Day 4- New Zealand to Fiji

Just as predicted we ran out of wind overnight and were forced to motor. At least the waves calmed down and became less confused making for a smoother ride. According to the GRIB file we were approaching a 60 mile wide band of calm air, with Westerly winds on one side and Southerly winds on the other. We opted to head more East, where the light patch looked thinnest. 8 hours later just as the sun rose we found ourselves in a light Southerly breeze. For the first time in so long we hoisted both downwind headsails, poled them out, and found ourselves gently cruising down the swells with the wind at our back. There was only 7 knots of breeze but the sailing was awesome and we were happy with our meandering 4 knots of boat speed.

I can honestly say I’ve never experienced so much variation in wind and weather on a passage. We’ve seen 30 knot headwinds, shifts from East to West and back in a day, thunderstorms, drizzling rain, and now sunny skies with light breeze. Just about every sail on the boat has been up in some configuration or other (except the storm sails) and we have worked hard to keep our motoring to a minimum. The temperature is noticably warmer. Gone are the socks, long pants, and fleece. We’re back to sailing in shorts and soaking up the sun in the cockpit and aft deck. The water has gone from the dark blue we saw in New Zealand to the much lighter blue that screams South Pacific.

Not much to report today except that Darren wanted to go for a swim off the back of the boat. We tied a long line to the stern and promised that we’d turn around if he couldn’t hold on. He was in the water for all of 5 seconds before he thought better of the idea and climbed back onboard. I swam in the open ocean before and can say that once was enough! Every shadow you see freaks you out. It’s mostly a mental thing, knowing that the water you’re in could easily be 8,000 feet or more deep and there has to be something scary down there somewhere. We finished up the afternoon with sausages and mashed potatoes for dinner followed by our nightly movie screening. We choose the 1980’s Disney classic “Flight of the Navigator.”

We decided to visit Minerva Reef. Sure it’s a little out of our way but we’re in no hurry and on no schedule. The only way to get there is by boat so it’s a unique opportunity to go somewhere very few have been. It’s still a little early for a good ETA but I think we’re within a 2-3 day sail at this point.