FPB 64-3 Iron Lady – Arrives Papeete, Tahiti

Excitement is building aboard Iron Lady with Pete Rossin and crew as the smell of land, fresh baguettes, and Hinano beer, draw them ever closer.

From Pete Rossin:

Yesterday’s noon to noon run was 233 nautical, which translates to a 9.7 knot average for the period.  Distance traveled as of 0800 today is 1815 nautical.  Current weather is scattered clouds, barometer 1020, winds SSE at 16 and waves 1.5 meter from the SE.  We are on the backside of an occluded front which was to produce 25 to 30 knots from the south but there doesn’t appear to be any way that is going to happen.  We are on the northeastern edge of a high pressure system that is moving slowly, so our next wind shift will probably be the southeast trades.  Engine revs still at 1650 and other key parameters remain unchanged.

I managed to thoroughly screw up yesterday’s post.  The day was May 24 – not May 25 and our arrival date in Papeete at current course and speed is Tuesday – not Monday.  Shocking – I don’t know what day it is and I am blasting away toward Tahiti, but don’t know when I’ll get there.  Not very seamanlike – or is it?

We have been at sea now for 9 days and the departure formalities in Whangarei are long past.  We still have a two day run to Tahiti – yesterday it was 3 – and plans for our arrival are still, for the most part, premature.  So we are left with life at sea where the routine of one day flows pretty much into the same routine the next day.  Weather and the like may change but life aboard really doesn’t.  The key parameter by which we measure our day is watchkeeping, which has little or nothing to do with the day or date.  Quite refreshing actually not to worry about such things.  A good buddy of mine has a saying that when you are retired, you only know which day it is on fat paper day – Sunday’s when you get the fat newspaper.  Similar logic seems to apply (and it is a good redeeming argument on paper anyway).

Our typical day runs something like this starting with my watch at 1600 to 2000.  Generally everybody is up by 1600 and we eat dinner around 1900.  After my watch, Roger is on and I go to bed.  Steve generally lies down for a few hours in advance of his midnight watch.  Roger goes off at midnight and goes to sleep.  Steve wakes me for my 0400 watch and then he goes to bed.  At 0700, Roger generally gets up for his 0800 watch.  Steve wakes up around 0900 and everyone is generally up until after lunch.  In the afternoon, both Roger and I try to get in an hour’s sleep before our watches.  At the end of watches there is generally some small talk.  Fortunately, both Roger and Steve are great company and we enjoy our time together.  A boat in the middle of the Pacific filled with people who don’t tilt well would be pretty awful.

Dinner last night was Mahi ceviche.  Cubes of fresh Mahi cooked in fresh lemon juice in the fridge, to which was added diced peppers, cucumber, avocado and unsweetened coconut cream.  Same was served with jasmine rice.  Just TOO good.

Shabby failed to produce last evening so we are out of Mahi.  Before sending him out this morning, he got a rather stern talking to about his proud lineage and obligations.


May 26 – 1 day from landfall.

Since last night, it has been blowing 25 to 35 from the east-southeast.  We picked up the southeast trade winds yesterday afternoon at a steady 20 knots.  Iron Lady made light work of the waves on her beam.  As forecast, an occluded front went thru last evening – no rain, but it did bring with it more southeasterly flow to reinforce the trades.  Overnight,winds came up from the high 20s to 35 knots from the east-southeast.  The seas were not large by our standards – up to 4 meters – but they were very steep and short coupled, which made for a sporty ride overnight.  The aft staterooms were fine but I, being stubborn, stayed up in the master.  It was like sleeping in a washing machine so not my best night.  Will grab extra sleep during the day today.

This brings up a point however.  The FPB has the speed to avoid such encounters by altering course in advance.  Being realistic, however, there is no way you are going to get a perfect 11 day weather window for a 2200 mile jaunt across the Pacific.  In terms of forecasts, 30 hours is about as good as it gets with some accuracy.  That said, there are simply times it is best to live with what you get and push on as opposed to evasive maneuvers.  From our perspective continuing on the great circle route for an early arrival is worth 12 hours of being a little uncomfortable.

We began arrival preparations in earnest yesterday.  Made up crew lists, personal crew electronic effects, duty free, and listed drugs in the ship’s medical locker in Excel, and printed them out all in triplicate along with copies of the ship’s papers and NZ clearance form as our last port of call. We dragged out and inflated the big ball fenders as we are likely to be med moored at the Tiana Marina, where we will be docked.

After his talking to, Shabby sulked most of the morning and did nothing.  After lunch, I went down for my afternoon nap before watch and resolved to bench him when I got up.  I had been down for about 20 minutes when the reel went off big time and soon after, we boated a beautiful 45 pound wahoo.  Shabby had redeemed himself and his family honour.  He was now looking very much like the Shabbys of old – his mylar skirt was torn up, most of his rubber legs were missing and the few that were left were pretty short but he still had his eyes.  He reminded me of his grandfather, who, when he went missing had no eyes, no skirt and no mylar.  The last we saw of him, he was headed north in the Pacific islands in the mouth of a very angry marlin.  We had to cut the line or we would have been spooled.  We miss him, but I am sure it was the way he would have wanted it, as opposed to being relegated to the bottom of a tackle box.

Afternoon snack was wahoo.  Dinner was wahoo steaks over risotto with a salad, and we are presently determining how it will be prepared for lunch and dinner today.

After calculating distance to go and our desired arrival at the pass at 0830 tomorrow at slack tide, we have backed the boat down to 8 knots at 1550 RPM.  Steve is preparing to notify our agent and the port of our arrival time by sailmail or SSB.


2251 Nautical miles having passed under her keel, Iron Lady and Crew are secured at Marina Taina in Papeete, Tahiti.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 28, 2013)

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