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9-10 May 04

Sunday, 9 May 2004

Chris, hard at work on his watch...
Chris, hard at work on his watch...

Dear Friends and Family,

Happy Mother's Day!  My goodness, what a difference a day makes.  Yesterday we had 30 knots of wind all day, and we were down to a triple reefed main and a bit of jib for sails, screaming along and trying to keep Ocelot from surfing too much (the GPS says we got up to 13.5 knots).  About 10pm last night the stars came out (finally) and the wind started moderating and backing around from the E to the NE.  This is because a new low pressure system is forming up about 500 miles south of us.  Lows in the southern hemisphere generate clockwise winds, so north of the low these CW winds counteract the easterly trades, sometimes leaving little wind at all.  (Highs, often called "anti-cyclones" generate counter-clockwise winds in the southern hemisphere).  South of the low, where it runs into the "trade wind high" is where all the action is, as the isobars crowd together and the wind-speeds get into the 50s.  We won't go there...

We currently have 2 or 3 radio nets in the mornings: A longtime cruiser is giving weather reports on 8.101 or 8.107 MHz at 1700z, and he repeats this on 12.353/9 MHz at 1730z for boats further away.  Then there's the Fiji net on 8.173 MHz at 1900z.  These are early morning for us, and we use the early evening for sending and receiving email (also by radio).  Being one of the first boats across this "pond" this season, everyone on our morning radio nets is watching us for when they want to leave.  Here's how we've progressed as of noon each day (note that today we moved our clocks back 1 hour to Samoa time):

May
2004
South
Latitude
West
Longitude
Day's
Run
Miles
to go
Wind
Speed and Dir
 Comments
Wed 5 16 27' 152 15' 0 1,248 8-17@140  Start in Maupiti
Thu 6 16 19' 154 38' 145 1,114 12-20@165  Nice sailing
Fri 7 16 38' 157 28' 166 950 20-35@165  25kt winds, surfing
Sat 8 16 41' 161 01' 145 805 20-55@165  55kt squalls in am, 30kts all day
Sun 9 17 22' 162 40' 160 647 5-15@150  Sunny, light winds

Ahhh...  Sundowner time in the middle of the Pacific
Ahhh... Sundowner time in the middle of the Pacific

This morning Amanda and Jon were treated to a glorious sunrise, with real blue skies forming a backdrop for the salmon clouds.  We shook out all 3 reefs but the wind kept dropping, so now we've doused the jib and put up the spinnaker.  We're ghosting along at 3-5 knots in 6-8 knots of wind, the sky is bright blue (finally) with puffy white clouds, and the ocean is a deep blue (ditto) with few if any white caps.  We were getting really tired of grey.  The winds are predicted to continue light and variable for the next day or so, then fill in from the SE.  We shall see...

Fair winds -- Jon, Sue, Chris and Amanda Hacking


9-10 May 04

Monday, 10 May 2004

Jon, Inspecting the "set" of the spinnaker
Jon, inspecting the "set" of the spinnaker

Howdy!

The theme of this passage must be "Feast or Famine".  Where has the wind gone?  Not that I (Amanda) am truly complaining, but if we were going to get 30 knots some days and 5 knots others, why couldn't it just all average out to a nice 15-20 the whole time?  Life would be so much simpler.

We had a wonderful sail with the spinnaker and mainsail all yesterday afternoon, though at times the gentle breeze was not enough to fill our heavy sails.  Around 16:30 the slapping and banging of the main got on all of our nerves, so down it came!  (Sort of like saying "Off with his head," isn't it?)  The spinnaker lasted a bit longer, but eventually nightfall and a big black squall on the horizon prompted us to douse it, too.  We rolled out the jib, and ducked below just as the first big, wet raindrops hit us.  The squall lasted through dinner (a simple but delicious spaghetti and tomato sauce with sausage, made by Chris) but during it I swear I saw nothing more than 15 knots of wind!!  However, the squall seemed to steal the wind as well, and we were left with no wind from anywhere once it passed.

Close reaching across the Pacific under the spinnaker
Close reaching across the Pacific trades
under the spinnaker!  Life is GOOD!

We motored much of the night, on a gently rolling sea below clouds and stars alike.  Not many stars, but I did see one or two.  The moon supposedly came up at about 22:00, but it didn't make itself visible for quite a while after that.  It cast an eerie light through the clouds, though didn't cast much from 3-4:30, during which time we were pummeled by rain.  And some more rain.  And a bit more rain.  And when that squall (or several, who could tell?) passed, voila!  Wind.  Not a lot, but enough for the mainsail.  Getting that up was a trick as the halyard was caught around some part of the mast and didn't free itself until Dad put his whole weight on it.  Mom called it a Tarzan fix.

It was wonderful to wake up to a lightened sky this morning, as it's been grey for several days now.  The mainsail was up, jib rolled out, and we were lollumphing (I love that word, even if it isn't one) along at about 5 knots.  We did that much of the morning, with some brief help from our engines, until we said to heck with it and put up the spinnaker.  That was fine for a while, until we got a bit of a wind shift, bringing the wind around to 60 degrees off our starboard bow.  For most people, this would mean dropping the spinnaker once more, but someone evidently forgot to tell Dad that symmetrical spinnakers don't go upwind.  I think it's doing rather splendidly, myself -- after all, we're doing about 4 knots in about 8 knots of wind, and the main's flapping so much it can't be helping a whole lot.

Here's our table of our noon positions:

May
2004
South
Latitude
West
Longitude
Day's
Run
Miles
to go
Wind
Speed and Dir
 Comments
Wed 5 16 27' 152 15' 0 1,248 8-17@140  Start in Maupiti
Thu 6 16 19' 154 38' 145 1,114 12-20@165  Nice sailing
Fri 7 16 38' 157 28' 166 950 20-35@165  25kt winds, surfing
Sat 8 16 41' 161 01' 145 805 20-55@165  55kt squalls in am, 30kts all day
Sun 9 17 22' 162 40' 160 647 5-15@150  Sunny, light winds
Mon 10 17 18' 164 16' 95 557 5-10@60-120  Sunny, hot, and light

Ta-ta for now -- Amanda, Sue, Jon and Chris Hacking, and Arthur the wet 'n' dry cat

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