Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Change of Destination

The Australian sailor I spoke with about Chesterfield Reef while we were in the Marquesas seemed so knowledgeable about the place. A French patrol boat comes along every now and then and makes yachts that haven't cleared into New Cal leave, he said, but aside from that it's a pretty easy place to stop into.

With that info, and the rapturous reports we'd gotten from some friends who visited last year, the place had made it onto our short list of possible stops on this crossing.

But yesterday, when we were actually on the way there, I finally opened up our small-scale chart of the western South Pacific and saw Chesterfield Reefs identified as an Australian possession. We had already been talking about cancelling our stop there, as we are anticipating our landfall in Australia quite strongly at this point. But seeing the reefs identified as Australian made the decision final - the Australians patrol their outlying possessions energetically, and are very unforgiving about stops at any Australian territory before formal clearance has been granted at a port of entry.

So Chesterfield was out. But by yesterday our reserves were also running quite low. During long passages on Pelagic we used to both sleep at night while we trusted our radar alarm to warn us of nearby vessels. But a nagging sense that this isn't quite the thing to do, coupled with a very un-trustworthy radar unit on Galactic, has seen us taking turns standing watch through the night on most of this crossing. And now, on our sixth day out from Futuna, the four and a half hours of nightly slumber and long days of keeping up with the boys has us knackered. So we're planning on pulling into the atoll of Ouvea tomorrow for a good night's sleep.

Meanwhile, our rallying cry of "It's a delivery, not a cruise!" rang particularly true last night as we sailed right through the delightful archipelago of Vanuatu without stopping. We did the same thing last time around - we really do owe ourselves a stop there if we ever get to our third Pacific crossing.

And finally, the specter of a mahi mahi-less crossing is beginning to threaten. We caught a fish two days ago - yet another skipjack tuna, the only thing we've caught on the entire trip. Our fishing ethos doesn't extend to throwing less desirable fish back, so we ate it, and forewent fishing until it was consumed. And then at dinner tonight we suddenly heard the reel singing out and looked back to see a marlin leaping into the air over and over as it stripped off our line and got farther and farther away. It broke the leader, of course. So tomorrow, at least for the time we're not sleeping at anchor, the search for the elusive mahi mahi continues...


  1. I hope you get a fish! Sleep well.

  2. Vanuatu will wait for you. You're making amazing time. Take five, and enjoy the lagoon (which we missed). The fish are taunting you, aren't they? xxx