Position : 20 14.3′S 169 46.7′E
Safely anchored after what seems like a long passage with much motoring. E Capoé welcoming committee ready, bearing pamplemousse and papaya. Large bay surrounded by coconuts and coral, first visit from locals in dugouts – fish hooks exchanged for fruit. No checkin until tomorrow – it’s Sunday after all.
Looking forward to breaching the cold bottle of pop at tonight’s apéro…
Position @ 1200 UTC 17 May : 22º 44′S 170º 68′E
Totally becalmed today – although clearly it would be great to be making swift progress under sail towards our destination, being becalmed can be also a wonderful thing – taking in the 360 degree views of nothing but intense blue glassy seas whilst eating breakfast in the cockpit in increasingly tropical temperatures is hard to beat, and we were soon tempted to go for a pre-school dip. Sails were dropped (they were doing nothing anyway), engine turned off and swimmers on…it is such an incredible sensation to just leap off the boat into nothingness, with about 4000 metres of water (and God knows what else!) beneath us! The water was crystal clear and 28 degrees, totally refreshing but not even remotely cold…surely the perfect way to start the day.
Sam swinging off the swimming platform. We had a fender trailing out back to grab onto if necessary – it seemed a sensible thing to do in the circumstances!
The boys leaping off the side into the blue…
Other than that, we’ve been doing school, reading, baking bread and biscuits, making stuff out of meccano and lego and playing a few games…oh, and of course counting down the hours until we see E Capoe again in Anatom. They have already arrived, and have reported that there were no problems clearing into Anatom, and we are looking forward to just getting there now. 116 miles to go, and current ETA is first thing Sunday morning. The forecast suggests not much wind, but we hope to be able to sail a bit more tomorrow (or perhaps go for another dip?!) as, apart from anything else, it is so much more peaceful when the motor isn’t hammering away in the background for hours on end.
Sunrise at sea in the Pacific…a cloud-spotter’s dream
Not long now…
Position @ 1200 UTC 16 May : 24 22′S 170 58′E
Wind filled in enough for a lovely day of gentle close hauled sailing on a smooth sea…12 hours was all that we were going to get, and we’re now motoring again.
The chart tells us we’re approaching the South New Hebridies Trench, which even by Pacific standards an area of extraordinary underwater topography. Abrupt spot depths descending more than 2km from the surrounding sea bed, patches marked ‘discoloured water (1977)’ and a submarine volcano just off the track. This last sounds exciting (I’m thinking of Aubrey and Maturin’s adventures in the Wine Dark Sea) but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near it if there’s any activity…finding oneself in a big belch might be detrimental to buoyancy.
Probably another two nights to go…forecast indicates that we won’t be making the 7 knot average needed to get in comfortably before dusk on Saturday…and approaching the reefs of Anelgowhat in the dark is probably not a good plan.
Position @ 1200 UTC 15 May : 28 15′S 171 32′E
371 miles to go…
The downside to being becalmed is obviously no wind whatsover and so we are motoring to make progress…the seas have been glassy this afternoon with the clouds reflected perfectly in the water. The upside is an abundance of hot water so we all took showers today and everyone smells a whole load better now:) At times like this I realise I would be the most unhappy cruiser around if we didn’t have a water maker aboard…I have no idea how anyone manages without one, and it certainly contributes hugely to a happy life afloat on Samba.
Yesterday we saw an albatross which was quite special – it was just like the Royal Albatross that we saw in the south island but on looking in our bird book it suggests they are also called Snowy Albatross – at any rate, the most magestic of birds, with an enormous wingspan yet so graceful in the way they glide over the water…
School (of sorts!) took place today which was also good – it is the first day we have been even able to contemplate it since the boys were actually able to stay seated without fear of falling, and the books did not leap off the table either. We are keen for them to get a few days in because clearly when we have our reunion with E Capoe, the interest in doing school with be zilch…the boys are busy discussing all the things they are going to do and talk about, including their special boat version of petanque using a microfibre towel and marbles on our fiddled saloon table, something they were just really getting into when we went our separate ways in Suwarrow…
E Capoe will arrive in Vanuatu tomorrow and so will be able to let us know if clear in is going to work in Anatom, our chosen landfall. It is not an official point of entry as such but we hear boats have been managing to check in there recently – in addition we don’t have any local currency (though E Capoe do) or even a courtesy flag for Vanuatu (art project for school tomorrow?!) – never before have we been so ill prepared, but then again usually we have a definite destination in mind before we set off -except for when we left the Galapagos when we didn’t decide on a destination until day 4! ‘No worries’ as they say down under…I am sure everything will come together – if we can’t clear in on Anatom then we can always keep sailing further north towards Tanna or Port Vila…
Position @ 1200 UTC 14 May : 28 14′S 172 10′E
Should be more careful what we wish for….now becalmed!
Position @ 1200 UTC 13 May : 30 07′S 172 34′E
And still it blows. Rather looking forward to things calming down a bit…
Position @ 1200 UTC 12 May : 33 19′S 173 18′E
The strong winds continue, perhaps slightly less than before. Certainly the sea is much reduced – for the time being there are no more apparently spreader-height waves looming astern.
Life on board is functional – Mel and I are trying to re-establish the sleep patterns essential to this kind of passage making. The boys have been reading or listening to audiobooks in their cabins… the motion of the boat all but precludes any other activity. We’ve enough pre-prepared vegetable hotpot and lentil curry to keep us going until the conditions are forecast to calm on Tuesday or Wednesday. We should remain sufficiently to the W of the tropical depression to benefit from the favourable SE winds whilst avoiding the high intensity stuff near its centre.