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.