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Saturday, 26 November 2016

The Tasman Sea

If anything might make four to five meter high seas vaguely tolerable in a small boat, it would be steady progress. Fortunately, we have been so blessed. Apart from a few hours of contrary wind as we left Sydney which forced us north of our course, we have been moving quickly toward New Zealand. A broad swath of the East Australian Current even added 3 knots to our speed in its curving trajectory towards the east. Our first two full days at sea have given us noon-to-noon runs of 146 nautical miles on the first day and an excellent 184 on the second.

All around, the cobalt blue foam-crested sea is layered with different levels of detail. The huge crests roll by every ten to twelve seconds and raise and lower us with their bulk. These monsters were born days ago in a fifty-plus knot storm now far to our southeast and will travel thousands of miles before they fade to imperceptability. Superimposed on them are the wind waves chased by the 20 to 25 knots blowing from our starboard quarter. These are the seas that produce the annoying lurch that makes living and cooking aboard such a challenge. Every minute or two, one of them collides forcibly with our bow and sends a shower of sea cascading across the deck and into the cockpit. In an even tinier level of detail, centimeter-high ripples, ruffled by the wind, chase across the surfaces of the larger undulations.

While there are no ships or boats of any description to be seen out here, the air is full of life. Various perfectly adapted pelagic birds seemingly extract joy from the ocean swells as they soar above them on long slim wings. I even saw that most excellent flyer, the wandering albatross, who actually seems to nourish himself on wind and wave. What magic soaring! He never flapped a wing in all the time I watched him.

And just to remind us that we are not the only people who voyage from Australia to New Zealand, a solitary contrail divides the deep blue above. I can just make out the silver jetliner leading it across the sky towards New Zealand, a few hours away!

And what now? The winds that drive us will fade and reestablish themselves, at times from an inconvenient direction. We are out here for at least another six days, perhaps seven if we choose to alter our course to the north to avoid a few days of easterlies in a distant forecast. Nonetheless, each day, the miles-to-go shrinks in a pleasing way.


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At 11/27/2016 00:03 (utc) our position was 35°50.29'S 157°40.31'E

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