Lat: 24 27.310′ S
Lon: 179 53.071′ W

Well, I can stand up and walk around without puking, which is nice. We made Minerva Reef in less than three and a half days, which is great time for us, but decided not to stop since our progress was good and the weather forecast looked like we could avoid rough weather on the way to New Zealand if we keep moving. The wind has been pretty fresh until today (in the 20 knot range), and we’ve alternated between just the headsail and the headsail with a single-reefed main depending on the conditions.

Yesterday we had a little bit of a scare. There is a small water leak into the starboard engine room that seems to occur only during passages, probably from water being forced back in the bilge pump hose. It just happens that the two engine room bilge pump switches have lights that indicate when they’re pumping automatically due to the float switch being activated and when I came in from working with the starboard engine bilge, I noticed that the port engine bilge was pumping and not turning off. That was odd, so I looked in the engine room and it did have a fair amount of water in it. I crawled down inside to have a looked and felt water streaming over my foot. Worse yet, I saw that it was from a fresh water hose leftover from the old rusted water heater we had removed in Florida. A hose clamp on a barbed T-fitting had come loose and gravity had pulled the barb away from the hose. We have a pressure water system, so the fresh water pump was merrily pumping all of our fresh water into the oily bilge while the bilge pump worked to pump it out into the ocean! This has always been one of my fears surrounding pressure fresh water (and no working watermaker). Through pure luck, we caught it in time and didn’t lose too much water. We do carry enough fresh water in jugs that we could have made it through with rationing, and there are also opportunities on this passage to rendezvous with another boat to transfer water in an emergency. We now have the water pump turned off unless we’re drawing water, and I’ll probably think that situation over a little more in NZ.

Just before reaching Minerva, we sailed over the Tropic of Capricorn, officially ending our time in the tropics this year. We sailed close enough to Minerva to pick up VHF radio traffic, and there was somebody hailing anyone who could hear to request a piece of stainless steel that they could use to make a repair. From what I could gather, they had broken part of their mainsail reefing apparatus. We had a suitable piece and let them know, but luckily they were able to find something from someone anchored inside the reef so we didn’t have to stop.

This morning, at around 24.5 degrees south, the wind is much lower. Wes raised the main on his watch, and I just shook out the reef to try to get us back up above 4 knots. We’ll grab an updated weather forecast today, but it looks like there is going to be a lot of light wind and wind on the nose starting tomorrow or so. We’re hoping to be able to sail close-hauled for all but two or three days of the trip by sailing west of the rhumb line to 175E 30S and then back toward Opua. It’s a technique that Jimmy Cornell recommends and based on the last GRIB file, it’s looking like a good approach for this week. At some point we’ll probably have to fire up the engines and motor for a couple of days.

Now that we’re all settled in a little better, we’re trying to eat up as much of the fresh fruit and veggies as possible before they go bad and because they’ll be confiscated in New Zealand anyway. Lauren turned a papaya into papaya crisp yesterday, and our pineapples are disappearing as well. Today may be the day for a delicious green coconut breakfast drink. Books are also being devoured, and fortunately we stocked the library well enough before leaving that everybody has something new and interesting to read.