NZ to Fiji Passage Update – Day 3 – Sloppy Seas

Morning all,

We have sailed 170 nautical miles in the past 24 hours. We are 530 nm from Whangarei and 660 nm from Savusavu.

I had a bright idea to get us far enough east to catch the 20 knot winds that were forecast to blow alongside a low….what could possibly go wrong?  Well we did find the wind last night and we also found some horrible washing machine cross seas that have been punishing me ever since.  That low must have kicked up some decent seas because they are short, steep and from two directions mixed in with the regular 20 knot wind waves.  It’s making for some brutal progress. I gave the engines a rest last night and we drifted downwind at 5-6 knots under full jib. The seas would raise us up then break and slam into the leeward hull and shake the bridgedeck violently.  Then we would surf down a wave then get caught in a trough then the same peak, break, slam again. This repeated itself all night until this morning when we thought it was just too hard on the boat so we turned the engines back on to keep up pace with the waves and try to reduce the number of big slams.  Now we are surfing at 8-9 knots down the wave faces but still getting stuck in the troughs going 6 kts, the engines work hard to pull us out and then we go over the cresting peaks, some break and some don’t, then we race down the next face at 8-9. The impacts are less violent at speed but the funny thing is that now we are going too fast to use the jib much.  The jib luffs when we surf but fills in the troughs so we still have it out.  We thought about flying the asymmetrical spinnaker but the motion is too quick when we rock over the crests of the breaking waves so we haven’t tried to fly it yet.

We were heading NNE to Minerva but that put the mixed seas too much on the beam so now we are heading north.  May not be able to make Minerva unless these seas lay down by tomorrow.  There is also some southbound current here that is aiding and abetting these seas in their attempt to break up our catamaran.

Other than the pounding the seas are giving our poor cat, she is running well with no visible or apparent damage.  We topped off our fuel yesterday from jerry jugs so we still have at least 75 gallons in the main tank and another 30 in jugs.

Looks like these winds will stay stiff today and into tonight.  Then the forecast calls for easing, which will be nice.  I also see 1 meter waves when we reach Fiji – that will certainly be nice!

Last night I made a rookie mistake.  I was in the head sitting on the toilet.  Out of habit I reached up and opened the port to get some fresh air.  Well about a minute later an enormous wave slammed into the side of the hull and funneled a huge amount of ice cold seawater into the port! I was immediately soaked from head to toe and the head filled up with about 6 inches of water and the shower pump started pumping it out.  I was in shock but screamed from the cold!  I was looking in the mirror as salt water dripped from my hair and my soaking wet long sleeve shirt.  It managed to get on the ceiling and cover the entire head!  What an idiot move Lew!  The chaos woke the Mermaid and let me tell you – that’s playing with fire!  I took a hot shower and washed all the salt off.  And the soaking wet TP roll was tossed overboard.  In hindsight it was pretty hilarious.

I have learned three things in the past 24 hours. First, stay the hell away from potentially big confused seas – that means any low that could kick up a short-period mixed swell.  Second, our cat sails WAY better with wind in the high teens on the beam or 20 knots on the quarter; 18-20 directly aft is not enough wind to keep us moving over 6 knots with just the jib.  Third, don’t open the port in the head in rough seas, idiot.

Hopefully our update tomorrow will tell of much improved conditions. Wish us luck.


-South Pacific Ocean

23:45 UTC
27 46.7S, 178 39.4E
Wind: 20 knots SSW
Seas: Disgusting. Breaking. 12-15 ft from what seems like all directions – barf
Water temp: 74 F
Clothes: Board shorts and t-shirt


Thank You

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