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15-16 May 04

Saturday, 15 May 2004

Ocelot sailing into yet another beautiful Pacific sunset
Ocelot sailing into yet another
beautiful South Pacific sunset

Dear Friends and Family,

Last night was delightful.  A nice breeze popped up from the North, right off our beam (probably our fastest point of sail).  This allowed us to scoot along at 6-7 knots, more than we've seen in several days.  To top it off, we saw yet another green-flash sunrise.  These are rare enough that it caused considerable discussion on our morning weather radio net.

This morning's sail was a bit ... difficult.  A big, black wall of cloud blocked our path to the South and West.  It had all the makings of a shear-line or convergence-zone with a violent wind-shift on the other side, like what we ran into off Ecuador or our sail to the Tuamotus.  We took 1 reef, put up the rain-dodger, and donned our foul weather gear.  We tried to dodge north of the line but it was moving towards us too quickly.  Finally, we saw what looked like a thin spot in the squall-line, so we took another reef (it was blowing about 24 knots with heavy rain), tacked, and shot through.  Sure enough, the wind on the other side was coming smack from Tonga.

This rainbow actually developed into a full Double!
This rainbow developed into a full Double!

Luckily, the wind soon dropped down to more manageable levels, and the sun even gave us some stunning rainbows.  The line of dark, ugly clouds filled the entire North and East quadrants, so we tacked South, chasing after some blue sky we could see in the distance.

By lunchtime things had mellowed out considerably.  We've had 8-12 knots of wind from the W or NW, which is very unusual for this area, but not entirely unexpected given the intense low now sitting 1,000 miles south of us.  The wind has been veering to the north all afternoon, allowing us to actually lay the Vava'u group of Tonga, and even ease sheets a bit.  Life gets MUCH nicer when we can crack off so we're no longer hard on the wind.

Here are our noon stats so far:

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
Tue 11 17 10' 164 36' 33 539 4-7@60  Sunny, hot, FLAT
Wed 12 16 44' 165 42' 56 483 5-12@60-170  Sunny, hot, very light winds
Thu 13 16 20' 166 54' 80 424 5-10@135  Beautiful spinnaker run
Fri 14 16 11' 168 00' 66 368 4-12@80-120  Green-flash sunrise!
Sat 15 16 12' 169 55' 130 269 4-24@variable  Squall dodging and wind shifts

We are all well and doing fine, but we'll all be glad to get to Tonga and get the anchor down.

Fair winds -- Jon, Sue, Chris and Amanda   s/v Ocelot


15-16 May 04

Sunday, 16 May 2004

Jon & Chris refueling from our deck-jugs
Jon and Chris refueling from our deck-jugs

Dear Friends and Family,

Today has been beautiful, but absolutely flat calm.  The water was so glassy that Sue leaned over the bow and took a picture of her reflection in the ocean - it was that flat.  We've left the mainsail up, but we've been motor-sailing since sundown last night.  The engines are well muffled, but there is still a vibration that permeates the whole boat.  They're as well maintained as I can make them (Chris and I recently changed both engine's oil, oil filters, and fuel filters) but I like them to work when I need them, and I don't like to use them up crossing oceans.  That's what sails are for.  Still, we're "only" 40 hours motoring from getting the anchor down (less if I want to push the engines) and there is a lot of pent-up desire to get in.

If we've got to motor, at least we can do some laundry
If we've got to motor, at least we can run the watermaker and do some laundry

As long as we had an engine going we have lots of spare electrons so today we did a couple loads of wash, running both the watermaker and the washing machine.  Now we look really desperate, with sheets and shirts hung on the rigging as if we're trying to catch every breath of air.

At about 3pm a small breeze sprang up from the South, so we've shut off the engine and are sailing again, albeit a bit slower than we were motoring.  We all hope it lasts.

It's days like this that give one a (tiny) idea of the immensity of the Pacific Ocean.  We've had some petrels flying near us the whole way, but otherwise there's nothing out here for as far as the eye can see.  Just a few clouds drifting by overhead, the long gentle swells, a razor sharp horizon, a blue sky and bluer water, stretching all the way around us.  The water comes towards us in the front, and drifts away behind us, but little else changes.  Our only signs of transiting (besides the GPS) is that sunrises are getting a bit later every day.

Here are our noon stats so far:

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
Tue 11 17 10' 164 36' 33 539 4-7@60  Sunny, hot, FLAT
Wed 12 16 44' 165 42' 56 483 5-12@60-170  Sunny, hot, very light winds
Thu 13 16 20' 166 54' 80 424 5-10@135  Beautiful spinnaker run
Fri 14 16 11' 168 00' 66 368 4-12@80-120  Green-flash sunrise!
Sat 15 16 12' 169 55' 130 269 4-24@variable  Squall dodging and wind shifts
Sun 16 17 00' 171 12' 89 182 0-18@variable  Flat calm, motor-sailing

Thursday, May 20 is our 25th wedding anniversary.  We're certainly hoping to be in by then, but we risk losing the day to the International Date Line.  Nevertheless, we'll celebrate in fine style whenever we get in.  Friends waiting for us in Tonga are seeing to that...

All the best -- Jon, Sue, Chris and Amanda

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