We are hauling ass. We have made 185 miles in the past 24 hours. We are 870 (hard-earned) miles from Whangarei, New Zealand and 310 miles from our destination of Savusavu, Fiji. We will be in Fijian waters by tomorrow morning. We can’t wait because once we reach the southern Lau Islands, the reefs and islands will break much of these uncomfortable huge breaking seas!
We have been running 120 degrees off the wind with double-reefed main and half a jib making 8 knots on average. We have had a few spectacular surfs with one awesome surf topping out at 13 knots last night! This passage has certainly been a rigorous test of how well we have prepared QUIXOTIC, and so far (knock on wood) she has passed with flying colors.
I had a major scare yesterday. Since we have had the engines off for about 36 hours now, I decided to go into the engine compartments to check all the fluids and make sure all was well. Starboard engine room looked fine, oil was fine, coolant was fine. I timed the waves that were boarding the port hull and ducked inside the port engine room and shut the hatch. I looked around and saw the bilge had a few inches of saltwater – hmmm. There was some dried salt near the aft end of the engine (near the raw water pump) and an accumulation of salt water under the rudder post. Are we actually taking on water? Oh sh!t!! I went and got a headlamp and some rags. I spent the next hour in the engine room (while surfing down seas). I carefully dried up all the water and watched intently for any evidence of leaking coming in. While I was watching for water over the course of an hour, the bilge was full again! WTF? How?? I then turned the bilge pump on and cleared the water, only to watch it rise again. Holy crap – the water is coming in from the very hose that is suppose to REMOVE water from the engine room (the bilge pump hose). Since it’s a catamaran, we don’t have the height for a vented loop so we have a check valve in the hose – guess I probably should have replaced that check valve – oh well, at least we’re not sinking! Add it to the list! QUIXOTIC has 5 water-tight compartments in each hull so even in the event of water intrusion into a single compartment she would be able to sail on just fine. The water-tight compartments, coupled with her thick closed-cell foam core, make her virtually unsinkable. So, I feel pretty relieved that I think I found where and why the water was coming in!
So, we and Q just have to tough it out for another rough night and then we’re home free in calmer Fijian waters! The winds are forecast to increase a few knots to 20-22 tonight and then lay down once we get to Fiji. We plan to motor-sail the last 24 hours, which will be really nice and should allow us to clean ourselves up (read: shave my huge beard) and clean the boat up before making port.
It’s HOT and HUMID! Finally! I missed how uncomfortable it was to be sticky! Feels like we must almost be home I am writing this sans clothes; the Mermaid made a comment about me eating breakfast in the nude for the first time since leaving the islands! I can’t wait to jump in that warm crystal clear water!
Wish us luck on what is hopefully our last rough 24 hours at sea.
-The Rough and Unforgiving South Pacific Ocean
22 00.10 S, 179 22.75 E
7.5 KTS (we tucked a triple reef in and slowed down)
Wind: 18-19 ESE
Seas: 7-9ft with 10-11 ft SE swell
Water temp: 76 F