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Friday, October 22, 2010

Oct 20th - 23rd - Passage From New Caledonia to Australia, Days 1 - 3

We awoke the morning of the 20th trying to decide whether to leave for Australia (OZ) or to wait another day. It was raining and the winds were really whipping up a chop outside. We decided to have breakfast and give it some more thought. I was anxious to get going - once we'd made the decision to leave on the 20th, I was psyched up. It's also something I can feel in my bones - no reason to wait another day, and it felt right to go. Frank agreed, so we waited for the storm to subside and at 11:00 AM, I went forward to cast off the mooring buoy. We made some calls to our children, parents and siblings back home on the Sat phone and said good-byes over the VHF to our "yachtie" friends, many of whom were departing for New Zealand. This was a farewell to Ivory Quays, Just In Time, Scallywag, Cop Out, Windflower and a few others. It has been a good season and a good time cruising with these wonderful Kiwis. We know that we will stay in touch with several of them. As I write this I am thinking of creating a list of the boats/friends we have met along the way and those we have cruised with; a list that will include where they are now or where we last parted company, which will be nice to look back on in the years and miles to come. This departure right now is a BIG goodbye for us. Time for Frank and I to begin new chapters and for Destiny to experience a new country. We are looking forward to reuniting with our Aussie friends.

Although we are participating in a rally, it is not an organized sail. We left by ourselves and will be checking in on a "sked" with the rally organizers out of Bundaberg every morning and night. The check in will require us to report our current location (lat and long), boat speed, wind speed, sea state and miles left to go (to reach Bundaberg). Bundaberg is north of Brisbane in Queensland. We have anticipated arriving at the marina around 2:30 Qld time on Monday, October 25th.

Our first 24 hours out of the chute was a splendiferous sail! We had 25+ knots on the beam and 1-2 meter following seas. It was fast and rough but we both took a Dramamine and tried to settle into the at sea rhythm of the boat and our bodies. Frank is posting his Captains Log Updates on his blog so I won't get into the technicalities. Anyone reading this can go check out his blog for the 411 there. Thank goodness I had pre-cooked all of our passage meals because the ride, being fast and furious was also tough on the below decks maneuvering. All we had to do was "heat'em up and eat'em up". The first night of watches was agony, trying to get into the 3-hour on/off routine.

Day 2 was again a very nice sail but a little rougher, but we made good progress. We spent most of the time holding on and reading books. I finished my first passage book and was onto the next one. By this time we have been sailing pretty closely with three other boats that left within 4 hours of us: Wind Pony (USA), Alliance (Aussie), and Bijou Verhmelo (Brazil). It 's been nice to have VHF contact and to see the other boats from time to time - the tips of a white triangle on the horizon during the day, and the twinkling of a mast light or two at night. The night watches were more brutal the second night - each of us nearly shoving the other out of bed at the end of a watch in order to pass out as soon as our heads hit the pillow. I finished my second passage book and started my third. Frank is beginning the second one I just finished. (both James Patterson novels)

It is now around noon on Saturday. We just completed our 3rd, 24-hour period of the passage. All is well except that last night we lost our wind and the waves began coming at us from the stern quarter to the port beam (hitting us at an angle), and making the ride ridiculously uncomfortable. I'm tired of crashing around and getting bruised and so is Frank. We finally turned on the engine and center-lined the staysail and a partially reefed main. The ride is much nicer now. I am finishing my third book, a Jonathon Kellerman novel. All is well aboard the good ship, Destiny.

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