Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spat out and a tast of whiskey

Land folk will never understand what mariners do to prepare for ocean passages, you need to be slowly initiated into the drills, checks and procedures to cross oceans and travel to foreign countries by sea.
And even then after years of experience there is always the two big sighs, Thank God the work is done, and Thank God we have departed.
Picking the right weather wind to depart for a sailing boat has its challenges, unlike a yacht race which has a set time and day, we get the flexibility to choose, and that isn't necessarily a good thing, because human nature is that we are always looking for a weather window that is better than what we are looking at and seeing, and you could sit in port for months just waiting for the "perfect"New Zealand and Nelson were an interesting stop for Xplore, we had some long days in preparation, and a tough nut to crack with an issue with our battery banks which had seemed to take a turn for the worse on the crossing from Tasmania.Harbor master Dave Duncan, and local sailing heroine AKA "Pirate Pearl" were the cream of the cake, and who shine as true Kiwi's, and Chuck the marine sparky came to the rescue at the death knock when they other incompetent knuckle heads were still sitting around scratching their asses was a gem.For me as skipper port stops are always tiring, too much to arrange in a strange place and never enough hours in the day, but the help and work by the crew went superbly, Wayne, Alexis and Norman slogged away at their parts of the work list and we departed on time.One departure that we all didn't like to see happen though was from Wayne, the gutsy, tenacious, resourceful and forever calm and patient little red head had his heart strings pulled just a little too far from his girl friend back there in Tasmania, which just goes to show that love can be bigger than the whole South Pacific ocean, we all on board will miss him greatly.We departed New Zealand at first light on the 29th of February and weaved our way through the myriad of island chains that link the south island to the Cook Straits, that then lead us to the door way of the South Pacific, the forecast gave us calm but fast sailing in the first day with a daily run of 207 nautical miles being deemed "very respectable" by all on board.One of the crew though didn't secure one of his personal bottles of whiskey very well, and as soon as we were stonking along in a fresh northerly down Cook Straits, his bottle of plonk and his box of bits came flying from his cabin and were smashed to pieces, whiskey in the bilges isnt the nicest smell, so he spent the afternoon cleaning, normally a token of whiskey is poured into the sea as a request to Neptune for safe travels, this time the dram of whiskey first had to clean the bilges !Stronger winds are now still taking us east fast, but a lump sea state and a substantial low pressure cell hot on our heals makes for careful nervousness. Stephen

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