Heading South (a little bit more!) Day 2 - Noon Position 21 52.00S 176 51.86W

Mike and Liz Downing
Mon 1 Nov 2010 01:18
A change of plan! At midnight last night, with 26 miles to go to Tongatapu and at the point where we would have to start tacking to the east to reach the island, we checked the latest grib weather data and decided to continue on in a south west direction towards New Zealand. We are following a course that will take us close to the Minerva reef, a distance of 240 or so miles from Tongatapu, and we may be able to pop in there (if we can find it!) and anchor if the weather isn't so good further south. If the weather is good, we will just keep going. The Minerva reef is almost a perfect circle about 3 miles in diameter sitting in mid-ocean and most of the time covered by the sea. It has relatively shallow lagoon in the middle with a small entrance on the north west side. The lagoon is supposed to provide very good shelter from the seas (but not from the wind as there's no land) and the bottom is sand, so the anchor should hold well.

The noon-to-noon run today was 140 miles. The seas have eased from 10-12ft down to about 6ft and the wind has eased down to 15-20kts, but with some higher gusts. The good point about heading for Minerva is that we came off the wind by about 30-40 degrees, so the wind is now on or just behind the beam - much more comfortable sailing. As a result we are both continuing to feel better, although not 100% yet. With the strong winds on Saturday night (20-25kts gusting 30kts and fine on the port bow), we put the 3rd reef in the main (for the first time) and have kept it in. It was going to come out this morning, but we're still making 6 to 7kts, so the reef will stay in a bit longer.

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