If you have ever been in an airplane when it goes through a pocket of turbulence, then you have some idea of what it is like to sail on a small boat in a rough sea. To make things more interesting, the 'pocket' can last for days, there are no seat belts, and you must do complex tasks like type at a computer or cook a meal while being tossed around like rag dolls. The GPS records how fast the boat is traveling, keeping a record of the maximum speed. It currently reads 83.6 knots - a bit unlikely, but in the last minute I have watched our speed vary from 3 to more than 10 knots as we fall off one wave and run into another.
Yesterday was quite tranquil for much of the daylight hours. We observed a partial solar eclipse (the full effect being seen a few hundred miles south). We used the sextant with its viewing filters to safely view the earth's shadow as it obscured nearly 2/3rds of the sun. Our first albatross paid us a visit around this time - a giant bird that circled the boat a few times. In flight it was graceful - zooming towards us like a fighter plane. Bobbing in the water, however, it looked more like an overgrown and slightly gawky seagull.
The calms seas allowed for the first proper shower of the passage. Oh bliss! Plus it smells better now down below in the closed up confines of a boat at sea.
The tranquility ended around supper time when the southerly breeze freshened and swung gradually into the south/southeast. We have been bouncing along now for more than 12 hours, passing Minerva reef around 9 pm. We did not stop because entering the reef at night would be tricky and also because we have a fair wind for making progress toward New Zealand. We were close enough to see the lights on the masts of the little community of yachts nestled within the reef's protecting ring and we were sad we had to pass it by.
Our position at 7:45 am was 24 09 S 179 49 W: Heading about 220 at a speed of 5 to 6 knots in 12 knots of SSE breeze and 1.5 meter seas. We are sailing under 2-reefed main and partially furled jib. We sailed about 125 miles in the last 24 hours.