11 May 2012 4:09:00 AM AEST

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The flukey winds have hit.  From NE to N to NW to W to SW.. all in a few hours..  and soon hopefully from the south. I've been blown back and forth all night, only made 48 miles, and won and lost another 15 going both ways.  Rough, it's rough.  Waiting to see if the gribs are any better..  south winds will let me go west and maybe sw.    Not fun at all.

10 May 2012 9:17:00 AM AEST

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I guess I won part of the race.  The Fiji Met chart for the 8th showed a mess of weather north of 20 S, and because I was fleeing south, by noon yesterday I was half way to 21 degrees south, so it seems that I got away from a bunch of it. Last night the winds swung to the NE and I had following winds and seas all night, making 110 miles in the 24 hours to 7 this morning my time.  Today started out grey and overcast, sort of like the North Atlantic in old war movies with the freighter plodding along and the submarine getting into position to torpedo him.  Later, the sun broke through, and now in the early afternoon it is a nice day, with light winds, coming from the north west yet.  That lets us sail more westerly, and that is fine.  I have about 12 degrees to make south to Sydney, and 25 degrees to make west. so heading northwest or north north west is heading straight to Sydney.  I haven't got today's grib, and am now going to gwt the Fiji chart from Clinton to see what is ahead.  Yesterday's gribs showed a real mess south of here on the 10th with the sinds coming from the south and everywhere.  They change daily, so I am waiting to see what today's gribs show.

9 May 2012 9:19:00 AM AEST

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West of Tonga, about 176 degrees west and 20 South..heading SW at 5 to 6 knots, a bit rough, but making miles.  Over 100 for the second day.  The photo is an island in Tonga, from 4 miles out, where I came from the east, went around, and swung SW.

8 May 2012 9:30:00 AM AEST

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Today is race day, the third day of fairly rough weather sailing.  Yesterday the grib wind forecasts for three days to Wednesday, showed 20 knot winds, gradually shifting from the south to the east, and by Wednesday morning, to the northeast.  That told me that after another day of this stuff, I would have winds that would be following me as I swung to the southwest.  That was nice to look forward to, poled out sails, and wind up my tail., a good prospect.  So I held on, thinking things would get better.  Today however, the gribs changed.  No 20m knot winds on Wednesday from the north east, but 25 and 30 knot winds from the east.. on the track that I am currently on..due west about 18 degrees 30 minutes south.  I have to take this track to get past the islands and reefs of Tonga.  Last night was a night of tweaking the course by a degree or two to miss reefs and sands..  the closest was about ten miles away.  Finally at 6 a.m I got past these things, with about 50 miles to go to pass the last big island and swing south.  Reading today's gribs makes it a race, to get past 175 degrees and swing south west, and get past 20 degrees south by tonight, in order to get away from the 25 and 30 knot stuff.  And it gets worse..on Thursday the winds start coming from everywhere.  So it is hoist more canvas and run as fast as I can in the rough cross seas to get far enough south to get away from some nasty stuff.  The gribs show the winds below 20 south, to be 15 knots from the east, so I can sail southwest, and south as much as possible.  I don't know what the situation is below 20 south..  hopefully 15 or so.  I am now hitting 5.5 knots with just two scraps of foresail up, and rolling in the seas.. too much to cook breakfast.  Also I have to stay in the cockpit and watch the weather.  Down below it is difficult to do much.  --  Now it is 11 am.  The winds are not so strong, but they are swinging to come from behind, which is not goo.  The huge volcano cone of Kao  is ahead, 13 miles, and I want stiff winds to get us past so we can swing south.  The winds are right for swinging south..  but too early.  I need another three hours to get well past these two big islands.  --Now at 1:30 we are passing Kao.. in another half hour I will swing south west.

7 May 2012 9:27:00 AM AEST

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Friday's Fiji chart looked good, all the rains had passed Niue, and things looked clear to the west.  Saturday's chart showed a low pressure are just near Niue, and when I sailed out, I sailed straight into this weather.  Friday night, Saturday, and most of today has ben some pretty rough going, with stiff winds and very choppy seas up to 4 meters.  It's funny how your attitude changes.  When I was roughing it out Friday night and Saturday morning, I really questioned my sanity.  But today I am used to it, and since we are making five knots, my attitude has changed.  I guess I better get used to it, it could be like this all the way to Sydney.  Commodore Keith sure was a great blessing for me at Niue.  He rally took care of me.  I discovered that my inflatable is not really designed, (with the electric motor) for tidal surges, but is more for a getting to the dock in a marina type of transport.  It sure would have been a hassle to transport jugs of fuel to Rafiki in it.  Keith twice organized to get fuel out to Rafiki by getting a local fisherman to take it out.  He also virtually took charge of me when I was there, even lending me money while I waited for banks to transfer funds.  I had lost my BOA card in Mexico, still had a few dollars in that account, but could not access it.  I did have my CIBC Canada card, so I had to transfer the money to Canada before I could access it.  Thanks Keith.  He didn't even charge me interest.  And he paid for the fuel for me in the meantime.  I stayed four nights at the club, also known as the Niue Backpackers, at 25 NZ a night, where I met the lovely Tribe couple from Melbourne.  Niue lifestyle sure would take some getting used to.  During the heavy rolling I wasn't able to cook, but still had two meals from before, so I could reheat these, and sit on the floor to eat,  Today I should be able to make a caserole.  I bought a packet of pork chops (25NZ) so that will make six meals.  I am now 65 miles from Tonga, and at this speed will go past sometime tonight.  Once past, I hope the winds will allow me to swing south west and start the haul home.

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