Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 5- Windy and bouncy rounding New Caledonia

Time: 0100 Zulu noon New Cal (Mon 5 Nov)
Position: 22*11'S 169*01'E
Wind: ESE 15-20 Seas: SE 10-ft
Avg. Course: 235-deg T
Avg. Speed: 5.9-knots
Rig: storm jib, triple-reefed mains'l
24-hr Distance noon to noon point: 142-nm

Yesterday this time we were watching synchronized flying fishing birds and schools of purpley-silver fish with pink horizontal stripes surfing in our bow waves. The sun was out and with increased winds Tao was out of the gates like a flash. Chris was pushing Tao, in order to make miles out of the area that will turn into convection alley with the genesis of a depression in the next couple days (which could possibly turn into the first named storm of the season much farther east of here). And Tao seemed to understand, blazing speeds in the 7-knot range. The first 12-hours of the day we actually comfortably averaged 6.4-knots, no wonder we may have just made the record for our longest 24-hr distance yet!

That was all before the seas built and the clouds set in. We had left the 100% on until 1400 when Shawn was headed to the bunk, and donned the 80% jib for the rest of the night. As the sun set Tao rocketed past questionably convection-looking clouds toward clearer star-studded skies. As midnight approached, seas jacked up and became confused and uncomfortable in the 6-ft range. A beautiful, quick, though bouncy night ensued. Morning dawned ominously cloudy and rainy and Shawn was welcomed to her watch with a sail-area reducing squall as we attempted to listen to the SSB Gulf Harbor Radio weather. McDavitt had sent an update, so we had to transfer waypoints and compare old route to new to where we actually are. All of this amid building winds and therefore seas.

Looking at the forecast for the next few days (20-knots average gusting to 30) we decided to to take our usual conservative approach. We put our doused main back up to triple-reef in order to pull the 80% jib down and replace it with our storm jib. Still making upper 5-knot range, with the mains'l up, it was much more stable, with more room to reduce sail area versus the 80% jib alone. Nearing the land masses of New Caledonia may be why the seas are so disorganized, but at the noon point we are sailing amid confused 10-ft seas; not the most comfortable ever- but Tao and Moni are handling it like champs. Though feeling clumsy with the increased motion, both of our stomachs are gratefully feeling fine as well. It does not motivate culinary excellence, however, so we are lucky it feels stormy and therefore a good soup day! 1100 and the AIS alarm went off (what a wonderful invention!). We noted that the tanker Pacific Gas will slowly (only 12-knots in these conditions) round New Caledonia's Isle de Pines as we do and will arrive in Brisbane only twice as quickly as we hope to.

1 comment:

  1. Well done on setting that record! I think I know exacttly what you have to go through to keep the boat going at speed - its REALLY hard work, a serious endurance test. Hang in there guys! And by the way Ive been looking at the charts and looks like youve picked a great window - you zipped across in front of that low thats now heading off to the SE and that big high is keeping that nice easterly booming across for you. I met Bob in Auckland last month - hes a delightful enthusiast. Go Tao!