Land Ahoy - Day 18 12/5.2014

Mon 12 May 2014 20:41
09:46.668S 138:03.468W
Talk about extremes, after the swimming Genoa incident the wind started dropping on a daily basis, to keep the boat going every sail appeared inlcuding the good old Spinnaker, this was effective until after 2 days the wind almost disappeared, our speed was dropping and all that gain over the first, fast 10 days was rapidly being lost.  We tried a whole variety of sail configurations, including the Spinnaker poled out but other than rigging up a huge fan at the back the only option was the engine, so Day 14 the engine went on and we motor sailed for 5 hours to hopefully meet some wind and charge the batteries.  Syd was'nt idle over the 3 no wind days as the generator decided not to start on Day 13, it had obviously felt ignored and wanted some attention, luckily the problem was just a wire to terminal fracture and it was sorted quickly and back in action.  Also, the water maker had a first trial at sea and performed excellently so Syd was in buoyant mood (other than the no wind issue!).  Right on cue the wind decided to start blowing again, we started to race along - a combination of strong wind and flat seas, but soon the seas started building.  By Day 15 we were in the middle of some very nasty squalls and most of them contained gusts of up to 25 knots or more, Syd had a total drenching one night,  I managed to time that for his watch!  So by the end of Day 16 we had 2 reefs in the mainsail and a reefed Genoa and were battling with slowing the boat down, as at times she was careering on at 9-10 knots!  Seas were big and nasty. Yesterday the nasty weather seemed to be moving on and the wind became more predictable again, back to it blowing direct from behind or on the Port side, so sails constantly changing from Wing on Wing to Broad Reach.
On the fishing front things have taken a dive, once the live bait stopped committing suicide on the deck and the only option for fishing was the collection of lures Syd the fisherman has acquired, he decided to use his 'piece de resistance' the grossly overpriced cedarwood plug - this was recommended by 2 'experienced fishermen' in Panama, basically it is a rather uninteresting looking piece of wood in the shape of a torpedo with a silver end.  Out it went as a last desperate measure - no obvious bites all day and at sundown we reeled it in and it had vanished!  The wire that it was attached to had been neatly sawn through so a rather large fish had decided it looked pretty tasty and I would think is now not feeling too great!  This put Syd into a big depression and for 2 days he would not fish, now we have one line out but no fish - lucky we were'nt relying on feeding ourselves off the well stocked Ocean during our voyage! 
Day 18 dawned and we are 60 miles from land and very much looking forward to our first sighting later today.  As usual we are due to arrive in the middle of the night but we have decided to go into a sheltered bay on the next island to Hiva Oa, Tahuata.  Reason being our main casualty is sails, the main reason for the twin Genoas was to avoid too much stress on the mainsail (which is soon to be another candidate for the British Museum!).  During vigorous reefing several mast sliders have detached themselves from the mast and the attachment point for reef number 2 on the sail has pulled off so if we can get the sail down carefully somewhere sheltered hoepfully some of these bits can be salvaged and we can get the Turin Shroud back up and give the poor old mainsail a break and hopefully do a better repair job in Tahiti.
We are both ready for a break and celebratory drink or 6.  Things may be getting to us, Syd has been heard singing 99 Red Balloons - very worrying and I have reverted to a medley of Proclaimers greatest hits, including If I could walk 500 miles and I could walk 500 more . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Oh dear, far too long at sea!!!!!!!