Our beautiful plan for making easting, then making tracks to Fiji on a northwesterly course, disintegrated as the forecasts began to show Northerly winds where NE had been predicted. We were crestfallen. Our options were to bash into wind and seas, tacking our way north (no fun at all!), keep going east in hopes that we’d be able to pick up favorable winds forecast on that route (but with the forecast twice failing us, that seemed a bit much to wager on), or sail to Raoul Island in the Kermadecs and wait for favorable weather. The Kermadecs won, so off we sailed on a NW course to Raoul Island, finally having fresh, favorable winds for a short window. Anson hand steered for the fun of it, making 7 to 8 knots, as we close reached our way to these remote islands controlled by New Zealand. We arrived at dawn, set the anchor, and enjoyed a deep rest in the lee of a volcanic island. New Zealand is graciously allowing us to stay here until the adverse northerly winds abate, but, due to an outbreak of Myrtle rust and fears of more introduced pests and diseases, the island is in lockdown mode. No going ashore for us, but a reprieve from what would be a hard and frustrating passage.
So, what do we do on a boat at anchor with no watches to stand and nowhere to go? We keep on working on Anthea of course! Anson set out with almost religious fervor to tweak Anthea’s rig and complete projects that he had been thinking about for many months. We have more beautiful spectra splices and loops popping up by the day, and the forward end of the spinnaker pole is now laced in protective leather, preventing the abrasion of metal on metal for those unpleasant moments when the pole is on the forestay before being winched into position. We serviced winches and sheaves, re-positioned blocks and lines on the windpilot to address chafe, rebuilt the port and starboard navigation lights, cleaned up some electrical wiring, and checked Mr. Perkins’ vitals. Devon baked fresh bread yesterday and has two loaves in the making now. For the two nights we’ve spent here, we’ve enjoyed a movie after dinner each evening.
When topsides, we peer over the edge of the boat into clear blue waters and look for the Galapagos sharks which seem to be quite curious about our presence. Six or seven of them are often swimming by, their four-foot-long brown bodies swishing elegantly from tail to head as they seek something from our hull: Handouts? Communion with other species? Hopes for fish sheltering in our shadow? We haven’t seen any other fish species here, despite the islands being a marine reserve. This is a stark contrast from Poor Knights with its teeming life visible from the boat at anchor; perhaps the sharks have eaten everything in sight, and the remaining fish cower among the rocks near shore. The cold temperatures, the school of sharks, and absence of other beauties have kept us from donning wetsuits and exploring under water.
Unfortunately, there’s no beautiful weather window coming up, but nothing dangerous popping up either. When the southerly winds blow, which should be Friday morn, we’ll need to leave. At that point we’ll hunt and peck for wind, motor when we must and until our fuel runs short, and slowly make our way to Fiji. So we’re safe, ridiculously productive, and yearning for Fiji. Kim
29 degrees 16.75 minutes south and 177 degrees 53.8 minutes west
PS Another night passed before posting this blog. Board games after dinner this time. Now it is noon NZ time on 5/17, and we’re setting off in a southerly breeze. We’ll be hunting and pecking for wind most likely, but so far there’s nothing scary on the horizon. May that continue! 740 miles to go.