Tales from the Pacific Day 16

Our little isolated disc world experienced an incursion last night of the human kind; a couple of Japanese fishing boats, one 50m long ( a factory ship?) and one smaller one a few miles on either side of Temptress around 8pm. Lights clearly visible but hull down below the horizon,the AIS supplying all the details to satisfy our curiosity. Again this morning a third Japanese fishing boat showed up. They are a long long way from home in fact a long long way from anywhere.

What a transformation the morning brought. The sun is out, blue skies only partially cloudy. Not quite trade wind conditions but pretty close. Temptress is bowling along a course over the ground of around 250, Hiva Oa bears 255. And to really boost crew moral 1900 odd nautical miles to go so that important milestone, the half way point has finally been reached.

It has to be seen what the second half of this voyage has in store for our intrepid crew of assorted teddy bears and their two humans. Will the Paul March theory of ocean crossing apply to the Pacific? Wrapped in oilies and fleeces muttering about the general awfulness of the Atlantic in February 2014 Paul in the midst of his thrid Atlantic crossing quipped ‘you wait and see, it’ll get better after the halfway mark’ and sure enough almost to the mile there was a transformation to champagne sailing; a fast downwind ride in shorts and t-shirts.

Well we’ll see if this sunshine and beam reaching truly is our lot for the next 10-20 days. Yes at eight knots Hiva Oa could be reached in ten days but that is the optimists view of progress (1920 nm / 8 knts = 240 hours == 10 days), there is a lot of ocean still to cross between here and there.

On the downside another tube on the dinghy appears to be deflating. Our theory is that though the material it is made of is still sound, old age and tropicla heat are doing for the glue that holds it together and it will likely all fail in a short period. We are hoping it’ll holdout for the Marquesas and the Tuamotus but fully expect tobe dinghy shopping in Tahiti.Kevin dug out the French Polynesia Stopover Guide we were given at the Puddle Jump Party before we left to check out chandlery adverts. Still our faithful Lodestar has been through a lot of use in the 11 years since it was purchased at the 2005 London Boat Show and apart from new oars and a replacement rowlock pin has served us well; the fabric is only just beginning to look scruffy!

Our second visitor of the day were a group of dolphins unlike any we’ve seen. They were big around 2m long and bulky with bluff snouts rather like Russo’s Dolphins and not the normal beaky look and preferred to swim in our wake and under the boat rather than at the bow for the half an hour or so they stayed. But according to our admittedly European cetacean spotting chart their colouring was certainly not Russo’s; these were dark grey all over with a pale patch behind their head and a larger similar patch behind their dorsal fin; one for the internet when we arrive in Hiva Oa.

Later in the day the cloud built again but no monsoon downpours only the odd drizzle patch. Prudence dictated a change of sail plan overnight; after our routine sundowners (a small beaker of wine apiece) we dropped in the third reef and unfurled a bit extra gennie. Temptress is perfectly balanced like this on a beam reach and all the night watch has to do is trim the sails in or out depending on whether the wind goes forward or aft.

For now it is ESE F5 occ gusting 6. The wave height indicates something stronger is occurring to the far south east of us off the Chilean coast; we are occasionally riding over swells greater than two metres in height in addition to our local metre or metre and a half ones. Can’t complain we are comfortable and Temptress is chomping through the miles at seven or eight knots over the ground.

Noon to noon: through the water 134 over the ground 161
Noon position: 06 31 24S 107 18.38W