Lat: 29 26.163
Long: 176 33.048

Less than 400 miles to go! I use the exclamation point in keeping with my recent attempts to be the crew cheerleader. This is not our favorite passage, as you might imagine. The wind has eased up, and the motion is better than it was, but for the last three days, the moderate winds have been aimed right on the nose, resulting in less progress and more discomfort. We’ve been able to maintain 4-5 knots of speed motorsailing for the last couple of days, though, so it is starting to look like we just might get there sometime soon. Despite the slow pace, I’m still glad that we opted for a little boredom on this passage instead of gales, terror, etc.

In fact, I’ve been pretty content throughout this passage, since I don’t get seasick. A cruiser back in Tonga claimed that seasickness is somehow related to one’s fear of the sea, but this is baloney (although anxiety would probably exacerbate the stomach discomfort). Everything I have read and observed suggests that seasickness is related to the inner ear and is genetic (although some cruisers have used exercises to improve balance with positive effects and others have strategies that help them feel better at sea). I don’t take this bit of good fortune for granted, as I am able to read and relax and think about things beyond how miserable I’m feeling or when we are going to finally get there.

One of the books we have on board is about a family of five who sailed their 33′ steel boat to Iceland and other parts of the Arctic. (“Into the Light” is the book, “Iceblink” is the very interesting PBS documentary that can be found online). It describes the mother, Jaja, passing her time on sleepy night watches by thinking of a year in her life and trying to recall everything she can about that year. Since reading that, I’ve been doing it to some extent, and it’s pretty amazing how much you can remember, how one memory leads to a chain of others, etc. It’s fun to share the memories as well. Yesterday we got into a conversation about our first cars (and their demise). It turns out that Tiff and Dallas had the same first car–a copper-colored, mini-hatchback Honda Accord that they named “Abe” and “Rhonda the Honda”, respectively. Dallas’ car developed quite an oil-burning problem and could be identified by its plume of trailing smoke.

When we’re not talking about the past, we’re usually talking about the immedidate future (i.e., New Zealand for Dallas, Wes, and I, Houston for Tiff). We’ve already made a list of the foods that we’ll be getting at the grocery store in NZ, as our supplies of fake meat and produce are just about gone (rice ‘n beans, anyone?). I am really excited about the prospect of shopping at a supermarket with diverse options at reasonable prices after spending the last 5 months provisioning in stores with no more than 2-3 rows of overpriced canned goods! Tiff is also excited about the food that will be available back home and thinks that Chick-Fil-A will be her first stop.

Beyond food, Dallas and I have been talking about how we will spend our days in NZ during the 6-month cyclone season. Dallas will be working 40 hours a week remotely for an engineering company back in CA, so I will have a lot of free time. Dallas has reminded me that there is plenty to do in terms of boat maintenance, and as fun as that sounds, I’m also planning to practice wind-surfing and to get a part-time job teaching or something in order to get a break from the boat and add to the cruising kitty. We are planning to spend the weekends exploring the beautiful and diverse natural habitats of NZ by car. The marina where we are planning to keep the boat is just a couple of hours from Tongariro National Park, for example, home to three active volcanic mountains!

Tiff flies home from Auckland on Nov. 23, so with any luck, we’ll be in NZ by then! Actually we are on track to arrive in Opua early next week, after which we will spend a few days hopping along the east coast down to Auckland.