hops. Also put a Muntons Dockland Porter in the fermenter. Should be ready to start drinking the APA in a 2-3wks, will be another 5wks before we can sample the Porter though. Suffice to say we will be self sufficient in the brewing stakes by the time we hit the Tuamotus.
We had a glorious sail from Raiatea across to Huahine yesterday. Spent that arvo reprovisioning in Fare then headed down to Baie D'Avea this morning. Will probably stay here for at least 5 days before looking for weather to sail to Papette.
Woo Hoo! we're safely on anchor in Raiatae. Its so good to be back up in French Polynesia and to have this passage behind us. All up we can't complain as most boats that do this passage tend to experience 1-3 gales of 50+ knots; whereas we did not experience a single gale despite leaving in one of the worst two months of the year for gales. It was also a quicker trip than expected, taking us a mere 16 days. Some of the stats of the passage are: Rhumb Line Distance - 2160nms Actual Distance - 2418nms Number Days - 16 Number of Gales - nil Average Boat Speed - 6.2 knots Maximum Boat Speed - 10.5 knots Max Sustained Wind - 25 knots Max Gust Strength - 30 knots Engine Hours - 95hrs Genset Hours - 25hrs Diesel Used - 314ltrs Water Used - 528ltrs Gear Failure - nil
We have 50nms to go. Wow what a night. We didn't expect to have such a rough night this close to Raiatae. We started off close hauled with a fairly steady easterly breeze in the high teens and <1m seas. In the early hours of the morning the wind snapped up to 30 knots in a couple of seconds and the swell tripled in size and shrunk in interval; it was game on! So not a pleasant night by any stretch of the imagination. After sailing close hauled for seven days we are also discovering all of our leaks. We thought we did a sensational job ensuring no leaks from any of our hatches and portholes, what we didn't factor in was leaks from the hand holds on deck and one of the non-opening windows; so we have quite a clean up to do when we arrive. Then this morning just before dawn we had a wave break over the top of our bimini. This was similar to the time Iolea decided to turn submarine on one passage down to NZ when it sailed straight through a huge wave resulting in blue water over the top of our boom. The only good news is that the worst of the weather is west of us, we appear to be sailing along its eastern edge. If the day was clear we might be able to see land by now, as our ETA is today around dusk. All is well aboard.
We have 195nms to go. Another challenging night; as we were close hauled in 15-25kts from the bloody ENE with crap seas. Sure could've done with wind from the ESE instead. That said, last night's squalls appear to have finished, the sun is shining this morning and the wind is slowing clocking back hopefully all the way to the ESE. Our ETA is around dusk tomorrow. All is well aboard.
We have 320nms to go, and our autopilot is still working, woo hoo! These are challenging conditions though; as the wind direction is varing +/- 30 degrees and the strength is ranging between 5 & 30 knots. We have to set the sail configuration for the top end of that range; as it changes so frequently. This means we rarely have enough sail up so our progress is slower that it would otherwise be. With the benefit of hindsight we should've continued dead east for 1-2 more days before turning up; as that would've made these last 2-3 days more comfortable. That said, we should not complain as we have not experienced a single gale, the highest wind gusts we've recorded so far barely hit 30 knots, and we will arrive earlier than had we stayed south longer. So all up that is still pretty good for doing this passage at the worst time of the year. All is well aboard.
Just noticed we've been using the wrong date for the last few posts, oops. We have 450nms to go. Had a good night of close hauled sailing in robustish conditions again. All is well aboard.
We have 590nms to go. Had a great night of sailing in robustish conditions. We had SSE winds ranging from 15 to 30 knots, mostly in the 17-22 knot range, which we sailed at an apparent wind angle of 60 & 90 degrees. This allowed us to sail with a single reef in the main combined with our running back supported stay sail. The great thing about this sail configuration is that it is so forgiving in terms of shifts in wind strength and direction. Iolea just coasts along beautifully at 6-7 kts with this set up. Our challenge now continues to be trading off getting sufficiently north to avoid some lighter winds which set in around our current latitude and continue our progress to the east; as the easterly trades are not far away. Apart from the normal challenges that all yachts face when trying to sail close hauled in 15-25 knots, Iolea has an additional challenge due to our long keel. We are starting to see a meaningful swell from the SE, which will become a material head wind to making progress to the east as it will reinforce the SW based current. For example, when we sailed from New Caledonia down to NZ last Nov we had a 2m swell pushing us west, this swell was enough to increase the 0.5-1.0 knot westerly current up to 2-3 knots. The course correction necessary to offset that drift was a whopping 35 degrees. Here's hoping we can sail the rest of this passage close hauled without having to tack our way into Raiatae. All is well aboard; oh and yes our autopilot is still working.
We have 740nms to go. Had a mixed night of sailing, as a temporary wind shift to the east came in, it all went light and variable, with us needing to turn on the iron sail for 8hrs to ensure we continued to make adequate progress to the east given the pending easterly trades which re-establish themselves on Tuesday. All is well aboard.
We have 862nms to go. Had another good night of sailing. If the forecast hold our challenge is to get as far east and a little further north as we can as in 3-4 days time the easterly trades will have re-established themselves. Whilst this appears doable, there is no escape finishing the passage close hauled sailing, albeit in 15kt winds which should make that final leg bearable. All is well aboard.
We have 980nms to go. Had a good night of sailing until the wind died around 5am. As we've been sailing directly downwind we are wing-on-wing and do not have the benefit of both sails on the same side to stabilize Iolea. With the wind down to 5-10 knots, the seas still up and swells coming from 5-6 different directions plus the wake from any large commercial vessels within a 200nms radius we have an uncomfortable roll. Other than that all is well aboard.
A boisterous night of sailing in 25-30 knots with a 2-3m swell; which is always preferable to motoring. Nothing of note to report, all is well aboard.
Had a mixed bag last night. The positive was how splendidly Iolea sailed in the 25-30 knots we got from the cold front that passed us last night. We had a double reefed main and our little staysail out supported by one of our running backs. Iolea glided along effortlessly at 7-8 knots in winds from her aft quarter with ease and was amazingly stable as the seas got more and more confused as the wind built and set in for the night. The negative was what happens after a front passes of course, as the winds died but the swell remained making it impossible to sail unless engine assisted, and even then we couldn't keep a heady up; and the annoying roll that cannot be avoided due to so many swells coming from so many directions. All that said, we are pleased that we weren't further south as that would've been a lot more boisterous. Whilst Kate & I are somewhat sleep deprived, all is well aboard.
What a difference a day makes. We managed to unjam our mainsail without having to go up the mast and our autopilot is still working; woo hoo! Also had some glorious sailing over the last 24 hrs with a fairly full moon over night and clear skies, basically doing 6-7 knots in a tightish reach with 10-15 knots winds and very little swell. Throughout the morning the winds have built up to 20-25kts. The swell is somewhat confused as you'd expect with these winds, but it is only a 1m wind chop. We were on a heading of around 50T most of the night, but have since beared away on a course of around 70T as we don't want too much more north in at present, preferring to favour more easting which also happens to be a faster heading.
There has never been a truer word spoken than "if its going to happen it will happen out there"; which is a line from the film "Captain Ron". We discovered that there may be a structural flaw emerging inside our Whitlock electric auto-pilot drive unit; as there is a cracking sound coming from inside the unit, and we still have 1500nms to go to get to FP. That said it is still working for now at least. Whilst we do have a spare unit, our preference is not to replace it at sea whilst our current one is still working, rather we'll baby it by keeping weather helm to a minimum; and only resorting to replacing it if it really does fail before we get to FP. Our second drama is that our main sail has jammed coming out around the 3rd reefing point. We don't see a real need to go up the mast at sea to unjam it though as we expect to be running most of the way to FP; so the main in somewhat redundant anyway. So for now we're just leaving the small amount of a main out so we at least have some main sail working. If need be we know we can bring the main all the way back in without issue. Apart from being kept busy with these two issues, all is well aboard. We managed to sail around 6 hrs over the last 24hrs, and only recently turned the motor back off now that the centre of the high has passed us and we are starting to see a 5-10 knot NW breeze emerge; but this maybe premature as the wind is still fluky and may take a few more hours to truly settle back in. Oh the other item worth noting is at that we are changing our intended port of entry from Bora Bora to the next island on its eastern side; namely Raiatae, as this will allow us to catch up with friends we've not seen since the Galapagos Islands early in 2013.
Motoring again in lazy 3 metre seas. Its very cold so might put on the diesel heater if the sun doesn't warm us up. Celery and potato soup has been helping. Gradually getting into the rhythm of shifts and a day motoring means showers for both of us. So all good. BTW we passed over the international dateline yesterday so its still Saturday here. A boat in the middle of the ocean is the perfect groundhog day.
Managed to keep sailing all day yesterday, most of which was pleasant sailing despite being somewhat boisterous last night and close hauled all the time. Our aim is to shoot along in between the 32nd & 33rd latitudes, which is why we are close hauled in the SSE breeze that has prevailed most of the last 24hrs. Our understanding is that the centre of the high that is about to pass us is somewhere around 32-33 degrees, so if we stay there we'll avoid the easterly breezes above its centre, and avoid having to sail so far south; our only price to pay is probably motoring through that centre of that high for a day. If we are right though, we should be able to head back up and ride the westerly based breezes on top of the next low that follows this fast approaching high. Well that is our strategy for the next few days. We'll reassess as more weather forecasts become available.
Pleased to be sailing again, albeit wing-on-wing. General conditions haven't changed that much other than a little more wind, allowing us to turn off the motor for a change. We're currently doing 6 knots on a heading of 40T; and are close to our rhumb line for FP. All is well aboard.
Started this passage mostly motor sailing in light 5-7 knot winds and relatively calm yet still somewhat confused seas, only managed to sail for 5hrs so far; hoping for more wind today.
Yes we are indeed casting off the dock lines this morning and setting sail to French Polynesia. Our intended port of entry is either Bora Bora or Raiatae; weather permitting. Expected passage time is around 18 days. First week is looking like calm seas and light winds; after that is the usual lucky dip.
Final preparations for a Wednesday departure for French Polynesia.
Anchored around the corner from Russell. This is a test post as we search for a suitable weather window to sail to Bora Bora (French Polynesia).
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