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Day 1,490 - Rairua, Raivavae (23° 51S 147° 41W)
17:45hrs - June 28th 2011
We Made It!

We made it, our second longest passage, from New Zealand to Raivavae,
and for those of you who are interested, here are a few passage facts:

24 days at sea
2 ,555 nautical miles
33° longitudes
12° latitudes
2 time zones
1 international dateline
45 knot gusts
30 foot seas
1 broken forestay
6 small bags of trash
21 weather GRIB downloads
2 flying fish
1 mahi mahi
0 shaves

Day POSITION (noon) HDG SPEED* WIND S / M**
Day 1: 35° 18' S / 174° 02' E 90° 5 5 S S
Day 2: 34° 56' S / 174° 28' E 70° 4.5 17 NW S
Day 3: 34° 54' S / 178° 53' E 110° 3 10 SW S
Day 4: 35° 26' S / 179° 22' E 70° 5 3 E M
Day 5: 35° 33' S / 177° 31' W 115° 4 12 ENE S
Day 6: 35° 32' S / 174° 57' W 55° 6.2 18 N S
Day 7: 34° 53' S / 172° 17' W 70° 4 13 S MS
Day 8: 34° 17' S / 170° 17' W 35° 4.5 14 W S
Day 9: 33° 20' S / 168° 38' W 50° 5.5 12 NE S
Day 10: 31° 06' S / 167° 08' W 65° 6 13 ESE S
Day 11: 31° 40' S / 165° 30' W 95° 5.5 20 WSW S
Day 12: 30° 59' S / 163° 06' W 70° 5 25 S S
Day 13: 30° 35' S / 160° 56' W 90° 4 9 S M
Day 14: 30° 37' S / 159° 09' W 115° 4 12 NE S
Day 15: 31° 17' S / 157° 00' W 100° 4.5 20 NE S
Day 16: 31° 24' S / 154° 47' W 85° 5.5 13 NNE S
Day 17: 31° 32' S / 154° 02' W 90° 4.5 12 N S
Day 18: 31° 29' S / 152° 10' W 70° 3 8 N MS
Day 19: 30° 47' S / 150° 38' W 40° 3.5 11 NW S
Day 20: 29° 14' S / 149° 43' W 35° 4.5 11 SSW MS
Day 21: 27° 41' S / 148° 59' W 15° 4 5 S M
Day 22: 26° 15' S / 148° 25' W 15° 5 13 E S
Day 23: 24° 52' S / 148° 06' W 10° 3.5 15 NE S
Day 24: 23° 49' S / 147° 48' W 80° 4 14 N MS

*Boat speed over ground
**Sailing (S), Motoring (M), or both (MS)
 
 



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Day 1,487 - En Route to Raivavae (27° 41S 148° 59W)
15:36hrs - June 25th 2011
One Wave At A Time

We're cruising again! (OK, motor sailing in six knots of variable wind with only a cutter sail flying) but it feels like we're cruising again. The heavy clouds, opaque sea, and air that seemed to be saturated with gray, has been replaced with bright sunshine, blue skies, and a sapphire ocean that seems to radiate light from its depths.

We 'turned left' two days ago at longitude 151° west after sailing over 2,000 nautical miles due east - which is considered to be the challenging 'up hill' portion of this journey. The passage to date has gone better than expected (except, of course, for the small gale and the forestay issue) - the wind for the most part has been on or behind the beam, and excluding the last 2 days we've had enough of it to sail the majority of the time.

We're only 248 miles south of Raivavae, 48 hours of sailing if we had wind or enough diesel to motor, but we don't have either right now, so we're just idling comfortably along, shedding our layers of thermals and enjoying the ride. The air temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the water up from 58 to 65 degrees, and as if to reward us for making it this far, the ocean delivered a nice Mahi Mahi to us today.

Our head sail and furler system remain lashed to the starboard stanchions, and even with light wind, limited fuel, and a broken rig, we're are still surprisingly happy to be out here, especially now the sun is shining down on us. So for now we're just taking one wave at a time, and that, to me at least,
is the whole idea.

Dream Time: We believe our forestay parted due to metal fatigue. For 2 days we sailed down wind in gusty conditions - the wind blowing from 10 to 18 knots 'pumping' the headsail rhythmically, and like bending a wire hanger against a fixed point, back and forth, eventually it broke. But we have contacted a rigger and will replace the forestay in Tahiti.






 


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Day 1,484 - En Route to Raivavae (31° 29S 152° 10W)
15:28hrs - June 22nd 2011
Rig Failure!

This is becoming quite an eventful passage!

On Monday evening our forestay parted. Yes, that's right, one of the wires that helps keep the mast pointing in the right direction (up) failed, leaving our headsail and Profurling system whip lashing and swinging wildly, suspended only by the halyard.

Sailing in 10 - 18 knots of gusty wind, in six feet of swell, Catherine was on her early evening watch when she heard a loud 'CRACK'. She woke me, and through binoculars we could see the problem - the stainless steel wire rigging had snapped right at the swage fitting at the masthead - a clean break and something that we later discovered, once the headsail was securely lashed to the deck, was corrosion free - each jagged strand of wire was as shiney as they day it was forged.

As night settles quickly in these latitudes, and not wanting to grapple with 45 feet of gyrating sail and rigging in the dark, we decided to tackle the problem in the morning. We were able to furl what little headsail remained, and by tightening the sheets and furler line, we reduced its motion. We dropped the main and used its halyard as an emergency forestay - to give the mast additional forward support. Then, in an effort to keep a little perspective, we decided to lay-a-hull (drift) and settled in for an evening of spaghetti and the Sopranos.

In the morning, semi-refreshed, we had a game plan - we would rig two emergency forestays. But rather than using existing halyards, which due to their lead up the mast would not provide adequate forward tension, we dug out two spare halyards from the lazarette and I went aloft. For the record, I don't relish the idea of going aloft even when secured to a steady dock, so going up the mast in the middle of the swinging South Pacific, with the masthead making great sweeping arcs sixty feet above sea level, well, let's just say that it is something that I never wish to repeat.

After securing the two halyards aloft, we lowered the foresail and furling system, lashing it to the starboard stanchions, then set about rigging our emergency forestays. We fitted a snap block to the bow sprit, and ran one halyard through the block, under a deck cleat - which functioned as a fairlead - and back to the mast, where we tightened it using the empty headsail winch. The second halyard we also ran down to the bowsprit, which we tightened using the block and tackle commandeered from our boom vang. The rig is tight, and we are able to fly both the main sail and cutter, but to keep unnecessary load off the forestays, we intend to keep the wind on, or aft of, the beam.

Remarkably we are both in good spirits, and today we even had cause for celebration, as we have crossed 'over the fold'! You see, for the last eighteen days we have been sailing in the lower left quadrant of our folded southwestern Pacific chart, a portion which includes New Zealand, giving us the impression that we haven't really gone very far at all, especially as our destination wasn't even visible. But now we're on the other side, New Zealand is most definitely behind us, and Raivavae is in sight - well, on the
chart at least.

But as it is still over 500 nautical miles over the horizon, and with light wind forecast, no head sail,
and a dwindling diesel supply, it still feels like a very, very long way away!





 


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Day 1,479 - En Route to Raivavae (30° 40S 161° 26W)
06:10hrs - June 17th 2011
I Need A Vacation

The conditions have changed somewhat since our last entry.

It's day 11 of our 3-week passage, and for the last 24-hours we've been riding the northern side of a low that's screaming along the high latitudes below us. And while the winds are pushing us, shoving would
be a more accurate description, in the right direction - which we are most thankful for, the sailing conditions out here are far from favorable.

With towering swells measuring up to a sobering 30 feet, assisted by 45 knots of wind, Dream Time is charging along east-northeast under a double-reefed main and just a scrap of a headsail. Our top speed has been 13.5 knots, which I glimpsed on the B&G display whilst grappling with the helm as we shot down the face of one of the more impressive waves (our average speed is usually around 5 knots).

Catherine and I are exhausted. As you can imagine, sleeping in these conditions would require a horse-strength tranquilizer, and the sound of the rumbling surf approaching in the night, as the particularly large waves break behind us, sending an avalanche of foam and bubbles our way, engulfing our stern with luminescent white gurgling water - well, it's enough to give you an ulcer.

But we are safe. Dream Time is solidly reassuring and was built for this, and who knows, if the circumstances were different, like perhaps we were watching this on the Discovery Channel, one might even say that it is beautiful - for at the top of each crest we're rewarded with a spectacular view across the surrounding ocean, like standing atop a large hill, with an expansive glimpse of mother nature at her most glorious. But when you are in it, well, let's just say your mind is a little occupied (or distracted) with more pressing thoughts.

But the barometer is creeping up - an indication that the low's center is now moving away from us, and
the most recent weather GRIB files show the winds easing to a more civilized 20 - 30 knots. The waves, however, will stay with us for another day, and are even forecast to build as they continue their journey to the north. But with 8 seconds between crests, and without 45 knots of wind to blow their tops off, we're hoping for a more comfortable ride, and perhaps a little rest.

We've got 569 nautical miles before we will 'turn left' and begin our final four day sail up to warmer
weather and the sheltered tropical lagoon of Raivavae, and not a moment too soon, because we're
both ready for a vacation!





 


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Day 1,476 - En Route to Raivavae (32° 06S 167° 08W)
13:51hrs - June 14th 2011
Life On The Ocean Waves

Well, now it’s just us and the whales and the birds.  We're well into the passage now and the only
other person we have come across out here was an Italian fishing boat captian when, six days ago, he hailed us on the VHF radio to alert us to his lines of potentially treacherous fishing gear, so we didn’t inadvertently run into it and ruin his day.  We chatted and he wished us fair winds on our journey, and
we wished him happy fishing on his as he disappeared over the horizon, and we haven’t seen another boat since.

Even with obliging wind and kind seas we still have many miles and days and night watches to go before we see land again, but counting miles and days doesn’t help me, so I just think about being on the boat today. 

When it’s calm I daydream about the teaming life just under our keel, I imagine the dark undersea mountains that appear as concentric contour lines on the GPS as we sail over the top of them, and I
watch huge birds on their flyby visits and wonder when they will next see land.  When it’s bumpy and
dark and wet on a starboard tack, I think about how much I hate starboard tacks, and wait for it to get
better, and it always does.

All in all, life on the ocean waves is a funny thing, it's always different, always changing, wherever
you are, and if the destination is still too far away to think about, then I don't.





 


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Day 1,471 - En Route to Raivavae (35° 33S 174° 57W)
14:46hrs - June 10th 2011
Cruising Comforts

Thanks to the international dateline, that we crossed on Thursday, which instantly became wednesday (again), we had a whole bonus day to get a few more miles under our keel, not that we really need it now - Dream Time is howling along. We've got 20 knots of steady N-NW winds blowing across our wet decks, driving us east along lattitude 35 south at a comfortable 7 knots.

This is our fifth day at sea and our bodies (and minds) have finally settled in to our 24-hour sleep schedule (see schedule in our June 22nd 2010 blog), so we feel relatively well rested. Dream Time
is well balanced too, and with a little help from our B&G autopilot, is sailing herself under a reefed mainsail, yankee and cutter, allowing Catherine and I to lounge around in the cockpit, spending our waking hours reading, and just quietly watching the sea roll past.

Before this passage I would have scoffed at the idea of sailing inside an enclosed cockpit, claiming that: 'a real sailor likes to feel the wind and salt spray on their face', or some similar line of twaddle. And while that may be true in warm and agreeable tradewinds, down here, in the South Pacific's high latitudes, in the middle of autumn no less, I've realized that the whole enclosed cockpit concept is really quite a good one. You see while Dream Time's decks and coach roof are completely saturated with cold salty ocean water her cockpit, and her inhabitants, remain perfectly dry. Even the occasional enthusiastic wave that splashes up over our windward side sloshes harmlessly against our rain canopy - it's like sitting inside your car as it rolls through a car wash (except of course there are no giant brushes spinning overhead).

So our advice to anyone planning on taking what could be a wet and chilly passage, and who wants to cruise in comfort, invest in some cockpit canopies, you won't regret it.

Dream Time: Diverted engine coolant hose to bi pass faulty pressure valve in hot water tank. Engine cutting out: Water and sediment in the primary Racor fuel filter (likely due to condensation and an
agitated tank), so we drained fuel bowl and replaced both primary and secondary filters.





     
 


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Day 1,469 - En Route to Raivavae (34° 54S 178° 53E)
12:23hrs - June 8th 2011
On Our Way!

After waiting a month for a weather window that 'felt right', we're happy and relieved to report that one finally arrived, and on Monday 6th at 12:00 local time, we waved goodbye to New Zealand, and to new friends.

With a series of troughs, highs, and lows all promising to bring us favorable winds, we are now, after
forty-eight hours of sailing, definitely on our way to Tahiti. The wind has been averaging twelve knots
from the northwest, and under a full main, yankee and cutter sail, Dream Time has covered a
comfortable 255 nautical miles (only another two thousand to go).

We're still settling in to life at sea - we've activated our internal 'automatic gimble mode' to allow for the constant motion of the ocean, and are now in the process of trying to gently coax our systems to accept
our radical and complex regiment of night watches, day shifts and scheduled nap times, which, after six months of a normal eight-hour uninterrupted sleep cycle, is not easy. We can handle the motion, the sailing, the weather, cooking underway, the cacophony of creaks, groans, knocking and sloshing, but adapting to our sleep routine requires the most work.

But thankfully the conditions are perfect. We have a gentle swell from the northwest, sunshine, and swanky new weather cloths around the cockpit to shield us from the chilly wind. So all in all, we're off
to a great start!





 


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Day 1,462 - Opua, NZ (35° 12S 174° 12E)
09:45hrs - June 1st 2011
Sailing Anniversary

Today we are celebrating our fourth anniversary - four years of living together on Dream Time. And yes, even after four years of sharing a space no larger than a walk-in closet, we are still very much in love.

Now, I'm not suggesting that living in an enclosed space with only one small exit is a great strategy for every couple. Or that being on a long passage for weeks on end, with absolutely no means of escape, will work in all relationships, but it seems to be working quite well for us.

What little space we do have, we share amicably, and on the rare occasion we need a little more room, we either retreat to our respective sides of the boat - Catherine to the port berth, me to starboard, or I go for a paddle on my kayak.

It's a little difficult to believe that we have lived this way for four years, and that now we will begin our fifth year of cruising with a three-week passage to Tahiti. But I've come to realize that it doesn't really matter where we go, only that we continue to go there together.