From: Guy Jones
Sent: Friday, November 9, 2018 1:16 AM
Subject: Day Five & Six
On the morning of October 23, 2018 at precisely 01:45 AM, fifteen minutes before the start of my watch, I was awaken by a sound that I had not heard in almost five days and it would stay with me, with us, in fact for the balance of the passage. THE ENGINE. Yep, Ken had said on the morning of Day Five, our complaints about the wind would be addressed and we would have light and variable conditions until just hours before making landfall in Opua, New Zealand. So I will not belabor you with dragons or sea monsters sighting. We simply motor sailed the remainder of the passage or about 279 nautical miles to Opua.
But there were in two interesting occurrences we can should mention at this point.
First on the evening of the fifth day during my 2-6 PM watch, I spotted a school of dolphins about 300 yards off the starboard quarter and they were making for Footloose. I told Nina to get her camera and come topside and she did as the dolphins continued to approach the boat. Well, it was a relatively large school and they simply stayed with us for an usually long time. In fact, it looked like they had formed an escort detail as there were dolphins just off the port and starboard bow in a column swimming straight for Opua like an escort or honor guard. Nina was busy doing a very
nice job of videoing the dolphins or fishies as she calls them. She simply held the camera in one place and basically let them come into the camera frame creating really nice scenes. They must have stayed with us for about 15 minutes and they, as if to say, you know the way now, just turned Southwest and departed.
They next event takes what a close friend of mine refers to as a “back story” to appreciate. When the World ARC fleet departed St Lucia in January, 2018, the thirty boats were divided into two classes, simply A and B. Class A was comprised of for the lack of any other term the big boats with the smallest boat in the class being Ice Bear, a Morris 48. However, actually the ARC had handicapped the fleet and Class A while have generally the larger boats, also included the faster boats as well. This distinction is important because all of the Hylas 54 boats were in Class B which was the class I was assigned to. And in fact, once again, Footloose had the proud distinction of being rated as the slowest boat in Class B and as such in the entire fleet. Now, officially there is no racing in the World ARC rally but there is a starting line, times are self reported and there is a penalty for engine time during each leg and token prizes are awarded to the the first three finishers in each of the two classes but we were are not racing. In the first race, sorry, first leg, Footloose had a failure of the kicker plate and withdrew and the leg was won by Bijou, a Swede 42 with a wing keel with a husband and wife crewing. On the second leg, Bijou won again with Footloose second. On the third leg, Bijou won again and you guessed wrong, Footloose was sixth. On the fourth leg, Bijou won again and Footloose was a closer second. We then had independent sailing from Marquesas to the Tuamotus to and then to Tahiti. During the independent sailing period, Footloose went to North Fakarava in the Tuamotus and then to South Fakarava to drift snorkel with sharks. On the way back to the North pass, my AIS picked up a boat at anchor and sure enough it is Bijou. As we passed Bijou, I called him on the VHF, and Roger, the skipper answered the call. I tell him that I am now doing something I had not been able to do in three months. He ask, what is that? My response is loud and and clear. I am passing you and I just wanted you to see the stern of Footloose. Roger laughs and we wish each fair winds.
And now fast forward to day six at about 7:30 AM. Nina, when I awake says, guess who I see on AIS. I have no idea and she replies Bijou and they are thirteen miles behind us and further West. We had been told that Bijou had departed Fiji on the the 17th a day prior to our departure and all I could imagine was that had run into trouble. I waited a bit and then I called Bijou again on the VHF to inquire as to their status. At that point, Roger explains that they did depart the marina on the 17th, but they spent the night in the anchorage and actually departed on the morning of the 18th two hours ahead of our departure.
At that point I was beside myself. In a fair fight I finally had finally had the better of Bijou. I was 13 nautical miles ahead and I immediately looked at the AIS and they were doing 8.7 knots under engine I was doing 8.0. I gently pushed the throttle forward engaging the turbo charger until we matched their speed. This opportunity was not sleeping away from me. His rating was higher than mine but I was going to win this leg outright.
We arrived Opua at 7:30 PM and at 8:35 PM we took Bijou’s lines and we were both smiling from ear to ear. Nina and I had finally beaten Bijou.
We were in New Zealand, we were safe, Footloose was secured along side on the Q Dock and we had beat Bijou. What more could you want.
We placed our arrival call to Ken and passed along our THANKS. It was Done!
Great trip. Now what is a Kiwi?
Fair winds All