It's always good to expect the unexpected.
Forecasts suggested we'd have a nice broad or beam reach heading up to the Louisiades- 20 or so knots, optimal conditions for Totem to have a comfortable and speedy passage. For about the first quarter of the way we'd have the wind just forward of the beam, until we pass outside the Great Barrier Reef and can crack off a little to point almost due north to our destination. Glorious!
As it turns out, the breeze is considerably lighter and farther forward, thanks to a high pressure system filled in sooner than forecasted. Sailing closer to the wind is slower, and can be less comfortable. There's a reason the flow of predominant cruising routes is downwind! But just in time, our new mainsail is doing excellent duty: we are holding a higher course than Totem could previously, and still making good way. With these lighter conditions, the seas are calm, giving us a mellow ride over gentle swells. It's beautiful.
Our first full day out passed easily. Watching Australia fade into the sunset as we headed offshore was bittersweet. Gliding under the bright light of a nearly full moon. A lazy sunny day, with cards and reading in the cockpit, and the occasional seabird swooping by to check us out. Help from Niall with watch keeping: it's great to have him take the helm so I can check in on a radio net while Jamie catches up on sleep.
It's easy to get focused on getting to a destination as quickly as possible. This time, I'm savoring the slower ride. So it won't be that ideal four-ish day passage, and it might be closer to six. But that's OK. We're in the groove of passagemaking in record time…time to put out the handlines.