After what seems like endless delays we are finally underway to the Philippines!!! The passage from Palau to Surigao, our first port, is about 500NM, so with any luck and some good winds we should be in the Philippines in 4-5 days. As always we will be dropping a GSP waypoint daily via our SPOT. You can follow along on our Facebook page or HERE.
Until we see you on the other side, Safe Sailing!
So we are here, safe and sound in Palau.
In fact we arrived over a week ago after a rather trying and very long 20 day passage from Papua New Guinea. Although we hoped to be in port before Christmas light winds, contrary current and the beginnings of Super Typhoon Nock-ten, which smashed the Philippines on Christmas Day, kept us at sea. Ah…the life of a sailor. Continue reading
So the weather is looking good.
The pin on the right is where we are and the small island in the upper left is where we are going. Looks like we’ll head north out of Kavieng for a while to find favourable winds to push us west. With any luck passage will be a quick 10 days but since we are skirting equator it could be longer.
As usual we will drop a ping with our SPOT each day with our GPS location so you can follow along. Find the updates on our FB page or on the website. We do not have email at sea so we will check in online only when we arrive in Palau and have communications sorted. Until then, safe sailing!
That pretty much sums up the 12 days it took us to cover the 450 or so nautical miles between the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Just to give you an idea of how slow that is we could have walked here faster than we sailed…literally. No joke.
We were hampered by very light winds for the whole voyage. We sailed over the Solomon Basin, home to the New Britain Trench which is some 8000M deep. Either we found the home of the nefarious creature of the depths, the Kraken, who took a liking to our keel (our depth sounder regularly flashed 4.5M while we drifted over this chasm for 4 days) or it causes some rather annoying contrary current when you’re sailing north. Continue reading
On the 21st morning of our passage I wake long before the alarm goes off for my 0600 watch. The early morning air is warm so I dress lightly in a short sleeve top and yoga pants then step out into the cockpit to check our position. Steve and I share a quick good morning snuggle behind the binnacle, silently enjoying the dawn light before doing our usual change of watch rundown of heading, speed, weather and interesting observations.
Our last night at sea was calm and as the full moon disappears into a beautiful peach sunrise we watch the light creep slowly across the sky revealing the outline of Hiva Oa, our first destination in the Marquesas. Three weeks of staring at waves, clouds and the wind, if that’s possible, make the island appear large and menacing before us. It heaves steeply out of the ocean, alone and sharp against the horizon, its tallest peaks mired in puffball clouds that seemed snagged on the rock itself.
There is an excitement on board, a sense of pride that we’ve almost completed what, to me once seemed an impossible passage. For months I wondered how we could possibly sail 3000NM, non-stop and all alone, across one of the largest stretches of uninterrupted ocean on the planet, the Pacific Ocean. When we first bought Kate, our 41’ sloop, three years ago, even considering our departure brought a litany of what if’s to mind. What if we were caught in a storm, what if we had a catastrophic mechanical failure, what if we had to abandon ship, what if there was an accident and one of us was badly injured, what if it was Steve. Would I have the skills to sail single-handed? Would I have the fortitude to carry on? The list of questions and scenarios were so overwhelming that some days all I could do was dismiss them, saving them for a time when I felt confident and strong. By the time we left Ilsa Isobela in the Galapagos I knew that this trip would be like every other, not 3000NM today but the next four hours that I am on watch and responsible to keep us on course and out of danger. A series of small event strung together by time, the grains of sand that cumulatively make a beach.
Before we departed Noumea I hit the grocery store and stocked up on a few things; not exactly essentials but items that make the occasional afternoon a little less ordinary. I found excellent prices on olives, sun-dried tomatoes, smoked mussels and pate- yes, I know pate, but at $1.00 a tin even we can afford such luxury.
I also filled the “wine cellar” as good French wine was affordable. For the past few years in Fiji I have mostly avoided wine, a mediocre Aussie bottle would set me back $15 a screw top and there was no guarantee how it had been stored. When we go to New Caledonia I practically danced down the weekly wine special isle, how could I pass up a 2012 Cote de Rhone for 8 bucks? I didn’t go overboard, just 12 bottles; a few Rose, a couple Gamay, a Bordeaux or three. I stowed them safely in hard to reach secure cupboards, wrapped in foam or snugged inside a wool sock. All except the last bottle I grabbed as we were trying to spend the last of our French Polynesian Francs; a 2010 Bordeaux. That I tucked into the bottom of the laundry hamper, easy to reach for a celebration on the other side.
The morning we pulled up anchor in Port Boise and pointed our nose towards the channel was like the beginning of every trip. There was a palpable excitement in the air, we were enthusiastic about heading to a new country, about starting a new adventure, about spending a couple days living by the rhythm of the sea. Continue reading
We had a quick but bumpy passage from New Caledonia, pushing headwinds the whole way, despite weather forecasts assuring us differently. Although Port Vila harbour has leads and lights that would have made navigating in after dark we did not know what would be the state of the harbour after Pam; would there wreckage and new hazards? Would buoys and markers be in place? We decided that Mele Bay, an anchorage just around the corner from town with just a fringing reef around a small island and it’s slowly shoaling shoreline would make for a safer place to throw the hook. There were a couple other boats in the bay when we arrived, making finding the anchorage a little easier as by the time we approached the bay it was past dark. Thankfully it was calm and after a thorough de-salting, a long shower and a hot meal we had was a well earned rest.
We motored around to Port Vila on Sunday and checked in with officials yesterday morning, having the rest of the day to walk around town and get organized. Our first impressions are great ones, and I am happy to report that the town is in much better condition following Pam than we expected. I am looking forward to sharing more first impressions when we get internet sorted later this week.
After two days of beating against 20-25 kt winds we are finally tucked into Port Boise just inside the Havannah Pass, almost exactly where we started from a month ago. Tomorrow morning on the out going tide we are planning to slip through the pass and point NE to Vanuatu. Winds look like they will be easing and, fingers crossed, we should have a nice beam reach all the way there. Port Vila is only about 400NM so we expect a 3 day sail.
During the passage we will be checking in with the SPOT daily, check out our progress HERE.
New Caledonia has been fantastic, in fact we don’t really want to leave and our VISA would allow us two more months here, but time marches on, commitments beckon and new adventures await.
So until we return New Caledonia, like it says on your beer cans, you’re Number 1 with us.
We HAD to get rid of our last few French Polynesian Francs.
Just a quick update.
We arrived in Noumea late yesterday afternoon after spending a quiet weekend in a beautiful anchorage about 30 NM from town, no check in’s on the weekend.
The passage took almost exactly 5 days, down to the hour, from reef pass to reef pass. It was one of our wettest trips ever, so not many photos to share.
Internet is slow but free for a couple days and I hope to post a few more details of the trip and our plans for exploring New Caledonia soon.
Now it is time to hit the town!!!