Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day 3- present moment beauty

Time: 0000 Zulu Wed 9/12 (noon Fiji time)
Position: 18-deg 34-min S 179-deg 35-min E(!)
Wind: E 13 Seas: SE 4-5-ft
Avg. Course: 302-deg T
Avg. Speed: 4.9-knots
Rig: storm jib, single-reefed mains'l
24-hr distance noon to noon point: 108-nm

This passage has been a lesson in enjoying the present moment. Although transiting between uncharted reefs and at the mercy of powerful and capricious weather systems has made this a bit of an anxious passage, there are still so many beautiful moments to be soaked in. Yesterday afternoons sail was unexpectedly pleasant, with the sun out and wind gently urging us along at comfortable speeds. Having decided to follow Jimmy Cornell's (author of Cruising Routes of the World and many other sailing bibles) advice to enter through the southern Lau Group via a 16-mile wide pass between Totoya and Matukit Islands, it felt good to make our turn to starboard and back north to follow our route line toward Suva Fiji. With our E wind flow, we had to jibe several times in order to keep our potato chip (storm jib) fairly full of wind. Luckily, we have confirmation from several trusted sources that our digital charts are spot on, because at 0300 as we transited the pass in overcast moonless night, the purported lighthouse on Totoya was not lit. Soon after, we reached another celebration point at 0400 as we finally physically crossed the international dateline (180-deg) into tomorrow, which we've actually already been in since Samoa and even on Fanning. Admittedly, Shawn barely opened her eyes for it, so Chris shouldered the celebration during his graveyard shift.

Today dawned with a "sort-of" sunrise- little color, but light and lots of cloud formations amid the misty conditions. Weather download, warm raisiny oatmeal, Chameleon weather, dishes, and 24-hr plan discussion filled the morning. Even though Tao has demonstrated that she can move quickly with her lighter load (less water, fuel, and provisions adds up!), not quickly enough to make 80-nm in 12 hours of daylight. So, we will slow down and spend another night on the water standing off Suva, the busiest port in Fiji. The much discussed trough will pass today and hopefully it's center will move south of us, hindering us with only rainy very light wind conditions. In the brief moments that the sun broke through this morning, we sighted our first vessel- another sailboat bound for Suva (a delivery captain that will enter Suva at night). Somehow, it is comforting to see another boat sailing in the same conditions. Tonight will be full of rain catchment and traffic patrol, and unless the winds fill in as the trough moves past, we may have to motor the final miles to arrive tomorrow during business hours. Though these wet conditions beg for soups and hot chocolate, we will add to that gorging on fresh vegetables in an attempt to arrive with very few for the officials to confiscate. We will continue to grab snippets of sleep as we can, and when forced by our watch schedule to be awake, remember to enjoy the present moments beauty out here in the oceanic wilderness.

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