Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Saturday 15th September

At sea

20 26.508 S
176 31.994 W (at Midnight)

At last the leaving day arrived; we checked the grib early in the morning and it looks like we have a small window in which we can get to Fiji. The wind is supposed to be 20 knots for the first 24hrs then drops to 15 and by the third day it is meant to be 5 – 10 knots. We are never 100 percent convinced by the reports but we have to have faith in something so we decided to head off. At 09.15hrs we donned the life jackets and headsets, hauled up the anchor and motored towards the waypoint. As Tonga is surrounded by reef it took us a good hour to clear the reef, the wind was about 18 knots so this was OK. As we got towards the last bit of the reef Gerry said “look Nick, there are whales blowing over there”. Sure enough out to our starboard side there were the tell tale plumes of spray every once in a while, suddenly they began to broach and crash back into the water – quite a spectacular sight, unfortunately they were just a little too far away to get pictures of. I had the camera at the ready just incase one got nearer but the closest one was at least 200 yards away and from what we could tell they were humpbacks and just juveniles, none that we saw were very large. I was a little sad that Abigail wasn’t with us as in the month she spent with us we didn’t see a single dolphin or whale and here we were surrounded by them. Anyway it was a good start to our passage. Once we cleared the end of the reef we turned into wind and hoisted the main with the first reef in place and then poled the jib out on the same side to give us a bit more grunt. The wind was blowing 15 – 20 knots on the beam – we were happy and hoped it would stay that way. Our only problem for the moment was that George was requiring topping up with hydraulic fluid every 15minute (we were getting through about 10mls. of hydraulic fluid in that time); fixing George is most definitely on the top of the list for jobs to be done in Fiji, Gerry is going to see what they are capable of doing before deciding whether to have the existing cylinder resealed or the new on installed, either way something needs to be done. The fishing line went in the water and we had one huge fish on the line at around 16.00hrs unfortunately it leapt into the sky and dislodged the hook – these darned Mahi Mahi are slippery suckers to land! Of course that was the only bite we had so there was no fish for dinner. We had a pleasant sail for the rest of the day but as night approached the wind came aft of the beam and we ended up taking the pole off the jib and putting it away and then putting the preventer out for the main to stop it crashing over to the other tack when the wind gusted behind us.



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