It feels like we have been preparing for this long passage for months. Way longer than the actual passage. But it’s all in the preparations to make for a smooth and easy sail.
Matt posted “live blogs” during the passage (which took place in June 2022) so I will try not to duplicate him, but if you are interested in reading them (he is super funny). Click here to read the first of his 12 posts during our passage.
We left from Bora Bora and our friends from Askari managed to get a departing photo with the Bora Bora caldera in the background.
- Departure Date and Time: Saturday, 4 June 2022 at 12:30pm
- Miles to Destination (as the crow flies): 50
- Engine Hours: Port: 4213 and Starboard: 4374
- Estimated Arrival Time: 19 June 2022 (Fiji is 22 hours ahead of Tahiti so we lost a day)
Matt and I do 3 hours on and 3 hours off for passages. Basically, Matt works the 8p-11p shift, I work the 11p-2a, Matt is back up 2a-5a and I am up from 5a-8a. During the day we rotate however we want (sort of light schedule). Averaging 5 hours of broken sleep a night is challenging at best.
We purposely picked this weather window because it had light winds for the first few days. This is crucial for me because I am prone to sea sickness. Having light winds allows me to slowly get my “sea legs.” Weather predictions are really guessing as they are often wrong. But usually the first 3 days are somewhat accurate. Four different forecasts had us going way North increasing our cross track to over 100 miles (meaning we went over 100 miles out of our way to ensure we stayed in the wind zone).
We flew wing on wing (main sail on port and jib on starboard) and then tried to fly the parasail. We lost sight of land at dark, just a mere 6 hours after we started our passage.
Day 2 & 3
Lovely days with light winds. We flew the parasail for most of the day and managed to maintain a 6.5 boat speed. Another boat showed up on AIS (radar) called Moondance. They were mirroring us which was odd. We headed to port, then they did, we headed to starboard, then they did. We eventually lost them and left them in the dust.
We leave French waters and enter Cook Islands territory. The closest island is Suwarrow which is south and still over 300nm away (2-2.5 days).
A rather large squall came through in the wee hours of the morning bringing over 35kts of wind and super strong, large rain drops. Just as we finished dropping all the sails, the winds picked up to 35kts and the rain pelted us. It was a downpour and both Matt and I were soaked to the bone. We motored during the worse part of the storm and then it left us with no wind when it passed. Drat, we ended up using the motors for close to 20 hours. Since it was a motor day, I made chocolate chip mint cookies. We need all the sugar and caffeine we can get to keep us awake during the night shifts.
We finally broke the 1000nm mark. Yeah what a relief. In addition, we reduced our cross track bringing us closer to our destination.
At night we rely a lot on our instruments. We are running weather forecasts on Matt’s computer, we have radar on (bottom circular diagram), Vesper Marine, and B&G instruments all running at the same time. In addition, we have 2 iPads that are running different charts.
Two things to celebrate: (1) We reached the half way mark of 832 nm to go. Of course, that is as the crow flies and does not take into account that we have to sail around islands (vs through them). The second thing we celebrated was a beautiful pod of whales. I saw a spout and thought was that a spout or just the wind kicking up sea spray? It turned out to be a spout. At least 4 whales played around Sugar Shack for about 20 minutes. One came alongside our boat and then went under the boat. Super cool, but holy h3ll that could have been disastrous if he breached the surface while under Sugar Shack.
The photos are not very good as I was frozen in place when they breached. But they were there, I promise.
We alternate between our medium spinnaker, the parasail, and the working sails. Depends on the winds and gusts. We had particularly calm weather and decided to swap out our sails. As we hoisted the medium spinnaker a gust came up and made a slight tear at the top. We had to bring her down to avoid total destruction. Matt was able to repair the sail and get it back in the rotation a few days later.
On a good note, we caught (2) male mahi mahi in the afternoon. The first line went “zing” and as we went to pull in the other lines a 2nd line went zing!
These are the winning lures that caught our tasty fish.
We enter the waters of Tonga. I sure wish Tonga was open but alas she is shut down due to Covid still. So, we sail on through longingly looking at the beautiful islands from a far. Kidding we can’t see anything as it is way too far away. But the longing is still there.
Another beautiful day on passage. We were changing sails from the jib to the parasail when we had another little mishap. Matt was raising the sock (with the sail inside) as per usual. However, I noticed that the sock looked empty so I shouted at Matt to stop, but he couldn’t hear me over the roar of the wind. I stepped up my vocal cords and got his attention just as the entire parasail came out of the sock and into the sea. Holy cow!
It is 3am and raining. We are both at the bow trying to pull in the sail. Just as we got the sail onboard, the sock goes under the boat. You’ve got to be kidding! We manage to salvage both the sail and the sock and bring them back to the cockpit. What happened? Well, there is a shackle at the top of the sock that holds the sail inside. That shackle opened up and we nearly lost the sail. Lucky for us, an easy fix.
We make our first land sighting at 122nm to go. Super cool to see land after being at sea for 11 days. The islands are far off in the distance, but you can certainly make out the beautiful mountains. We had a very squally and rainy day today which makes it hard to fly the lighter sails (spinnaker and parasail) which make us go faster. But we continued on averaging 5-6kts for the day. Today was my last day as net controller on the Poly Mag Net an SSB radio net that I’ve been volunteering for over the last 2 years. It was hard to let go.
We arrive into the island of Vanua Levu and go to Savusavu bay to clear into customs. We arrived around 10:30am which was 11 days and 23 hours after we picked up the hook in Bora Bora! Not bad, not bad at all! We had anticipated it taking 2 full weeks and we made it in 12 days.
- Miles to Destination: 1,664
- Actual Miles Sailed: 1,777
- Average Speed over 12 days: 2
- Max Speed: 9
- Engine Hours: Port: 4233 and starboard 4384
We motored about 20 hours with the majority of that time being right after the large squall on day 4. The rest of the time we were able to sail.
Here is our track from French Polynesia to Fiji.
How did I entertained myself?
I read 3 books, I watched Season 2 of Bridgerton and S1 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and watched 2 movies. Of course, there were lots of games of solitaire and word puzzles too.
Some beautiful moon pictures. The moon came out during the second half of our passage and lit our way through the darkness.
And a collection of sunset photos during our passage.
We prepare to vamoose from French Polynesia in our blast blog. Events from this blog occurred in early June. Please note that our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual events.