Lat: 16 13.391′ S
Lon: 154 16.040′ E

We’re into our 6th day and making good time. We’ve been talking twice daily with S/V Imagine and S/V Anima on the SSB and we learned the other day that there’s a $275 overtime charge if we arrive in Cairns outside normal business hours, so we’ve been racing to make it in before 4:30 on Friday. I normally take that sort of thing into account, but I forgot this time. So far, the cost of the second-hand radio has been worth it. We changed course to take a shortcut through some reefs and luckily the trades have been strong (20+ knots) so we’re having one of our faster passages. It was a bit rough the first night after changing course, but the motion is better now and we’re still averaging 6 knots or so. Making it in time on Friday looked doubtful originally, but now it’s looking possible.

colin2 We better get there fast!


Provisioning in Luganville resulted in a whole stalk of bananas for the passage (for about $3). We didn’t count them, but there must have been more than two hundred. We’ve had bananas to snack on, banana bread, banana pancakes with banana sauce, French toast with banana syrup, crepes with Nutella and banana, … you get the idea. I really like bananas, but I think it’s the last stalk we’ll have for a while, and if we manage to make use of them without having to toss many it’s going to be a major achievement for the cooks as well as for our banana-saturated palates.

Catching live food hasn’t worked out as well. We’ve passed several Asian fishing vessels, but haven’t had a bite since we left Vanuatu and lost the lure we were using. We’d gotten pretty accustomed to getting a tuna every time we put the line out. Unfortunately, two large seabirds have met their end in the wind generator blades in the last couple of days. It’s never happened before, but last night a second one flew into the port wind generator around sunset. Apparently it was trying to land on the wind generator and couldn’t see the blades. Colin and I had the sad job of fishing it out of the dinghy with an oar and a boat hook and tossing it into the drink. Amazingly, the wind generator blades seem to be OK. We told S/V Imagine, who are headed toward the Torres Strait, and they’ve also had birds on deck and perched at the stern recently which is rare for them as well.

It won’t feel official until we’re through the Torres Strait, but we’ve officially crossed the Pacific for the 2nd time. If we’d gone west from New Zealand we would have been in the Tasman Sea instead of the Pacific Ocean and once we left Vanuatu, we’ve been in the Coral Sea, where we’ll stay until we’re through the Torres Strait. A couple of days ago we reached the 1/3 mark, as measured by longitude, in our attempt to sail around the world. I chose it as the day to shave. I think it was the first time I’d shaven since I got back from the US and Lauren was glad to see several months of scruff disappear. It’s hard to believe we’re going to try to do the remaining 2/3 in less than a year. This month is the first of a 4-5 month stretch where we need to average about 2000 nm a month to make South Africa by the start of the cyclone season in November. For us, 2000 nm a month means 14-20 days of each month spent at sea, so we’re grateful for every day that we keep up a good speed and cover a lot of miles. Yesterday we covered about 156 nm, which is averaging over 6 knots and is near the high end for us. We’re learning to deal with the added motion of keeping up a reefed mainsail in addition to just the jib in strong winds in order to get some extra speed and thinking a bit more in terms of the time of the passage.

It’s a little sad to be leaving the world of the Pacific islands behind us, with their Polynesian and Melanesian cultures, friendly people, beautiful islands, clear, warm water, and slower, simpler way of life. When we’re at sea, I chart the equivalent of a noonsight on a pilot chart, which is a large-scale chart showing the average weather conditions for one month of the year for the South Pacific Ocean. It reminded me that just over a year ago we arrived in Hiva Oa in the Marquesas and started our first real Pacific island experience. It’s been an unforgettable year that we’ll be reminiscing about for a long time.