It's Tuesday night, around 11pm and we are almost ready to go. We are both
getting psyched up and feeling those pre-departure giggles. The weather is
absolutely perfect with most analysts and forecasting models predicting
perfect passage weather out to their limits which is about 3-6 days.
Conventional wisdom goes an extra yard and most believe this pattern will
persist for much longer. We have a huge high and a low after it which both
just passed over NZ and a high behind it which covers everything from
Western Australia across that continent and all the way (1000 miles) to
New Zealand where it is bring fair weather here after that departing low.
The result is Southwesterly, possibly in the 15-25k range, small chance of
winds up to 30k - all perfect for a downwind sail to the tropics! The
Queen Jane does best downwind in 25k wind making a good 9k+ easy.
Several boats left today including a power-catamaran heading for Tahiti,
Hawaii and then Alaska! Apparently they are former sailboat cruisers who
got older and went power. Anyway, we'd have left today if it wasn't for
the missing parts for the roller furler which we have been waiting on for
2 weeks now. The damn rigger forgot to order the drum and cover which and
when we finally figured it out the parts had to be ordered from the US.
So, they arrived finally and tomorrow he will come down and we'll finish
assembling the furler and put on the genoa (jib). We probably won't leave
tomorrow either since we want to leave before noon so we have a nice day
to get acclimated and we have to leave the marina during slack tide since
the current running is close to 5k sometimes and it is real easy in those
conditions to slam into a pile and really break something good. So, slack
water is at 10:30am or 5:00pm, one too early the other too late. So we go
Thursday morning at 11:15am (US would be Wed. afternoon) or something.
The first leg of our passage will be approximately 455nm on a heading of
app. 16T (NNE) and ends at an arbitrary point in the ocean at 30S degrees
latitude. We created this waypoint simply to act as a closer target to
provide more of an incentive. It also approximates a position where we can
expect warmer weather to set in which generally improves the experience
The second leg is 377nm, still on a heading of 16 degrees True, and ends
at 23 56S by 179 08W which is the location of South Minerva Reef. South
and North Minerva, about 20 miles North of South Minerva, are former
atolls which have sunk under the surface completely. The reef (which used
to surround an island which ceased to exist thousands of years ago)
remains and creates an enclosed protected lake in mid-ocean. Fishing and
lobster are reported to be plentiful and the water is crystal clear
mid-ocean water unaffected by any land runoff, silting or other
land-caused effect which would reduce the clarity. Our plan is to anchor
inside the reef for a few days, a week, who knows, as long as the weather
is fine and we are enjoying it. Minerva is owned by no nation and has no
land at all, though at low tide you can walk on the reef, though this
damages the coral and should never be done. At the edges if the reef on
the inside in water of 6ft or so lobsters are reported to be hiding inside
coral caves and grottos waiting for you to invite them to supper. If we
depart as planned on Thursday noon we should arrive at Minerva in just
under 6days on Wednesday morning.
The third and final leg of the passage (or is this a new, separate
passage?) is app. 428nm on a heading of app. 345T to Savusavu, Fiji. The
first 275 miles of that is a straight shot. After that we are dodging
islands every 30 or 40 miles or so. The first are Totoya, Matuka and
Moala, all part of the mysterious eastern Fiji division called the Lau
Group. Next comes Nairi, and not much farther off our rhumb line the
island of Ngau which we may visit in June or July, then another 40 miles
comes Koro the island whose name is taken for this part of the ocean The
Koro Sea. We are forbidden to stop at any of these islands until we first
make official arrival at an approved Port of Entry. Oh well.