May 14, 2011
Aloha from the South Pacific! We are only 275 miles and 2 days from making landfall in Manihi in the Tuamotos. If all goes as planned, we’ll arrive before sunrise on Monday morning and enter the pass around 10:00AM, The weather has improved considerably and we have been making great time the last few days. Everything onboard is great and we are really looking forward to getting the anchor set and popping the cork on a bottle of champagne!
Time(UTC): 11:05 PM
Wet and wild last night! After a slow day of sailing into confused seas, the winds started picking up. They were steady at 30-35 with gusts up to 45. We had a double reefed main and the jib was furled up to the size of a hand towel. Seas were no better. We did have some clearer skies with stars. At least when they weren’t be hidden by squalls.
Things are much better today! Seas have calmed down winds are back 18-20 and we’ve been cruising along at 6.0+ all day. Let’s see if it holds through the night!
Everything on board is great! Salty, but great!
Time(UTC): 1:04 PM
After the rough night, the winds dropped this morning to 18 -20 knots and have stayed that way all afternoon and into the night. We are not content with the amount of easting we have made and have altered course to sail directly towards our waypoint at the equator. We plan to cross the equator at longitude 142-143W.
Altering our course has also flattened the boat out, reduced the amount of water coming over the decks and into the cockpit and increased our speed! We have averaged over 6 knots all day and into the night. This should be our best daily run for the trip. We should make somewhere near 150 miles in this 24 hour period.
It was sunny and clear all day today and, so far, no squalls tonight! A great day of sailing!
We are approaching the ITCZ which will bring us some thunderstorms. Based on reports from 2 boats in front of us, they thunderstorms were not much of a problem, but the lack of wind forced everyone to motor for a few hours. Just a few days ago the ITCZ was 240 miles across. It’s currently only 90 miles wide and a little further south. Still a day or two away from crossing it, then we cross the equator, alter our course to the southwest and start the finally leg to Manihi in the Tuamotus. Manihi is located at approximately 14.24S / 145.56W. Landfall will still be another 12 days or so.
Everything on board is fine and the crew is happy and well fed. We have found a couple small leaks. One chain plate is leaking and a port is weeping a drop or two of water when it gets slammed by a big wave. Should be able to quickly fix those when we get to Manihi!
Time(UTC): 2:11 PM
Another fantastic day of sailing! Our 24 hour run yesterday was the best of the trip. We made 139 miles. Not bad for going against the wind. Today’s run should be even better. Anticipating a 150-160 mile day. Winds were steady at 15-18 all day and we averaged 6.5 to 7.5 knots all day. Winds picked up a little this evening, as did the seas. We’ve slowed some, but still making better than 6.0 kts sustained.
According to the weather forecast, we should be on the northern edge of the ITCZ. Based on the number of squalls that are popping up on the radar, I’d say the forecast is accurate! The ITCZ is currently about 150 miles across. The next days sailing should be interesting!
There’s an old saying that says the definition of a sailboat race is 2 sailboats headed in the same direction in sight of each other. I don’t really think that is true. I think the definition should be expanded to some thing along the lines of, 2 sailboats headed in the same direction within radio range of each other! I told myself that this time out I was going to slow down and not race against every boat that is in the same ocean with us.
Well, I was wrong! I can’t help myself and I don’t think there is a cure. There are 3 other boats out here with us. 2 in front of us and one behind. We’re the smallest of the group. We talk with everyone twice a day to share our position and weather info. The 2 boats in front of us both left a full week before us and we’ve already made up a couple days on each of them. I’m hoping to actually pass one of them before we make landfall.
I probably should let them know they are in a sailboat race, but since we’re the smallest boat, I need all the advantages I can get!
I’m sure they’ll eventually figure it out! Oh no!! Boat speed just dropped below 6.5 knots, I’ve got to go trim the sails!
Everything on board is fine!
Time(UTC): 11:54 AM
The ITCZ welcoming committee was out in full force yesterday when we made our arrival. They were nice enough to bring along a squall that immediately brought on 30 knot winds and some rain showers. But, that was just to say welcome. 2 hours later we were engulfed by a 20 mile diameter wide squall. Big boy! 35 kts of wind and after spinning us in a circle, proceeded to pressure wash the boat with fresh water. And, I mean lots and lots of fresh water. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it rain that hard, for that long. There is not one grain of salt left on Reflections. In fact, I suspect it’s washed off salt that I’ve had on the boat for a decade.
Aside from the occasional squall, the winds have been less than 5 knots and we’ve been motoring to get south as fast as possible so we can join the other 2 boats in the southern hemisphere that are currently experiencing squally weather down there! We can hardly wait! We spent most of the day dodging squalls and there has been one after another marching down the radar screen all day. It seems to have settled down tonight but we still have another 120 miles to go before we are clear of the ITCZ.
Speaking of squalls, there’s another one on the radar screen! Time for a course correction! Everything onboard is fine, however, we did find a couple small leaks in yesterdays deluge!
Time(UTC): 12:35 PM
What a difference a day makes. After a day with squalls, rain and high winds, we were greeted by a surprise yesterday morning. I downloaded the latest high seas report to find that the ITCZ had moved north and rather than have another 200 miles of squally weather, we were now on the southern edge of the ITCZ. We started the morning with clear skies and a light, 10-12kt breeze. This continued all day, making for one of the most pleasant sailing days I can remember! We sailed all day in light 8-10kt winds, making 5.0kts on flat seas, with nearly a cloud in sight and music playing all day. People would actually pay for sailing experiences like this one!
It was such a pleasant day sailing that we even accomplished a few projects. The leak at the chain plate was annoying, so yesterday was a perfect day to apply an underway fix. I managed to clean it up, dry it out and apply enough silicon chalking to the outside to keep us dry until I can fix it properly. It seems like it is nearly impossible to make a passage without finding at least one leak you
didn’t know you had.
In the evening the winds made a sudden shift to the southeast and increased to about 15. We are now sailing just about due south. We were planning on crossing the equator at longitude 142-143. If these winds hold, we’ll just sail with the wind and cross around 144. According to the GPS, we should be crossing in about 26 hours or 5:30AM Hawaii time tomorrow morning. Both of our other equatorial crossings have occurred in the middle of the night. We want to do this one in the daylight as we hear there is a big pink line visible right on the equator. The guy that told us that was drunk, but what the hell! That’s one reason. The other being a good excuse to drink rum at sunrise! Stand by! We’re about to go to the other side!
Everything onboard is wonderful!!
Time(UTC): 12:18 AM
Unbelievable! My GPS was wrong! Well, maybe it wasn’t wrong, but it sure didn’t know anything about the extra 2 to 3 knots of wind we have today. Yesterday, I told Sheri it would have been the perfect day if the wind was blowing 12-15 rather than 10-12. I got my wish.
Today is another absolutely beautiful day. This morning there was not a cloud in the sky in any direction and the seas are still calm. To top it all, we have been making 6.5 to 7.5 kts all day and need to adjust our ETA at the equator a little. Actually, we need to adjust it a lot! Rather than crossing around sunrise tomorrow, it looks like we’ll make it around 9:00PM Hawaii time tonight.
It’s just perfect out here today!
Time(UTC): 1:03 PM
Crossed over the equator at 9:01:57PM at longitude 143.30. About 850 miles left to go for landfall.
It took us 11 days, 14 hours to make it to the equator. The 2 boats in front of us took 14 and 16 days, so we have already gained a couple days on them. It’s conceivable that we could even pass the second boat before the trip is over. He is only a few hundred miles ahead of us. Reflections appears to be much faster than the other boats, despite being the smallest.
I think the other boats are beginning to realize they are in a race. They have mentioned a couple times on the radio that we are gaining on them. The one boat even mentioned the possibility we might pass him.
Everything onboard is fine. The wind is still blowing 15, seas are still calm and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. The moon has come back and the Southern Cross is high in the sky! Life is good!!
Time(UTC): 2:55 PM
Here’s the final statistics on the trip to the equator:
Total Miles Sailed 1609
Total Time 11 Days, 14 hours, 1 minute
Average Speed 5.79 knots
It’s pretty amazing that we could average 5.79kts on a passage against the wind. It really shouldn’t be considering it blew 20-25 most of the time.
We’ve turned the corner and are now sailing a course of about 185. Those clear skies we had for the past 2 days disappeared and were replaced by a complete overcast and we had light rain on and off all day. No squalls, just regular old rain.
The winds have held up, but not as consistent as they have been. Winds have been anywhere from 8 to 25 causing us to put a reef in the mainsail, then take the reef out, then put it back in then take it out again. At least it gives us something to do! Consequently, our speed today has also been all over the place. Anywhere from 3.5 to 7.5 kts depending on the wind and how much mainsail we had up at the time. We,re back to 10 knots of wind and speed is under 4kts. It feels like we’re standing still.
We’ve got less than 700 miles left to go to Manihi. Starting to think about getting the anchor set and popping the cork on a bottle of champagne!!
All’s well here!
Time(UTC): 1:01 PM
More rainy weather today and squalls. The day started out clear and we could see Mercury, Venus and Jupiter rising in the early morning eastern sky, Quite a sight to see these 3 planets come up together. After that, it was overcast all day, but we had very consistent winds of about 15kts out of the southeast all day. We made 6.0 to 6.5 kts most of the day.
We have a regular radio net with the other boats at 8:00AM every morning and we are all checking in with another net of cruisers from Mexico in the late afternoon. We have friends, Mark & Dot of S/V Puu’ena who left Hawaii last summer and sailed to California and then Mexico. They also sailed to the Marquesas and arrived just a week or so ago. This afternoon they checked into the late afternoon net and we discovered that they are now underway en route to Manihi and will be there just a couple days before we arrive!
It’s an interesting story on how we first met Mark & Dot and one I love telling! Last time we went through French Polynesia we stopped for 3 weeks at Mopelia, the furthest west atoll in French Polynesia. A boat, Mahina Tiara that does charters, pulled in and dropped anchor in the late afternoon. All the other cruisers were having a potluck on the beach with the locals and Sheri and I went over to invite everyone to dinner. Mark & Dot were on the boat.
They left the next day and we never thought much about it again. When we arrived in Hawaii we obtained a slip at the Waikiki Yacht Club and about a week after arriving, the people on the boat directly across from us, said they remembered us from when they were in Mopelia. Needless to say, we were stunned!! It truly is a small world! We have been good friends ever since. How fitting we will once again be reunited at a little atoll in French Polynesia!
Mark & Dot, Since you’ve been getting a copy of these, keep a light on for us! We’ll be there in a few days!