26/06/2013 - 12/07/2013 »» page 2/3 »»
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9. day - 04/07/2013 - Thursday
The last 200 nautical miles takes longer than we originally thought it would take. A few days ago we enjoyed our trip at the trade wind zone. There was blue sky, sunshine and beautiful sunrise. We traveled a lot to north to minimize the impact of the New Zealand low. However, the South Pacific Convergence Zone (similar to the doldrum and brings variable winds and conditions), which is usually more to the north, came down to Fiji and connected to the low. There is a beaufort 5 east northerly (above 21 knots) plus gusts.
|Auto without pilot|
In the morning everything was grey. We try to beat the 25-30 knots of head wind, but we sail very slowly into it. In the morning the wind has dropped and we tried to motor into it. It was good until the next wind gust came (mtoring in big swell is not so pleasant). We trim the sails instead and we do not really want too much deviation from our course. There is no difference between hour and hour and we can only think about trimming the sails. During the night the wind dropped for a while with a big remaining swell. It was badly rolly. There is no moon now and it is very dark we cannot even see the squalls. The gusts always comes as a surprise. The bioluminescences are amazing in the waves.
Based on the midnight position we still have 96 nautical miles to go to Minerva.
00:00 25-59.89S 179-26.80E log= 44487.2
10. day - 05/07/2013 - Friday
The stormy weather continued with gusts (35 knots). The swell was now flat. With the north easterlies we could make 2-2.5 knots only to direction with the engine. The rain washed down the salt from the boat so now we could see through the windows.
|Another grey cloud|
At lunchtime we sat into the cockpit covered with the dodger and with a relaxing tea in one hand and a ginger cookies in the other and we watched the low passing by. With a 35 knots of gust the wind turned into westerly that we could have used to sail to Minerva. However, it did not last long. By night the north-east wind arraive again, but it was weaker than before. We could use our engine now in the squalls.
Interesting that we have crossed the Meridian (180th). Our position shows 179 West instead of the East for a couple of days before heading to Fiji.
Based on the midnight position we only have 34 nautical miles left to go to Minerva.
00:00 24-48.40S 179-54.10E log= 44562.8
11. day - 06/07/2013 - Saturday, Minerva
At 2 am we were just sailing next to the South Minerva when the AIS (Automatic Identification System) showed a boat. It was surely waiting for the right time to get into the atoll. (Atoll is an uplifted coral formation elevated by now dormant volcanic activity.) The South Minerva looks like a shape of an infinity symbol from birds eyes view. It has one entrance and an outside anchorage at the north. The boat was waiting outside at the south hiding from the north-easterly wind. This atoll is not as spacious as the north and has several coral heads with deep anchorages. We continued our trip to the North Minerva which is circular in shape. Our last 30 miles of our trip was not even easy in the weakening head wind. We needed to bag the genoa (pulled towards the wind, to stabilise the boat), the windvane was adjusted accordingly, and then started the engine.
|We are ready to enter the atoll|
In the morning we enjoyed a pleasant trip to the right direction, but we started to see an immense black cloud. It had arrived before we reached the North Minerva atoll. It was again the impact of the South Pacific Convergence Zone in the northerly winds. This brought a strong wind and waves from the north-east. The entrance of the North Minerva reef is situated at the north-west. We made a little circle at the entrance, but we found chaotic big waves in the north-easterlies. Also we felt that the boat was drawn into the atoll due to the high tide (at 8 am). This was not a good sign and we like to be in charge of the boat. Therefore we backed quickly from the entrance to stop the strengthening currents and with a fast turnaround we left the entrance. Based on the books you should only enter an atoll when the weather conditions are good and there is no cloud and the wind is not too strong, the sun should be from behind and someone should watch the coral heads with preferably polarised sunglasses. In these conditions we only had the polarised sunglasses. Minerva did not want us to enter, that is all. So we decided to go behind the reef to avoid the big waves and have a rest on a drifting boat. We were tired from the changing weather conditions, lack of sleep and setting the sails continuously in the last couple of days. We were thinking to head towards Fiji immediately, despite of our battle against the wind in the last couple of days. However wonderful thing happened while we were resting. The wind suddenly became easterly, the clouds opened and finally we could see the sun again. We were waiting a bit to see if the change would last long enough. The northerly waves disappeared and started to come from the east. Minerva finally surrendered and we entered according to the study books (in low tide around lunch time). We were the only boat in the coral reef circle. We anchored in an atoll, hundreds of kilometers away from the land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Based on the midnight position we are in the middle of the North Minerva atoll surrounded by coral reefs.
|Breaking waves next to the entrance||Breaking waves||Ship wreck|
|Rotor in the middle of the atoll||Rotor in the middle of the atoll||Rotor in the middle of the atoll|
|Ruby is ready for launch||Arrival||Moroccan lamb |
12. day - 07/07/2013 - Sunday, Minerva
We celebrated our arrival with Moroccan lamb and Hungarian pancake. Hard to take any photos of the atoll, because the only thing that can be seen is the reef and only in low tide (in hight tide only the breaking waves can be seen a bit). The satelite image shows the shape of the atoll. We only hear that the waves are breaking on the reef. We see the sunsets and sunrises from the same spot as there are no trees or hills. The place is a bit surrealistic. You know that you are in the middle of anything.
|Rotor trip inside and outside of the atoll|
|The captain's Hungarian pancake|
|Checking the pressure water|
A number of boats wrecked on Minerva so we snorkeled to see one. The part looked like a boat cemetery. In the superb water clarity we only saw coral heads, some fish, giant clams, and one smaller shark. By the way there are no birds or insects either. We are too far from land.
The atoll is about 5.6 km in diameter, but it is insignificant in size in the middle of the ocean. However its history is interesting so we did a quick summary here. It got its name from the Minerva whaling ship, which wrecked at South Minerva. In 1972 the Republic of Minerva issued a declaration of independence (it is uninhabited). A millionaire from Las Vegas attempted to create a society without tax or any form of economic interventionist. The new nation was to live from tourism, fishing, light industry and commerce. Sand was brought from Australia, bringing the reef level above the water, to create an artificial island. In 1972 a conference of the neighboring states (Australia, New-Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa and the Cook Islands) recognized Tongas claim over Minerva. In 1982 a group of Americans tried to occupy the reefs, but were forced off by Tongan troops in 3 weeks. In 2005 Fiji claimed Minerva, but Tonga lodged a counter claim. In 2010 Fijian Navy destroyed the navigation lights at Minerva and it was repeated in 2011 after replacement. During this conflict boats were not allowed to visit Minerva. Before and after this conflict it is still a pleasant place to avoid the stormy weather from and to New Yealand.
00:00 23-57.40S 179-25.80E log= 44620.0
|Snorkeling||Rotor, Minerva||Ship wreck|
|With the wrecked boat||Jumping into the dinghy||Stone with clam|
|Swimming||Back to Rotor||Anxious about the reefs|
13. day - 08/07/2013 - Monday, MinervaThe climate here is subtropical. This is the coolest season and it is 26 degrees. The sea is very refreshing as well. We anchored off the east part of the North Minerva, but made a trip to the south part to look at the sand platform, which was made in the 70s. The ocean reclaimed this part already and only a little sand bar remained. There is also a light tower, which is operational.
We like to snorkel in low tide here as the water is much calmer in these hours. At high tide the anchorage rolls a bit because the ocean waves overcome the reef. We use this time to fix little things on the boat such as fixing the the uv protection of the sails, washing shoes from salty water etc. We also try to gain back the calories we lost from the trip.
00:00 23-37.69S 178-53.89W log= 64292.5
|Torn UV protection||Fixing UV protection||One more plaster|
|Torn main ||Fixed main||Good plaster|
|One more plaster||Some more plasters||Minerva|
|Minerva||Like on the Moon||Just one jump|
|The water is really warm here||Back to Rotor||Rotor, Minerva|
14. day - 09/07/2013 - Tuesday, Heading towards Fiji
In the morning we saw a fishing boat doing a circle inside and then outside of the atoll. It had a French flag so could be from New Caledonia. The lobsters are famous at Minerva so it could be after them. There were more at least before the fishing industry.
We loaded down the weather forecast. Then at around lunchtime the predicted south-easterly wind with 20 knots arrived. We decided to leave Minerva very fast due to the rising wind from the weekend. We prepared the boat within two hours (including a lunch and shower). At 2pm we headed towards Fiji. The fisherman of the fishing boat watched us to leave. It was a nice farewell. We would like to check in at Savusavu at Fiji. We set the sails for the southeasterlies with twin genoas. Having the wind from behind offeres a convenient journey (not as bumpy) and we only need to reef the genoa in case of any squalls appear.
We have all together 433 nautical miles to go to Savusavu. Based on our midnight position we have 379 nautical miles left from this leg. We also crossed the Tropic of Capricorn today..
|Minerva||Spinakker boom||Fishing boat|
|When a hauling line flies||When a hauling line flies||Twin genoas|
15. day - 10/07/2013 - WednesdayToday we had a fast ride on the waves (the wind speed was above 20 knots).The waves are from behind. We have not adjusted the sails since setting them up. We had one tricky wave which visited our kitchen and both of us became wet.
Our average speed to direction was 5.7 knots. The boat performed above 6 knots for several hours. Our maximum speed was 11.9 knots surfing on a wave. (The night was cooler 22 Celsius, but the daily temperature was 25.5 Celsius.)
Based on our midnight position we have 242 nautical miles left to Savusavu.
00:00 22-49.09S 179-10.60W log= 64343.5
|Twin genoas||Waves from the back||Waves from the back|
|Waves from the back|
16. day - 11/07/2013 - Thursday, Land!We enjoyed a fabulous tropical sailing today. The wind dropped at dawn so we reset the sails for broad reaching. We tied the genoa to the end of the boom to avoid flapping. By early morning the ocean settled and there was only 12 knots of wind with sunshine and 26-27 Celsius.
We had enough fish in NZ to avoid fishing during our leg towards Minerva. In the last couple of days we were too fast to catch a smaller size fish. However, we run out of meat, so today we felt it is time to do some fishing. We caught a tuna that we ate for lunch and dinner.
We crossed the Meridian again (towards the East this time). At 3pm we saw the main island of Fiji (Viti Levu). We were 186 nautical miles away, but the highest point of the island is 1323 m. We crossed between the Matuka and Totoya islands, but the navigation light was out of order at Totoya, so we needed to keep a careful watch under the moonless sky (new moon sets just before 8pm).
Based on our midnight position we have 150 nautical miles left to Savusavu.
00:00 20-36.79S 179-47.59W log= 64480.2
17. day - 12/07/2013 - Friday, Koro SeaWe are cruising across the Koro Sea. The daily temperature is 30 degrees and the nightly is around 26. The end of this leg feels like a holiday on a cruise liner. We enjoy the hot weather, and eat a lot. Today we caught a tuna, which was 62 cms long. Unfortunately it came after lunch, so the fillets are now in the fridge.
We noticed that the navigation lights are generally out of order. We sailed next to a light house, which had not got lights on and passed Koro island which also did not have lights on despite of the signs of the maps. Maybe energy saving.
Based on our midnight position we have 38 nautical miles left to Savusavu.
00:00 19-05.50S 179-52.00E log= 84777.5
|Sunrise next to an island||Tuna||Tuna|
|Sunset||Before (just reminder)||After|
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