Sunday, September 04, 2005

A long night at sea

So I was sitting in Suva Harbor aboard Alan's boat, about to have dinner. Tony, a young british guy who's sailing across the Pacific solo (after his girlfriend who convinced him to get the boat bailed at the Marqueses, the first stop after Mexico, and by far the longest leg of the trip) had been coming over almost every evening, and said he was finally getting out of Suva and going to Nadi & Musket Cove for the regatta there next (this) week. He's a bit strapped for cash, so I made him an offer to crew for him for the cost of fuel, food, etc., about $100. He snatched at it, and we were off first thing the next morning (after my head wounding.)

The winds were dead east, and we were heading southeast, and then east once we rounded Beqa (mBenga) island. The seas, 6 - 8 feet were slopping over port stern occasionally, and of course I got seasick right after breaking the rudder.

Actually, they've gotten smart nowadays, and when a hard pull to starboard meets a hard wave coming from the port stern, a clamp comes loose and the rudder doesn't break. But it doesn't work either, until you put the clamp back on and center the rudder and tighten it.

Easier said than done, especially when your inexperienced mate at the helm is having trouble telling right from left, or up from down, and all he wants is to pop, but he's only had a sour little
apple all morning, and his head is spinning.

But we made it eventually. Only the autohelm wasn't working. Oh well, it's only about a 24 hour trip, and once we turn east, we'll have the swell directly behind us and it won't be as rough, and once we get away from Suva, it'l stop raining. And the autohelm will work once the seas aren't so rough.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Okay, it was about a 24 hour trip, but we made it in 18, like a bat out of hell with the wind at our back. We waited around in front of the passage until morning so we could have good light to see the reefs. And then puttered our way in to Lautoka to arrive around 11. Twentey four hours straight. Constant rain, rough seas, gusty wind, and cold. About 50 degrees at night and soak from rain and seas over the cockpit. As we rounded the west end of Viti Levu about 5am, the waves got warmer and at sunrise, the sun came up and the seas started calming.

I was beat, even though I'd snuck a few minutes nap here and there. Tony did about 75% of the steering after about midnight when the fatigue hit me. I couldn't hold a course or think straight about how to turn the wheel. But then, after dawn, when you could actually see landmarks to steer by, I took the helm all the way in to Momi bay, where it was calm, and the autopilot started working.

You'll see how nackered I was when you see the video.


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At 5/9/05 1:43 AM, Blogger Chris said...

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