Day 10, Year 2: Second Day of Passage from New Zealand to Fiji

Day 10, Year 2: Second Day of Passage from New Zealand to Fiji
Date: Friday, May 4, 2007
Weather Today: Mostly Cloudy, Winds ESE 10 to 15 Knots
Temperature: Air 66 degrees F; Water 66 degrees F (up from yesterday)
Latitude: 32 degrees 58 minutes S
Longitude: 174 degrees 54 minutes E
Miles to Go: 922
Location: Passage from New Zealand to Fiji

The sunset last night was as good as it gets out here where there is no pollution to distort the light. Pollution is not a good thing, but it does make beautiful sunsets. Just as the sun was beginning to sink behind a few low lying clouds, Randy of Procyon’s voice came through on the VHF telling everyone to watch for the ‘green flash.’ We’ve never seen this, so Mark got on the VHF to announce that we are not believers in the green flash. Wind Pony came back saying that we must not drink enough. I don’t think that is the problem, but last night we did see rays of yellowish-green light shooting up into a pink and blue background. Maybe there is still hope for us. Last night’s green was not a flash, but it was spectacular. A few minutes later, Lynn of Wind Pony got on the VHF to remind us all to look to the east to watch the full moon rising. There were more clouds in that direction, but the bright moon light was with us all night. The moon didn’t set until after 8 AM this morning. Each night it will rise a little later, but we should have moon light with us for this whole passage.

At the appointed hour of 7 PM, night watches started. The seas had gotten lumpy and the boat was making all sorts of noises that I didn’t remember hearing before. I’m sure they were there, but I just couldn’t get to sleep. I thought about Katharine Demers when she visited our boat a few years ago. At the time she was about seven and as she sat on the boat in the slip in the Boston Harbor, we asked her if she would like to come back and spend the night on Windbird. She announced, “Not on this crickity boat.” It was a particulary windy evening, and even on the dock, boats make noise and Katharine knew she wanted no part of that. Watches were chilly last night. The temperature at 4 AM was 59 degrees but it felt like 40, I was layered to the hilt–wool socks, jeans, short sleeved t-shirt, turtle neck, cotton knit sweater, wool sweater, windbreaker, polar fleece blanket, and I was still cold. Tonight I’ll add the long underwear and a heavier jacket. We leave the companionway open at night, so it was also cool below. Last night we slept under just a sheet and a polar fleece blanket. I’ve already added a second polar fleece blanket for tonight. We have a down comforter but it is not cold enough for that out here. We were using it back in Whangarei, but it was too warm in Opua. I loaned a second down comforter to Ranger for their crew that joined them for the passage and I loaned them a polar fleece blanket for the person on watch. I bet they used that last night. One thing is for sure, we have enough blankets to keep us warm.

People often ask what we eat when we are cruising. When we did coastal cruising on the East Coast of the US we often ate ‘camp’ food–bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and easy to fix dinners. We often had macaroni and cheese, Chinese stir fry using canned bamboo shoots and bean sprouts, and even had canned beef stew once in a while. When we were preparing for long term cruising, people told us that we would eat at sea just like we eat at home. And for the most part that is true. Yesterday we had a family favorite for lunch. The original recipe was called Spinach Bread, but we adapted it by using swiss chard and it became known as Leaf Pie around our house. It is simply swiss chard, or silver beet in New Zealand, mixed with whole wheat flour, milk, eggs, and grated cheese. It freezes nicely and I like to have it on hand for passages. With that we had a fresh lettuce salad. For dinner we had stuffed green peppers and canned baby corn with garlic butter. For lunch today, we had ham sandwiches and chicken noodle soup. It is cloudy today and we wanted something to warm the soul. I’m waiting for bread to rise right now, so tonight we will have freshly baked whole wheat bread with salmon cakes, ‘smashed’ potatoes, and fresh green beans. I’m borrowing the term ‘smashed’ from my son-in-law, Jed. You boil the potatoes and mash them, but not to a smooth consistentcy. You leave them intentionally very lumpy. Someone sent an email to the website asking if we could set up a recipe section. I’m going to email our son Justin and see if it is possible to set up a section of the website where I can simply mail in recipes and provisioning information.

We had a little visitation a few minutes ago. Two beautiful little Silvereye birds played on the apparatus on the back deck for quite a while. These little birds have a silver ring around their eyes and have green feathers on their back with a brown fluffy belly. We saw these birds on the South Island, but they should not be out here at 150 miles from land. I got some pictures and a video, and then they flew off toward land. I guess they were just on a little explore today.

070504 Day 10 Passage to Fiji 2nd Day

Day 9, Year 2: First Day of Passage from New Zealand to Fiji

Day 9, Year 2: First Day of Passage from New Zealand to Fiji
Date: Thursday, May 3, 2007
Weather Today: Warm and Sunny, Winds WSW 6 to 10 Knots
Temperature: Air, 64 degrees F; Water, 62 degrees F
Latitude: 34 degrees 55.65 minutes S
Longitude: 174 degrees 13.43 minutes E
Miles to Go: 1,040
Location: Passage from New Zealand to Fiji

We made it. We have left the Bay of Islands in New Zealand and we are on our way to Fiji. The seas are calm, the winds are light, the sun is shining, and it is warm. From port to port it is about 1,070 miles to Suva, Fiji, and it should take us anywhere from seven to ten days to get there. Winds are currently light and from the WSW and are supposed to come around to the SE tomorrow. Tomorrow the winds will be under 10 knots and we will have to motor, but after that it should get a little better. There is a chance that sometime Sunday or Monday it could get a little windy for a day or so, but for the most part, this is predicted to be a passage with winds in the 10 to 15 knot range. If we can be on a beam reach, that will be great, but if the winds go more southerly they will be behind us and we will probably have to motor. In fact, we are motoring right now. We have the mainsail up, but each of the three times that we have put out the headsail and turned off the motor, we slowed a whopping 3 knots. We will be glad to sail at 4 knots, but below that, we motor.

We didn’t get away today until just about noon. We were in line at the Customs Office at 8:30 AM, but by the time we had made two more trips to the boat and back to get things we had forgotten, had taken showers, spent our last New Zealand money at the little grocery store, and said our goodbyes to everyone, it was 11:30 before we got back to Windbird. Yesterday when we were rushing around trying to get ready to go, Randy of Procyon asked us what it was about doing nothing the day before you begin a passage that we don’t understand. We really didn’t have an answer for him, but whatever it is, we have the same problem on the day of departure. We were going full tilt today right up until the moment we dropped the mooring and headed out of the Opua Marina mooring field. Mark was checking email using he wireless connection for the last time and I was vacuuming the carpets only minutes before getting off the mooring. But once we headed out, things changed. We are both driven individuals and if there is time in a day, we seem always find a way to fill it. As we motored out of Opua, I scurried around to fix lunch and to get dinner under control, but now I am in passage mode and am sitting here in the cockpit enjoying the beautiful afternoon. When I am on Watch I am either working on my computer or reading. These are both things I get to do little of when we are near land. I think that is why I like passages so much.

Many of us left today and I can stil see about five boats in front of us and about three or four behind us. That will mean that we have to keep a keen watch tonight, but by tomorrow, we will all be spaced out. For those of you who read the cruising magazines, Fatty Goodlander left today just before we did. Windcard was our neighbor in the mooring field, but we never got a chance to meet. Arctic Fox, Ohana Kai, Araby, and Ranger are headed our way to Fiji. Makani left about the same time as we did, but they are headed to Australia. Procyon, Endangered Species, and Wind Pony also left today, but they are going to Tonga. Tomorrow morning at radio check-in time, we will find out just who is out here with us.

We can still see land behind us and that long white cloud that hangs over New Zealand. It is now about 5:15 PM and the sun is getting low in the sky. There was a full moon last night, so we should have plenty of light tonight. While I have been writing, Mark has been on the VHF radio talking to Ranger and Procyon. Since Procyon is heading in a different direction, this is probably the last VHF contact we will have with them, but we will be keeping in contact with Ranger all the way. It is now time to send this email and get dinner. And watch the beautiful sunset and the rising full moon. Life is good.

070503 Day 9–Passage to Fiji 1st Day