Opua, New Zealand to Cairns, Australia  April-May 2008

April 21

South Pacific Ocean:  Monday

0920  Dropped mooring.

1530  I set the alarm this morning for 5:30 because I expected I would wake during the night and have trouble falling back asleep.  I did.  Awake from 3 to 4 a.m.   I woke again just before the alarm went off.

I unmade the v-berth and plastic bagged the bedding.   Rowed ashore at 7:50, showered, said good-bye to the ladies in the marina office, which was just opening, got my Customs clearance, bought a loaf of bread, cheese, a sandwich, and a bottle of wine at the general store; rowed back to the boat; deflated, partially dried the dinghy, then stowed it below. 

I backed off the mooring--or thought I did.  Later developments have caused me to believe I was only carried by the ebbing tide.  I felt some sadness as I shifted into forward and powered north.  I glanced back at the mooring until I couldn’t see it any more.  Then at the marina and buildings ashore.  New Zealand’s green hills:  emerald, olive, forest, sea, lime, and many more shades for which I don’t have names.  I hope I wasn’t seeing them for the last time.

Beneath mostly cloudy skies we powered for an hour, until when we were past Russell and into the main part of the bay, I unfurled the jib, cut the engine, and switched steering from the tiller pilot to the Monitor.  The sky was clearing on the land behind me, but darker with scattered showers out to sea to the east.  Wind 15 knots from the south.

I set the main as well, and we reached across the bay at 6 to 7 knots until at 11:00 we were off Cape Wiwiki and had some excitement.  Due to rebound, decreasing depth, and currents, the seas were confused off the cape and the motion caused the anchor to roll at the bow, which caused me to notice that I had forgotten to remove the anchor from the bow.  This would have been easy while on the mooring; considerably less so now.

I decided to wait until we were past the cape and into deeper water where the seas should smooth before going forward, but went below to get some tools.  When I did I heard the propeller freewheeling and felt the vibration.  To prevent this and make the propeller’s blades fold, I always shift into reverse after I stop the engine while underway.  I knew I had done this, but went on deck and did it again without any effect.

I removed the companionway stairs and the engine cover, crawled onto the port quarterberth with a flashlight and saw the shaft spinning.  I went on deck and shifted into reverse again.  Nothing.

I decided to furl the jib and lower the main and start the engine, which I did.  It shifted forward, but not into reverse.  And when I stopped the engine, the prop continued to spin.

Back on the quarterberth I saw the reason:  the shift cable has frayed and is almost broken.  I briefly considered turning around and going back, but didn’t want to.  I managed to use a wrench to move the shift manually, which caused the prop blades to fold and the vibration stop.  I won’t need reverse until Cairns anyway, and with luck not there.

In mid-afternoon we are past the Cavalli Islands, making 5 to 6 knots peacefully under jib alone.  The main has been up and down three times and may be about to go up again.  The wind is so far aft that the main blankets the jib and causes it to collapse and refill with a bang.

North Cape is 49 miles to the northwest.   Until I put the waypoint in, I had thought North Cape was about a hundred miles beyond Cape Wiwiki, but it is only 70.  We should be off it around midnight.

Rolling down small waves.  Sounds of water moving past hull.  Sunshine.  Tiller moving in and out of view through companionway.  A little weary.

April 22

South Pacific Ocean: Tuesday

0700.  Last night was fine, with a full moon and starry sky, but not for sleeping.

I went to bed at 1930, knowing I would be up many times.  The first was at 2030, and the last 0430 this morning, when I got up for good.  I don’t recall how many others there were, but I was awake at 2330 when the chartplotter put us 22 miles due east of North Cape.

Late yesterday afternoon, the wind weakened and went southeast rather than southwest.  THE HAWKE OF TUONELA was thrown around by a six to eight foot southeast swell.  The mainsail was up, and I put a preventer on the boom.  We rocked and rolled on for an hour before the crashing of collapsing sails became too much, and I lowered the main, continuing under jib alone.

During the night we sailed at between three and eight knots.   The sea flattened some, but I still had to put up the lee cloth to keep from rolling from my berth.  The wind finally veered to the southwest.    At the moment we’re making 6.5 to 7 knots beam reaching northwest under a partially furled jib.  The sun is just coming up.  The sky partially cloudy.

In the United States, I seldom listen to the radio, but in New Zealand I do.  My mooring is in a dead area for New Zealand television reception, but New Zealand television is perhaps the most boring in the English-speaking world anyway.  However, New Zealand national radio is very good.  Monday through Friday I listen to a news program between 6 and 9 a.m., Morning Report; and on Saturday morning between 7 and 8 to Country Life, which is a surprisingly interesting farm program.  And frequently during the day I turn on the classical music FM station, which is more varied and innovative than those in the U.S.

I’m already beyond FM reception, but before dawn this morning I heard the first hour of Morning Report, including the weather.  The predicted front is moving up from the south, with showers and southwest wind rising to 25 knots.  It may reach me late this afternoon or tonight.  If necessary I will ease off to the north.  No need to press hard when eventually I will reach the trades that will carry me easily west.

I’m not certain exactly which ocean or sea I’m in.  An Australian friend gave me a book about the Tasman Sea, which precisely defined its boundaries, but unfortunately it is in Evanston.  I tried unsuccessfully to find this on Google before I left.  We are 43 miles north of North Cape, but not yet west of all of New Zealand, so I think we’re still in the Pacific.

No sight of any other vessels since yesterday morning.  Surprisingly again how quickly you become alone.  Also how much when the boat is constantly heeled  10º to 20º, you use your body to move from handhold to handhold.

Scattered low clouds.  Wind 17 knots.  Some spray coming over bow.  Boat speed 7.3.


1430.  Our noon position was 33º 18’ S  173º 07’E.  Day’s run: 120 miles.  Distance to Grafton Passage, which is the way through the Great Barrier Reef at Cairns:  1764 miles.  Cairns itself is about 30 miles further.

The day’s run noon to noon is only a five knot average, made up of mostly sailing at three and four knots until after midnight and then sailing at six and seven ever since.

A beautiful afternoon.  Mostly sunny, though the barometer has dropped a millibar and a bank of clouds is catching up with us from the southwest.   A deep blue white capped sea.  Mostly four foot waves.  A few splashing aboard.  I put on foul weather gear to fit the spray cover over the engine instrument panel in the cockpit, but no waves came aboard while I was out there.  I had covered the Bose cockpit speakers before leaving port.  They are good speakers and supposed to be waterproof, but not waterproof enough for THE HAWKE OF TUONELA at sea and I had to replace them twice before figuring out how to protect them from the water running into the coamingless cockpit.

We continue beam reaching at 6.5 to 7.5 knots under a jib furled to ⅓ its full size on a course of 325º to 330º.  The desired course is 300º, but I’m happy easing us through the seas rather than into them until we reach the trade winds.

Clouds getting darker astern.



  1. 1930. Moon rising over black sea.

The only thing that happened when the line of clouds passed was that the wind dropped from 20 knots to 12 while I was eating my freeze dry spaghetti Bolognese and our boat speed dropped from 7 to 5.5 knots.  I waited a while before fully unfurling the jib.  The main should be raised as well.  If it were daylight, I would; but I am uncertain if this is just a lull before more wind and rain arrives.   And I need some sleep.

The wind also appears to have veered more to the west, forcing us onto a course almost due north.  Sleep deprivation or not, I’m going to be up several times again tonight.

April 23

South Pacific Ocean:  Wednesday

0530.  I went to sleep at 2030 last night and though I woke many times, I only got up once, just after midnight.  The full moon was hidden behind low overcast.  Wind remained at 12 knots and the seas had diminished to two to three feet.  I turned on the GPS.  We had made 71 miles since noon, just short of a 6 knot average.  Since yesterday afternoon the boat speed on the instrument system has been reading a knot higher than the GPS, which causes me to postulate an adverse current.

I got up a half hour ago and found us heading NNE.  Hardened up on the jib sheet and adjusted the Monitor control lines, which I run to a cleat within reach of the companionway.  This brought us to a close reach and a course of NNW.  Still smooth motion through the water.  I’ll probably set the main after a couple of cups of coffee and dawn.  The low overcast is gone and the sky mostly clear.  Barometer has risen.

Today is Carol’s birthday, though it hasn’t started in the USA yet.  Happy Birthday, my love.


1330.  A few minutes ago we had a wind shift, backing from west to southwest, and we are presently for the first time on this passage actually sailing in the direction we want:  300º, on a close reach under main and partially furled jib, which I will let out further when I finish with this, in 14 knots of wind and two foot waves.

Our noon position was 31º 93’ South  172º 44’ East, giving a day’s run of 136 miles.  However only about 80 of those miles brought us closer to Grafton Passage, with was 1686 miles distant.  Barometer has risen to 1018 millibars.  Although I sill think first in feet and inches, I have done so much of my sailing in those parts of the world where barometric pressure is given in millibars, that I keep my barometers--I have two on board--set that way. 

If you are not familiar with millibars, 1020 is high; 1000 is low; and what really matters is direction and speed of change. 

Once away from land, I receive no outside weather information and rely on my own observations of sky, sea, and barometer.  People worry too much about the weather, which you can’t out maneuver very much in boats that make less than twenty knots.

I feel better for having had some good sleep and shaving this morning.

Minor mishap at noon.   We were heeled about 20º to starboard, and much of my food is in a locker by the v-berth on the port side of the boat, which means that its contents, mostly in plastic bags, press against the locker door.  I have lines strung across the shelves to help prevent everything from falling out.  After removing a can of tuna, I pushed the bags back in and attempted to secure the door, which came off its hinges.  Repaired it after lunch.  Left some of the offending bags on the v-berth.

I may be able to sit on deck this afternoon.  Sky clearing and sunny. 

April 24

South Pacific Ocean:  Thursday

0615.  We crossed into the +11 hour time zone yesterday, but I waited to change my clocks until this morning.

We are sailing under a low cloudy sky at 5.6 knots in 8 knots of wind with the new spinnaker set.

Yesterday afternoon saw some beautiful sailing, close reaching under full main and jib in twelve knots of wind, but the wind went light and to the south just before sunset and remained that way all night.  I put a preventer on the main, and the seas were slight, so we didn’t flop around as much as two nights ago, but it was a slow and tiring night.  I was on deck for two hours just after midnight trying to keep the boat moving.  I knew the new spinnaker was the right sail for the conditions, but even with some light from the moon through the clouds, decided to wait until dawn.

Our speed has dropped to 4 knots.  The Monitor is steering well enough, although sometimes being thrown off by a cross swell.

The new sail went up easily.  The Facnor spinnaker furling gear is as big an improvement over using squeezer bags as I had hoped.  The sail is supposed to be 900 sq. ft., but as I may have said here before, I don’t think it is.  It definitely could be longer on the luff.  Perhaps the sailmaker erred on the side of caution.  Too short is certainly better than too long.  In any event, it seems a good size in these conditions, and eventually I will be caught with it up by an increase and find out what that is like.


1200.  Well, that was brief. 

I went on deck at 0745 and found the spinnaker split all the way across about three feet from the foot.  As I was furling it, even the leech tape broke.  The sail still furled, and I was able to get it to the deck and into its bag.

Only a few months ago I had the leather anti-chaffing gear replaced on the spreader tips.  Perhaps there is a sharp corner to the leather.  It is difficult to see what the sail could have caught on.  Perhaps the cloth itself is defective.   It is 1½ ounce weight; and I wouldn’t have expected it to split completely even if snagged.  I’m not certain I am pleased with my sailmaker.

I still have the smaller recut sail, and may have time to get this one repaired in Cairns.

Although the barometer has risen a millibar, the sky and sea are saying something else.  The wind is east at 15 knots; the seas are rising; and we are sailing northwest at 6 and 7 knots under jib alone.   The main has been up and down this morning.  It didn’t add much speed and caused the Monitor problems.

Noon position:  30º 02’ South;  170º 56’ East.  Even with 25 hours, day’s run only 111 miles; but all but one of them brought us closer to Grafton Passage, which is 1576 miles distant. 

Norfolk Island is 150 miles northwest of us. 

We’ll be out of the 30ºs within the hour.

Conditions getting rougher.  May have to reduce jib.

1430.  An hour ago I decided to get up from where I was sitting reading on the port settee berth and check the self-steering vane.  No specific reason.  When I moved aft on deck I found that one of its four major support arms had come loose.  I furled the jib and tiled the tiller amidships.

The loose arm was the lower starboard one.  The two lower arms are attached to the main frame of the Monitor by bolts that screw upwards.  The heads of these bolts have holes drilled in them through which a wire can be threaded to prevent them from turning.  While in the boat yard a year ago, I removed the Monitor from the stern to work on it.  Apparently I neglected to rewire those bolts.

Hanging over the stern, I was able to realign the bolt, which had not yet fallen in the sea.  I checked the one on the port arm and found it loose, too.  Tightened both and ran seizing wire through both.  Also checked all other bolts, though those are the only two that screw in upwards against gravity.

Skinned both arms.  Blood on the stern deck.  Not much.  Speaking of which my passage Levis are the ones I was wearing when I fell at Auckland Airport.  Blood stain on the knee wouldn’t come out.

The barometer has dropped two millibars, but the sky actually looks a bit better, with a few patches of blue, and the wind has remained at 15 to 16 knots from the east and the seas at 3’ to 4’.

April 25

South Pacific Ocean:  Friday

0500.  I’ve been sitting up for a half hour, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m awake.

Rain, sometimes heavy, and wind, sometimes strong--the highest reading I saw was 27 knots, but that was from aft of the beam so the true wind was at least 30.  I was on deck twice to reduce sail.  The first time I wore my foul weather gear; the second I went up in the underwear I’ve had on for several days.  Almost made it, but a wave caught me just before I came back below.  I simply took off my clothes and threw them overboard, and dried myself with a towel in the cabin.

The barometer dropped quickly to 1008 millibars, but has steadied there since midnight.

Enough water from rain and waves has come aboard so that I’ve had to put up my new and improved tent to keep the drops from around the companionway falling on me while I’m sleeping--trying to sleep.  This is the first time I’ve used this version, made from a scrap of clear plastic given to me by the sailmaker in Opua, and it is a decided improvement over the old one made from a plastic bag.  I can see through it.  Not the feeling of sticking my head into a clammy cave.

A dark night.  Moon not in evidence.  Blocked by solid clouds.  Wind seems to be backing, as it does around lows in this hemisphere.  Waiting for dawn.

0900.  Been on deck several times.  Barely moving now under full main and slightly furled jib.  Heading southwest.  Just changed from west when I sat down.  Barometer up two millibars.   Rain only light and intermittent.  Sky still fully overcast, but brighter.  Sun trying to break through. 

One of the last emails I received the morning I left was from an English reader of my journal who said that the weather site he looks at showed “some rain in the vicinity of Norfolk Island on Friday.  Today is Friday and Norfolk Island is 70 miles due west.  I’m impressed.  This has not been serious, only a minor unpleasantness.  But it has been unpleasant.

Boat speed down to 1 knot.  Unsettled conditions to be expected after a low passes.  Have to go on deck and see what, if anything, I can do to improve our performance.

1200.  For a half hour or so the Monitor was thrown off by left-over waves and little wind and persisted in steering us back toward New Zealand.  Just as I was about to take the tiller pilot on deck, wind and order returned, and we were soon making 6 knots under full main and jib more or less in the desired direction. 

At noon the wind is fourteen knots from the north and we are sailing at 6.5 around course 300º, which is the heading for Grafton Passage.  I’d like to be a bit higher until we get to the trade winds.

Noon position:  29º 04’ South;  168º 58’ East.  Day’s run 118 miles; Grafton Passage 1458 miles, heading 301º.

Of our day’s run, we had done 70 miles from noon to midnight, but only 48 from then on.

Norfolk Island 51 miles to the west.  If this wind holds, we should pass north of it tonight. 

Managed to pump bilge and engine compartment.  Not much water in either, but we were heeled far enough so that it was sloshing onto floorboards.  Also shaved.

Sun just broke through.

1800.  The sun didn’t last, but 12 knots of wind from the north did, and we sailed well all afternoon under main and slightly reduced jib on a close reach at 6 and 7 knots.  I have learned that THE HAWKE OF TUONELA often balances better with a couple of rolls in the jib.  This one is a 130%.  I think my next one will be a 110%.  If I need a bigger off the wind sail, I can easily set it on the spinnaker furling gear, assuming I have a sail that lasts more than two hours.

The sky is overcast, though not particularly threatening.  Seas down to 2’.  But the barometer is also down.  And the wind has decreased slightly at sunset.  Norfolk Island is less than 30 miles away to the southwest, but it is a small island and I did not see it.

Fell asleep sitting up reading after lunch.  Finished reading, THE RACKETS, by Thomas Kelly, some of whose other books I’ve read.  A novel about corruption in labor unions with Irish immigrants in New York City, as are all his books.  Pretty well done.  Started THE MUGHAL THRONE, subtitled “The Saga of India’s Great Emperors,” a well written history about a period that I don’t know much about.

My right elbow is bothering me.  Started in Opua.  I’m not aware that it was injured in my fall.  Certainly not outwardly.  Some pain more or less constantly. 

Not sure what to expect tonight.  A continuation of what we have with a gradual veering to the east would be appreciated.

April 26

South Pacific Ocean:  Saturday

0615.  Not long after the waning gibbous moon rose at 2100, the sky cleared.  We continued sailing smoothly, and I went to sleep.  However the wind backed instead of veering, and at midnight we were sailing 270º.  At 0230 that was 210º, so I went on deck and tacked.  While doing so, I unrolled the jib fully.  We managed to settle on a course around 320º.  I returned to the cabin and shifted my sleeping bag and pillow from the port settee berth to starboard.

0530 found us heading 060º.  The Monitor self-steering vane holds the boat to a wind angle and so will follow a gradual shift blindly off the desired course.

I tacked back, and in very light wind and almost smooth seas we are making three and four knots on about 300º.  Drinking a cup of coffee; listening to Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony; watching the sky become light through the companionway:  pastel light blue; high grey and white clouds.  Barometer back up 2 millibars.

Pleasant this morning to make coffee without having to hold onto everything every moment.  For the past few days I haven’t been able to make a move without bracing myself with hands or feet.  I have a safety belt to hook into at the galley, but haven’t dug it out yet.

I use the stove oven for food storage.  The galley is on the starboard side,  so when heeled to port, everything falls out when I open the oven door.  this has led to an early flight overboard for a package of troublesome olives. 

1205.  I took advantage of the smooth sailing this morning to refill the canisters of oatmeal, trail mix and powered milk I keep in the galley, as well as remove some of the stuff stored in the oven.  I also took a cockpit shower using the solar shower bag.  Not certain that conditions this afternoon will be as good, I sped the process by adding a tea kettle of water heated on the stove.  Good to be clean.

The wind has remained light and swung back and forth a little.  At the moment we are close-hauled on starboard tack, making 4.3 knots on course 294º.  The bearing to Grafton Passage is now 302º; and until we reach the trade winds, I would still prefer to sail around 310º to 315º.

Noon position:  28º 33’ South  167º 01’ East.  Day’s run:  108.  Grafton Passage:  1352.  We’re not exactly speeding along.

On the pilot charts most of the wind north of 28 º is from the east. 

Wind 6 knots.  Seas slight, though there is a swell from the northeast, and a band of clouds there that might mean something.   Temperature in the mid-70ºs.  Barometer steady at 1011.  Susurration of hull moving through water.  So far a very pleasant day.

1730.  I was wise to take my shower this morning.  The clouds in the northeast over ran the sky early this afternoon.  For a while it was rather pretty.  Sea and sky pewter and silver.  I sat on deck and drank a beer and listened to music.   THE HAWKE OF TUONELA was in a groove, making six knots close-hauled in only eight knots of wind. But now it is just gray.  The wind hasn’t increased, nor has the barometer moved.  Still I’m thinking about putting a precautionary reef in the mainsail, which is easier to do in the last daylight than after dark.  Still undecided.

April 27

South Pacific Ocean:  Sunday

0620.  I did put in the reef.  It wasn’t necessary, but it didn’t matter.  We still made 4 and 5 knots, but the wind headed us and forced us to the southwest.  At 0400, I got up, shook out the reef, unfurled a couple of rolls I had in the jib and tacked.  We were able to sail more or less north at a knot or two for an hour, but then were becalmed.

I decided this was as good as time as any to see what would happen with the engine.  It started.  I had to shift it into forward with a wrench.  The shaft turns.  No forward motion.  I went through this process several times.  Either the prop is fouled or has fallen off.  It is just getting light now and if we stay becalmed I may go in the water and see.

I am thinking of turning around and heading back to New Zealand.

Going to make coffee.

0900.  We are powering at 4.8 knots in the direction of Cairns.

I had a brief swim mid-breakfast:  after juice and coffee, before cereal.

First I had to dig out my mask and the boarding ladder.  This necessitated removing almost everything stowed on and beside the starboard quarter berth:  buckets, sail, dinghy, dock lines, life raft.

I fit the boarding ladder into its bracket on the hull, also secured it with a line, and dropped the end of a jib sheet in the water.  Jib was furled, main lowered.  No wind.  A two foot swell.  From the instrument system I knew the water temperature to be 71ºF. 

I climbed down the ladder and stepped into the ocean.  It felt good.  The boat was moving slowly forward.  I drifted to the jib sheet, grabbed hold of it, steadied myself, took a breath and dove.  The prop was there and not fouled.  I opened both blades to be sure.

So back to the boarding ladder and aboard.

After drying myself off and replacing all the stuff in and around the quarter berth, I tried the engine again.  Shifting the transmission manually at the engine I could see the shaft turning, but on deck when I gave us throttle, no forward motion.  I concluded that the frayed cable still had enough resistance to ease the engine out of gear by the time I got on deck.  I removed the cable coupling from the transmission, which secured by a small hard to reach bolt took longer to do than it does to tell.  When I tried the engine again success.

We’ve been powering for an hour under scattered high clouds and some blue sky.  Sun is warm when it is out.  Hopefully we’ll have wind again soon.

I recognize a problem in that my commitment to this voyage is, like, my life, divided.  I feel a pressure of time in that there are two other places I want to be:  with Carol and in Opua.  Opua I can live without for a year or two, and Carol and I are just going to have to accept that I can’t do this completely to a schedule.   The delay in Cairns if I had to buy and fit a new propeller or fix a serious engine malfunction was a concern.  If I lived aboard full time, it wouldn’t matter so much.  Wherever I was would be home.  I am going to have to get into that mind set again.

1200,  I left the engine on for two hours, but got tired of the sound.  At 1000 I managed to get us sailing at 1 to 3 knots more or less in the right direction; but by 1100 what slight wind there was died and the sea became glassy.  I turned the engine on again and at noon we’re making 5.7 knots on course.  Still no wind.  Sea still glassy, with slow swell from west and north.

Noon position:  28º 07’ South  165º 35’ West.  Day’s run:  80.  Grafton Passage:  1272 miles, bearing 303º

Don’t know how long I’ll run the engine.  Mostly sunny, with high haze of cloud moving from the north again.  Barometer rising.

1630.  I turned the engine off at 1500.  While it was on, I made use of my sound canceling earphones, which I bought for long airplane flights.  It made being in the cabin with the engine on more tolerable.

A thin layer of low clouds covers the sky, similar to morning coastal clouds that burn off with the sun, but we’re a long way from a coast.

The wind is so light that it is difficult to determine its exact direction, but it is somewhere on the beam, which means northeast.  Any east wind is welcome.  For that matter, after being becalmed this morning, any wind is welcome.  I would not have powered beyond sunset, but lowered the main sail and let us drift.

I transferred the spinnaker sheets and spinnaker furling gear from the new torn sail to the old cut down experimental one.  These are actually good conditions for it, but it is late on a day when I’ve had enough excitement.  I don’t want to have to keep getting up all night to see if it has shredded, too.

Because of the swell the tiller pilot is still steering.   Boat speed at the moment 3.8 knots.  Sails slightly over-trimmed to reduce flopping.  If we get solid wind I’ll go back to the Monitor; if not I’ll let the tiller pilot steer through the night.  Certainly the batteries are well charged.

April 28

South Pacific Ocean:  Monday

0615.  How quickly it changes. 

Within a half hour of my writing the last entry late yesterday afternoon, the wind had increased to 8 knots, the tiller pilot had been retired, the Monitor was steering, and we were sailing on a close reach at 5 to 6 knots, which we continued to do through the night.

Sunset and dawn were both subdued, a dimming of the light to the west last night behind an even layer of gray, and an orange brightening this morning behind the same gray.  I was glad to be out here to see them. The barometer is down two millibars since yesterday, but the swell is down too.

I watched a movie last evening:  TOPPER, with a young Cary Grant, Constance Bennett (I think), and an actor in the title role whose name I can’t remember.  One of the advantages of the Internet is that if I were connected I could easily find out who he was. 

Since I’ve been back on the boat, this, along with BRIEF ENCOUNTER and WATERLOO BRIDGE, all go under the heading “They don’t make them like they used to.”  There is a charm and an innocence about these movies, even though two of them were made in most un-innocent times--the Second World War.

When the movie ended around 2030, I stuck my head through the companionway and found to my surprise that I was not alone.  Four miles to the west were the running lights of a ship heading south.  I turned on the radar to measure to distance.

In a few hours we will have been out a week.  It is going to be a very slow week’s run.  At noon each day I make a waypoint in the chartplotter and count the day’s run as the distance back to that point the following noon, although we may have changed course and sailed further over the bottom.  We haven’t had any severe weather, but we also haven’t had sustained fair wind.  Good half day runs, but no good full noon to noon ones.  Getting to and from New Zealand is usually work.

1200.  Low uneven overcast, with two brief showers this morning.  Rain to the west of us now.  The wind has moved back and forth, causing me to tack a few times.  It is now where it was at the beginning and we are making about five knots close-hauled on starboard tack, more or less on the course for Grafton Passage, which is 1157 miles bearing 303º

Our noon to noon runs, with the first morning’s 12 miles added, come to 801 miles.  Best day was 136; worst yesterday’s 80.

I’ve added a waypoint at Saumarez Reefs, which are off the south end of the Great Barrier Reef.  It is 628 miles ahead, bearing 301º  There are two specks of coral south of there we will have to watch out for some day.

Presumably we are now in the convergence zone and will eventually emerge to find the trade winds on the other side.

1800.   I was just standing on the companionway ladder, my head and shoulders above deck, but protected by the dodger, listening to light rain hitting the fabric.

Brief showers have been about the horizon, and sometimes THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, this afternoon.  In only one of them was there much of an increase in wind, and that only to 18 knots for a few minutes, creating the first white caps I’ve seen in a while.  White caps began to form at Force Three on the Beaufort Scale, Gentle Breeze, 7 to 10 knots.  We’ve had 7 and 8 knots of wind but no white-caps for days.  At the moment we have less.

Following that 18 knot shower, the wind shifted from northeast to west, and I tacked.  We’re sailing high of the rhumb line course as I want to, but I didn't expect doing so before a west wind.   Our noon positions on the chartplotter reveal that we’ve been forced slightly below our desired course for the past five days.  I’d be surprised if this lasts the night.

We are 550 miles due east of Brisbane, Australia.

I finished reading THE MUGHAL THRONE.  Three things stood out. 

First, in more than 175 years, from 1526 when Babar founded the dynasty, to the end of the rule of Aurangzeb in 1707, there were only six Emperors, and Babar himself only ruled for five years. 

Second, the Mughal Empire was at the time the greatest and richest empire on the planet, and Europeans, including the Portuguese, who had a presence in Goa and a few other places, were beneath consideration.

And third it reads discouragingly like European history, men and women struggle for power, kill, imprison, or blind their brothers to obtain it, and somehow manage to get others to fight and die for them.  That is not to say that some of these men, Babar and Akbar in particular, were not exceptional, and the book interesting.  But people are people  and they acted pretty much in Medieval India as they did in Medieval Europe.  Too bad.

1900.  Becalmed.  Sails down.

April 29

South Pacific Ocean:  Tuesday

0720  I was on deck last night at 1900 to lower sails which were slatting and banging; at 2000 to raise them again in a breath of wind; at 2300 to lower them when becalmed; at 0000 to raise them in a light wind; at 0300 to re-trim them and change course before what had become a good sailing breeze backing from the NNW; at 0500 to adjust trim and course again; at 0600 to adjust trim and course again.   And several times since then; but it is now daylight.

At midnight we were still surrounded by low clouds and light rain was falling; but at 0300 the sky was clear and the wind real.  Now the sky looks something like a trade wind sky, but the wind is coming from the west.  We are sailing just forward of a beam reach at 7 knots to the northwest.  I would  gladly do so forever, but because of the rapidly with which this wind is backing, I don’t expect it will last.  Maybe it will just keep on backing and became the trades.

Sunny sky, with scattered low white clouds and a few wisps up high.

Last quarter moon in sky at 0300.

1200.  This west wind is weakening, around ten knots--down from 15 at 0500, but still good sailing on a close reach.

Today is the predicted midpoint of this passage.  I estimated my arrival for May 7, a week tomorrow.  At the moment that seems optimistic.  We still have 1100 miles to go, which would mean averaging 5.73 knots the rest of the way.  Possible if we get steady wind, but not likely.

Our noon position is 25º 48’ South   162º 23’ East.  On the pilot charts almost all the wind from here on is from the east or south.  But not today.  Our present wind is perfect, but it can’t last.


Water has been seeping back into the head bowl, which usually means the joker value needs to be replaced.  I had been waiting for the right time.  The head is on the port side of the boat, which presently is the high side.  I did the deed this morning.  Seems to have solved the problem, though the old value looks to be o.k. 

Working on heads, particularly at sea, is never fun, but I must say a word of praise for this head, which is a common inexpensive Jabsco.  I bought it a year or so ago in Opua to replace a much more expensive head from a famous manufacturer that had always given me problems.  The Jabsco is easier to clean, doesn’t leak as the pump on the former one always did, is easy to service; and if something too serious ever does go wrong, can simply be thrown out and replaced for a couple of hundred dollars.

Of course THE HAWKE OF TUONELA continued sailing along heeled over as I did this.  Sitting on the cabin sole, leaning into the head compartment, and bracing myself with my legs, I felt something wet in my left shoe when I was finished and looked down to find my foot covered in blood.  I’ve been taking aspirin for my elbow, which seems to have done some good, but which makes me bleed easily.  I had simply scraped my shin.


Of being heeled over, manufacturers do not consider in their packaging that a few of their customers may be trying to open an item with one hand while hanging onto a bouncing boat with the other.  This came to my attention again while trying to open a new box of sugar cubes for my morning coffee.

2100  A half hour ago the wind suddenly doubled from 13 to 26 knots.  Furled jib completely.  We continue making 7 knots under main alone on beam reach.  Moon has not risen.  Can’t see anything in darkness.  Barometer has risen during the day.  Heard Brisbane radio this evening.  Their forecast is fair today, tomorrow and the next day.

April 30

Coral Sea  Wednesday

0545  I got up about an hour ago.  Still dark.  Mostly clear starry sky with quarter moon. 

I woke several times during the night, thinking that we had slowed and I needed  to set the jib, but when I checked the instruments I found that we were still smoothly making 7 knots under main alone on beam reach.  I verified this with the GPS.  For the past few days the instrument system has been reading ½  to 1 knot higher than the true speed shown on the GPS, which I attributed to a counter current.  There is a south flowing current along the east coast of Australia because, as I read online before I left Opua, the Coral Sea is almost a meter higher than the Tasman.  However the GPS is presently showing the same speed as the instruments.

I did set part of the jib a half hour ago.  We are making a solid 7 knots, often over 8 and I saw 9 briefly.  All this before 20 knots of wind and almost smooth seas.  This west to southwest wind has lasted longer than I expected, now more than 24 hours, and if it holds for six more hours, will give us our first respectable day’s run.

In straight line distance we have passed the halfway point with the waypoint to Grafton Passage 932 ahead and the mooring 951 astern, though that distance astern passes through the end of the North Island.

1200  At last a respectable day’s run:  164 miles, a 6.83 knot average, more than a third of it under mainsail alone.

I must admit that I kept the chartplotter on all morning so that I knew our true boat speed and could keep us moving.   I steadily unfurled the jib as the morning progressed and the wind decreased to around 10 knots.

Our noon position of 24º 05’ South 160º  03’ East is an inch from the ‘A’ of Coral Sea on my paper chart.  Grafton Passage is 895 miles bearing 301º.  The first reefs, Cato Island and Wreck Reef, are less than 300 ahead of us. 

With the wind backing, the mainsail was beginning to blanket the jib, so I lowered it a few minutes ago and we are continuing under jib alone.  Conditions are right to have experimented with the new spinnaker.  Don’t think I’m going to bother with the one I have left, which since being cut down is no bigger than the jib, though it might set better off the wind.

Barometer continues to rise.  Blue sky with low scattered white clouds,  No high clouds,  Wind 10 to 12 knots from the SSW.  Seas 2’.  During the night the wind didn’t seem as strong as it was.  I kept being surprised by readings of 20 to 25 knots, and seas were smooth for a while, finally reaching 3’ to 4’.

1700  Just came below after a glass of wine on deck.  I tried to sit on deck yesterday and was promptly rewarded with a wave.  More successful this afternoon. though the wind persists from the SSW and has increased to 16 knots.  Beautiful sailing.  Whatever this is--bent trade winds?--it has been blowing since 0300 two nights ago and given us a great ride. 

I had music on, but mostly was just watching the waves and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA slicing down them.  A never ending pleasure.  I wonder how many waves I’ve watched.   Hundreds of thousands?  Millions?

Although I haven’t seen flying fish in the ocean, I have found two small ones on deck.  Sorry to have killed them, however inadvertently.

We are less than 30 miles from the Tropic of Capricorn.

May 1

Coral Sea:  Thursday

0730  The wind has backed slightly east of south and is around 10 to 12 knots. 

I jibed at dawn near a patch of rain, but soon jibed back, and we continue on a port broad reach.

We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn--23º 26.4’ South--during the night, and will sail into a new time zone today, GMT +10, which starts at 157º 30’ East.  I’ve already changed my watch.

1300.  The few scattered showers this morning that were in our vicinity never passed over us and have cleared into a fine day.  Wind and seas about the same.

I spent the morning replacing the broken engine shift cable with a spare.  I don’t recall exactly why I have it aboard.   The shift cable did break a couple of years ago in Tahiti.  I don’t think I had it replaced until after I sailed back to New Zealand. I seem to recall that as a precaution I had the throttle cable replaced as well, and this spare may have been the old throttle cable.

It took almost four hours to remove the broken cable and install the replacement while THE HAWKE OF TUONELA rocked and and rolled on at 6 and 7 knots..  I will not bother with the details.  it was tedious, uncomfortable, and frustrating.  As is to be expected some of the old fittings had rusted and one bolt head broke off while I was trying to remove it.  In the end the replacement is in and I think I can now shift gears again from on deck.  If we are becalmed I’ll test it at sea.  If we aren’t, I’ll test it somewhere during the last 30 mile approach to Cairns in the Grafton Passage. 

A hard tiring job.


Our noon position:  22º 50’ South   157º 36’ East.  Our day’s run of 155 miles is a 6 knot average even for a 25 hour day because of the time zone change.  Grafton Passage 740 miles bearing 300º.  Saumarez Reefs 217 miles bearing 288º.  There are some reefs closer than Saumarez.   If the wind continues they will be in reach by tomorrow, and maybe even tonight.  I’ll check their distance at sunset.

May 2

Coral Sea:  Friday

0700  At sea I close the companionway with two plexiglass slats.  Because of the odd wave, I usually leave the lower one in place.  I can step over it.  And if there is a chance of rain or rough weather, I put the top one in when I go to sleep  Last night was so clear, with the Milky Way overhead, Scorpio above the horizon astern and Orion ahead, that I didn’t.  This resulted in my having a dream that I was being rained on, from which I eventually awoke and found that I was.

Earlier the wind had backed a few degree and I jibed and spent the night on the port settee berth. 

The closest reefs are 30 and 40 miles distant.  The gap between them is 50 miles wide.  If the present wind holds, I’ll jibe again in a couple of hours and pass between them.

On a Brisbane radio station, I heard general weather forecasts, which have included strong wind warnings in the far north.  Two days ago the warning covered the Torres Strait to Cooktown, yesterday it included Cairns, a hundred miles further south, and today, Townsville, another hundred miles south, but still 500 miles north of us.  No more information.

1205  Between reefs at noon, Kenn Reef 20 miles north, Wreck Reef 27 miles south, no sign of either, but there is a difference knowing they are there.

Our position at noon:  21º 44’ South; 155º 42‘ East.  Day’s run 125 miles.  Grafton Passage 616 miles bearing 300º.

Saumarez Reefs no longer a factor.  We will pass well to the north and east of them, but Frederick Reefs are about 85 miles directly ahead of us and may require a change of course during the night.


I had a solar shower this morning and changed into clean clothes.  Both always a pleasure, and the shower while rolling downwind more difficult than it sounds.  I had planned to do this yesterday, but the hours spent on the engine took too much out of me.

Sunny at noon.  Wind ESE at 12 knots.  Clouding over behind us.

1600  Just came below from sitting on deck listening to music and the hull moving through the water.  Saw a flight of flying fish.  Sky mostly covered with low clouds.  A few patches of blue to the west and two patches of rain to the northeast.  The barometer is down, but so is the sea, waves only 2’.

Clausewitz said something to the effect that “War is diplomacy carried on by other means.” 

A voyage is my life carried on by other means.  I live out here much as I do anywhere:  I am alone, as I usually am even ashore with Carol at her office five days a week; i read; I write; I listen to music.  I don’t watch sports on television at sea, but that is really only a pastime; and I do watch movies.  In addition I keep the boat moving and see the sea and the sky.  I don’t hear the noise and am not exposed to the ubiquitous ugliness of cities.  I am at home here.  All that is missing is Carol, who most definitely wants to be missing from this picture.


While showering this morning I noticed that the left side of my body is covered with bruises, leg, torso, arm.

The work on the engine cable took place in two locations.  One end of the cable is attached to the interior part of the cockpit shift lever, which is at the aft end of the starboard quarter berth; and the other to a low part of the engine itself.  Lying face down on the port quarter berth, I was reaching down, mostly with my left arm, around other ports of the engine and its cooling system, for several hours, while the boat continued sailing fast.  Among other things I had to drill a hole in a bracket for a new bolt to replace the rusted one whose head broke off.  My normal battery hand drill is too big for the space, so I used a Dremel tool, but its biggest drill was smaller than the bolt.  I managed to enlarge the hole, but then dropped the bolt.  It fell only a few inches and had to be still in the engine compartment, but I could not find it and eventually used a different one.


Frederick Reefs 60 miles directly ahead.  I’m going to alter course to pass north of them, but will have to keep track during the night.  We should be in the vicinity well before dawn.

May 3

Coral Sea:  Saturday

0800  I only know the day of the week because the computer shows it.

I also know from Australian Radio that this is  a holiday weekend:  Labor Day.

A slow morning--me, not the boat which continues to roll along at 6 knots.  I was awake several times during the night, but never for long, and so should have gotten enough sleep.  We passed well northeast of Frederick Reefs.  Marion Reef is next.  It is bigger, a twenty-five mile long arc.  From the charts it appears possible to anchor behind it, but I’m sure this is illegal prior to clearing in on the mainland, and Australian Customs have a reputation for being strict.  In any event, I wouldn’t stop, preferring not to break the passage.

We are still 300 miles off the continent, and not far south of Townsville.  Sky clearing.  Wind SSE at 12 to 14.  Sailing under jib with two or three rolls in it to enable Monitor to steer better.

1205  A fine, sunny day.  Mostly blue sky and sea, with some cloud to the south.  Wind 10 knots.  Warmer:  81ºF/27ºC.  A day for the new spinnaker, alas.

Noon position:  20º 06’ South  154º 00’ East.  Day’s run 138.  Grafton Passage 487 miles bearing 295º.

I’ve been feeling more tired than I should and decided perhaps I am not eating enough, so ate a full size can of tuna for lunch.  Usually have ‘Lite’ cans, which are smaller. 

Also this morning, after sitting on deck for a while listening to music, I decided we were sailing flat enough to run the engine briefly.  Running the engine while significantly heeled can result in damage because of improper oil flow.  I removed the engine cover so I could determine if the shaft was turning in response to shifting gears from the deck. I am pleased to report that my efforts were not in vain.   People are sympathetic when you enter a harbor with engine trouble--”There but for the grace…”--as opposed to when you enter in a boat without an engine--they think you are trying to prove you are better than they are, and they are probably right.  But I don’t like to have to ask for special consideration.

1600  A beautiful afternoon. 

At 1300 the wind veered to the south, and I jibed onto a port broad reach.  Although it is not a big as the genoa, I decided to set the smaller modified spinnaker.  Up in five minutes,  An increase in speed of .5 knot.  A smoother and quieter ride.  Cut fuller and of much lighter cloth, it is a superior off wind sail to the genoa, which tries to be all-purpose, but is really intended to be used to windward.  The spinnaker fills more easily, and when it does collapse, being set flying puts much less stress on the boat and rig when it refills.  I am very, very pleased.

While I was on deck enjoying the sailing and listening to music, two ships passed within a few miles of us at almost the same time.  A shipping track is shown on the charts.  The one heading south passed west of us, and the one heading north passed to the east. I again have the ocean to myself.


I am navigating on three charts:  two electronic, one in the chartplotter, and another in the computer; and one paper.  Each is useful.  All the information and detail is in the chartplotter, but often small bits of land, such as the reefs in this sea, don’t appear until you zoom very close.  Here is where the paper chart is still useful.  I can see the reefs and our relationship to them more easily.  Not until the last few days did I bother to transfer our noon position to the paper chart.  The electronic charts in the computer are also useful in getting an overall picture of the situation because more is visible at one time on the computer screen, which is much bigger than that on the chartplotter. 

My chartplotter is a relatively new Navman that I bought to replace a seven year old Simrad that finally failed and which was the most unintuitive piece of electronics of any kind, on land or sea, that I’ve ever owned.   Last evening I discovered the “night mode” for the Navman display.  Basically it is reverses color, showing a white track on a black screen.  Still very easy to read.  Presumably it helps not to diminish night vision, and it makes the screen much less intrusive in the cabin when left on and I am sleeping,  This chartplotter draws very little power.  I left it on all last night and will again tonight.  Marion Reef is 72 miles ahead.

1720  A fittingly beautiful sunset, turning scattered clouds to gold. 

Another ship passing, heading south and several miles astern.  There is also a shipping channel inside the Great Barrier Reef, but I shouldn’t have to worry about ships any more as I move closer to several other reefs.

May 4

Coral Sea:  Sunday

0640  Wind backed at sunset, causing us to harden up to avoid heading directly for Marion Reef, so I furled and lowered the spinnaker and set the jib.  We sailed west throughout the night.  Marion Reef is twenty miles north east of us on a clear sunny dawn. The Great Barrier Reef is one hundred miles ahead.  Our course from here on will be between it and a number of off-lying reefs.  This is a wide passage, fifty miles at its narrowest.

Awoke at 0430 thinking I heard something rolling around the deck, like a bolt.  Couldn’t see anything in the darkness, and don’t see anything missing this morning.  Disconcerting.

Later learned it was a loose flashlight battery rolling around inside the chart table.

1225  A beautiful day, with a completely clear sky at dawn now dotted by a few trade wind clouds.  The wind has remained SSE and is now blowing at 14 to 16 knots, giving us fine sailing under the jib with a couple of rolls in it to help the Monitor maintain control.

At noon we were at 19º 35’ South and 151º East, giving a day’s run of 136 miles.  We jibed a couple of times and probably averaged 6 knots over the bottom.

The entrance to Grafton Passage is 354 miles ahead.  Whether we make make Cairns in three days on Wednesday, which was my projected arrival date, will depend on wind and particularly wind angle.  A five knot average would see us there, but I expect we will have to jibe several times to keep away from the reefs on both sides of us and so have to sail further.  Also we would need to be at the entrance by noon at the latest in order to reach Cairns before sunset.  If we are not off the pass until the afternoon, I will sail back out to sail to await the following dawn. 

From Australian broadcast radio, the forecast for all of Queensland seems to be fine, and the strong wind warning has contracted to north of Cooktown, which is one hundred miles north of Cairns.  I do not know what their definition of “strong wind” is.  It might differ from mine.

1720  An almost perfect day.  Good wind.  Good sailing.  Sunshine.  80ºF at noon, but as yesterday, the afternoon became no warmer.  With the cooling breeze and in the shadow of the sail, I was very comfortable on deck. 

Not quite perfect, because the wind is forcing us to sail 15º to 20º below our desired course; and because of an irregular clicking sound from the Monitor self-steering vane.  I leaned over the transom, but could find nothing loose nor determine the cause of the sound, which has ended.

We are 70 miles east of the Great Barrier Reef, but more than 100 miles distant on our present course, so it will not be a problem tonight, though I will still jibe with a wind shift. 

Time for dinner and perhaps a glass of wine.  Perhaps on deck.

May 5

Coral Sea:  Monday

0700  The wind backed a bit last evening, and so, after watching a poor movie version of RED BADGE OF COURAGE--in this case not making them like they used to is a good thing--I jibed.  It was the right decision.  We made six knots on the desired course in front of 15 to 18 knots of trade wind.  If this holds, we might be able to make the entrance to Grafton Passage without another jibe.

However it was not a restful night.  The jibe did quiet the sound from the Monitor, but caused others.  Cans rolled on galley shelves until I got up and wedged cups of noodles packages around them; and I was wakened from a deep sleep by a loud crash, which proved to be nothing worse than a plastic bucket falling from beside the quarterberth.

It looks to be another beautiful day, and in fact is predicted to be so.  I heard the weather on a Townsville radio station.  Winds offshore southeast 15 to 20 knots.  Fine except for the next four days except for a few scattered coastal showers.  The announcer in Townsville was complaining about the cool weather.  It was 16ºC/ 62ºF there this morning, which was the coldest reading so far this year. 

1240  Conditions continue the same:  sunny and pleasant.  However my hope to make Grafton Passage on this point of sail were optimistic.  We are headed directly for Flinders Reef, which is about 55 miles ahead of us.  The Great Barrier Reef is the same on the beam.

I’m still undecided whether to pass Flinders to the east and north and then jibe, or jibe soon and pass it to the south and west.

Our noon position: 18º 21’ South;  149º 33’ West.  Day’s run 139 miles.

We’ve been out two weeks today.  The second week’s run 963 miles, or a 5.7 knot average.  Grafton Passage is 215 miles distant, bearing 298º, but we are going to have to sail farther than that to get there, which is all right as we might have time to kill.  I don’t want to be there before dawn Wednesday.

1630  Just came below after listening to music on deck.  My cockpit speakers aren’t working, so I took the iPod and headphones.  One speaker stopped a few days ago, and now the other.  I expect connections have been shaken loose, but am not ambitious enough at present to trace the wiring.  It will wait until port.  48 hours from now I might have had a shower, a cold drink and a good meal.

We are sailing south of Flinders Reef. 

I tested both possibilities.  First hardening up to sail northwest, then jibing to sail west.  West won.  It was my preference as the reef would have been a close lee shore all night the other way.  And the wind backed a bit during the afternoon to make this way even more favorable.

I’ve sailed to Cairns twice before:  from Port Vila in CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE in 1981, the first passage after being adrift; and from Noumea in RESURGAM in 1987. 

I didn’t remember the names of these offshore reefs, but seeing them again the names are familiar.  Lihou Reefs, Magdelaine Cays, Willis Islets, Holmes Reefs, Herald Cays, and Herald’s Surprise.  I hope it wasn’t too much of a surprise to Herald.

Navigating by sextant in CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, I had good position lines that put me directly over the Great Barrier Reef as I approached Cairns, but in light weather I couldn’t see any sign of it, until as the tide dropped I found it directly below us.  I dropped the anchor and  raised the rudder and centerboard, and we rested there seemingly in mid-ocean until the wind returned.

May 6

Coral Sea:  Tuesday

0700  Low cloud and scattered showers at dawn bending the wind, but we are where we want to be 120 miles from the entrance to Grafton Passage.

I was awake several times during the night, and finally jibed at 0300.  We were able to sail the exact course then, but presently are closer to 330º than the 315º we want.  Hopefully wind will swing back when the showers clear.

0845  Most definitely not the morning I wanted.  Showers, one heavy a half hour ago, with gusting wind--I saw a reading of 31 knots apparent and with the wind coming from astern the true had to be over 34 knots, which is low gale force--spinning the boat off course. 

I’ve reduced the jib down to near storm jib size, and jibed between showers.  On starboard we were heading almost due north; on port we’re generally between 290º and 300º.  No dangers between us and the entrance of Grafton Passage, if we can sail somewhere near the course.

One can feel the difference between the ocean weather we’ve had, and the land dominated weather we are having.

1210  Sky continues mostly cloudy, but seems to be clearing.  We’re almost sailing toward Grafton Passage at 6 knots under partially furled jib.

Noon position:  17º  34’ South;  147º 28’ East.  Grafton Passage 89 miles bearing 308º.

A five knot average will put us off the entrance at 0600, which is what I am aiming at.

Tired.  Took a couple of brief naps this afternoon.   Will have to be awake tomorrow by 0300 or 0400 at latest.

1620  The sky did clear in early afternoon, and I took a shower in the cockpit, adding a tea kettle full of boiling water to  bag.  We didn’t have any solar heating this morning.  Also shaved and changed my clothes.  Though perhaps if I didn’t, the officials would want to get off the boat more quickly.

Wind around 20 knots.  We’re not quite sailing the rhumb line course to Grafton Passage, which is 313º and 65 miles distant.  The Great Barrier Reef is 25 miles away, and land about 50.  I can see no sign of either. 

I’ll continue on until I converge with the reef and then jibe off to get some sleep, I hope.

No moon tonight.

May 7

Coral Sea:  Wednesday

0450  The light at the entrance to Grafton Passage is visible.  It is 5.07 miles away, almost due west, and we are sailing toward it at 4.9 knots, so we should be very close at 0600 as planned.

The night has been clear, but with more wind than I need.  Still better than no wind at all.

I jibed onto starboard at 2030 and we continued to parallel the reef ten miles off until 0330, when I jibed back.  I kept our speed down by furling the jib to not much more than storm jib size, which still kept us moving at five knots.  Being so under-canvassed, THE HAWKE OF TUONELA rolled extravagantly.  Fortunately I don’t get seasick, which may be a more useful gift from the Vikings than Dupuytren’s Contracture.

I set the alarm for midnight, but woke at 2330.  Set it again for 0300, but woke at 0230.   Reset it for 0330 and was wakened from deep sleep.  And finally set it for 0430, but woke for good at 0415.

While Grafton Passage is several miles wide, it will be back to windward, and I will probably furl the last bit of jib and power from that point on, letting the tiller pilot hold a compass course.

0700  Powering up Grafton Passage.  Still very rough.  I thought it would smooth out once we were inside, and it has some, but not much.  Making 3.7 knots at rpms that should give 5.7.


A couple of waves broke over me as I was making the transition before dawn from sail to power--moving solar panels below, taking tiller pilot on deck.  Fortunately the water is warm.

The high land behind Cairns is visible.

Wind 20+ knots coming from our port bow.

Should smooth out as we get closer to land.  Two or three rough hours more.

0800  Sunny.  Wind 20-25 knots.  Very choppy.  Just turned 20º to try to cut a corner.  Not so directly into waves.  Speed up to 4.8. 

These conditions are really at the tiller pilot’s limit.  Perhaps a bit beyond.  Twice waves have caused its arm to leap off the tiller connection.

0920  Heavy spray coming over deck.  Speed up to 5.3 knots.  Hot in cabin.  I wish the seas would smooth.  Near Cape Grafton on mainland in an hour.  Maybe then.

1000  Made turn west, which moved wind toward stern, but water is shallower--110’--which increases chop.  Better than it was.  Not yet in lee of land.

1100  Less choppy.  At last.  Reached Australian Customs on handheld VHF, but can’t reach marina yet.  About 10 miles out.  I can see the buildings along waterfront in Cairns.  Making 5.7 knots.

1300  Docked at Marlin Marina.  Good I was able to replace the engine cable.  Had to dock with 20 knots of wind and strong tide behind me.  Needed reverse.