Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tonga to New Zealand

October 30, 2008--I believe the saying is "The best laid plans of mice and men." My plan was to write a blog on Tuesday; however, that didn't work out.

Steve and I worked very hard all day Sunday getting the boat and the meals ready to go. We were pretty tired by Sunday evening, so neither of us had any trouble getting to sleep. We were up pretty early to finish the last few items. Steve took a taxi to the airport at 9:30 figuring that it would take Gary a few minutes to get his bags. I stayed on the boat and kept busy putting all the small things away and doing some last minute cleaning. Gary's plane was delayed by just a bit, but they came back to town and he went with Steve to check us out so that we could leave by one o'clock.

As soon as Gary was on the boat, we stowed his gear, and then he and Steve ran the new Monitor steering lines that Gary had brought down with him. I got our ballots filled out and ready for Grant from sv Wind Dancer to pick up and drop off at the Aquarium Restaurant. Hopefully someone will be leaving for the states in the next few days.

We dropped the mooring ball and were underway at 12:45. The winds were light, but we enjoyed a lovely sail down the channel. When we turned to head out of the island group, the winds were pretty light so we were just creeping along. Once we cleared the last islands, the wind picked up to a nice 15 knots. The seas were very low so we enjoyed a wonderfully comfortable ride. We had lasagne, a salad, and some homemade bread for dinner and then began our watches. I will have the 8 to midnight, Steve will have the midnight to 4 a.m., and Gary will take the 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. Then we start all over again. It is amazing the difference a third person makes. We are on watch for 4 hours and then off watch for 8 hours. That is great compared to 3 on and 3 off because it allows us to get a lot more sleep.

The first night out Gary had just gone up to begin his watch at 4 a.m. when Steve told him that there was a boat up ahead and that is was fairly close. Well, suddenly they realized that the boat was hove to (basically stopped), and we passed within 20 yards of their stern. That was close. Tuesday was another nice day except for the fact that I was still seasick. The guys ate left over lasagne for lunch, and then I made meat loaf with mashed potatoes and green beans for dinner. I, however, had just the mashed potatoes.

I had planned to write the blog the next morning, but when Steve and I got up we both noticed a change in the motion of the boat. He went up to talk to Gary. The winds were pretty light, but the waves were building. It wasn't 5 minutes later that we got hit with 30 knots of wind. We got to work reefing the sails down to the third reef. After Gary was come back in the cockpit, he took off his inflatable life vest and was going to put it on the seat, but it slid onto the floor and into the water. The next thing we knew it inflated--they really do work. It was pretty rough so the guys just had a hard boiled egg, and I ate some mashed potatoes. I was still not feeling well and actually got sick right after breakfast. Then I ended up sleeping on the settee for several hours trying to get over it.

Steve had trouble getting the sail tied down in the third reef, which we have now decided was because we went from the first reef directly to the third reef, and that left a lot of sail to be tied down. We made due with a bag in the sail for several hours. The seas were large and confused, which made for a very uncomfortable ride. Steve and I finally went forward and worked together to get everything tied down correctly. It was still blowing 30 knots so we were absolutely soaked when we returned to the cockpit.

Everything down below was getting wet and salty. Of course, we developed our usual leaks in the port lights. We were shipping so much water on the boat that it was coming down the heater pipe. We were hit several times by waves breaking over the back of the cockpit. Luckily, we were all sitting further forward, but that still didn't keep us from getting hit with water several times. Steve had still not gotten much sleep and was pretty tired. The motion of the boat make it hard to get around, and it tires you out after awhile. Steve talked with Scarlette O'Hara (about 50 miles ahead of us) and Tracen J (a few miles west of us) and found out that they were experiencing the same weather.

We got through the evening watches and woke up this morning to sunshine, lighter winds, and calmer seas. We got to work cleaning up the boat, wiping down the floors, and rinsing and hanging up our salted clothes and towels. Steve made corned beef hash and eggs for breakfast, which I did eat. The winds have backed down to around 16 knots and the seas have stayed relatively calm. I think that we all feel much better today. The forecast for the next few days is for much of the same, which is good. We have made good time. Yesterday we sailed 151 miles with the sails triple reefed and sailing west instead of southwest for a short period of time. We had to do that because the winds suddenly came from the south, and we didn't want to sail into the wind.

For now we are quite comfortable. I will go make some corned beef and cabbage for dinner. We may have some squalls tonight, but the forecast indicates nothing too bad. We are very glad to have Gary here on this leg as it has really made is much easier for the two of us.

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