Day 5 to NZ – Motoring, Motoring Now We Go…

Distance to Opua, NZ: 347.5 NM

ETA: Some time Wednesday afternoon, 11/25/15

Still no wind. At one point we had a hint of some maybe wind late this morning when it crept up to six whole knots of breeze. But this was from the North, directly behind us. The only real effect was to make it hotter on the boat and make the main flop around more. Imagine riding a bike at 10 mph with a 10 mph breeze at your back – it would feel like there is no wind at all.

At least with half a knot of wind we still get to feel a seven knot breeze in our faces from the boat’s motion.

We we motor like this we almost always have the main sail out. There are several reasons for this. First, there may actually a few knots of errant wind. In any direction other than right in front or dead behind us that may actually get us a small wind increase. But the second and more important reason is roll stabilization.

When I say it’s “flat” out here, that is relative. It’s not flat like a mill pond on a windless morning right after sunrise. The ocean is always lumpy and bumpy and even without wind driven waves there is frequently some long, rolling swell coming from somewhere. This swell can give the boat an unpleasant rolling motion if it’s from the wrong direction. With no sails out the motion can be quite violent. The main sail can act like a giant stabilizer or air brake that greatly muffles the rolling motion.

This morning I took the three a.m. to seven o’clock watch for a change. Just after sunrise at six o’clock we were briefly joined by a small pod of dolphins, but they were far off and didn’t stick around to visit. I only saw them surface twice, it wasn’t enough of a visit to justify waking anyone up for it.

Sometime in the next few hours we’ll transfer the fuel from the reserve 300L tank into the main tank which is now less than half full and has plenty of room in it. That should be our big excitement for the afternoon. The process isn’t very time consuming; I turn on a pump and run it until the reserve tank gauge reads empty. If I’m feeling ambitious I can open up the floor and look in the tanks to eyeball how much fuel is really left, and to make sure I moved all 300 liters into the main tank.

There is one other reason we cruisers hate motoring. It’s not just the noise of the engine, the smell of the exhaust (when the wind is from behind), and the motion of the boat. Refueling is also an expensive nuisance and can be a lot of work. Fuel in Fiji is sold at a fixed price by location – from $1.68 to $1.72 FJD per liter. One Fiji dollar is currently just under $.50 USD, which amounts to a cost of about $3.20/gallon which isn’t bad. New Zealand will not be so cheap to re-fuel, though the dollar is stronger this year compared to last.

One added fun feature of fueling in Savusavu is the lack of any waterfront fuel facilities. In Port Denarau there was a floating fuel dock we could pull up to which makes fueling easy. Someone pumps while someone looks in the tank with a flashlight to monitor the fuel level until it’s full.

Without a dockside pump it’s jerry cans and jugs. We did this in Trinidad once, where one was allowed to buy up to 100L of fuel per day at a gas station and jug it to your boat at a cost that was about 1/6th of the “Tourist Boat Price” at the fuel dock. It was our first time like this and it took days of going back and forth in the dinghy with five 20L jerry cans. Then the jugs had to be poured into the tanks, a sloppy, smelly, and grueling process trying to to make a mess while holding heavy, dirty jugs to pour.

In Savusavu a local gas station would, for a 10% surcharge, deliver their own 25L jugs to the dinghy dock of our choice and put them right in the dinghy for us. Back on Evenstar, all be had to do was lift the jugs up on deck and move the fuel to the tanks. We had discovered hand pumps we Tahiti for transferring fuel that functioned as siphons. Brilliant little things – the hand pump just primed the siphon if you kept the tank elevated and the fuel ran in on it’s own. That whole process was a lot quicker and easier than the refuel in Trinidad, thanks to the cheap siphon pumps. We ended up taking on about 645 Liters into the tanks before we left, not including the 80L on deck in the four jerry cans.

Other than that it’s no real change from yesterday. Unexciting is good, if expensive.

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  1. While you have no wind – we have too much! Northerlies every day this week and we want to sail North to the Marlborough Sounds. Cook Strait is not a fun place to be with 50kt Northerlies blowing.
    Ah well still plenty of work to do on the boat in the mean time!

  2. Jim Bousquet says:

    Wishing you all Happy Thanksgiving and a windy end of November 2015. Continue your safe travels Porters. 27 degrees Fahrenheit this AM in Providence. Your complaints don’t seem such a bother now do they!! Best to you all from up North.

    Jim Bousquet and Gwenn Delourme

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