Welcome to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Today started with the ubiquitous squall, and then another, and another, and another. As they used to say on the top forty countdown radio show, “the hits just keep on rolling”. Mid-morning there was a wee bit of a lull and enough southerly shift in the wind to encourage us to take the Genoa off the pole, shift it over to the starbrd side with the main, put away the Hoyt, and engage in a few hours of lovely reaching interspersed with uncomfortable rolling. As the day progressed, the weather regressed into incessant squall after squall. The front edge would have wind in the mid twenties, clocking up to about 110 degrees, producing exhilarating good sailing, followed by pouring rain, then after a few moments would come the “back-side” ( I can think of a much more apt description; but it wouldn’t be fit for print in a professional publication!), when the wind would veer to 180 or even 170 on the Lee side, and drop precipitously in velocity. This constant shifting scenario required one of us to be on hand to assist Pi, our auto pilot, so that we neither rounded up or fell off to sailing by the lee. To start with we reefed for the leading edges and shook out reefs in the backsides. After only a couple of these racing-style sail changes, we decided that we are cruisers, set the sails midway between the extremes, said, “grin and bear it.” We aren’t striving for optimum performance today because we need to slow down anyway for a morning arrival in Fiji. To add to the fun, that wind in the mid twenties kept the seas stirred up to impressive cresting 3-4 metre mountain ranges smacking us on the port quarter that played havoc with our staying on an even keel during the 8 knot lulls. We call these lulls, “tsugs”....the reverse of a gust. Tsugs created episodes of side to side rolling that make us feel like we are extras in the hobbit’s barrel riding scene, create a cacophony of sound, send every little thing not properly stowed skittering around, and generally frazzling human nerves. You would think after eight days at sea, that we would have all the clinks and rattles sorted out....nope...today brought a whole new series of noises. Two of which were soooo loud and incessant and NEW, that we spent a lot of the afternoon hunting their source. Alas! One of them is a terrible metallic clicking on the mast. So sad, our steaming light is hanging by it’s cable swinging drunkenly with every rock and roll of the mothership. Unfortunate side effect of not tying down the control lines for the whisker pole. Evidently one of the lines snagged the light and pulled it loose. Not a serious issue, as long as it doesn’t come crashing down on one of our heads, just seriously annoying; and we decide to wait until a calmer platform can be had to rectify this small problem. The other noise is way more disconcerting; we traced it to the rudder. Thump thump thump. Not a happy rudder sound. This greatly influenced our decision to NOT push the boat to try and arrive at Fiji in three days time, but rather, just meander in, and aim for four more days until arrival. Fingers crossed, Neptune blessed and hearts optimistic, we still concur that “ nothing, nothing is better than just messing about in a boat.” Even if it is more like Mr Toad’s driving, it’s still a Sweet Dream.image1.