A hell of a ride!

When we were in Maupihaa Erwin saw that the genua sail was coming a little bit loose at a seam. It wasn’t a big problem at that time but it was something he needed to repair. Since there was too much wind while we were in Maupihaa he didn’t have the opportunity to take down the sail to repair it.

We left Maupihaa and headed for Tonga which was 1150 NM away. Like the Pacific crossing we had swell but did not have a lot of wind so we used the light weather sail. But after a few hours there was no wind at all, so we decided to turn on the engine and remove the light weather sail. After a few hours we saw that the bilge (space below the floor) was filled with water. After Erwin removed all the water he checked the engine and he saw that there was cooling-water leaking. So every time we turned on the engine, water would come in the boat. This was a serious problem. So since we couldn’t use the engine, our average speed for a couple of days was no more than 3 Knots (5,4 km/hr) but our real sailing record was when the wind was completely gone and we did not move at all for 48 hours. Even worse, when the current went against us we were even pushed back half a mile. It was utterly frustrating. 😩

Erwin was able to make a temporary reparation by closing the leak with vulcanizing rubber band and some Tie-raps so that we at least could use our engine in an emergency or to enter the bay in Tonga. But still there was too much swell to bring down the genua for repair.

More than half of the time we sailed the Pacific Ocean we experienced very little to almost no wind. I remember a conversation I had a few years ago with a friend Huub van Buchem who also sailed the same route. When I asked him about storms he replied that the Pacific Ocean had more often no wind than strong winds. The Dutch VOC ships that sailed this ocean hundreds of years ago probably experienced the same thing which is why the Dutch name for the Pacific Ocean is “Stille Oceaan” which means calm Ocean. We can say that it definitely lives up to its name. But looking at the bright side, it is better to have this than to end up in a storm. 😉

After nine days the wind finally came but this time it was quite strong !? (25-30 knots). Normally this should not be a problem but since Erwin had not been able to repair the sail he was concerned that the little rip would now get worse. For the first night It was not a problem but after the 2nd day we saw that the loose seams became bigger and the sail almost ripped in two so we had to roll in most of the sail.
We were still sailing with the main sail but it is difficult to sail a sharp angle against the wind with only the main sail. We were sailing west and the wind was coming from the west so we needed that little bit of genua (gib). The last 3 days we finally got good wind, coming from the south so that we got some progress and reached Neiafu, Tonga. Luckily the temporary reparation of the engine was holding well so we were able to safely navigate in to the bay to a mooring.

Third crew member

Because it is difficult for us to get the weather forecast while at sea, a friend of ours Guido IJzermans offered to help us out. He keeps us informed by sending regular weather forecasts through our satellite phone. He is our valuable crew member on land. Thank you again Guido! 😊