21.47S 174.24E 5th October 2011

Mojo 2
Andrew Partington
Wed 5 Oct 2011 02:45
To rub some salt into our wounds over this slow passage we were hit with another low pressure system last night and copped a belting. We were still motoring towards dusk last night when we started seeing a build-up of cloud in the western sky. We knew it was coming but had hoped it would not generate much wind. From a 3 knot easterly it changed in a matter of 5 minutes to a 20 knots westerly and soon after had hit 24 knots. We tried motoring into it but the boat was being blown off course and the autopilot was unable to cope. To add to the fun the system had brought with it driving rain. At 28 knots we gave up and turned the boat around with the motors to run downwind. With the motors switched off and with no sails up we were still making 6 knots boat speed. It was howling!!  We were now pointed back to Fiji and heading there at a fast rate. I re-set the autopilot and was able to to steer us in a north-west direction, still without any sails up. The worst of the blow lasted around an hour and then to our amazement the wind started to shift to the south-east and eased down to about 20 knots. We hoisted about one-third of the genoa and were able to sail west through very rough seas. Towards 10pm the wind had eased back to 17 knots but the seas were still hammering us and by 2am the winds had dropped to 9 knots. Thankfully we bore the brunt of this system before dark, it would have been no fun at all dealing with it at 4am!!
This morning there was little wind to speak of but the seas were still a mess and had us bouncing around. The system had taken us close to the Ceva-i-Ra reef [Theva-i-Ra, Conway Reef...all the same place] so we motored past it from around 3 miles away. It is a low lying reef and is recommended by sailing guides as a place to give a wide berth. This morning it looked amazing. I had expected a rock but could see loads of vegetation and white beach. We still kept our distance though.
At 9am the wind picked up from the west again [surprise, surprise!!] so we were once again motoring into a headwind of 16 knots. Thankfully it has turned a little to the south so we are currently motor-sailing and once again dreaming of a 15 knot south-easterly.
This system brought with it the first real rain I have seen in months. It has rained of course but generally it is all over in a couple of minutes as a squall passes but this was real rain that just kept on coming. My raincatcher which traps rain falling on the saloon roof virtually refilled our water tank in a matter of a few hours so I plan to have a long, hot shower this afternoon.
The plan is to take Mojo 2 to New Caledonia so that Rob can head back for work in Albany. It looks as though my weatherman Gerard Cameron will be tagging with Rob in Noumea. Gerard has watched our backs now for over 6 months and it will be great to see him on the boat, provided he brings with him a return of the trade winds! 
Sunshine has broken out again here over the past hour. The way our luck has been going the wind will now turn to the east and drop to 3 knots!!
Just took a break to hoist the main again. At 3.30pm we are sailing west with a 10 knot south-westerly.
We are some 450NM from New Caledonia but it feels further.