The plan is to get to 30 S 175 W and then head WNW to Fiji. It’s a good plan, with a course of 61 degrees true from our current position of 32 degrees 26 minutes S and 179 degrees 42.6 minutes W (yep, we crossed the dateline and are now in the Western hemisphere). The problem is the wind is more often than not predicted to be coming from the NE. We’ve agonized over the weather files, looked for strategies, and with Peter’s wisdom guiding the overall plan, we’ve found a way to implement it. If the wind has more northerly in it, sail east, if the wind has more easterly in it, go north, but don’t give an inch westward and motor if the wind is on the nose. The big caveat for motoring is that the wind has to be light and seas moderate or we burn diesel while making painfully slow progress. We also have limited supplies of fuel, so in reality, from here on out, sailing is our ticket to Fiji.
Anson, aka “Q,” netted us our secret weapon: re-lead the jib sheets between the shrouds, watch like a hawk for chafe, and winch in that jib like a blade. He climbed the mast underway and cut down the interfering rat lines, savoring the challenge of going aloft at sea. (The rat lines are used for gaining elevation to see coral reefs while sailing in lagoons. The boys prefer to go straight up the mast to the spreaders to spot these hazards; I stand on the bow; thus the rat lines are rarely used). We’re now pointing at 45 degrees from the true wind, giving us a full range of options for sailing N or E as the wind shifts. But add big seas and stronger winds and we’ll lose some of that favorable angle as we bash and pound windward. So far, we can hold this sweet angle in 15 knots apparent and 1.5 meter seas, coursing along at 5.7 knots while still having a liveable cabin. If the forecast holds true, we may just have some lighter northerly winds, letting us slip through the gauntlet of strong northeasterlies to reach our waypoint where we’ll turn towards Fiji.
For most of today the wind has been 10-12 apparent, occasionally dropping to 7-10, and it backs and veers as it weakens and strengthens. Our speed goes up and down and our course has varied from 62 to 90. but we’re content as long as we’re making easting at 4 knots or more (and happy at 5 knots or more).
When we focus on the journey itself, and not the fact that we’re taking the loooong, upwind, way to Fiji, the journey is sweet. It is true that we’ve motored three times more than on our crossing from Mexico, having logged 32 engine hours thus far, but these hours have been interspersed with blissful light air sailing. Yesterday we flew the spinnaker in 2-4 knots of breeze at 60 degrees for three glorious hours. We were making 4 to 5.5 knots and it felt like magic. Then the wind shut down to nothing. Today we’re pointing high and the ride is still smooth. The sky is clear, the water a blue so rich it looks like paint, and the night stars shimmer through the crescent moon. A gift for sure. We’re treasuring these quieter days in the ambit of the high, for soon it will be rocking and rolling. But then comes Fiji! Kim
1800 on 5/11 NZ time