Fiji to Vanuatu - Day 2 Noon Position 19 38.703S 171 57.265E

Mike and Liz Downing
Wed 19 Sep 2012 05:00
The wind did come round to the southeast and was on the beam for yesterday afternoon and evening. Over night it went further round to the east and then east north east - all about 15 to 20kts. This morning it continued going round to the northeast and at first light we set up our 2 genoas, both poled out, and took down the main as it was getting in the way (blanketing one of the genoas preventing it from filling). The wind has been falling progressively through the day and it's now down to 10-12kts. We're making 5 to 5.5kts. With yesterday's good winds our noon to noon run was 172.2 sea miles, so averaging just over 7 kts - very satisfying. As I write this, we have about 110 miles to go so hope to be in by tomorrow afternoon. Having said that, the winds are forecast to go to the north and then northwest tonight, and round to the southwest tomorrow. So it could end up on the nose and that would certainly slow our progress.

After Vuda Point marina, which due to its location is swelteringly hot (we had our dehumidifier going most of the time there), it's quite cool out at sea, particularly in the evenings and the fleeces came out on day 1! But the cooler, fresher air makes sleeping much easier, even in a boat that rocks and rolls a bit! We're back to our normal passage making night watch system of 4 hours on, 4 hours off, 3 hours on and 3 hours off - it works well for us.

We're in VHF/SSB contact with 4 other boats making the passage. As always we lost visual contact very quickly after going through the pass. All boats sail at different speeds and every skipper has a different strategy for dealing with the winds and weather. So everyone goes their own way, but we will all converge again as we approach the destination.

There's not been much wildlife out here so far - we've spotted just 2 flying fish and 2 birds; a tern and a booby flew by yesterday, but having checked us out quickly flew off. We are using our tow generator on this trip which tows a sizable propeller some way behind the boat. Birds often have a good look at it to decide whether or not it's food. We had forgotten just how good the tow generator is. It generates about 1 amp per knot of speed, so when we're making 7 kts we get 7 amps, day and night. With that, our wind generator and solar panels, and provided there is some sun and wind, we make more electricity than we consume when on passage, so the batteries get a little bit of a charge too. For those interested, yes, towing the propeller does slow us down, but it's less than half a knot - we would prefer to have the power it generates.

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