Here is Peter putting in a 3rd reef in the sail before the worst of the gale. We rarely use our 3rd reef so it's not set up as a standard line. As he was tightening the line a wave rolled the boat and caused the boom to swing into him bruising his ribs. There is a lot of weight in our boom and sail and the momentum can really build up.
As the storm built we lowered the mails'l completely. While the mains’l was down, at the height of the gale, we noticed that one of our lazyjacks (the lines that hold the sail on the boom when it’s down) had broken at the first spreader. The loose line had wrapped itself across the main sail track and then around the top spreaders several times. With the line there we couldn’t raise the main sail. In big seas with dying winds we need to have the main up to keep the boat more stable and to keep moving forward so we had no choice but to go up the mast. As Peter had bruised his ribs reefing the main the day before it made sense for Ginger to go up the mast. With 20 – 25 knots of wind and 10 foot seas we picked the calmest moment and were ready with bosun’s chair, climbing harness and extra clothes for padding. When it’s rolling on deck it’s like riding a bull up the mast as it whips back and forth in the waves. It is imperative to cling to the mast because if you get shaken loose from the mast you would swing wildly and probably start breaking bones. Luckily the trip up the mast was just to the first spreaders and though it was an incredible workout hanging on to the mast the lazy jack was retrieved, untangled and a bowline was tied to another line to secure the top line until calmer waters.
The wind continued to moderate and the seas lessened somewhat as well. During the storm we were forced to head due north and as a result had to enter the lagoon on the east coast. The wind finally shifted as we approached the south end of New Caledonia providing light tail winds, a nice change from the headwinds we experienced the rest of the trip. We arrived off the entrance about 1AM and jogged back and forth until daylight and slack water. We had an uneventful and beautiful sail through the lagoon and Peter had time to go up the mast to repair the lazyjack. (No photos of Ginger up the mast as the operation was too dangerous to have a camera in hand!)
We arrived in Noumea in the early afternoon and found to our disappointment that the marina no longer provides one free night to arrivals from foreign ports. After a much drawn out radio conversation in French with inconclusive answers regarding clearing in at anchor we decided to just go in to the marina anyway. Formalities were all completed by 5:30P just in time to go to the bar for our 2 free beers, provided by the marina to new arrivals. We were joined by British sailors Ian and Kathy from Ariel, who had arrived here just the day before. We first met them in Niuatoputapu. It’s great to catch up with them and discuss our trip crossing the Indian Ocean as we’re both headed the same way and expect to see each other at some of the planned stops.
Once at the dock the clean-up began in earnest. We had so much salt water in the cabin from a small leak in the toe rail over the fridge that we decided the best course of action was to hose off all the cushions. This is a drastic measure rather like hosing off the couch so it was not undertaken lightly. They’re still sopping wet as we write but hopefully with some sun today Ian and Kathy won’t have to sit on wet cushions when they come to dinner tonight. (Turns out the two big cushions are open cell foam - like a sponge - and it will probably be a week before they're dry. Ian and Kathy sat on the cushion with a shower curtain for protection..)
We did all our urgent dock jobs, took a shower (!) and then headed off to the anchorage. We thought we needed to go to the consulate and then wait a couple of weeks to get our Australian visas but we were informed at the consulate that the visas could be completed on line. That was easily done, so we have our visas for Australia. Now we’re just working on the projects that put themselves at the top of our list on the last passage, exploring here a bit and then getting ready for the 1300 mile passage to Cairns, Australia.
Ginger had an adventure across town yesterday afternoon with Kathy that involved an hour walk back to the dinghy in a tropical downpour. Every stitch of clothing was soaked and the temps are cool enough that back on Marcy it was time for some very warm clothes. The trip itself was a success and some copper foil was obtained. Having spent much of the day in unsuccessful attempts it was a good find and the ground for the radio antenna will be reconnected today. Radio is important to us and without the copper we had no radio and no radio email! Internet is slow and expensive here so we may not have many photos until we get to Oz.
It’s great to be back in the tropics enjoying fragrant papaya, moderate temps and clear blue water. We can hardly wait to get away from the big city for a swim!
Our big news from home is that our daughter Lisa is going to nationals again this year with the UW Ultimate Frisbee Team! The UW team (Element!) is ranked first in the US and it’s an exciting time for her as it’s her last year of playing for the team before graduation this spring. This is the second time at nationals for her and this year Lisa has been nominated by her team for two prestigious awards. Read about it here:
We’ll be there in spirit to cheer her on, and we’ll check the scores from here with our precious internet time (at: www.upa.org)to see how the team is doing.
Labels: 2008 - 05 - 06 New Caledonia