Saturday, April 23, 2016

Opua: last from New Zealand

     This will  be my last post from New Zealand, assuming I ever get it uploaded.  I have been trying for almost an hour.   The Internet here is excruciatingly frustrating and is destroying my equanimity.  

        I slept last night on the starboard pipe berth.  It is comfortable as I remembered, but requires adaption.  I’m old, but I can adapt.
        I woke at 5:30, had a cup of instant coffee and waited for light to row ashore and fill two jerry cans with water.  
        I left them in the cockpit until after I rowed in later to shower and filled a third.
       In the meantime I removed the two small plates I had screwed into the transom to prevent the huge shackles for the Jordan drogue from digging into thin fiberglass.  I discovered a few days ago that the plates are thick enough to prevent the pins in the shackles from being secured.  
        The shackles seem to be held in positions where they don’t touch the fiberglass anyway.  But if they do, they do.  This is survival mode.
        I filled the holes with epoxy stick putty, sanded and painted.  Not a departure task I anticipated.
        GANNET’s interior is an interlocking puzzle in which if you want to move one part, you often have to move five others.
        Last evening I rowed in and got a General Store pizza, good for me for three meals:  three slices hot for dinner yesterday; two slices cold for lunch today; three slices cold for dinner, accompanied by red wine.
       After my two piece lunch—not accompanied by red wine—I started moving parts of the interior puzzle around.  I found that I installed one of the under deck components of the Pelagic tiller pilot in a location where I used to stow a jerry can of water.  I adapted.
        I kept moving duffle bags and jerry cans around, frankly laboriously,  On all boats, but particularly on GANNET, you move and lift in undesirable positions.  Abruptly it all came together.  Chaos was ordered; one of the fundamental functions, and perhaps delusions, of our species.  Everything is not yet tied in place, but I know what is where.  GANNET is in trim.  We are in passage mode,
        I don’t have much confidence in weather forecasts beyond 48 hours, but for the past two days I have used Craig’s LuckGrib app to download GRIBs and I hope they are right this time.  
        Winds Tuesday are predicted to be 15 to 22 knots from the south.  I am going north for 70 or 80 miles until I clear North Cape, then northwest.  If the prediction is accurate, GANNET will leave New Zealand as though she were shot out of a cannon.  And the GRIB shows perfect conditions for several more days.
        With an 11 a.m. departure we even have the tide with us for five hours.  
        I don’t worry that much about weather.  
        I want to leave with a favorable forecast, which can be defined as wind from some direction other than directly ahead and not pouring rain.
        I don’t require good weather.  I left Sydney to Opua in 2003 in a gale, riding the north side across the Tasman at speed.
       Once at sea I expect that I can deal with whatever happens unless destroyed by chance.  That confidence comes from having been in Force 12 now at least eight times--and I don't know if anyone else can make that statement--but I believed in myself from the beginning.
       I watch the barometer.  I look at the sky and the sea and feel the wind, trying to observe change.
       Every evening at sunset I pay particular attention because I don’t want to be awakened unpleasantly.
        There have been false positives when I thought serious change might come and it didn’t; but in all these decades I don’t recall a single time I went to sleep thinking all would be well until dawn and it wasn’t.
       Unless I have reason to expect change, I do not reduce sail at sunset.
       To the contrary, with the development of gennaker furling gear, I now often set more sail at sunset if it seems appropriate, knowing I can regain control in a few seconds standing in the companionway.
       I said more good-byes today.

       I stood in the companionway watching the sunset below the Opua hill, sipping red wine and listening to Erik Satie accompanied by sea gulls.

     Here is an email I sent to a few publications and sites  I thought might be interested:

The Southern Hemisphere Moore 24 fleet, a.k.a. hull #40, GANNET, will be departing Opua, New Zealand when the wind comes up on Tuesday, April 26—Monday the 25th in the U.S—to resume what, time and chance permitting, will be her first circumnavigation and her owner’s sixth.

She is heading to South Africa via Australia, where her port of entry will be Bundaberg in southern Queensland.  That Bundaberg is famous for a rum distillery is coincidental.
From Bundaberg, GANNET and Webb Chiles, 74, will make their way north to Cape York, probably first outside the Great Barrier Reef and then from Cairns inside.  The sail from Cairns to Cape York is Webb Chiles’s favorite coastal sail in the world and he will be making it for the fourth time in a fourth different boat.

After Cape York, they will sail for Darwin; and from Darwin to South Africa, possibly non-stop, a passage of almost 6,000 miles; possibly with stops at Cocos and/or Mauritius. 

By the time they reach Durban or Port Richards they will have sailed more than 9,000 miles this year.  If they are near Cape Town by December, 10,000 miles.

Over the more than four decades Webb Chiles has been sailing the world, he has seen the average cruising boat become ever larger.  45’ is now probably the norm.  And the norm may be a catamaran.  

Obviously GANNET is not a cruising boat and Webb Chiles is not a cruiser.

If you would like to follow their progress the tracking page is:

For more information:  

The passage logs will be published in the journal after arrival in port.

When Webb Chiles sails, he enters what he calls the monastery of the sea and does not communicate with the land.

       GANNET and I are ready.  The Yellowbrick is fully charged and will go active Tuesday morning, uploading positions at six hour intervals to the sixth circumnavigation 2016 event. 

       See you on the other side.