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18-19 May 04

Tuesday, 18 May 2004

The magnificent Pacific clouds
The magnificent Pacific clouds

Dear Friends and Family,

18 May?!?  You may be asking yourselves what happened to Monday.  The answer is: we threw it out.  It's one of the joys of the cruising lifestyle (and crossing date-lines).  Mondays are a drag anyway - you've just spent a couple of fine days doing exactly what you want, and then BANG! - you've got to drag yourself out of your nice warm bed at some god-forsaken, cow-milking hour and haul yourself off to be abused at work or school.  For me, Mondays often meant writing up my status report and trying to justify my existence for the last week to my boss (gotta be careful here - my boss actually receives these missives - but since she has yet to respond to one, I suspect she doesn't actually read them.  Can bosses read?)  Better to just move directly to the Goofing-off-while-trying-to-look-productive-and-important phase of the week, don't you think?

We left you yesterday as we were motoring at about 4 knots.  If we'd kept that speed up, we'd arrive at our waypoint (just North of Vava'u, about 15 miles from our anchorage) at just about daybreak.  Perfect.  Yesterday we motored for something like 20 hours before a little breeze came up at about 3pm from the SE and we jumped on it with all the canvas we could spread.  Then, at about 7pm, we approached a squall line.  So we took a reef, chose a gap in the clouds, and darted through it, getting away with only 17 knots of wind under the squall line.  But the wind didn't go away - it stayed at 17 knots, right off the beam, one of our fastest points of sail, and we were thrashing along at 6-8 knots!  At this rate, we'd arrive in the middle of the night.  So we continued to reef the sails until we were down to 3 reefs in the main and 2 in the jib, loping along at 4-5 knots.  Since the wind chop was pretty big and coming at us from the side, we had a pretty uncomfortable night.

Even on passage, school is in session
Even on passage, school is in session

This morning, the wind backed to just about dead behind us.  We put up the chute for a bit since the conditions were perfect for it, but it pushed us along too fast, so we had to take it down again.  DANG!  I think this passage is going to be known as the "Feast or Famine" passage, as we've either had too much wind (beginning and end) or too little.

Someone asked why Green-Flash sunrises are so much rarer than Green-Flash sunsets.  While we've seen several Green-Flash sunsets on this passage, they're very rare.  We typically only see 8-10/year.  Conditions have to be perfect, with the sun setting into an absolutely clear horizon.  Also, while this is a photographable phenomenon, it's also true that more Green-Flash sunsets have been seen after a rum or 2, and I don't usually start drinking early enough to see a Green-Flash sunrise.   But the real problem is knowing where to look.  They only last for a fraction of a second.  It's easy to see where and when the sun will set, but not nearly so easy to tell where and when it will crest the horizon.  That, and the fact that most folks are still in bed then, is why Green-Flash sunset sightings are so much more common than Green-Flash sunrises.

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
Tue 18 17 54' 172 44' 105 78 8-20@variable  Trying to slow down!

With luck, tomorrow will be our last letter in this series, just to let you know that we've arrived safely.

Fair winds -- Jon, Sue, Chris and Amanda


18-19 May 04

Wednesday, 19 May 2004

The Vava'u Group of Tonga is relatively low & flat, not volcanic
Land HO!!  The Vava'u Group of Tonga is
relatively low and flat, not volcanic

Dear Friends and Family,

Just a quick note to say we've arrived safely.  Our last day was rather tiring, as almost constant squalls and wind-shifts kept us tweaking the sails.  But at first light (about 6:30) Amanda saw the island, and by noon we were tied up to the dock and entertaining the various (extremely polite) officials to get ourselves cleared in.  We're now hanging on a mooring off the main town (which, at first glance, looks very cute).  Tomorrow we'll explore in more earnest, but for right now, I'm going to catch up on several dozen hours of lost sleep.

This will be our last newsletter for a while.  Thanks for bearing with us through the passage.

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

Here are our noon stats for the trip:

May
2004
South
Latitude
West
Longitude
Day's
Run
Miles
to go
Wind
Speed & 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, & 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 & wind shifts
Sun 16 17 00' 171 12' 89 182 0-18@variable  Flat calm, motor-sailing
Tue 18 17 54' 172 44' 105 78 8-18@variable  Trying to slow down!
Wed 19 18 40' 173 54' 100 0 5-25@NE  1,400 miles total run

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