Noumea to Auckland, Day 4

We just set the jib again after another 24 hours of motor sailing in a light northwesterly. Its nice to listen to the wind in the sails, the waves lapping against the hull and some Jimmy Buffett on the stereo instead of the diesel engine clacking and reverberating through the bulkheads.

At about 1230 yesterday, we reached the halfway point between Noumea and Auckland. We celebrated with a snack of cheese and crackers washed down with a bottle of New Zealand bubbly around sunset. Everyone slept well last night!

The small high-pressure system that left us windless has passed over, the barometer is dropping, and we now have twenty knots of breeze from the north-northwest. Were moving along comfortably at 8.5 to 9 knots, slightly high on our course line to Cape Brett.

The questions of the day are, how fast the approaching low will reach us, and how strong will the winds get. The forecast is 25 knots with gusts to 35 knots from the north, which is fine. We should get a rockin’ good ride out of that. The bad news is when the front passes, the winds will back to the southwest, which would be cold, wet, windward sailing which is ungentlemanly and no fun. We should be able to make it to the Bay of Islands before the southerly change, so “Plan B” is to check it at Opua and hang there till the southerlies pass, and then continue on to Auckland in a few days.

We remain fishless on this passage, so changed to a different color lure this morning. We did have a cameo appearance by a pod of dolphins yesterday afternoon, but they seemed far less interested in us than we were in them. We also spotted what appeared to be a whale or a large shark. Nobody volunteered to jump in for a closer look. The other excitement of the day was a French container ship that passed us about a half-mile off, heading in the opposite direction. We both exchanged long looks and friendly waves.

Our noon-to-noon run was 190 nautical miles and our position at mid-day today was 32 deg., 22 min. south latitude by 172 deg., 27 min. east longitude and all is well on board. Long pants and fleece have been taken out of storage. Brrrrrrrr!

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