Passage to Tahiti: Days 1-3

Thursday afternoon (Day 1) the seas were big and confused while the wind had a north element so by the time we reached our rhumb line which was to take us across the top of the Dangerous Middle chain of reefs and atolls we were surfing downwind in large 3m seas and 25 knots breeze. There were a few growlers around and both of us were frustrated by the conditions as we pitched and rolled side to side. Come on give us a break!
As we ran between the majestically soaring islands we had some large bright yellow hornet-type insects turn up in significant numbers. We were batting them and spraying them – they just wouldn’t leave – so we had a bit of a war going on particularly as they all seemed intent on finding a spot down below. Finally they had all been removed when I felt something on my back…one had somehow got in between my tee shirt and my skin…and proceeded to sting me twice while I did a quick stripping act! Whatever I did in a previous life to bees and wasps I apologise – enough – please stop repaying me LOL.
We had the engine running throughout the day – at low revolutions to conserve fuel – so that we could get the fridge and freezer back down to their required temperatures and also to replenish our water supplies. I was really looking forward to a hot shower in clean water later. Pleased to report all systems are working well – including the resurrected autopilot Colin who has taken to wearing an aerated zip lock bag hat to stop any future water ingress if we have horizontal rain from behind like before.
The sun went down without any fanfare and although it remained squally with 25+ knot winds there was only a little rain and the seas flattened. The half moon was up before the sun went down so it didn’t really get dark until after midnight when the moon went to bed for the night. The phosphorescence in the water was spectacular and there were a few stars out there twinkling. We both relaxed into our shifts and started to enjoy the passage especially as we were making good progress at 5-6 knots average.
Around 4am Friday (Day 2) Richard spotted a light and called down to me to check our AIS was receiving/transmitting. It was but the other boat wasn’t visible on the system. So Richard tried to make radio contact – eventually they responded. The yacht Impulse was closing fast – the skipper suggested that we should cross his bow – but, as they got closer, Richard realised that was way too risky as the other guy was standing on despite his earlier suggestion. So Richard quickly took evading action and passed behind his stern. As you could imagine he was not impressed! This huge ocean – two sail boats – and we came within 100 yards of each other. Unbelievable. Excitement over I returned to my bed.
At six the sun came up and we could see the lumpy seas again – much better when you can anticipate getting slammed LOL. Anyway the wind steadied around 18/19 knots so we shook out a reef and carried on. Not quite a blue sky day but I’ll take it over the rain and mud of Hiva Oa anytime.
At 10 am we were both up enjoying sausage baguettes and mochas in the cockpit. Nice to get our food back! The seas remained big and confused with very short intervals leading to tough conditions on board. Colin, however, is doing an impressive job and we are very thankful to have him back with us. Richard’s auto-pilot shelf reinforcement seems to have paid off as the groaning has reduced significantly. There is the odd squeak but always when the wheel is required to spin fast from port lock to starboard lock and back multiple times to hold our course. Our first 24 hours at sea had netted us 139 miles so we were pleased with progress so far.
By lunchtime the seas had flattened a little, the sky was blue and the sea was deep blue. In fact, when the sun out, it was a lovely day. We both really enjoyed the day especially hot showers, clean hair and clean clothes! The feet still need a bit of work though LOL. Imagine ingrained mud in toenails – yuck!
The improved conditions continued throughout the starry starry night despite one blip when the engine refused to start! Richard had checked the fuel filter earlier to make sure there was no water in it – and thinks some air got into the system when he did it. The solution worked and concerns were allayed. Phew! We eventually ran the engine for about four hours to charge batteries and to continue making water…..
We did encounter another ship – no AIS again – who had obviously spotted us as he lit up like a Christmas tree and came to an abrupt halt. We assumed he was a commercial fishing vessel so we left about three miles between us as we slipped through keeping him on our starboard side.
At 6 this morning, Saturday (Day 3) the wind had eased to 14-16 knots – exactly as forecast – and has gone more easterly so we are now on a broad reach and enjoying the flatter, smoother ride that point of sail brings us. The sun came up leisurely and is already adding some heat to the day.
We expect conditions to remain similar – with a chance of heavy rain on Sunday – before we expect very light winds early next week. But everything can change of course – right now we are enjoying the ride and are always grateful to Morphie for keeping us safe.
Bye for now Jan