Monday, 14 October 2013

New Zealand to Fiji passage - part 2

 Tuesday 8/10 - day 8

The last few days have been uneventful. It rained, I got sick, then it rained again. We zoomed along at 7 knots for a day, which is incredible - the wind was steady and not that strong at about 15 - 20 knots. We're so much faster after redoing the hull, so thank you to everyone who helped us. It makes me feel better about slaving away for two months, because it means I won't have to be at sea for as long. Adding an extra knot onto our speed makes a big difference over a long period.

There were some cool jellyfish a few days ago - John thought they looked like boats, floating above the water with a little sail sticking up. At one stage the water was so glassy they appeared to be floating just above it, like little hovercrafts. We didn't get any pictures, but looked them up in the medical book and think they were of the Portugese Man of War variety. So they don't sound that friendly. They had nasty looking blue stingers, quite a bit thicker than the ones on bluebottles. We decided not to play with them. 

Mike and John have been running around fixing everything, which is great. Mike has been getting into all the little things that aren't important enough for us to bother with when we have bigger problems, and the boat is definitely running more efficiently.

Garth started one of the projects he's wanted to get into for a while - a big shade cover for the cockpit. We originally made a fort out of a sheet to hide ourselves from the sun, but it wasn't that effective. 

We're both ginger and the sun is bright today, so his labours were half out of necessity I think. Either way it's fabulous, and I'm lying down in the shade with a nice cool breeze blowing the hot air around. It's delicious.

It's about 500 nautical miles to Fiji now, but we've been making good time. We want to get there on Friday, but it will most likely be Monday. We can't arrive over the weekend or it costs a lot more, which is annoying. If we get there at the wrong time I think we'll just heave to and eat as much of the food that won't get through customs as we can.


Wednesday 9/10 - day 9

I'm really proud of Garth, he's been keeping the logbook every morning and evening at the same time, every day without fail. He's been plotting the low and high weather systems on the chart, along with our location, speed, barometer reading and everything else important. We've always struggled with the log before, so I'm really glad he's got his head around it now. 

David and Dale have been sending us weather information on the sat phone, which receives unlimited free texts. That has been really nice, partly because of the contact with the outside world and partly because it's given us very detailed information about which direction we should be heading in to both find wind and miss the bad weather. 

It's hot today. We've all ditched the thermals and made it into shorts and t-shirts. Garth gets really irritated when he's hot, which is concerning considering we are heading for the tropics. In order to shut him up we ended up heaving to and jumping into the water for a swim. Not all at the same time. It was deliciously warm and clear, and I definitely didn't want to get out. Except that the ocean floor was 4000 metres below us and I have no idea what might be lurking in between that and me. Aside from that it was lovely. 

We've been trolling a lure for days, and have yet to catch a fish. Something big bit the lure off today, and then later on I caught a plastic bag. So it's been an exciting day for fishing. I always just thought the ocean was full of fish, but apparently you have to be in the right place at the right time with the right lure. So no fish. We were hoping for tuna, but we mustn't be in their migratory path. Which is disappointing because I could go for some tuna.

We lost the boom again last night. I was getting ready for my shift when Garth stuck his head down, said 'I need you' and was gone again. That's never good. The bolt that connects the boom to the mast came loose again after it was flapping around in no wind for a few hours, exactly the same as last time. Obviously the lock tite we put on wasn't good enough. The boom is not something I would care to lose... Luckily we found all the bits that were trying to escape and put them together again with more lock tite. It should hold until Fiji, and we'll see what we can do with it there. 


I just saw a freaking giant ball of fire plummeting towards the earth. At least that's what it looked like. I'm on watch, it's the middle of the night, and I looked up from the email I was writing because there was something really bright in my eyes. It was a bit smaller than the moon, and looked kind of like a firework or flare - it was falling down instead of flying up. The only way to describe it is to picture a ball of fire flying across the sky, bright orange with maybe some green around the edges and a sparkly tail following it. It was one of the most amazing thing I've ever seen. So that was exciting. Now it's a little spooky sitting out here in the dark, not knowing what else is happening around me that I can't see. I wrote down our coordinates in case somebody comes in over the VHF in distress.

I'm amazed how little life is out here. I always pictured the ocean as a bustling, living organism teeming with life. It's like New York -  everything is happening and nobody has time to sleep. There's thousands of little animals mixed up in all the coral and seaweed. Then there's bigger fishes wandering around further up, and then all the big boys like dolphins and sharks and whales. Clown fish are friends with dory fish and they ride around on turtles. There's birds everywhere, along with all the people being transported across the water. But out here it's more like a desert... John mentioned the other day that we've seen more whales than boats since we left, which is a strange thought. But there's nothing else either - just a bottomless expanse of blue. No birds, no fish, and it goes on forever.

Thursday 10/10 - day 10

We finally caught a fish! And a big one too. Mike brought a hand line with him, which Garth and I hated the thought of because it looks so hard to pull in. And it doesn't make a noise when you catch something. But it's been out every day anyway and today I looked up and saw something on the end of it, finally. Garth and John pulled it in quick smart. The line floats, so you can see when there's a fish because anything on the end of it hydro planes on top of the water. There's no weight on it at all, it's brilliant!  It was so easy to pull in Garth thought it was another plastic bag, so I didn't get the gaff out. I could see the fish tail, but I believed him when he said it was small. Not small! It was a huge something, and we had to get Mike to swing it into the cockpit because it was too big to just pull up by the line. It was bright yellow with blue fins and blue dots, which is normally bad - you don't generally eat brightly colored fish in case they decide to kill you. But the yellow faded to white after it was dead, so maybe he was just mad. 

We desperately need a book on ocean stuff so we can tell what kind of jellyfish, whales and fish are chasing us. Garth suspects it might be a dolphin fish. Either way it was really pretty, and Mike filleted it for us.

You're supposed to take fish onto the deck or transom to deal with them, so you don't mess up the cockpit. Which is impossible. We don't have an open transom off the back, and the waves were so rocky the fish would have immediately slid off the deck back into the water. We even nearly lost him out of the cockpit from all the waves knocking us around, he was sliding up the walls!

So Mike filleted it and cooked dinner, which was amazing. When Garth proposed to me he took me to a fancy restaurant where I had the most delicious fish I'd ever had in my life, in a buttery sauce. It was amazing. But I'm not entirely sure it was better than this one - Mike cooked it perfectly. The alleged dolphin fish had a really mild flavour, and it couldn't have been much fresher. So we finally have fish! Maybe it's because we're getting closer to land - only 300ish nm to Fiji.


Saturday 12/10 - day 12

It's finally hot. This is the first day I've made it into a singlet top and shorts, and the sun was so bright this morning I hid inside for a while. It's delicious. We've had no wind all day, and Garth hung off the ladder into the water for a while this afternoon because he couldn't take the heat.

The water is beautiful. You can't see anything because there's thousands of metres of water underneath us, but the light reflects through the water and it feels like you can see a long way into it.

We sunk a glass bottle to try and figure out how clear the water was, and as it fell down we could see it perfectly until it was a tiny speck in the distance. The only thing under the water that we can see from up here is the paddle from the windvane steering. I took a picture of it a week ago when I thought the water was remarkably clear. Then I took another today. I think if the boat could stay perfectly still, you wouldn't be able to tell it was under water at all. I'm dying to go look at the eyes I painted on the bow - if they've stayed on, they'll look awesome.

Garth and Mike did the 50 hour oil change on the new engine today while we were bobbing around with no wind. Now we can motor tomorrow if we have to without worrying about it. It was the quickest engine procedure we've ever done whilst underway - I love this new motor. And I don't miss the old one even a little. I'm pretty impressed with our motoring on this trip - we've only had the engine on for a total of two hours since we left New Zealand, which is awesome. It's certainly been very peaceful.

We've had a lot of random floating things going past us today. First there were a lot of sparkly things in the water, but we couldn't figure out what they were. Then there was a lot of pollen, and some squishy things that looked like algae. And for most of the day there's been an onslaught of pumice floating past. It took us a while to figure out what they were, because they're all brown and slimy on the outside. But Garth fished some out and operated on it to confirm his hypothesis. The slime was gross. There were big chunks of it at first, like you'd buy in the store, then clusters of tiny little pieces all floating around in groups.

We passed through a front the other day, with squalls on either side of us. Garth managed to navigate us through the middle of them mostly, so we only got a little wet. The clouds did not look inviting though.

Mike has spent most of today cooking. He had breakfast, then started making bread, then made lunch (which was the last of the fish and was amazing), then finished making bread, then napped for an hour and made dinner. He's amazing! The bread was really delicious - I think we'll be making a lot of it in the future after tasting the deliciousness. I really want to make a meal to give him a break, but staring down when I'm inside makes me feel queasy very quickly. 

With no wind we'll probably arrive in Fiji on Monday or Tuesday, so not far now. Here's another sunset and sunrise, a really blue sky and a bit of father-son spinnaker repairing.

Sunday 13/10 - day 13

If we had to tell somebody where we were right now, the answer would have to be Fiji. As in if you looked at a map of Fiji, we'd be right there next to it. And it's almost midnight, so not even Monday yet! We've got a few more hours of ocean sailing to go, then a four hour passage through a shipping area and we're in Lautoka. Then after what will probably be a lengthy customs process where the mean people will take all our food, laugh to themselves and have a delicious lunch of biltong in their office, we should be free. 

The wind picked up last night and we've been zooming along comfortably, sometimes doing 8 knots. We furled the genoa and reefed the main to make sure we didn't arrive in Fiji too early, but we're still doing over 6 knots in just 20 knots of wind. The boat doesn't like to go slowly anymore!

We caught two fish today. Garth threw the first one back because a tuna less than 20kg is a waste apparently. It would have made us all a very good meal, but he wanted it to grow up and get fat. The second one was pretty mean looking and we chucked him back because we had no idea what it was and it was a similar shape to NZ barracuta, which are evil. We think he might have been a Snake Mackerel after a bit of research, but he was long gone by then. 

Mike and John have finally run out of things to fix, which can only be good.

So onwards to Fiji! Where we will probably just shower and sleep before being functional. 

1 comment:

  1. Ewwwwwwwww Blue Bottles (Portugese Man of War). DO NOT enter water when they are near. They come every year in the Naki....nasty as hell bite. Lasts for days the stinging. Even the smallest ones will cause pain. Some kids even get sick from them. Awesome read. So jealous of the all the dolphins