Day 11, Year 2: Third Day of Passage from New Zealand to Fiji
Date: Saturday, May 5, 2007
Weather Today: Clear and Sunny, Winds ESE 15 Knots
Temperature: Air 66 degrees F
Latitude: 30 degrees 46 minutes S
Longitude: 174 degrees 47 minutes E
Miles to Go: 797
Location: Passage from New Zealand to Fiji

Yesterday, and through the night, we sailed with a full main and Yankee headsail poled out. We used the newly rebuilt Monitor windvane most of the time. Winds were variable and sailing was good. Today, however, was one of those sailing days you dream about. We are sailing with a full sail configuration–main, poled out Yankee, and staysail. We’re on a broad reach and sailing consistently 6.5 to 7.5 knots. That’s as good as it gets on this boat. Add to that a totally clear, blue sky above with white puffy clouds on the horizon all around and seas under 3 feet coming from the same direction as the wind. It has been a picture perfect day for sailing.

Of course, there has to be a caveat with such perfect conditions. We have a new player on the scene. Late yesterday we learned that a low is forming near Fiji and it is expected to deepen and head south and then west. That means we will probably have to cross its path at some point. We are gathering every bit of weather information we can get. We listen to a German named Christian who is giving weather recommendations to Zafarse and Shoestring. We also listen to another German named Winfred, usually getting that report second hand from Jean-Pierre on Safina. We listen to the Rag of the Air every morning at 7 AM to get a full weather picture, and then we get daily weather faxes and grib reports that we analyze. Of course, no two sources agree on what is going to happen, so you have to assimilate all of this information and make your own decisions. We could have winds of anywhere from 30 to 60 knots depending on where we are in relation to the low and how it develops. It is at least three days out, so we are moving north toward Fiji as fast as we can and staying a little to the west. That means we will have to come back east to our destination, but by that time the low will have passed and the winds should be light. The hope is that we can get far enough north to be on top of the low. It is very confusing but right now it looks like we will be fine. These lows are like cyclones except that they circulate in a clockwise direction. In this part of the world they are called anticyclones. In certain conditions they become hurricanes, but that is not predicted with this one. We are all just being super watchful and careful. Boats have been lost on this passage by not heeding the weather, so we are making sure that we are listening and are ready to change course or do what is necessary to avoid serious conditions. We will give an update everyday in our log. For those of you wishing to track our postion, we are checking in with the Pacific Seafarer’s Net every afternoon and they post our position on their website, plus you can go to Yotreps through a link on this website. Just go to ‘Where We Are Now’ and follow the directions.

We have two boats in sight this afternoon. Arctic Fox called on the VHF earlier and asked it we are to their starboard. We checked positions, and found that they are our traveling neighbors. There is another boat ahead of them, but neither of us is sure who that might be. Not all boats check in with the nets with their positions, so it is sometimes hard to tell. Ranger is further east but with the weather predictions, I think they are heading back our way. Since the winds were predicted to be from the SE most of the way, they thought if they got further east they could then ride the winds back to the west closer to Fiji. The weather gurus are saying to stay to the west, however. They keep reminding us all that we don’t want to be on the east side of the low. That is where the winds will be stronger. I’m noticing that white caps are forming and the wind is increasing slightly. That is good as it will carry us north faster. We had to motor all the way from Tonga to New Zealand, so it is a real treat to have the current sailing conditions.

070505 Day 11–Passage to Fiji 3rd Day