Position: 22°S, 150°W
We have sighted land! At 0400 on October 1st, the Skipper was struggling to fix one of the anchors that had loosened in its fitting overnight and the First Mate was clearing up the cockpit before finishing her watch. As the sun came up, one of the peaks of the island of Rurutu appeared on the horizon. It's a small island on the outer fringes of French Polynesia with only 2,000 inhabitants. For us, it has been our first sight of the rest of the world after 20 days and a huge psychological boost to the crew. 'Just' another 300 miles (3 days) to Papeete now...
Our third week at sea continued in the same vein as the first two, with strong weather reducing the fun and comfort factor to zero at times. As we have moved northeast, the wind has been coming predominantly from the east which has meant we have been sailing 'on the wind'. This means that both the wind and sea is coming towards us (rather than pushing us from behind) so we have been basically pushing against both to make our way forward.
This has pushed both the boat and crew to their limits. Ashling has done extremely well so far, her strong hull taking the strongest of waves and wind with no complaint. However a few deck fittings have started to suffer and the steel structure around the cockpit is showing signs of stress, so we'll be ringing around a few chandleries and boat workshops when we get to Tahiti to give her some TLC. As for the crew, well we are still here, still speaking to each other and still in good shape physically. However we both admit that these three weeks have been harder on us than expected. Here's hoping that more pleasurable sailing awaits us as we cruise around French Polynesia over the next two months.
Highlights of this week included hearing news of Rob & Steph's engagement in New Zealand (Stephanie Byrne, email deets asap!), venting the cabin as temperatures started to rise and seeing land this morning. The lowlight would have to be Wednesday morning when a large wave from astern showered the First Mate from head to foot as she stood at the wheel. Meanwhile down below, the Skipper was assessing the damage of a saucepan full of porridge oats that the same wave had caused to volley across from the cooker to the chart table, covering everything in sight. Almost a week later and we're still finding porridge in the strangest of places!
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