Atafu to Funafuti

In Voyages on 09/12/2010 at 02:33

December 7, position: Funafuti

We’re here. We arrived in Funafuti around 4 this afternoon. As we passed the dateline somewhere along the way, it is now wednesday evening for us. We are very, very sorry for this very very short update, but we are very, very tired and going to our very, very nicely airconditioned bed now.

December 6, position: 8.25S 179.05W

We’ve been making good progress today and expect to arrive tomorrow at the end of the day. The immigration officer should be aware of our arrival since we’ve got a package for him. On Fakaofo we brought a postal package with a christmas present with us for the baker’s brother. He lives on Funafuti and should be coming on board as our immigration officer. Always nice to already know someone to show us around. This also means we shouldn’t have any problems with the officials here.

We’ve been mostly tired today. We both didn’t get much sleep last night so we spent most of the day going in and out of naps. This means we didn’t get to see each other that much today but the wind was good between the squalls. We’ve been having several hours with about 20 knots of wind and speeds up to 9 knots. Pretty good.

We did also pass another milestone yesterday that we forgot to mention. The Helena has travelled half way around the planet now!!! Yep, with the departure from Amsterdam at 52,50N 5,50E we have passed the West meridian of 174,1W yesterday. Cool! Also, tomorrow we should be passing the 180 meridian which means that we’re going to the future! We’ll be crossing the dateline and will be skipping most of the 7th of december this year. This should be happening in about 55 miles or 10 hours from here.

December 5, position: 8.28S 176.04W

After a relatively easy night without much rest we found that Sinterklaas had actually visited the ship and left some presents behind for us! We also caught some “zwarte pieten” in the kitchen making “pepernoten” and “speculaas”! 🙂 Really! So we have been able to celebrate the saint’s birthday in the old fashioned way. I have to say though that the old guy looks a lot different in his warm weather gear, but we made a promise not to tell anyone else on earth what that looks like. Trust me, you don’t wanna know.

Anyway, around the presents, cookies and pepernoten we have made some progress today. During the night we have been motorsailing a bit until the engine died down in the middle of the night. One of the fuel filters turned out to be completely clogged up so with a tiny repair later in the morning (the soldier had to cool down first) we fixed all that again. We have been able to sail all day until we noticed that we’d be arriving in the middle of the night again (Tuesday night). Since we’re in Tuvalu rather sooner than later, we have decided to run on engine when we cannot keep the ship above 5,5 knots of speed anymore. We have got enough fuel to last to Kiribati, so we’re not too worried about the consumption. We’re just looking forward to a sheltered anchorage for a change.

Yep, you guessed it, the ocean is not very gentle with us. Helena is being severely spanked by Poseidon who clearly enjoys her butt. Can’t blame him though, it’s a nice one, but we’re getting a bit worn down because of the beating without Aeolus to keep Helena steady during the beating. At least during the calmer winds that is. As soon as the wind picks up beyond 14 knots all seems to be fine. Still rocking and rolling but not to the wild extremes.

Anyway, that’s it for today again. We wish Sinterklaas a safe trip back to Spain and thank him for remembering us out here.

December 4, position: 8.36S 173.30W

We are underway again. This morning we dropped the mooring at 10.15 after saying goodbye to the locals. This time we didn’t spend much time on the island, but somehow we have managed to make quite an impression. The minister of the church brought us 2 bags with coconuts, papayas and mangos and the policeman gave us a model of an outrigger canoe. The policeman is really a gifted craftsman and I urged the man to accept some kind of payment for it, but he didn’t want to hear anything about it. He has been busy during our stay and he felt that he had to apologize for not giving us any attention. It’s truly amazing how this works out here.

We now are on the way to Tuvalu and to be more precise, the island (or better, atoll) Funafuti. Funafuti is the capital of Tuvalu and is one of the last steppingstones towards Kiribati and the safety of the equator. We are really looking forward to Funafuti since this is supposed to be an island with internet cafes and restaurants. A few thousand people should be living on this atoll making it a heavily populated area. With a bit of luck we can get our genoa repaired here as well.

So this morning we set sail with 18 knots winds and we started immediately with a steady 8 knots of speed. Things were looking good! However, after 2 hours the wind died on us and shifted towards the east, so we were stuck with the rough windswells and no pressure anymore in the sails. About an hour ago we started the engine to help us on our way a bit. Tomorrow afternoon we are hoping to find some better winds and calmer seas again.

Oh, and dear Sinterklaas, please remember we’re out here. Don’t forget to drop by around our position tomorrow… 🙂


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