FRIDAY 27th of May, we leave Sydney.
Immigration officers come on board Roam to collect our paper work and clear us out of Australia. This is it, our first international passage, sailing Roam, our home into international and tropical waters. We deflate the tender and put it in the saloon preparing for potentially, over a week at sea. Once Roam is ship shape we make our way for the heads, making water on the way. With our friend Iain joining us from Western Australia on a red eye flight, the Roam crew has grown to five.
Broad reaching almost beam reaching up the coast in a WNW breeze, with gusts up to 30 knots, at times Roam saw speeds of up to 17 knots. We saw whales at around one in the afternoon and took a little detour to get a better look. We decided to stop in at Hat Head Bay for the night as there was strong winds forecast from late evening to around one am in the morning.
The forecast looks good for the entire sail to New Cal. Alarms go off at 5.45am and we sail Roam off the anchor by 6.30am, heading for New Caledonia. The sailing conditions are ideal, gliding downwind, averaging around 8 knots but picking up as the day goes on and the wind builds into the evening. A spectacular sunset on our first night at sea of the voyage, sets the tone for the rest of the trip. Celebrations for team Roam with a sunset rumbo. It's my night off as I won Uno last night. Andy and Holly are on first watch while Mick and Iain get some sleep. I was enjoying my evening off practicing playing some uke chords, enjoying the night air and star filled sky in the cockpit when, all of a sudden i feel a thud right in my chest. A wet object had hit me, I looked up into the door way of the saloon for a second thinking I would see Andy grinning back at me with a guilt stricken face ... But no, it wasn't a dish cloth. There was a small flying fish flapping around on the cock pit floor. With absolute surprise all I could do was laugh it off. I just got hit by a flying fish.
MONDAY 30th it was my day off until 4 pm.
I enjoyed a long sleep in listening to Roam surfing along from my cabin. It sounds like we are speeding along. We were doing between 10-14 knots and sometimes surfing from one wave onto the next and then the next. It's a nice feeling lying there and thinking we are getting to our destination with just the power of the wind, no engines. A beautiful day at sea with deep blue water, warm air and clear sunny skies. It was BBQ weather and the boys had caught a tuna trolling so we enjoyed fresh fish for lunch. All enjoying the calm sailing conditions the crew chilled out, reading, napping and chit chatting. I decide the competition for the next contender to win day off, which was who can hold the warrior pose the longest. Not easy when doing 8-12 knots. Holly won. I'm back on watch tonight feeling refreshed and enjoying the sunset. On dusk we saw a water spout form from a cloud bank behind us ... It grew and then dissipated. Another jaw dropping stary night sky, I have my sea legs and am enjoying every minute of sailing again.
Holly relaxing with a book.
What an amazing day. After my 12- 4 watch, where Mick and I handed over as we were floating around outside of Middleton reef, I woke up to 'Liss you have to come check out all these wrecks on the reef'. It was now daylight and we could nudge in close the the reef for a look. Well worth the stop! What an incredible place and a special memory for us all. A marine paradise all to ourselves. We took the once in a life opportunity to snorkel on the reef and Iain to kite board. Check out the amazing drone footage in episode 10. While the crew played, Roam made some fresh water. Below the crystal clear turquoise water were some very inquisitive reef sharks, reef fish and sea corals. After some research Holly has informed me that the sharks we were swimming with are Galapagos sharks. The sand was bright white and the sharks stood out against the white back drop. What an incredible experience. Back on board we had the privilege of hot showers on the stern after running the engines to make some water we also had hot water bonus! After lunch we had to settle the brotherly rivalry for the next shift off. Holly decided this should be settled with a hand written poem recital about Roam. It was a tough choice both presenting pretty good short poems, Mick won us over just with a touch of humor.
WEDNESDAY 1st of June
I was on watch with Iain last night and this morning we had some interesting wind shifts. At one point the wind dropped out completely, going from AWA of about 50 degrees 10-12 knots to 2 knots of breeze and a wind shift around to 150 degrees. All in all we had a good couple watches with beautiful clear nights with lots of star gazing, phosphorescence, a near perfect morning breeze for sailing and sunset. It is also good sailing with an experienced sailor like Iain who helped broaden my understanding and knowledge. The rest of the day we had good sailing conditions with reasonably comfortable swell and 15-20 knots of SE wind. Over night it only got better with breeze picking up to 20 knots SE and an apparent wind angle between 65- 95 we were slicing through the inky ocean and Roam was surfing along comfortably at around 12 knots with a triple surf getting us up to 20 knot boat speed in 22 knots of breeze.
The first grey day, we had cloud cover and rain. My morning started with an early watch up in my p.js to help put a reef in, going from 2 to 3 reefs. The wind had picked up and come round forward of the beam. The weather was definitely feeling more tropical. Iain and Holly were sweating as we put a reef in the mainsail, still in their wet weathers from night watch. Although overcast and squally there was a definite warmth in the air. As the day went on the sea state seemed to liven up with some waves breaking right on our beam it made it a lot more rocky and uncomfortable. We are usually pretty spoilt with stability on board Roam but on Thursday we had to live more like a mono hull, with lots of sideways motion and water spray over the deck. Mick won Andy's randomised way point competition for the most nautical miles covered in an hour period which was drawn from a hat. The reward a day off watch. Michael being the caring captain he is, offered his win to Holly who had not had such a good nights sleep and Iain who had managed to get back to back shifts of 8pm-12 am 4am - 8 am. The crew felt a winner is a winner and refused to claim a day off. We had 3 flying fish on board one of which I had to rescue from the cockpit and throw him back . They are stinky critters and we seem to see nearly as many as we did dolphins when crossing the Tasman.
FRIDAY 3rd Team Roam made it to New Cal.
The wind has dropped off a little and the sea state improved, still ESE wind but much more comfortable . Once the sun is up, at 5am Iain and I put the Genoa out and Roam gets into a nice groove. With the full Genoa, the staysail and three reefs in the main we are doing 11 knots in 15-20 knots of TWS. The weather starts to fine up a little. With 52 nautical miles to Noumea we are on our home stretch. It's been a week now since we cleared out of Sydney. Friday afternoon we come into Noumea, sailing into the reef passé is exciting and a little scary with exposed reef on both sides. As we come in through the passé we have to line up navigation markers with each different angle of approach. Andrew radio's up the port immigration to inform them of our entry. All other chatter on the VHF is in french, our yellow Q flag for clearing in and our French flag is up. We drop anchor in port Moselle and sort through the remaining food items to take any left over prohibited foods to quarantine/ immigration along with our entry paper work, crew list and passports. The process is rather painless for us although I had the impression from website info that they were quite strict, we didn't get a visit on board from an officer. Andrew, signed on as captain in preparation to take Mick off the crew list as he had to fly out for work on the 8th. Andrew, as the captain took all our paper work in to the marine office and cleared Roam in. He was asked to bag all our prohibited items and bring them into the office by 11 am the following day. Before having to take our prohibited food in to customs we ate as much of it as possible so not to go to waste.
So this brings me to now, New Caledonia has been Roam's home for almost a week now and the crew Michael, Andrew, Holly, Iain and myself are enjoying the rewards of the journey sailing here. This place is stunning with clear blue waters on the reefs, surf breaks that are easily accessible and not packed with punters, an abundance of different anchorages and friendly faces. Mick flew out on the eighth for work, he was able to get in a couple of surfs on a reef break with the boys, some fun sailing on the Western side of the island, a couple of nights out and about with crew and some snorkeling. We have soaked up the warm New Caledonian sun, washed in the tropical down pours and had a taste of the local goods and fresh caught fish. Waking up in a foreign country feeds my hunger for adventure and this is just the appetizer for what's to come.