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Thursday, August 28, 2008

In Transit

Our first day out wasn't too bad. We had good winds on and off and then into the night the winds died and squalls built. We got real wet, surprisingly chilled and ended up motoring until morning. We began chasing the winds; getting about 10 miles off of our rhumb line, yet managed to stay within VHF range of Syren and Ahu. Syren lost their autopilot not far out of Rarotonga and are forced to hand steer. We are so fortunate that most everything is working well on Destiny. There is a gennaker
halyard that has worn to the point that it is frayed so we (Frank) will have to do something about that before we can fly it next. We are doing the 3-4-3 night shifts again, me taking the 3-hour watches. The sliver of a moon doesn't rise until about 4:30 AM which makes for a very dark night, but when the skies are clear the stars are brilliant! I was watching for falling stars when at around 11PM something started dancing across the back deck. When I turned on the deck light I noticed that a
6 ft. 1x6 board we have our portable propane tank sitting on had dislodged and was sliding around back there, dragging the tank which was tied loosely to the rail. I felt a churn in the pit of my stomach knowing that I had to get back there to do something about it, and of course the waves were now pitching us from side to side! I am such a total coward when it comes to these things, but I sent up a quick prayer of protection and tethered myself to the life line and went out there feeling surprisingly
secure and calmed. I duck walked out there, secured the board and the tank and then butt-slid back to the cockpit steps. These are times I am so glad we are not on reality TV! On my second shift, just before dawn at about 6:15 AM, I got a major thrill (was this my treat for being brave earlier?), when the sky forward of us lit up in a dramatic flash, and then exploded into bright colors as a meteorite smashed through the atmosphere. It trailed sparks for a good bit and then extinguished just
as quickly as it had appeared. Wow! I felt like calling everyone and asking - did you see that! But I just relished it and got all mushy with God, thanking Him for the experience, and then sat alert and poised for the next one in case it came. But that was the end of the show- the grand finale just before a beautiful South Pacific sunrise.

Our second day (Wed.) was what sailors like us live for. The winds and seas were fair and comfortable. The sails were happy and full and we enjoyed a beautiful sky-blue day of cruising. Frank took in the threadbare halyard, cut off the frayed portion and reattached it so that we could fly the chute (gennaker), and were happy campers. While the seas were calm I went down for an afternoon nap. When I returned topside, Frank told me that the piece called the "car" on the mainsail that takes the
sail in and out on the boom (to furl and unfurl the sail) had broken and he fixed it with a jury-rig and a bowline knot. We have partial use of the main now and probably until we get to New Zealand. Around 6 PM just when we were losing our wind the clouds began to build and darken. Time for evening squalls again. They delivered as predicted and we locked and loaded for another wet night. This one was very uncomfortable, as we entered the squall zone the seas came at us from every direction
(those Gemini winds and seas again!) tossing us back and forth and side to side. We decided neither of us would get much rest so we set up 2-hour watches and stayed in radio contact with the two other boats. At full darkness the phosphorescence which we haven't seen much of since before the Marquesas has reappeared and is brighter than ever. It was so vivid that we would see waves completely lit up as though handfuls of stars were being tossed up by Neptune and his minions. I never tire of leaning
over the cockpit to watch the underwater show of sparkles and bright flashes. This is just so amazing we wish we could share the experience with our family and friends but don't have a way to capture this phenomenon on film.

It is now Thursday morning and we have learned from the morning net (radio network) that we are one of 9 boats headed for Niue, all arriving within 24 hours of one another. There are 14 moorings in Niue and it is presently full, so unless several boats depart there by Sat, we may be forced to push onward to Tonga earlier than planned. But we will wait and see what Saturday holds for us. We still have 350 miles to go to reach Niue. Who knows that those miles will bring, eh? We are again without
wind and under power of the engine but at least it is a beautiful day.

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