Trip distance: 854NM but we did way more due to westerlies winds.
We’ve started the trip on Wednesday 25th of May. The trip duration is meant to be between 7 days to 10 days. As I’m currently writing we are still in the sea and it’s been 8 days that we left now. We won’t be to Noumea before 2 more days minimum. The Tasman sea is rough and we experienced it at its highest point.
After clearing out with the customs in Marsden Cove around noon, we finish to organise the boat and leave NZ at about 4:30pm The time to go out of the bay, the darkness of the night come and soon we will be in the dark with just a few lights on the coast to guide us.
Cape Brett is the last point we follow on New Zealand coast then we plan a direct route to Nouméa. The Route is 854Nm. If we follow it. But our plans has been be compromised as the westerlies winds make us drift on the east side of our planned route.
First night watching shift. I don’t know Slawek yet and it’s a good opportunity to know each other. He got a lot of sailing experience and he teaches me how to sail according to the wind we have. It’s all about the balance between keeping our cap and get enough wind in our sails. As soon as we leave the coast, the weather started to get stronger. The Tasman sea is rough but especially with us this time.
A new world
First sunrise. We can sea in front of us a few storms far away but luckily they miss us. All those storms are creating bigger waves. The waves are getting bigger and bigger like hills that we climb up and then surf down. When I go to sleep in the forehead cabin, I hardly can find sleep. It feels like the boat is jumping from a wave to another like a dolphin and I’m alternatively flying over and smashing down on my bed for an hour. I have to sleep as the next shift from 1am to 5am will be mine. During the shift, I never stop falling asleep. I finally found the trick to not sleep anymore. Steering stand up. It’s a relief when I finally give the wheel back to Slawek at 7am.
It’s a totally new world. The sleep cycles are totally different from a land life, if there is any problem, at any time we have to be ready, we learn to cook, eat, clean dishes, sleep, use the toilets at 35° angle with unexpected variations at any time. To make it more fun the wall of the toilets is removable and don’t really stay into place. A few times, a few of us fall through it from the toilets to the middle of the boat. A bit embarrassing at first but a good laugh afterwards.
There are a few birds following us since the beginning but today we saw an albatross. The size of this bird is impressive! It looks like a plane and flew away so fast. It’s been a weird feeling to see this so much bigger than any other one bird.
The calm before the storm
We are on the third day, the sea is still strong and tonight it will be my first night shift alone. I‘m excited about being all alone outside. Everyone else is sleeping. The sky is full of stars and I can see very clearly the milky way. I enjoy it a lot. To can follow my route without using the compass neither my headlight, I adjust my route on the compass then pick a star to follow so I can steer while watching the sky all lights off. The sea is quieter. It’s such a delight. I’m really good at seeing shooting stars but tonight I saw one. I didn’t even what wish to make as I’m feeling grateful for my life. Soon, to make it even more exceptional a blood moon is rising on my right. That’s a shame I can’t take long exposure photographs from the boat.
All good things get an end. This shift ended with strong winds, Ralph reduced the genoa and the main sail ripped off shortly after that. It’s the middle of the night we woke up Slawek and together we ran on the deck to pull down the main sail. I follow his instructions, it’s hard as the wind is flipping the boom from port to starboard. We try to tie knots holding ourselves around the boom while flying all over the deck. After this shift, I feel guilty as the main sail ripped off during my shift but Ralph tells me it’s not my fault. I finally go to bed. It will the last time for 48hours.
I went to bed but impossible to sleep as the boat is now shaking violently. I join Slaweks and Genevieve outside. It’s harsh we can’t see anything in the night and every now and then, a wave fills up the entire cockpit. The waves are way bigger than the boat. The day light is coming and I realise that we are in the middle of mountains of water. The hills are long time gone now. It’s impressive. The winds hits us up to 35 to 40 knots. At this time, I regret to not have wished the night before with the shooting star to have a long and safe life. The boat is floating up the waves and flying down like a fury. The storm keeps strong for more than 24hours. During the night we decide to double the shifts. Two person on the cockpit just in case something goes wrong. While Ralph is steering I’m sit in a corner cold and totally wet. I’m so tired that I’m falling asleep every few minutes and slip into comfy dry and warm dreams for a few moments before to come back to the reality. That’s amazing how the mind can create an entirely different perception of the outer world.
In the morning I took over the wheel again while Slaweks was sleeping. I’m impressed how he can sleep in any sort of conditions. This time, it’s getting intense. While steering, a suddenly freezing air comes from the west and the rain transform into hail, this icy rain is lashing my face and I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. The winds are now hitting 60knots. I can’t even see the front of the boat but as much as I can see, the patterns made by the hail on the waves is so beautiful! I would loved to be able to take photographs right now but impossible. It will only stay in my memory. At some points I remember that I wanted to cry. It was the result of a mix being scared and being so happily excited at the same time.
I suddenly remembered that Ralph took some Ski goggles on board and I was really sceptical about the use of it… but I finally asked him to bring me one pair and it’s been the best gear to can keep steering in this storm. After a few hours it finally cleared up.
Such a relief. Finally after almost 2 days without sleep, I had such a great night for 4 hours. In the morning, we started to cleaned up all the boat as it was such a mess. Everything flew everywhere.
The relief has been short as a new storm hits us up. That’s ok now we are used to it but we didn’t even recover fully from the first one. While I’m going to bed I hope that the weather will soft a lot for my shift. No luck. It’s been maybe the worst one I’ve had so far. Forced to focus on the compass for 4 hours to keep the cap 330° in between crazy waves with every now and then one of them crashing on me. I’m tired, cold but so much focused that the 4 hours steering seemed to be one hour. Everything is wet in the boat. We are all tired and it seems that it will never stop.
After 5 days in the sea we are still just 275NM from NZ… We started thinking about to head back to NZ but after a quick discussion with Ralph, we keep going. I’m happy as I don’t like to come back on my way especially after this hard times.
Such a relief
It was a good choice as we now have made approximately two third of our way to Nouméa. We even experienced a day and a night without any wind. At least now we can use our autopilot that I named Marcel. Don’t ask me why… I don’t have any ideas, it’s the first French name that came in my mind. Marcel makes our lives easier and we all can recover now.
I even can take the time to restore my computer and recover my datas from my faulty hard drive thanks to Slawek computer. We all read a lot, and enjoy being on a calm sea.
First ship spotted after a week on the sea! It is heading straight towards us, it’s a big one going fast and invisible on the AIS (system to see boats around us) we started to be a bit concerned about a pirate ship as it’s pretty unusual to cross a ship that close in the middle of the ocean. We used binoculars to try identifying it. Finally the ship kept going on its way. It looks like it was a Tuna fisherman ship.
Last night I was steering under the milky way and I was thinking that it was the real luxury today in a world of 7 billion people to be able to spend more than a week without seeing any other human being.
Since Two days I’m doing the night shifts. I love to be able to witness the start of the day. On the sea, the spectacle is often really nice. Here is some photographs I took in between night and day.
This morning, I’ve been setting up the gopro to take a time lapse of the sunrise and found 3 flying fish on the deck of the boat. They are really unlucky to ended up on our deck as we such a small point in the middle of the ocean.
The adventure continues!
We still have two days on the sea before to reach Nouméa. Slawek teaches me how to make knots, sort ropes, and theory of sailing in exchange I teach him some photography tips.
Hopefully the wind will keep pushing us all the way. Then we gonna spend a few days in Nouméa and maybe exploring a bit some of the bays around. The plan next is to sail to Australia! I love my life and my adventures!