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West from Bora Bora: 25-29May (days4-8)

Friday 25th May: Sea has glassy surface with slight wind ripples (2-3 kn from ENE) and long, slow, gentle SE swell... All the weather info I'm getting shows a low stuck nearby to SW of me & a trough to N of me. Very light winds forecast for several more days - no chance of sailing, it seems, so must fill starboard tank shortly from jerry cans. Have switched to port fuel tank and also made the decision to skip Aitutaki (in the Cook Islands) - not worth the time spent motoring there, anchoring (outside reef - not deep enough for me to pass inside safely), inflating & lowering dinghy (& outboard), maybe having to clear in also & then finding no fuel in easy reach... So I'm heading (motoring) to Niue directly now. I calculate I've nearly enough fuel to motor all the way gently! I must leave some fuel in reserve so may end up wallowing for a bit, pretending to sail, if wind picks up a touch!! Didn't expect this much calm weather in SE Trades belt - variable, maybe - but flat calm....?? Southern Doldrums...!

At least I have no worries with regard to food or water!! My main concern is that 'smart' battery regulator is not always behaving as smartly as it should, when motoring. When the batteries are fully charged, it keeps on piling in the charge - so they end up overcharged - I keep having to keep an eye on the voltage & turn off the secondary alternator to stop charging. It's easier at night because I run all the lights etc I can, and it seems to cope better.

Time is getting very confusing!! I've recently re-set my chart table clock to keep accurate GMT, my ship's clock (in the main cabin) is showing Mexican time (PDT-1) from when I left Zihuatanejo, this computer is showing PDT (& also UTC), I'm speaking to Russell Radio who refers to NZ time... and my actual correct local (zone) time (at 158W) has just now changed from GMT-10 (Tahiti time) to GMT-11 !!! I'm sticking up notes to myself to keep on top of it all! Hate to think of the state of confusion I'll be in when I get to the Date Line... and then Fiji...!!

Later(8pm): The boat just got a good rinsing - just had some rain! I sailed for all of 35 mins under a raincloud before the wind died back to 3 knots again....!

Sat/Sun: Flat, flat calm most of the time, with wind getting up to 6-7knots later on Sunday - and finally switching from N to SSE - a good sign. Hopefully, it will strengthen more, as forecast, by tomorrow or Tuesday, to get sailing properly.

I've spent a lot of time finding out how to download weatherfaxes directly from New Zealand and Australian Met Offices using my SSB and modem to laptop (as for Winlink & Sailmail) - also finding which frequencies give the best picture (some can be unreadable - just a lot of black blobs!). Very useful info, once it all works, although yet another item where you have to get the timing spot-on (or miss the transmission completely!). It would have been nice to have had a standalone unit that just gets on with it - but Furuno had a 'hiccup' in their production of an updated version of theirs & it's supposed not to be available until later this year - or so they said in January.

Midnight Sunday - turned off motor for all of two hours thinking wind might be increasing... then realized that we were sailing at 1/2 kn - not getting very far...!

Actually spent time over the weekend reading a novel ('The Englishman's Boy') - haven't managed that for some time..! Very good one, too!

Monday morning (28th May): SAILING!!!! Around sunrise, I realized wind had increased enough - to SSE 11 knots - so finally switched off engine - so good to have peace & quiet again while making way under sail nicely!!

"Nereida" is now further West than she's ever been before. (Previous 'best' was 162 29'W on way around N. Pacific High, headed north from Kauai (Hawaii) to Sitka (Alaska) last July.)

Tues 29th May: Having a few connection problems - had hoped to send a weatherfax showing reason for my lack of wind over last week & weekend but that idea will have to be abandoned if this email is to get sent...

Wind increased to F6 over most of yesterday & overnight (around 20-25kn). We're between a low & a trough.. Had triple-reefed main with small genoa & was still making 6-6.5kn boatspeed. Wind has died back a bit now (midday) but we're still getting hit regularly by big, rough swell (3-3.5m) that has built up - my coffee mug jumped up & spilled twice, even though it was on the gimballed stove!

Expect to make Niue early Thurs 31st May. Deliberately trying NOT to go too fast - want to avoid getting to the anchorage in NW Niue in the dark.

Written by : Mike

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