April 30

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 for everyone.

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.