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New Zealand to Indonesia 2018

by Art on


Distance (nm)
Average (kts)

We are preparing for our departure from New Zealand on a very long passage to Indonesia. This will be our longest passage ever as it is about 3200nm but, of course, will be longer as we tack and gybe our way along the path. We are anticipating taking about 16-17 days for this passage and are all looking forward to being back out to sea. Our time in New Zealand has been wonderful and Feelin' Good is in the best condition she has ever been in.

We're anticipating leaving next weekend and I'll update this post as we get closer to that date to let you know what are plans are.

In the meantime, we will be off to do extensive sea trials to test out all the equipment as well as to brush up a bit on sailing ourselves (it's been quite a while here as a landlubber, need to knock the 'rust' off and get back to sailing!).

by Art, 'still in the Coral Sea...'

The weather in the Coral Sea has surprised me. I would have thought the further north we went the more gentle the weather would be. Trade winds, balmy days, reduced sea state, etc. Ha! Ha!

Instead we have crossed seas (winds from one direction, swells from another) and gusts over thirty knots last night. We’ve had the 2nd reef in the main for a couple of days now, and combined with the full genoa, has given us a consistent speed over the ground and wonderful sailing conditions (light on the helm, easy to steer the boat). Then ‘boom’ back to tougher conditions which always happens for some reason in the middle of the night! The guys furled away the genoa and put up the staysail which slows us down a bit but makes the helm way more manageable.

The moon has been gone a few nights now and the skies have been cloudy giving us black conditions for sailing only by instruments. Not unlike flying an airplane in the clouds, imagine roaring along in 30 kts of wind, a 2.5 m crossed sea state while keeping the boat on course and out of trouble by referring to only a couple of digital displays. Yeah, focus is the key word here, lots of focus.

Over 2000 nm under our belt now and heading for the Torres Strait, 400 nm away and pretty much direct on our course. We hope to get out of the Coral sea over the next 48 hours.

Then we’ll see what the next challenges are for this passage!

by Tracy, 'still in the Coral Sea...'

Eight days in and 1900 miles behind us, if this was an Atlantic passage the trip would’ve topped out a couple of days ago and we’d all be swinging the downhill run for Antigua; smelling hard ground and dreaming of cold beers on a beach somewhere, along with just the right sort of instrumental accompaniment to enhance the vibe. Nineteen hundred nautical miles have slipped beneath our hull but we’ve got 1100 miles still in front of us: 500 nautical miles to go before we hit the Torres Straight, then another five hundred before we pull into Tual and drop anchor.

Our twenty-five-meter world and its constant motion is the totality our life; it is us and we are it. But “it” is always changing, the rhythms are never quite the same so “it” can never be trusted. Even from one hour to the next. Each new day brings its own unique movements, and when they emerge and the body is made aware, the body is forced to adapt all over again. With each new day an infinite sea is infinitely loud or infinitely quiet. Infinite clouds of infinite variety are either there or not there; Infinite stars that stretch across an infinite sky one night, are followed by total darkness and endless rain, and all of it goes on forever until the next day when all of it has changed to something completely different.

We left the Pacific behind a few days ago, the water we’re sailing in now is called the Coral Sea. Looks like the same water to me. The major difference being the weather. No more freezing nights at the helm; it’s 27 degrees out there folks. The heavy fleece and long-johns have been stowed, and that alone is worth celebrating. Flying fish have begun to appear, tropical frigate birds fly overhead and we’ve had a couple of good hits on the fishing lines, and Andrea landed a nice fish for the oven. The clearest indicator of how deep into this passage we are is the fact that the freshies have all but gone—down to the cabbage and onions. Elke is still managing to creatively make salads with the remnants of our once lavish New Zealand provisions. We do still have those nice cookies though and at 10AM, or PM, it’s like—why not?

Pizza night was a huge hit, like ordering takeout via satellite. Then we celebrated Andrea’s birthday with a bottle of Prosecco that Andrea gleefully shook up and sprayed all over everybody. A toast, and then a lovely traditional Napoli torte—Elke used the recipe from Andrea’s Nonna, it was, all of it, amazing. Evenings are when we all get to see each other, but most days are quiet.

There are six of us on board but the watch schedule decides when you sleep, odd hours mostly, but this means at certain times any one of us is up and feeling like we are the only ones on board—not a bad thing. I sit and work and roll along with the boat’s motion—my hands pausing briefly over the keyboard when a strong wave passes. It’s all old school now, but I want to remember the feeling. I don’t want to take a single moment for granted—no moaning about it either. It’s an incredible feeling to be at sea for days on end, (to really be at sea) long enough to forget the rest of the world. To feel every part the journey, so yes, we are feeling good.

by Art, '25 kts coming tomorrow...'

We’ve had about 48 hours of some of the most enjoyable sailing of this passage. Steady winds from 95-125 T, a slight sea state and winds from 12-19 kts. Our main is all the way up and the genoa is out. Our SOG (speed over ground) is steadily over 8 kts and we’re going in the right direction! For those non-sailors, being able to actually go in the direction you want to means the winds are in your favor. Usually, you have to tack or gybe back and forth along your preferred course. Being able to sail straight toward your goal is wonderful!

However tomorrow is a different day and we are expecting the winds to pick up perhaps as high as 25 kts.

The night skies are so clear that you can see the planets shining on the ocean and all the southern constellations as bright as I’ve never seen them before. We do have the occasional squall blow through each evening and it gets challenging on the helm for a while.

Everyone is enjoying being out in the sunshine. Daytime temperatures are about 26c and so is the temperature of the Ocean. We’re tempted to stop and go for a swim!

Currently we are motoring, the mainsail is full and the foresail is furled. The sky is clear, we have good visibility and the sea state is smooth. Wind is 13.2 kts from 175°T, the air temperature is 27°C while the sea temperature is 27°C. Our SOG is 8.5 kts with our COG 320°T.

by Elke, 'The North Coral Sea'

Another misty, amber-hued sunrise this morning, as I share the helm with our captain and quietly greet the day. I say with disbelief that one week of our passage has passed, and in those days I—the newest member of Feelin’ Good—have been continuously falling deeper in love during my time at the helm. Day after day, no matter which strange hour it is of day or night, or how little sleep I may have had, I wake up energized by the pulses of the ocean beneath us. I’ve discovered that sailing a boat is much more romantic and fascinating (complete with brief moments of highly accelerated heart rates, such as my first attempt at gybing yesterday at some point around midnight) than I had realized. Being at the helm, I am in a conversation with the wind and dancing with the movements of the water. The waves lead, and the boat reacts or mimics, until we smoothly move through the endless blue space leaving only a whisper of a trail. Being a newbie at the helm of Feelin’ Good, the way in which she sails has completely captivated me.

In this first week, I have been spending moments to think about the boats that have passed these same coordinates, of the people who lead their boats and the stars they saw, and of my parents and the passages they made in the past. I imagine them watching the stars on their night time watches, settling into the silence as I do now. There is no place to see the stars like the ocean. Last night was a spectacular example of that fact. As I stepped out into the cockpit for my 10PM watch, I was illuminated by the silver glow of the sky. The Milky Way was clearer than ever, and I navigated my way through the constellations, as I was recently taught by our French crew member. With no sounds but the rhythmic whooshing of the water, I glimpsed many a shooting stars. One so magnificent that it left a trail of glittering dust behind it. I smiled and savored that little private moment. And that is just some of the intimate beauty of sailing through the big blue. There are more moments than I can share where I find myself caught in a private moment of pure joy.

Now, we are all beginning to shed our winter clothes and bid farewell to our hibernating selves as we come into warmer weather. The air has changed, our postures and smiles have changed, and we are all feeling grateful. Grateful for the sunshine, the deep, mystery of blue that holds us, for laughter, simplicities of outdoor showers and salty air, and especially grateful for our hilarious little dance party last night, on our one week since departure mark. Fully equipped with costumes, we danced and laughed to our hearts content, as we cruised along somewhere in the Coral Sea and celebrated the birthday of our beloved captain. And tomorrow, another day will greet us—the same blue scenery no doubt, but bringing with it different characteristics as the ocean changes its mood, and new moments of bliss and serenity as we continue to settle into the absolute beautiful simplicity of life at sea.

Currently the mainsail is full and the genoa is out. The sky is clear, we have good visibility and the sea state is slight. Wind is 14.2 kts from 105°T, the air temperature is 25°C while the sea temperature is 25°C. Our SOG is 0.0 kts with our COG 0°T.

by Art, 'Past the storm and into the better weather'

We had a quiet night of motoring after dealing with the low that went past us earlier in the evening. Andrea took the opportunity to get prepare the boat for our downwind sailing which we anticipated would be arriving today (Thursday). As the morning wore on the winds slowly shifted to the southeast (120 degrees) and started to build a bit. By noon we had sufficient winds to put out our new A3 sail and see what it could do. We only had it out twice while in Auckland on sea trials and we were hoping it would be a great sail for us to use as we have mostly downwind passages.

On this passage so far, we have done about 1000 nm of upwind and we are very tired of beating and crashing about. A nice smooth downwind all the way to the Torres Strait (between Australia and Paupa New Guinea) is something we have been looking forward to. Running the engine is getting old too…

My watch was just ending today as we put up the new A3 so I only had about 30 minutes to work the helm but I can see already it’s going to be one our favorite sails to use. 11 kts of true wind from 120 degrees and we were moving along over 10 kts… YES!

While we will be taking the A3 down at night in anticipation of seeing more tropical storms blow up in the evenings we’ll certainly get it back up as quickly as we can each morning as long as we have these nice winds behind us.

Last night for dinner we had Art’s world-famous-super-duper-texas-chili with cheese and tortilla chips. I made this in Auckland and it’s been one of our regular passage foods around the world. On the way from Vanuatu last fall I also prepared some of this but we didn’t get a chance to eat it. Once we reached NZ we were planning to have it for lunch but the NZ Quarentine person took it from us claiming the meat in it was unknown and therefore suspect. I told them it was NZ meat but no matter, they took it anyway. Cicio and I were really unhappy (to put it mildly!) with this situation it’s really nice to have it on passage as intended!

Everyone has been doing a great job on the helm in all weather conditions so we feel we are back into the sailing groove and are thoroughly enjoying this passage.

by Art, 'Wild & Wooly Weather'

The last 24 hours have been ‘wild & wooly’ with the expected weather system arriving and bringing winds and a sea state to deal with from a direction that made it hard to get any forward progress toward Indonesia. Instead we ended up tacking back and forth all night and morning across our path trying to keep the boat in a position that allowed peopled to sleep. Despite this, we still banged around quite a lot and most of us didn’t get a full rest while off watch.

We had the third reef in as well as the genoa for a while but later took the genoa down and put out the staysail as the helm was becoming difficult. This stabilized the boat quite a bit more and we stayed with this combination until just now when the winds dropped off. They should continue to do so in the coming hours and so we put the main sail back up to the first reef position with the genoa out again. Now we have smooth and fast sailing with our favorite sail configuration.

We are aimed directly on course now and making >10 kts in seas that are also diminishing in height. Eventually a nice wind from the stern will give us the downwind portion of this passage (all upwind since leaving NZ) and we’ll leave behind the winter storms and weather systems and get back into the tropics. We can’t wait!

by Art, 'Way out there...'

The night watch was really pleasant with calm seas and clear skies bright with the moon and stars. Feelin’ Good motored along steadily through the night as I worked on my southern constellation knowledge using StarWalk 2 for iPad. We’re in a big high pressure area that is slowly getting pushed to the east by a low coming out of the Tasman sea. Unusually strong for this time of the year, lows normally would not reach this far north, however this one will reach us by this afternoon (Tuesday).

Andrea’s taking no chances so the crew has pulled down and stored our new A3 sail and put the third reef in the main. Since we are just motoring along in flat seas, putting the third reef in now is much easier than it would be when this fast-moving system arrives. Once it is on top of us we could see 20-30 kts for 12-18 hours, so now we’re ready!

Pappardelle pasta with pork ragu (prepared by chez Elke!) was a huge hit last night for dinner and we look forward every night to the next wonderful dinner. As we have so many different watch schedule, we usually make sandwiches or warm up left-overs for breakfast or lunch.

So as the planet Mars sets on the ecliptic to the west and the moon is fading the sun is starting to show a glow on the eastern horizon. Just another perfect day at sea, far from all the man-made distractions. Just six people sharing the simplicity and beauty of nature in one of the last wildernesses left on this world.

Update: Elke and I were just pointing to the spot where we thought the sun would come up above the horizon and at that moment a Sperm whale (like you read about in Moby Dick) breached high into the air exactly where we were pointing! Then more breached and soon we saw about a dozen breach and tail-slap. They were about 300 meters away so we had a very good look at them. The blunt nose and solid dark gray shape identified them easily in our Ocean Mammals book as a group of female Sperm perhaps with young babies around. What a wonderful way to greet the day way out here in the middle of the ocean!

Currently we are motoring, the mainsail is reef 3 and the foresail is furled. The sky is clear, we have good visibility and the sea state is smooth. Wind is 4.5 kts from 312°T, the air temperature is 20°C while the sea temperature is 21°C. Our SOG is 6.8 kts with our COG 302°T.

by Tracy, 'Day Five'

Day five has, so far, been a relaxing upwind sail. Overnight conditions were near flat-calm in very light winds so we were motoring on auto pilot (once again) but it gave everyone on board a chance to get some extra rest, have a shower, and a real sit-down meal. Dinner last night was Elke’s wonderful rustic pork ragu with pappardelle. Tonight we’ll be enjoying a pumpkin risotto. For those of you watching the tracker, the Yellow-Brick has indeed been sending up some pokey speeds today. As I write this we are slowly bobbing in the sea, and making hardly any forward motion at all, but there’s a reason; the guys are performing the fifty-hour oil change on the new engine. The moments of calm are rare and everyone takes advantage of the respite to get needed jobs done.

The real excitement of the day took place at dawn when Elke and Art spotted the whales. I’m hoping Elke will be writing in more detail about the experience. She and Art were on deck watching for the rising sun when they sighted several Sperm whales breaching and spouting up big blows. I arrived on deck too late to see them, but just in time to see the excitement on Elke’s face, which told me everything—she and Art were both still gleaming from the experience. Every day is different out here. There’s no such thing as monotony because each day brings something surprising and new; something with the potential to change you forever—we are Feeling Good!

by Tracy, 'About 400nm off NZ, 400 from New Caledonia and 700 of Australia'

Day three, just after sunset and I’m waiting for the timer to go off. Out here life becomes very simple: sleep, get out on deck, work your ass off, eat, and then try to sleep some more. All of those complex things you do on land like grocery shopping, visit the neighbors, peel a carrot, go out for walks, use the toilet without fear of being knocked down and having your face bashed in, making dinner reservations—that kind of stuff’s just a long lost exotic dream. We are now hundreds of miles out to sea, we are a population of six living on a twenty-five meter planet known as Feelin’Good, and our world exists at a seventeen degree angle.

Rough seas today. Yep, we knew the weather was coming so it wasn’t a surprise or anything; Art’s been downloading Gribs continuously in between his watches, but then it hit us and wow—it was wet out there. Elke got drenched. But everybody got drenched, and not so much by the rain because that didn’t last long at all, but by big fast waves that washed over the whole cockpit. We sailed through a clear sky squall at a hard beat in thirty-five knots of wind and it was messy out there. Danny was solid as a rock on helm, Thomas, our Frenchman, was out there with a big grin just taking in one of those rare moments when you know you’re alive. And then there was Captain Andrea; out there in heavy seas, full storm gear, and looking like he’s on holiday—relaxed hands, a gentle stance, face calm as a sheet of glass and just as transparent—he was having fun.

After sunset the winds died down and it feels pretty calm on board. Planet FG is only at twelve degrees tilt which makes moving around feasible. We have a broccoli cheese and ham casserole in the oven. I can hear the generator running and the water-maker. Everyone’s washing off the salt. The days seem to go by fast, I’m not sure how. I couldn’t even tell you what day it is—another one of those luxuries you lose sight of along with the shoreline. Yesterday Elke made a beautiful fish chowder, today she made a frittata and a salad—despite the weather—now that was heroic. This morning we had a wonderful sunrise, and much calmer seas. Top speed last night was near to 14 knots. I sat on the aft deck and sipped my morning coffee and watched the sea go by, it’s a great day, and we are Feeling Good!

Currently the mainsail is reef 2 and the genoa is out. The sky is clear, we have good visibility and the sea state is smooth. Wind is 12.0 kts from 190°T, the air temperature is 18°C while the sea temperature is 18°C. Our SOG is 7.9 kts with our COG 291°T.

by Art, 'Passing by the top of NZ'

During a cold night under the stars we motor-sailed along in slight seas with light winds (< 7 kts). IT was a good way to start our long passage we have not been a sea in quite a while and being able to adjust to 4 hour watch schedules and life on passage is more gentle than the last time we left here! The moon rose about 23:30 and kept a bright light shining for the rest of the night's watch.

Dawn broke this morning with a gorgeous sunrise and nice sailing conditions. The winds have been increasing by the hour slowly by slowly and now are at 11 knots, enough ti finally turn the engine off and just engine sailing!

We're passing by the northernmost tip of NZ now and the ocean swells are starting to build and the winds are expected to increase so we should be able to have a nice sail for the rest of the day. We're trying to keep our speed up as a low pressure system is approaching from the southwest and will affect us by Tuesday. If we get far enough north, we may miss most of the weather. Check back on Tuesday to see!

Currently the mainsail is full and the genoa is out. The sky is clear, we have good visibility and the sea state is slight. Wind is 11.0 kts from 186°T, the air temperature is 15°C while the sea temperature is 15°C. Our SOG is 0.0 kts with our COG 0°T.

by Tracy, 'Passing by the Poor Knights Islands'

We are free. I can’t believe, (I am still convincing myself in fact) that we have truly departed. Conditions are quiet. Elke wants to see the dolphins again. Everyone loves the dolphins, I’m hoping they arrive in the night bathed in a green phosphorous glow. In the darkness you hear their breaths, and a splash beside the boat before you realize you have visitors. Today the sea is only a gently rolling carpet. We have the main up, but so far there is little wind, and nobody minds. We’ve been suffering from involuntary dock-lock for so long, it’s just wonderful to be moving!

Two blue penguins were spotted today, a few large fish disturbed the surface but little else—just our smiles. Elke made cookies.The scattered rocky islands all around us made for a striking sunset. Our jokes about finally leaving have shifted to talking about how great it will be once the last of the islands fade and we lose sight of land. We talk about what’s for lunch (cous-cous salad) and what’s for dinner, (Roman style pasta with chickpea). Tomorrow we will talk about other things and we will see something different, and then the next day, and the next, and in ten days we would have merely reached the top of Australia, but nobody will be complaining because we are at sea! We are Feeling Good!!

by Art, 'Auckland, Orams Marina'

After two days of sea trials where we practiced all our different sail configurations, tested our new engine, checked out the overhauled water-makers as well as shaking the 'rust' off all of us from not sailing for so long (yes, it really is like riding a bicycle... it comes back quickly!) we are back in the marina here in Auckland with the NZ Customs and Immigration team coming tomorrow morning to clear us out of NZ finally.

We’ll be doing a non-stop passage all the way to a tiny little island in Indonesia where, in a town called Tual (a city in Maluku Province of Indonesia), where will arrive at our first port in this exciting new country. We are so ready to leave civilization behind and get on with what we are all out here to do... SAIL and experience EXOTIC and WONDERFUL PLACES!

Feelin' Good is under the command of Andrea who has been our captain for the last two years and our 1st mate for two years before that. We are so lucky to have him in charge of this amazing adventure and are grateful for his perseverance at getting all our issues resolved with Feelin' Good leaving NZ in the best condition she has ever been in (even when she was new!. It’s been a long battle but we are finally ahead of the game and ready like never before thanks to him!

This year we have a new 1st mate, Daniele (also from Napoli, Italia). He has studied hard under Andrea for the past number of months and is a gifted sailor, skilled mechanic and wonderful man to have onboard. Always looking for something to do and keeping the deck in perfect shape he has come up to speed quickly and is a terrific 1st mate for us!

Then there is Elke, our extraordinary chef/deckhand from the BVI's (British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean). She surprises us with different and tantalizing dishes all the time regardless of what's in the 'fridge'. Her homemade desserts and cookies are spoiling us forever and she has planned our meals like never before preparing numerous tasty dishes for our passage as well as the most important job of provisioning us for many months away from supermarkets in New Zealand where we have access to everything one would want.

We also are lucky to have another gifted sailor, Thomas, who has done 8 transatlantic passages along with several trans-pacific passages. He is from Tahiti and arrived just a day ago but is already up-to-speed on sailing FG. We already feel the family connection with him and look forward to enjoying a wonderful passage together.

We’ll send regular updates to this blog post as we go along so be sure to check back, leave us some comments and share our journey as we sail to Indonesia!

In the meantime, follow along and leave us some comments on our 2.5 week passage to Indonesia!!

Ciao from Art, Tracy, Andrea, Daniele, Elke and Thomas

This passage was crewed by Andrea, Art, Daniele, Elke, Thomas and Tracy

Passage Meteo

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Comments so far

  • comment from Graham Talbot Graham Talbot on August 11, 2018

    Ahh, Elke, sailing.....brief moments of terror broken by long hours of bliss !

  • comment from Alberto Alberto on August 9, 2018

    Art’s world-famous-super-duper-texas-chili with cheese and tortilla chips? Ah, when in Mediterranean I would like to taste. Good winds FG!

  • comment from Alberto&Patrizia Alberto&Patrizia on August 7, 2018

    Thank you Art for the news, but don’t be jealous, my favourite novelist Tracy is superb, it’s always a pleasure to read her! For us it seems to live onboard FG. Great! Grazie

  • comment from Vickie and Roland Vickie and Roland on August 5, 2018

    Wonderful that you are no longer dock locked and are enjoying kind seas as you adjust to your first passage of the season. Fun and interesting to continue with you on this new adventure!

  • comment from Rudolf Berglehner Rudolf Berglehner on August 3, 2018

    Wow, sounds fantastic Art and we wish you all a great new time on board. In the meantime we moved into MIRTO have the lake in the front, certainly not that much water like you guys have around :-) All the best and keep in touch Rudolf + Fabio

  • comment from Ciccio Ciccio on August 3, 2018

    Happy to read that. I am with you with all my heart and mind. Go FG, Buon Vento.

  • comment from Alberto Alberto on August 3, 2018

    Fantastic! We’re ready to follow you as usually! Enjoy the new crossing and have good winds! Buon vento! Alberto&Patrizia

  • comment from Alberto Alberto on July 29, 2018

    Go FG Go! We are anxious to follow you in this wonderful adventure. Have fair winds. Alberto&Patrizia