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OTHER CRUISING SITES
HAWAII T0 TUVALU
||5 Aug 2003
Ocean , Hawaii
3 weeks recuperation in Honolulu, Lyndall and
I head off to the South Pacific - to our first
sight of the Southern Cross in 5 years. Our
plan takes us direct to Tuvalu.
days from Hawaii we finally meet the SE Trades
for a larger view
As this wefax taken on the crossing
shows, the sail from the Northern to the Southern hemisphere
entails crossing not only the Equator but also the Inter
Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The convergence of the
Trade Winds from each hemisphere results in a belt of hot
winds from variable directions with frequent and heavy rain
squalls. The width of the ICTZ varies and can be as short
as 60nm, if you're lucky.
As one moves from the high latitudes
to the Equator, isobar spacing on a weather fax Surface Analysis
chart needs care when interpolating the true wind speed.
The lower the latitude, the higher the speed for a given
difference in pressure. The tropics will show such widely
spaced isobars as to make determination of wind speed inaccurate.
The NWS in Honolulu produce the adjacent Streamline Analysis
chart which neatly shows wind speed and direction, not isobars
- just what we needed.
The great circle distance is 2250nm
and we expected to motor through the ICTZ. This chart was
received a week out and shows NE 15 swinging to SE 10 - we
wish! We allowed 19 days for the passage - it took 15.
Hawaii Yacht Club looking south the sea is calm as far as
the eye can see since it is protected to the north by the
mountains of Oahu. Soon after leaving the entrance buoy we
set the long-suffering autopilot to 205degM and left it that
way for the whole passage. The wind stayed NE at 15 to 20
for the first week. That meant it came from the aft quarter
where the main tended to blanket the jib so we tried a new
combination - jib and mizzen. That worked well and we achieved
a run most of days over 140nm - not bad for 22 tons of home
As the wind gradually moved E
we were able to set the main and the wind generator received
free wind, unobstructed by the mizzen and provided enough
power to run the autopilot.
On day 8 the wind showed it's
first sign of an easterly shift dropping to E5 for a day
then to SE10. It was on day 9 we had a severe dose of ICTZ.
It was very hot, humid and the winds were frustratingly
variable from 5 to 25 kts and from all directions. We had
some very dark and scary squalls at night but amused ourselves
catching water by day. We expected as our reward in suffering
these 150 odd nm to burst into fresh SE Trades on the other
side. However, days 10 and 11 were back to NE and predictably
rolly with swells from NE and SE. It was
so hot and so rolly that sleep was impossible for Lyndall
who became exhausted from lack of it while I became exhausted
from the many sail changes but could also sleep only fitfully.
Our reward did come on day12 with gorgeous SE winds at
12 kts and we enjoyed these until an out of season Low
appeared to our South - again causing NE winds which took
us all the way to Tuvalu.
Jib, Main and Mizzen and windgen in full flight
|Squalls were frequent in the ICTZ
||Trying to catch rain water from the cockpit awning
We sailed through the north entrance to Funafuti Atoll in daylight,
our electronic charts seemed to be accurate and positioned us in
the deepest part of about 6 metres - then we suddenly found ourselves
in calm water after 15 days of wobbly boots - a great feeling. A
call to the Port Captain had us anchored off the main dock to await
the "boarding party" of Customs, Immigration and Quarrantine" (CIQ). He forgot to mention that they were waiting for us ashore
so we slept the sleep of the dead until next morning when I had
an efficient clearing-in at no cost.
It was pleasing to see signs of home here.
The Tuvaluans - drive on the LH side of the road, use 240V 50Hz
power, use AUD and send their kids to Uni in Aus. Many Aid projects
are underway, sponsored by Australia, NZ and Japan and the new govt
offices were being constructed by a Townsville firm. We met a friend
of our eldest son James from the Environment Dept, Seluka who generally
answered all our questions on life here. He also arranged for us
to hire 2 motorbikes which allowed us to tour the length of Funafuti
Island, a long thin strip of one side of the atoll.
Funafuti in Tuvalu has a height above sea
level of only a few metres, a population growth of 1.7% and is fast
becoming a modern, resource-consuming society. The elements of a
looming crisis are present when all these factors are combined with
the possibilty of climate change. Our friend Sleuka heads the Climate
change section in the Dept of Environment and explained the key
projects of waste management, water collection and production and
reef conservation. The importance of this aspect of life in Tuvalu
is high enough for the Prime Minister to have Environment as his
| Sweet bananas cut for us
at a local market
||Meals here were AUD$5 and
|Seluka in his office
||Lyndall taking a break from our bike tour
|Funafuti atoll has only a narrow strip of habitable land
||Pandanus palm weaver
Whilst in Funafuti we received the news
that Lyndall's sister Susan Harvey
was seriously ill in hospital. This is something that all cruisers
dread - being out of touch with family and friends when we are
needed most. Fortunately, the communication was received in time
and we were extremely lucky to have Lyndall aboard one of the
twice-a-week flights to Fiji within 2 hours. She arrived in Sydney
on Friday evening and went straight to the hospital where she was
able to have Sue, though unable to speak, at least recognise her
presence. Sadly, Sue died early the following Sunday morning.
Lyndall will now stay in Sydney while our eldest son James will
fly out to Tuvalu and help me with the final passage home to Townsville.
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