Careful what you wish for....wind has dropped dramatically > a somewhat "technical" blog entry

Sea Mist > Sold to New Owners July 2016
John and Cheryl Ellsworth
Sun 14 Nov 2010 14:15
26 13 S 179 36 W

An update on our passage experience since last blog entry some 36 hours ago.

Seas continued to be very tough for the first 45 hours into the passage; we
had the boat slowed down to around 6 kts or less with staysail and main
furled way in; we didn't want to have another sail failure and the hitting
the swells/waves was banging badly with tons of water over the top of Sea
Mist constantly. By last evening we had still not yet tried to deploy the
borrowed sail.... but beginning yesterday afternoon, as the wind started to
drop a bit, the seas became much less troublesome and for a while we had
several hours of great sailing making 8 - 9 kts with just the staysail and a
heavily reefed main. As the wind continued to drop, we let out the whole
staysail and then gradually the whole main....we had hoped that the wind
would stay in that 18 - 20 kts out of the East/South-East until daylight
today so we could see what was happening when we gave the borrowed sail a

Such was not in the cards; my midnight, the wind had dropped to under 10 kts
and had clocked to South-East bringing the wind angle from off our beam to
close to the bow (40 degrees off) in order to stay somewhat on our rhumb
line (direct) course to NZ.

So now was the time in the darkness of the night to try the borrowed sail
which has VERY different geometry to it from Sea Mist's Yankee Cut Headsail;
this borrowed sail is about a 150% Genoa with a much shorter luff (3-4
meters shorter on the vertical side of the sail) and a MUCH longer Foot 54=5
meters longer on the horizontal/bottom edge of the sail) very different
position for genoa cars that guide the sheets (control line for the sail).
Anyway, in the darkness, the captain was on watch so it gave him something
to keep him awake while the other crew members slept. All in all, he was
pleased by what he could get out of the borrowed sail in the lighter
winds...which increased from 9-10 kts up to 12-15 kts over the course of his
watch from midnight to 3 am. The wind continued to clock further south which
meant that 40 degrees off the wind (which was about the best Sea Mist could
point given the borrowed sail geometry) put us 15 -20 degrees above our
intended course to NZ....but, NO WORRIES MATE!! our cross track error
to the West just means that we will have to point more to the south later this point we still have 325 nm of "westing" to go to our
destination......and 567 nm of "southing" required to get to Opua......and,
for those geometry majors reading the blog, that means currently 630 nm
DTG(distance to go) on the diagonal that is our course.

We started out with a good supply of prepared meals and other fresh food for
the passage.....until late yesterday, it looked like it would be all taken
by the NZ authorities when we arrive....VERY TOUGH ENTRY for foodstuffs and
other possible organic items like baskets, wood carvings that might contain
eggs or such of some foreign insect, bacteria, sea creature, etc....... but,
after 2 days of trying to ward off sea sickness with Stugeron medication, we
regained appetites and had our first Chez Cheryl cuisine offering for an
evening was a most enjoyable beef stew made from the finest beef
and other ingredients....hats off to our chef once again....and from now to
Opua, the task will be to keep diving into the freezer and fridge to
minimize the losses to the NZ authorities when we arrive....and fatten us up
as a side "benefit". One thing about starting a passage as we did, with,
first a 36 hour unintended delay to our start due to the clew failing on the
headsail......and then, secondly, no appetite due to tough seas/sea
sickness.....we needed to get on top of the fresh fruit....Tonga has the
finest pineapples, mangos, papayas, bananas that you could find anywhere in
the world...but yesterday demanded that we cut up the fresh fruit and get it
into the fridge before overrippening ruined the items.....and for the
captain, that cutting up the fruit was well timed as his appetite was
returning and he could gorge himself on all that goodness on its way from
the counter to the fridge via the knife. All the lovely tomatoes, cucumbers,
lettuce, carrots,etc....equally fantastic in Tongan markets....were/are
keeping fine as they began the voyage in the fridge......bring on those

As tough as the conditions have been for Sea Mist creature comforts, the
vessel once again does extremely well in the demands of the ocean but we
often wonder about other vessels that we see departing for the same passage
as us; this time, departing mid-morning on Thursday (our intended day to
depart), was a small boat (approximately 30 foot) with mom, dad and 4 young
kids ...French Swiss family from Lausanne....taking a year off for a family
adventure. Now they did depart at the right time...whereas we, being 36
hours behind left in a southward moving LOW/TROUGH of a weather system that
caught up to us and stayed with us for the 48 hours......they would have
maybe been able to stay mostly ahead of the low....but would have had some
high winds and seas anyway from the associated HIGH that was moving south of
the LOW that we left in. We hope that all has gone well for them, of
course....and our experience to date is that these smaller boats somehow
manage fine with the capabilities of their crews. But one does wander how
they are doing??

That's all folks....hope a somewhat "technical" blog entry didn't turn you
off our blogsite....until next time...
Cheers, the Seamisters
DTG: 630 nm to Opua, NZ