Night watches are the times when we particularly thank Maunie for her pilothouse, especially with a cold southerly wind from the Antarctic regions blowing up our stern. In most yachts, the watch-keeper has to sit up in the chilly cockpit to keep a lookout but we can shut the sliding hatch, drop the canvas flap down over the back of the companionway and sit in comfort below, with a good view out.
With the instrument displays dimmed down and the floor flooded with soft red light, it's very calm down here. Winnie's managing the steering very nicely and so the watch-keeper's job is to monitor our course, fill in the ship's log every hour and watch out for other vessels. We can switch on the radar and check check for targets up to 48 miles away but this area isn't a recognised shipping route so our biggest concern is for slow-moving sailing yachts, mostly heading in roughly the same direction as us. We've seen a couple of masthead lights on the horizon each night.
We're now into our third day aboard and all's well. Those following our progress on http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/maunieofardwall will have spotted that we don't seem to pointing at Fiji at all! We're heading NE to try to skirt around a high pressure system that gives southerly winds on its eastern side. Unfortunately the high is moving slowly eastwards so we'll fall into progressively lighter winds tomorrow and will probably have to motor for a while. We are probably going to make a stop in Minerva Reef, a circular atoll which pokes up only a couple of metres above the water, on Saturday morning and anchor there for a couple of days until a new system brings us south-easterly winds to take us into Savusavu. However the forecasting models seem particularly unsure of themselves at the moment, so plans may change!