Justin – excerpt from Arcturus II’s logbook – passage from Fiji to Vanuatu.
(I have tried to accurately transcribe from our log book so that the reader can get a feeling of what ocean sailing is like. However, the passage was fairly uneventful so don’t feel obligated to read!
We were sailing in a south westerly direction from Fiji towards Aneityum Island, the southern most island in Vanuatu, so winds from an easterly direction were behind us and pushing us along.
‘nm’ is an abbreviation for nautical mile. ‘WP’ is an abbreviation for waypoint. A waypoint is a point on a chart which the vessel is sailing towards. In this case we set a waypoint early on in the passage for just off the southern coast of Aneityum Island.
Generally, we reckon on doing about 150 nm in 24 hours unless tacking. From Fiji to Vanuatu is about 450 nm.
During the day, Rachael and myself were usually up and either of us might be on watch while the other prepared food, helped the kids or did other tasks. At night, we generally took it in turns with one of us on watch while the other tried to sleep. Although we are fairly flexible, a night watch usually goes for two and a half to three hours. I have tried to indicate below which of us was on watch at particular times at night.
When sailing, the kids usually go to bed about 7 or 8 o’clock and sleep right through! Sometimes one or other of them might try to keep us company on a night watch for a while but they don’t usually last too long).
Excerpt from Logbook.
11.35. Wind: south 10 knts. Barometer: 1012. Vuda Point Marina. Start motor to leave marina. Cleared customs about 15 mins ago and must leave Fiji immediately.
12.15. Wind: west 12-15 knts. Stop motor. Two reefs in mainsail. Full jib. Doing 6.2 knts. (Motor total: 569 hrs 50 mins.)
13.25. Wind: west 12-15 knts. Course: about 200 deg. West of Denerau Island. Tight beam reach in flat sea. Very sunny. Sea breeze. Beautiful sailing. Salad sandwiches and fresh pineapple for lunch.
15.10. Wind: north west 15+knts. Just entering Navula Passage to pass through barrier reef and into the Pacific Ocean.
15.20. Wind: north west 20 knts. Course 238 deg. Set waypoint and course for Aneityum Island in Vanuatu. 445 nm to waypoint (WP). Caught up to Maxi Jazz a big catamaran heading for NZ that left just before us.
16.30. Wind: north, north west 15 knts. Course 238 deg. 437 to WP. Doing about 7 knts in very lumpy sea. 2 metre swell coming from the south and wind from the north. Pretty uncomfortable sailing but glad not having to punch into swell like Maxi Jazz heading for NZ. Strange that northerly wind has held in for so long given that we are about 10nm offshore. Passed two ships, one heading north the other south.
17.35. Wind: north, north west 10 knts or less. Barometer: 1010. Course 238 deg. 431 nm to WP. Wind dropping off but sea remaining very rough. Sails beginning to slam. Doing a bit over 5 knts.
19.10. Start motor. Wind dropped and swinging all over the place. Very frustrating. I think wind is slowly shifting to the southeast. Very rough and confused sea with two different swells crossing over each other. Mainsail slamming, took jib in. Kids gone to bed. No one felt like dinner.
19.20. Wind: east, northeast to northwest less than 5 knts. Changed course to 245 deg to try to allieviate some of the rolling from southerly swell which we are taking on the beam. There must be wind fairly close by because the sea is staying very rough and choppy even though very little wind here.
20.00. Wind: east to east, northeast 15+ knts. 420 nm to WP. Wind suddenly come up and shifted to east. 3/4 of jib out and two reefs in mainsail. Changed course back to 238 deg. Stop motor. (Motor total: 570 hrs 40 mins). Doing about 6 knts.
21.35. Wind: east 15 -20 knts. Course 239 deg. Steering 238 deg. 411 nm to WP. Sailing very well. Bit rolly. Rolled in about 3/4 of jib to stop it slamming with wind behind us. Doing about 6.5 to 7 knts.
22.40. Wind: east 20+ knts. 404 nm to WP. Doing well. Wind up a bit. Big waves. Very black night. No moon. Quite cool. Trackies, beanie and jumper on.
0105. (Rachael on watch) Wind: east 20+ knts. 389 nm to WP.
0200. Wind: east 20+ knts. 384 nm to WP.
0330. (Justin on watch) Wind: east 15 knts. 376 nm to WP. Wind dropping and mainsail starting to slam in very rough sea. Speed down to about 5
0600. (Rachael on watch). Wind: east 15+ knts. 361 nm to WP. Speed 5.5 to 7.5 knts.
0740. Wind: east 20 knts. Course: 239 deg. Course steered: 236 deg. 350 nm to WP. Lovely morning. Very rough and rolly night. Sea still rough and rolly but making good speed. 100nm since leaving Fiji!
0930. Wind: east 20 knts. 339 to WP. Just being passed by oil tanker High Endeavour. Tried to speak to them on the VHF radio but they were breaking up. They altered course to avoid us. Otherwise on a very similar course. Rough sea. Doing about 5.5 to 6 knts. Should have poled jib out but too hard to work on deck in rough sea. Weetbix and sandwiches for breakfast.
1030. Wind: east 20 knts. 334 nm to WP. Speed: about 6 knts.
1115. Wind: east 15 knts. 329 nm to WP. Slowing down as wind decreased. Need to get jib out with pole. Will wait to see if sea quietens a bit. Jarrah reading. Rachael just gone for a sleep in forward cabin. Khan playing in cockpit. Me just about to sleep in aft cabin. Bit more comfortable now but boat still lurching sideways when hit by a big wave and the mainsail causes us to roundup.
1240. Wind: east 20 knts. 320 nm to WP. Course 239. Steering 236. Barometer: 1012. Sea picking up again. We spent most of the morning reading or lying in bunks asleep. Jarrah into second book for the passage. Warm, sunny day. Few clouds.
1400. Wind: east 20 knts. 312 nm to WP. Fried rice with egg and bokchoy for lunch followed by fresh pineapple. Very hard to cook in rough sea. Not quite holding our required 6 knts.
1515. Wind: east 15+ knts. 306 nm to WP. Wind dropping again though sea still rough. Mainsail slamming when we roll on the bigger waves.
1810. Wind: east 15 + knts. 290 nm to WP. Sun just set. Gooseswung and poled out jib about half hour ago. Doing much better speed and boat more balanced. Speed: about 6.5 knts.
2005. Wind: 12 to 15 knts. Course: 239 degrees. Steering: 234 degrees. 278 nm to WP. Rachael and Jarrah gone to bed. Still very rolly. Mainsail slamming fairly regularly. Doing a bit over 6 knts.
2155. (Justin on watch). Wind: east 10 to 15 knts. 268 nm to WP. Sea becoming calmer but sails slamming every now and then because wind dropped. Beautiful night. Lots of stars.
0125. (Rachael on watch). Wind: east 10 to 15 knts. 246 nm to WP. Speed: 6+ knts.
0340. (Justin on watch). Wind: east 15 knts. 232nm to WP. Sailing very well. Jib still poled out and main two reefs. Speed: 6.5 knts.
0400. 230 nm to WP. Just got hit by an extra big wave causing an accidental jibe. Everyone woke up. Surprised how quick the boom came across even with the boom brake taut. Wind coming a little more from the north but only a few degrees.
0510. (Rachael on watch). Wind: east 10 to 15+ knts. Course 239 degrees. Steering: 234 degrees. 223 nm to WP. Just passed half way to WP – from Navula Passage to Aneityum. Speed: steady 6+ knts.
0610. Course: 240 degrees. Steering: 234 degrees. 216 nm to WP. First light. Cloudy skies. Sea much calmer. Speed: 6+ knts. Red fringed clouds.
0730. Wind: east 15 knts. Steering: 236 degrees. 208 nm to WP. Very tired – need sleep! Cloudy. Battery voltage down to 12. 6 volts.
1040. Wind: east 15+ knts. Course 240 degrees. Steering 240 degrees. Barometer: 1014 and rising. 189 nm to WP. Khan just found a flying fish on deck. Photo opportunity then threw it back. Breakfast – cereal and toast. Turned fridge off to save power.
1145. Wind: east 15 – 20 knts. 180 nm to WP. Just gybed accidentally. Wind shifting very slowly to a little north of east. Decided to leave main on port side and gybed the jib and pole to set it on starboard. Changed course to have wind more on starboard aft quarter.
1345. Wind: east 15+ knts. Course 240 deg. Steering 250 deg. 167 to WP. Continuing cloudy and fairly rough sea. Signs that the wind might drop.
1700. Wind: east 15+ knts. Course steered: 243 deg. 147 nm to WP. Wind dropped a bit and sails slamming regularly. Sea still fairly rough. Just finished happy hour.
1835. Wind: east 15 – 20 knts. Course steeed: 239 deg. 137 nm to WP. Wind picked up again. Able to change course a few degrees and keep sails goose swung. GPS says arrival time about 1445 tomorrow. Batteries down to 12.6 volts again. Turned fridge off.
2050. Wind: east 15 knts. Course steered: 245 deg. Changed course a little to keep sails full.
0130. (Justin on watch). Wind: east, northeast 15 knts. Course 239 deg. Course steered: 240 deg. Under 100 nm to Aneityum Island!! Wind shifting more to north. Getting harder to hold goose swung jib on pole.
0245. (Rachael on watch). Wind: east, north east 10 knts. 84.9 nm to WP. Wind dropping. Wind generator virtually stopped charging due to light apparent wind.
0430. 75.5 nm to WP. Too little wind.
0620. ( Justin on watch). No wind. Start motor. 67. 2 to WP. Motor sailing with main two reefs and jib.
0940. Wind: east, northeast 10 knts. 51.7 nm to WP. Wind up a little but very lumpy, rolly sea with two swells crossing each other and a bit of chop on top.
1030. Wind dropped again. Pulled down mainsail and furled jib to stop constant slamming. Noticed that the top car on the mainsail had worn loose due to sail slamming.
1230. Wind: east less than 10 knts. 37.1 nm to WP. Spent the last one and a half hours sewing a piece of webbing to rejoin top mainsail car with mainsail. Also retired 2nd reef line which was wearing through due to constant rubbing on eyelet in sail clew. Unfurled and poled out jib.
1320. Wind: east, northeast 10 knts or less. Course:241 deg. 32.2 nm to WP. Still motoring in light airs. Just had jaffles for lunch – first bit of cheese we have had for last couple of months – too expensive in Fiji. Followed by last orange. Khan just hoisted the Vanuatu friendship flag and the yellow ‘Q’ pratique flag.
1425. Land ahoy!! First faint sighting of Aneityum Island shrouded in cloud. 25.4 nm to WP.
1720. (Changed to Vanuatu time – 1 hr after Fiji time). Just south of Flat Rock on south coast of Aneityum. Sun just setting. Will be dark entry into anchorage.
1910. Stop motor. At anchor in Anelcauhat Bay. About 12 metres deep with 50 metre chain. Good holding sand. Motor: 13 hrs 50 mins. (Motor total: 583 hrs 40 mins).
About 3 days 7 hrs sailing from Vuda Point Fiji to Anelcauhat Bay, Vanuatu – approx 450 nautical miles straight line distance.