The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Fri 8 May 2015 21:23



21:39S  170:40E


So far we've done 860 miles with 100 miles to go, we did 115 miles in the past 24 hours. We've got 5 knot west winds and 1 metre waves, so we're motoring. There are showers around. Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


8 May 2015   New Zealand to Vanuatu (Day 7)

Dawn brought us dark clouds and rain.  The wind continued from the ENE at 20-25 knots until midday, when the gusts started to increase in strength and the rain became very heavy. 


Fifteen minutes later, we had winds gusting to over 40 knots from the NE, so we turned downwind, heading west on a broad reach.  It was an exciting sleigh ride down the large waves, at times surfing at 10 knots.  The autopilot was struggling with the conditions and nearly broached at one point, so I hand steered for a while until the wind dropped below 35 knots - it's not often that I hand steer.


After fifteen minutes of these gales force winds, we could see brighter clouds ahead and ten minutes later, we were back to 25 knots from the ENE.  We were uncertain whether we were going to get more high winds, so we continued on a WNW course.  This took us to the south of Ile Matthew, which is a small unlit volcanic island jutting up 200 metres in the middle of nowhere.


In the late afternoon, the wind dropped to less than 10 knots and the barometer started to rise, so we knew that we'd passed through the trough.  We started to motor and I had a wander around the deck for the first time in a few days.  Our starboard navigation light had been knocked off the pulpit (presumably by a big wave) and was hanging by the electrical cable.  It was full of water, so I drained it, dried the bulb and put it back together - surprisingly it still worked.  The whole lamp is held in place by a lever and went back onto its bracket - sorted!


Just before dinner, the wind stabilised to 10 knots from the NNE, so were able to turn off the engine and sail close-hauled on a direct course to Aneityum.  The wind died off at nine o'clock, so we put the engine on and motor-sailed for the rest of the night.