ENJOYING TONGA

This morning we headed into Neiafu to clear into Tonga, arriving at the main wharf at eight.  Customs opened thirty minutes later and we started the clearing in process.  This consists of completing around ten forms, answering the same questions multiple times.  The whole process took a while, there was a flight arriving and available manpower had been diverted to the airport.  Finally, at one in the afternoon the last check, Sanitation, was complete and we headed off to find an anchorage.

The anchorage turned out to be a mooring buoy just off the dinghy dock at the moorings, a convenient spot.  Without delay we were moored and the pig in the water.  By two in the afternoon we were sitting on the Mango Café deck snacking and drinking cold beer.  A fitting end to a long voyage from Christmas Island of 1,648 miles over 13 days.

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around town and soaking up the Island pace of life.  In the morning, when getting cash for the clearance, I left my credit card in the ATM.  In the afternoon I went back to the bank and retrieved the card which had been handed in.  Honest people here. 

WiFi access was on our shore list as we haven’t had any connection since leaving Honolulu a month ago.  We found WiFi at a price but it was so slow we couldn’t download the information we wanted.  Priority tomorrow will be to find decent WiFi and book Jessica’s flight back to Melbourne.

In the evening we came across a good café overlooking the harbour.  The fresh fish looked good so we went that way.  Jessica tried the Ota Ika (raw fish in coconut with veggies), it was superb.  I had pan seared tuna, also excellent but too much to finish in one go.  We both felt very relaxed as the sun went down over the harbour.  I am sure we will sleep well tonight, securely tied up to a mooring.  Total voyage distance from Kiritimati to Neiafu 1,648 miles.

CHRISTMAS ISLAND / KIRITIMATI TO PENRHYN

I awoke early this morning, it was too quiet.  On deck all was peaceful, the anchor cable was lying soundlessly in the water.  After days of wind this was a pleasant surprise.  I was now too awake to go back to sleep and it was too early to wake Jessica.

For the next hour I pottered about, putting in some waypoints to the GPS, reading some old news clippings and getting the ships papers’ ready for clearing out from Kiritimati.  Then I made toast and marmalade for breakfast and woke Jessica – who couldn’t complain too much about the time as she was presented with breakfast.

After breakfast we launched the pig and headed into London to clear out with customs and immigration.  This was an easy and pleasant affair and cost us AU$20.  With clearance in hand we set off to do some final provisioning.  We discovered poor quality oranges cost $3.5 each and water was $3 a bottle.  Other items were similarly expensive and we ended up getting not much at all.  I will need to start fishing again.

I found that there are chickens on Christmas Island, I saw a whole bunch running around a yard.  No doubt some enterprising local doesn’t like paying $1.50 for each egg.

When we returned to Truce the wind and sea had picked up again and we had a wet ride.  Once back on board we made ready for sea, lashing and stowing everything in its place.  At eleven o’clock I started the engine and began hauling up the anchor.  By midday we had cleared Cooks Passage and started out voyage south to Penrhyn.

The first hour we sped south on a beam reach at over seven knots.  However, as soon as we cleared the Island the wind went around to the south east and we are back with the wind on the port bow.  Beating into the wind, crashing and banging, salt spray everywhere (thank goodness for the hard dodger) and a strong feeling of Déjà vu.  At the moment we can’t lay the course south and are getting pushed to the west.

Predict Wind weather routing has the wind coming from the east and further down the track from north of east.  That will be perfect.  I hope the wind comes around in the next few hours because I don’t fancy five more days going to windward.  We both had enough of that coming from Honolulu to Kiritimati.  Sailing should be fun, a little bit of going to windward occasionally is OK, but not for days on end.  In the back of my mind I have the option of missing Penrhyn and going direct to Suwarrow if the wind stays south of east.

Apart from my moaning about the wind everything is fine, clear skies with fluffy clouds, fifteen knots of wind and we are making reasonable speed in the general direction of south.  The biggest problems we have now is deciding what to eat for dinner.

FIVE HUNDRED MILES FROM KIRITIMATI

We are now five hundred miles from Kiritimati.  A large area of calms is showing up in front of us and appears to be growing by the day.  This is the ITCZ, an area of calms, thunderstorms and variable winds we need to cross before Christmas Island.  The current weather is overcast with rain, the winds are getting lighter as each hour passes.

The wind is still on the port bow, aa it has been since the first day out of Honolulu.  Truce is still moving along nicely as we continue to work our way to the south with an allowance to the east.  I think that by this evening the wind will be very light and the fun starts.

Once again the solar panels are not putting out enough charge to keep us topped up.  I have switched off some non-essential items to conserve power until we can get a nice sunny day.  The combination of short tropical days and continuous overcast skies is something I hadn’t counted on.

Last night’s fresh Dolphinfish Thai fish curry was excellent.  Jessica did a fantastic job of cooking in a galley that was jumping around – not chef friendly.  We decided not to have rice with the curry and cooked pasta instead.  Neither Jessica or I like cooking rice without a rice cooker (one of mans great inventions) – it always sticks to the pan and needs cleaning off.  I am sure the Thai’s and Italians wouldn’t approve the mix, but there are not here.  It was good.  Voyage distance 695 miles.

MAKING GOOD TIME SOUTH

We have found some clear wind and are now making good time to the south.  The wind prediction and forecast is for easterly wind, we have been experiencing winds between south east and east south east.  This has meant that we continue to sail on a close reach as we try and make some easting.  Over the last 24 hours we have only achieved a gain of three miles to the east.

Although its not the most comfortable point of sailing we have become accustomed to dropping into and crashing off waves.  But, it would be nice for the wind to move around to the east and let us have some freedom to bear off onto a reach.  The pilot chart shows a ninety percent chance of winds from the east or north east for this time of year so I am banking on the law of averages to deliver some easterly wind in the next couple of days.

No fish have taken our lure since the near miss yesterday.  In fact, we haven’t seen much aquatic activity, no flying fish have landed on deck since sailing from Honolulu.

Jessica and I are doing six-hour watches, with me doing the midnight to six in the morning watch.  Very nice to have company and share the sailing load.  Spare time is taken up with books and movies.  Unfortunately, it’s too bouncy on board for the guitar.

The weather is getting hot now.  We rigged an additional shade over the cockpit yesterday which helps as the sun is always from astern on the trip south.  Everybody is healthy on board after the camembert episode.  Of course, there is considerable discussion about the menu and what concoction we are going to serve up next.

One luxury we still have on board is cold beer.  I topped up the ice chest before leaving the Waikiki Yacht Club.  We also have a couple of bottles of cold New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on board courtesy of Richard.  I reckon another two or three days maximum before the ice is gone.  Voyage distance 343 miles.

BREAKING FREE FROM HAWAII

Wind holes, rain clouds and general difficulty in breaking free from the Hawaiian Island chain.  This afternoon we are 145 miles east of the Big Island and still in its wind shadow.  Frustration gave way to action at three this afternoon, I started the engine and motored to the south.  After two hours we had not found any wind – I gave it an extra hour and at six in the evening we found the edge of the wind and started sailing.

The wind is coming from the South South East and not the East as expected and forecast.  This means we are sailing on a close reach but still can’t lay our course south.  Instead of a sailing along parallel to the waves we are crashing over them at an angle.  Since last night we have been dodging to the south through a minefield of large rain clouds interspaced with calm patches and squalls.

I expect the wind will go around to the East in a couple of days and we can make our easting before the doldrums and crossing to Kiritimati.Our days run the last 24 hours was a disappointing one hundred miles.  But considering how long we spent becalmed it’s not too bad.  Three of those hours were on the engine – I will take it.
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Jessica and I are still slightly affected by the dodgy camembert we consumed a couple of days ago.  We decided to have some good food, lunch today was pasta with pesto, fresh tomatoes, basil and dried salami.  It turned out pretty good.  I then had a go at making cornbread.  Its edible and the next batch will be way better.

This morning we had a dolphin fish on the line, unfortunately he managed to escape before we landed him in the boat.  A nice small size – perfect eating.  Not that we are disappointed, now we know the lure is OK and there are fish in the sea waiting to be caught.  Voyage distance 206 miles.

HAWAII TO KIRITIMATI

Last night was the Waikiki Yacht Club party.  Another great party and I am partied out and ready for sea.

Richard departed early this morning, back to the mainland.  Now its just Jessica and myself to undertake the final preparations for the voyage.  First was the US Immigration and Boarder Protection at Pier 1.  The clearing out formalities were straight forward and the cost reasonable at nineteen dollars.  We then bought the fresh provisions, fruit and vegetables.

Once back at the marina I topped off the fresh water tanks before we let go around one in the afternoon.  As we exited the entrance channel to Ala Wai marina the gentle lift of the swell under the keel felt good.   A stiff breeze was blowing and soon we had staysail and reefed jib up doing six plus knots in the right direction, south.

I expect the first couple of days out will be a bit frustrating until we clear the wind shadow of the big island.  Then we should have clear wind until we reach the doldrums before Kiritimati.  Only another eleven hundred miles to go.

PREPARING TO DEPART HONOLULU

Last night we attended a great party at the Honolulu Yacht Club.  All the Transpac race boats have now finished so there was a great celebration and lots of sailor stories.  The food, wine and music were excellent with good company.

Ready to Sail. Photo Ray Penson
Ready to Sail. Photo Ray Penson

This morning was a little subdued.  We spent the day doing odd jobs and getting the boat ready for the voyage ahead.  Not much to do really, Truce is ready to go, she is almost straining at her moorings to get out of here.  Jessica and I feel the same way and are looking forward to leaving tomorrow.

A trip to Walmart allowed us to top up with dry provisions and to load additional fresh water bottles.  It’s going to be a hot trip and we will need plenty of drinking water.  We don’t have a fridge or freezer on board so the selection of dry goods and canned provisions is important to maintain a healthy diet.

Richard will be departing early tomorrow morning and we had a final lunch together at a Vietnamese restaurant, the Pho Saigon.  The food was excellent and fresh – pity we didn’t find it earlier.

This evening we have another party at the Waikiki Yacht club.  I am sure by tomorrow morning the call of the sea, open ocean, solitude and Kiritimati will be stronger than ever.

DAY OUT ON OAHU

We all had a wonderful day out on Ohau today.  A very kind gentleman we met at the yacht club, Don, offered to take us the North Shore.

Jessica and Ray penson
Jessica and Ray penson

Don picked us up shortly after nine and we headed out of town.  Very nice to get out of the city and see some of the countryside and beautiful beaches.

Mai Tai Time
Mai Tai Time

Don stopped of at a shrimp truck along the way and we ate beautiful fresh garlic and lemon shrimp with rice.  Simple fresh food is always the best.  Then we headed on and found the best Mai Tai on the Island.

On the way back to Honolulu we stopped to fill up our cooking gas cylinder, buy a jerry can of diesel and some dry provisions for the upcoming voyage.  We are now topped up with Gas, Diesel and just need a few more provisions and fresh food before heading out on Friday.

Mai Tai time with Don
Mai Tai time with Don

Both Jessica and I are ready to depart now, we have had our fill of Honolulu and want to get to sea.  Kiritimati and the adventure ahead is calling.

 

GREAT COMPANY IN HONOLULU

On Thursday, my daughter Jessica arrived in Honolulu.  On Friday, my friend Richard arrived.  So good to have company after being solo since San Francisco.  I haven’t seen Jessica since last December and Richard for a few years so we all have a lot of catching up to do.

Post Snorkelling refreshment. Photo Ray Penson
Post Snorkelling refreshment. Photo Ray Penson

On Sunday we did some boat maintenance in the morning and then set off to Hanauma Bay for some snorkelling.  What a beautiful bay and the water over the shallow reef is teaming with tropical fish.  The water was nice and warm – even I was happy to go in.  Of course, the sun was hot and after a while we had to depart for some refreshments.  We plan to do a trip to Pearl Harbour and hope to get out of town to see come of the north coast before Richard departs on Friday

Richard and Jessica at Hanauma Bay. Photo Ray Penson
Richard and Jessica at Hanauma Bay. Photo Ray Penson

Yesterday we did a mixture of shopping, eating, drinking and just hanging around.  We managed to find an acoustic guitar for Jessica to take on the trip.  I am expecting to be entertained with some music and singing along the way now.

I have been getting a small amount of water in the bilge recently and was at a loss to where it was coming from.  Finally, I found a pin prick hole in the bilge hose in the engine room.  The hole was probably started when the dripless seal was being installed in Canoe Cove.  Anyway, it was a relief to find the source of the water.  With Richards help we have run a new hose from the pump to the over-side discharge and the bilge in dry again.  So easy to do this kind of job with an extra pair of hands around.

Jessica and I plan to sail on Friday to Kiritimati, some twelve hundred miles south of Honolulu.  The boat is ready, we just need to do some final provisioning and top up water, fuel and cooking gas before we set off.  I am looking forward to the next leg south as Jessica will be on board to share the experience.