Vanuatu to Solomons, Day 3

Well, when you trade off speed in favor of safety, the boat does indeed go slower.

Sophie sailed 125 miles in the last 24 hours, averaging a hair over 5 knots. Current position is 10.44.121 South, 160.53.153 East. Our destination of Gizo is 287 miles away. Guadalcanal Island is is only 50 miles to the northeast, but unfortunately we are skipping a visit this trip due to some local unpleasantness. We hope to see it later today, assuming the squall clouds clear at some point. It’s been a rainy morning, and we are all gathered in the main salon right now. Jenna is leading the kiddies in Sophie School, Lauren is making up a big old pot of chili for lunch, and I am hanging out.

The boat is sailing at 5-6 knots right now, heading straight downwind with 20+ knots of true wind at our backs. I really want that second jib! We had light air through yesterday afternoon and all of last night. The chute came down at 3:00 PM because we were only sailing at 5 knots with it up and there were squalls all around us. We then actually turned a motor on and ran it at 1900 RPMs for a few hours, mainly to keep the trolling lures moving through the water. At sundown we turned the motor off and enjoyed a very quiet 5 knot night.

After the big fish broke our 80 pound test line on the pole yesterday, we decided to switch to just using hand lines. Our last 2 hits on the pole were from a billfish that we saw and a pelagic big fellow that we felt. We didn’t want to lose any more gear. That decision turned out to be a mistake. Just as we were taking the spinnaker down, we saw that we had motored into a churning bait ball. The fish were a bright turquoise and may have been small tuna. We circled the bait ball a couple of times, and it kept disappearing and then reappearing right in front of us. Earlier I had replaced the pole with a new hand line with 150 meters of 30 pound test. Of course that is the line that a fish hit, and I got it to within 20 feet of the boat but it dove under the rudder and the line easily broke. It would have been nice to have had it on a pole so I could have kept it from going under the boat.

We spent the afternoon with 5 lines in, including a very small lure trolling off the pole way behind the other lines. We saw a few more baitballs that afternoon, but no more hits.

We’ll catch one today.

There’s not much else to report. We had leftovers, kumara mash, and sausages for dinner. Chicken is on the menu for tonight. We have used very little fuel on this passage so far, and if we continue at this speed under just the jib we should be able to hit Gizo by Saturday.

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