Passing through the Solomon Sea to the South Pacific.
We’re heading for the equator but the wind is so variable. If it’s stronger, the amount of work increases but if it gets closer to calm the amount of work also increase.
Take persistent winds that you do not know well,
Whether they are blowing or not blowing, Stop running a bit after running a little. Ahhhhh! Blow!!!
We head north at a crawling speed. My heart also crawls as well.
It is pitch black at night with the new moon. Furthermore, the wind has fallen and it’s completely calm. The boat moves so much in its own way, you see the sea surface like a mirror, like a mirror from the stern. The squid comes to the stern light. I spend an hour watching them.
As well there seems to be plankton in the water. So we take a bucket of sea water and take a look at it. In the bucket, planktons like a water strider are moving blip blop and we spend an hour watching them further.
I remember the words of a professor from a Uni lecture who said, “natural science begins by looking at nature first”.
I spend my days without a breeze – around the equator for about two days.
12: 10 pm, We crossed the equator!
Now we were sailing from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere! That red line cannot be seen! Unfortunately we could not confirm that falling water flow falls in reverse rotation either. Getting an accurate Fuel calculation, we decided to revive the refrigerator, cool a beer and toast! Ah, it is good! Thanks to civilization that you can get cold ones in burning sunshine!
Finally we caught The Edge. Passing through the Solomon Sea, we’ve approached the equator and made it northwards. I want to head to the northwest (Osaka direction) I restrain my feelings and endure a lot and just stay on the proper course, heading northeast. Since I was able to pick up the trade winds first, we’ve caught up to The Edge who took a path to the northwest. After that, with a stable trade wind, the wind speed rises. The Edge is now travelling well which has me thinking that we’ll be going to Osaka together.
We passed through the Truk islands. In the stable easterly wind of around 20 Kts, we sometimes fly our code 0, sometimes a genecker is developed and we aim for Osaka. Occasionally there were cumulonimbus clouds. We named one particular day “Festival” when there was rough seas – which caused us some trouble. We sailed along thinking that there was probably a movie with such a title. Past the Truk Islands its on to Osaka. The Edge is now slightly ahead. Although it is 32 Ft it’s proving to be solid competition. It is light and fast. Not all the decoration of the cabin and all exposed barges. We might get a chance to reverse the situation somewhere if we try hard. I have no idea of the result until our game is over.
We pass through islands around Guam. Proceed further to the north – northwest. We were sailing forward just thinking that there was a movie with such a title. Matrix ReLoaded comes from behind. This is a fast race boat – a Class 40. She has set her Water Ballast Full, expands her big sail which takes her away. It’s sooo fast! It’s only a matter of time before they catch up but somehow I want to escape.
At Cape Muroto offing 120 NM. We’ve been pushed by the easterly wind so far but the wind has stopped at last. It seems that the Kuroshio is probably near, we’re just before 32 degrees north latitude. Considering the Kuroshio, I have taken a path to the west a little but it is very painful that the wind has now stopped. According to the weather information, the breeze will be unstable for a while in this area. I approached Osaka with a straight line distance leaving about 200 NM, but from here we are holding out a little bit longer.
We were only eating the hand-made Apple Pie that Jennifer from SYC had made for us prior to departing, for a couple days because of the fridge must now be temporarily suspended. Jennifer is not only a very kind cheerful lady but also a sailor. She gave us each pack which was separated a piece of whole cake. It was so useful that we could grab and had easily. But the avocado that she gave us the same time were grown a different creature in the fridge so I threw them into the Tasman Sea as the dedication.
We said good-bye to the Tasman Sea and entered the Coral Sea. As soon as we entered the Coral Sea, we received a call from the race director again. He called our attention to the imminent wind conditions of 35-45Kts, and waves of 6 m or more. According to the forecast, the wind would gradually rise from midnight to 43Kts the next morning.
What an incredible scene!
You have to see it to experience it.
The surface of the sea really looks like a living creature.
It seems like you can go anywhere but there is the terrible fact that there is no where to go. It’s a mesmerising sight.
We dropped the main and half furled the jib. Surfing waves of 3m Bartolome is thankfully stable. Out in the open ocean a sturdy hull is greatly appreciated. Now we understand why the inspectors were so particular about the angle of vanishing stability.
Fortunately, the 40 Kt winds only lasted three hours. Then it shifted to the East at about 20 Kts. We caught up some distance on The Edge on a beautiful reach into the Solomon Sea.
As we passed the South latitude 17, we sent the Race Director a passing report. Leaving the Coral Sea we entered the Solomon Sea where the wind changed to the North ending our easy sailing. From now until leaving Solomon Sea, it will be 10 days of close hauling.
Another call from the Race Director. Cyclone Iris which had downgraded to a low pressure system was again gaining cyclone strength. An evacuation order had been issued to the boats in the main start. The main start boats retreated to nearby ports to hold out for 3 days before the race was restarted. Continuing were Morning Star-miles ahead, The Edge-a little ahead and chasing us, Allegro and Chinese Whisper and us. We have had no chance to use the light sails since the start.
As we passed the South latitude 9, we sent the Race Director a passing report. Since entering Solomon Sea, the wind has been from the North, and sailing in a North East direction close to Bougainville Island we finally caught a light breeze, which eventually died. For 2 days we were stuck with a gale blowing up at night. We flipped between light breezes and stormy weather. Storm clouds that built during the day became downbursts with the evening change in temperature. 2 Kts of wind suddenly grew to 25 Kts, bringing cold winds and heavy rain. Put in a reef, take out a reef. Put the code 0 up, take it down. Repeat. Constant repetitons feel like a never-ending reefing drill.
Just as we finally caught a stable wind to leave the Solomon Sea, Allegro’s sails became visible behind us.
Huge! and Fast!
As you can see on the Allegro’s Facebook, she is a luxurious yacht. Fully air-conditioned, a huge fridge and bar counter.
Sailing in the sama wind condition, but their speed and line are very different.
In no time at all, they disappeared ahead of us. No time for sulking, this is a serious race! We inched our way out of the Solomon Sea and into the South Pacific, So happy to be out of the Solomons!