On each passage I try to learn at least one new nautical technique to keep building my sailing skills. It has taken me from Mexico to Tonga to really feel comfortable raising, dropping, and reefing the mainsail and the jib on my own, so this time around I set a personal goal of mastering the SSB radio. Thankfully, as long as I remember to turn off the ice box and the fans that cause interference, the SSB is much, much easier than sail handling. Trickier is getting the lingo down, knowing just when to say salty phrases like, 'that’s a roger,’ and 'Helios clear and on the side,' or 'Helios in the blind.'
The net is an agreed upon time and frequency when all the boats in the region turn on their single side band radios to share their location, velocity, and conditions. We check in to the net in the morning and evening (0500 and 1830 UTC, if we’re being specific), and it has become a ritual that punctuates the days at sea. The net offers some amount of safety, like if there is a vessel underway running on empty that needs an emergency fuel drop off, but really it's not unlike the good times growing up, playing with walkie talkies while riding bikes around the neighborhood.
Thanks to Dominic’s expert weather routing, we’ve been able to report that all is well onboard for the last few days. We’ve had stunning sailing conditions—17 knots of wind and calm seas behind us that have us cruising toward New Zealand at over six and a half knots—clear skies, and starry nights. There have been spells of calm we’ve motored through, but far less engine action than what we were expecting.
As we move south, the days are longer and the nights are cooler. We’ve pulled out the fleece, foulies, and extra blankets. We have 286 miles to go before we reach Opua, and we’re expecting to pass through a rainy front this evening and then have winds on the nose for the last stretch of the journey. Fingers crossed, we’ll make landfall around the middle of this week.