Dateline, Kermandec trench 31.34S178.36W

Salsa af Stavsnas
Ellinor Ristoff Staffan Ehde
Tue 29 Jul 2014 08:29
Those of you who are observant on our navigation have probably noticed that as we move eastward we have now crossed the datum line, we went from 179 E to now 178 E (oh yes we passed 179E on the way). We will not change any clocks or date because  Tonga has decided that they are on the same side as New Zealand (well the datum line is not there for real anyway). This is the second time we cross the line (last time westward), nothing really happens, but it makes you aware that you cannot be further away from Greenwich than here. The earth is divided into 180 degrees in each direction from Greenwich (the French must love it).
This morning we had to fire up the engine and it has been working since then. In a way it is boring to listen to the engine on the other hand we can use as much power we want and there is no sailing involved, it gives us a break. The only stressful part today was that our paper charts revealed a rock called Havre Rock that is just beneath the water, and the electronic charts had no sign of it whatsoever. So we had to paper navigate to make sure we did not get close to it. A rock in the middle of the ocean? Well no, it is more interesting that that, we are passing just below some tiny islands that are not even inhabited (well a metereologic station on one), they are called the Kermandec Islands, you cannot see them unless you really zoom in on Google earth. These small islands are the tops of a huge mountain ridge that starts under the water from 9000 meter below the surface and move up towards the sea surface. It is called the "Kermandec Trench" and if you follow the ridge you end up in Tonga up north and New Zealand in the south. It is all a fault line that has an active vulcanic area along it. On the charts it even warns you from vulcanic activity that makes navigation, well lets call it variable.
The kids and Ellinor really would have wanted to go to one of these small islands but I feel that every day on the ocean in wintertime down here is putting ourselves at risk for hard weather.
As I wrote we are motoring and counting on getting a Northely wind tomorrow morning that will help us get to 175W, from there we should experience an easterly wind that will help us all the way to Tonga. We hope, but the forecast looks good right now, maybe a little on the strong side.
Food is of course an important issue when at sea. The first days we tend to live from the fridge. It is full of ready made pie (well ready made by Ellinor), sauce for pasta etc etc.
But now we have gotten to a point were we have to start being creative. And what we make depends on what is looking like it will give in first.
Today a bunch of small squash was signaling their limited life span so I decided to cut them in long thin pieces dip them in egg and flour and fry them in hot oil, served with risopasta and tomato sauce. Well at least the kids liked the pasta and the tomato sauce. The adults thought opposite.
It is amazing when you come up at night to take your watch and Ellinor has baked a nice sour dough bread in the oven. The boat smells fresh bread and it is warm and nice (yes we are still freezing- travelling east you know, not north)
Tomorrow we will start fishing as we now have space in the fridge.... well good luck to us.
Running by engine is a perfect opportunity to look at the rigg and we have a troll on board that enjoys messing with two things:
one is the most fun for her (yes I think it is a she), that is to twist the anchor chain around so when we drop the anchor we have to untwist 50 meters of chain. OF course it is a troll! How do you explain that we have been in a marina for almost 7 months, not even touching that anchor and when it is time to drop it is twisted!
The other funny item this troll is geting at is our main sheet, it runs in several blocks but still manages to be twisted.... the TROLL!
Today we untwisted it ( a big job believe me), lets see what it looks like tomorrow, I will keep an eye on it whe it is my wach.
If you think being at sea is getting to my brain, you are wrong, there are a lot of  strange things out here.... Voices for instance- be Quite!