As the weather forecast predicted, the weather front came over Lord Howe Island in the morning, with gusts of 50kts.
When it swung to the west, the only protection was from the outer reef.
Luckily, the tide was low as it came through. Otherwise, it would have been rougher than it was.
There was a lull of 20kts just after lunch time, so we decided to use it to get out the passage, which was now a lot rougher than it was in this photo, I took a few days previous.In hindsight, I would not do it again as the waves, had the bows plunging underwater, on the way outOnce out we unfurled the genoa, and had a lovely sail with the wind behind us.
Just after the sun set, the wind increased as did the swell, and Logic was hitting speeds in the low 20s, surfing down the waves, until she hit the back of the wave ahead, when her speed was rapidly reduced by a significant bridge-deck slam.
We furled in the genoa, until she was only hitting low teens surfing.
The autopilot was struggling to hold our course, and then it’s belt broke. I had a spare complete “donut” autopilot housing (with an unbroken belt) , but to swap them over, the steering wheel needed to be come off, so that I could unbolt the broken one and then attach the spare. Nick was skilled enough to steer Logic with a pair of vice-grips on the steering wheel shaft, while I swapped over the doughnuts. Five minutes later, the autopilot was back in action, and holding the course, with the new belt.
(Next passage I will replace the belt and motor, before we leave.)
The rest of the night was uneventful, except for a lot of bridge-deck, slapping and slamming.
As the wind shifted to a 3/4 reach the next day, we pulled up the mainsail with 2 reefs. Then replaced the partially furler genoa with the staysail as it continued moving, too forward of the beam.
Then, as the sun was setting, we put the third reef in the main, the smallest amount of sail area we could have up. This dropped the power down close to the deck, helping the boat push through the waves.
This sail plan had Logic sitting on just under 8kts for the next 56hrs, all the way to Noumea. I could have put up more sail, but we would have been hitting the waves even harder, with even more water going over the deck and even more and harder bridge-deck slapping.
As it was, there was too much water coming into the cockpit to make it comfortable to sit at the helm, so we put the removable windows in and hid out in the cabin, leaving the autopilot to do it’s job.
We turned the navigation iPads around, so we could see them from inside
and reduced our personal centre of gravity, to cope with the motion of the boat, due to the swells.
Every 20 minutes, whoever was on watch would check the AIS and go outside to scan the horizon for other boats that weren’t on AIS. Invariably that would include, coping a wave in the face. Miriam’s hair ended up looking like one of her parents was a wire brush from the salt build up, Nick and I did not have enough hair to have the same issue.
We did not see another boat, either visually or on AIS for the whole 680miles between Lord Howe Island and Noumea. It was surreal to compare city congestion, with nothing for hundreds of miles. The only living things out here were the mutton birds fledging, which were fine tuning their newly acquired flying skills, we would have several dozen working the uplift off the waves, zig zagging around us for hours.
and the ever present water coming over the deckplus the noise of Logic chewing through the miles
I baked bread. the motion of the boat, assisted in the the kneading,
New Caledonia appeared.
The arrival champagne after 90hrs at sea, was very enjoyable.
We arrived in Noumea, the day before my Birthday.
Miriam and I were having a bake off, to see who baked the best bread. She won, (winners are grinners).I was exhausted after the passage, and slept straight through the night. Meanwhile, Nick blew up a bag of balloons to decorate the boat for my birthday. It was a very plesant shock, to wake up to.Miriam had baked an amazing cake.Lisa’s upcoming appointment with the Oncologist was in my thoughts, as I cut the cake. We had the best decorated boat in the marina as the balloons moved out to the side-stays
and I was like a kid, with the perfect present, as I went market shopping with the bag that Lisa had had made for me, with the highland cattle, I had patted in The Lake District, printed on it.New Caledonia is a part of France, with the same café culture, of coffee and Croissants for breakfast.
The passage to date had been too rough to have any time on the trampoline, that would not have been interrupted by a wave breaking over the deck, so Miriam and Nick had some catch up time.Then it was off to check out the local museum.There was a nearby restaurant that was recommended for my Birthday dinner.with exquisite French cuisineMy ideal cruising temperature, is one where the coconut oil in the pantry is liquid It was starting to melt, but still mostly solid, so it was time to continue our journey north to the warmth of Vanuatu.
But first a shopping expedition to provision Logic was required.there was a 25kt SEly funneling up the SWen coast of the Main Island of New Caledonia, so we motored over to Ilot Maitre for the night, on one of the mooringsthe next morning the wind had decreased to 20kts on the nose for the motor down through Canal Woodinalong the way I epoxied the screws into the table, after the bridge deck slamming of the passage to date, had pulled then out of the timberwe overnighted in Port Boise, while it was calmish, Miriam went up the mast to tighten up the riggingthe next morning we went out the Havana Pass at slack tideso as to arrive in Vanuatu in daylight we overnighted at Mare Island in the Loyalty Islands.
Along the way we had a double hook up of nice sized tuna, unfortunately by the time I had reduced Logic speed from the 10kts she was doing, the water pressure had ripped the fish off the hooks.
we left Mare at dawn the next morning for the 28hr passage to Port Villa.again it was 3rd reef in the mainsail and staysail conditions, for a 8kt average speed. the wave angle was not throwing up as much water, as the previous passage.
The sun rose (with the Beetle’s here comes the sun playing for the last time), as Efate Island came into view
we cleared Customs, then it was back to my favorite mooring in the world, off the bar at Yachting Worldthen into Albert for the run down to Immigrations and BiosecurityPort Vila had not changed since I left 6mts previousthe market was still full of delectable produce
this year we even had a dropping gangway, positioned perfectlythe passage was at an end and Team Logic was dispersing, but not before our last supper at The Hot Rock restaurantwere we grilled a big piece of Vanuatu eye fillet on a specially heated rockthen it was onto the pub for a few tables of poolMiriam swapped Logic for Karma, for a passage back to GermanyNick and I had one last beer in the Waterfront Bar, before he left for the airportthe coconut oil is liquid, so I am a happy chappyback in my favorite county in the world