Was This the Right Route?

Day 149/27

Noon Position: 26 31S 156 37W

Course/Speed: N5.5

Wind: NNW4

Bar: 1019, falling

Sea: W3

Sky: Hazy, high stratus, otherwise clear

Cabin Temperature: 78

Water Temperature: 74

Sail: Motoring

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 108

Miles this leg: 3,321

Avg. Miles this leg: 123

Miles since departure: 20,565

It will be intersting to look back at this leg and my routing strategy with an eye toward what could have been done differently. How could we have made better time–found better air–in this first third of the passage home?

My rationale seemed sound, still does: stay high and get all our easting in before reaching the trades. Why? Well, granted, the SE trades are light, but who wants to be close hauled for three weeks when he can grab easting early and ease sheets when heading north.

But the wind way out here has been light and variable for so long! Since 37S we’ve been in and out of ridges and calms and will be until about 20S–roughly 800 miles of puffy stuff–and each time I open the weather chart, I see there appears to be better air between New Zealand and Samoa, well west of us now. Should I have stayed west?

Wind backed into the north in the wee hours and went light at dawn, or should I say lighter. I tacked around to the NE but there was too much chop left over, and even with the big genoa, we made but 2 knots. I tried the spinnaker, and amazingly it filled on a close reach, but our speed did not improve. When wind dropped from 6 to 4 knots, I started the engine.

It is a testament to Mo’s range under power that we’ve motored for over 48 hours since last fill-up in Hobart and have used but a quarter of our fuel. This is due to generous tankage for a boat this size–200 gallons in total–and a small, 3-cylinder, 48hp engine that sips fuel at normal cruising speeds. Granted, she’s slow in any contrary wind or sea, but (so far) that’s a fair trade for range.

Winds have been 7 and 8 knots from the east for an hour. We’re sailing again, an easy 5 knots on a close reach. Then the sun set. Winds are back to 4 and 5.

Normally I would not care. We have plenty of food and water. Environs are beautiful; the air is cool. I have books that need reading. Life is easy at 4 knots.

But I am pressing. I want to get home, get ready for the next launch. Time is already short.

Pressing is bad business in a sailboat.

Head wash day. First time since departure. About a gallon of fresh water. Pure luxury.

Sadly, I ate the last Hobart pastry, a chocolate croissant from Coles grocery, this morning. Time to bake bread.

One apple left. Six oranges. One cabbage will be eaten tonight as accompaniment to Shepherds Pie, and one remains.

Not a bird today. Not even one. No flying fish.

Feels like we are making our slow way across a desert.

5 Comments on “Was This the Right Route?

  1. You made the right decision sir. You’re nearly through it and then you’re looking good all the way to Hawaii. Praying for you.

  2. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings… but take a look at the North Pacific High, shaped like a burrito and thousands of miles east to west. We were planning to cross from Kona to Juan de Fuca early June. Forecast position of the High is even worse then. Conserve that fuel!

  3. Ah yes… I dont know much on the route you are on. However I do know the history of the route from the eadt coast of NZ to Fiji…. hop on a southerly all the way!

  4. made the right decision, keep your spirits up…you and Mo are our heroes!! Fantastic blog, thanks for bringing us along! Caleb, Holly and Barnacle

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