17 48 South, 162 12 East – Vanuatu to Australia

It’s 14:47 local time. The rest of Team Aretha are sleeping – its just as
well – its as bouncy as we’ve had yet. The second best cure for seasickness
is sleep (the first is to sit under an Oak Tree).

We’ve got just under 700 miles until we enter Hydrographers Passage – our
entry point through the Great Barrier Reef and into Australian waters. It’s
then another 100 miles or so inside the reef to reach Mackay.

This will be our last Pacific crossing sailing to Australia. It seems like
only yesterday we had the buzz and excitement of approaching Shelter Bay at
the Carribean Sea side of Panama and then the magnificent sight of sailing
under the Bridge of the America’s and into the Pacific. The last 5 months
have flown by – Panama, Las Perlas Islands, Galapagos, Marquesas’s,
Tuamoto’s, Tahiti, Raitaea, Bora Bora, Suwarrow, Nieu, Tonga, Fiji and
Vanuatu – all with their unique experiences and rich memories. We had a high
level of expectation and have blown past all expectations – the reputation
the Pacific holds as a magical place is richly deserved.

The Chartplotter shows that straight line distance from where we are right
now back to Panama is 7,200 miles. By my estimates, we’ve probably sailed
close to 12,000 miles in the Pacific with all the different routes we’ve
taken.

So, our next stop in Australia – the half way point for the World ARC – some
crews are stopping – we are excited to be continuing on with the World ARC
which takes us on a route around Australia to Darwin, up to Lombok in
Indonesia, to Christmas Island, Cocos & Keeling, Mauritius, South Africa, St
Helena, Brazil and then back to Grenada and St Lucia in the Carribean.
Plenty more adventures lie ahead for us. For now though we’re looking
forward to a brief break in Australia, some time to reflect on our
experiences and adventures.

We left Port Vila in Vanuatu 2 days ago and have been sailing fast at the
front of the fleet. We’ve had good conditions with flat seas and steady
winds. That gave way to light and variable breeze last night and as we
rounded a way point at the Northern End of New Caledonia, the breeze
aggressively filled into 25 knots plus with 3 metre seas. We’re a bucking
bronco now and every 10 minutes or so a wave breaks over the boat partially
filling the cockpit. Its the roughest seas we’ve had for a while and the
forecast is showing no let up for the next 4 days – at least it guarantees
fast sailing. Fingers crossed Nichola is back to full strength once she
rested and got her rough weather sea legs. Thankfully the children are
sleeping as well and not charging around the boat.

Its times like this we are grateful for Aretha – she revels in conditions
like this and feels rock solid in big seas. Some of the smaller boats in the
fleet will be having a livelier time than we are.

Willows waking, time to be back on child duty,

Team Aretha approaching Australia, Out.

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