This little fella flew around Maunie a couple of times yesterday evening and landed on the solar panels above the cockpit. Presumably the slippery glass surface had enough salt crystals on it (they are everywhere!) to give him some grip and he seemed unperturbed by us taking photos of him. He stayed there, resting, till first light in spite of the rolling of the boat and the racket we made doing a sail change, though we'd hear him complaining when an extra big roll made him slide – we aren't sure if the squeaks we heard were from his beak or from his claws screeching across the salty surface like nails down a blackboard.
Well we ran out of fuel, to all intents and purposes, at 15.30 yesterday. We have a few litres (anywhere between two and eight, we just can't tell) left in the bottom of the tank to let us motor the final yards into Opua but the will-we, won't-we drama continues as you'll read later. Anyway as silence descended as the engine was switched off, we hoisted the Parasailor and ghosted along at only a couple of knots for about three hours until the wind finally arrived. We had a great sail into the night but decided to switch back to white sails at 01.30 when things began to get a bit boisterous. The phrase 'switch back to white sails' doesn't really convey the work involved – it took nearly an hour of careful coordination between cockpit and foredeck in windy, rolly conditions to lower and pack away the spinnaker, set up the pole and unfurl the yankee and then do a difficult downwind hoist of the main, with a couple of reefs in it. I have to say that Dianne is brilliant at all this, managing the sheets in the cockpit and then coming to the mast to lower the spinnaker – all without complaint in spite of the lack of sleep.
Since then the wind has been up and down and the waves are making us roll but we have been making good progress. The good tern, sorry turn, that the Victoire did us has made a hugely significant difference to our predicament. Without their fuel we'd be nearly a day behind and facing the 30 knots against us on Friday morning. However, we aren't taking anything for granted just at the moment. At current speed we will arrive in the Bay of Islands late afternoon in heavy rain (which will at least wash the salt off Maunie and maybe us!) but there's still a risk that we may sail straight into the middle of the low and run out of wind! Finger very much crossed.