Position at 02.00 UTC Thursday 1st May: 33 deg 52 min south, 175 deg 23 min east
We've had a good first night at sea and were delighted to have a decent sailing breeze until about midnight, as the forecast suggested we'd be motoring from the start. The wind swung round at about 22.00, giving Graham the challenge of gybing the boat and setting the pole to goose-wing the foresail without waking Dianne up from her off-watch slumbers. The process is a lot slower with just one person on deck and of course, that person is clipped on to the 'jackstays' (wires which run along each side deck) for safety, which hampers movement even more. However all was completed safely but the wind continued to drop until we were sailing at only 2-3 knots and rolling a bit in the gentle swell; it was time to start the engine.
For the first major passage since the Atlantic crossing, we didn't have a friendly navigation light within sight. Regular readers of the blog will know that we met Peter & Heidi on Stormvogel back in Falmouth in August 1012 and have sailed with them pretty much since. It's been great to have another boat in visual range in the middle of an otherwise empty ocean (and, thanks to our amazingly similar boat speeds, for most of the long passages we were never more than a couple of miles apart) and we've built up an firm and unshakeable friendship through good times (and a few bad). They are sailing up to Indonesia this year, via Vanuatu (west of Fiji) and Australia, so we bade them a sad farewell yesterday; we'll miss them. The good news is that they also have a long-range SSB radio so we should be able to chat to them for the next month or so at least.
On the subject of radio, we've restarted the Southern Cross Net, the daily radio chat that ran so successfully from Panama to New Zealand last year. At the end we had up to 30 boats joining in on the morning net; this morning's net, by contrast, had only 5 boats at sea but we know lots are leaving NZ next week so we should see numbers increase quite dramatically. It's comforting to talk to other boats on long ocean passages; the obvious safety element is augmented by useful comparisons of weather at different locations on route and the entertainment of shared news and chat.