Thursday, September 08, 2011

From the Captain...

It was good to hear you on the radio last night, I spoke briefly to Mom and then conditions just shut down and I lost her.

So, yesterday sucked.  The forecast and GRIB charts indicated a front moving through with the wind coming around to the west which is on shore - but the expectation was those winds would be light (<5 k) The timing wasn't bad but the winds blew 20 to 25 all day, with breaking swell.  Could not go ashore and people ashore couldn't get back to their boats because the landing area was unmanageable. 

A couple of boats had mooring lines chafe through but fortunately people got to them in time - owners were trapped ashore.  On one boat a fellow lost the end joint of a finger when a line caught him while adjusting lines.  Marimba was fine, but I was glad that I'd made up a mooring bouy bridle consisting of a big shackle onto which I'd spliced two separate lines that lead to the bow, so I didn't have any chafe. 

I did however get seasick on the mooring - the motion was that bad.  Anyway by 8:30pm the wind shifted enough south that the island started to create a lee, but the heavy swell continued until 9:30 or 10 pm.  By midnight it was reasonably quiet.  My casualty is a lost oar that got flipped out of the dingy when it did a curtsey on the painter, which dropped inboard and just settled at the handle of the oar and when the jerk from the next wave hit, caught the oar and that was that.  I could watch it for quite awhile but couldn't safely go after it.  It got dark and things calmed down.  This morning I checked the shorelines nearby without any luck so now I'm scrounging for an oar or a piece of dowel to make one with.

Nuie is a really interesting place with the limestone caverns and sea caves etc.  The water is spectacularly clear.  No beaches but some fish and of course the whales and sea snakes (which are apparently very venomous but very very timid.  Ignorance is bliss, I've swum with them up very close but since I follow the rule that I can look but mustn't touch all has been well. 

Given the chance I'd come here again but it's not likely.  On the other hand, they could use a resident engineer I'm told, though they can't afford one.  I think one would have to be prepared to stay at least 3 years to be fair and I'm not ready to commit to that.  It's tempting though.

So, hopefully late today I'll get off for Tonga - about 250 nm away when you factor in the loop around the far side of the main island group to get to the capital where you have to check in.  Given the current conditions I should be able to do 110 nm/day so if I leave late today I should be there by Thursday at the latest.  Hopefully I can put the hook down somewhere calm and protected and find a decent grocery store. 

That's about it, I think I'll try and find some crew for the pasage from Fiji to New Zealand - I'm developing a phobia about that one which is known to be difficult from a storm perspective.

Take care

Dad
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At 02/09/2011 6:13 AM (utc) our position was 19°03.30'S 169°55.43'W