Monday, April 22, 2013

Sailing Up the International Dateline

After an overnight at Albert Cove (Rabi, Fiji), we had a great start to our 475 mile trip yesterday. We had wind on our beam for most of the day and averaged over 6 knots. Though our course for Funafuti is 353T, we were "putting a little in the bank" by heading about 005T (a little east of the direct course). The great conditions lasted until about midnight.

Due to wind shifts and some wild weather in a squall last night, we've been all over the place, and have crossed the dateline back and forth about 3 times in the last 6 hours.

Last night's squall started with an abrupt wind shift about 45 degrees, and the wind almost died. I was so busy trying to keep sailing through that without getting "in irons" (stalled out with no control over which way we go), that I barely had time to react to abruptly rising winds immediately following. It went 5kts - 15kts - 25kts in about a minute. We were screaming along heeled over, pouring rain, and sails flogging. Dave was below sleeping, and it took a few minutes for the two of us to get things sorted out. (thank god for (a) our cockpit enclosure and (b) roller furling/reefing genoa and (c) our sturdy rig and staysail).

Of course, right after we rolled in the whole genoa in 25 knots of wind, the wind went to zero. Nil, nada, nuttin'

So we ended up motorsailing from about 1am til dawn, when Dave could see enough to feel confident about putting out more sail.

Sometime during the night, when I was off watch, and Dave was taking a nap (he swears he was taking only 30 minute naps), the autopilot broke, and we turned around and headed south. Between engine noise, and very small sailplan, sheeted in tight, Dave never heard/felt the change. When Dave's alarm went off and he came up to find us going the wrong way, and Jerry on Challenger also woke from HIS nap, we found that we'd passed by Challenger (who was following a few miles behind us) only about 1/4 mile apart, with both guys asleep. (Challenger has AIS receiver and is tracking our transmitter with a snail trail on his chart plotter. His AIS alarm didn't go off, because we are so close, it's always going off, so he's disabled the proximity alarm for our boat).

Dave's already got the autopilot part fixed, but we're sailing on the Monitor wind vane ("Henry") for now.

About 360 miles to go to Funafuti. The weather forecast calls for very light winds starting this afternoon, for about 24 hours. We may end up motorsailing through that. Dave's birthday is Thursday, and we'd like to be at anchor for that. So our approximate ETA is Thursday morning (which is Weds afternoon in the U.S.).
Underway for Funafuti (Tuvalu), Tarawa (Kiribati) and then the Marshall Islands
At 04/21/2013 7:59 PM (utc) our position was 14°32.94'S 179°57.82'W

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