Fiji to New Zealand


Date:Oct. 27, 2014, 11:33 p.m.
Position:41 15.34 S, 173 16.53 E

Safe in port. All checked in and in our slip! Sleep now.

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Date:Oct. 26, 2014, 11:32 p.m.
SOG (kts):5.8
Position:40 46.00 S, 173 11.00 E

We are closing in on Nelson fast! Just a few more miles to go--we are sailing along close-hauled in 20-25 knots of SE winds.

Last night we weathered major gale in the Tasman. It picked up to a sustained 41 knots for about 6 hours. No damage to the boat except a bent stanchion from a particularly nasty wave. Privateer did a great job keeping us safe and steady. We ambled through extreme wave action at a comfortable 5 knots under storm trysail alone. Never surfed or buried the bow. It was pretty wild stuff! I couldn't see anything at the helm except a blizzard of spray, so I just turned on the LED spreader lights and lit the boat up like a christmas tree, and monitored the AIS. In the morning the gale raged on and I thought I could discern the mountains of the North Island in the distance, but they turned out to be huge looming waves. What a way to come into NZ!

Later this morning we had a 40-mile sleigh-ride down the Tasman Bay, surfing at 10 knots in easy 25 knot NWerlies! "It was all supposed to be like this" I told my Dad! But soon enough the ocean decided to give us one more slap in the face, and what I can only describe as a rapidly moving "Haboob" came out of nowhere, killed our wind, and sent us a gale hard on the nose from the opposite direction, and all the while we were trying to round the Farewell Sandspit against a few knots of current! We scrambled to prepare for the haboob, shortening sail etc, but it was too late to put any foul weather gear on or set the monitor. It came in minutes, a peculiar wall of white mushrooming clouds. As I hand-steered close-hauled around the spit in order for a safe 3 mile pass, sheets of spray soaked the last set of dry woolies I had left. The ocean was showing us who's boss after we felt all salty for weathering the gale!

We are making a beeline for Nelson now and have to clear customs tonight. No rest for the weary! I'll probably sleep for a few days and put up an entry when we get settled in.

Privateer is a bitchin' ride and I can't believe we've sailed her all the way from AK to NZ!!!!!!!! WHOOOO HOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

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Tempestuous Tasman

Date:Oct. 25, 2014, 11:31 p.m.
SOG (kts):5.2
Position:39 39.00 S, 172 32.00 E

Right now we are experiencing a full gale in the Tasman Sea. Several hours after dousing the main, the winds picked right up to 30-35 knots. We rolled in the jib and are running beautifully along under storm trysail alone. The Monitor is holding course and keeping the wind angle at 150 degrees over the starboard quarter. Despite urinating all over my long-johns while attempting to go to the bathroom in the pitching cabin, things are well. It's amazing how calm things seem below (relatively) vs the chaos above-decks, which is a smother of foam and waves in the pitch black.

A 1006 mb low is pushing its way up into the Tasman (very annoying timing) and we are sailing along the leading edge of the clockwise flow. I imagine in a few hours the "eye" will pass over us and the winds will drop for a few hours before backing to the east. Hopefully we'll be close enough to Farewell Spit at that point that we can motor into Able Tasman bay and crack off on a beam reach to Nelson. We are so close!

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Motoring Through the High

Date:Oct. 24, 2014, 11:30 p.m.
SOG (kts):5.0
Position:36 52.00 S, 171 39.00 E

Under power

Last night the winds and seas picked up greatly and gave us a thorough thrashing. The waves were "hollow" and throughout the night we'd slam into the holes. Despite the conditions, we still managed a good tack at 5 knots. I didn't sleep and had to stay up the whole night. Finally around 0400 the winds abated as we entered the high pressure system. We got under power and have been steaming ever since--a welcome relief! We're burning through our remaining fuel in the hopes of making it through to the westerlies on the bottom of the high.

Nep took the watch all day today while I slept, so I'm all caught up now! We're back on regular watches now and looking forward to the westerly winds. The decks and rig are so salty right now that it looks like fresh snow has fallen on the boat!

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Windward Work

Date:Oct. 23, 2014, 11:25 p.m.
SOG (kts):4.0
Position:35 18.00 S, 171 29.00 E

Another day of sailing hard on the wind. About 0600 it picked right up and has been blowing steady 22 knots SE, with 28 knots in the center of the squalls. Surprisingly we've been able to stick mostly to the rhumb line, though it is slow going. We've got a sail plan that works pretty well for the conditions: Double-reef main and "double reef" jib (partially rolled). When the squalls pass we can roll out the jib and gain an extra knot or two, keeping it sheeted in hard. The helm is totally balanced and we just leave the tiller to it's own devices. Thank you full keel!

Privateer just shoulders her way through the seas like a hot knife through butter. The rail is buried and she charges ahead at 30 degrees off the wind. With just 367 miles to go to Nelson, we are getting anxious to get there! Have to be patient. Tonight we're tacking into the high pressure moving in, and then plan to motor for a day (with the last of our fuel) south of the high where we'll pick up some fresh westerlies. At least that's the plan.

Much of this passage has been to windward so far, and one of our legs is beginning to grow longer, as the sailors say.

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Top of NZ and Closing In

Date:Oct. 22, 2014, 11:24 p.m.
SOG (kts):5.0
Position:34 2.00 S, 170 55.00 E

Another day of motoring into light southerlies. Winds picked up a bit in the afternoon and we sailed for a few hours, but the best we could do was tack across the rhumb line. Tomorrow the southerlies are forecast to strengthen to 20 knots as the leading edge of a new high pushes through. Another day of beating to windward! The following day, however, it looks like our "Nelson winds" will arrive, and we will hopefully coast the last 400 miles with 25 NW winds on our tail.

We're just 60 NM away from the Three Kings islands off the top of NZ. It's a major shipping lane for freighters bound from Australia to Auckland, NZ. One crossed our bow within .8 mile of us today, and we've got another one creeping up on on us in the dark now. Thank god for AIS on nights like this, eliminating the anxiety and guesswork. We always hail the navigator on the radio, out of curiosity. It's interesting to see if they're paying attention and if they can see us on their ship's radar. It was quite dramatic this morning, after seeing nothing but blue water and sky for the past 10 days, to watch a bright red freighter lumber across the swells right in front of our nose!

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Motoring Along....

Date:Oct. 21, 2014, 11:23 p.m.
SOG (kts):5.0
Position:32 4.00 S, 171 0.00 E

Under engine

Having a motor fest in light winds. We aimed right for the center of a weak low pressure system to avoid another southerly beat-down. It was worth it! We're motoring along in big glassy swells, light winds, and the occasional squall. Nep took a squall shower the other day. The trick is to lather up with Dr. Bronner's quickly as the rain starts, so that the downpour washes it all away before it stops.

We continue to pass through massive rafts of "By the wind sailor" jellyfish. There must be hundreds of millions of them out here! Day after day, non-stop. At sunrise they glitter on the waves. We're in the midst of one of the world's great migrations.

Currently we are 562 NM away from the Nelson Harbor entrance, and we are counting down the days! We're trying to get there before the middle of next week, when heavy weather is forecast to pass through. So we'll run our engine as long as we need to while we're in these light winds. Keeping close tabs on the weather now. Looks like a few days more of motoring, followed by a few days of (knock on wood!) NW winds to carry us down to latitude 41 south.

Our food supply is getting rather basic without the fridge. It's going to be another week of Ritz crackers and scrambled eggs!

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30 Degrees South

Date:Oct. 20, 2014, 11:22 p.m.
SOG (kts):5.0
Position:30 31.00 S, 170 54.00 E

We finally crossed into 30 degrees latitudes today! Right now we're motoring through a weak low pressure area. For the past two days we've been beating mercilessly into strong southerly winds and choppy seas. Privateer is balanced out perfectly for upwind sailing so no windvane required. Looks like the southerlies will finally settle down a bit and we can expect motoring for the next few days as a high pressure pattern develops.

We lost our fridge compressor to saltwater damage when the locker it was in unknowingly flooded while the boat was heeled. Unfortunately it was mounted on a shelf with no drain holes! Today all of our fridge food went into the sea...

Nice sunny afternoon today. We took the opportunity to clean up the boat and bring her back to ship-shape after all the southerly slop. Slow mileage made good these last two days as we've been tacking into 20-24 knots of headwinds

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Velella Velellas

Date:Oct. 18, 2014, 11:21 p.m.
SOG (kts):4.0
Position:28 16.00 S, 171 46.00 E

We got under "D-sail" at 0330 hours this morning (engine). Our beloved SE trades finally pooped out as we slid off the back of the high. It was a great 600 mile tack!

As I write this, we are witnessing a great natural phenomenon. I caught a glint on the waves out of the corner of my eye this morning. As we drew near, we discovered it was a unique jellyfish--I believe they're called Velella Velellas. They have an air sac or something that they inflate above the water, and "sail" across the ocean on the winds. As the sun came up we saw that there were literally millions of these tiny creatures covering the whole surface of the ocean! They look like little clear earlobes, and twirl around in the wind. We motored past them for hours and hours. And now at sunset we're in another swath of them. Every 2-3 square feet of ocean has one on it right now. Definitely something I'm going to Google when we get to land! They make me think of my friends Rob and Kai, who have a boat named Velella Velella.

We are over 1/2 way to Nelson NZ now and positioning ourselves westward for the approach. We're in a pretty veriable weather pattern right now, and expect a few days of motoring and a few days of beating into the southerlies associated with a low moving up the NZ coast.

It's finally getting chilly at night! It feels so good to put the woolies and slippers back on, and sleep cool again. And the cold is also chasing away the "toilet bugs" that have swarmed in our ship's head for the past 6 months. For those of you who don't know what the toilet bugs are, they are little black gnats that live under the rim of our toilet. They're too quick to swat and they land all over any food that you leave out, and mate in these conga-lines on the counter-top. They will not be missed!

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Pleasant Sailing

Date:Oct. 17, 2014, 11:20 p.m.
SOG (kts):6.0
Position:26 22.00 S, 172 39.00 E

Very pleasant sailing today in E-NE winds 15 knots on the quarter. We're still making westing to give the North Island of NZ as wide a berth as possible. There'll likely be some weather next week and we need a lot of sea room. Tuning into the nets today, we can hear all the boats around us reporting their positions. One is only 28 NM away!

The seas really evened out today and we dried more of the boat out. Had my last south pacific coconut and chucked the husk over the side. The last three days we've made really good mileage: 151, 154, and 145 NM on our 24 hournoon-to-noon sights.

Running off now at 120 wind angle with full jib, staysail, and double-reefed main, making 6-7 knots with occasional surfs of 10.4 knots. Privateer really likes this angle and combo--I do too, because all we have to do is roll up the jib and we're ready for any winds to 30 knots.

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Coasting Along

Date:Oct. 16, 2014, 11:19 p.m.
SOG (kts):7.0
Position:24 17.00 S, 173 57.00 E

We're coasting down the wave trains in the easterly winds. We're on the back side of the high now, and the seas have really evened out. We took advantage of the day and sorted out the mess from the previous two days. This morning I attempted our first hot meal, but the LPG solenoid burned up (our last spare) and for awhile it looked like we'd be eating cold food for the duration of the voyage! I managed to jury-rig a new fitting sans solenoid, and we are cooking again. I didn't even get wet working on the bow! What a difference a day can make.

We're really knocking back the miles, another 158 noon-to-noon from yesterday. The nights are growing colder as we head south into the higher latitudes. We're aiming just shy of Norfolk Island before we turn eastward to close with the west coast of NZ's North Island.

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Date:Oct. 15, 2014, 11:14 p.m.
SOG (kts):7.2
Position:21 59.00 S, 175 39.00 E

Strong winds and a very rough sea today. By noon we were down to double-reefed main and staysail, making 8 knots on a beam reach. We covered 158 NM noon-to-noon since yesterday--one of our better runs! Things are finally starting to settle out a bit, but we haven't been able to cook a hot meal since our lobster tail dinner in Fiji waters.

We took many breaking seas over the decks and into the cockpit today--and discovered all of our clothes lockers had standing water in them! Nep also had an "interesting" time using the head :) His book on Leningrad got soaked so we pitched it into the cockpit, where it rapidly turned to pulp and got sucked out the scuppers. Oh well--it's flattening out now and we will clean up after a needed rest! Privateer really is an amazing little ship.

Checked in with "Rag of the Air" net today. There are several other boats in our vicinity and the forecast is shaping up well for the next few days. We've cracked off and got the winds behind us and are looking forward to a downwind run! Sunny skies and clear nights continue as we push deeper into the high.

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Southbound Through the High

Date:Oct. 14, 2014, 11:13 p.m.
SOG (kts):6.5
Position:19 43.00 S, 177 16.00 E

We're blasting through the swells and chop across the leading edge of a massive area of high pressure. Right now it's a bit uncomfortable because the wind is 30 degrees forward of the beam (translate: wet decks and 20 degree heeling angle). But the skies are sunny, it's 80 degrees, and we're on a good heading for NZ. As the high moves eastward, our winds will shift more easterly and we can crack off and flatten out the boat--hopefully in a day or so.

Last night Nep cooked up some lobsters that the Fijian fishermen gave to us. They were delicious! As we sailed by the glow of Suva in the distance, we dined on lobster tail and leftover birthday cake! The winds fell flat and we motored most of the night through the Kadavu Passage. At first light we rounded the last cape and found the wind on the open sea, knocking back the miles.

We joined the net "Rag of the Air" today and are logging our position with them daily. It's a good one because they give you a personal weather forecast, as well as conditions for the entire South Pacific.

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Privateer to NZ!!

Date:Oct. 13, 2014, 11:12 p.m.
SOG (kts):5.0
Position:18 7.00 S, 178 45.00 E

Nep and I are motor-sailing in light winds and drizzle through the Kadavu Passage tonight, after departing Levuka at 1200. We had a great customs check-out procedure (very easy) and gave the last of our kava to some fishermen, who in return gave us two big lobsters! We are excited for the passage, and Privateer is all battened down and ready for the open sea again. The forecast shows several good days of trade-wind sailing beginning tomorrow around noon. We'll keep our finger's crossed!

Kelsey is in Suva tonight looking for masala dosas (Indian crepes) and will fly to NZ ahead of Privateer--better for the baby! She's looking forward to being in the land of milk and honey (and veggies!) Nep and I hope to make Nelson NZ in one passage, provided we get a good forecast, which should make about a 1600 mile passage of about 12 days in an ideal scenario. We'll be sending a daily update from the high sea.

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Date:Oct. 12, 2014, 10:02 p.m.
Position:17 40.49 S, 178 50.11 E

Birthday day in Levuka town. Sailing for NZ tomorrow!

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