Day 9 dawned with grey skies, the threat of lots of breeze and some decent swell to go with it.
It’s rather like that hard run or cycle you’ve done – you’re pretty exhausted and want the end but up ahead is a hill. Our hill arrived with 14-15 knots of wind with constant gusts up to 18 knots. The gusts would always send us upwind. Adina was relishing it but becoming overpowered at times lying on her side, flying along at over 8 knots in open seas. We reefed and reefed again and reefed again, taking the knocks.
Life always becomes a little harder in these conditions – you have to move around slowly, cooking is more of a chore. But we kept positive looking forward to our destination Niue. At times like this we’re always grateful for the fact Adina is a solid and well built boat – ocean going she certainly is. Easing the main sail out we even amused ourselves by trying to play a game of backgammon. A sticky mat was procured for the table to roll the dice onto. You had to time your throw in synchronisation with the waves or they went flying.
Come nightfall we enjoyed our favourite quick-to-cook passage meal Burmese rice. Chopping an onion and a chorizo sausage took around twenty minutes. Why do we do this?
Going into the night and the sea got choppy, the wind gusted and we were soon reefing again. This lasted ’til around 1am when it eased off a little. Coming into dawn it’s overcast and squally and gusting again. We call it paradise turned poo!
But we’re now only 35 nautical miles away from Nieu. Little Niue – one of the world’s smallest, most remote countries and, we’ve read, the biggest piece of coral block. Just its flag is something to behold. There is no reef protecting the island so we will be on a mooring buoy. An e-mail from a fellow sailor there now said that with the current sea state their boat is like a bucking broncho!
On the upside, it’s meant to be a real delight. Crystal clear waters where you can see down 35m and this time of the year humpback whales come up from the Antarctic and can be seen with their calves in the anchorage. Susie and I have yet to see whales and are really crossing fingers we see them in Niue. Diving is meant to be good and we’ve been told curious but harmless sea snakes are in the anchorage and will follow you if you snorkel! The GoPro camera will be focused on Susie’s first sighting of a sea snake! There are also meant to be good hikes and many caves with crystal clear water pools to climb into and explore. With a ring road of 65 miles, the population of Nieu is around 1600 people – it even has a yacht club and visiting yachts are offered lifetime membership. Best restaurant in town is rumoured to be Indian – can’t remember the last time we had a curry.
So after 10 ten days at sea we’re excited to make landfall. A little landmark for us is we’ve double-handed this passage of just over 1000 nautical miles. Quite some ten days – we’ve seen every point of sail, worked hard, caught fish, eaten well as ever and overall really enjoyed it. My funniest moment was Susie looking out to sea from behind the sprayhood, head into the wind saying “I understand why dogs like putting their heads out of the window in a car”.
Not sure how long we will stay in Niue – a few days at least – we have to wait for a weather window to get over to Tonga. That’s for another day, Niue here we come!