We?ve arrived at Havannah pass! The south Westerly met us earlier than expected at about 11am and also was stronger than expected, getting up to about 18 knots. As the waves got a bit big we stopped the engine and sailed hard on port tack for a while, resorting to hand steering to soften the wave motion. Was actually quite pleasant sailing upwind, not something we do very often if we can help it.
As we closed on the land the waves flattened out for really nice conditions although not making course. Then the wind died too and we are now motoring again.
If this wind stays like this the plan is to continue through to Noumea tonight and clear in tomorrow morning.
The calm conditions continued last night and we?ve spent the night peacefully gliding through silky smooth waters (except for the sound of the motor of course). Enjoyed a stunning moonrise from a clear horizon and big globs of phosphorescence popping out of our wake.
One negative has been a fair amount of time with negative current of about 1 knot, which is making my conservative eta estimate look a bit less achievable. It will all depend on how strong and soon the forecast South Westerly breeze is, probably get to Havannah between 2 and 4 pm.
This morning Mare island was clearly visible about 20 miles away and we could also make out Lifou in the distance. We?ve been reminded of the ?securite, securite? french vhf radio broadcast, which New Cal cruisers will be very familiar with.
Nothing new on the fishing front except for one nibble this morning. We have now lost 3 high speed rapalas and only have one left. Might try a rubbery squiddy thing on the other line and see if we can bag a Mahi.
You?ve got to love it when a plan comes together! Gemini seamount delivered a huge mackerel. We had given up on finding the shallow area (which is incorrect on the chart) and returned to course but shortly after the depth sounder started seeing 80 meter and we circled around until we eventually found the 40 m area. Almost immediately we started to get hits on the two lures, but neither stuck, one big one came off the hook close to the boat. On about our third circle back we finally got one. The biggest mackerel we?ve ever caught, about 1.5m long, there was a bit of pandemonium on the sugar scoop as Lyn tried to control it with her little fish towel as I held the line. Eventually the iki stick found its mark and after a lot of filleting work by Lyn we had fresh fish for lunch and a stocked freezer. We tried a few more passes and I?m sure we would have caught another but we are on a schedule to beat the South Westerly and had to leave. A little later we lost the successful lure, almost brand new. Oh well, fish 3 Jolifou 1.
Whilst all this was going on a 50m super yacht called Drumbeat happened to come past. They weren?t fishing and captain said he came a bit closer because he thought we might be in distress going round in circles as we were. Weird coincidence, the only other vessel we?ve seen apart from a Chinese fishing trawler in the distance.
Shortly after we left the mount the wind died to almost nothing and the day has been spent motoring on an oily calm sea. This is the next best thing to perfect sailing if you don?t mind the fuel bill. Perched on the bow with a drink in hand, headed directly into the setting sun and golden ocean, was one of those priceless moments you get out here.
110 miles to go to Havannah pass!
Nice sailing continued for a while but just before 10pm we needed to start the motor which we expect to remain on for the remainder of the passage. Motor sailed for a few hours but by this morning we have dropped the main and pretty much propeller power only, just a bit of wind filling the jib and reducing the rocking.
Beautiful sunset, moonrise and sunrise framing a peaceful night. This morning the sky is clear and the sea quite nice and flat. We have altered course a little to pass over the Gemini volcanic seamount where we hope to see some good fishing action. Chart shows it rising up from a depth of 2000 meters to just 40 meters. Friends of ours have reportedly had great success there last year so hoping we can improve our woeful fishing score later today.
Another perfect day of sailing, chewing up the miles effortlessly under a mostly sunny sky. The wind has been gradually fading through the day as forecast, but there?s still enough at the moment to keep us trucking along at over 7. Tiny swell and small waves, all the right direction to help us on our way.
Have decided not to rig up the gennaker as we will only really need it for a few hours tonight and not so keen on having it up after dark. Anyway we are cruising sailors after all and the wind angle will be perfect for motor sailing when we need it.
Not good on the fishing front, another lure down, the last of our genuine rapalas and almost brand new?. Fish 2 Jolifou 0.
Tired of the music on the iPad, we?ve delved into our old CD collection and sundowns this evening are to the Eurythmics greatest hits. Sweet dreams are made of this.
The perfect sailing conditions continued last night, steady moderate breeze at a great reaching angle, small seas from the weather quarter, full moon (albeit mostly behind a thin cloud layer).
When we pulled the lures in last night we discovered that one was missing. Probably the speed is a bit much for trolling at the moment. Oh well, fish 1 Jolifou 0, will try again today.
We are both pretty well rested and very happy to be having such a comfy time at the moment.
I think the gennaker may make an appearance later today as the wind is forecast to decrease through the day. The routing calcs have us arriving at Havannah passage at about 7pm, which should be around mid flooding tide. Flooding tide flows westward so favorable for us which is a big help through Havannah and Woodin passages approaching Noumea. If we can keep to that or better it by a couple hours it will be great. Also looks like there?s a chance of a little south wester wind on the nose on final approach and the earlier we get there the better chance of avoiding it, so will keep the hammer down a bit over the next couple days.
Today has been champagne sailing, 18 knots wind broad reaching with full working sails. Small waves and some favorable current has helped too as we eat up the miles easily.
Some minor incidents with one of the Vang tackle ropes breaking twice and causing the screws holding the lug in the boom to work their way out. Not too hard to fix and no further damage resulting.
We are heading a bit North of the rhumb line so that we have a better angle when the wind moderates. Popping in at Vanuatu has been considered .
Full moon is rising as I type this and we are hoping for another beautiful night tonight.
Leaving Fiji we had fairly boisterous conditions about 23 knots and rough seas from the south east. Motion not too bad as we sailed a bit right of course with 2nd reef and not much jib. Surfing at over 10 and averaging maybe 7.5 or more.
Through the night the wind has gradually moderated and gone a touch more into the east and we have been progressively unfurling the jib and coming up to course, now have full jib and 2nd reef main. Seas have become more friendly too which is appreciated as we both had moments of queasiness last night and haven?t eaten much except a little cheese and nuts.
It was a beautiful night with full moon peeking through the clouds. Looks like good weather today as the sun rises with not much cloud.
On our way to New Cal.
Sitting at Musket waiting on a new regulator and hoping for a good window for New Cal on Thursday when it arrives.
Arrived Nananu-I- rau. This morning. Great passage, downwind and port gybe the whole way.
Left Fulanga yesterday and sailed to Lakeba where we spent last night. Lost 2 lures but didn?t land a fish :( It?s a sketchy anchorage at Lakeba with no swing room and exposed to the wind. Place looks a bit ugly also. Promising surf break on the pass but blown out by the wind. So we left this am, didn?t even go ashore or do sevu sevu.
We?re now on our way to Denerau to pick up friends by way of Nananu-I-Ra, hoping for a few days of good kiting there. Eta is tomorrow morning.
Arrived at Fulanga pass earlier today at 2pm. Pretty awesome sail considering it?s normally dead upwind in the trades. Reaching the whole way in 10 to 17 knots, bit more south in it for some time last night but still sailing nicely and had gennaker up in the broader angles yesterday afternoon and this afternoon.
Humpback whales yesterday. Final approach was magic as we saw pilot whales and sailed along the outside of the Fulanga reef in the flat water lee of the island.
Entering the pass was a bit hectic as we made just 2 knots over ground against the 5 knots of ebbing lagoon water. We have been told this place is the most beautiful island in Fiji. So far we have to agree.
On our way to Fulanga.
Just entered Navula pass! Bula Bula Fiji. Looking forward to catching up with all of our cruising friends here.
Very excited to see Cape Washington on Kadavu island mid afternoon. Just 70 miles to Navula passage now! Barring disasters we should be checking in at Lautoka early tomorrow morning.
It?s been a good day of sailing, broad reaching in building breeze and gradually cashing in our easting to improve the wind angle. So far the plan is working nicely.
Beautiful almost full moon sky this evening as we barrel along. The seas have been surprisingly small, bit lumpy but nothing the JF can?t handle easily.
The wind increased from the SE earlier than expected and it?s been a touch boisterous as we continue to head east of direct course in anticipation of bigger winds and seas on final approach. 2nd reef main and half furled jib, good speeds.
This morning we passed superyacht Encore headed south, seems Ike a strange time of year for heading for NZ, most will be going the other way.
Less than 24 hours to go! ?
The wind filled in after lunch and we have been sailing nicely In 10 to 12kt SE winds the whole afternoon. The plan is to keep making a bit of east so we are approx directly south of destination when the wind is forecast to build from the SE, hopefully giving us a nice comfy final approach.
Around sunset we saw our first vessel since leaving the Australian shipping lanes, a 24 meter fishing vessel (Solander 5) which is currently about 5 miles from us. Tried to call them on the VHF for a chat but no response. When they subsequently changed course and speed towards us and temporarily disappeared from the AIS display our minds had a bit of a moment, fearing they may be illegal fishing (or drugs) and trying to intercept us! Probably just on their way back to Suva.
We continued to motor through last night into a slightly bobbly sea caused by a 7 knot easterly with the odd small rain squall. We both had excellent sleep and are nice and well rested this morning.
The wind and sea is calmer again now, glorious weather. We are ahead of our schedule for Wednesday morning arrival so will start sailing slowly as soon as some wind develops. According to models that may happen around midday.
We?ve been motoring all day, all sails down in little wind from variable direction. Always expected this based on the weather models and it?s a good time to relax and sleep as the motor provides white noise, sea is pretty flat and there is nothing that can go wrong sails and wind-wise.
We wrote down our lists of goals for the season, mostly action sports things like ?Get barreled more? and ?Kiting back roll?.
One of my goals is to work on my core strength and I was inspired to do my Hamish Wilcox core and stretch exercise session this afternoon. Cheers Hamish if you?re reading this.
Barring any mishaps if all goes to plan we should arrive at Navula passage early Wednesday morning. :)
Sails start flopping, start engine. Splutter, splutter, oh dear it?s that dry exhaust sound again. Stop engine. Go through the now familiar priming procedure. Start engine, looks good, relax. Half an hour later, splutter splutter ?shoot?. Wake Lyn so she can steer whilst we bob about rather than stressing the autopilot.
Speedseal off, check impeller, looks good. Prime again, try again, watch as the water level in the strainer gradually reduces until air begins to get sucked into the pump. Try again a couple times, same result (what a fool does). Remove inlet pipe from strainer, water coming in but slowly, poke wire through seacock. Prime, try, same. BUT large oyster sucked into strainer, must have been the cause. Prime, try, better but still sucking air after a while. Re-locate strainer downward below sea level, fixed!! Sometimes I think that when things are going too well something bad is bound to happen sooner or later. Hopefully we have now paid that due and the motor will behave because we are looking at about a day and a half of little wind and mostly motoring. Time to catch up on some sleep.
On this day we remember my Dad, David Savage. This time last year we were in mourning 4 days into our passage. Maybe Dad has pulled some strings for this passage to make it so good? He certainly would have appreciated the beautiful day we?ve had.
Through the day the wind has gradually backed as its strength has eased. We have managed to keep sailing quite well so far, aided greatly by a consistent wind direction at 90 degrees and a super calm sea. Progress has been slower but who cares when it?s this nice.
It was a stunning sunset and this evening is beautiful with a moonlit calm sea. No doubt the calm will need to be broken soon as we start the engine.
A relaxing night two sail broad reaching in wind varying between about 10 to 13 knots. Small course adjustments to come up a bit in the lulls and down in the gust. The seas are nice and friendly but we have a little bit of contrary current. The weather is lovely, blue skies and Simpson clouds.
Headed a bit more east than desired as we lose too much speed any squarer to the wind. Plan at the moment is to be about due south of Lautoka when we are about 100 miles out, this us when some of the models predict possible strong SE winds and will be nice to have an easy angle.
All models indicate we will lose the wind later today and may have to motor for two days thereafter. Will try to keep sailing as long as possible today to save as much fuel dollars as we can.
Another day of perfect conditions but without rain squall Later in the day the wind had just a touch more south in it and we too the pole down, changing to the current situation of 2 sail reaching in 15 knots. Easy miles and very comfortable on the Jolifou.
I can?t help but think about our friends Dal and Dave who left at a similar time to us in Dal?s Santa Cruz 52 ?Cruz Control?. That boat was made for these conditions and they must be absolutely loving it at the moment. They don?t have satellite comms and we have tried to contact on an hf radio sched but no joy so far. Will be interesting to see how far ahead they arrive.
Last night continued to be excellent sailing conditions as we cruised along at a comfortable speed surging on the following seas. Occasional need to change the heading on the autopilot up and down a few degrees on the gusts and lulls. The squalls were less severe and with the easy seas the autopilot could handle them fine with a little manual fine tuning.
We both got good sleep and we are a very happy boat at the moment, thoroughly enjoying this middle of the trip time, when you?ve become comfortable with the boat, settled into a nice routine and the destination is still too far to bother with anticipation.
Weather has been generally fine apart from the odd brief rain squall, but it is still cold despite our more northerly position.
Today has been awesome sailing, downwind in 15 to 18 knots, poled out 1/4 furled jib and 2nd reef mainsail. Seas following and quite organized. The reason for the conservative sail plan is mostly the rain squalls, which have not been too heavy but probably gusting about 30 at most and with quite big windshifts. I?ve been hand steering through the 3 squalls of today to react quickly and ensure we stay at the right wind angle and no broaching and flappy sails.
Lyn had a good yoga session without me in the way and I put a wear cover on the top of the staysail halyard as it has been chafing at the sheave.
So far tonight there have been no squalls and it?s idyllic conditions at the moment. Long may it last.
Latest models are looking good for a nice remainder of the passage, albeit light wind motoring in store for the weekend. Not pushing as hard east now as we expect to be able and wanting to do that in the lighter winds ahead.
Last night was a difficult one with rain squalls messing us about. The kind of night where if you had plenty of fuel you would just take the sails down and motor. Speaking of which when we did start the motor in the calm after one squall, we again had the dry exhaust problem. Only fixed by bleeding at the water pump cover (speed seal makes this a lot easier), which requires removing the steps in a rolling boat. Was not conducive to sleep for the off watch, a bit of an emotional time for the captain too. I think it?s time that lowering the strainer gets to the top of THE LIST.
Again the second half of the night/early hours of morning was much better. On the plus side for the squalls we rode one out this morning after sunrise and were treated to the most amazing double rainbow which literally overtook us with its arch.
Lyn had a great watch enjoying watching shooting stars in a clear sky: ?I had this fantasy of lying on the foredeck and nature putting on a fireworks display of stars falling out of the sky?. Maybe we?ve been at sea too long already?
Today was a good day of sailing, especially this morning where we were broad reaching with full main and jib, calm seas and favorable current. Conditions were so good we even did a yoga session, albeit no balancing positions.
This afternoon and early evening the wind has swung to the SW and we are now sailing in about 18 knots with poled out half furled jib and 1st reef in the main. Quite comfortable but the current now seems against us and progress is slower. Had to deal with a couple of pesky rain squalls.
I had a very amusing text chat via iridium with Warwick of Fusio. It?s amazing that technology lets us do this from the middle of the ocean to him on an island in the Lau group. Looking forward to catching up with them soon.
Last night the good wind continued, about 15 knots from the SSW. We sailed nicely all night, broad reaching with 2nd reef and full jib. More of the same this morning, long may it last! We are now trying to make as much easting as possible as insurance against possible future ESE winds. Looks like we will pass quite close to Norfolk Island.
Much of today has been spent motoring. We had a brief sail around 12 then the wind dropped and was square behind. Late afternoon the wind filled in quite nicely from the south and we?ve been sailing since then, dodging rain squalls early evening, not much in them, bit of a gust in front but then they bugger up the wind for a while.
Around 7 the rain squalls disappeared and since then we have been sailing really nicely in about 15 knots from the south, flat seas and favorable current.
The forecast is still looking good for the rest of the trip, holding thumbs it plays out.
Last night was a mixed bag of little rain squalls, gusts and lulls, generally a bit lighter varying from about 10 to 25 knots.
During one of the lulls we decided to motor as battery needed charge anyway. That dreaded dry sound came out of the exhaust and spent a frustrating half an hour checking impeller, pouring water in the strainer etc. to prime the raw water pump. All good now and we ended up motoring a fair bit last night.
This morning the wind is light and from behind so we are motoring again. Nice and comfy tho.
Weather forecasts at the moment look like we will have lighter winds for the rest of the trip so the staysail has been packed in its deck bag and we will hoist the big sails when the wind fills in.
The wind and seas built again and we lost the favorable current as we got more north. The early evening was spent trying to dodge Elizabeth reef as a rain squall of about 40 knots shifted the wind direction by 30 degrees to the SW. Originally planning on passing to the south of the reef, we opted to change to the north. It was a stressful time as we feared we might get another squall from the west putting the reef in a Lee shore position. Wasn?t a problem in the end.
Now the rain squalls are again causing a bit of unrest as we are forced to frequently change sail size and course.
The first half of the night was hard with rain squalls (no lightning fortunately) necessitating frequent furling and unfurling of the jib as we were knocked about by the lumpy sea. I?ve never before experienced so much crashing about of stuff down below as despite our best efforts to secure, the violent rolling from side to side played havoc. This made sleep difficult.
Later on the squalls ended and the seas and wind became a bit more consistent and we both had some good sleep.
This morning there is a miraculous transformation with much smaller and regular waves, the wind is a touch lighter and we are getting wonderful assistance from the current as hoped. Full jib poled out, full staysail to leeward, still no mainsail. No more rocking, happy days :)
Has been a windy and wild day but good progress in the right direction with the 25 to 30 knot Westerlies. Sea state a bit confused as wind has switched from WNW to WSW. Jolifou going well with no main, staysail and poled out heavily reefed jib, but it is a rocky ride.
Still we are in good spirits, eating well and getting some sleep.
Have heard our friend Dal of Cruz Control trying to get us on the VHF, but he does not seem to hear our reply. He must be somewhere relatively neat but can?t see him.
Around 11:30 pm AEST last night the wind came back and has built to a solid 25 knots from the NNW. We?ve been sailing rapidly all night with staysail to leeward and poled out jib to windward (now half furled), mainsail down. Loving this configuration for strong downwind, if the jib backs the staysail keeps the speed for the autopilot to be able to turn the boat and recover.
We have been getting some current assistance in a northerly eddy of the east coast current and we have now hit a strong maybe 3 knots ESE flow of the main coastal current bending out. This is making it hard to follow our preferred routing of making some north to ensure we are over a low developing in a couple days. However with good speed through the water the current is giving us excellent SOG towards Lord Howe, seeing lots of 10s.
In the pitch black after the sliver of moon set there was a really special show of phosphorescent dolphins lighting up the water.
After a perfect day of sailing in strong WNW wind and small following seas the wind dropped at 5:30 and we are now motoring. Bit frustrating as the weather models never showed this and not great to be burning the fuel reserves so early in the trip.
On the plus side it was a great day, highlight was a pod of hundreds of dolphins paying us a visit.
Just left Newcastle harbour. Perfect sailing at the moment as we reach along the Stockton coast in 20 knots NW, 3 reefs and half furled jib.
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Testing from the marina in Newcastle. We are planning on leaving at 9am today.
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