Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Last Big Leg

The last leg from Espiritou Santo to Majuro. 1500 nautical miles.

Brian looking nautical?

After Santo our last sight of land was Tikopia, an isolated lonely looking island on the very NE corner of Vanuatu. Then 9 days of open ocean until we glimpsed the top of a couple of tall buildings at Tarawa in Kirabati (obviously a bit taller than the unsighted palm trees). You could be forgiven for thinking that day after day on the open ocean could be monotonous but truly it is quite varied. Firstly in the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) the weather is very changeable with squalls to calm to good sailing winds which meant lots of sail changes to keep up best sailing speed. From full plain sail with Yankee, Staysail and Mainsail, to wing and wing, to flying the big blue drifter.

For other entertainment there is spotting birds, whales and flying fish. We saw Sperm Whales (confirmed by our Whale book) and nearer Majuro we spotted Pilot Whales. Terns, White Tailed Tropic Birds and Red Footed Boobies were common. It was great to watch the development of tropical squalls and amazing looking vertical cloud formations which hopefully didn't pass over us. As we got nearer the Marshalls and Kiribati we saw quite a few Purse Seine fishing trawlers and their on-board helicopters. One particular day, not a boat in sight, we noticed a chopper making a bee-line for us....they flew really low across the water towards the boat, did a tight circuit, waved and saluted, then returned to wherever they had come from.

Purse Seine fishing trawler near Kiribati

Impellor repair on last leg

Ants retrieving a halyard on last leg

I found I relaxed into the sea journey and having Brian as crew enabled me to take to my bunk whenever I was uncomfortable with the motion. Brian was a gentleman throughout the trip and we both appreciated having him on board. Ants did the cooking as he seems almost bombproof towards the motion of the boat. Between the three of us plenty of books were read and lots of chat...and one movie night!

The equator crossing was celebrated late at night at 7 knots with a couple of glasses of port kindly donated by Don Duffy (KI friend) and a big feed of chocolate. Unfortunately I was bunk bound and waited for the following day to celebrate.

7 knots across the equator

Ants raising his glass of port after crossing the equator

We had plenty of time to look at the statistics of the trip so here are a few numbers for those who might be interested in that side of things:
A bad phone photo of a table from our Android tablet of trip stats

It seemed no time at all after this that we found ourselves sailing past Milli atoll, at 8 knots (favourable wind and current). this was our first view of the Republic of the Marshall islands. Milli looked tantilisingly tropical with tall palm trees perched on little motus (islands) with waves crashing on the reef.
One of the islands of  Milli atoll

An interesting way to sell a quad bike in Santo!

Kerry's last night in Santo

The dinghy landing in Santo
We arrived in Majuro in 11 days and 22.5 hours out of Santo. Ants had written a post it note before we left Sydney to say the last leg would take 11-12 days. Once again according to plan!!
A common equatorial cloud formation showing really high vertical development

A note from Ants. It is really unusual for us to cruise/sail to a timetable and it was amazing how this whole trip went almost exactly to plan. We met crew at the right time and place. The right weather arrived as if we had ordered it and Break Free performed at her best. Our breakages/ breakdowns were limited to a couple of impellors, a spinnaker block at the top of the mast and a CV joint needing lubrication. Trev the trim tab auto pilot was a great addition to the crew, he ate little (less than one amp), never complained and steered 95% of the way. On a personal note I have had psoriasis for forty years and by Sydney it was nearly gone and now in Majuro I have clear skin for the first time since my teens!! (I must be at my relaxed best when I'm sailing).

In our next post we will tell you about the joys of Majuro!
Cheers Ants and Jane