Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 4- welcome day of smooth sailing

Time: 2200 Zulu (noon Hawaii time)
Position: 13-deg 23-min S 170-deg 02-min W
Wind: E 12 Seas: E 7-ft
Avg. Course: 284-deg T
Avg. Speed: 4.5-knots
Rig: 80% jib
24-hr distance noon to noon: 107-nm
Distance to Apia: 104-nm

What a difference a day makes! Day-4 we started with sprout salad and pasta lunch followed by jibing to starboard tack to make some northing as well as to avoid the land masses of American Samoa. For several of the late afternoon hours we ran with the triple-reefed mains'l as well. Apia is nearly directly downwind from Suwarrow and we have found ourselves jibing around the direct line between the two. First we had to avoid the uncharted "breakers" reef and we hadn't quite decided if we were going to drop the hook before Western Samoa or not. Now we are jibing around our most efficient cruise track line as it is much faster and more comfortable to sail a wee bit above directly down wind. As the sun dropped down, we pulled the mains'l down for the night and grateful to be where we were with such comfortable conditions, we consumed a "Thanksgiving" meal. That is, in our Frank-n-cooker (our rebuilt pressure cooker whose handle rivets fell prey to corrosion), we cooked potatoes and butternut squash. Since it was the last or our potatoes, we went all out and mashed them with lots of butter, then added instant stuffing, and topped everything with a can of cranberry sauce. Delicious.

Bellys full, we continued on that starboard tack all night, marveling at nearly clear star filled skies, so different from the 100% cloud cover of 24-hrs previous. Most refreshingly, there was little convective activity and only a few sightings of lightning late in the night very far to the NE of us. Early in the morning we passed 50-nm due north of the island of Tau that we had noted as a possible closer anchorage. Once the sun rose, (around 0700 Hawaii time), we jibed again to port tack and are now sailing a comfortable course directly toward Apia. The morning's weather analyses agreed with a look out the portholes, showing conditions looking benign. The Rag weather forecasts confirmed that there is a ridge over Samoa for the next week, which means good stable weather to come. Mentally and physically we are preparing for landfall tomorrow in Apia, the largest city in Western Samoa, surely with more hustle and bustle than we've been around in nearly 3-months. Until then, we are soaking up the more relaxing portion of what has turned out to be an unexpectedly trying passage.

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