April 30 2018. We departed Opua at 2pm. Crew is myself, Kat and her boyfriend Roddy, Brad Tower and Grant Nelson. Yesterday Brad and Kat went to town for provisions. Color matters.
One more trip up the mast. Inspect the cables that strengthen and center the mast. These cables and the mast are collectively spoken of as “the rig”. Brad and Grant took care of the hoisting.
Grant and I sailed out into the bay to put the watermaker back into service. And learned a lesson. Sea state rough and random. Just right for seasickness. And we got a taste.
We have departed Opua after clearing with customs. Today we are using scopolomine patchs to avoid illness. Which is working. We are definitely feeling better than yesterday.
The sea state is still rough and random. Wind 17 to 22 gusting to 25. The moon is full. 3 meter seas try to board us but Spill The Wine foils them. They roll harmlessly under the stern. Our course to Minerva reef puts the wind and swell on our port rear quarter. Sometimes a rather large wave hits our stern and pushes us around and off course. The automatic pilot recovers our course pretty quickly.
Sunrise is the appetizer, and sunset is the dessert of the day.
Kat is running the galley. The meals are fantastic. I’m betting her culinary skills were not picked up in her Yacht Master program.
The first day out the seas were rough. To avoid freaking out our stomacs Kat served an awesome pasta dinner. The next night we were feeling quite comfortable with the seas and took a chance on T bone steaks. Successful.
Today maybe the anti seasick drugs are wearing off. Some discomfort among crew. I hope they don’t mutiny! We did take another chance on a lamb roast. But it worked.
There was about an hour between sunset and moonrise. Oh My was that ever dark!
After moonrise we study the squalls that surround us. One’s bound to get us.
The little black boat looking thing is us. The purple bogey on the radar is the squall. Keep the foul weather gear handy mateys!
May 3. This morning conditions were right for a nice asymetric spinnaker run. Kat and I do foredeck and Brad controls the halyards and sheets. This goes very smoothly. Soon we are smoking down the bounding main at 9 kts.
Afterwards we get most of the crew into a photo. And we are facing the stern with beautiful spinnaker in the background. Brad hoots “Fish On!” And a nice mahimahi joins the crew of Spill the Wine.
Edible hitch hikers are the best!
Roddy is a very experienced fish dude. He identifies the fish and demos filleting on half of it. Kat did the other half. Lunch will be soon!
Great wind until the afternoon of May 1st. Time to do some motoring. In the early morning of the 3rd there is some rain. Dawn brings a fantastic sunrise. And some rain. And squalls on and off all day. Wind varying from 7 to 25 kts as the squalls come and go. Pretty typical for these latitudes.
May 4. We ramble on and the wind builds slowly. The seas build too. Now 4 meter swells are coming from behind. Some breaking but nothing but spray gets into the cockpit. And not much of that. We are making 6 to 8 kts on a storm jib and a bit of main.
My scopolomine patch is exhausted. Good thing. I was having vaguely conscious dreams. And when it was time for me to participate in any dialog I would catch myself doing it out loud. Kinda weird.
We cooked a chicken on the Big Green Egg last night. I was almost surprised it went so well. Boat was being tossed about in the large swell like it was a toy. STW was heeling to 25 degrees in gusts to 33 kts. And the vertical chicken stayed that way throughout. We rejoiced with tacos.
Still 250 miles to Minerva. But we make good speed in spite of the lumpy sea state. You might recall in a previous post I got hit in the eye by a flying fish that tried to jump over the cockpit back on the Pacific crossing. Brad joined the ranks of the “Fish Eye Brotherhood” last night. He says he needs reading glasses as a result but I’m not so sure that’s the cause. He has 45 other problems… 😉
I’m starting to be bothered by a low grade fever, 99.5, and some real headaches. Hmmm. Aspirin not much help. Ibuprophen and Tylenol similarly not helpful. Maybe I’m seasick? I get this so rarely that I don’t recognize the symptoms. I try some anti seasickness stuff and it seems to work. Must have been the perfect sea state to do me in.
Nevermind our crew. We have other stowaways.
Two little stowaways disguised as sparrows or some sort. Proverbial bird in hand!
They liked the interior of Spill the Wine.
One tried steering but the autopilot took it for a ride.
As you can see they are very shy. There are more than a few fearless birds in NZ. I have to assume that’s where these are from as we just left. After about a day they flew away. Hope they know what they are doing.
The sun has been down for a couple hours and the sky has been pretty clear. Great night for a starshow. Just now the moon rises. Welcome back my friend. We are 50 miles from Minerva reef. Strange reef kind of in the middle of nowhere. 300 miles from any land. So of course we want to go. Should arrive at dawn.
Kat and I had intended to see Minerva on our way down from Fiji last November. The weather turned on us and we needed to make for New Zealand with all due haste to avoid trouble. And did. But so far this crossing looks like we will be touring Minerva easily.
May 6. We arrive about 9am. The pass is 75 feet deep. No worries there! Some snorkeling. Napping. Then it’s dinner time.
Kat and Roddy go for a walk on the reef. It is walkable at low tide.
And they recruit three lobsters to join the crew of Spill the Wine!
Here is satellite photo because it’s hard to photo an atoll. It’s all underwater. Most remarkable is the absence of swell after you sail through the pass seen on the photo above at about 10:00. It’s about 3 miles across.
We depart about 1300 hrs on May 7th. Crew notes. Kat and Roddy are both quite experienced. Brad and Grant less so. This is their first time on an ocean crossing. And they are loving it. They may be ruined for life on land forever. They are starting to shop for boats.