Day 4 saw the end of the wind. We chased it around a bit but our course tended to French Polynsia, or New Caledonia, so we stuck the donkeys on. We have been motoring or motorsailing since early afternoon and all through the night. The seastate has been very light with a reasonably long period swell, so very comfortable onboard.
Forecasts suggest we will be without wind until early evening, so another 10hrs of motoring or so. We get occasional excitement with the wind reaching 10-12 knots for short periods due to the influence of a nearby squall but it never lasts long.
We do have a quandary today. If we are fast, we may reach S Minerva on Friday. It has to be daylight to get into the atoll, and if we are late, we wait another night at sea. In our case the wind builds over Friday night, so arriving a night earlier would be nice. We will assess as we get closer, but for now we are running both engines to give us best arrival time. The other wrinkle is that the Tonga navy may have closed S Minerva for exercises. Apparently they do have a navy though I suspect outnumbered by the cruising fleet headed their way. There is a bit of an argument between Tonga and Fiji as to who owns the Minerva reefs, so occasionally one or the other has to go and make assertive noises and kick out all the sheltering cruising boats.
So I think our plan is to make best speed towards S Minerva. If we hear from boats ahead that it has been shut, then we can stop hustling and aim for N Minerva on Saturday Morning (another 20nm on). If we see our eta increasing, or the wind is late and not as strong as forecast, we slow down.
Either way it’s a little over 200mn, and at worst case, 2 more nights...