January 6, 2019
Hobart Tasmania, 42’54 S 147’20 E
We could leave today but will wait a day to let the big seas settle and then set out to cross the Tasman Sea. It will still be a rough start but the forecast then clears for the rest of the twelve hundred miles. Our path starts at forty-three degrees south and heads west-north-west to forty south at the Cook Straight between New Zealand’s two islands.
Jeannie and I have twice double-handed this passage. This time Andy Jones has flown in from Toronto to entertain with his stories and break up our night watches. Our normal four hour off-watch breaks will stretch to eight hours unless a sail change is needed or a question for the captain arrives. As on all ships, the standing order is “when in doubt wake the captain”.
We will keep in touch by radio. I will send daily updates to the Sailmail station in Australia that converts radio “chirps” to email and sends the packet over the internet to Nancy Swanson for distribution to family and the few friends who follow our adventure. The system is limited to short messages and depends on tuning the right frequency for the radio waves to bounce off the ionosphere which the heat of the sun moves during the day. Broadcasting is best at night during my midnight to four watch.
January 8, 2019
Tasman Sea, 42’56 S 150’53 E
Border Force stamped our papers and passports at eleven on the customs dock in downtown Hobart. Brian and Eva, our Aussie cruising friends, handed us our lines. I wondered when we will see them again.
We sailed down the Derwent River; across Storm Bay; and, by midafternoon, were plowing into the big seas of the wild Tasman. Departures are strange. I am never quite ready to go but the weather seldom offer choices. If we missed this opportunity Andy might not catch his plane from Wellington at the end of the month. At such times I always remember Rob on Restless who we had met in the Falkland Islands. Rob, who never left until it felt right, left on a three year sailing trip after fininshing college before settling down to work. As of 2007, he was into his sventeenth year.
After one of Jeannie’s premade dinners I gave Jeannie and Andy the forecast for wind speed and direction for the night on a post-it along with, knowing the boat as I do, the limits for the sail set we had. We discussed what to do if we exceeded them. I always do this while clear headed to avoid the confusion when coming out of a dream. At eight I went down for my three hours in the bunk. Jeannie and Andy have decided on three hours on and six hours off so my first captain’s order for an unbroken eight hours is over-ruled.
It is eight in the morning. Wind is 18 knots on the beam and Onora is making 9 knots with the waves rocking us generating a steady bubble and swish noise along the hull. It is cool in the cabin. Andy is just up and rummaging in the galley. After her watch ended an hour ago, Jean sleeps in the one excellent bunk for passages which is very narrow with a lee board known as the “coffin” wedged in by pillows and a seat belt.
Jeannie and I “hot bunk”, climbing in as the other gets out to go on watch. Andy decided he would rather have his own space and has taken over the salon settee with a spongy net to hold him in. He seems to sleep soundly.
January 9, 2019
Tasman Sea,Day Two,43’18 S 154’33
I got the shake at 5:00 am. The wind had moved aft so it was all hands up in the dark for a squally pole set under spreader lights. Now it is much more comfortable with the wind behind and easing seas but there would be no complaints if the sun broke though the low grey skies to warm us up.
January 10, 2019
Tasman Sea,Day Three, 42’ 54 S 158’44 E
It is eight in the morning. We are sailing at 7.5 knots and course of 60 degrees powered by sixteen knots of steady westerly wind. Jeannie and Andy sleep. The seas are down further and the barometer is unwavering at 1016. It is partly cloudy in the mid 60's. We covered 185 miles yesterday with the jib poled out to windward and the reacher pulling to starboard.
The refrigeration is working again so the ice cream won’t melt. We have to eat it all before we arrive in Picton along with the cheese Jeannie’s cousin donated when the Sydney/Hobart boat he crewed was pulled out of the water in Hobart for repairs. The five return crew must have planned to live on cheese sandwiches.
New Zealand is very serious about protecting its agricultural exporting economy. It has never had many of the pests that attack dairy products, meat and fruit and searches inbound vessels to keep such products, which may import disease, from entering the country.
No news for three days so we are making it up. When we left the US government was shut down by Trump’s holding the budget hostage for a Mexican wall. I thought that Canada might need to build a wall to keep out Mexican and US citizens. Andy said, "We already have one: winter".
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