Saturday, June 30, 2018

Michelle took this photo at night.  That's moonlight on the water.  You can see the night time anchor lights on our neighbor boats.  There was no detail visible in the raw image but after some of Michelle's Photoshop magic it looks like a daytime shot. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Arrival at North Minerva Reef

We arrived at North Minerva Reef at 9 this morning.  It's a 2 mile diameter atoll with the reef exposed only at low tide.  There are about a dozen boats here already including several we spoke to on VHF during the passage.  We are anchored on the windward side about a hundred yards from the reef.  The surf crashing on outside of the reef creates a continuous distant roar.  Like the sound of a jet taking off at a nearby airport - but continuous.  Tomorrow we'll explore a bit and try to get some aerial images with the drone.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

NZ to Minerva Reefs - Day 5

We gained a day today. We crossed the International Date Line so we....uhhh....sailed into yesterday I guess? We'll have two Wednesdays this week? Wait a minute, the dateline doesn't always follow the 180 degree meridian. Come to think of it, we had a full moon last night and I was at the helm for long stretches staring at the spectacle. I never saw that thick black date line. Still figuring it out the dateline thing. 

Each day when I'm writing a post Michelle passes me a thumb drive with several "images of the day". I can only attach one photo at a time and they take forever to upload over the satphone - preventing me from checking weather and emails. Everyday it is difficult to pick the best shot. She really has her photographic game on. Yesterday there were 3 amazing shots. I'm sure she'll do a best-of-voyage post when we get somewhere with broadband. Today's image was shot with her on the side deck looking straight up. I was inboard holding on to her sailing harness since she was using both hands on the camera. 

The sailing harness is a auto-inflating life jacket. Ours have a locator beacon and strobe light. If someone goes overboard the beacon triggers an alarm on the boat. The beacon position appears on our electronic charts. We have strict rules about when we must wear the harness. 

The winds have tapered off so we won't make it to Minerva by sundown today. We'll find a safe location to park the boat overnight and enter the reef in the morning with favorable light. We "park" the boat using an ancient technique called "Heaving To" . Google it! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

NZ to Minerva Reefs - Day 4

We are 600 miles into our passage with 200 left to go. The wind shifted more behind us and picked up. We reduced sail to slow down. We hope to make it into to the North Minerva reef at about Noon tomorrow. 

Thanks to Ben Siebert and Laurie Jensen for letting me know my posts are showing up. And thanks to Ian Smith for telling me where to find lobsters at Minerva Reef! We look forward to reading comments when we get to Tonga (and Internet) in a few weeks. Right now we are "posting blind". 

Cue the sound of angels singing...

Monday, June 25, 2018

NZ to Minerva Reefs - Day 3

This is the third day of the passage.  Michelle said it feels like the fourth day.  I agree.  We are tired.  Excited and happy.  But weary.  The motion of the boat has us continuously tensing unfamiliar muscles to balance ourselves. Just washing dishes provides a Pilates workout. 

The scale of the environment is awesome and sometimes intimidating.  It is BIG out here.  As I write this our boat is running along roughly parallel to the ocean swell.  The waves are smooth and broad, perhaps 4 boat lengths between wavetops.  The seas are 8-10 feet high but appear bigger.  The swell passes right underneath us like a slow motion conveyor.  We slow down a bit when we sail up onto the back of a wave while it lifts us like a floating bottle cap.  We sometimes accelerate and surf down the backside and round up a little - abruptly turning the boat off course then back in a few seconds.  It's actually tamer than some of the day-sailing I've done on the Great Lakes.  Talk about steep waves!  But this time around it's my house being tossed about.

The beauty of this place is hard to describe.  Last night the moon was back-lighting the wavetop foam as brilliant white accents on the dark gray waves.  As we head North closer to the tropics the ocean is becoming a brilliant "Pacific Blue".  The colder, nutrient-rich waters around New Zealand are more on the green-brown side of the spectrum. 

We've talked to several other boats underway. In the middle of writing this I talked to a guy named Rich on sailboat "Legacy".  He was familiar with Pogeyan having met the previous owner in Western Samoa years ago.  We see boats that transmit automatic identification signals (AIS). They appear on our electronic charts as a blip with the boats name, heading, speed and nationality. It's comforting to know there are others out here crossing the big blue pond with us.

It was more beautiful than this photo.  And this photo ain't bad...

Sunday, June 24, 2018

NZ to Minerva Reefs - Day 2

The winds have picked up and so has the temperature. We started out with 3 blankets at night. Now one is sufficient. We reefed (reduced sail) at sundown yesterday and again at sunrise this morning. 

Michelle shot this sunrise photo while hugging the bimini frame to steady the shot. The boat is pitching all over the place. We toss little squares of non-skid shelf liner material everywhere we might set an essential the morning's coffee cup. 

Our new Engle portable fridge sits under the cockpit dining table loaded with frozen meat. It only draws 2 amps but the new load is just enough to require us to run the generator for an hour each day. We have a kilowatt of solar panels and have never had to use the generator previously. The days are short right now here in the Southern Hemisphere. Winter Solstice was a few days ago. We'll get better solar output when get closer to the Equator... I hope.  We need a latitude adjustment! 

You can follow our progress at 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

NZ to Minerva Reefs - Day 1

We've been on passage for a little over a day. There was very little wind at the start of the passage so we had the diesel rumbling through the night. While we were still "driving a motor boat" we passed close to the Poor Knights islands to reconnoiter the coves and dive spots for later use. Michelle got some really good photos with "golden hour" lighting just as the sun set. 

This photo was taken just before we hoisted our sails this morning - at about 10 AM. The first few days on passage my mind can't believe what my eyes see. I keep seeing the farthest clouds as distant land on the horizon. We see the sailboat Danika on AIS running parallel with us. We'll look for them at Minerva. 

We are on a really nice beam reach for the last several hours. Michelle is painting a watercolor of a sea turtle to hang in the salon. I'm fiddling with the sails and contemplating throwing out a few lines to catch some dinner. All is well.

Sailing away from New Zealand heading to Tonga - 2018

June 23, 2018

These photos go back to the very beginning of our sail. They are as we left Marsden Cove Marina where we checked out of New Zealand. We sailed out right into the beautiful headlands. I’ve posted photos of this area before so you will likely recognize the landscape. Our first day out the wind was low and we motored all day. The seas were so calm that I was able to do an oil painting on canvas without too much trouble. Good thing I did it right away because the next few days the seas were big and we were sailing. There was no way I could have a steady hand. Though it may have made an interesting abstract with lines jumping all over the canvas! We were very fortunate with the weather for our entire sail to North Minerva Reef. There were 3-4 days of decent sized seas (but nothing crazy) where we averaged about 8.5 knots and Rich was usually trying to slow the boat down by putting less sail out.

Sunrise as we left Marsden Cove marina.

New Zealand Poor Knights Islands June 2018

June 23, 2018

These photos of the Poor Knights Islands were taken at the beginning of our passage from New Zealand to Tonga. Rich altered our course just a bit so we would pass right by them just as the sun was setting. We arrived right at the lovely “golden hour” lighting. It was a pretty spectacular setting to say the least. A bit chilly but it is winter here in New Zealand.

The Poor Knights are about 10 miles off the coast near Whangarei. They have been a marine reserve for the last 40 years. Rich went diving there last year and it was cold but interesting. There was a lot of underwater vegetation resembling kelp. The Poor Knights Islands are the long chain you see in the distant photo. Viewed from the mainland they resemble a disabled knight in armor lying on his back.

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