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.
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.
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.
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! ?
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.
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 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. :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Now the rain squalls are again causing a bit of unrest as we are forced to frequently change sail size and course.
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 :)
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.
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.
On the plus side it was a great day, highlight was a pod of hundreds of dolphins paying us a visit.
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