4. Hawaii to New Caledonia — Landfall

Aug 1, 2009 to Aug 15, 2009: landfall New Caledonia 0511 August 15th.

We lost our sailing breeze for the rest of the passage south of Tuvalu on August 7th. From here to New Caledonia we will be mostly motor-sailing on one engine, with intermittent teasers of 10 to 14kn wind speed where we set full main and reacher. The light conditions gave us time for more reading, more successful fishing and some very fine sunrises and sunsets.

On August 13 – 15 we logged the slowest passage speeds we’ve experienced so far (ranging from 2.5 to 3.3kn over the bottom). We are motor-sailing very slowly to delay our arrival in Havannah Pass to avoid the tide rips. As it turned out we needn’t have worried, but when the Pilot bold-faces their warnings to mariners we favor the cautious option.

August 8, 2009

1650 Set jib + full main. Can’t steer with pilot set to apparent wind angle because too unstable.

1849 #2 mainsail batten came loose 2-feet due to flogging in jerky sea light air. Dorothy restitched with help from Leo and George. Leo removed old stitching – the batten had pushed out above the velcro, so the stitching was not adequate to keep batten trapped by velcro. Also velcro is old and is not holding the batten in the way it should.

2137 Mainsail furled completely. Motoring only, no sail.

August 9, 2009

0100 Leo and I removed the main halyard from the sail because it was banging against the mast. Swell is still moving the boat around, making work a little tedious. Otherwise a pretty moon, puffy clouds, and only distant small squalls on the radar. A peaceful night, waiting for the trade winds to return. We seem to have a 1 kt favorable current.

0544 Set full main + jib. Moved Balmoral waypoint to leave it to port so we can sail free at AWA 48 deg.. Can take reef either side. Squalls at 20nm off port quarter.

0846 Freed sheets 20 degrees, to allow more W course. 143 nm in past 24 hrs, slowest day so far due to slow motoring in no wind.

1021 Furled the jib and set the reacher. ADAGIO is flying along now across bumpy seas. At this speed we will be at Havannah Pass on August 12. Breeze for sailing and for cooling the air temperature aboard. 718 nm to Havannah Pass. Now that the engines are off we will resume turning the genset on and off by one person going forward into the machinery space to connect and disconnect the wires.

1056 We altered course to AWA 90 deg. for better motion and to make the Balmoral Reef waypoint. Steve says since we do not have AWA, apparent wind on the reacher is OK as long as the TWD remains aft of the beam. Leo put out the fishing line.

1140 A fish took our lure and got off before we could reel him in. No gear lost this time.

1239 As I was doing the log we had a strike. Everyone is in the cockpit . I took Adagio to 130 deg. to slow the boat to reel in the fish. Over half an hour later a nice fat tuna was landed. Filleting and cleaning took another hour!

1327 Full main only until Dorothy finishes cleaning the tuna. Then back to reacher.

1411 Reacher reset. Bowling along at 9 knots in a pretty, smooth sea.

1921 Altered course to leave Balmoral shallow patch to starboard. Angles too tight, so started engine.

2054 We are heading west between the two Balmoral reefs, then will turn SW to our waypoint south of Vanuatu. At this rate we are due at Havannah Pass on Aug. 13, give or take. Sailing under full main and reacher. Moon has just appeared as a golden orb in the east, before being obscured by clouds on the horizon. Seas seem less boisterous than this afternoon.

August 10, 2009

0056 Altered waypoint to Aneityum Island.

0231 Plotted waypoint about where Rick forecasts cold front passage.

0256 Maybe 0.5kn gain in boat speed. Not much. Shook out first reef in the mainsail. Then first dialed up 20 deg COMPASS steering. Traveler was down 60%. Just kept luff tension tight.

0258 Two rain squalls off the starboard bow, 12nm ahead.

0258 Change pilot from COMPASS steering to to 80 deg apparent wind angle. I’m planning to sail a bit low of rhumb for better angles in light stuff after cold front.

0332 Still true wind speed varies 16-18 kts, lots of 11 knots of boat speed over the ground.

0614 AWA set to 90 deg when TWS 15 kts. Wind is now slowly backing which brings us closer to course. Dawn is beginning off to port. There is a sharp banging sound to stbd of the guest bed which keeps Penelope awake. It might be chain in the anchor locker that’s knocking about. Sky is more overcast than usual. A band of dark grey clouds ahead. We could be sailing into a weather system. Although the radar is clear.

1344 Stowed main. Battens 2 and 5 removed. They had escaped luff batten pockets. All batten pockets except top two are showing wear at luff. We gybed boom out to port end of traveler to give a clear line for the battens to be pulled out past the mast.

1530 Motoring in 5 knots of wind.

1641 510 nm to Havannah Pass: 3 days 12 hrs. Gentle swell with wind ripples. A booby bird circled ADAGIO for a while, but did not land. Sky more and more overcast. According to SatC weather forecast, we have crossed the axis of the first trough and are 320 nm from the second trough. The forecast rains and squally thunderstorms have not materialized. We are peacefully motoring again, reading, napping, visiting.

1944 Jib up close hauled. This added about 0.8 to 1.0 knots, enough to offset the windage speed loss.

2159 Stbd engine, slow down a bit to reduce wave-bashing. BIG difference between 5kn and 6kn into seas.

2345 Wind speed 19 to 21 kn ; direction fairly stable.

August 11, 2009

0212 Seas rough. We must be crossing the cold front that Rick mentioned in his update. Moon overhead. Radar clear. Wind speed is decreasing slowly and slightly. 459 nm to Havannah Pass.

0432 Great circus ride and hoorah no more anchor rolling. George has put a tournequet on the chains. Loosened lazy reacher sheet which is now lying quietly along the deck and not flogging. Penelope will sleep better now.

0810 Hoisted damaged main sail to second reef + jib, engine OFF, charge 92P. Fill daytank for accurate range.

1206 Careering south at 5+ knots boat speed in very bouncy seas. When ADAGIO lands after flying she judders just like a dog shakes after a swim.

1300 Put second reef in main with jib set. Rocking and rolling. T hinking of setting the reacher.

1330 Set reacher + main with second reef . The GFS model says wind will back to 106T until 0811 12Z.

1558 The ride is smoother and faster and closer to our course to Havannah Pass. It’s a beautiful day, cooler than yesterday. The Nadi weather forecast shows a trough in our vicinity bringing squally thunderstorms and scattered showers, but we are not seeing it out of our windows, only lovely fair weather cumulus and blue skies.

2251 Vessel sighted 4nm ahead bearing 231.

2320 Pilot error. I turned pilot off then on again, then re-set it to mode Wind. We are very slowly gaining on the boat ahead of us, tracking it on radar. I hailed it on the VHF radio and received no response. I got Steve out of bed. He set up the radar to better track the other boat. On the stabilized binoculars I see one white light, so we are seeing the stern light probably of another sail boat.

2349 Not enough wind to keep the autopilot happy, so I turned on the port engine to 1600 rpms and set the pilot to compass mode to 219 deg. Main and reacher are happier. Pilot happy. Radar was hung so I turned it off then on again. Autopilot on Compass mode keeps the other boat safely off to our stbd side, unless he changes course.

August 12, 2009

0243 White light disappeared over the horizon on our beam, so we are leaving the other boat behind. They seemed to be asleep. Clouds clearing, moon shining.

0732 Calm dawn; no sign of breeze.

0821 An overcast, moist morning with the sun trying to peek through the clouds astern. Wind is very slowly increasing. 281 nm to Havannah Pass.

0948 Engine Revs up to 2300 rpms. Now in the South Sub Tropical Current – setting us 1 kn to WNW. Steering 30 degrees higher to counter the current and get more south.

1211 It’s raining.

1304 Set reacher and full main.

1412 Wind backed 90-100 deg putting us on course for Australia. Furled reacher and main. Motoring.

1658 Land Ho!! Aneityum Island off the starboard bow, at 40 nm distant.

2157 Persistant rain.

2221 Port fresh water transfer pump running continiously. Turned off. No 1 Fresh Water pump functioning correctly. Check tank water levels and water pump every half hour for this watch.

August 13, 2009

0509 Steve has set the radar for us to use the A/C Auto button to suppress the rain clouds to better see other targets. Turned on No. 2 fresh water pump that Leo had turned off after turning off the water maker. Still raining. Clean boat. 177 nm, 1 day, 12 hours, to Havannah Pass at our current speed.

0702 As dawn broke the persistant rain took off. Sea is silky calm

0832 large container ship Pacific Destiny passing to port on recriproal course bearing 180 deg. 4 miles away, course 55deg. Sun appeared for a brief moment through leaden skies.

1302 Engine off. Sailing under full main and jib, beating towards the SE, in anticipation of a wind change so we can tack and make our course. George earned another gold medal for repairing the port side head. Fair weather cumulus clouds surround us. Dorothy phoned the marina on the island of Lifou to ask if ADAGIO would fit into their marina. Our plan would be to make landfall there, and have Steve fly to Noumea to check us in to customs and immigration. The answer was “Non”. ADAGIO is too large. So we are still heading towards Havannah Pass. We checked the tidal current tables on the chart which are referenced to Zhangjiang, China, to plan to arrive at the pass at slack low tide.

1502 Tacked towards Mare Island 66nm ahead in very bouncy seas, big swells off port bow in 15 kts true wind after sailing for 10 miles at right angles to our course away from destination. We are experiencing southwesterly winds in the SE trades.

1824 Sewing machine in action driven by Penelope converting French bicolour into a tricolour, whilst Adagio powers to windward.

2158 Slow progress in a rough sea. Southern Cross off port bow.

2259 Brightest stars ever! Persied meteor showers. Earlier this afternoon as we were reefing the main sail, batten number four popped out of the batten pocket at the luff. The pressure on the sail forces the batten forward of the luff and the feeder at the luff of the sail cuts through the batten pocket fabric. Leo and George came forward to help remove the batten from the pocket and stow it along side the dinghy. We can no longer reef the main down wind without losing battens. Steve turned the boat up into the wind to finish taking in the reef. We furled the jib after an hour’s bashing to windward to give us an easier ride. So we are motor sailing with two reefs in the main.

2338 Ship on radar off our port bow, range 13.4 nm bearing 188.9 deg M, course 223.7 M, speed 15.7 kts on a course parallel to ours. Quarter moon astern in rain-catch position. 98 nm to Havannah Pass, 31 hours.

August 14, 2009

0200 Moon atern, stars ahead.

0518 Our first view of New Caledonia is Mare Island, sighted on radar at 24 nm distant.

0615 Visual Land Ho! Mare Island, New Caledonia.

0832 Beautiful morning. Pity about the southerly wind direction. Slow progress in a lumpy sea.

1420 Land! Grande Terre sighted from 43 miles. By sunset, several peaks were in view.

August 15, 2009

0511 Landfall New Caledonia. We are 7.28 nm to our Havannah Pass waypoint. We have picked up the navigation light both visually and on the radar. ETA 1 hour 40 minuttes. Seas are calm. Quarter moon and stars. George and Leo took Steve’s watch. Stave stayed up last night to convert waypoints on our chart which is not chart datum WGS84.

1830 Arrive Noumea, New Caledonia, 3,623 nautical miles from Hawaii. As we approached Petite Rade, a nasty squall flattened the seas and reduced visibility. We had short tacked all the way from Canal Woodin to arrive before the official offices closed for the day. Sadly a loud “BANG” indicated that the bolt from the end of the boom had sheered so the main had to come down. It’s time we finished this amazing voyage. We berthed at the Visitor’s pontoon in Port de Moselle, most happy to have arrived safely and soundly, with all of our fingers and toes in tact, and all of our crew still on board, and still smiling.

We had traveled 3,623 nautical miles in 23 days, with an average of 156 nautical miles traveled per day.

Daily distances made good:

Day Date Time of Day Log Distance
1 7/23/09 1005 3739 175
2 7/24/09 1039 3914 196
3 7/25/09 1007 4110 225
4 7/26/09 1056 4335 192
5 7/27/09 1041 4527 203
6 7/28/09 959 4730 170
7 7/29/09 1036 4900 115
8 7/30/09 1020 5015 153
9 7/31/09 1038 5168 163
10 8/1/09 916 5331 217
11 8/2/09 1030 5548 194
12 8/3/09 924 5742 162
13 8/4/09 955 5904 177
14 8/5/09 1019 6081 171
15 8/7/09 923 6252 156
16 8/8/09 1021 6408 146
17 8/9/09 1021 6554 184
18 8/10/09 1022 6738 132
19 8/11/09 1010 6870 143
20 8/12/09 1022 7013 127
21 8/13/09 1030 7140 106
22 8/14/09 1132 7246 84
23 8/15/09 1030 7330 32

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