Thursday, June 23, 2011

Great Balls of Fire

Sailing into electrical storms at night is something that land lubbers will never understand, and quite understandably, and you would have to ask the question of reason and sanity about why silly old sailors would do such a thing ?

Wellllllll, you see there are weather systems that you want to be on the right side of and there's the other side that just isn't going in the right direction, so you have to pick one or the other, sounds quite simple.

So last night we picked the right side of the system, but there is a down side to that, lightning, thunder, very strong gusty winds and heavy rain ! hmm you ask, doesn't sound very smart at all.

Every weather system is fed by external and upper atmosphere air masses which have different characteristics, and some times these don't mix that well or get along nicely, a bit like putting some guys from the Hells Angels in with a bunch of gay ballet dancers, you just know that there is going to be a fight.

The fight didn't last that long, and I am not sure who won, but it was spectacular. There we were sailing along and I was watching the winds start to creep back from the North, I just said to Jane that we would put the last (4th) reef in as it was feeling more unsettled and there was another, even darker cloud mass coming, and as we went to do this, ga boom !

Within seconds the winds went from mid 20's into the 30's and then 40's, we banged on the auto pilot buttons for 50 degrees course change as I ran back to the helm to tak it manually, Jane was dumping the main sheet and the winds peaked, and the torrential rain came bucketing down, we had to get off the wind to ease the pressure.

All hands on deck, as Audrey felt the sudden change from her bunk, tearing away down wind the girls fought with the main and brought it down and under control.

The lightening bolts and thunderous booms from the electrical storm directly above us was incredible, it was all happening very fast and there wasn't even a moment to shut the computer systems down, to do up your jacket or to even consider whether we would be hit by the lightening.

The crack of the whip noises, and the great balls of fire as the white fists from heaven came sparkling down left everyone awe struck and totally sodden with rain and perspiration, job done, boat fine, everyone safe.

Postion 37 03 S 167 42 E speed 7.2 knots course 242 true 1003nm to the Tamar River and Tasmania

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bug City

Your skin crawls with tingling shudders. You scratch so hard that the pain is nearly enjoyable. The nights are so long because sleep never comes, only the insects that silently drill holes into your skin. In day light the horror of the nights animal feasting becomes apparent. The lumps, welds and scars cover any, and every part of your body. Tucking into bed is no longer a pleasure, just the start of yet another execution session.

New Zealand, and its stunning Bay of Islands is a delightful place. One of the most important part of that delight is the incredibly warm, friendly and helpful people.

We have now spent a week in the harbor town of Opua, and the weather gods have tugged at our mooring lines stronger today, just to remind us of our plan and dream to finally sail Xplore into Beauty Point there in Tasmania for winter.

We leave the Bay of Islands and Bug City with smooth seas and a sunny sky, still scratching from the onslaught from the sand flies that they call "Midges"


Monday, June 13, 2011

Thered be sheep in them hills

The feelings of making land fall to any sailor are always very strong, the longer the voyage the stronger the feelings.

We left Punta Arenas Chile on the 16th of April and we are now just about to enter the port of Opua in the Bay of Islands New Zealand, it will be the 14th of June, a smidge under two months and 7,500 nautrical miles later.

The land of the Long White Cloud (New Zealand) is also reknowned for their sheep, millions of them, more sheep than the total population !

Many of the Xplore team have been to these shores before, but for each and everyone of us this marks end of the Pacific crossing. Many of the team will continue through to Tasmania, but some will depart here in New Zealand.

For most people the thought of traveling such as distance by sea is far too daunting, and the thought of being together on one relatively small boat with 8 people is inconceivable. But those who have sailed long ocean miles will always tell you that the days slip by much faster than you think, and that there is always something to do, to look at and to think about.

More news to come as we wash the salt from our clothes, put on some street gear and taste the foods and beverages of the Long White Cloud.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sweet Sister Sue, I fell in love today

Oh dear sister Sue, what can I tell you, I dont know how it happened but I fell in love today.

She's such an incredible woman, with curves and hips that send me quite wild, she moves so sweet and being with her everyone turns their eyes to stare at our grace.

I feel so good being by her side, I feel like a man when she is tucked under my arm.

She purr's and sings in such a sweet way, I now know how a woman can be when she's content and at ease with me.

For years I have looked for this woman, and for so long I didnt realise that she was there right next to me.

As friends in the past we have taken great paths, rough and extreme, much of the world that we have seen.

But today she has opened my eyes, and let me be the person that I have always wanted to be, the smile that rises on my face is the proof that true love is really in place.

Stephen and Xplore South Pacific 12 knots true wind, 38 apparent, 8.2 knots boat speed, 1/2 meter smooth swell