6 May 2012 3:38:00 AM AEST

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We left Niue about noon on Friday May 4th, Friday, a badluck day for a sailor to begin a voyage.  Forecasts were for winds of 15 to 20 knots over the next three days, the rains had gone west, and the Fiji chart had nothing to indicate any weather was coming.  The winds and seas were from the south, so it was hard to sail southwesterly, rough seas and strong winds pushed us west, but gradually I was able to keep swinging more to the south until the course was about 240 degrees, 237 the desired course.  But even though it was choppy and uncomfortable, we made over 5 knots.  In a clear moonlit night, things stayed the same.  About 3 am, I felt uncomfortable about making six knots, and pulled in the jib.  This helped a bit, but we were still hitting 6 or more, so I pulled in half of the jenny, and we slowed to 4 knots.  After about a half hour, th winds seemed to be stronger, the ride rougher, and I had a feeling that I should take in the main, so I pulled it to third reef, and went back to bed.  By 5, the ride was getting too rough.  Going crossways to the waves and winds was not fun anymore.  Things got hairy, and I eventually got the main down and under a line, and I pulled in the jenny until it was just a small triangle, but the seas were building, and I was forced to swing to go with the wind and seas, and things got a bit better.  However, by sunup, the waves are huge, we are being blown north at 3-4 knots with a tiny bit of canvas, and I had to sit on the floor to eat a bowl of cornflakes, as that was the only place it was possible not to spill it all.  Now in the sun, I am braced against the hatch stairway to type, and feel nervous evn to look out the back.  Most of the times we get the waves direct from behind, but they are coming from two directions and we are really rolling.  Just now one caught us and really threw us about.  Not fun anymore.  I wonder how long this is going to last?

Walking on land for a change

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Averaging over  five days we were sailing directly west, 270 degress, with both fore-sails poled out, and the wind straight up our tail.  The seas were pretty much following seas, and the winds were in the 15 knot range, so we really skated along.  Most nights were great.  The winds were steady, and when I would get up every hour to look around, never seeing any other lights, we were making good time, the charger was whirring, and the ride was smooth, so it was back to sleep for an hour.  Once in a while I would hear rain, so I would check to se if we were going too fast, thinking of pulling in some canvas, and I would close the hatch and go back to bed.  In the mornings, generally there were black looking clouds forming behind us, and coming to get us, so if it looked dark, I would shorten sail, and we would glide through the stronger wind and the rain and wait until the weather passed us.  Even  with hardly a towel's worth of sail up, we would make 4 knots, potentially one hundred miles a day, so that was good.  And the ride would be relatively smooth because we were going with the winds and the seas.  When we were making a hundred or so a day, it was very satisfying, so Niue gradually got closer and closer.  Soon we were edging up, and on Monday morning at 5 am we were within thirty miles..  keeping about two miles south of the island.  I stayed up watching the screen, and about six thirty we turned the corner and went up the west side of Niue.  I followed the instructions and radioed in when I was about 5 miles out.  Radio Niue said to wait until I was closer.  There was one other boat moored at Niue, a French catamaran, and I just went straight in, grabbed the ring with my boathook, pulled my line through and back to my samson post, and I was moored.  What a feeling.  Niue is great.  No difficult entrance, no reef, no atoll, no lagoon.  Just go straight in and grab a buoy.  When I was ready to go ashore, with the inflatable tied alongside, the battery on board, and the electric outboard clipped on, and I had my documents and clothes in a bag, I called Radio Niue, who said, okay, customs will be on the pier at eleven, forty minutes hence, and I went in.   The commodore of the Niue Yacht Club was waiting for me, helped haul the dingy up with a crane, and then the customs people arrived.   The Commodore took me to immigration, introduced me to everybody, including the Chief of Police, and took me for a coffee, after giving me a quick tour of Alofi.  The Yacht Club, probably the world's smallest, is situated along with a backpacker's lodge, so I booked in, at 25 NZ a night and had a night on land.  This morning some Aussie's who were fellow residents took me to a rental place, and I rented a 125cc bike.. at 30 NZ a day. You have to get a local driver's license, (another source of revenue) at 23 NZ.   So I went to the local supermarket, spent 68 NZ on a few things and took them out to the boat.  After charging the battery for the dinghy, I went in, in stiff winds and swells, and a local helped me haul the inflatable out.  But I lost one shoe in the swell.  Still reeling from the swaying land, I headed up the island, found a nice bar and had a couple of drinks.  Everyone seems to know about me, the other boat left on Monday so I am the only one here..    The island has a population of about 1200, 700 are of work age, and of these 400 work for the civil service.  I did a bit of a tour..looked at a cave and a chasm..  and maybe tomorrow I will see a bit more.  I still have to buy potatoes and meat.  Probably Friday I will bake break, make a batch of pancakes, and cook up three case roles, eighteen meals that just need warming.  Then if the winds look favorable, it will be south west past Tonga towards Norfolk Islandand on to Sydney.  I expect stiffer winds, a bit rougher seas, and more rock aznd rolling, but if I can make over a hundred a day, and don't hit a storm, I should be in Sydney in three weeks.  More on Niue tomorrow.     Photo in Mazatlan

30 April 2012 12:28:00 PM AEST

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The last few days have been spent watching rain clouds develop and aim directly at me. I now pull in both my fore-sails, which are poled out, so I slow right down and weather the rainy bits. These few have been relatively mild, not like the fierce ones of last week. But still, with just a tea towel raised, when they hit I do 4 to 5 knots. But it is peaceful this way. Last night I was visited by a pod of whales, who followed along for over an hour. They were 18 to 20 feet long, dark on top and white underneath, with fins that look like boomerangs. Looking at them so close to the boat, the water colour becomes robins's egg blue where you see the white underside. They come real close, maybe 5 feet at times, and they are curious about the spinning propeller I tow, sometimes I would see one coming right up behind the prop, or when they came behind the boat, the tow rope must have touched their backs. They would have come out of the water to give whoosh breath. I had to climb the main boom to untangle the halyard, and I got a good look at one of them beside the boat. Early tomorrow morning I will arrive in Niue, and hopefully be moored in time for breakfast.

29 April 2012 11:55:00 AM AEST

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After the fierce winds of the previous night, last night was much better. The winds were still strong, but with both fore-sails poled out the boat was stable and we made good miles. Right now, at 330 in the afternoon Hawaii time, (1:30 UTC) we are 160 miles from Niue. The gribs forecast nothing greater than 15 knots, the seas have ben a bit choppy and the boat rolls a bit, but just now, the sun came out and things appear calmer. At this rate, we should be in Niue Monday morning, perhaps as early as sunup, but at least before noon. Today should be in the low ninety miles.

28 April 2012 12:24:00 PM AEST

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Well I guess I whinged so much about no wind, the wind gods decided to give it all at the same time. Last night in a rain squall, I git more wind than for the whole voyage.. Howled..and screamed. Going to have 15 to 20 knot winds all the way to Niue.. hope to arrive Tuesday latest.

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