Day 371, Year 1: Passage to Minerva Reef, Day 1—Good Sail but Lumpy Seas
Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Weather: Clear Blue Skies and Sunny; Winds 20 to 25 SSE and Building; Rough Seas
Latitude: 19 degrees 15 minutes S
Longitude: 174 degrees 29 minutes W
Location: Passage from Vava’u Group, Tonga to Minerva Reef
Miles to Go to North Minerva Reef: 364
Miles to Go to Opua, New Zealand: 1156

I will be writing my logs each day at 4:30 in the afternoon our time as that is the time we check into the Pacific Seafarer’s Net. This is a net just for people with their Ham radio license, so not everyone can participate. We haven’t checked in with them since our crossing to the Marquesas, but they are very reliable and if something happens they are always there to help. In fact, someone is on station 24 hours a day to take emergency calls. So on a long passage like this one, they are a great resource. While Mark is downstairs waiting to check-in, I am in the cockpit on watch and listening. I just heard the net calling for our friends on Aqua Magic and Windcastle. Patrick and Margaret on Aqua Magic should be in New Caledonia headed for Australia and Windcastle is still back in Neiafu, but will be heading our way tomorrow. It is great to have such networks that track people from all over the world. The Hams that volunteer their time to do this are very much appreciated. When we leave Minerva Reef, we will also be checking into a similar New Zealand Net called Russell Radio. A guy named Dez gives great weather reports for each boat checking in and he keeps the New Zealand officials updated on the progress of yachts headed that way.

We left the beautiful anchorage at Avalau Island this morning around 1015. If all goes as planned, we should arrive in North Minerva Reef at about the same time on October 27. For us that is Friday, but for you that is Thursday. Tomorrow is Dick on Wind Pony’s birthday and Friday is our 32nd wedding anniversary, so we will celebrate arrival in Minerva along with a birthday and anniversary.

We had fun on the radio this morning calling one another in the anchorage. We had all changed our names temporarily when we checked out-just for fun. If we were going to be staying in the Vava’u Group, we would have used the aliases so that the official wouldn’t know we were still there. Since we were moving on, it wasn’t necessary. It was silly, but it was fun. Quantum Leap became Double Wide, Procyon became Promethius, Wind Pony was Snow Shoe, and we were Winvogel (or however you spell Windbird in German-Tom of Quantum Leap named us). After we left the anchorage and called Quantum Leap on the radio by their real name, they protested wanting to keep their alias. Dick on Wind Pony and Randy on Procyon have been in radio contact all afternoon. Dick is loving being on a passage when you can actually see other boats. We will probably not all be in visual contact by tomorrow, but today has been great.

We are having a good sail even though it is quite lumpy. The wind is 20 to 25 and we are on a broad reach. The seas are probably about 8 to 10 feet with occasional waves that are much bigger. Those are the ones that throw us around. Sometime around noon tomorrow we can change our course so that the seas will be more behind us. That will be rolly, but better than being broadsided. The real plus today, however, is that the sun is shining brightly and it is warm. I am really going to miss this! Tonga was a wonderful stop for us. I’m not sure the memory will keep us warm when we get closer to New Zealand, but it might help.

Quantum Leap is out in front of us by quite a few miles now. Wind Pony and Procyon left after us and are in sight behind us. In fact, Wind Pony will probably pass us before I finish writing this log. Those catamarans sure are fast. And while we are bouncing around in the waves, they are sailing fairly flat. I do think they are the future of world cruising.

They are now calling the tropical cyclone Xavier a hurricane, but it really shouldn’t be a problem for us because is it so far north. It is tracking southeast today, but is expected to turn back to the southwest tomorrow. It is only moving at a speed of about 4 miles an hour but the winds in the center are continually building. It is currently up near the Solomons, and the best scenario would be that it would go into the Coral Sea off northern Australia and die there. I don’t know if you get information on South Pacific hurricanes back home. It is not something I remember ever hearing much about.

All is well aboard Windbird today. As our Australian and New Zealand friends say, “No worries, mate.”

061024 Day 371 Tonga, Vava'u–Farewell Vava'u