Sunday, September 21, 2014

Opua: GANNET sees gannets

        Yesterday morning I was hand steering GANNET in forty knot winds and big seas that were coming from my blind side and so slamming into GANNET and me unexpectedly.  Heavy blows, a couple of which knocked me off my seat on a flotation cushion.  I couldn’t leave the tiller long enough to duck below and get the safety harness, so while steering with a knee I tied a bowline into a sail tie and looped it through the slotted toe rail as a wrist strap. 
        When I did see those waves coming, I turned down them and we surfed at ten and twelve knots,  Maybe more.  I wasn’t always looking at the Velocitek.
        I was pushing hard before winds of gale force on the beam became gale force head winds.  I was hand steering because all four of my tiller pilots had died.  One had been repaired and died twice, so that really makes five.  It wouldn’t have mattered.  They couldn’t have handled those breaking seas.
        I made it, reaching the Quarantine Dock at Opua Marina just before sunset.  
        As many of you know I based my last boat, THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, here and love the place.  I named GANNET after handsome gold headed birds that I enjoyed watching with my evening drink on deck hunt above HAWKE.  They are big birds and hit the water like cannon balls,  As GANNET and I sailed across the bay yesterday two gannets flew across our bow.
        New Zealand is wonderful but it is not a good place to dry out a wet boat, and GANNET was, and still mostly is, epic wet.  CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE wet.
        So a Moore 24 has crossed the Pacific Ocean in four months.  Actually a day less,  I left San Diego on May 20 and arrived in Opua on September 20, but it was still September 19 in San Diego.
        By straight line noon to noon positions we sailed 6408 miles.
        My year’s work is done.
        I have a great office.