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Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Blog |

Ocean Passagemaking

S/V Learnativity, voyage to Fiji
Friday, May 15th, 6pm
Position 10.56S 178.04E Wind 13-15SE, course 070, boat speed 5 knots Distance to Bligh Water entrance 334 Bearing 183

You can follow our progress on this tracking map:

We are coming to the end of our second day on our voyage from Funafuti to Fiji — the continuation of the voyage from Majuro — and we have just tacked. What this means is that the place we want to go is directly upwind from us. Sailboats cannot sail directly into the wind. Instead they have to zig-zag or tack. So the place we want to go is almost due south of us, but we can only sail either a little west of south or a little north of east. We actually point better than that, but we also make lots of leeway, so that is more like our reality. Now we are actually making miles away from our destination, but we need to get more east in order to be able to sail southwest and hit Fiji. Hopefully we will only have to do this for the next 24 hours or so and then we will be able to resume a more or less straight course to our destination. And all this is predicated on the wind doing what the forecast says it is going to do – which is almost never the case.

But you know what? Who cares, really? I love being at sea and we are in no hurry. It’s true that some cruisers say they hate passages, and they are dying to get them over with. Not me. I love being out here so close to nature and having so much time to be quietly contemplative. My only deadline is that I have to be in Fiji by May 26th. That’s 11 days – plenty of time to cover these last 400 miles. We plan to enter through Bligh Water and then make our way the 70 miles or so east to Savusavu.

This afternoon has been one of those spectacular days that people dream of. The sea is a sparkling blue with only occasional little white caps, and the boat is gently rocking as she climbs up and over the waves. We see the occasional sea bird sliding over the waves or the odd flying fish, but mostly it is just water and clouds all the way around the horizon. The boat’s heel is much gentler than it was yesterday, and it’s easy to move around. Wayne has the stereo playing tunes from his huge collection of jazz, and the dogs are spread out in the shade of the cockpit snoozing. We stripped down earlier and bathed on the afterdeck, and it feels wonderful to be clean and comfortable as we watch the sun sliding toward the horizon bathing us in her golden light.

This is what passages are all about for me. The night watch without a moon when the boat is charging blind into the black night and you cannot even see the bow of your own boat. One minute the boat is heeled way over, the sails and rigging straining, and the hull shuddering as she slams into ways. A few hours later, the seas have flattened out and the sun is up. The wind has changed from a howling adversary to a gentle friend. But you wouldn’t appreciate the gentle wind, if you hadn’t been knocked around the interior the day before by the violent boat motion. Two days from now, the forecast is for strong winds again, but that will be then, and for me there is only the here and now. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else on earth.

Fair winds!