Hello from 32:21S, 163:57E – you know, the place where that huge Albatross circles effortlessly over the waves. It's late afternoon on the second day of our passage and we are slowly settling in to our routines on board.
We left Opua yesterday at 10.30 in a cold shower of rain but the sky quickly cleared, the sun shone and we hoisted the Parasailor spinnaker in the Bay of Islands and flew it until dusk. By then the wind was building to about 20 knots and Maunie was beginning to feel over-pressed so decision to drop it and hoist white sails whilst we still had sunlight was definitely a good one. The early night watches were bathed in moonlight from a half-moon which rises into the sky at about 3.00pm in these parts, so the early morning watches (we do 3-hour stints) were rewarded with wonderful starscapes in an otherwise inky-black night.
Today started well, with radio chats to other boats on passage and in Fiji but then fell apart into a series of frustrations. The wind swung to the SE so we began broad reaching rather than running so we decided to hoist the Irish Flag spinnaker; the hoist went well and we were making over 7 knot when the boat rolled heavily and the sail tied itself into a very neat 'wine glass' knot. We just couldn't get it untangled so stuffed it into its bag to sort in quieter conditions (on a level piece of grass in Vanuatu, most probably). After that we decided to go for the Parasailor again but, just at a crucial moment, the wind piped up from 14 knots to over 20 knots so the 20 minute process was aborted. We have decided that, since we aren't racing and we are making steady progress, we'll take things easy; we are all tired after the typically broken sleep of the first night on passage and we are sure that things will be easier tomorrow.
Otherwise all is well on board – oh apart from the expensive new autopilot that gave off a 'maximum compass deviation' alarm this afternoon and is now showing very inaccurate headings on its display! All our sea trials after it was fitted were done in fairly flat seas so we are wondering if the electronic compass is get affected by the 2-3 m waves out here. Very annoying, whatever the cause, so we are sending emails to Hans, the engineer who fitted it. The good news is that Winnie our windpilot self-steering gear is working very well, with out compass or electronics of any kind.