12/31/2008 0828utc 51/17S 145/03E 11.0 knots at 100T, 17 knots wind SW, solent and one reef, SMOOTH SEAS.

We’ve been making good time today, in the right direction, with little loading of the boat. I can’t remember when we last did this. The boat is sailing very well, balanced, nearly full keel cant, for the slight variations in the wind direction and speed that are normal. The balance of the sails and the autopilot is good, we keep charging along, and power occasionally up to 16/17 knots, but without the chaotic charges down waves up to the 20s that we’ve had in the storms before.

We can see the horizon, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen that also. So I keep looking for ships, but I have seen none. A few albatross circle; the sky is very gray; misty rain comes along occasionally; yet the rain squalls have only an extra knot or two of wind, not an extra 20 knots. Needed this day to make some easy miles as Walter Greene would say, and we are enjoying these easy miles.

My friend Murray Lister called on the Iridium to wish me and Great American III a Happy New Year. Murray and his wife Jenny live in Nelson, on the South Island of New Zealand. He was Chief Mate aboard New Zealand Pacific 18 years ago when they rescued me and Steve Pettengill from the original Great American after our capsize and re-righting in 85 knots of wind and 20 meter seas. Murray wrote about it on www.sitesalive.com a few weeks ago, and will write again for our Forces of Nature chapter in our school program. Good to have Murray nearby. When we reach the longitude of New Zealand, we’ll talk again.

New Year celebrating is also tempered by the fact that this is the anniversary of my Dad’s death 23 years ago. He was a great sailor, and instilled the love of the sea in me, as well as a detailed and disciplined approach to boat preparation. I hope that I’ve done that as well as he would have for this boat. I’m sure he would have loved the design and engineering of the new boats, and as well, would have loved our school program that we’ve made off of the voyage. I think he would have liked this project.

Bonne Nouvelle Annee a tous!