The pastrami on chewy ciabatta bread with Dijon tastes good, but with an ice cold Sapporo chaser it's down right fabulous. The fact that I'm enjoying these simple delicacies two hundred miles out from the coast of Australia, aboard an Italian sailing yacht currently beating upwind and going at a full gallop like a runaway bronc at a rodeo, makes the experience down right decadent.
It's the first passage of 2017, and the first passage of the season, which makes this the first passage since last November...yeah, I know, where the hell have we been anyway? Down for maintenance mostly, but also just taking a rest. Circumnavigating the planet can do that to a boat and her crew pretty easy. The experience has given us a whole new level of respect for those crazy bastards who sail it solo and all in one go; as in non stop.The word crazy should be underlined in that previous sentence. On our end of the sailing spectrum it's all good, and I can't complain. None of us can really, because in the scheme of things we've got it pretty good.
Current conditions are challenging, which is how the guys like it. The Italians taking particular pleasure in all things that move at a high velocity. As I write, captain Andrea and first mate Francesco are trading off shifts at the helm— sailing fast at a sharp angle. We're heeled hard, and making good time too. This is no place to be if you're a whiner or a pussy. The Italians have very little tolerance for either. At this moment, and along with all of the other things I've just described, we've come into a squall. The wind's picked up and now the rain's coming down heavy. The Italians are still out there on the helm—and they're smiling.
It's a couple hours later and so far the wind is holding. The squall passed as quickly as it arrived. The sun is out but we'll keep the main on the second reef. Waves are still crashing over the bow and washing up into the cockpit. We've covered just over two hundred-twenty miles in the first twenty four hours; averaging around ten knots boat speed. Not bad at all. Not bad for a luxury cruising yacht with a full galley, stainless steel appliances, and two huge freezers packed full. Oh, and a wine cellar. Water tanks and fuel tanks are full too. Outside is a six-man tender with an outboard strapped down on the foredeck. We have 150 meters of anchor chain, oh yeah, and a ton of dive gear, surf boards, tools...you get the picture right? Now you know why our sister ship, Grand Orazio, a yacht geared strictly for racing, is out there winning major regattas.
We are a sailing yacht that sails. We don't like to motor, we don't like the auto pilot much either. With sufficient wind the guys like to be on helm. At the moment we have all kinds of wind, so much that I can hear the guys outside making adjustments. Looking out the port side window of my cabin, I can see and hear the rushing whoosh! Of the sea as the boat picks up speed. Still there's a kind of quiet too. The quiet that can only happen on a yacht that's been fully prepared to go to sea; a vessel that's been made ship shape. No stray rattles, no clanking pots and pans, no loose items bumping about. Just the sound of the sea hitting hull.
Day three and we're making good time. Art reports that we'll arrive in thirty-six hours. I asked him if anything interesting happened during the night, and he said, "dark happened." We haven't seen much during the day either folks. Just a lot of differing weather conditions and a lot of open sea. So, no whales sighted but a pod of twenty dolphins made a brief visit on the first day. What has been noteworthy is Tea. She did a fantastic job preparing meals for the passage. When we were still in Brisbane she very wisely cooked up a storm, wrapped everything up carefully and put in the freezer.
We started the passage with a lovely seafood lasagna. We've enjoyed chicken masala, pasta al forno, and last night we had the French style lamb with lentils. Tea's also been terrific on helm. A couple of days ago we had a loss of power to the navigation screens during the night, and Art needed to go below to fix it. So this meant the ship was Tea's. She helmed by the stars, just like a real life Moana. The conditions were challenging, but she wasn't intimidated, she just took charge.
Today we have ideal conditions. In every direction we see only a fabulously clear sky above a gentle cobalt sea. Anyone could be on board today; it's postcard pleasure cruise weather. Sunlight glints off the ripples that glide past the hull. The fishing lines are out, and for the first time, we're under full sail. Andrea has just reported that with just nine knots true wind, we're still making nine knots boat speed. The harsh waves that were crashing over the bow yesterday have since smoothed out into rounded, slow rolling swell.
We have successfully made our escape from the marina. The runaway bronc has evaded capture, she's jumped the arena fence and left the outriders to throw up their hands and call it a day. Soon we'll catch sight of New Caledonia, and the 2017 season will start off with a popping cork. It's a great day to be at sea, and we are Feelin' Good!
Currently the mainsail is full and the genoa is out. The sky is clear, we have good visibility and the sea state is smooth. Wind is 7.5 kts from 127°T, the air temperature is 25°C while the sea is 25°C. Our SOG is 7.2 kts with our COG 75°T.