The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Tue 7 Jul 2015 20:19



14:38S  163:53E


So far we've done 205 miles with 695 miles to go; we did 105 miles in the past 24 hours. We've got blue skies with 25% cloud cover and a fantastic 12-15 knot wind pushing us along on a beam reach at 6 knots. Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


7 July 2015  Luganville to Papua New Guinea (Day 2)


After breakfast, I dragged our asymmetrical spinnaker on deck and rigged it up, but the fickle wind wasn't enough to inflate it properly.  The swell was still 1-2 metres, so we were rolling causing the spinnaker to collapse and plaster itself on the shrouds.  I decided to leave it up for a while but, while I was down below getting our daily weather forecast, the trip line caught on the anchor and released the tack, so we dropped it and started the engine again.


This morning's GRIB file forecasts that the wind should be from the north-east for the next two days with speeds of 5-12 knots, then we should have winds up to 20 knots from the south-east.  For some strange reason, we had very light south-east winds and, despite trying to sail several times, we ended up motoring for most of the morning. 


In the afternoon, the wind veered to the west and picked up to 7 knots, allowing us to sail upwind for an hour, then dropped below 5 knots again  - engine on.  The wind then veered further to the north-east, but stayed too light to sail.  Very strange weather, but I guess that a low pressure cell has passed to the south of us  - probably a remnant of Tropical Depression Raquel.


By five o'clock, I was feeling very frustrated and worried because we've already used 1/6th of our fuel in just over a day with 10 days sailing remaining before we get to Port Moresby - there's no diesel for sale in the Louisiades.


After dinner, the wind picked up to 7 knots from the north-east, which was good enough to sail, but we still had a 1 metre swell causing the sails to continually collapse.  I put a tight preventer on the main boom and rigged up our spinnaker pole to port for the genoa, which helped a lot and got us moving at 2.5 to 3 knots - sailing at last! 


By ten o'clock, we had 9-12 knots from the north-east (as forecast), which allowed us to sail on a very pleasant broad reach for the rest of the night.  In particular, my 1-4 watch was lovely, gliding along at 4-5 knots with the moon and stars to gaze at.