Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sloppy seas!

For those who have been aboard Toketie, picture me wedged in on the starboard settee, the heater at my feet (not heating of course), the lee cloth strapped tight on my left side and the cushion on my right. Pillows at my back, a cushion on my lap supporting the laptop. The inclinometer hovers between 15 and 25 degrees of heel and occasionally touches 30 degrees as we slide off a big swell coming up from the south! It's not too bad actually but you do have to be careful walking around as our little
world is moving unexpectedly at times. In the cockpit, Linda is up on the high side with a foot braced against the arch to keep her from sliding down. The full enclosure has been on for days now and just as well as the seas wash over the foredeck and rush down the side decks, occasionally Toketie buries the lee rail. But we are making good time and more or less on the rhumb line to our waypoint at Niue. With a steady 25 knots of wind that gradually backed around to a close reach, we average between
6 and 7 knots speed! With two reefs in the main and half the jib furled up, Toketie flies in this kind of wind!
Sorry for the long silence but the first few days of a passage are always more tiring and the first couple of days of this one were frustrating with light winds and heavy rain and too much of the iron genie (that's the engine for you landlubbers). Linda managed a lasagne yesterday that should keep our bellies full for a few days. Don't know how she does it. Keeping things from flying around down below is a challenge under these conditions.
The weather reports are favourable so with any luck this breeze is expected to hold for a few days at least. We maintain radio contact with several different groups. There is the 0300Z Pacific Seafarer's net of course that tracks ships all over the Pacific and post their positions and weather to Yotreps. Then we have a brief contact, usually just listen in, with a group of mostly American boats heading N to Samoa. Another smaller group is en route SW to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands and our friends
on Tarun left Bora Bora today and are following us to Niue then Neiafu in Tonga. It is useful exchanging positions and weather conditions with boats in the area, also a little chitchat and review of weather forecasts. Other than that we are very much alone out here. We have not spotted another vessel since leaving Bora Bora. But we still maintain a visual watch in the cockpit around the clock. At night we find 3 hours to be about the limit to staying awake and the bunk is very welcome.
But we have found the rhythm now and we are clocking along and doing what chores are required along the way. For example, yesterday, before the wind filled in we were drifting about for a few hours so used the time to transfer 40 litres of diesel from the jugs on deck into the tank below. And the starboard jib sheet winch was acting up so I stripped it down and cleaned and greased the gears inside it. Wish I had transferred water from the jugs on deck as that extra weight topsides on the lee rail
is not welcome at the moment but don't know when we'll have another quiet moment.
But we are happier now with wind in the sails and the miles are flowing under the keel. Have heard great things about Tonga so look forward to it. Number one son (by 5 minutes) is planning to join us there for a few weeks before school starts so we are motivated to get there.
As for French Polynesia, it was overall a wonderful experience, though it had its trying moments. It cost way too much for everything, except diesel because we had a tax discount, and are told it is $10/gallon in the Cooks. We will miss the pamplemousse the most but fortunately stocked up from a street vendor just before leaving.
That's all for now, file getting pretty big for uploading! Wish you were here :)

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