Thursday, May 7, 2009

Halfway between New Zealand and Vanuatu

It is Thursday noon as I write this. Hard to type while holding onto the monitor! We are past the half-way point and all is well on board.

Left the dock in Opua at 0945 Monday morning, May 4, in light SE winds. We motored for a few hours until winds increased enough to sail. There was a large swell rolling up from the SE but not too uncomfortable. Seas became more disturbed as it darkened into night. Around midnight we came upon a fishing boat lit up like a Christmas tree. He hailed us and said that his fishing lines were 8 miles long, so we had to deviate course to avoid becoming entangled. We deviated 5 miles east and then 3 miles due north before coming back and resuming our original course. No other boats have been seen on this passage.

I take the first night watch from 1800 to 0200; then Bill takes the second night watch 0200 to 0800. This enables each of us to sleep a long period and not become too tired on long passages. During Bill's watch on the first night I was awakened 3 times for a beeping alarm which he could not hear. He couldn't figure out what it was and I didn't want to get out of my bunk since the alarm stopped each time. Later on Tuesday morning during my first day watch, I discovered what this alarm was all about. The autopilot displayed "Drive Stopped" --- not something you want to learn on a long passage. I woke up Bill and told him about the problem. The linear drive on our Raymarine ST70001+ was overheating and stopping. So he switched to our chain drive and we were instantly back in business. Amel builds these boats so well. Just flip the A/B switch and keep on trucking. We wonder how many other pleasure yachts of this size are built so well. Bill thinks the clutch in the linear drive is probably worn out. We very rarely use the chain drive because it is noisier, so we shouldn't have to worry about the clutch wearing out on it before we reach Australia and can obtain repair parts.

Tuesday night gale conditions arose and lasted 14 hours until mid-afternoon Wednesday. Nothing serious; just uncomfortable. It was funny talking to friends in the Opua to Fiji passage and hear that they were in no winds and flat seas when we were in solid 35 knot winds and very disturbed seas. Amazing that weather conditions can be so different just a few hundred miles apart.

Wednesday night the winds began to die down. Finally late Thursday morning the seas began to display some semblance of order and rhythm. Unfortunately, that rhythm is a very large swell crossing our port stern. That large swell, along with light winds from the south, are creating quite a bit of roll. I did manage to make chicken nachos for lunch so you know it isn't too bad. But I do have to hold onto the monitor here at the nav station in order to type this log. So, enough for now. Our trip computer indicates we will arrive at Port Resolution on Tanna Island at 2000 Sunday night. Too early to worry about it now but looks like we will either need to speed up a bit or slow down a lot. We will let the weather decide that for us and not get serious about arrival time until Saturday afternoon; then decide what to do so that we can arrive during daylight.

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