Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
At Sea - Port Vila to Port Bundaberg - Port2Port Rally -The last leg - Coming home
Passage - 16 to 24 October 2010
We left Port Vila at around noon with very calm weather.
Some boats in the rally had started the trip the day before, the majority leaving between the 15 and 17.
There is about 1,000 miles for our last leg of the trip.
Twice a day a roll call in the radio from VMR488 (Volunteer Marine Rescue Bundaberg) was checking everybodyís progress and giving us weather forecast along the route.
Radio propagation was terrible for this for part of the trip but still was a good feeling to hear a voice from Australia calling on us.
17/10 (18.05.64S-166.11.68E) - 122 miles on day 1
This is the first time in the Pacific that we have less than 10 kn of wind for more than a day. It is very calm. Too calm, we are basically motoring non stop, but I am definitely not complaining, after our previous experience we need a break. Oscar tries fishing but even the fish seems to be lazy.
18/10 (18.24.15S-164.03.10E) - 124 miles on day 2
Same conditions as the day before with ENE less than 5 kn. The little wind we had is actually dying. We know this is not going to last. There is a front coming our way. Apparently with this trip you have 2 choices, you can have a front in the middle of the trip, or calm weather in the middle with a front at the start and another at the end. In other words, there is a front every 5 or 6 days so you will always have to pass a front, you just choose, if possible, a weak front. It seems that when leaving from Noumea, with less distance to cover you might be able to totally avoid the fronts. In the meantime we keep motoring in calm seas.
19/10 (19.37.15S-162.22.30E) - 122 miles on day 3
Now we are having 10 kn winds from the E. We have turned a bit south in our course after clearing New Caledonia to avoid Chesterfield Reef.
20/10 (21.05.00S-161.10.00E) - 111 miles on day 4
The front is here. With our luck, now that we have no choice but go SSW, as we are squeezed between Chesterfield Reef and New Caledonia, we are getting SE winds at 25 to 30 kn with 3 to 4 meters SSE swells. It is VERY uncomfortable. Again. The crew is not in a very good mood.
The Road is not very far from us. Bristol Rose was coming as well but decided to keep going West and cross thru Chesterfield Reef. We are concerned with their decision, seems dangerous to us to go thru the reef passage with this weather. Other boats have decided to stop for a day or two in the reef and let the front pass. We don't have much information on the reef and decide to keep going this way.
21/10 (22.08.00S-159.19.00E) - 125 miles on day 5
The wind has eased to 18 to 22 knots and the swells are better now at 2.5 meters from the SE. We are making about 5.0 kn and looking forward to the end of Chesterfield Reef so we can set a more comfortable course West again. It is not a nice feeling to have the reef opposite side of the wind. You have to keep a close eye on the course so that the wind don't push you against the reef.
The rally have contracted a weather service that sends us forecast via e-mail. They seem to be a day behind, every day, they always report what it looks like yesterday's condition. It is an American weather routing service and we wonder if they haven't realized we are a day ahead in our clocks. For a moment we think we are getting the front again, then we realize theirs is yesterday's forecast. The mood has improved a bit.
Very calm seas - The Road in the backgroound
22/10 (22.56.00S-159.19.00E) - 137 miles on day 6
Things are finally better.
We have nice 12 to 15 kn winds and are making about 5.0 kn with 2 meters swells from SE.
Bristol Rose made it all right thru the reef but they said conditions were dreadful as well. They are going directly to Brisbane, so we won't see them in Bundaberg.
I've been so apprehensive since our previous trip ordeal that every night when the sun comes down I keep checking the skies worried that I might see lightning again and tonight I take a picture, the skies donít look so friendly, but it is pretty quiet out there.
23/10 (23.39.00S-154.56.00E) -
12 miles on day 7
In the morning, the skies don't look that friendly either.
But the squall in the picture passes behind us and the seas are calm.
We are now motorsailing with 8 to 10 kn ESE winds. We are going slow but happy at 5 miles per hour with about 150 more miles to go.
It seems we are going to get there tomorrow, Sunday. There is overtime fees for arriving during the weekend, so we are not in a hurry.
But we'll see, we don't necessarily want to spend an extra night at sea if it can be avoided, so we are not slowing down either.
24/10 (23.27.00S-152.49.00E) - 126 miles on day 8
It is a beautiful day, the wind is very light, less than 10 kn and the seas are calm. At noon we are about 30 miles from Bundaberg. We want to be there after 5.00 to avoid over time entry fees but we also want to get there with enough daylight to anchor. We are motor sailing and going at about 4 miles per hours. It will be perfect.
The Road has stayed behind and they want to arrive on Monday morning. We can see another sailboat behind and we contact them in the radio. It is Ray and his crew.
Are we there yet?
We tried to get into a good rhythm of watches, with Oscar doing the first watch until around 2:00 in the morning. That usually gave me 4 to 5 hours sleep. I would then take 2:00 to 7:00 and then Oscar would take over for net times and I could sleep again until I woke up by myself. Oscar would sleep some more during the day, usually after lunch. We find that this works better for us than a regular 3 hour schedule.
Since we left Key West, Florida, at the beginning of the year we have come a long way. We've sailed almost 10,000 miles this year alone, and at this moment we feel over sailed and happy to be coming home. At the same time this have been such a special trip that we can not stop from feeling sad it is coming to an end.
We keep looking at the horizon, and finally we see it, Queensland coastline ahead, what a feeling, it grows and grows until is finally time to call VMR488.
At 5.45 PM on the 24 of October, Zenitude reports arriving at Burnett Heads.
Here we are, welcome home Zenitude!