Day Six to NZ – Oh Look! More Motoring!

Distance to Arrival: 146 NM
Current ETA: 3:00 PM (+/-), Nov. 25th

This will be a brief post, I’ve waited until later than usual to get it out there and I need to get to bed before watch.

The wind hasn’t filled in much. The prediction is we might see NW winds of up to 10 knots before we get to NZ. For us, that equates to maybe four knots of sailing off the wind – if it even happens.

The Northerly has filled in a very small amount, we’ve seen some short frenetic fits to almost 10 knots, with a Westward shift. This has allowed us to do “limp sail motorsailing”, in which we continue to motor, but fly both sails trimmed for the apparent wind. The wind looks like 5-7 knots on the beam. This configuration looks silly in my opinion, but the headsail being out and trimmed and the main eased adds about another 1/2 a knot to our speed. I’ll take it, as we’re very concerned about fuel and have cut back on the engine RPMs.

By our current estimate we have about twenty-four hours of engine run time left in the tanks, and no real prospect of wind. With the conditions we’re in with wind, currents etc. our arrival time is estimated sometime tomorrow late afternoon – about twenty to twenty-two hours from now.

It’s going to be close, in other words. If we don’t get any wind tomorrow we’ll likely dump in a couple of jerry cans just to make sure we don’t run the engine out of fuel. That’s a nuisance in a diesel, it means I will have to go into the engine room and bleed all the cylinders before I can restart it. I don’t want to do that in the open ocean if I can avoid it.

So every few hours we stick a yard stick into the primary fuel tank to see how much it dropped. Over the last five hours and twenty minutes it dropped an inch and a half. That’s about .3 inches per hour; we’re using 1/2 inch per hour to be safe. We’ve got just over twelve inches left in the tank, hence the “twenty four hour” estimate, though I can not tell you for sure there’s no taper in the bottom of the tank, it could be less.

But we do have another twenty gallons in the cans on deck, which is reassuring. We’d sail in at 3-4 knots before we use the last ten gallons of that up. We need to have the reserve for maneuvering when we get close to docks and moorings. We’ll get in, it just will take longer.

As of now we’ve got 98 hours on the engine since leaving Fiji. With 20-22 hours left, we’ll end up running the engine some 120 hours or so on a seven day (168 hour) trip. Maddening, but that’s what it is – we knew there wasn’t going to be much wind on this trip. It looks like we got a day or so less than I expected. If you recall what I estimated our range to be a few days back – I said about 130 hours of motoring time.

So a few times tonight we’ll run the yardstick into the tank and have a look, just to be sure. In the morning we may put a few gallons in to keep moving.

We’ll be close, but we’ll make it.

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