Catch the Wind…..

May 22nd, (Staying with this date though we are currently in the WESTERN Hemisphere), 2011 – 11:30 p.m. local time

Conditions: 26 deg 13 min South 178 deg 15 min WEST Wind: ESE, 25-35 knots Swell: ESE, 3.5 meters, bumpy! (Kate\’s getting the adventure she came out here for!) Heading 020 True Speed: 6.2 knots THREE Reefs and staysail (This afternoon we had two reefs and were going 9-11 knots, too bumpy on a beam reach). Temp: 70 deg F – 21.5 deg C (we\’re in the aura of the tropics for sure). Water Temp: 73 deg F – 22.8 deg C Barometer:1022 and choppy 172 nm Day 4 run 124 miles to North Minerva, we\’re over 1/2 way to Savusavu 560 nm to Savusavu, we may divert to Suva for haul and repair of leak. Yet to be determined.

\”Catch the Wind\”….Bob Dylan

Dear F&F, This has been a passage full of wind essentially from the start. The last 24 hours has been another story all together. (Sandrine, you were right to sit this one out as a first big sail!).

Starting at 6:30 a.m. this morning, we\’ve had re-enforced trade winds as predicted from 25-35 knots, briefly squalls to 40 knots. Two days from now, it should be gone…(touch some wood..quick!…:))

This is serious sailing. You don\’t want to have to do sail changes and maneuvers in the dark. If anything were to seriously break, it would be a challenge to deal with it. Our large kayak broke out of it\’s restraints but landed in the perfect spot and we\’re just leaving it on the deck over the starboard head. I have no idea how it could have escaped the two stainless steel bars restraining it. They haven\’t moved, but the kayak escaped!

It\’s Mr. Toad\’s Wild ride for sure, it\’s why crazy ass sailors come out here. I however, would prefer less than 25 knots at all times. If you want to take the plunge from the tropics to New Zealand and sail back out, you go in understanding that this is the way it\’s gonna be.

A sailing friend once told me, \”Scott, anyone can get to New Zealand, but only the sailors leave\”. I knew what he meant then and I\’m experiencing it first hand now. As \”weather windows\” go, this is about as good as it gets. Remember, it\’s almost winter here and last night it was 44 deg F – 7.2 deg C in Auckland! It\’s 70 degrees right now outside. The temperature difference alone lets you know; we\’ve got weather!

When you look at a map of the world, you\’ll see that \”Beach House\” essentially took a deep \”V\” course leaving Tonga last September and we\’re now crawling out literally, figuratively and emotionally on the opposite leg out to Fiji. Back to the warm winter tropics of the South Pacific. Tropical sailing is about the \”Endless Winter\” versus the famous film, \”The Endless Summer\”. Summer here means Cyclones (Hurricanes) and we want nothing to do with those beasts.

Rhythmically, I write and watch the bilge pump in the port engine room cycle on and off on the light panel. I\’m beginning to think the leak is not the sail drive skirt but rather perhaps a de-lamination of the engine\’s mounting bed from the hull. The unexpected and prolonged sit \”on the hard\” in Gulf Harbour may have contributed to this. If so, we\’ll still have to haul and have the transmission removed, a bit of glass work and all will be good. Quite interestingly, when we were going 10-12 knots earlier in the day, pressing at a clip that would have sailed us at 240 miles for a day\’s run, the leak stopped. When we slowed, back it came.

When we checked in with the Pac Sea Net tonight, they thought we\’d disappeared as we had to do the third reef tango. Whenever it\’s time to do something like, cook, shower, get on the radio, etc. That\’s the time the wind God\’s always make their presence known as to whose in charge. Kate was in the shower, I was on the radio and 40 knots descended upon us in exactly the above scenario. I had to hurry Kate out of the shower, dropped the radio and with wet hair a flying, Kate took the wheel, rounded us up while I reefed and we made it just before the next blast. Then of course, we got to second guess ourselves as the wind dropped down briefly to a mere 22 knots. I told Kate I didn\’t care if the wind backed off for the night, I wanted it to be comfortable and she agreed that cooking was truly SAFER with less sail and speed on. Never fear, the 25-35 has been pumping all night, currently 30 as I write. It was the right call, glad we did it. The Pac Sea Net controller was Jane tonight and she just assumed we had sail change issues and took our report later in the program. We\’ve moved up to #10. Single handers always go first.

So as you can tell from this report, we\’ve \”caught the wind\” or should I say, it\’s caught us….. 32 knots now. Just threw our first flying fish of the trip off the deck.

KIT, Scott with of course sleeping Kate

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