Knowing we didn't have a downwind sail and knowing the forecast was for light winds, we had originally decided to either sail Paw Paw wing-on-wind or change course and jibe all the way to Port Vila, Vanuatu, if necessary. At one point we even discussed changing our plans to head for Port Resolution on Tanna Island, instead of Efate Island, given the possibility of a better angle to the wind. The one thing we both agreed upon, though, was to take our time, enjoy the ride, do some fishing, etc. Basically take the four days our Float Plan depicted and not rush.
Well, of course, we didn't do that. Paw Paw loves to "fly along" and so do we. So, out the window went all those fabulous ideas. Motor-sailing at an average speed of 6.5 Kts seemed like a far better idea, considering we would shave 12 hours off the passage. The plan was succeeding until Elaine took over the watch at 2200 last night and a 1 Kt counter-current raised its ugly head. Even with both engines running at a higher RPM, we weren't doing more than 5 Kts. That meant a nightime arrival in a strange harbour, which as a rule, we avoid.
By the time Roy came on watch at 0100 this morning, the decision was made - Pull back on the engines to keep enough momentum so that we weren't just bobbing and resign ourselves to another night at sea. This morning we've had the inevitable "coulda, woulda, shoulda" conversation and are frustrated at how badly we miscalculated this passage.
However, this afternoon, under partially cloudy skies, with a following sea and the current back with us, we are enjoying a peaceful sail, albeit at an average speed of 4.5 Kts. We should see "land ahoy" later today and reach Efate Island in the early hours of the morning, following which we will hove-to until daybreak before entering the harbour. In the interim, we may get a nibble on the fishing lines and enjoy sushi for dinner.