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.

A NIGHT OF SQUALLS

It started last night around seven.  First an unsettling motion and confused sea and then a night of squalls.  I was up all night trying to get through without losing to much of the precious ground we had made to the east.  We succeeded getting twenty-three miles to the east and also came out with a reasonable days run.

We are still heading into the wind on the port tack and shipping heavy spray.  We have all the deck hatches shut and its hot inside the boat now.  It was even hotter than normal this morning when I produced some blueberry muffins.  Much to the delight of Jessica.

The latest forecast is for twenty knot winds for the next two days.  At the moment, I am jogging into a twenty-five knot wind and big sea for some rest and recuperation.  We may stay like this for a few hours before heading on.  No point in hurrying to get beaten up.  Also disappointing is the latest Predict Wind forecast for the doldrums.  They are now showing them opening and taking days to cross.

So, a big change in the forecast and I am not a happy camper.  A simple trade wind run is turning into a long haul.  We will just take it easy and assess the situation later.  Voyage distance 465 miles.

RUNNING DOWNWIND

A beautiful sunrise this morning over a rumbustious Pacific, blowing strong from the north east with large swells running through.  The sunrise turned into blue skies, fluffy Simpson clouds, sunshine and sparkling seas.

A morning round of the deck revealed no flying fish aboard.  One did fly into the cockpit last night and I flipped him back over the side.  He wasn’t very big but would have been painful in the face.  When I was a cadet, I was on a ship that had a black cat.  The cat belonged to the second mate.  Both cat and second mate were psychotic.  The cat would go down on deck and pick up a flying fish, bring it back to the wheelhouse and eat it.  A little later the cat would be sick and regurgitate the hardly digested fish on the wheelhouse deck.  Guess whose job it was to clean up the mess.

The waves continued to pester us as we ran off downwind to the west.  One wave slopped into the cockpit (a rare occurrence) and another hit us bang on the stern like a cannon shot and picked up the wooden boarding ladder.  Fortunately, I had a lashing on it and I managed to hold on to it.

The predict Wind weather routing advises turning to the south in the evening for a relatively clear run down to Hilo.  I am looking forward to that.

At beer o’clock this evening I sat in the cockpit, waves sparkling all around and listened to Jon Bonamassa ‘an acoustic evening at the Vienna opera house’ album.  I had it loud – there is a big ocean to share it with.  I tried wrapping the cans in a wet cloth and leaving them in the sun as suggested by Paddy.  The beer may have been slightly cooler – maybe I need to leave it out for a few hours, I will try again tomorrow.  Its all in a good cause.  Voyage distance 1,366 miles.