Blue sky and sunlight shining turquoise through the tops of 3 to 4 metre swells, the occasional one braking on the crest so that its white water rolls & chatters into Harmonica's starboard side then away to port. Winds steady at 20 to 30 knots out of the east and we haven't changed a sail for 24 hours. Sally the Sail-O-Mat wind vane steering a straight line towards SavuSavu. The odd white wave bangs into the glass of our hard cockpit dodger built by Brian Stavens in Brazil or, rarely, goes flying over the top of it. The port toe rail washes through the water and the scuppers that we added in Venezuela drain the water back to the sea. We muse that these conditions are pleasantly relaxing, though rougher than you would want in the Gulf Islands or Southampton Water!
Water temperature has risen from 16.5 degrees to 23. The air is warm & dry. We feel that we have reached the trade winds (reinforced at the moment by a big high pressure over New Zealand. Perhaps Fiji in 2 days. We bought some scuba diving gear just before leaving and just might test it out.
There were many birds with us over the cooler water, but few today. Petrels stayed for hours soaring a foot over the waves then swooping upwards for a longer view. A couple of times we saw albatross too. The tiny storm petrels try to do the same action at high speed but bash their breasts into the water from time to time as if for fun. Once a tropic bird with the long pointy tail flew over and took a good look.
We have been out seven days from Opua New Zealand, and too much of that was spent in cold wet weather with gale force winds. On successive nights, we hanked on a staysail then our bright orange storm trisail in the dark, small hours. Dave has to sit and pant in the cockpit these days after 30 minutes of working on the foredeck in those conditions. Next day the sail looked spiffy along the newly-painted white mast. Harmonica has felt solid and reliable throughout. 90% of our jobs from the big refit in New Zealand are working out well (although it is annoying to have water leaking in through the other 10%). There will be a some rebedding jobs to be done in a peaceful, warm anchorage somewhere; the instruments need attention; the new forestay needs tensioning but these are simple jobs.
Dave has twice used a shower in the front head with "instant hot water" from the propane supply and that has required wedging the body into a fetal ball while the boats motion distributes warm water - lovely! (Thanks for the good idea Rick). Jan had her first face wash and drink of coffee on day six (habits change at sea!) Jan varnished the cabin sole (floor) just before leaving: The wood loved the treatment though its skating properties have been markedly improved too. All the wood trim on our deck hatches has been glassed over and they have not leaked a drop. The stay sail sheet tracks have been moved and that has worked well. The AIS receiver has not worked yet, but then there have been no commercial ships to identify. Our intermittent problem with tnc for our radio e-mail seems to have been fixed after 4 years of frustration.
Food has been good, and there is still lots of fresh fruit on the hammock. The 3 zip-lock bags of pre-cooked supper that came out of the frig on first 3 night were lovely - neither of us really felt like cooking then.
We have been sending position reports to the winlink & yotreps data bases, so if all is working you should be able to see a chart of our location any time on the link on our web page www.techco.ab.ca/harmonica
Love from Harmonica, Dave, & Jan