Nov. 26 – fortunately and unfortunately at Minerva Reef

Stuff happens.  When we left Pangaimotu, Nuku’alofa on Nov. 24 (Jim’s birthday by the way) we were having problems with the chart plotter in the cockpit.  Once we got out into the ocean, the generator stopped working.  Winds were 18-20k and we were sailing on a beam reach doing 7s and 8s which is really nice sailing.  The first night it got COLD.

The next day winds began to die off to 10-14k and we had blue sky but no generator and no cockpit chart plotter.  Fortunately Minerva Reef was 25 miles away.  Unfortunately the leech broke free of the out haul car on the boom (ie one end of the sail wasn’t attached to the boom–not good) and the auto pilot stopped working.  Fortunately the next morning we motorsailed into Minerva Reef to join 6 or 7 other boats in the atoll.  Fortunately Mark from Pegasus of Jersey came over to help Jim tear the auto pilot apart (a day and a half ordeal).  Unfortunately the motor was fried.  Fortunately we had an emergency wind vane.  Unfortunately we had never used it.  Fortunately it worked under sail.  Unfortunately it didn’t work well when the motor was on.

We left Minerva Reef Nov. 27 and winds were mostly 14-17k.  By Nov. 30 we were doing 7s and 8s but it was an exhausting day fiddling with rigging and winds over 20k.  Dec. 1 wind grew to 36k, we had 3 reefs in the main and took a lot of water over the deck.  We stayed below all day with an occasional glance through the dodger.  Winds lightened on Dec. 2.  About 2am, Dec. 3, we arrived into the Bay of Islands carefully picking our way in the dark through the narrow channel without a chart plotter in the cockpit.  Millions of lights on land made it difficult to pick out navigational lights.  We had no choice, we had to come in at this hour because a storm front was right behind us and we didn’t want to get caught outside the islands.  By 4am we were tied up to the customs dock in Opua, waiting for them to come aboard and check us in.  It was a relatively easy check-in, very little food was confiscated, and we got a nice slip in the marina for the week.

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