It is a banner day here on Papillon – we have completed our first passage since last January when the forestay parted and we made an unscheduled six-month stop in Whangarei. This was only an overnight hop, but we were out at sea! and we got from there to here with barely a hiccup.
It has been a long time since I have been able to write to you, dear readers, about actual sailing stuff. You have kindly put up with my posts about fixing the rigging, and living in the yard, and all of the cruising-related activities that have nothing to do with boat-on-water + wind = fun. So now that we are back in motion, the natural thing would be for me to write about our passage.
But we didn’t just have one passage, did we? We had four. Because none of us did the same things (or noticed the same things) while we were underway. This is the difficulty I face with this blog in general: only my perspective on this journey will persist. My descendants will only have my account of our travels to shove in a box in the basement and ignore. How much better if they could ignore Erik’s account, and the girls’, too! But no one else feels like writing things down, so tough luck, Amy-related people-of-the-future: it’s my words or nothing.
Nonetheless, I am a writer, am I not? Let’s see if I can put myself in my crewmates’ shoes, and tell you what this passage was like for each of us.
|I can barely buckle my lifejacket.|
Back in Tonga, something magical happened to me, and it is called: I Discovered Meclozine Hydrochoride and Now I Am A Functioning Human Being And Not A Senseless Lump Of Jelly On Passage. Not a very catchy title, I know. But “Sea Legs,” as it is sold here, is my miracle cure. As Erik put it, now he can actually talk to me on passage. As I would put it, now he doesn’t sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher on passage. A new day has dawned.
On the other hand, it was cold. Winter in New Zealand isn’t Toronto-cold; it is more Seattle-cold. Still, when the wind gets moving, Mom piles the layers on. At my peak, I was wearing: long underwear (top and bottom), flannel pajamas (what?), jeans, two fleeces, ancient coverall-style foulies, a knit hat and a hood. Also, a blanket. Then I was fairly comfortable. I couldn’t move, mind you, but that is the price you pay. My toque kept slipping higher and higher on my head (either due to my super-shiny hair or my pointy head, you decide), so most of the time I looked like this:
|Brainy Smurf or Amy Smurf? I can’t tell.|
But the weather was calm, we ate chili for dinner, and everyone was in a good mood. Passage win.
|The captain returns to sea.|
Why does the anti-siphon have to play up in the middle of the river? Can’t I have one passage where I am not down in the bloody engine room every ten minutes? Apparently not. But the new running lights look great, the roller furler worked, and I’m pleased about the way we tied down the tinny and the sailing dinghy. Nothing budged. We are getting there, people, we are getting there.
Aside from some wind-on-current mess at the mouth of the river, we had a great 21-hour passage. We had 20 knots of apparent wind as we came out of the river – with two reefs in the main and the jib out, we were still smoking along at 8 knots. Our challenge on this passage was to keep it slow, as we didn’t want to arrive in Opua in the middle of the night, but as the winds eased we kept our speed-over-ground down to about four knots. Flukey winds between 0200 and 0330 were a bit of an irritation; I had trouble sleeping during Amy’s watch because I was listening to the sails work and grinding my teeth.
We came into the Bay of islands in heavy fog, which let me stand on deck to spot while Amy steered. A beautiful morning. We had the anchor down by 0930. The new chain and cat’s paw on the windlass worked well, but next time we will use a new method of letting out the chain, in hopes of keeping this thrust bearing intact. There is always room for improvement.
|No caption required.|
Passage? Yeah, I guess. I mean, we’re in Opua now, and we got here somehow, right? I read a lot, and Indy and I played dress-up. I helped dad with the beginning of his first nightwatch. We played hide and seek in the cockpit.
But the most important thing that happened was that Dinah and Leopardy got married! It was a beautiful ceremony. Mom won’t let me upload the video to YouTube, because she is always complaining about “bandwidth”, but it was really great. Can I go now?
|You have no idea how elaborate this was.|
|Also suffering from Smurf Syndrome.|