Fiji Bound Day #11 – Squally Tuesday / Spinny goes for a dip.

After a beautiful night time run with the spinnaker running all night. Day broke and there were some dark spots appearing on our sunny days. A really dark spot off our port side where the wind was coming from. Looked like rain was already falling.

Christine is the net controller this morning. The net is time and frequency on the SSB radio where all sailors from around French Polynesia can checkin for safety and local advice and basic jib jab chatting. This Tuesday is her last day as a controller and there are lots of boats checking in, so just before the net we took the spinnaker down so _IF_ the squall got closer I wouldn’t have to interrupt the net. All good squall came and went with some wind and rain and Christine received a bunch of accolades for running the Tuesday slot for the last couple of years.

The day wasn’t the best on the passage, patches of blue sky. Wind was a bit strong for the spinnaker and the waves were building. But the boat was doing fine, every hour or so we’d take a hard look at the skies to see if would hoist the spinnaker again, but ended up just going slow and I was napping quiet effectively.

One hour just rolled into the next, until the sky looked inviting and the wind has stayed down for the past hour. Time to hoist the small spinnaker again. All was going to plan till the spinnaker decided it had had enough of me and decided to jump ship and go for a swim. What a fickle little guy. Yes, I know Sugar Shack is heavy with all our live aboard gear, but its his job to just pull the boat along. I guess he had had enough and needed to cool off! Grrrr..

So now that means we have to coax him back on board with uplifting banter and jovial promises of going on a diet, and when that didn’t work brute force ensued. Some profound language I’m sure was used as well. The connection inside the sock that the spinnaker lives had failed but luckily everything was attached to the boat. With the boat cruising along at 5 knots its impossible to pull a wet bed sheet for Shreck out of the water.. The jib was still pulling the boat forward so we had to roll that up and that was enough slowing the boat down that we were able to pull it all out of the water. Now waiting on daylight to see the state of the spinnaker.

So we were going to knock out some more miles with the spinnaker between dark clouds to give us a little wiggle room on the Thursday arrival (Friday in Fiji) so that we can avoid overtime charges for the government officials to come out to the boat to check us in. We will have to see what our options are for speeding up in they day time. Probably not going to take the short-cut through the islands and reefs as we will be hitting them at dark, opting instead to go for the Nanuku Passage as its the widest on the charts and doesn’t add too much to the distance to go.

180 miles to go to our waypoint, then another 5 or so to get to the town to check in.

[tag Live,Passage,underway]

Fiji Bound Day #10 – Still trucking along.

Another day in the bag. Lots of miles under the keel, ugh? Wait we don’t have keels so what do you say for a dagger board catamaran? Miles under the daggers? Kinda makes it sound like it should be a cereal killer.

Any way, another great day out here. A couple clouds, some big waves but at least they are going our direction today so while the wave elevator takes us up and puts us down its a slow gentle motion. Tho we are moving 2-3 meters up and down with each passing wave. Surfing down the wave and climbing backup to do it again and again.. Lather rinse Repeat.

Got a head start on the day, the nearly full moon revealed there was not much to be worried about behind us, so I woke Christine from her deep sleep and told her of my plan to get going early. See we had switched to the JIb alone for the night, easy to handle if a squall comes up for example. But its just not as exciting or as fast as running big pieces of fabric out in front of the boat. 3am was launch time. Successful in the last moments of the moon and only about an hour of dark before sunrise. Voila, I love it when a plan comes together. A full day of kite flying chewing up the miles averaging 6.5 knots all day.

No “catching” today – freezer is pretty full, so didn’t bother with the lines in the water. Just napped a bit, cooked up our last bacon before Fiji. It seems Fiji has adopted some the Galapagos rules, no outside meat, veggies, cheese, etc can be brought in. So we just finish our supply of not allowed items. It’s kinda strange to me, because I would venture to ‘guess’ that a lot of the meats/veggies in Fiji come from New Zealand which is also where French Polynesia gets some of its meets (there are local and from France too) ..

Since we are getting closer, I did have to ask if the ‘local beer’ was drinkable for a few months or were we going to have to cut our stay short. Short answer was, “I won’t starve”.

All good on board, counting down the miles.

374 miles to go. Probably 3 more sleeps on the moving boat before picking up a mooring and getting violated with a cotton swab to prove that we are not infectious.

Pic: Moon setting under the spinnaker at 3am

[tag Live,Passage,underway]

Fiji Bound Day #09 – Lost it?

Who noticed? Who noticed there was no Day #08? Am I afraid of the number 8? Some superstition like no floor 13 in buildings? After lucky 7 there is no need for more numbers? Or have I just lost my mind and all days run together….

Delirious is what I’m going to stick with. Typing in the dark on a bouncing boat is a bit mental anyway. So today is the Real #9

Another lovely day on the water. Setting the spinnaker at daybreak and ticking off the miles is always fun. Ran for about 4 hours before the wind picked up, a threatening cloud was preparing to blow in our direction. So took it down for 20 minutes and re-hoisted it. Was so wanting to set the biggest spinnaker as the winds were light to be able say we flew everything we had at the Fiji passage, glad I skipped the big one when the winds picked up.

We have a saying… On Sugar Shack, its not called “fishing” … its called “catching”. Today was no exception. This morning I spotted some flying fish for the first time in a while so dropped the 3 trolling lines in the water. Nothing all day. Noticed one line tangled with another, pulled in the cedar plug and untangled the lines. Put the plug away, decided we were going to fast and I did not want to stop to pull in a fish. So put the one other line away. So only one line remained, I’ll get to it at some point. Still watching the horizon I spot birds. Birds mean fish, well what the heck. Drop one of the stored lines back in the water and watched the birds off our port side move far away.. Oh well, I’m not going to chase them down while under spinnaker.

Spot something floating in the water over where the birds were. Went inside to get the binoculars to see i could see what it was that was floating. Coming back with the binoculars .. the zing of the fishing reel goes. Fish on.. Struggle with the binoculars still want to see if it is a FAD (fish attracting device) used by fishing fleets that end up washed a short on the islands as trash. I believe that is what was attracting the birds and the fish now on the line. I go over to set the drag a little more, and zing goes the other line. The new lure works after all, the first hit was a tried and true squid based lure, the second lure to hit was gift when we were in the states. “Blue water candy” jig-a-hoo – Thank you Big Matt it works!

I screamed with excitement when the elusive (to me) fish jumped and I recognized it.. I had been wanting to catch more Mahi-mahi and thats what jumped out of the water. Tuna are great but having a variety is super nice. The boat is going 8 knots so pulling in a fish is a challenge, always is since we can’t really slow down and back down on a fish like true fishing boat. And add that today the seas are 2-3 meters, 10 foot seas. And if it would have been a tuna, it would have been a struggle since tuna dive down deep when hooked. Luckily it was mahi that a flat and stay near the surface so you can ‘surf’ them back to the boat on their sides with a lot less struggle.

Is a challenge to stay on the boat and clean the fish while it’s bouncing about and you have a very sharp knife in your hand. All good, guess what is for dinner!

All good on board

529 miles to go

We should cross into Tonga tomorrow night. Would like to go past the outer banks in the daylight .. will depend on the wind.

[tag Live,Passage,underway]