This morning's sunset
Last night was pretty perfect – a lovely 16 knot beam reach and gentle swell saw Maunie sailing fast and comfortably and we've both got into the rhythm of the watches so are feeling less boat-lagged. Today dawned bright and, though the wind is steadily decreasing, we are still sailing a good course; it's pretty much a perfect day so far. By the way, if you haven't already seen it, there's a video of another perfect day aboard Maunie (filmed crossing the Irish Sea) on YouTube - just search 'Maunie of Ardwall' and you should find 'Perfect Day' on the list
As predicted yesterday, the latest weather files suggest that we'll be motoring by this afternoon to we're enjoying the peace and quiet whilst it lasts.
our update at 00.00UTC Monday 27th October is as follows:
Position: 23 degrees 55 mins south, 174 degrees, 43 mins east
Wind: North-Easterly 7-9 knots
Boat: 3.6-4.2 knots SOG at 207 degrees true
Sea: 2m south-easterly swell but nice long-period waves
Cloud cover: 5% Cumulus to our south and east, bright sunshine and blue skies
Mileage covered in past 24 hours: 161nm – our best day of the passage so far
As I've written this the wind is dropping further so the 'howler monkey', as Peter on Stormvogel calls his engine, will soon be in fine voice.
These long passages give us plenty of time to think and plan and, with that in mind, we've been chatting about what we'll do when we get back to New Zealand. Of course, there's a list of boat jobs, the most expensive of which will be to replace our four 12v batteries (one is dead and the others are now very tired) but this list isn't too long and hopefully there'll be time to enjoy travelling in Horace, our Honda CRV, again. However, our time in NZ is going to be punctuated with a couple of absences this year, as some of you will already know.
Firstly, having completed the passage in Maunie, we're going to leave her on a mooring in Opua and fly back to Fiji on the 14th November to crew for our friend Lionel (the ace kiteboarder) on the 52ft catamaran Kiapa. Irene has returned to Perth to do a term's supply teaching at her old school and Lionel was concerned about getting reliable crew so we volunteered for the job. For most people, one Fiji to NZ passage is quite enough so we're hoping we don't regret this decision but it'll be great to experience the trip in a fast catamaran.
Secondly, we're flying back to the UK, reversing the journey that took us 18 months with one which will take 32 hours. We'll be back in early February for 5 weeks so will leave New Zealand in mid summer to arrive just in time for floods and snow in Britain. Having just re-read both the last two paragraphs, we're not sure of our sanity at the moment! Anyway, it's going to be great to catch up with family and friends and we'll sort out some admin stuff that'll be much easier there than from the other hemisphere.
So, a culture shock awaits us after a few month in 'Fiji-time'. We remember the wide-eyed delight with which we greeted the supermarkets in New Zealand last year and coming back to the busy roads and hectic pace of life at home will be even more of a jolt to our systems. In preparation for this, we spent a bit of time using up our mobile phone credit in Levuka to check out world news on the internet. We have to say that the slightly hysterical reporting of Ebola and Isis, plus the ins and outs of political life in the UK after the
waste of money and time excitement that was the Scottish Referendum, left us distinctly nonplussed but, on the upside, there were lots of videos of cute cats on YouTube.
To further get our finger placed firmly on the pulse of British life, we also downloaded the weekly omnibus edition of The Archers. For those not familiar with The Archers, it's a BBC radio soap opera that's been running since 1843 (we may have that date wrong), with some of the original cast members still performing. Anyway, bloody hell, what's going on? We leave Borcetshire for only a couple of years and now find that Elizebeth's had a fling with Roy Tucker, distraught Hayley's done a runner with daughter Abbie and, to top it all, a new road threatens the farm at Brookfield! David and Ruth are thinking they might sell up and move to Prudoe? 'Oooh noooo', as Ruth would say. Clearly, once the shock had been absorbed, we reflected that the farm move's not really going to happen, is it, as the BBC has already used up it's quota of Geordies in the programme (and, yes, Simon Raine, we know that Prudoe isn't technically in Geordieland but to us southerners it sounds similar) and anyway, the north east isn't exactly prime dairy farming territory so we doubt they'd find a suitable farm.
So if there's anything else we need to be prepared for before we return to 'non-Fiji-time', do email us. But, please, break it to us gently.