"Arctracer" Letters

New Caledonia to New Zealand, Nov 2002

We are making progress, but this will not be a brilliant passage. Our current position (noon, Saturday 23 November) is 27deg 45min South 165deg 06min East. We are 670 miles from Opua, New Zealand, and 637 miles from Brisbane, Australia. Maybe we are trying to go the wrong way, because the wind has been pushing us away from NZ ever since we left New Caledonia. Oh well, we are now south of the normal trade winds, so we will get some favorable winds sometime.

The first day we had 20-25 knot winds and quite lumpy seas, as we expected. We made decent progress with mainsail and staysail, and gradually things got better. The wind was down below 20 knots by the second day, and the sea was calmer. We unrolled our jib and started making good progress. You may remember that this jib is an old one, borrowed from a friend when our jib fell apart in Vanuatu. We used it from Vanuatu to Noumea, to the Loyalty Islands and back to Noumea, and it worked okay. Well, this jib tore very badly while we were sailing on the second morning of this passage. Oh well, it will be a slow passage. We have the staysail for strong winds, and our spinnaker plus a light air jib from the schooner, so we'll get there eventually.

Going up front to take down the torn jib, Jerry noticed that our daggerboard was gone. This board goes down through a "case" in our hull to stick down an extra 5 feet into the water and help keep us from being pushed sideways by the wind. We put the board down when we went out through the pass so we would make better progress upwind on this passage. Perhaps it hit something in the water? We think maybe the hollow daggerboard was cracked when a previous owner hit something and on this passage it slowly filled with water and became so heavy that it simply pulled itself down into the sea. We can only speculate about what happened and never will know for certain. We were fortunate that it did not seem to damage its case. We will have to get another one, but until then we will not sail quite as well upwind as normal. It's not a big problem.

The wind has gotten less and less, until now it is just a zephyr. We are in the middle of a big high-pressure area. We can motor a bit, but we will probably wait for a breeze. It's a time to relax and do some laundry, make bread, work on many of our charts that got wet and now need clear contact paper to hold the mildewed parts together, and do email. We caught a small tuna on the first day at 4:45 and Nina served tuna steaks at 5:15. Since then we've had tuna sandwiches for lunch.