Many moods of the Coral Sea... 21:57.957S 154:49.800E

Alex Belmont
Sun 7 Oct 2012 21:41
Wanted to write earlier - it is now the 8th day the passage - but I thought it was more important to not be launched across the cabin while trying to compose an update, so you had to wait until now to hear news. After a few days of fast, rolly, and moderately boisterous sailing, we were rounding the northern reefs of New Caledonia. I had been looking forward to getting into the Coral Sea, as last year it provided us with some of the nicest sailing I've ever encountered. Of course I jinxed any chance of the same this year by speaking so highly of the region's sailing conditions. As we got into the Coral Sea, the wind swung southerly (right on the beam) and started building. After a day of this sometimes violently rolly and wet sailing, we were so overpowered with the working jib up, that we ran north with the wind to ease the motion.

Wind continued to build. Waves breaking over boat. Put up storm jib in place of the working jib. This was much nicer as it allowed us to point to the west again, and brought our speed back down to a more reasonable pace. Plenty of waves were still breaking over the boat, and the ride was certainly not comfortable, but I was at least confident the boat could ride out the rest of this low passing over us.

I've only been forced to use the storm jib on Moondance a couple of times, and though I can't say that I enjoy sailing in conditions that call for its' use, I do really like the sail itself. The sail is so small and heavily built, it looks kind of silly. but it does inspire confidence to feel how well it will carry the boat through nasty weather. Nonetheless, here's to hoping I never have to use it again...

The rough and windy weather was not too hard on the boat, but it did cause more damage than the previous 8000 or so miles. With the beam seas breaking right over the boat, we managed to rip a couple more grommets out of the bottom of one of the cockpit weather clothes. The Coral sea also managed to soak no less than three pairs of my shorts, leaving me desperately trying to keep my last two pairs of comfy sailing shorts dry and salt free. Not cool Coral Sea.

After 36 hours under storm canvas we were able to hoist the working jib again. A day more and we had to put up the main. A day more (this morning), and the wind has disappeared completely. At least it's fairly flat water.

We're just 217 miles from Bundaberg. As long as we can get there by Friday (it's Sunday now), I'll be happy. Actually, I'd like to get there well before Friday, but I would be really upset to arrive Friday afternoon, only to have to pay customs overtime fees to check in on the weekend. If it comes to that, we will drift around Hervey Bay for an extra couple of days so as to arrive Sunday afternoon. At our current speed it would only take about two and a half weeks to drift the remaining distance. Wouldn't that be fun? Not going to happen though. The wind will come back tonight and carry us at an easy six knots right up the Burnett River to the customs dock... Please? Ok, maybe not, but I'm still hoping we get there before the weekend.