Day 2 Noon Position 31 06.63S 177 12.40E

Mike and Liz Downing
Thu 3 May 2012 04:41
Strong winds (25-30 kts) all through the night with big seas. Reduced sail right down to slow our speed to 5-6kts, making the ride a lot more comfortable. Wind started to ease a bit at first light this morning and we were conned into putting up a double reefed main and reefed working genoa. Okay for 5 minutes, then 25+kts returned and we had too much sail up - the autopilot couldn't control it and I only just managed to. So up on deck to put a 3rd reef in, getting my first early bath as a wave sprayed all over the foredeck! We're both wearing our full Musto foul weather gear to keep dry and keep warm - the temperatures at night are very cold, so it wasn't that bad. With 3 reefs and a partially rolled genoa, we've been making 6.7 to 7.5 kts all day and all the white horses around generally seem to be content with staying in the sea. Last night they were queuing up to hitch a ride! Every time a really big wave catches us we roll, putting the lee toerail under the water. As we come back up, the toerail acts as a large scoop, bringing a load of water up on to the side deck where it rushes up and down and slowly gurgles its way down the scuppers back to the sea. But apart from that, it's reasonably comfortable, and the sun is shinning too, making the water a gorgeous deep blue.

Other thing to note: an albatross has visited us every day so far. (Don't know if it's the same one - they all look alike to me!) It circles the boat a few times, just gliding over the water, before disappearing again. It's lovely to see.

Something they don't teach in the sailing classes - trying to keep the boat upright in these seas so we can cook baking potatoes in the microwave! Unlike the cooker, it's not gimballed. They roll around a bit but seem to cook just as well. The moon is out for half the night and with clear skies it's been lighting the sea up like a search light. It's so much nicer when you have a good moon. We're actually taking part in the annual Fiji Rally; there's about 15 boats this year. The rally entrance fee includes most of the Customs and Immigration fees for Fiji, so the rally is almost free. On that basis it seemed a good idea, particularly as they have a lot of experience of Fijian waters, which are full of reefs, and the charts are not the most accurate. It's a one passage rally - parties before you leave, everyone sails their own route and meets up for more parties on arrival, but after that every one goes their own way. On the first night out we could see the lights of 3 other boats on the horizon. Last night we didn't see any until the early hours when we came up right behind and passed another rally boat. It only takes a day or two for the boats to be scattered far and wide across the ocean.

Our noon-to-noon run of 146.2 miles was not bad considering we had to slow the boat down due to the seas. At noon today, we had covered 305.8 miles since leaving Opua,NZ so about 900 miles to go.

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