08 October, 2006

Tough leg


Tonga is lovely, but we haven’t seen much of it yet. We’ve been a bit overcome by rain and stormy weather, not to mention work that has to be done.

The work is due to an unusually trying trip down from Samoa. I don’t know how I really want to describe it: It was not comfortable. Honestly, it was the worst leg I’ve ever done. The devil was in the cockpit with us draping us with poor fortune and weather.

It took us 8 days to travel 300 miles, a distance I could usually do in just 2 ½. The wind was strong and directly in front of the boat. The waves weren’t so large, but steep and continually breaking on the boat, flowing through the companionway and into the cabin.

The continual beating caused old gaskets to fail, so water started coming through leeward port lights (windows) and even down the running light wire. Water found all sorts of new and extravagant ways into the boat.

Islands kept getting in our way, making navigation tenuous. The weather was so bad that staying out on watch (as to not hit the islands) was nightmarish. Everytime we’d even stick a head out to check Poseidon would generally find a way to send a breaker at that exact moment to give us a salty cold shower.

It was cold, cold and wet. We hove-to to wait for better weather but it was hopeless. It was a stationary trough, 25 knots out of the SE. We gave it up after two to three days of going backwards 50 miles.

It shouldn’t have been so rough, but somehow it was. Araby is just so wet close-hauled. And Tonga was dead upwind. The second day we made good only 35 miles (in a straight line, while we sailed great zig-zags).

I was due.

It was time for a rough one. So many others have had such bad fortune and I’ve been so lucky for so long. But now I’ve had my day; I’ve had it and I’ve come through okay.

We came very very close to going onto a reef. It was truly terrifying; one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had aboard any boat. This part of the story requires much more than I am going to give it today. But another time I’ll tell it properly. But let it be said that I was tested thoroughly. I only passed by the skin of my teeth.

I broke my boom in 12 knots of wind—this was long before the bad weather—this was just after leaving Apia. Strange thing. Not even a bad jibe; residual damage I suppose. So the whole trip we did with the trys’le (the tri- is a storm sail, not good for going up wind).

But breaking a boom is a bit of a big deal. It will be an important fix for the next passage to NZ. They also can be very expensive to replace if you don’t find a cheap solution. (Up to seven grand—but as cheap as $500, or maybe free if I’m lucky.) For now, I need a sleeve and some rivets. The replacement will be in NZ.

For now, drying the boat. (The rain isn’t helping). Fixing the boom (when it stops raining). Then we will get some local charts and start moving around and see some anchorages and do some more diving. I did see a sea snake and another moray at a sort of “refuge” anchorage just inside the archipelago.

I did many silly silly things, a few stupid things—but Araby came through. We came through. Will was tough and steady. He never freaked out or lost his cool. He caught a stomach flew and was down for several days. Beforehand he did wear out the fish: we caught four fish in two days. A good haul: two barracuda and a wahoo and a mahimahi. We ate well. Canned a bunch, made some jerky, ate some sushi. That was the sunshine of the trip. Every trip has a positive. And Tonga is a fine destination after a long haul. Many friends and good food here as well. Clear water.

Till next time. Namaste


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