When people dream of sailing the south pacific, this is what they must imagine. Full sail sheeted in tight, driving the yacht hard under a clear and star-studded night. As extraordinarily rare as these conditions are, these are the conditions we are enjoying tonight. We were both trying to remember the last time we had a passage this pleasant and we are both recollecting Mexico, when we sailed from Barra de Navidad to Ixtapa Island. The seas are calm, the wind 14 knots, 40 degrees off the starboard bow, the engine off, and Ellie driving at 6 knots towards Tonga. I have the southern cross off the port bow to steer by and a crescent moon for company. Tonight I feel lucky to be a sailor.
We are less than 60 miles from Vava’u Tonga and plan to enter Neiafu Harbor by noon. Vava’u is a cruising sailor’s paradise, with over 50 anchorages within a day’s sail of the capitol. There is lush green high-island contrasted with reef and palm-studded motus to explore. Every amenity to drain the kitty and the seclusion to recharge the batteries. We have yet to rule out the possibility of never leaving. Perhaps we won’t.
Salud from what seems the most peaceful place on earth tonight,
July 20, 2015
17 45 S
173 28 W
This passage is progressing as the most pleasant we have enjoyed to date. The wind has been light and forward of the beam but just enough to allow the monitor windvane to steer a perfect course. The swells are small and the wind waves less than 2 feet. We are sailing as hard on the wind as we can since it has become more southerly. If the wind stays southerly and doesn’t clock easterly tonight then we may not make Vava’u on this tack. We need about 30 more degrees of east in the wind by tonight or we may have to use the iron genoa (engine) to make Vava’u before the SE blow.
I tried to fix the autopilot yesterday but the damage is irreparable. That is the second wheel pilot we have broken since Hawaii. They are such pieces of plastic crap and do not belong on an ocean-going yacht. I have exhausted my spares inventory and do not have the parts onboard to fix it this time. The plastic wheel that holds the stainless ball bearings snapped in half – this is the same way our other wheel pilot died. We will most likely be having a new unit sent to Tonga – an expensive proposition, but we are not fans of hand steering and we still have 2,000 miles to cover before we reach Australia.
Today we are making water, filling our tanks and taking much needed showers. We left Pago with only 10 gallons of water in our tanks. We didn’t want to run the watermaker in that dirty bay full of dirt and oil. As a result, the Princess’ shower schedule has been affected and from previous posts we know the dangers of messing with the ability to shower. Rest assured though, we should have full tanks and a happy First Mate by sunset.
Hopefully our next update is from a few miles off Vavau.
Lewis & Alyssa
July 19, 2015
220nm SW of Tutuila, Samoa
100nm NE of Vavau, Tonga
17 06.2 S
173 03.2 W
2-3 FT Seas
12 KTS Wind from 135T
We made it out of Pago Pago yesterday as the sun was setting. On our way out of the harbor, the autopilot (that I just rebuilt) decided to lose its mind and was turning the opposite direction to the input from the control unit. We quickly disconnected it from the wheel and hand steered out of the bay into good sized seas. We cleared the green entrance buoy marking the off-lying reef and bashed out to sea. Once a few miles off the island we set the monitor windvane and Ellie caught her groove and started doing what she does best – tear away miles. We have made 100 miles towards Tonga since leaving yesterday evening. A favorable current and 15 knots on the beam are making for a fast and pleasant passage. We are expecting the winds to subside even more by tonight so I’ll need to try and fix the autopilot so we aren’t having to hand steer while motor-sailing. A somewhat difficult task on the first day out when the stomach has yet to acquire sea legs.
We’ll write again tomorrow. Have a great weekend!
July 18, 2015
15 38.9 S
171 49.9 W