Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Auckland to Fiji : What a Difference a Night Makes!

On board CAMPER ETNZ. Image copyright Hamish Hooper/CAMPER.

by Hamish Hooper

Out of the bunk like a spring chicken, up onto the deck I was greeted by a collection of apprehensive looking faces – not sure which Hamish was emerging from below. Obviously upon seeing the first smile on my face for a couple of days, they knew which one it was. Nico was quick to greet me back to the land of the living. It felt great to feel good again.

Taking in a few deep breaths of fresh Pacific Ocean air, I look around and notice a distinct lack of two things – swell, which was nice, and breeze, nice but not so productive. A long day today of slow progress had nerves fraying as we eased further and further into the expected high-pressure system, which put the brakes on everything.

Will Oxley & Andy McLean seem to be doing a good impression of Daddy Cool, ultra relaxed and seeming to know everything that was about to unfold. Always stopping short of saying “I told you so”. They are pretty onto it. I was amazed that very early in the day they said we would slowly lose wind all day until it would fill back in around 6pm. At 5:55pm this looked impossible, as we had been doing about 1.5 knots for the past hour and Daryl swinging from the top of the mast couldn’t see a line of breeze in any direction.

Ten minutes later, up the breeze comes and we are back doing in excess of 10 knots. Nothing like lightening speed, but compared to what we had all day it feels like it. Now we just hope our competitors don’t avoid what we had just been through.

As I sat on deck all day doing my best to help, I kept an eye on the guys rotate through their watches. Not one of them ever stopped trying to do something useful to help make the boat go faster - except maybe Dalts, he was making the practice of stirring trouble an art form. He is clearly enjoying his time back at sea. He and Trae were in fits of laughter with endless stories of their days in generations past onboard Lion New Zealand, speaking of which, Lion are 160 miles behind us right now, that’s a long way as we have only covered about 400 miles.

Conversation is always an interesting one on deck with surplus time on your hands. We covered many topics- none more enjoyable than the recent development of ‘The Daily Predicament’. You can spend as long or short pondering each one; some days are more clear-cut than others. The more people included tends to extend the life of the predicament. Our awesome shore crew is always very enthusiastic with each predicament so it makes it tough not to be able to include them each day.

Speaking of awesome shore crew, a recent addition to the galley is the most regal looking cup holder I have ever laid eyes on. Made of carbon fibre with a beautiful wooden veneer finish, it’s taken pride of place in the galley and I cant stop looking at it while I boil jugs of water and stir freeze dried food in a chilli bin. It was made by Mr. Incredible aka Guy Endean. He is good with craft and has a girlfriend.

Onward to Fiji, lets just hope we can hold off Vodafone, which will no doubt be charging back at us anytime soon. Chicken Tikka Masala for dinner tonight- wonder if that will help hold them off?